People of The Living God

John 17

 

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August 2013



 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

Another Strike Against God

Alfred King

        The Apostle Paul, in referring to the latter days, gives warning to Timothy, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:13).  Sometimes we who believe God’s Word are still shocked as we see such blindness taking place before our very eyes and are astonished by the irrationality of learned men who jeopardize not only themselves but future generations as well and set their course to end in eternal damnation. We are appalled at men who are leaders of our country and should have some understanding through what history teaches of other nations and societies which have followed the same path America is taking and the chaos and destruction which followed.  But as the old adage says, “History repeats itself” and once again the adage proves to be true.

        The recent Supreme Court ruling in redefining marriage, although it did not officially or legally adopt the policy of same sex marriage, did relegate marriage to a place of non-significance.  Again the high court ignored and rejected any recognition of God or His word in their ruling and left marriage as something ethereal or vague.  The word “marriage” does have a definition and must mean something, however the Justices seemed to ignore the definition completely.  If marriage is not a word that can be defined in some manner, then it must be something non-existent or a mere figment of men’s imagination, an archaic practice with no real purpose or necessity.  The problems created by these nine men are beyond comprehension although the future will reveal them.  This ruling is the lawyer’s delight but the nation’s and society’s demise.  If marriage cannot be defined, then marriage is non-existent and anything goes.  Pandora’s box is open (more correctly, hell has opened her mouth wide for the multitudes who will fill her diabolical hunger for the souls of men).  If there be no marriage, there is no fornication, no adultery and God’s word is once again just a compilation of myths of antiquity by barbaric and ignorant men and certainly not pertinent for the 21st century.  Man knows better than God how he should live his life.  But it is man who is ignorant and, in his foolishness, is disregarding God’s design in which marriage is a sacred and holy institution created by God in His wisdom for the good of man and society.  Marriage was to be a relationship between a man and a woman where children are brought up and nurtured in love and instruction by two of the opposite sex, an environment where the children have both the masculine and feminine influences and mentoring which allows them to grow into adulthood well-rounded and balanced both principally and morally.  However, the justices have struck down God’s ways and have encouraged the depraved nature to exercise itself without restraint.  Carnal men, in their rebellion against God, have opened the door for the base and unregenerate nature of men to be unleashed, that most degenerate and immoral part of man, to express itself in any way it feels necessary for its own self-gratification.  It paves the way in which wicked men may gratify their lusts with any toy they desire, whether it be the opposite sex, children, animals, orgies, etc.  The foolishness of wicked men is shocking even among non-Christians who have any set of morals at all.  But, such is the way sin works and evil men will deceive themselves in order to have their sin-filled lives justified in their own hearts and in the eyes of others.  It is just another sign of the last days when Jesus Christ will return and judgment will fall upon men who have rejected His Word.

        Some states have passed laws in which same-sex couples are recognized and fit into the category of “Civil Unions.”  These unions are accepted by the government and receive some of the same benefits and recognition as those who are married.  Colorado passed laws to allow same-sex marriage which came into effect on May 1, 2013.  By July seven cases of same-sex marriages were already up for divorce.  But will government politicians have any discernment of a problems brewing?  Most will not or, even if they do, they will not acknowledge it.  The days when there were politicians who would stand for truth regardless of the cost is, for the most part, a thing of history.

King Ahab and The Mystery of Deception

        In II Chronicles 18 (paralleled in I Kings 22) is the account of the king of Israel, Ahab, preparing to battle against Syria.  In verse three, Ahab requests Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to join him in this battle.  Jehoshaphat, being a godly king, desired that God be sought concerning this venture.  Ahab called many of his prophets together and they all with one consent declared that God had given the Syrians into the hands of Israel.  Jehoshaphat recognized these false prophets for what they were and desired a true prophet of the Lord to be summoned.  Ahab, being wicked, wanted to hear what was in keeping with his own desires while Jehoshaphat, who was a godly king, desired truth regardless of what plans may have to be changed.  Micaiah was called and he, being a seer who saw God’s message, prophesied that if they went to war the next day, Ahab would be killed.  He also gave the account of what he saw took place in the heavenlies.  God had made a strong declaration by asking a question to those beings in heaven.  Let’s read the account in II Chro. 18:18-21 and take notice of the question in particular.  “Again he (Micaiah) said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.  And the Lord said, Who shall entice Ahab king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?  And one spake saying after this manner, and another saying after that manner.  Then there came out a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will entice him.  And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?  And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  And the Lord said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so.” (emphasis mine)  The Lord proclaimed by His question that Ahab was going to be deceived and this was designed by God because of Ahab’s rebellion against God.  We see Ahab’s rebellious heart willingly being deceived.  What a tremendous portrait of the events in heaven and the warnings of defeat.  Ahab so wanted to go against Syria that he disregarded this warning from a man whom he knew to be a true prophet of God.  Ahab rejected truth.  He so deceived himself that he would reject God’s word, deliberately go against it, even at the expense of his own life.  So mysterious is the nature of sin and the deceitfulness of the human heart that we are left with our jaws on the floor in unbelief.  The great Psalmist David penned words that are as true as any ever written, “The fool hath said in his heart there is no God” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1).  Verse two in both of these chapters says that God looked down from heaven to see if any did understand, and seek God. Those who see the wretchedness and the deceitfulness of their own human hearts will become desperate for deliverance, and if they seek God they will find salvation in Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul cries out in his letter to the Romans in chapter seven, “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  He then answers his own question with these words, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ”.  The answer to man’s depraved nature is found in Christ alone.  If Ahab had been tender towards the Lord and had examined his own heart, he would not have died the following day.  The lesson is still true today: Those who will honestly and prayerfully look deep into the recesses of their heart, will see its barren and deceptive condition.  They will catch a glimpse of their need for someone to deliver them from the impending judgment which will fall upon them in their depravity.  If the soul that has seen his need hears the gospel and responds, he will find a glorious relief.  He will find pardon and a freedom he never knew existed in Christ Jesus.  Paul boldly declares, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation”.  Millions have found these words to be true as they have discovered the power of God in their own lives, being delivered from the power and dominion of sin and experiencing liberty and life in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

        As Ahab, men today would rather believe a lie than to deal with the sin within their own hearts.  They would rather re-define a word than acknowledge their ways are wicked and their hearts deceitful.  God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it or judge it but because He loved man whom He created and desired to salvage them from the ravaging effects of sin.  He made a new covenant with those who would believe and in that covenant He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the world as He hung upon a Roman cross.  Jesus received the punishment of man’s sin so man could be free from the penalty of transgressing God’s law.  God loves man so deeply and He desires that none should perish but that all would come to repentance.  Repentance is that one recognizes his evil deeds and desires to turn from them.  All he must do is believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, which involves confessing his sins before God and asking God to forgive and come into his life.  Jesus said that if any will come to me, I will in no wise cast out.  Jesus will receive any sinner who desires to turn from his evil ways and come to God.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today man can be justified through the blood of Christ.  However, Jesus is coming again and when He returns, which will be soon, He will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance upon them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:8).  When He returns, He will not come in mercy but in judgment.  When He first came, about 2000 years ago, He came to offer mercy, forgiveness, justification and redemption.  When He comes the second time, He will come to bring judgment upon all who have rejected His salvation in preference to their own carnal wills.  Today is the day of God’s mercy, and all who hear and turn to Him He will have great mercy upon and will abundantly pardon every transgression and give him the Holy Spirit to dwell within to aid him in walking with God.  The freedom, joy and peace that comes when God enters within the heart of a man is beyond description, and the love accompanying His presence is phenomenal.  Coming to God in repentance is the best decision a person can make in this life, and it reaps eternal blessings.  Evil men will continue to grow more wicked as time goes on but there are those who will turn from evil and will walk with God even in a very wicked world, and they will obtain a place in heaven forever.  May God increase our faith to trust Him more, especially as we enter these last days.

 

 

SAVING A NATION

Curtis Dickinson

        There are several movements afoot today, spearheaded by national Christian leaders, all seeking to restore the nation to the kind of government intended by our founding fathers.  The movement comes under many different names, such as Dominion Theology, Reformation, Reconstruction, Coalition (of various kinds), Kingdom Now, etc.  One thing they all seem to have in common is the concept that eventually the whole world will be converted to Christ and come under the dominion of the church.

        Without a doubt Christians ought to work to establish and maintain a government which rules justly according to God’s laws, and in this regard there has been a sad shirking of responsibility. But in correcting this we must remember that the primary object of Christ and the gospel is to bring man to repentance that he might be justified before God in order to receive the life eternal.

        Did Jesus expect all the world to be converted?  He asked the question: “When the Son of man comes, will He find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)  Of course, He will find many kinds of faith, but will He find THE faith?  It hardly seems likely that He would have raised the question if all the world was to be converted before His return.

        In the parable of the tares, the servants were told to let the tares (weeds) grow along with the wheat until the time of harvest, and at that time they would be gathered and burned up.  In explaining the parable Jesus said: “The tares are the sons of the evil one…and the harvest is the end of the world…As therefore the tares are gathered up and burned with fire; so shall it be in the end of the world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.  Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father” (Matt. 13:38-43).

        According to the parable, the unsaved will live side by side with the redeemed until the coming of Christ which means that the whole world is not going to be converted.  It also tells us that when Jesus returns it will be time for judgment and the end of the world.  After the separation of the wheat and tares, there will be no time for a millennium of perfect government in the present world.

        It is Jesus Who said, “Enter in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby.  For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way that leads unto life, and few are they that find it” (Matt. 7:13,14).

        What Jesus portrayed was not the sudden conversion of the world (in the 20th or 21st centuries) but the continual warfare between the saints and the power of evil in “high places.”  Victory for the Christian is never pictured as a great political coup that sweeps Christians into Caesar’s seat but as personal victory over sin and temptation under the persecution and opposition of the state.  This is what Christians have experienced for 2,000 years, and it is exactly what we see over all the world today.

        Christ did not establish the church for it to become a bureaucracy in charge of man’s affairs.  History shows that whenever any church assumes political/civil power it becomes as tyrannical as the secular powers.  The Pilgrims came to America to escape such power.

        Our nation became great because it was founded upon the principles of individual integrity and responsibility under God’s laws.  Its greatness can be restored only by restoring these characteristics in individual citizens.

        The battle of the 21st century is a battle between the truth of Jesus and all the lies of all other religion, superstition and humanistic doctrine.  It is a question of serving God or mammon, God or the state, God or sin, God or self.

        The answer to society’s ills is given by Jesus.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  The way is given, but it is not a way that appeals to fallen mankind.  Jesus warned that all who choose it may expect to be hated and treated by the world as He was treated (John 15:18-23).  However, this does not indicate defeat; neither is it pessimism to recognize this truth.  Rather, it is proof that our Lord knew what He was talking about, and we can confidently carry on the work He gave us to do, knowing that conditions are just as He described them.  Our task is to become obedient “children of God without blemish, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom (we) are seen as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).  We are salt.  It is our responsibility to see that the commands of God, which are so repugnant to the pleasure-seeking populace, are still applicable and held in the highest regard by people who find peace and joy in keeping them.

        Christians, who are to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbors as ourselves, are to demonstrate to those neighbors the difference between the value of the temporal and the eternal.  Paul said, “The world has been crucified unto me and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).  We must see the world as the environment in which we work to please God – not to please the world.  The world, then, will be influenced by our actions.  Nothing is more glaringly inconsistent than the activist who wants to reform society who himself, or herself, stands in obvious need of repentance and conversion.  The strategy given in Scripture for changing the world is that we ourselves be “transformed.” Thus, the greatest challenge any of us have is to bring ourselves under the sovereignty of Christ our King in every facet of life.

        The church, as the body of saints, is to influence society by holding forth the truth of God, by presenting an example of a redeemed people who are different.  This cannot be done when the church follows the world, as is so often the case today, where worship has become a theatrical act with the preacher and other staff the performers and the members only spectators.  When the believers give up their personal discipleship and no longer engage in day-to-day service of obedience to Christ, they become willing to turn responsibility over to the bureaucrats of the church.  They may think they have done their part when they give their money or sign some petition for moral action.  But this is not the way Jesus prescribed, and it will be of no avail unless one has become a true disciple by putting the will of God above all human expedience.  This requires self-denial and deliberately seeking God’s will in all things.  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).  “All these things” refers to all the temporal necessities of life, including whatever security and freedom God wishes to grant.

        The Christian cannot be separate from the issues of society, especially in a nation that is to be governed by elected officials.  We must support good candidates and oppose evil ones, but this does not mean that the church as an organization is to use clout to bring society around.  Change is to come as each believer lives out his testimony and demonstrates his faith by his works.

        The way of Jesus encompasses the entire purpose of God, that we should be His servants in this world, that we might be conformed to His image and have immortality and glory in the world to come.  What would it profit if we gained this world only to lose the next?  Rather, we should lose life for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s in order to gain it for eternity.

 

 

SOVEREIGNTY

Harry Miller

        The pagan concept of god reflects some sort of supreme being (or, more often, beings) whose wishes and desires constitute the only law.  Whatever such a god chooses to do must, of necessity, be accepted as right; inasmuch as this being is the sovereign and the author of whatever is done.  Such a god, of course, would recognize no moral code, or law, since his own appetites and desires would actually control his will.  In fact, such a sovereignty would be greatly akin to jungle law, where force is the ruling factor, and the “King of the jungle” is able, by sheer weight and bulk, to bring the lesser creatures of the forest into subjection – at least they recognize his power and fear him accordingly.

        But “beast control” is the basest form of government – the rule of FORCE – and its weaknesses are many.  The various forms of world empires are glaring examples of the breakdown of the physical FORCE factions in ruling over men.  The complete failure and final dissolution of such rule are obviously inevitable.  Certainly the all-wise Most High God would never resort to such tactics toward His subjects.

        All government is, and must be, either physical or moral.  Physical dominion, or absolute sovereignty, of any being over another being is tyranny.  Under such an administration men can only be brainless and will-less puppets.  The perverted idea of divine administration seems to be that the Lord must be fee to do anything if He is Sovereign of the universe.  In other words, God can do anything, at any time, to any one, regardless of anyone’s will but His own.  The school of thought that holds such convictions must conclude that law is law because God has declared it to be such, not because its sanctions are an honor to our Heavenly Father.

        Any being that will not respect and be subject to the laws of his own nature could not possibly be sovereign.  The highest form of being is perfect free moral agency.  God is such a being; and as such, He is in one accord with every demand of His most wonderful and perfect nature.  Above all, He is holy, and the very nature of His presence excludes any other entity that is not even as He: “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (I Tim. 6:16).

        The holy nature of God makes all unholy conditions and beings repugnant to Him.  Holiness violently revolts against all moral decay; and if this were the only attribute of the nature of God, mankind would be forever lost, “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

        Fortunately for us, there is another attribute of the Lord’s perfect free moral nature: He is benevolent.  It might be said that holiness is the God-side of Christ’s nature, while benevolence is the humanity-side.  These two quite different attributes of God’s nature are not in conflict.  As a matter of fact, they complement each other; but this is accomplished only by perfect harmony and absolute devotion to the exacting laws of His nature.

        Holiness alone can be austere, and appear cruel.  This attribute of God’s nature has surrounded Him with an impenetrable barrier of “consuming fire.”  This is not selfishness on the part of the Most High: justice demands that the immaculate condition of the universal throne be preserved and be eternally secure.  Moral decay in high places in the governments of men eventually brings ruin.  The many nations that have fallen because of this blight are object lessons of how imperative it is that heaven’s throne be invulnerable to corruption.

        It was the benevolent quality in the nature of the Great God that moved Him to create other beings with free moral natures.  It was impossible for the Lord to abide alone: His very nature demanded that there be other like beings who could share His glorious presence.  It was this disposition to do good that moved the Lord to make every possible provision for the perfection of a heavenly family.

        The creation of other beings, invested with the power to will or not to will moral issues, was fraught with great hazards which presented most difficult problems.  The evidence of suffering, misery, and death – even the death of God’s own Son – is proof that the instantaneous creation of perfect, or mature, free moral beings was not practical – perhaps even wholly impossible.  God foreknew that immature free moral agents would make the wrong choice many times.  He also foresaw the bondage that would result from the exercise of foolish self-will; so “before the foundation of the world” our Lord met every issue, and made every provision necessary to “bring many sons unto glory” (Heb. 2:10).

        Since perfect moral being demands complete devotion to the highest good of being, it is unlikely that all free moral agents would follow such a pattern of life even though they gave mental assent to the reasonableness of such a procedure.

        Our Heavenly Father has demonstrated in many ways His absolute devotion to all principles of righteousness.  He, therefore, is a worthy Commander, to whom all beings should render complete obedience.

        Obedience to God is an act of the human will; it constitutes work; without it no man would ever be saved.  Understand, it is not an act of man that saves him; it is an act of obedience to the Lord that saves– when God calls, man obeys; it is this act that saves.  God would dishonor Himself and His kingdom if He were to save any man who did not will to be saved.  The obedient response of the human will to the command of God has a creative effect upon the character of man.  As a matter of fact, character is developed only by the practice of obedience to the Lord, with the help of the agencies provided by Jesus Christ.

        “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), is a command of Jesus.  Like our Heavenly Father, all beings are free moral agents; but not all are perfect free moral agents.  The word “perfect” (Greek: telios) means “fully accomplished, fully developed, complete.”  Bear in mind that we are under order, or command, to “be perfect.”  Every saint is called to make the attaining of this state the chief object of life: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33),is simply another way of saying, “seek to be perfect.”

        When Jesus commanded, “Come unto Me…take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28,29), He was pleading with men to forsake their lawless self-willed pattern of life and submit to divine precept which would ultimately lead to perfection and rest for the soul.

        Jesus Christ was born a free moral agent; but He had yet to be perfected as a human being.  Perfection of character requires time and patience of Providence and man.  Absolute and complete obedience to God is essential to the growth of Christian character.  Jesus, “though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).  Jesus submitted to every law of God, and in the process of time He acquired that state of being where He was accounted worthy of the crown of perfection: “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty,” said Peter (II Peter 1:16).  Luke states that “they saw His glory” (Luke 9:32).  This was the coming of the kingdom of God into man; and this was the first occasion of such an event (Luke 9:27).

        From the time of the transfiguration, Christ was a perfect (mature) free moral agent; but He was not a law unto Himself: His freedom was not the “license” type of so-called liberty.  The transfiguration was the Father’s evidence to His Son that He, Jesus, was sovereign; He had fully demonstrated His ability to rule over His own spirit and keep His body in subjection to the will of God.

        “The glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21) is not a state of lawlessness, or a bursting of all legal bonds; it is the condition that results when the creature is “delivered from the bondage of corruption.”  When saints overcome “vanity” (Rom. 8:20) by complete obedience to Christ, they will find that they are released from the conflicting storms within their flesh and within their wills.  By obeying the words of Jesus, “vanity” is put to the cross, and character is wrought within.  Soon, instead of the will of the Father being to us a cross, we find that it is a joy to do anything He asks.  Jesus reached the place where to do the will of God became nourishment to Him: “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.”

        “The glorious liberty of the children of God” is the freedom from the bondage of things and conditions that would prevent them from doing the right thing.  Saints often weep over their failure to serve God as they desire to do.  Their flesh often imposes such demands upon them that their wills are too weak to rise in defense of what is known to be the right and just thing to do; sin and suffering is the consequence.  When men let blind impulse and uncontrollable passions rule them, they are slaves.  True freedom is the ability to do that which we know is right in the sight of God.

        The gospel, or good news, of Jesus Christ is this: that the Kingdom of God is within the reach of men.  Through faith in Christ, ability has been given to men to “press toward the mark for the…high calling of God” (Phil. 3:14), which actually means “Godhood.”  God is calling men to put forth effort to become divine: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4).  The first two verses of Romans twelve set forth another command of the Holy Spirit for saints to put forth effort to reach the perfect state of free moral being: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (the same Greek word that is used in describing what happened to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration: Metamorpho, Matt. 17:2) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove (demonstrate by act) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

        All rational entities, whether they be men or angels, will reign as kings when they attain the perfect state of free moral beings, for then they will be in perfect accord with the Master Mind of the universe; they will ever live to do the will of the Father.  It is with this “remnant” of the elect that God will complete His work in the earth.  These are the people who will have the “seal of God in their foreheads.”  It is this holy company that constitutes those known as “the wise virgins” who are ready for the coming of the bridegroom.  “By their fruits (Manner of life, expressions of Christian virtues) ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20).

        In the wisdom of God “we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (I Cor. 4:9).  The devoted life of saints is not only an epistle “known and read of all men” (II Cor. 3:2), but it bespeaks a testimony in both heaven and hell that honors the creative works of our God: “Principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church (might be instructed by that which the Lord is doing through the church) the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

        The whole pageantry of earth’s history has been chiefly for the vindication of the righteous character of God’s free moral government.  Incidentally, He has used the element of time for the development of moral worth, or stature, in His sons.  The rewards for the overcomers of this latter day are immense:  They are “accounted worthy to escape (‘the distress of nations’ and ‘a heart overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life’) all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).  It is this company of people who also are “accounted worthy to obtain that world” of the future where man shall be “equal unto the angels” and be known as “the children of God” (Luke 20:35,36).

 

 

THERE IS A RIVER

Charles F. Woodard

        “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High” (Psalm 46:4).

        “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).

        “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

        “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on them should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:39).

        This is a “spiritual river,” for it will make you glad.  Jesus is “the Giver” of this river.  This spiritual river may be in you and flow out of you to refresh others.  THIS RIVER IS THE HOLY GHOST!

        Notice that this river to be given by Jesus is for “they that believe on him.”  Many born-again believers today have received remission of sins and baptism in water as those did under the ministry of John the Baptist (Luke 3:3), but have never gone on to this SPIRITUAL BAPTISM IN THE SPIRITUAL RIVER.

        “John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Luke 3:16).  The future tense is used, “he shall baptize you.”  Many live in the Gospels and never know of this outpouring of the spiritual river of the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:12-17; Acts 19:1-6).

This Is A River Of Power For Service!

        “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

        Paul found this river in Acts 9:17 and was “filled with the Holy Ghost.”  No wonder he could say: “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).  I think some of the saddest words in the Bible are found in Deut. 32:36: “their power is gone.”

        Cannot this very indictment be made of the church today?  We have Sunday School, contests, musicals, and good preaching – but where is the “RIVER OF POWER?”  Where are the souls being saved?  Where is the burden for those who are lost?  O God, send the rain and let the river flow again!

This Is A River Of Power Over Temptation!

        “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

        The styles of the day are disgusting!  Women and girls of today dress like harlots did forty or fifty years ago.  Their tight jeans, tight shorts, short skirts and low-cut blouses are all the results of the “lust of the flesh.”  If you get this river flowing out of your innermost being, you will have power over the temptation to be like the world.

This Is A River Of Life!

        I don’t care how many times you have “accepted Christ,” responded to the altar call, etc., if you don’t overcome the flesh, you will die spiritually and go to hell: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).

        Water has always been a precious commodity in an arid region.  There can be no life without water.  That is why the Holy Spirit is spoken of by Jesus as a life-giving river.  There can be no spiritual life without the spiritual river of the Holy Ghost.

        There are two types of churches today.  One has the Word, but very little of the Spirit.  The other has the Spirit, but very little of the Word.  A panoramic view of the Bible shows the necessity for both.  In Genesis 1:2, “the Spirit of God moved”; in Genesis 1:3, “God said.”  Here in the beginning we have the Spirit and the Word.

        THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS PRESENT TO PUT INTO ACTION THE WORD SPOKEN!  Praise God, the river began to flow!

        Thank God for a RIVER OF VICTORY.  Praise the Lord for a river that will drown the “old man” and “destroy the body of sin:” Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6).

David saw a River of Obedience

        God hates divorce and marital separation and warns in Malachi 2:16 not to deal treacherously and faithlessly with your mate.  The customs of the day smile on divorce and remarriage.  What saith the Lord?  Is there no John the Baptist to cry out against this sin?

        “So then if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7:3).

        “ And if any woman has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she should not leave or divorce him” (I Cor. 7:13 Amp.)

        “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31).

        “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

        “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

        The world needs a revival!  The church needs to be revived!  You and I need a revival!  The rain of holiness will bring the river of revival into being.  The wells of blessing are stopped up with sin.  No water can flow.  Is there no Isaac to “reopen” the wells?  “And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father…And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water” (Gen. 26:18-19).

        The river of answered prayer is only a trickle.  Why?  Christians are sick, and God seems to hear only occasionally.  Why?  “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).

        If you tolerate or condone or excuse SIN in your life, God will not hear your prayers.  The river cannot flow.  O Lord, break the dam of SIN and let the river pour forth!

        Yes, there is a river, but the water is almost gone.  What is left is polluted and has a foul odor.

        David said: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Psalm 101:3).  Church members worship at the TV altar, and so do the preachers.  God’s people are dying of thirst and there is no water.  Where is the Joshua that will say: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15), then put his foot through the TV screen and get out the Bible?  Can we deny our children TV?  Of course you can.  Would you let them take poison?  Can I make them dress decently?  Certainly.  Discipline them if they don’t.  They won’t die: “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.  Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:13,14).  Permissiveness is the sin of the age and the root of much trouble.  Yes, two evils have stopped the river.  What will you do about it?  “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

        Will you start a river in your soul?  In your home?  In your church?

 

 

“EVERY ONE THAT IS PROUD IN HEART IS AN ABOMINATION TO THE LORD”

Prov.16:5

 

Tom Scullin

        Psalm 8:4   "What is man that thou art mindful of him or the son of man that thou visitest him?”

        In view of ALMIGHTY GOD, we have nothing to boast or be proud of because we have nothing but what we have received from him; and of all his creatures, we are the most helpless and dependent.  You would think man would be clothed with humility and have recognition of his true condition.  As we are all aware, this is not the state in we find ourselves.  Pride is one of the most insidious lies that we succumb to because it can mask, hide and manifest itself in all we do or think.

        Paul, in 1 Cor. 4:7, says: “For who maketh thee to differ from another?  and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

        It is both proper and appropriate to appreciate and be thankful for the gifts, of every kind, given to us by God, but when we take praise, or glory, or honor unto ourselves for these gifts, and begin to be proud and boastful in our usage of these gifts, we are taking unto ourselves that which belongs only to GOD, and to do so is to exercise ourselves in, to act upon and to solidify ourselves in the gifts, the callings and the workings of the devil; for pride and boastfulness were the root sins that led to his rebellion against GOD, and he will quickly bestow these (his) gifts upon any who walk in untruth.  Ezek 28:14-18: “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  (15) Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.  (16) By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  (17) Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.  (18) Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick.”

        The sin of Lucifer, while he was in the holy mountain of God, was pride and boastfulness.  He evidently was one of the most glorious, if not the most glorious, of God’s created beings, but he began to do what Paul describes inRom. 1:25: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.  Amen.”

        In Jn.8:44 Jesus said Satan was a liar and the father of lies.  He changed the truth of God into a lie by ascribing unto himself and taking unto himself the praise, the honor and the glory of all that God had created in him.  He believed the insidious lie of pride, and took to himself the authorship, the genesis, the origin of the wisdom, beauty and perfection that God had created into him and worshipped himself, the creature, rather than the Creator, and began to boast “I WILL”.  Lucifer only had these gifts and abilities because God put them in him at his creation.  Lucifer was not there to make the choice of what gifts and abilities he would be created with, any more than we are able to decide what gifts or abilities we will be born with.

        All created beings are receivers from the hand of Almighty God.  What we have and what we are comes from the “Giver of all good and perfect gifts,” GOD alone.  We have nothing to strut about in pride or to boast of, for it all belongs to and comes from God.

        This is exactly what Lucifer began to do: to strut about in pride, as if he were the creator and source of the marvelous created being that he was, and he began to perpetrate this lie and to boast “I WILL BE LIKE THE MOST HIGH.”  The only thing that Lucifer was the source and creator of was the LIE, for he is its father, for he made the lie his foundation, and pride its expression.

        Pride is the most ridiculous and absurd untruth to enter the heart of any created being.  Ever since pride entered into the universe of being it has been saying “I WILL” in a grotesque and hideous attempt to make itself god, and eliminate God from His throne and negate His authority.  But the creature’s “I WILL” is a puny sham, the hollow sound of a failed pretender whose very being, expression and existence is a gift from God, which allows him – limited and prescribed functions – in a temporary body, – whose life force is not his own, – who lives on borrowed time, – using talents and gifts that are not of himself, – while abiding in a universe and environment that does not belong to him but unto God.

        That this totally dependent and impotent creature would have the effrontery to boastfully and pridefully say “I WILL” and then brazenly bow down to worship itself, can only be described by the scripture that speaks of the mystery of iniquitybecause it defies reason and logical thought; it is an insane travesty played out by blind fools and liars.

        The lying, self-exalting nature of pride and boastfulness should preclude any manifestation of it in our lives, as born-again believers; sadly this is not the case.  We find this horrible sin ready to rear its ugly head if we do not walk in the spirit of humility.  The awful truth is that pride springs up where God has done His wonderful and glorious work.  The creature in itself has nothing, but when God anoints and gifts the creature and the glory and power of God begins to manifest in the life, TAKE HEED and BEWARE, lest now the creature begins to ascribe unto itself some of that glory and power.  This was how the lie unfolded in Lucifer’s case.

        It was in the very perfection of beauty and wisdom that God had created into Lucifer that he became lifted-up and corrupted himself in.  It was in the very fullness and goodness of God to Lucifer that the lie took root, and allowed pride to creep in and overcome him.

        What a lesson to us, that this created being, the anointed cherub that covereth, who walked up and down in the presence of the omnipotent, the omniscient, the omnipresent God of all glory and majesty, before whom he was but a transient shadow, could allow this horrible lie to take root, grow and destroy himself.

        If this was able to happen in this august and holy place, to a created being of such stature and prominence, in the very presence of the God of all glory and power, how careful and alert we must be in order to avoid the same sin, for Satan is always there to share his gift of pride with any and all who do not clothe themselves in the spirit of humility!

1 Pet 5:5-7

(5) Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.  Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.  (6) Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: (7) Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Isa 57:15

(15) For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Matt 18:4

(4) Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 23:12

(12) And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

James 4:6,10

(6) But he giveth more grace.  Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  (10) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

 

 

GRACE UNTO YOU

Randall Walton

        The word grace is one of the most overworked and abused words in Christian circles.  It is used extensively in the Bible, both in the Old Testament as well as the New, which fact gives it a great deal of positive credibility (38 times in the Old, 127 times in the New).

        Nevertheless, the modern usage of the word is a far cry from its employment in the Scriptures: the most popular definition(?) renders the word a palliative for a sick and malnourished craven who is totally incapable of making any positive choices, and needs a license which will allow him to continue in sin and degradation.  It is generally known as unmerited or undeserved favor: the idea behind this is that there is not one thing that man can do in order to be saved, and that once he is saved, there is absolutely nothing he can do to guarantee that he will remain saved, but he will remained saved no matter what he does.

        It is very easy to see through the thin veneer of such a doctrine as this, for even the staunchest believers of that doctrine admit that a person must at least believe in order to be saved, or converted.  And with that admission, the walls of defense of that doctrine come tumbling down.

        But it is well to dust away some of the cobwebs which make the seeing somewhat obscure, e.g., it is true that no one deserves to be saved.  It is also true that salvation cannot be earned nor bought with certain good works.  In fact, no one can be saved as a matter of his or her own choice!  Jesus stated most emphatically that “no man can come unto me except the Father DRAW him” (John 6:44).  On this basis, the first and primary act in the process of salvation must come from the Father via the Holy Spirit through conviction.  A person does not just “decide” to be saved and then automatically he is.  Until and unless the Holy Spirit puts conviction upon a person, that person cannot be saved.

        But, it is also evident that the Holy Spirit will bring convicting power to every person at some point in his life.  The second act of salvation is on the part of the person, and that is in believing and obeying the Scriptures, i.e., confess, repent and call upon the name of the Lord.

        Notice that each of these, confession, repentance and calling upon God are acts of volition or resolve on the part of the believer who is responding to the wooing of the Spirit.  This is not done by the Holy Spirit but is a response or reaction which a person makes within his own heart.  The actual work of regeneration is accomplished by the Holy Spirit, but this is done upon the basis of the person’s having fulfilled his obligation to respond.

        The work of the Spirit’s conviction is totally unmerited and undeserved, for no one is worthy of this mercy so freely bestowed upon sinful mankind.  However, this act of compassion is not all there is to grace.  Grace is a part of a Christian’s walk all the days of his spiritual life.  And it is impossible to equate “undeserved favor” with the many usages of the word grace as found in the Scriptures.  For substantiation of this try substituting the words “undeserved favor” in every place where grace appears.  It will not work!

James Strong’s Definition

        The definition of grace in Strong’s Concordance is: “The divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”  This is a much broader and more accurate description of the work of grace, for it not only includes unmerited favor as the influence of the Spirit, but it shows a definite result which emanates from the person’s life.  True, it marks the Spirit’s influence as the source, but it is evident that the “reflection in the life” is not a one-sided affair, for the Holy Spirit is “given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32).

        At the same time, we must admit that the “divine influence upon the heart” does NOT ALWAYS result in a positive or a good reflection in the life, but it is still grace which is at work as a divine influence, irrespective of the result: the kind of “reflection in the life” depends upon the kind of response which the individual himself makes to that influence!  Thus, truth negates the idea of grace being totally unmerited favor.  It is far more than that, and even more than the “influence of the Holy Spirit.”

Grace Is Empowerment

        In order to gain a better understanding of terminology, it is often necessary to observe how certain words are used, e.g., the context in which the words appear, the tenor of the message which the writer is conveying to his readers.  This most definitely applies to the use of the word “grace.”  To illustrate this concept, try substituting the words “unmerited favor” everywhere the word “grace” appears.  We have to believe that the word of God is logical and above reproach and therefore it makes sense, but if you use “unmerited favor” in place of “grace” wherever the word is used, the text is not only illogical, it becomes absurd.

        In nearly all of Paul’s epistles, he begins and ends with “Grace be unto you,” or a slight variation of this.  Now, see how it sounds when you say it this way: “Unmerited favor be unto you.”  Is this really what Paul was wishing for these folks?  Of course not!!  And even Dr. Strong’s definition is awkward when it is superimposed in this way.

        Having considered every New Testament reference where “grace” is used, it seems most reasonable to regard the word “empowerment” as the most accurate synonym to be used in defining this term.  Power or empowerment is one of the main ingredients in a walk with God, a fact which is lost to most people who claim to be Christian: “as many as received him, to them have he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

        Thus, we can conclude that when Bro. Paul wrote, “Grace unto you,” he was invoking power to the saints, power to walk with God, power to witness for Him, power to overcome, and power over all their enemies.

What It Means To Us

        The economy of the kingdom of God affords amazing grace, not only for salvation, but also for perseverance, overcoming, and stability.  It is evident from the Scriptures that this empowerment covers at least three important areas of our Christian experience: 1) authority, 2) ability, and 3) anointing, all three of which are given to every believer (Eph. 4:7).  Following are a number of Scriptural references which affirm the above statement:

1) Authority: this is the right or power to give commands, make decisions, carry out orders, etc.  (read Luke 10:19; Matt. 18:18.)

        In Romans 5:17, Paul tells us of the great authority which those who receive an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness are to exercise.  He says that they “shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”  To reign is to rule or to have jurisdiction over.  This authority or empowerment is granted to every believer in order that they can live a victorious and joyful life in the here and now.  This means that we can walk with God in the fullness of the Spirit and stand in overcoming power.  In verses 20, 21 of the same chapter he states that, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

        This more abounding grace is not more “unmerited favor” but more empowerment to overcome sin.  The “reigning grace” is that authority by which the man of God rules his own spirit and brings it into subjection to God (II Cor. 10:3,4), and he exercises that same grace (authority) upon the forces of evil which combat against him.  And any time he needs more power/grace, it is available to him (James 4:6).

        “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Cor. 15:10).  No unmerited favor here!  Paul gives honor to the authority with which he was vested.  The power of the grace he received gave him the stamina, the strength, the courage to labor as he did.  And Paul was no exception.  The same grace, the same empowerment is available for everyone who walks with God even today.

        “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon” (I Cor. 3:10).  There is certainly no question about the empowerment in this statement. A foundation is not laid by human ingenuity nor undeserved favor.  It takes the power of the Spirit to establish a work for the Almighty God, and Brother Paul gives the credit where it belongs.

2) Ability.  This is the quality of being able to do and accomplish various things that seem impossible or very difficult, and may include special skills or talents.  It is expressed very clearly in Eph. 3:20 where Paul says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

        This “able to do” is granted unto those who walk with God.  It enables a person to please God and live in obedience to the Lord.  It includes that added surge of strength which is needed when a person is under stress and strain: suddenly he is lifted up above the shadows and the burden and may not realize that his help came from the Lord.

        “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance” (Acts 20:32).  This empowerment, “to build you up,” is that which comes to every saint as the ability to do whatever is necessary.  The fact that few apprehend this divine ability does not detract from its availability.

        “Our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2).

        “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 2:1).

        “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

        “For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Heb. 13:9).

3) Anointing.  This is a very special enduement of the Holy Spirit by empowerment.  It is illustrated in Acts 4:33 where the saints were gathered for prayer.  “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.”  This was nothing less than the anointing of the Spirit upon these saints, for verse 31 says that “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”  What a wonderful way to be assembled together!

        This same grace was the power which produced miracles through the ministry of Barnabas and Paul.  “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, who gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).

        Paul had a deficiency in his life which he called “a thorn in the flesh.”  He detested this thing and prayed on three separate occasions to be delivered from it.  But the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor. 12:9).

        The power he speaks of is the “anointing,” the grace of God as a gift of power through the Spirit.  This is sufficient for any circumstance or condition, for through the anointed ministry, the Holy Spirit rides over any and every deficiency.  Jesus spoke of this in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.”  Every Christian needs this “anointing” upon his life and especially so in these darkening days with which we are faced.

        In Ephesians 3:7, 8, Paul says, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  Notice the strong connection between grace and power: the two go together.

        There is no question about the anointing upon Paul’s ministry: “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (I Cor. 2:4,5).

        It is only, always the anointing of the Spirit which makes a ministry effective.  It is this grace or empowerment which gives life to any ministry, not unmerited favor, but the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through the servant of the Lord.

        And Peter tells us to “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18).