People of The Living God

Psalms 8

 

Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size

February 2014



 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

FINALLY

Alfred King

        Whatever one may think of Phil Robertson from the Duck Dynasty series, it is refreshing to see someone state his Christian convictions truthfully when pressed or asked.  It was a breath of fresh air to see a celebrity state what the Bible clearly proclaims and stand by his statement without cowering, tucking his tail between his legs and slinking back into his little corner, feeling as though he had egg on his face, ashamed of the Biblical truth he was compelled to profess.  It has become so common among our politicians (even those who profess to be Christian) to make a statement of truth only to afterward bow down to secular and humanistic media pressure or some other “politically correct” group rather than sticking to their guns and facing the enemies of our society straight on.  If it were only the politicians and Hollywood celebrities who had a yellow streak down their backs, we would not be too alarmed, for we know that the majority of them are out for their own gain without any serious concerns for the good of society nor the good of the country and certainly not for the promotion of Christian morality or Biblical ethics.  But what is alarming and becoming ever more common, is for those leaders of our modern churches to back down when they make similar statements as those made by Phil Robertson.  They are more concerned with their own reputations and the image they portray before men than their conviction that what the Bible clearly teaches is truth and they as ministers of the Gospel must teach exactly what scripture declares, and that without fear of the repercussions that may result.  It is these well-known and popular ministers who should be leading in the battle against sin, and specifically crying out against sin in the church.

        In Matthew 5:19, Jesus gives a serious warning to those of us who preach and teach God’s word: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”  There is a misconception among many concerning this verse.  Many teach that although one teaches incorrect doctrine, he will still be in the kingdom.  That is not the meaning of this verse.  Jesus is stating that, in the eyes of God and the beings in heaven, those who break God’s law and teach others that they need pay little attention to His commands, are the most evil of all men in God’s sight.  They do not enter the kingdom at some lower level as some think this verse expresses.  They don’t enter at all.  And if they were ever in the kingdom, they are certainly cast out.  Jesus is clearly teaching that His commands are to be taught and those who would take on themselves His name, must abide by His laws and commands.  So important are the words of Jesus, that He warned those in Capernaum that it would be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom than for Capernaum because they had so many wonderful and miraculous works done among them.  They had heard the word straight from the Son of God and seen God’s miraculous power and rejected it.  The Pharisees who rejected the Prince of life were the most condemned by Jesus and will be judged most harshly.  Read what Jesus thought of those who taught religious fables in Matthew  23:15.  “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.”  We must not only preach and teach truth but must also stand by it when the enemies assail us.  How many of our modern ministers have compromised the Gospel rather than face the wrath of an ungodly world.

        Jesus informs those who live and teach His word, that they would be hated and persecuted (John 15:18-19): “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”  It is much easier to water down the word of God and make it more palatable for sinners than to stand firm when adversity, “tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word.”  It seems that many men of the cloth today feel they must make an apology for God because His word is too caustic for modern men.  They certainly don’t want the sinful world to think God is fanatical or radical or revolutionary.  They must, at all costs, keep harmony between God and the world, and to do so, they must present God as an easy-going, friend of sinners type of God Who doesn’t want to discomfort or disturb a hell-bound world with words like sin, judgment and reaping what one sows, and they definitely don’t want to rile the militant homosexual world by declaring the truth and letting the chips fall where they may.

        If the world does not hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repent (turn from sin) and find covering for sin through the precious blood of Christ, they will be eternally damned.  Is love failing to warn those on the road to destruction, the peril of their soul?  Does love remain silent in order not to disturb those bound by sin?  Does love fail to speak the truth lest it hurt someone’s feeling?  Does love hold back the salvation of one who is perilously lost so they find no reconciliation for their souls because they might get angry?  To hide the wonderful words of the Savior from the sinner demonstrates either no love for his soul or a lack of faith in the saving power of the Gospel.  For one who claims to be Christian and to give the impression that the sinner need not change his lifestyle of sin, is the highest form of hypocrisy.  Phil Robertson was criticized for his “lack of love and compassion,” and yet his love for man was most evident in that he stood firm on what God’s word teaches and was willing to be criticized, put off the Duck Dynasty show and even took the risk that his family might not completely agree with him, in order to possibly help some lost soul bound by the spirit of homosexuality to be set free by God’s saving grace.  Oh, that more men of God would preach truth and stand whatever the cost.

 

 

AGGRESSIVE CONFESSION

Curtis Dickinson

        The popular concept of Christian faith is that of a religion that is tranquil, satisfying, and congenial, something that lulls to rest our anxieties and gives to all a mantle of neutrality.

        This concept is the absolute antithesis of true Christianity.  The Christian faith is a religion of conflict and self-denial; of bloody crucifixion and ugly persecution; of godly saints in prison and their leaders with their heads on the chopping block.  Christ was the center of controversy, sometimes being the object of vicious criticism and sometimes even being thrown out of the community in shame and disgrace.  After only three and one half years of ministry the world considered Him to be worthy of death, the shameful death of crucifixion.  Jesus said, “Everyone therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33).  This expression came upon the heels of Christ’s warning that they would be persecuted as He was and that they should not be afraid of those who would kill them.  Obviously, Jesus was not simply referring to making the good confession in front of the membership of the church as one is received into its fellowship.  Jesus was talking about aggressive confession in the face of a hostile world, not merely to other Christians, but to those who are antagonistic to Christ.  Not something confined to the saints assembled on Sunday morning, but a confession of your faith and of your Christian ethics at the Monday morning conference table, at the business meeting, at the sales counter.

        A prominent politician made a public statement that he had his own faith between himself and God and that’s where it would stay.  He certainly would not try to impose it upon anyone else.  This line of thought has seeped into the church so that its members feel no compulsion to take a stand for their faith in the office and in the marketplace or among their friends in society.  The best way to prove you are a good Christian is to keep quiet about it!!

        We do not live in two societies; that is the regular work-a-day world and the Christian community as two separate entities.  Rather we live as Christians in a worldly society.  We are in the world as witnesses to its sin, to its doom, and to the demands of God.  And there’s where confessing our faith in Christ will get us into deep trouble.  Obviously it is much easier to accommodate society than to disturb it.

        We must not think that we will be respected and honored for our stand as we now honor Stephen, Paul, Peter and the rest of them.  At the time they were making their confession they were looked upon as fools, unpatriotic, and as enemies of the community.  Only a handful of people mourned the untimely death of John the Baptist.  Most citizens probably thought that he got what he deserved.  The same is true of Peter and Paul and other Christians of the first century.  For confessing Christ in the face of the popularity of neutrality and humanism of our present society, one need not expect glory and honor from those about him.

        It may not seem practical to always confess Christ and to bring His commandments to bear upon every situation.  However, we do not live by pragmatism, but by faith; so we confess Christ in all circumstances and know this is right, because it is what He said to do.

        The good confession is not merely a confession that you believe in Jesus; it is a confession that you are His disciple, that you will follow Him against the current of the world and that His teaching and judgment is true.

        It is not easy to apply the confession that “Christ is Lord” to our pluralistic society.  The general cop-out is to say that He is “my personal Lord” which sounds like saying that He is my “pet Lord.”  One then can bow to the state, to the school, to the club, to one’s peers or whatever, and still confess that Jesus is his Lord.  But what Christ claims is that He is Lord over all and His law applies to the state, the school, the club and all society.  Either they operate by His commandments or they are in rebellion against Him and opposed to those who confess Him as Lord.

        The antichrists have tremendous power and influence in our day.  They control the media and have the largest lobby in government.  One of their best devices is to convince everyone that he should keep his religion to himself, especially if he is a Christian.  But how can one be a Christian engineer or a Christian salesman or a Christian teacher and not be a witness to his faith as it applies to that particular profession?  It is right there, where you earn your bread, where you rub shoulders with atheists, where you meet with them mind-to-mind, where your expertise in your own field is examined – it is right there in the midst of the pagan world where you are to be salt and light, a witness to your faith in Christ.  And if one will not confess Christ there, then he has denied Him.

 

 

WHO IS THE REAL ENEMY?

Lorraine Scullin

        “Why, that is easy to answer,” say most people.  “The devil is the real culprit!  He has been getting people into trouble ever since the Garden of Eden experience of Adam and Eve.  He is very clever at it.  There are many evil things he makes people do, right in this day.”

        However, this is not actually the case, even though this is the popular view of millions of people. In fact, the devil is NOT the master of our lives unless WE permit him to be.  Contrary to most religious teaching, the decisions concerning our own destiny, both in this world, as well as in the next, have been placed squarely in our own hands, not in the devil’s power.  WE must make the choices concerning these important issues, as God has created us free moral agents with the power to choose what we will do.

        God is not a tyrant, but a most benevolent Being whose nature is controlled by laws of the most complete justice, kindness, and mercy, while the devil is a despot and an oppressor, seeking to destroy or make abject slaves of all who will yield to him (Actually, the word for the devil in Greek is Destroyer.  See the margin for Rev. 9:11).

        We are not forced to make these decisions by some external agency, as if we were automatons on some kind of game board, or robots pushed around by supernatural forces.  The responses to most influences, whether originating from our environment or from within our being, will be determined by our own will, for this is the law of our being.  This eliminates such superstitions as fate or chance, as well as the doctrines of fatalism and the sovereignty of God which are found in not a few so-called Christian groups or sects wherein it is believed that “events are fixed in advance for all time in such a manner that human beings are powerless to change them.” (Webster)  A monstrous lie – for man is responsible for his actions, according to Romans 14:12: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

        One of the most important facets of the Good News (Gospel) of the Kingdom of God is that the Mighty Lord Jesus Christ made the devil powerless at the cross.  In Hebrews 2:14 it states: “Forasmuch…as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself…took part of the same; that through death He might destroy (Greek: make powerless) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”  In Colossians 2:15, it declares this: “And having spoiled principalities and powers he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  By the shedding of His blood, He forever defeated the enemy, stripping him of the power of death, and taking from him the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:18).  Whoever has the keys to any realm is the master and ruler of that realm.  The devil is now bound (limited) and very restricted in what he can do.  This enemy fears the mention of the blood of Jesus Christ, for it made powerless and ineffective forever all his claims to authority and power.

        “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).  “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God (Jesus did this many times), then the Kingdom of God is come unto you.  Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house” (Matt. 12:28,29).  “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted and divideth his spoil” (Luke 11:21,22).  Now, who is this One that is stronger than the strong man, the devil?  The One who bound him and took away his armour!  The Lord Jesus Christ, for “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).

        “And there was war in heaven” (Rev. 2:7-9).  Notice that this war has already taken place, as the verb is in the past tense.  “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels and prevailed not…And the dragon was cast out…into the earth” (Rev. 12:7-10).  When Satan was cast out of the heavenly realms, a great voice said in heaven, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ” (Read this in Rev. 12:10).  The devil was cast out of heaven and bound at Calvary.  Jesus said in Luke 19:18, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”  He also said in John 12:27-32, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents…and over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:11).

        Now, how much power is left for the devil to use against us?  Jesus said that He had given us authority over every part of the enemy’s power!  Has Jesus actually said this?  Or has He not declared this?

        It is apparent from these Scriptures that the enemy’s actual power has been greatly diminished and reduced.  He can still roar and hurl his accusations and lies to us, but “he is a liar, and the father of it” (Jesus’ own words in John 8:44).  Therefore, if we take our rightful place as a joint heir with Jesus Christ, and stand under the blood of Jesus and upon the Word of God, quoting it as Jesus did in Matthew 4:3-11, saying it is written, the devil has to flee (James 4:7), for he cannot stand before the word of God and the power of the blood of Jesus, as these are weapons he cannot withstand.  He has no power against them.

        When Jesus was speaking of His death in John 12:27-32, He said, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (verse 31) showing that His death brought about the removal of Satan from the heavenly courts where he had been able to accuse the saints before God’s throne.  No longer is this possible, for the devil has been silenced forever by the death of the mighty Lord of Glory – Jesus Christ.  The cross is the symbol of the greatest victory ever won over the devil and his agents.  Not only was our salvation assured by the shedding of the precious blood of our Saviour and King, but this same Jesus has made us sharers in this most magnificent triumph of the ages.  Praise His wonderful name!  Now “unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen” (Rev. 1:5,6).

        We have the right (and the privilege) to take hold of this wonderful promise in Luke 10:11 now, and to claim this authority over all the devil’s attacks at this present time because of Jesus’ triumph through the cross.  Jesus is not only Saviour today, but at the same time, He is also King and Conqueror of every domain.  Before Jesus left this earth, He made two tremendous declarations of His present status and authority.  (1) “I…have (at this moment – present tense) the keys of hell and death.”  (2) “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (at this very time – present tense – not future (Matt. 28:18).  In view of these two statements, what power is not His today in these three realms?  What additional power does He need in order to be the Sovereign and Lord of this universe?

        These Scriptures alone make any claim to a future millennial kingdom not only null and void, but also untenable and impossible!

        There is an enemy more subtle, more threatening, yes, more deadly to us than the devil, or the Antichrist, and one that people are often unaware of, because this enemy is so close to us, yet so concealed that we many times are not cognizant of his effect upon us.

        This enemy is SELF, known also as the carnal man, the old man, the EGO.  This enemy resides in every human being and, shocking as it is, even in the saved; for salvation does not automatically get rid of this enemy.

        Jeremiah gives us a very graphic description of this enemy (Jer. 17:9).  “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”  This means there is nothing in this universe as depraved and crooked as the human heart!  Small wonder that Jeremiah cried out in anguish of spirit, “Who can know it?”  We thank God that by the help of His Holy Spirit we can not only recognize these evil expressions of the flesh, but be delivered from them completely.

        Mark 7:21-23 puts it this way, “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

        This enemy, if catered to, can become an idol, or even worse, a god who rules one mercilessly; yet this god is worshipped by many because his every bidding is attended to.  Truly, self can become a monster of gigantic proportions, demanding constantly his rights without any regard for others.  Hitler was such a character who could crush and murder millions in cold blood without it touching him to any great extent.  Such a person takes on the nature of a beast; in fact, he becomes an image of the beast as portrayed in Revelation 13.

        There is only one remedy.  This enemy must die or he will destroy us.  Jesus gave us the secret in His life of devotion to the Father’s will.  “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, and the gospel’s, the same shall find it” Matt. 16:24-26; Luke 9:23).  “Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Jesus).”  Paul understood this, for he said, “I die daily” (I Cor. 15:31).

        Whose image shall we bear?  The choice is ours.  The Sermon on the Mount states very plainly the requirements to be met and the eternal results that can be attained in the life of the follower of Jesus that loves Him enough to do exactly as He asks.

 

 

FIG LEAVES

James Sanderson

        In the beginning, Adam and Eve dwelt in a heavenly garden created by God.  There they enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the Most High.  Exquisite peace and joy filled their lives.  One eventful day, through Satan’s subtle persuasion, they willfully disobeyed the living God, thus bringing shame, fear, and guilt upon themselves.  Sin entered their hearts producing a rift in the divine fellowship that they enjoyed.  Sin is a devastating menace.  In their futile attempt to cope with the situation, they foolishly sewed fig leaves to cover their shame and hide the true condition of their hearts from the Almighty.  Still today, man continues to deceive himself into believing that he can cover the sinful condition of the human heart with fig leaves of his own making.  It might be well to examine some of those fig leaves in the light of God’s holy Word and expose them for what they are.

Lip service

        Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Jesus declared, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Mt. 15:8).  In Luke 6:46, Our Lord posed the question, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”  The apostle John echoed this same theme, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”(I John 3:18).  God has little interest in mere words.  While speaking of the scribes and Pharisees, He admonished His disciples, “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not “(Mt. 23:3).  “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”(Mt. 7:21).

Head Knowledge

        Head knowledge can be a powerful deceiver.  The Apostle Paul speaks of those who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 3:7).  He also stated, “Knowledge puffeth up” (I Cor. 8:1).  The problem is not with the knowledge but with the person.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus made an interesting observation, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:39-40).  Knowledge of the Word of God does not necessarily equate with knowledge of the God of the Word.  The religious hierarchy of Christ’s day had this problem.  They were very fastidious that every jot and tittle of the Scripture were correctly copied and observed but “omitted the weightier matters of the law” (Mt. 23:23).  The Word of God is not a smorgasbord where one can a pick and choose what is appealing for the moment. Scripture was given by inspiration of God with a distinct purpose in mind, “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17).  In short, the Word of God was given to point the sinner to Jesus Christ and the path of righteousness.

Spiritual Pride

        There is a false assumption prevalent in Christian circles today that spiritual gifts or talents are evidence of God’s approval.  Thousands flock to services conducted by those claiming to have supernatural powers or outstanding speaking abilities.  Spiritual discernment is often thrown to the wind.  These statements do not minimize the fact that the Church today desperately needs a restoration of the gifts and callings of the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless, one must understand that gifts and talents in and of themselves are not a mark of God’s approval.  Balaam of old was a prime example.  This man was a well-known prophet through whom God spoke; however, in his heart he became lifted up and began to use his supernatural abilities for self-aggrandizement.  Peter states that he “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (II Pt. 2:15).  The early church was not immune to this problem.  Jude speaks of “ungodly men” who “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (Jude 4, 11).  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly stated, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  And in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me , ye that work iniquity” (Mt 7:22-23).  The Apostle Paul also declared, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (I Cor. 13:1-2).  The great Apostle to the Gentiles also declared, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Cor. 9:27).

Prosperity Doctrine

        The “prosperity gospel” is an aberrant teaching that distorts the true emphasis of Jesus’ message.  Space does not allow complete analysis of this false doctrine; however, a few scripture references should be sufficient to prove that one’s economic station in life is not evidence of God’s approval.  Wikipedia defines the prosperity doctrine as “a Christian religious doctrine that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will always increase one’s material wealth.”  One accomplishes various acts of faith and obedience in order to extract material blessings from God.  A number of very prominent tv evangelists promote this heresy.

        In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus admonished the multitude, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Mt. 5:19-20).  Paul also stated, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil 4:11-12).  Abraham was a man of great wealth, but Abraham's heart was not in his wealth; nor did he ever perform acts of obedience to God to obtain material goods.  His life and testimony demonstrated to Heaven that his primary motive was love for God.  God was first in his life.  This walk with Jesus Christ does not lead to the bank but to Calvary and surrender to His will regardless of one’s economic situation in life.

Church Membership

        The gathering of God’s people to worship the Almighty and encourage one another in this walk with the Lord is certainly a wonderful experience.  In fact, the writer of Hebrews exhorts believers, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”(Heb. 10:24-25).  On the other hand, church attendance alone does not guarantee one’s entrance into that Heavenly kingdom.  Jesus declared, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”(Mt. 23:15).  Most of their religious activity consisted of mere ritual and form, devoid of any influence of the Holy Spirit.  It seems that the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day were more interested in filling the pews of the synagogues than leading people to a heartfelt relationship with the Almighty.

A True Account

        A number of years ago, there was a seventy-five year old man with an advanced degree from seminary who had been a pastor for many years.  One day, this elderly gentleman attended a service where a Christian lady with terminal cancer stood and with tears in her eyes began to sing How Great Thou Art.  As she sang, the pastor began to weep uncontrollably before God.  After the service, he testified that he realized that she had something that he did not have.  There in that room that night, God began to show him his own shallowness and a short while afterwards, he threw off the fig leaves of his own righteousness and accepted the beautiful garments of Salvation provided by our Lord Jesus Christ.

        The Word of God clearly teaches that man’s righteousness apart from God is but filthy rags.  Like Adam and Eve of old, man still continues to hide the sin and shame of his own heart with a covering of his own making.  The only provision for sin that Heaven recognizes is that provided by our Lord Jesus Christ through His sacrificial work at the Cross of Calvary.  Let us come to Him and accept the robes of righteousness that He freely provides.

 

 

CHRISTIAN MATURITY

Alfred King

        The Apostle Paul was faced with several serious problems as he sat down to write his first letter to the church in Corinth.  Since he and Barnabas had first preached the Gospel in this heathen city and the church was born, sin had crept in under the guise of “freedom in Christ”.  No doubt his heart was heavy as he sought God for the right words to address the intrusion of sin, sins that were not even named among the Gentiles (I Cor. 5:1).  How had such sin infiltrated this once spiritual and righteous church?  The church was so promising having begun with the power of the Holy Spirit speaking, convicting and leading so many to find salvation in Christ Jesus.  Paul, no doubt, wept as he realized their misconception of the Gospel, which rather than working within them the perseverance to go on to perfection, exposed their immaturity as those who preferred to remain babes in Christ, for when they ought to have been teachers, they had need that one teach them the first principles of the oracles of God (Heb. 5:12).  Paul had the difficult responsibility of addressing these sins with hope that this church whom he referred to as “carnal” and “babes”, would recognize that freedom in Christ does not open the door for an “anything goes” attitude which, if allowed to continue, would destroy this congregation.  Just a few years later the Apostle John, while on the isle of Patmos, would find himself addressing the churches in Asia in much the same way.  These churches also had allowed sin to creep in along with deceptive doctrines and practices that were certain to destroy the holiness of those congregations.  So to the Corinthians, Paul puts his pen to the paper with as much tact and kid-gloved tenderness as possible to set forth truth and deal with those issues which loomed as warnings of a church departing from the living God.

        Looking briefly at the various detrimental issues threatening the spiritual maturity of the Corinthian believers we find the following:

There were contentions among them (I Cor. 1:11, 3:1-4)

        How did these contentions manifest themselves?  Beginning in I Corinthians the first chapter and repeated in chapter 3, we find they were contentious.  There were disputes regarding which man of God they followed or who had the greater authority or possessed more spiritual revelation.  Paul was to some the final authority, to others Apollos but to others Cephas was their man and a few even went so far as to declare Christ as the authority.  After listing these various factions, Paul asked a very pertinent question: “Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Cor. 1:13)  The divisions among the Corinthian believers savors of what we see among Christians today, some claiming to be followers of this denomination and others of that.  Paul, as he begins to address his concerns, sets forth God’s desire in verse ten, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”  God desires there be no divisions among His people, but rather that love shed abroad in the hearts by the Holy Spirit should flow among those who serve Him.  If we are truly Christians (disciples and followers of Christ) then we should not and must not be divided.

        In chapter three, Paul pulls up his sleeves and gets down to the seriousness of the issues at hand.  This time when he refers to the division between which minister they prefer, he tells them they are carnal.  He even attributes envying and strife as earmarks of their carnality and that he has to feed them with milk because they are not mature enough to handle the meat of the word.  He boils it all down by telling them they are babes.

        Babies? Carnal?  Why, this church had many gifts of the Spirit working and operating among them.  According to chapter fourteen, they had tongues, interpretations and even prophesies.  Yes, and even regarding the gifts of the Spirit, Paul had to deal with their immaturity and teach them how those gifts were intended to operate in the body of believers.  They were completely out of order, which exposed their immaturity and carnality.  They were spiritual babies who blindly thought they were so spiritual that they need not pay close attention to order and reverence in the church.  Many churches today in America reflect this same spiritual lack as we see so many carnal babes who think they are spiritual because they can speak in tongues or get chill bumps when they sing Amazing Grace”.

There was fornication among them (I Cor. 5:1-5)

        Who would think that a church operating with certain gifts of the Spirit would not only have fornication among them, would not merely overlook it, but actually condone it.  The record states that they were “puffed up” rather than mourning over the condition.  This, alas, sounds very similar to what we see and hear in the modern evangelical churches of America today.  The congregation at Corinth was afraid to judge sin in the camp.  When word came to Paul about this condition, he didn’t back down nor spare any words in condemning the sin existent among them.  Paul knew this sin would not stop with one or two incidents, but would spread like wildfire if it were not harshly addressed.  He spared no words as he addressed this immorality, but judged it without even being present.  He condemned the act and delivered those involved to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.  He was in hopes they would repent and turn from the sin, for sin in the camp will surely reproduce itself just as rats in a feed bunker and will destroy the church in short order.

        For sake of clarity, I digress momentarily but let us openly, distinctly and scripturally as possible, address the specific sin of fornication in the church.  Fornication includes all sexual sins: premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, pornography, wife-swapping, orgies, etc.  When Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem for a conference, which they requested, to meet with the Elders (the twelve Apostles), the issue at hand was whether the Gospel Paul and Barnabas had preached to the Gentiles, was the same Gospel Jesus taught.  There had been accusations that Paul taught a different message from the Apostles.  The record of this conference is found in Acts 15.  There was much disputing about various issues but the conclusion of the matter is found in verses 19-20, and in verses 23-29 is the record of the letter they sent to the churches which Paul and Barnabas had founded, stating that they required only four things: abstain from meats offered to idols, from blood and things strangled and from fornication.

        But the questions which arise from the premise the Apostles laid are: Are these four things the only requirements for the disciples of Christ under the New Covenant?  Are the disciples of Christ free from the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ?  Does grace cover all other sins?  No, No, No to all three questions!  What then does the final consensus and conclusion of this conference and the letter sent to the church mean?  It means that there are certain requirements placed upon a new born Christian immediately after being saved, and these four things are those immediate requirements.  Our focal point at this point in this article is fornication.  The judgment of this body of elders was these four requirements, and to which the Holy Ghost gave confirmation.  (Acts 15:28: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”)  How do we deal with this portion of scripture, when we know assuredly that followers of Christ cannot disregard His words and live in sin if they are to gain eternal life?  The answer is in Acts 15:21, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.”  The men were wise enough and led by the Holy Spirit Who had been given them, that they understood just as the law of Moses was taught in the synagogues every Sabbath, so in the churches established in heathen lands, would rest the responsibility to teach the word of truth that would cause these immature, new-born babes in Christ, to mature as they applied those teachings of Christ to their lives.  The Apostles knew that these Gentiles were babes in the knowledge of the Gospel and needed to be taught.  They needed the word to be sown and instilled within their hearts in order to turn them from sins (evidence of spiritual immaturity) as they grew in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

        The issue of fornication was something that must instantly be forsaken if they were to progress at all in the kingdom of God.  If this sin (along with the others) were permitted in any degree within the congregation of the believers, it would eventually destroy the fellowship and the church.  Fornication was the cunningly devised evil suggestion Balaam gave Balak to induce into the camp of Israel, which sin brought God’s judgment upon His people (Read Numbers 23-25, especially 25).  It is the church’s responsibility to teach God’s word so that those immature babes will mature and put on Christ.  We all understand that maturing is a process of time, it does not occur overnight.  Those who are spiritual must be patient and work with the spiritually immature, bearing with their carnality and worldliness while they learn and grow into Christlikeness.  But fornication is not a sin we can tolerate or be patient about.  This was the major concern of the Apostles in the meeting in Jerusalem.  It is the call of every disciple of Christ to be conformed to His image.  That means we all must apply God’s word to our lives in such a way as to become more like Jesus every day.  It applies in our gatherings, our work, our homes, our families, our pleasure, every day and in every way that Christ be formed in us.  May God grant such a desire that we might so run that we may obtain.

Christian went to worldly judges to settle disputes (I Cor. 6:1-8)

        Paul must have been shocked at the things he heard concerning this church God had founded through the ministry of Paul and Barnabas just a few years earlier.  Grieved at such immaturity, Paul saw among them an unwillingness to deal with conflicts in a Biblical and Spiritual manner.  Rather than following Gospel instruction to be defrauded, they determinedly exercised their own “rights.”  How had they forgotten the words of the Master, Paul had so diligently taught them?  “Go the extra mile.”  “Turn the other cheek.”  “Give to him that asked of thee.”  “Recompense no man evil for evil.”  “Avenge not yourselves.”  “If thine enemy hunger feed him, if he thirst, give him drink.  Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.”  Can we suppose that Paul taught a different Gospel at Corinth than Jesus taught when on the mount?  Are we to believe that he taught a message to the Romans that he omitted at Corinth?  No.  Paul taught the same message everywhere he went and he taught the words that Jesus taught, not only on the mount but the whole council of God spoken by Jesus Christ throughout His early ministry.

Christian Liberty Abused (I Cor. 8)

          While the Apostle Paul often taught the New Covenant established upon better promises, and endeavored to open the eyes of those steeped in the Mosaic laws and the rituals of Judaism, he never taught that man was free from the law of God.  While he understood and forcefully taught the grace of God as few men have, yet he taught that God’s grace was the means by which men would be empowered to keep God’s law more perfectly.  Some of the words Paul spoke, echoing the words of Jesus, are mentioned in the previous paragraph and are perfectly aligned to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Paul even taught the Kingdom of God just as the One Who struck him down on the road to Damascus taught.  His message was not a different message.  For the sake of those who might question these statements, we offer the following list of scriptures:

Jesus:  Matt. 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Paul:  Rom. 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Jesus:  Matt. 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Paul:  Col. 3:5 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”

Jesus:  Matt. 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Paul: Phil. 3:15 “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Jesus:  Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”

Paul:  Rom. 12:1-2 “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 by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Jesus:  John 17:14, 16 “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Paul:  II Tim 3:16-17  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Jesus:  Matt. 22:37-40Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all the mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Paul: I Cor. 13:1-13

* Without love, just so much noise.

* Without love prophecy, knowledge and faith are nothing.

* Give everything to feed the poor and our body to be burned, without love it profits nothing.

* Love suffers long, is kind.  Is void of envy, haughtiness or proud.

* Love is respectful, seeks not its own good, not easily provoked and never thinks evil.

* Hates iniquity and loves truth.

* Patiently endures the immaturity of others, believes and hopes the best for all, stands strong in every adversity and in trials.

* Love never fails or falls short but perfect love is to be perfect.

        This is just a short list of commands given by our Lord that Paul reiterated and confirmed to every church to whom he ministered.  So much like the church today, the Corinthian church had turned the grace of God into lasciviousness (loose living).  Grace to them was a license to sin without losing their salvation.  The immaturity that existed in the Corinthian church is shocking, and yet this is the condition existent in most of the body of believers in 2014.  God’s grace is absolutely necessary for any man to walk with God, for it is God’s empowerment or ability given to man through the various gifts given by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The giving of the Holy Spirit is grace.  The Holy Spirit comes within the believer, reminds him of the words, teachings and commands of Jesus, reveals Christ more and more clearly as the believer matures, and instills a gracious respect and love for God and His word, and all this is grace.  But the Holy Spirit also corrects, rebukes, chastens and convicts, and this also is grace.  If He is not working thus in the heart, then that man is either not saved or he has fallen away and lost his salvation.  The Corinthian church had not fallen away but they were headed in that direction just as most of the churches of Asia mentioned in Revelation chapters two and three.  They were each warned that God had something against them, and they needed to repent or God would remove His presence from them.  The immature Corinthian church was at an impasse and God was warning them through the Apostle Paul that they must make some serious changes if they were to grow in Christ Jesus and become a mature church.

Problems in taking the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11)

          In verse 18 of I Cor. 11, Paul again brings up division but emphasizes the seriousness of this schism because it took place in their gatherings when they partook of the Lord’s Supper.  In verse 19 Paul reprimands them for their heresies, for there were in the congregation, those who resisted the true doctrine of Christ, which had been taught them by the Apostles.  All these things added up to a very adolescent church which was slipping away from holiness and righteousness by the deceitfulness of their own hearts.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 14)

          It is impossible to read through I Corinthians, chapters 12-14 without it being vividly apparent that the modern Pentecostal and Charismatic churches today are clones of the church at Corinth.  I personally am astonished and shocked at the permissiveness and licentiousness that has entered many of these churches.  The very issue addressed by the Apostles in Acts 15 is dismissed as fornication, adultery and divorce become common place and the pulpits are silent.  In more recent years the discussion has moved from these more natural and somewhat understandable sins to whether homosexuals and lesbians should be permitted in the congregation as members of the church.  Is not this an abomination and very likely one that will bring about a desolation?  Can God’s presence remain in such a place?  While God is very patient and longsuffering to us, He will not allow certain gross sins into His body.  The operations of the gifts of the Spirit, tongues, interpretations, healings, prophesies, revelations, etc. are not a sign that God is pleased with what’s taking place.  This is revealed most emphatically in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church.  All these gifts existed right alongside of these grievous sins.  But: Why should we be surprised?  When a camel gets his nose in the tent, his whole body will be in shortly.

        Paul cannot speak of such juvenile activities without pointing out what Christian maturity is.  In I Corinthians 13, he spells out Spiritual adulthood as clearly as is possible with so few words.  It is called “The Love Chapter of the Bible” by many as it so clearly unveils the nature of God in such a way that those whose heart is after God, not only long for such love, but set it before their eyes as a prize to be obtained.  If there is any characteristic of divine nature, it is love.  This love is not that slobbery and shallow emotionalism so often portrayed as love, but is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is given us only as we seek God and press on daily to put on Christ.  It is the love that is shed abroad in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit.  This love cannot be counterfeited.  This love cannot be obtained apart from God Himself, for it is His nature.  This love is a supernatural love which will cause him who possesses it to find himself walking in all the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ.  May God open the eyes of His people to desire to be fully mature in the love of Christ.

 

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

Greetings,

        Can you please give me some insight into Matthew 14, especially 14:4?  I would also like help understanding Luke 11:24-36.

                                                TD

Dear TD,

        It is always good to hear from our readers and to know that our labor is touching some lives and encouraging them to continue in the faith even amidst great adversity.  God’s promise is that we will reap in due season if we faint not.  Such assurance encourages us to endure unto the end and to strive for that strait and narrow way that leads to life.

        We always welcome questions from our readers, and we endeavor to answer them as accurately as we can.  Although we don’t have answers to every question, the Lord has given us insight into many portions of His Word and continues to teach us by His Holy Spirit which He has given unto us.  His Word is the foundation upon which, if a man build, he will stand in the day of great tribulation.

        In your recent letter you asked for a more clear understanding of Matt 14:4 which reads, “For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.”  I gather from your question that you don’t understand why it was unlawful for Herod to have Herodias for his wife.  The verse preceding the verse in question says, “For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife” (Matt. 14:3).  Herodias was already married; she was married to Philip, Herod’s brother. This was a case of adultery.

        A brief history might help us understand the circumstances leading up to this event.  There were several kings or tetrarchs named Herod, who ruled in Galilee.  If you recall in your reading of the New Testament, the king at the time Jesus was born was named Herod (This was Herod the Great.).  When the wise men came from the east to worship Jesus and give gifts to the new born King, they were not led to Bethlehem by the star as is often portrayed in most Christmas scenes.  Scripture informs us in Matthew 2:2 that the wise men had seen his star in the east and had come to worship Him.  It is very evident that the star did not lead them to Bethlehem, because they went to Herod and asked where the Christ child was.  Herod learned of Jesus’ birth through the wise men and he was very troubled (Matt. 2:3).  An important point to consider is verse 7, “Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared”.  This verse explains why later Herod had all the children two years old and younger in Bethlehem, killed.  He reckoned the time from the date the wise men saw the star.  It was most likely over one year but not yet two when the wise men saw the star in the east, for Herod specifically gave his order to kill the children in Bethlehem who were two years old and under.

        When the wise men left Herod, verses 9 and 10 of Matthew 2 informs us that the star which they had seen in the east appeared to them again, and it led them to the place where the “young child” was.  By this time Jesus was no longer considered an infant but a child (being probably over a year old).  And verse 11 tells us that the wise men went into a house where the young child was with Mary his mother and they worshipped Him and gave Him gifts suited for a king.  The whole concept of Christ’s birth has been distorted in our modern nativity scenes, for they always present the wise men with the shepherds in the stable with Christ in a manger.  It was after the wise men departed to their own country that God led Joseph to flee to Egypt, for Herod would seek to kill Him.

        This Herod died shortly after this time and Joseph was again led by God in a dream to return to Palestine.  This king Herod at the time of Jesus’ birth is called in history, “King Herod the Great” and is not the same Heord who had John the Baptist killed.  The Herod who had John beheaded was the son of Herod the Great and is known in history as Herod Antipas.  Herod the Great was king over all Palestine, but when he died, his kingdom was divided into three parts.  Three of his children were made tetrarchs of certain areas of Palestine.  Following is a short paragraph from McClintock and James Strong in their Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia.  “Herod (Herod the Great) was married to no less than ten wives, by most of whom he had children.  He died a few days before the Passover, B.C. 4, his deathbed being the scene of the most awful agonies in mind and body.  According to the custom of the times, he made his sons the heirs to his kingdom by a formal testament, leaving its ratification to the will of the emperor.  Augustus assenting to its main provisions, Archelaus, became tetrarch of Juduea, Samaria, and Idumnea; Philip, of Trachonitis and Ituraea; and Herod Antipas, of Galilee and Perrua.  His body was conveyed by his son Archelaus from Jericho, where he died, to Herodium, a city and fortress 200 stadia distant, and he was there buried with great pomp (Josephus, Ant. 17, 2; War, 1, 38, 9).”  (from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia)

        So we see from the previous historical account that Herod Antipas, Herod the Great’s son, was the king or tetrarch of Galilee.  Herod Antipas had a certain degree of respect for John the Baptist, for he had spoken with him on several occasions.  Herod regretted his words to give the daughter of Herodias whatever she requested, but he was too proud to default on his oath.  Herodias hated John the Baptist because John told Herod that it was unlawful for him to have Herodias, his brother’s wife.  John was a man of God who declared the truth without fear or favor and in his contact with Herod, he warned him of the sin in which he was engaged.  It is amazing how men would rather believe a lie than face truth and will hate those who proclaim truth.  So powerful is man’s hatred for truth that men had Jesus, the embodiment of truth, nailed to a cross.  They did not want to hear truth.  They preferred to live comfortably in their sins, without truth to disturb them.  The broad way is filled with just such people.  We hope this helps explain the verse in question.

        The other verse of scripture you asked about is Lk. 11:24-26 which reads, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.  And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

        When Jesus walked in Galilee, He cast out many devils, or demons, who had taken possession of people.  Those who were possessed were dominated and controlled by the evil spirits.  They had somehow given over to evil spirit possession so they no longer had control over their lives.  Rather, they were tormented by these evil spirits and driven by them to do things they would not, in their right mind, do.  I think the best analogy to help us understand this is to compare it to one who is addicted to drugs.  The addict is controlled by this drive to have the next fix.  He has lost control of his life and no matter how much he hates the things he does and hates the drugs, he is driven by a force beyond himself.  Just as the addict made choices to take drugs, so the possessed made choices in life that opened the door for evil spirits to come into his life and control him.

        Jesus came to set people free, not only from sin, but addictions, carnality and every other vice to which men are enslaved.  He also came to free those possessed by evil spirits.  One great example of a man possessed by many evil spirits is Legion, whose account can be found in Mark 9:1-15 and Luke 8:26-36.  Legion was set free from this evil spirit bondage and, being free and of a sound mind, he was able to make reasonable choices for his life.

        The passage in question speaks of the spirit that is cast out; he walks through dry places (this shows us that where evil spirits are is not a pleasant place but a place of hell), and he desires to escape its torment.  He is seeking rest but he cannot find it there.  The evil spirits who possessed Legion requested that Jesus not send them into the deep.  The word in the Greek is Abyss and is a state of hell, a state of fear and torment for the spirits.  The evil spirit that is cast out says to himself that he will return to his house and repossess it.  The clue to understanding this portion of scripture is that when the evil spirit returned, he found it clean but he also found it empty.  This soul, while delivered from slavery and torment, did not come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and, being unsaved, he did not have the Holy Spirit, Who would dwell within.  The Holy Spirit had not be given access to live within this heart because the person had not received Christ as Savior.  The only other reason an evil spirit could possess a life is if the person had found salvation in Christ but later in life, turned from the teachings and commands of Jesus and walked in sin, thus opening the door for evil to regain possession.  Peter describes those in this second category in 2 Peter 2:20-21.  “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”  Though one be delivered from the greatest addiction or evil spirit possession, if he does not come to Christ in saving faith, he is vulnerable to lose the freedom he gained.  Or, if one who finds salvation departs from the way of righteousness, the Holy Spirit will depart from that life and he is a prime candidate for the past to take hold of him again, and the latter state will be worse than the beginning.  This is why it is so important that we who have been delivered and are saved, walk humbly and yet diligently in obedience to God’s word.

        I hope this explains these portions of scripture to some degree.  To fully understand any scripture, we must ask the Holy Spirit to teach us.  It is He Who has been sent as the promise of the Father to comfort, teach, and lead us into all truth.  Stay in the Word and ask God to reveal to you His truth as you study.  We pray God will continue to strengthen you in your service to Him.

                                                        TOT Editor,

 

ANOTHER QUESTION

 

Dear People of the Living God,

        I received the December, 2013 issue of your valuable magazine and have a question.  In the article “After Fifty Years” you give a history of your publication.  I have subscribed to it for many years and am curious about something.

        I know I have read in various issues in years past that an earlier member of your group by the name of Russel W. Dockum started The Witness: yet he is not mentioned in the current article.  I shall appreciate it if you would clarify this for me as I am always interested in history.  Thank you for your help.  Continue the magazine; it is very good.

                                                Sincerely, GD

Dear GD,

        We truly appreciate your recent letter of encouragement and your interest in the way the Lord has worked among this small group through the years.  You are right about Brother Russell Dockum being the one who started the magazine, which today is entitled, “The Testimony of Truth”.  I was not there at that time but the following is what I have been told took place.

        After the group was scattered in the late 1930’s, some of the people would write letters to others, thus many would keep in touch.  Brother Russell had moved to Nashville and was working at the post office.  He began receiving letters himself, which he compiled into one letter, mimeographed them and sent them to all those whose addresses he had.  It wasn’t long until more people would send him letters which they had received from others, whom he had not personally heard from.  These were included in his combined letters.  Brother Harry Miller was also writing and, as time went on, he (as well as others) began sharing how God was working in their lives and several began sharing things in scripture that God was teaching them.  This is how it developed into a monthly magazine of doctrinal instruction and encouragement.

        It seems that no one remembers exactly the year these letters evolved into the first “Witness” but the last “Witness” was published in October 1963, the publication number was 240.  That was exactly 20 years, which would make the first “Witness” published in November, 1943.  This would be accurate if they were published monthly from the very beginning with no interruptions.  I guess if you included those years in which the “Witness” was the magazine’s name, we just passed the seventieth year.

        Brother Russel Dockum, along with his grandson, Kenneth Fountain, continued printing “The Testimony of Truth” until he became seriously ill in the late eighties.  He passed away a few years later on January 28, 1994.  Brother Kenneth continues where his grandfather left off in printing and mailing the TOT each month.  We greatly appreciate these who have given their lives to further the Gospel and spread the light to the world.

                                                TOT Editor

 

 

BROTHER RANDALL WALTON

 

          We at People of the Living God are sad to announce the passing of our beloved Pastor Randall Rex Walton.  He passed away on January 15, 2014 at the age of ninety one after an extended illness.  Brother Randall’s pastoral ministry with People of the Living God extended from August, 1975, through January, 2012.  He was also the editor of “The Testimony of Truth” magazine, published each month, and he wrote many articles teaching the kingdom of Jesus Christ, Godly character, and holiness, as well as warnings, pointing out signs of a falling away, so prevalent in American Christianity today.  In early January 2012, Brother Randall realized he was having some difficulties performing the responsibilities he had borne for 37 years and asked others to assume his duties.  He was later that year diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Through the last two years his condition slowly grew worse and in late November he developed pneumonia, which put him in the hospital.  He was then transferred to a nursing facility for therapy and special care in hopes that he could return home.  However, he gradually grew worse and the Lord took him home.

        Brother Randall leaves behind his wife Helen, of seventy one years, his three children, as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He will be missed by his family, his church and many of the readers of the “Testimony Of Truth”.

        Due to the shortness of time in preparing and printing the February issue of “The Testimony of Truth” magazine, we will dedicate the March publication exclusively to articles written by Brother Randall and a short history of his life as a memorial to him. We at People of the Living God are acutely aware of the loss of his wisdom, knowledge and anointing and to say, “he will be missed” is a great understatement. But we know we have been blessed to have had among us a pastor, preacher and teacher who proclaimed God’s word in truth without fear or favor. We are eternally grateful that we have sat under his ministry.

 

Photo of Bro. Randall Walton

 

 

 

PASSOVER 2014

 

      Passover this year will be observed by People of the Living God on the evening of April 13, 2014.  The new moon following the vernal equinox, falls on March 30th.  Counting 14 days from the new moon brings us to April 13th.  At sundown on the 14th day begins the Passover.  The Passover Sabbath will be April 14th.  The Passover feast lasts for seven days, ending at sundown on April 20th.  We pray God will richly bless all those who observe this year’s Passover with Spiritual renewal and blessings.

 

 

INTIMACY WITH GOD

James Sanderson

        “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me, and whoever really loves Me will be loved by My Father.  And I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him – I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him (John 14:21, Amplified).  “If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word – obey My teachings; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him” (John 14:23, Amplified).

        Embodied in these two verses of Scripture is a profound call, transcending all other purposes in life – a call to intimacy with God Himself.  What can be more wonderful than to have the great God of heaven reveal Himself and make His dwelling place in the hearts of men?  There is nothing in life that even begins to compare with such a divine relationship.  In these two verses of Scripture, one discovers the opportunity of a lifetime. Wealth, fame, fortune, position, or anything that man values in this life are eclipsed by the exquisite joy one finds in fellowship with the Most High.  The greatest marvel of all is not that man reached up to find this wonderful place in God, but that God Himself reached down to man and offered this opportunity.

        Let us examine these verses of Scripture and others that we might begin to grasp what God unfolds to man that the light might more fully shine into our hearts and rekindle that longing for a deeper relationship with God. 

        As one reads these portions of Scripture, one must recognize that this intimacy that God offers is predicated on something – obedience to God. “He that has My commands and keeps them.”  This place in God is also predicated on something else: love for God.  “If a person really loves Me.”  In the eyes of God, love and obedience are inseparable.  The two go hand in hand.  The evidence of one is the other.

The Secret Place of the Most High

        The Word of God vividly describes this intimate place in various terms.  Let us turn to Psalm 91:1.  Again the Amplified version: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.”  This intimate place in God is called “the secret place of the Most High.”  Verse nine further describes this place, “Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place.”  Throughout this Psalm, the writer rejoices that nothing can break the bond of this relationship between God and man in this secret place.  Pestilence, calamities, destruction, the darts of the evil one, and the adder's strike cannot prevail.  There is no safer place than this secret place of intimacy with the great God of heaven. 

        As one reads this Psalm, again one begins to realize that this place in God is also predicated on something.  “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him” (verse fourteen).  This intimate relationship with the Most High is reserved only for those who truly love Him. As we have already seen, love is evidenced by a life of obedience to God.

Rest Unto Your Souls

        Let us turn to another wonderful portion of Scripture that vividly describes this intimate relationship with God.  “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt.11:28-30).  Again, in this portion of Scripture, our Lord invites humanity to a place of exquisite joy, everlasting peace, and complete satisfaction.  This place is a place of complete rest in God.

        Man labors under a great burden, the load of his own sin and unbelief.  God, in essence is declaring, “Come, Lay that burden of sin, unbelief, disobedience at the cross of Calvary and enjoy an abiding relationship with Me.  Place you full hope and trust in Me.  Cease from your own works and labors, and embrace the life that I offer – an eternal resting place in Me.”  The book of Revelation closes with this wonderful invitation from Jesus, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.  And let him that heareth say, Come.  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).