People of The Living God

Psalms 1

 

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December 2013



 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

THE STATE OF THE WORLD

Randall Walton

        Among many of the pertinent sayings of Jesus found in the four gospels is the alarmist word, “Watch!”  He cautioned His followers to be alert, awake, aware of contemporary events and trends in the political and religious arenas as well as in society itself.  He declared that there would be some catastrophic happenings which would be indicators of the nearness of the end, and He strongly advised His listeners to watch for those signal events.

        One does not need an extraordinary intelligence quotient to perceive that circumstances in the affairs of mankind have radically revolutionized in the past couple of decades.  Topics and subjects which were once considered risqué or off-color at the least are now matters of public conversation and debate.

        There is no area of our existence which has not undergone drastic change.  While some advances in technology have afforded us a higher standard of living (high tech conveniences, labor saving devices, etc.), the standard of life has plummeted to an astonishingly low level, and it remains in an attitude of a steady downhill decline.

A Society In Shambles

        Much of today’s malaise in society can be dated to the emergence of television.  The pre-TV world was quite innocent when compared with the present situation.  Marriage back then was considered a life time commitment of two persons of the opposite sex.  Divorce was not only frowned upon as immoral and ungodly, it was rather difficult to achieve.  (Reno, Nevada, gained a great deal of notoriety with its reputation of cheap and quick divorces.)

        Many young people were chaperoned when they dated, and those who weren’t were expected to remain virtuous and chaste.  There were occasional cases when couples “broke the rules” and a pregnancy occurred, but the rules also dictated that such couples marry and grant legitimacy to their offspring.  Abortion was not considered an alternative to carrying the child; neither did women demand the right to terminate a pregnancy.  The subject was not even brought up!

        So-called mercy killing, euthanasia, is also a product of the TV generation.  Parents used to expect to spend their last days on earth with a loving child, even if it meant moving into their home and sharing their resources.  Children felt an obligation to assume the care of their parents as an integral function of “family.”

        Homosexuality was thought of as a gross, unmentionable abomination, a scourge which God had demonstrated His hatred of with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There were actually laws which made Sodomy a felony.  No one in the thirties or forties could have imagined that homosexuals would ever take part as such in public parades, or would participate in lobbies to gain favorable legislation for their lifestyle.  And a homosexual Senator?  Unimaginable!

        If pornography existed at all, it was only obtainable via black markets or behind-the-counter deals.  And yesterday’s innocency was not riddled with a problem of drug abuse, nor of child abuse, nor was it an epidemic of STD (sexually transmitted disease).

        All of the above mentioned are symptoms of a super-sick society, a people driven to moral suicide, overcome with sumptuous, vain, purposeless living, a generation which has become so self sufficient that it no longer needs God (except in rare emergencies, and on special holidays, such as Santa Claus Day and Bunny Rabbit Day).

        As a nation, we have rejected the Lord of Hosts, and have embraced rather the gods of wealth and loose living; we bow down at the shrine of sports and glorify the celebrities of the movie and TV screen.  Entertainment is our liturgy while the lurid lust of the daily soap opera has become the altar of sacrifice for millions of housewives.  The Bible is considered anachronistic – a relic of a naïve and backward people; it is a mere symbol which is dutifully, if not embarrassingly, carried to church on Sunday morning to give a semblance of religious piety to an otherwise worldly and corrupt populace.

Decadence In Government

        The erosion of moral values in society is paralleled by a decline in political rectitude and fiscal responsibility.  We have gone from the strongest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor nation, and that in a matter of a few short years.  We have managed to help build up the economies of the two World War II aggressor nations so that they are today able to effectively capture a substantial portion of the world’s markets and buy into American industry.  Someone said, “We won the war, but lost the peace.”

        We have watched our congressmen arrogantly raise their own wages.  We have watched the lips of the President as they spelled out “no new taxes” and then, as coherently, state that taxes must be raised in order to help cover the extravagances of policies of waste, wantonness, and war.

        This is not meant to attack, nor defend, the political practices of those who hold public office, but rather to point out the extant condition which threatens the stability and welfare of our and other’s nations.  What happens here in the U.S. does have a ripple effect throughout the entire world.

        All this is said to demonstrate the seriousness of the hour in which we find ourselves.  There is no doubt that the world is on the brink of a time of trouble such as is unknown to mankind.  Dearth, famine, depression, uncontrolled disease epidemics, war, devastation, spiraling prices, increased taxes, shortages of vital commodities, escalating crime and immorality, bankruptcies, foreclosures, suicide, manslaughter, infanticide, genocide, cannibalism, weather abnormalities, etc.!

        Jesus vividly described this day in His Mt. Olive discourse, as well as other of His sayings.  He judiciously warned mankind that violence and corruption which preceded the Great Flood of Noah’s day would dominate the scene prior to His second coming, and indeed would precipitate the intervention of heaven to prevent the total decimation of mankind.

The Criminals Among Us

        In the major cities of the U.S. the rate of murder exceeds one per day.  The value of a human life is esteemed so low as to shock the sensibilities of a rational person.  Brutality is at an all time high.  It is common for a robbing victim to be beaten, stabbed, and left for dead.  People are packed into the trunk of a car, hauled for miles, then dumped in a ditch and pumped full of bullets.  And there are those advocates of the grotesque who advise rape victims to relax and enjoy their forced degradation and humiliation.

        We taxpayers are also required to finance legalized murder which is known by the kinder and gentler term, abortion (To abort is no longer the same as miscarry).  And we also must support the growing legions of prisoners who are choking the penal institutions of the nation by the sheer force of their numbers.  Several cities and states are releasing suspects early or on light bond because they have no more room.  The citizens are being required to build more, bigger, and more expensive facilities to restrain the massive waves of criminality.

        If the above trend continues, we will soon have as many, or more, criminals on the streets as there are innocent people.  And it certainly appears likely that the trend will continue on unabated.

        Add to this the specter of international terrorism which is a constant threat to people everywhere.  Centuries-old hatred continues festering among and between people the world over.  We probably hear of only a minority of cases of sabotage, looting, clandestine abductions and blackmail; and so long as mankind continues rejecting the only Way, the Truth, and the Life, these bitter happenings will continue to happen and increase.

How To Cope?

        Only God has the answer for the problems which beset mankind.  Again and again Jesus admonished us to “ be ready,” to “prepare,” to take appropriate measures to give ourselves some assurance during these trying times.  In Matthew 24, He instructed the people to “flee into the mountains,” a move which required some forethought, planning, and preparation.

        Noah’s experience may be considered a precedent for the people of God for this hour (Matt. 24:37-39).  He literally built a boat and, as Peter stated, was “saved by water.”  Jesus warned us to “watch and pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass” (Luke 21:36).

        From other Scriptures we know that the escape will not be by means of a secret catching away, commonly called “the rapture.”  The only means mentioned anywhere is “a place in the wilderness” to which the woman (church) will flee for safety (Rev. 12:6,14), a place which must be prepared, or made ready, for her.

Hear His Voice

        We are convinced that God will lead many of His servants to establish “places” where God’s people will be cared for during these approaching dark days.  We urge you to seek the Lord diligently that you may know what He wants you to do.  Preparation must be made well in advance of the strike of judgment of God upon the earth.

        Learn to walk humbly and softly before the Lord that you may hear His gentle voice.  Consider the examples in the Scriptures where God spoke to people in both the Old and the New Testaments.

        Noah, Gen. 6:13; Abraham, Gen. 12:1,7; Jacob, Gen. 28:13; Moses, Ex. 3:4-6; Joshua, Josh. 1:1; Samuel, I Sam. 3:4-8; Isaiah, Isa. 6:8; Cornelius, Acts 10:3,4; Peter, Acts 10:10-16; Paul, Acts 9:4-6.

        These are but a few examples where heaven intervened in the lives and affairs of mankind and gave specific instructions.  Since we have these immutable records of God communicating with man in the past, it is not unreasonable to expect Him to speak to His people in these days, also, and to give specific and detailed instructions concerning His divine will.

Obedience Better Than Sacrifice

        Learning to obey the voice of the Lord requires a great deal of self-discipline and training.  It begins by practicing the words of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures.  It is unlikely that anyone will follow orders given by divine revelation who has not first given serious heed to the commands of Jesus which are embodied in the Sermon on the Mount and His other words.  This is one reason we strongly urge God’s people to study and obey the words of Jesus.  Learning obedience is not easy, neither is it a natural thing to do.

        It requires deliberate action, dedication and perseverance.  It also takes the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and a willing heart to cooperate with the prodding of the Holy Spirit.  The person who has made a habit of pleasing God by obeying His written words is a likely candidate to hear the voice of the Lord as He speaks in these darkening last days.

        When the curtain of night has fallen and the cup of iniquity runs over, it will be too late to make the preparation that should have been made earlier.  The time to get ready is NOW!  We are NOT advising anyone to run to the mountains, nor to become survivalists, nor to hide away in a cave somewhere.  We are urging people to PRAY, SEEK GOD, forsake the trivial pursuits of this life, that perhaps the Lord, Himself, will speak to you and show you what to do.  When calamity has fallen it will be forever too late to seek the Lord for deliverance.  Do it now!

 

 

 

EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS A CALL TO THE MINISTRY

Harry R. Miller

        Under the terms of the Old Testament, the priesthood was confined to one certain family, but under the New Covenant everyone should be a priest.  “Jesus Christ…hath made us kings and priests” (Rev. 1:6).

        The apostle Peter said: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9).

        According to the plan of God, missionaries, Bible school teachers, pastors, evangelists, and other officers have specific places in the body where they function for the building up of the church.  Such ministers are, as a rule, dedicated wholly to their ministry, and this is as it should be.  But the idea that these function as a professional clergy, relieving the main body of the church from any special call to ministry, is not Scriptural.

        The people whom we call the laity, or the congregation, have just as important a part in the ministry as the above named ministers have.  The main body of the church should be just as much dedicated to the work of Christ as are the special ministers.  A missionary, of necessity, must “forsake all,” must “follow Christ,” must be in a position to lay down his life for the gospel – but should more be asked of the missionary than is asked of the rest of the body of Christ?  The missionary lives to serve: why should not all the church do the same?

        Why should a pastor be called to give his life unstintingly to a ministry of sacrifice, and the better-fed members of the church be free to pile up treasures, build beautiful homes, and load themselves down with all manner of the wares of mammon?

        It is time for the main body of the church to understand that they also must live for Christ.  Not everyone is called to preach (for which we can be very thankful); not all are called as foreign missionaries; but there is a place of ministry for every soul who loves the Saviour.  The aged, the infirm, even the bedfast, have a work to do for the Lord.

        Aged men and women, with their years of experience, are invaluable in the body of Christ as examples of piety and as teachers of the younger generation.  They, also, have the ministry of prayer, if they desire it!  Widows over sixty years of age gave themselves to prayer in the early church (I Tim. 5:5-10).

        There is no condition, no circumstance, that can prevent any man from serving the Lord if he wills to serve Him.  Paul, while a prisoner, did some of his most effective work for the Kingdom of God.  He had a great deal of time in a jail for thinking, praying, and writing; and while he was confined in his “own hired house” as a prisoner, he continued to preach the Kingdom of God (Acts 28:30,31).

        John the beloved was also a prisoner; and he, too, was still a worker for Christ.  On his lonely isle he received, and gave us, the book of Revelation.

        Aquila and Priscilla, exiled from Rome, were not preachers; but they loved the Saviour and opened up their home to the saints in Corinth.  It may even be that the whole Corinthian church was “in their house” (I Cor. 16:19; Acts 18:1,2).  By trade they were tent makers, and through the labor of their own hands and of the hands of the brethren, they supported themselves and their work.  This was the couple who enlightened the ministry of the orator, Apollos (Acts 18:26).

        The Lord has given a talent to every man, woman, and child.  But many of these talents, because of fear and ignorance, have been hidden in the earth.

        If we truly desire to serve Him, doors of ministry are always open.

 

 

YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER

James Sanderson

        The book of Acts is an extraordinary account of the establishment of the church of Jesus Christ after His ascension to heaven.  Each page bristles with miracle-working power as the Holy Spirit worked in lives yielded to His control.  After His resurrection, Jesus had instructed His followers, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  That word endued means “clothed upon.”  They were to wait in Jerusalem until they were clothed with heavenly power to accomplish the work to which God had called them.  As that company of believers prayed and sought God in the upper room, a rushing mighty wind swept through their gathering and brought forth a work unprecedented in human history.  The Church was born.  Earlier, Jesus had told His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).  As the Holy Spirit began to work, sin was exposed, souls were saved, healings were wrought, the dead were raised, imposters were judged, and men boldly declared the message of Jesus Christ.

        The church today bears little resemblance to the one instituted on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit.  Those early believers were a people sold out to God, with such a love for their Master that they suffered persecution with joy, willingly faced privation and death, and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth without the advantage of modern technology.  As they met in that upper room, they had an eye set on one purpose, to obey their Lord’s call.  They had walked with Jesus during His earthly journey and now desired to continue in His footsteps as they spread His message to others.

        The present-day church has settled for mediocrity.  The book of Revelation gives a vivid description of God’s opinion of the latter-day church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:15-17).  This chilling indictment from God Himself should stir every Christian to repent and follow the example of that early company of believers.  Those in that upper room realized that without an outpouring of the Spirit of God they were powerless to accomplish the work of God.  Paul declared, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).  The Bridegroom is returning for a bride “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev 19: 8).  The bride will not be ready without an infusion of Holy Ghost power.

        The church has become satisfied with the leeks and garlics of Egypt when she could be feasting on the manna from above.  The apostle John declared, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17-17).

        Friends, the searchlight of God’s Holy Spirit needs to shine again in every crevice of the heart to point out sin and all inconsistencies.  “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:17).  The prophetic voice of God must once again reverberate from every citadel of worship and declare, “Thou art the man” (II Samuel 12:7).  The church needs another mighty visitation of the Holy Spirit.  Without it, the church will not be without “spot, or wrinkle or any such thing” (Eph. 5:27).  We need to seek a burden that God might visit His people again.  Let us pray for a “holy dissatisfaction” with our present condition.  Our plans, our programs are not enough.  Just as the early church experienced the promise of the early rain, there will once again be rain from heaven, the latter rain, to finish the work and gather in the harvest.  The Scripture declares that when Zion travails, she shall bring forth (Is. 66:8).  The church will once again “be endued with power from on high.”

 

 

THE FLESH DIES HARD

Mrs. Mary C. Woodard

        Have you experienced the fact that the flesh dies hard?  Or, to put it another way, have you found it hard to overcome the flesh?  I believe most of us have experienced this battle.

        And it is a battle!  Overcoming the flesh is a daily battle, and it is only accomplished a day at a time.

        The apostle Paul is a typical example of one who knew about this battle.  He said, “I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).  He describes this battle in the 6th and 7th chapters of Romans.  In Romans 8, he recognizes the battle can be won, but there is only one way and that is to walk in the Spirit.

        How many of us totally walk in the Spirit?  The flesh desires to do what it desires to do.  It desires to be petted, pampered, and catered to.  It demands time and money.  It requires the best.  I like this; I like that.  I want to do this or that.  How many times does the “I” win out in our lives?

        The Bible tells us that the flesh is enmity against God, so when we give in to the flesh we are working against the Spirit of God who is seeking to work in us.

        Do we desire to overcome the flesh?  Do we desire it enough?  The flesh will not be overcome today or tomorrow.  The daily process must go on.  “Not as though I had already attained, either were made perfect…I press toward the mark for the prize” (Phil. 3:12,14).

        “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (I Tim. 5:6).  I believe this applies to all of us, men and women.  Are you engaged in the pursuit of pleasure?  We cannot be alive unto pleasure and be alive unto God at the same time.  “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey?” (Rom. 6:16).  So, it is a matter of to whom we yield ourselves.

        Why do we so often have a “thorn in the flesh” to buffet us (II Cor. 12:7)?  Is it because we have not yet overcome the flesh?  God is a God of love and mercy, but He does chasten those who are His (Heb. 12:6).  God can do no evil, but He can and does allow Satan to touch us when it is for our good.  Job is an example (Job, chapter 1).  Paul said it was a messenger of Satan who buffeted him (II Cor. 12:7), but God allowed it “lest I should be exalted above measure.”  Paul also indicated that it is sometimes necessary that the flesh be delivered unto Satan for its destruction in order that the spirit might be saved (I Cor. 5:5).

        “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (I Cor. 11:31).  Far better that we should judge ourselves than to have to endure the chastening of the Lord.  We cannot afford to be a self-made person, an independent person, an individualist.  We must be dependent upon the Spirit of God, and we must daily submit ourselves unto God and surrender the old man that he may be crucified and the spiritual man may come forth.

        “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings…but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:19-23).

        Giving in to the flesh will produce the works of the flesh, but submitting to God’s Spirit will produce the works of the Spirit.

        Let us examine ourselves.  Is the “old man” of self still in control, or have we crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24)?  We will overcome the flesh, or we will be overcome by it.  “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).

        There is only one way to overcome the flesh, and that is to say “no” to the flesh and “yes” to the Spirit of God.

 

 

THE MESSIANIC MOVEMENT

Alfred King

        “Error always hides in the shadows, behind the mystical, parabolic and dark revelations of scripture rather than coming to the light where all truth is revealed and all darkness uncovered.” This quote from a sermon given by Albert Martin is never more true than in modern Christianity where “error” has found its way into the American church.  Two great errors permeate the twenty-first century church.  One is that American Christianity has become a feel-good, entertainment addicted, pleasure based, worldly church, and void of a solid scriptural foundation.  Instead they claim they are “led by the Spirit” and not bound to God's law, placing scripture in the category of merely “good advice.”  The other great error is that those who would fit more properly in Martin's statement, are those who may search the scriptures but base their teachings, doctrines and traditions upon “mystical, parabolic and dark revelations of scripture” rather than on the plain, straight forward, clearly and easily understood teachings of Christ and the Apostles.  All too often, we Christians are like a child who, having just finished sixth grade, decides he no longer needs further education because he knows how to read and write and do a little math.  He decides he can move on into college or into life, ignorant of the fact that his foundation is not fully laid.  So today many venture into the parabolic and hidden revelations of the Good Book, studying its contents while skipping over those plain and easily understood portions of Holy Writ, which are the foundation stones upon which all dark and mystical portions must rest.  Failing to lay the foundation securely is to miss the Rock and build upon sand.  While there are many truths taught in and through the prophetic books of scripture and in parables as well, to base one’s foundation upon such teachings with disregard to, and many times in contradiction to, those scriptures which need no interpretation but teach plain, spiritual truth, is dangerous and will most certainly lead into error.  Such is the case of the growing numbers who have fallen into the errors of the Messianic Movement.

        The teachings and practices among Messianics vary from group to group, but the progression of their teaching lead believers away from Christ-centeredness and the cross to re-establishing the Old Covenant laws, ceremonies and practices given to ancient Israel.  It begins with what we consider minor issues but progresses to a full state of Judaism, with Christ included to some degree to take away our reproach” (Isa. 4:1).  It may begin with such ideas as feast days, clean and unclean meats, Sabbaths, or changing worship services to include “Israeli” type music with the accompaniment of the shofar, tambourines, rattles and other instruments of percussion.  The path doesn’t stop with these incidentals however, but continues with wearing yarmulkes, tzitzits, prayer shawls, etc., eventually leading some into circumcision in the flesh and others going so far as to teach that animal sacrifice is again to be established.  This movement has led many Christian believers to reject the trinity, the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, and has led them back into that which the apostle Paul warned the Galatians so emphatically to avoid (Specifically Galatians chapters 2 through 5).  Who would think that after two thousand years, Christians still have to be on guard against Judaism infiltrating the church?

        Some believe the Messianic movement is harmless, while others believe it is commendable for it reaches out to the Israeli people.  Let it be clearly understood as we progress through this discussion that reaching out to the Jewish people is a commendable and honorable endeavor, one to which God has appointed the church in the Great Commission.  Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, first preached unto the Jews, and only after they rejected the gospel did he turn to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).  Nothing in this discussion is to be taken that the Jews or Israel should not be loved and have the gospel declared to them as well as to Gentiles.  The Jews are as lost and bound for hell as the most sinful Gentile, and they must come to Christ just as any other sinner comes, that being through faith in Jesus Christ.  They must, as the Gentiles, be washed in the blood of Christ for their cleansing and for their salvation.  There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ for He is the door (Jn. 10:7,9), and He is the Way, the Truth and The Life and He most adamantly stated, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”(Jn. 14:6).  These verses need no interpretation but are plain and clearly understood.  To this, most Messianics would verbally concur, but there are serious dangers within their teaching, which state there is another way, the Messianic way.

        The Messianic Movement got its start by converted Jews who, like the apostle Paul, had a burden for the salvation of the Jewish people.  They began a movement to reach out to the Jews with the gospel, and certainly there is no problem with the love and desire to reach the nation of Israel.  The definition in Wikipedia for Messianic Judaism is: “a syncretic (the combination of different forms of belief or practice.) religious movement that arose in the 1960s and 70s.  It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of religious practice and terminology.”  To state it more simply and succinctly: The Messianic movement is a blending of the Gospel and the Mosaic Covenant given to Israel of old.  This in itself should throw a warning flag to any who understand the New Covenant and who have received the revelation of the cross and all that Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection.  To go back even further than Wikipedia does; the Messianic movement began with the “Hebrew Christian Alliance of America”, which was established in 1915.  In 1973 there was an attempt to change its name from “Hebrew Christian Alliance of America” to “Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.”  However, the name was not changed until 1975 although 1973 is considered the official beginning of the modern Messianic Movement.

        Consider the following “statement of belief” by one leader in the Messianic movement: “We are full of hope for the future of our nation (Israel), and most firmly believe with the Apostle Paul that the gifts and the calling of God in relation to Israel are ‘without repentance’ or a change of mind on His (God’s) part.  We believe that Israel is still God’s nation; that Zion will yet again be the center of God’s kingdom upon earth, and that not through the Churches, which are becoming more and more apostate and worldly, but through restored and converted Israel shall all the nations of the earth be led to a knowledge of Christ, and all the earth be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah, even as the waters cover the sea.”

        With this background, we desire to present a few dangers innate within the Messianic movement.  The concern is that many born again believers have been swayed by this movement and have embraced false teachings, teachings that attempt to add to the complete, perfect and finished work of Christ and lead the believer down the path of a ritualistic form of Christianity, one that denies the power of the cross, that power which alone is sufficient for man's salvation.  For Christians to return to the Mosaic law, embrace laws and traditions of the Old Covenant, Israeli traditions and customs, including dress, feasts, dietary laws, etc. is bad enough, but the Messianic Movement adds to the scriptures such teachings from rabbinic Judaism, as the observance of bar and bat mitzvahs, holy days such as Yom Kippur and wearing of yarmulkes and other Israeli apparel.  These, along with many other teachings, have no origin in the Bible.  This is one of the great, jaw-dropping errors of the Messianic movement.  The Bible is God’s inspired word to His people.  To add to scripture or to take away from scripture is a serious offense to God (Read Revelation 22:19).  Some may claim that this verse is referring only to the prophesies of the book of Revelation, but every believer must know that the whole Bible is God’s word, and to take away from or change any teaching which God has declared is to play into Satan’s hand and will most assuredly bring question upon God’s word, just as the serpent beguiled Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:1-5).  Some of the Hebrew Roots Movement has gone so far as to declare that the apostle Paul’s writings against some of their teachings were not authentic but were changed by Rome.

        One of the most used defenses of the Messianic movement converts is that one cannot understand the New Testament without understanding the Old.  Error hides behind such statements, for therein lies certain elements of truth, but lurking behind that ever so clever statement, is that old serpent, the father of lies anxiously waiting to snare the prey.  He snares the simple and leads him lie by lie until the gospel of Jesus Christ is exchanged for a covenant that can only bring death.

        The Messianic movement has either not understood or has deliberately rejected those foundational teachings of scripture, those plainly spoken and clearly understood, and reverted to Old Testament prophesies and events which were “a figure for the time then present” (Heb. 9:9) and which foreshadowed the coming Christ, His work, and His kingdom.  The shadows, allegories and parables have been interpreted by human minds and deceitfully incorporated into the New Covenant Gospel, therefore distorting the Good News and placing upon believers a yoke that neither the fathers nor the disciples were able to bear (Acts 15:10).  This movement is leading innocent sheep to the slaughter, down the path where they attempt to be made perfect by the works of the law (Old Covenant law) rather than by the hearing of faith (Gal. 3:1-3).

Israel Of The New Testament

        The New Covenant is a better covenant, established upon better promises and, as the writer to Hebrews continues to exalt the New Covenant above the Old writes, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Heb 9:8-15).

        Take note of a few definite statements made in this portion of scripture and consider how the Messianic teaching refutes it:

        1. The way into the most holy place was not possible through the Old Covenant.

        2. That covenant was just a figure of the true.  It was a worldly set up that gives us a certain understanding of the spiritual and the heavenly.

        3. The Old Covenant could not bring forth a perfect or holy people.

        4. That covenant was only temporary until Christ would come.

        5. Jesus Christ is the High Priest, Whose blood can make full atonement for sins.

        6. The New Covenant deals with the conscience and is a covenant that changes man’s heart.

        (Point six above is a very important issue and needs to be clearly understood.  It is not practical in this article to deviate from our topic, but it is highly recommended that each Christian believer understand this most vital subject.)

        To return to the Old Covenant with the understanding of the scripture above, is to return to a covenant that cannot produce what God desires in His people.  God is dealing with men’s hearts not their minds.  The circumcision in the flesh contained in the Old Covenant was a figure of the New Covenant circumcision of the heart.  The physical was a cutting away of the foreskin or the flesh and is a figure of the cutting away of the flesh (the old man, the old life) and the birth of a new life in God through the Holy Spirit.  In Romans 2:28-29, Paul writes, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”  It is not specifically Israel after the flesh that God is interested in but those after the Spirit who have the circumcision of the heart.  They are new creations, for old things have passed away and all things have become new (II Cor. 5:17).  In his letter to the church in Colosse, he further reveals the prominence of that circumcision of the heart.  “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11).  These are just a few portions of New Testament scripture that shows the ineptness of the Old Covenant and the sufficiency of the New.  The Messianic movement with all its excitement and outward, fleshly manifestations is just one more deceptive move on the part of our great arch enemy to ensnare those not founded upon the Rock, Jesus Christ.

        In conclusion, I offer a very sad case of one personal acquaintance who fell victim to the Messianic movement and where it led her.

        Years ago, this woman attended People of the Living God church in New Orleans, Louisiana, not as a member, but came weekly for months.  She soon met a young man who also began attending the services, and after some months, they were married by Brother Randall Walton, the pastor at the time.  Eventually, they began to get involved with some of the Messianic teachings, beginning with Sacred Names.  This led them slowly but steadily and meticulously into deeper and more in-depth Messianic teaching, which they gradually embraced, ignoring warnings from many of their Christian brothers and sisters.  They found themselves attending Messianic conventions, observing various feasts, including the Feast of Tabernacles where they would reside in a tent for the eight day feast.  After some time they ended in divorce, but the lady was so enamored with Israel that she eventually moved to Israel.  After living there for a season, she decided to become an Israeli citizen.  In the papers she had to fill out to become a citizen she was required to renounce her Christianity.  She was so deceived that she submitted and renounced Jesus Christ.  One only wonders how many others have followed or will follow that same path.  It is with great grief and sadness of heart that we watch many truly born again believers fall prey to the deceptive powers of the prince of darkness as he counterfeits the Gospel with his poison, coated with enough truth to seduce the simple.  Study the Word and build your foundation upon the plain statements of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and you will be not be deceived when the liar comes.

 

 

LETTER FROM A READER

 

Greetings,

        Can you please give me some insight into Ecclesiastes 9:4?  But there’s one thing in life that doesn’t change – That is Hope.  Even a live dog is better than a dead lion.

        Also, I know that God is a God of love, mercy and grace.  But can the great flood mentioned in Genesis 7 be viewed as an act of genocide by God?

        Thank you for your time.  TD

 

Hello TD,

        It was good to hear from you, and I pray God will bless you as you continue to read His word and seek Him.  I am happy that you have found grace at the cross and have come to know Him.  Every saved soul has experienced that day when Jesus Christ reached down and drew him out of a horrible pit.  God so loved man that He sent Jesus into the world to live and face the same things we experience, live a prefect life and die on a cruel Roman cross to atone for our sins.  And there is no sin too great which the blood of Christ cannot cover.  This is why we can sing “Amazing Grace,” for it truly is amazing.

        I want to answer the two questions you asked in your letter to us, dated October 16, 2013.  The first question is concerning Ecclesiastes 9:4.  You wrote out the verse and underlined the last part, “Even a live dog is better than a dead lion.”  I think if you keep this last part connected to the first part of the verse, and also in context with the verses preceding and following, you can understand this particular phrase better.  The previous verses are basically saying that there are good things that happen and bad things that happen in life.  This fundamental fact affects both good and evil people.  Whether we are Christians or not, God sends sun and rain on both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).  Whatever evil we may face in this life, we have hope in God.  The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans gives us great hope and consolation when he wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  As long as we have breath, we have hope and can rest upon this promise.  Even though we encounter problems that seem insurmountable and cast us into the pit of despair, we have great hope, for we serve a loving and yet powerful God Who will never leave nor forsake (Heb. 13:5).  To place it in New Testament context, we could say, “As long as we are alive, we have hope of salvation.  We can find forgiveness for our sins and transgressions.  However, once we die, we will face God and eternity just as we are when we pass from this life.  We cannot go back and change anything.”  Jesus very soberly addresses this very issue in Luke 16:19-31.  After the lives of these two were over, the rich man found himself in hell and there was nothing he could do then to reverse his eternal punishment; God’s judgment was final.  The finality of death leaves every man facing the judgment.   Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  The last part of Ecclesiastes 9:4 is a statement to press home the first part.  Though we be a dog, we still have hope; but if we are a dead lion, we have no hope though we had been ever so strong.  This is how I understand this text.  I hope this helps you better understand it.

        You also asked if the great flood in Genesis seven could be considered an act of genocide by God.  You might use that term, but it was not something God did arbitrarily or without necessity.  You mentioned that God is a God of love, mercy and grace and that is very true.  Nevertheless, He is also a God of righteousness, holiness, purity and truth.  All these characteristics combined (plus many more) make God God.  Another important attribute of God’s nature is that He is just.  To be absolutely just, He must uphold His own law; He cannot compromise, for compromise would be sin.  For God to retain His sinlessness, His purity, He must then be just.  What we are considering here are three basic characteristics of God: Love, Holiness and Justice.  All three of these must work in harmony one with the other.  One cannot operate apart from or at the expense of the other two.  God so loved that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to bear the penalty of man’s sin.  God slew His Son in order to save those whom He loved and would believe on Him.  This very act shows all three attributes of God’s nature.  When man sinned, His holiness necessitated justice, for God can never condone, overlook or excuse sin.  Although justice demanded God’s wrath, His love compelled Him to find a way by which we, who are sinners, would not perish but could obtain eternal life.  To satisfy justice while retaining God’s integrity and holiness, a sacrifice had to be made to pay the penalty for man’s sin.  God’s law states that the soul that sinneth shall surely die (Ezek. 18:13).  God told Adam in the garden of Eden that the day he partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would die.  Death was certain not only for Adam but for the whole human race because all men followed Adam in transgression.  Jesus, being the only One Who could die for all men’s sins, became that Sacrifice that would justify God in turning away His wrath and judgment from any who would believe upon Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ love compelled Him to give Himself for sinners, bear man’s sins and pay the full cost for those transgressions.  He suffered far more than the physical anguish of crucifixion.  He suffered in ways we cannot possibly understand in this life, for He suffered being made a curse for us.  He, being without sin, living a totally righteous life, was suddenly thrust into the pit of men’s sins where His very holiness was repulsed by the ugliness and putridness of it.  He found Himself cast into hell itself as our substitute, in our place, both by being a partaker of death (Heb. 2:14) and by receiving the recompense of our transgressions.  The depths of sin which fell upon Him are so far beyond our comprehension, we can only catch a small glimpse of His sufferings.  But what we can see clearly is that God truly loves mankind and would that none should perish but that all would come to repentance and find salvation in Jesus Christ.

        This brings us back to the original question concerning Noah and the flood.  Without repentance, man cannot be saved.  Repentance is not only feeling sorry about the sin in our lives or even recognizing it to be there.  Repentance is to see it, grieve over it, and turn from it.  Noah had preached righteousness to the people of his day the whole time he was preparing the ark but men refused to turn from their sinful ways.  A time was coming when justice had to fall and, since they refused to repent and call upon God, justice called for judgment upon all those outside the ark of God.  God provided a way of escape but they refused God’s provision.  The same is true today.  God has provided a means by which man can escape the judgment of God and eternal death that results from that judgment.  Even though we have sinned, God is just to forgive us when we believe and repent, for when we do that, our sins are placed upon Jesus Christ.  Jesus bore all men’s sins so all men are without excuse.  This is His love.

        Was it a genocide?  Maybe in one sense because it did do away with sin at that time.  However, sin soon returned and has plagued mankind ever since.  Man has a sinful nature, therefore we gravitate toward that which is sinful.  Only by being born again can man find the power to walk with God in righteousness and holiness.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today is the day of God’s mercy and grace.  Today is the day to respond to the love of God and find forgiveness for sin.  Scripture warns us that this day of salvation will end and when Jesus returns, He will not come as He did the first time, with grace but with wrath.  Let me end with these verses in 2 Thess. 1:7-9, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

        I hope these few words answer your questions sufficiently, but if not, feel free to write again and we will further probe this topic so the truth is clearly understood.  I pray God will bless you as you continue to study God’s word and walk humbly with Him.

                                                        The Editor, AK

                                                       

 

 

AFTER FIFTY YEARS

 

        For those who notice the Testimony of Truth publication number, you will see this December is the six hundredth issue.  “The Testimony of Truth” has reached its fiftieth year in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We want this month to give a brief history of the Testimony of Truth.  The Testimony of Truth began, not as a publication as it is today, but as a newsletter with the late pastor Harry R. Miller.  He was the pastor of a small congregation in Los Angeles in the nineteen thirties which took on the name, “People of the Living God.”  In 1937, the Lord led this congregation to send some of its members into the mountains of Kentucky to minister to some of the poorest in America at that time.  The ministry was very effective for a period of time and a school was built where the local children could receive an education as well as being given a knowledge of scripture.  Through this ministry, several locals came to know Christ and His saving power.  However, after a few years the school caught fire and burned down along with some of the living quarters.  The brother who was the overseer of this ministry, sent most of the people back to their homes because he didn’t know what else to do at the time.  With those leaving the Kentucky outreach coupled with the outbreak of the World War II, many of the congregation in Los Angeles were scattered.  To keep in contact with his former members, Harry Miller began an open letter, which he sent to all those who had moved to various places across the country.  In these letters, he kept the people informed about how God was leading and directing, and he would encourage them to stand strong through the difficult times they each faced.  In the late forties, this open letter began to change from an open letter into a letter in which Harry Miller would inform the readers of various truths the Lord opened to him while studying God’s word.  Many of these teachings were in conflict with what he was taught while in seminary and what was commonly taught in most mainline churches.  As the Holy Spirit revealed to him many truths, he began writing articles and sending them to the former members in his open letters.  Harry Miller had moved east, first to Tennessee and later he found himself in southern Alabama.  It was from there that he endeavored to launch a new ministry and invited those who were receiving the open letters to join him in that ministry.  Many of the former congregation moved to Alabama and the “People of the Living God” church was reestablished.  When the members convened in Alabama, they began having tent meetings throughout the south.  As they ministered in various places, many people became interested in receiving the teachings which were being presented in the tent meeting and were then being written in the magazine.  At that time the name chosen for the magazine was, “The Witness”.  The number of those desiring to receive this magazine gradually grew till there were several thousand receiving it each month.  But by the late fifties, there were readers who were having problems with the name, “The Witness” because many feared that it was associated with Jehovah Witness.  This concern grew over time until People of the Living God decided to change the name.  The name was changed in November 1963 to “The Marturion.”  Marturion is the Greek word for witness or testimony.  The name was retained until the late eighties when a contemporary Christian music group who called themselves “Marturion” wrote to People of the Living God, claiming that PLG had taken their name for the magazine.  After presenting to them when the name “Maturion” was first used for the magazine title, they backed down on the complaint and asked if we could not both use the name.  However, because of PLG’s convictions concerning Christian rock music, we could not allow the paper to be confused or thought to be connected with this group.  The name was changed in May 1988 to “The Testimony.”  It was short lived, for it was discovered there was another magazine entitled, “The Testimony.”  The name was changed again in August 1988 to “The Testimony of Truth,” which is what it is still called today.

        Harry Miller was the editor until his passing in January 1971.  His wife Ruth Miller continued with the compilation of articles for the next ten years until her passing in August 1981.  She continued with new articles and also with many written by her late husband.  In 1981 Randall Walton became the editor and continued this ministry, writing many articles both of awakening and teaching those truths PLG has found to be so important in these days of great spiritual darkness, when it seems that the light of the gospel has almost gone out.  While this magazine has gone through several transitions, its message is still the same as it was in the beginning.  It has retained its proclamation of the truths found in Scripture, which message does not change even though conditions and people do.  God’s word never changes and is as applicable today as it was the day it was penned. So PLG will continue to declare the Gospel as Jesus and the Apostles preached it.  In a world where men labor deceitfully to make it more palatable and more easily digested, sin is still sin and sin always leads to death.  Attempting to water down the seriousness of sin does not diminish it nor does it remove the finality of it.  Men may call it “gay,” “freedom,” “alternative lifestyle,” “cohabitation,” “choice” or whatever else they desire, God calls it sin and He is the One to Whom we will answer.  God hates sin and when He comes again, He will come to judge according to His word.  Jesus said in John 12:48, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you on the last day.”

        For all those who have supported this ministry, we want to take this opportunity to say, “Thanks.”  We appreciate each letter of encouragement and support.  Below are some of the magazine covers as the TOT has transitioned through the years.  May God continue to bless each of you and lead you into His wonderful truth, which truth is able to present you holy and without blame on judgment day.

** Some may notice that the December 2013 “The Testimony of Truth” should be the six hundred and first publication rather than six hundredth.  That is because in 2011, the August and September issues were combined into one magazine.  At that time some situations arose where it was the only way People of the Living God was able to get the magazine printed.

Below are copies of the cover page of each issue as the name was changed.

               Witness       Marturion 

               The Testimony       The Testimony of Truth

 

 

 

NAILED TO THE CROSS

Harry Miller

        “The old rugged cross” where our Savior bore the shame, the abuse of His fellow-man, and all the pains of death for the atonement of the human race, is no longer “despised by the world” of this day as an “emblem of suffering and shame.”  Sentimentalists have created a halo of emotional charm around this instrument of torture which stood on Golgotha’s hill.

        This vicarious act of our Lord and Master is “accepted” by almost all men today.  We are admonished, by all and sundry, to “look and live.”  Many tell us that all one needs to do is to believe: no work, no effort, is involved in the way of salvation, so they say.

        Is this the Gospel that Jesus taught?  Did He teach that nothing is required of a man except that he believe?

        The four gospels, which record the words of Jesus, also record the many commands that He gave to those who choose His way of life.  Christ was most positive regarding the absolute devotion of a believer.  He said, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:27).  The cross of which Jesus spoke is not His cross, it is the believer’s cross.  Here is an obligation that demands attention.  It is imperative for a man to obey these requirements.

        Christ Jesus, in many plain statements, taught that there is but one way to become a child of God.  That way demands complete heart devotion.  Every man is given a choice as to whom he will serve.  There is no middle ground; everyone is obliged to make a clear-cut choice.  You serve self, or you choose to serve God.  If you serve self, then the love for God dies.  On the other hand, if one serves the Lord, then self dies.  The death of self is man’s cross.  The believer is both judge and executioner.  By his acts he will either nail his world, or his Lord, to the cross.  One must die.  “You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Notice that He did not say, “you shall not” but He said, “you cannot.”  Mammon is the world, the things of the world: its pleasures, its ways, its fellowship.  If any man love the world or the things of the world the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15)

        Any love of the world is an illegal affection.  “The pleasures of sin” that Moses refused to enjoy, were not necessarily drunkenness and adultery.  There are far more subtle sins than the sin of lewdness.  “The lust of the eyes” need not be for a neighbor’s wife, it can be for a farm, a home, a car, any one of a thousand “gadgets.”  The “pride of life” can be exercised in the pulpit, by a leader of a prayer meeting, or by the boasting of the carnal man in ten thousand different ways.

        We are told by the writer of the book of Hebrews that there are those who “crucify the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6).  Is this not the case of many today, who are making claims of being children of God, but their works deny their claims?  Such people refuse to put their love of the world on the cross, and by this defiance they openly crucify the Lord.

        The apostle Paul said, “the world is crucified unto me” (Gal. 6:14).  This apostle knew that there was no place for the world in the life of a genuine Christian, so after “counting the cost,” he “suffered the loss” of all those things that men hold dear in this world.  Paul lost the world, but he gained Christ.