People of The Living God

Romans 10:9-10

 

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October 2014



 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

FIRES OF HATRED

Alfred King

        In recent years it seems that more and more fires are devouring America’s forests, threatening and destroying homes, leaving only dead, charred and stunted silhouettes of a once beautiful, plush and living woodland.   These forests once abounded with vegetation luring in fowl and various animals seeking food and a safe refuge to bear their young.  Birds sang their daily songs, and nature was so secure and tranquil.  Yet somewhere in the midst of that peaceful serenity an innocent spark was ignited, a cigarette carelessly discarded, a campfire left unattended or haphazardly built and the forest’s enemy was born, an enemy which would quickly spread and begin its devastating evil.  By the time the danger is realized, its destructive fury is raging, devouring without mercy, everything in its path.  Thousands of destroyed acreage serve only to increase its insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst to consume more.  Nor is it satisfied with the forest’s timber and inhabitants alone, but it engulfs homes and businesses leaving total devastation in its wake.  Its bold tenacity and unrelenting determination strikes fear in all who live within its possible path.  They gaze in shocked awe as it leaps across streams and manmade fire barriers, continuing its destructive march across the land.

        As fearful and destructive as these fires are, there is another fire that is gaining intensity and increasing in our 21st century world that is equally fearsome and troublesome.  It is the fire of hatred.  Hatred is similar to fire in that it is powerfully destructive to the individual if it is not quenched within the heart before it gets beyond control.  Hatred destroys the person who harbors it and, if not contained, will spread and begin an outward course towards that or those on which the hatred is focused.  The very unfortunate events which occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, recently and caused an uproar throughout the country, inciting riots with the destruction of several businesses in the Ferguson area, began with hatred, a hatred and mistrust towards the police of Ferguson.  The true facts surrounding the slaying of Michael Brown are yet to be determined and revealed and we all must wait for those facts before the truth of the events that unfolded can be determined.  One very clear object lesson we need to learn through this incident is how one little act or activity can mushroom into such a devastating travesty.  One decision, coupled with the act that followed in Ferguson left one dead, another’s life and career destroyed and many hurting family members on both sides of this issue.  What began as a little incident, an act that seemed routine, especially in the light of the events which followed and the devastation that remains, has produced unfathomable damage.  It spread outside the families and relatives of the two men involved to a whole neighborhood as anger, looting and destruction of property followed, along with major confrontations with law enforcement agencies.

        The lesson we must learn from this tragedy is that decisions we make can have tremendous consequences.  In the case in Ferguson, the routine events escalated beyond what anyone could imagine at the time.  How many times has a man been brought into bondage by some little and insignificant or innocent act, not realizing that this “tip of the iceberg” is the snare that will destroy his life, along with the lives of those who love him, and enslave him for years to come, and quite possibly for life.  The seemingly harmless smoking of a “joint”, the casual look at pornography, the innocent going out on the town with the boys (or girls) can be the first step to being captured by a ruthless serpent whose poisonous venom dulls the senses and pulls the unsuspecting victim into a slavery that becomes inescapable.  How many have fallen into that snare?  The first seemingly immaterial decision lures them step by step until they find themselves taken captive by a ruthless enemy that refuses to open the house of his prisoners (Isa. 14:17).  It is not generally the big things that at first take us captive but little things.  Little things are the bait that lead to greater things, which then progressively take us to destruction.  In James 3, James warns of one little member which seems so innocent and yet, unbridled, can cause great destruction and damage.  “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things.  Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5–8).  We don’t always foresee how words can be so forceful and destructive, especially when said without thought or consideration.

        Hatred is a characteristic that is bred in many homes.  How we rear our children creates patterns of thinking in their lives.  Racism continues in America (and throughout the world) because parents are racist and pass hatred and disrespect on to their children.  From personal experience, I have had to fight this in my own life, even after I was born again and saved by God’s marvelous love and grace.  My father fought in WWII on the eastern front and while he never spoke much about the war, he expressed his disdain for Germans and Japanese.  I grew up with a certain scorn for those nationalities.  It took me years to overcome these instilled feelings and it was only through God’s word and the patience of the Holy Spirit working in my heart, it has been dissolved.  But it revealed to me how important it is that we teach our children to love all people regardless of nationality.  Because Hitler and other German leaders were evil does not make all Germans evil and this is true even with law enforcement agents.  A few bad apples create a bad name for all and this is very unfortunate.  In Islamic countries children are taught to hate Jews, Christians, westerners and all others who are not Muslims.  These children grow up with intense hatred towards and no respect for any except those who profess Mohammed.  The good news is that thousands of Muslims are being converted to Christianity and are finding God’s love to be amazingly powerful and able to destroy all the hatred created by a religion of hate.

        A hatred that is growing in America and around the world which is of great concern to God’s people is the increasing hatred toward Christianity and those who follow Christ.  Christianity is under attack.  Communism, fascism, Islam and many other nations, religions and ideologies have for centuries hated Christians, but the hatred toward Christians today is much more surprising and unexpected, for it has found fertile soil in which to root right in the midst of a nation that came into existence and became the greatest nation ever to be established because it built its foundation upon Godly principals taken directly from God’s word, the Holy Bible.  Like the venom of a serpent, this fire of hatred is quickly spreading throughout the land with threatening determination to extinguish Christianity.  The fires of hatred increasing in America today are not a threat to a forest or the animals that live there but are intent to destroy all the Godly principals that made America great.  These fires of hatred are directed toward God and His people, toward those who will follow the teachings and commands of Jesus Christ.  Its force is focused directly at God’s commands.  It determines to destroy God’s law.

        Hitler tested the response of the world as he slowly began persecution of Jews during the decade leading up to WWII.  Seeing little outrage by the nations of the world, he increased and intensified his evil.  The world’s silence encouraged his devilish persecution till he was able to murder millions of innocent people.  It was his invasion of other nations that finally caused the nations of the world to stand up against his diabolical regime.  In like manner the fires of hatred toward God and righteousness began slowly, testing the pulse of America to see how she would respond.  Finding the resistance negligible, the fire is growing more bold and audacious and its blatant appetite to spew forth more hatred toward God and those who follow Him is steadily increasing.  I remember what has been termed “the sexual revolution” of the 1960s.  The sheer number of young people who broke away from the moral standards of that day was so overwhelming that city leaders and law enforcement could only stand back and let it happen.  Because there seemed no way to curb the travesty and degradation of the moment, it gained an entrance into America’s society, so that today it has become common; it’s normal; it’s the way we live in the twenty–first century.  There is no longer any feeling of guilt or remorse for fornication, adultery and other immoral acts.  But what are the results?  This promiscuity led to legalized abortion, to the increase of divorce and children whose devotion is split between father and mother.  It has brought us to the place where we hand out condoms in our public schools.  It has pulled out all the moral stops and opened the gates of hell to prevail over a once Christian nation.  It has opened the door for all manner of sexual promiscuity and licentiousness to follow.  The great question for us today is “Can this door ever be shut again in this country?”  The travesty is that it cannot, and more gross and unbelievable sin will follow.  As sin increases more hatred will accompany it.  Why?  Because sin hates righteousness and genuine Christians will live righteously and will preach holiness.

        Hatred of Christians is not something new; it began centuries ago, for they hated Jesus without any reason.  Jesus told us to expect to be hated.  “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” (John 15:18–19).  The hope for our country and our world is Christianity.  Genuine Christianity is a message of the love God has for mankind.  Jesus said he came not to call the righteous to repentance but sinners (Mark 9:13).  All men are or were sinners, filled with hate, anger, worldly lusts and were enemies of the cross of Christ, but God shed His love into our hearts driving out and replacing those ungodly and evil dispositions.  Such is the power of Gospel.  It is a life–changing encounter with Jesus Christ.  It is time that true Christians stand up and live before the eyes of the world a love that is able to transform the lives of all those around us.  The pit of hell is being opened, spewing out its destructive and limitless supply of sin.  Sin is increasing in our world.  Humanism, communism, homosexuality, coupled with the pleasures and cares of this life are systematically and intentionally squeezing Christian life from this nation.  As fewer people attend Christian churches and Christianity’s enemies rejoice to see its demise, hatred is increasing.  Let us who know Jesus Christ live our lives pure and holy before the Lord and let that wonderful love of God flow in purity from our hearts towards those who are lost and haven’t experienced God’s love.  We, as Christians, must allow God’s love to flow through us to a world headed for eternal destruction.  Only we, by the grace of God, can change the world’s perspective of Christianity.

Additional Thoughts:

        In reading on the internet some of the reasons why Christianity is hated, I found it disturbing that many of their reasons were addressed toward particular teachings and practices that are not Biblical Christianity.  Unfortunately, many “wolves in sheep’s clothing” have broadcasted their unscriptural ideas so as to bury the pure and genuine good news under a false representation of God and His word.  Many of the reasons why Christians are hated are because those professing to be Christians are not Biblical Christians.  They are Christian in name only, not acting like Christ nor putting on Christ.  True Christianity teaches that we are to follow Him and are to be a light of hope and goodness in a dark world.  Even some of those who responded and commented on these articles, who were apparently “Christians,” missed the point in that they did not just plainly express that those things which were purported as “Christian” were not Biblical Christianity, they were not in keeping with God’s standards for those who follow Jesus Christ.  The things which these haters of Christianity hate (such things as robbing the poor through deception, getting rich at the expense of the poor and elderly) are being performed, not by Biblical Christians but counterfeit Christians.

        Unfortunate as this was to me, more disturbing was the fact that some of the complaints presented were true.  The division and strife among those who call themselves Christians is an issue that is distressing to those on the outside, who see unchristian Christians (if there is such a thing) aggressively attacking one another.  Christians are seriously divided over doctrines.  Doctrines are nothing more than teachings, the teachings of scripture.  Doctrine is very important and cannot be dismissed or discarded, for without doctrine Christianity ceases to exist.  True Christian doctrine is the teaching of scripture and is the foundation upon which Christianity is built.  The Bible teaches us about sin, salvation, obedience, what is required to be a Christian.  It tells us about how God has dealt with men since creation.  It informs us about sin and how sin came into the world and how all men are sinners in need of a Savior.  It then teaches us about God’s love in sending His only Son into the world to show us how to live, about Jesus Christ taking man’s sins upon Himself, dying in man’s place so that man can obtain forgiveness and eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ.  All these are doctrines that are the heart and soul of Christianity, and if they are discarded then Christianity is extinct and no longer exists.  However, there are many other doctrines that are not essential to salvation or for obtaining eternal life but are teachings that are taught by the church.  Different denominations have different doctrines or teachings that vary from other denominations and those teachings have caused serious division among God’s people so that we are acutely divided and consequently, we are weak.  What must be addressed among Christians, who truly want God to arise among His people once again, is which doctrines are essential to salvation and which are not, which are required for fellowship and which are unessential.  Unfortunately, most Christian leaders are not willing to step back and evaluate or consider that some pet doctrines they hold might not be as critical as they think they are.  Like the Pharisees of old, they rest their eternal destiny on a doctrinal position or a church creed rather than on love which covers a multitude of sins (I Peter  4:8).

        If we seriously consider what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31–40 concerning judgment day, we find He never mentions any teaching (doctrine) of the church but rather how we treated and ministered to those in need.  He was not doing away with His teachings or His law, nor was He advocating mere humanitarianism, but was clearly showing that true Christianity is ministering in love to those in need.  There are doctrines distinctly taught in scripture that cannot be dismissed or set aside, for they are foundational to Christianity.  However, there are some doctrines that are not essential to one’s salvation and it is these that must be placed in their proper place in reference to our love one to another.  Jesus’ words vividly and plainly present this point in John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”  The testimony to the world is not the doctrines to which we hold, nor is it the day we observe, nor the way we observe the Lord’s supper, or how we baptize, as scripturally accurate as we may be on these issues, nor is it the beauty of the building in which we gather or the many programs in which we are involved but it is whether God’s love is being manifest to those around us.  God came into the world to save sinners and that is one of the primary functions of the church, to see sinners come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  The second function is to teach and instruct those saved sinners so they grow to maturity and Christ–likeness.

        As needful as the Great Reformation was, some of the problems which it created at that time and have clung to different denominations even to the present day, have created division and even hatred among those who should emanate love.  Hatred grew so intense during the years of the Reformation that some even murdered those who held different doctrinal positions.  John Calvin and Martin Luther were not exempt from the hatred that their doctrinal positions created.  It seems that their doctrines became more important than love.  Their pride could not afford to be damaged.  Their disciples must not be allowed to consider a different view.  Their doctrinal positions became their God and that was not and is not Biblical Christianity.  Jesus said in Mathew 7:20, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  Hatred and murder exposed their true heart condition.  Does this mean that everything they taught is false?  No.  Most “wolves in sheep’s clothing” have quite a bit of truth and it is that truth that attracts many sinners who see their need of a savior.  Consequently much of what was taught by these men is truth: but mixed with falsehood, it becomes deception.

        One of the main grievances of the haters of Christianity revolved around the gay movement.  Christians are hate–mongers, homophobics, bigots, and the list goes on.  When I was a child, our family lived in an apartment building that was about thirty feet from a railroad track.  Every morning between six and seven o’clock, I was awakened by a whistle as the train approached a crossroad about a quarter of a mile from us.  One day while a few of us children were outside playing, we saw a neighbor’s dog, named Rex, walking on the railroad track.  We also heard a train coming so we began to call the dog by his name, trying to get him to come to us and get off the track.  The dog just looked at us totally unaware of the peril he was in.  The train was probably about 500 feet from Rex before he realized his danger.  He began to run back the way he came toward his home but never left the tracks.  Nothing we could say or do was able to get him to safety and we could only watch as the train took his life and traumatized the young teenager who loved Rex so much.  This may be a poor example but serves to show that genuine Christians speak of the sin of homosexuality (and all other sins) in an effort to get them “off the tracks,” or as Jude states it “pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23).  If this is not the reason and the motive in our attempt to reach homosexuals, our heart’s condition is not like Christ and is no different than many sinners, who do hate the homosexual community.  The Apostle Peter reveals God’s heart toward all sinners in his second epistle, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). To be Christ–like, Christians must have the same heart as God has and any attempt to declare the truth to homosexuals should be done with concern for the person’s eternal state.  Any expression that is not in keeping with the heart of God is not a true representation of Christianity.  God died for the homosexual just as He died for any other sinner, whether he be a murderer, a thief, a fornicator, a liar, a blasphemer, etc.  God is no respecter of persons and He died for all who will call upon Him in faith, confessing their sins in genuine repentance.  May God’s people be awakened to our false representation of the gospel and allow the promised “love of God” to be “shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 5:5).

 

 

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

Curtis Dickinson

THE ANSWER TO OUR FEAR AND ANXIETY

        This is the scared generation.  Much of society has been paralyzed by fear.  Violence in the streets make people prisoners in their own homes, and over all hovers a fear of the tyranny of a government which seeks to control every facet of life, and places the home and Christian values at risk in order to carry out its pagan agenda.

        Added to these are personal fears concerning illness, unemployment, divorce, loneliness and financial loss – and the list could go on.  These are intense times with a tragedy every moment, and many are left staggering under the load.

        While some may see only this great cloud of oppression, those who are in Christ see beyond this cloud to the reality of God and His faithfulness to His people.  We are exhorted to “draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith…for he is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:22,23).  It is belief in the faithfulness of God that will give peace, assurance and strength to survive the tension of our time.

Faithful To Promises

        Abraham and Sarah provide the classic example of what it means to believe in God’s faithfulness.  “By faith Sarah received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:11).

        It was through this son, Isaac, that God had promised the Christ, yet Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:2).  As father and son began the ascent up the mount, Abraham instructed the attendants to wait, saying, “Wait here…I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5).  To say that they would both return indicates that Abraham believed that nothing could hinder God’s promise, not even Isaac’s death.  “By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac; yes, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God is able to raise up, even from the dead; from whence he did also in a figure receive him back” (Heb. 11:17–19).

        This event foreshadowed another promise of the impossible, the resurrection of Jesus.  Paul preached that God would judge the world through Christ, and that He had given assurance of this “in that he has raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).  God has been faithful to His most extreme and incredible promises.

Not Limited To Our Understanding

        The man admired in our culture is the one who sets his own goals, plans the strategy to reach them and clearly understands each step on the way.  Holding this ideal, one can easily be filled with doubts by the uncertainties now saturating our fast–changing world.

        How can God give us peace in a world gone mad?  When will He bring an end to the wickedness?  Why doesn’t He answer my prayer?

        God’s faithfulness does not require that we know all the why’s, only that we obey and believe Him.  When Peter raised objections to his feet being washed by Jesus, Jesus said, “What I do you don’t know now, but you shall know hereafter” (John 13:7).  It was like saying to Peter, “Trust me.  I know what I’m doing, and it’s the right thing.”

        When years had passed and Sarah remained barren, she took charge of the situation and gave Abraham her handmaid to bear him a child.  Then, as promised, God gave Sarah a son.  Great sorrow and tragedy would have been avoided had they relied solely on God’s faithfulness.

        In the grip of sickness and pain we ask, “Why does God allow this?  Why doesn’t He do something?”  All the time He is there to give spiritual strength and peace, to draw us to Him, to purge us from idolatry and the world’s false hopes, and to shape our character more to Christ’s likeness.  Like David we can say, “I know O God that your judgments are right and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me” (Psalm 119:75).

Faithful In Warnings

        While God certainly has the right and power to act without warning to punish and destroy those who reject His purpose, He chooses to show amazing mercy by giving due warning before such judgment.  Adam and Eve were warned that to eat of the forbidden tree would bring death (Gen. 2:17).  The Adversary persuaded Eve that God was unreliable, saying, “Thou shalt NOT surely die” (Gen. 3:4).  It was God Who proved to be faithful to His word, to the sad dismay of the unbelieving pair.

        Warnings were given years before judgment fell on Noah’s generation.  Lot and his family were duly warned of the destruction of Sodom, to give them opportunity to escape.  When Abraham looked in that direction he saw the smoke ascending to heaven, and knew that God has been faithful to the warning He had given (Gen. 19:28).

        Jerusalem was repeatedly warned that her disobedience would bring judgment.  They were convinced that their nation was so special that it would stand forever, but in 70 A.D. it was wiped out by the Roman army, again demonstrating the faithfulness of God’s word.  He has warned of a day in which He will bring destruction to all the ungodly, but not many believe that He will actually carry out this promise.  He is generally presented as the God of such sentimental love that He embraces all, both good and evil, and in the final analysis will not have the heart to execute anyone.  Such a view, instead of revealing one’s reverence and adoration for God, actually reveals disbelief in God’s faithfulness.

        Modern clergymen and theologians have hammered away on this theme until they have removed from the national conscience any concern for accountability to God in judgment.  The leaders of our country are advocating and exemplifying a class of spiritual depravity and rebellion against God never before seen in the modern Western world.  Public school teachers are forbidden to teach children that God has a moral code to be followed.  When a local college student, visiting a high school campus, said that all non–Christians were lost and would go to hell, he was publicly condemned by the media and forbidden further access to the school.  The community was outraged over this simple statement.  Teaching that all are accountable to God is strictly taboo in our society.

        If God’s warnings of judgment are only empty words, then so is His promise of justice for the redeemed – and away goes the hope of life and immortality.

        But God is faithful to do that which He promised.  Because of this we can take heart at David’s advice: “Fret not thyself because of evil–doers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness.  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb…the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of Jehovah shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; in smoke shall they consume away (Psalm 37:1,2,20)…But the meek shall inherit the land and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (Psalm 37:11).  Justice and righteousness will prevail.

Faithful To Forgive

        While God’s judgment is sure to come, His warnings are not given to lay guilt and fear upon those who place their trust in Him.  The text which pronounces His faithfulness and tells us to “draw near” first describes how access to God is made “by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb. 10:19,20).

        We dare not draw near to Almighty God in our own true character without the cleansing and covering provided through the act of Jesus in dying for our sins.  But, how do we know that His death is sufficient to remove our guilt and make us fit for the Father’s presence?  Even after coming to faith in Him and repenting of sin, and after having been baptized as He commanded, we recognize that we still come far short of His glory and the image which He desires for us.  If, like Paul, we do not practice what we want to do, but do what we hate (Rom. 7:15), where are there grounds for our confidence?

        It is in the faithfulness of God.  Forgiveness takes place in the mind of God, and we can be assured of forgiveness only because He promises it.  To the Christian is the promise, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Be Not Anxious (Philippians 4:6)

        The effort to destroy Christian faith is growing more intense, but it is nothing new; it was predicted from early on (Gen. 3:15; Psalm 2:2,3).  Christ still has all authority, though viciously opposed, and the purpose of God will be accomplished.  Whatever heartache or burden you must suffer, and in spite of all opposition, none of God’s promises will fail.

        “For He is faithful that promised.”

 

 

 

TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH

James Sanderson

        The book of Revelation records seven letters to seven churches of Asia Minor. Each letter follows a general format: (1) an address to a certain place, (2) a salutation describing Jesus Christ, (3) a commendation to all but the last church, (4) a description of their shortcomings, (5) a warning as to what to do about the condition, (6) a call to listen, (7) and, finally, a promise to “him that overcometh.”  God is looking for overcomers.  In order to obtain the promises listed in each letter, one must meet one condition: overcome.  That word overcome in the Greek means conquer, prevail, get the victory (Strong’s).  The call to overcome has three major implications: (1) God’s people are in a struggle, a battle, a warfare.  (2) God’s people have enemies to overcome.  (3) The people of God have a victory to gain.  It is imperative that every Christian understands the implications of this great call of God to overcome.  Let us examine each aspect of this call.

The Call To Battle

        This walk with Jesus Christ involves a struggle, a battle, a warfare.  We are at war.  God never saved us to join a church, attend services once or twice a week, and settle down to a comfortable way of life.  Humans, by nature, like to follow the easy path in life.  They want to stay within their comfort zone.  Today, the vast majority of Americans claim to be Christians.  There is no real stigma associated with the word Christian.  After the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the church began to grow and multiply.  Anyone who became a part of that early company of believers often had to pay a tremendous price for walking with the Lord Jesus Christ.  One has only to read the book of Acts and accounts of the early Christian martyrs to comprehend this fact.  Many were ostracized by their own families and society at large.  Others were marked for imprisonment and death. 

        Every born–again, Spirit–filled believer must realize that he is called to overcome.  This call to overcome is a call to battle.  “War a good warfare” (I Tim. 1:18).  “Fight the good fight” (I Tim. 6:12). Paul writes about “the weapons of our warfare” (II Cor. 10:4).  The Apostle Paul also admonishes every believer to be “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 2:3). 

        This is no earthly, physical battle with tanks, guns, and other paraphernalia of war, but a spiritual battle.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).  The stakes are high: one’s eternal destiny.

There Are Enemies

        Another implication of the word overcome is that there are enemies to subdue.  One must understand who these enemies are and how they operate.  They are busy night and day, devising ways to destroy the believer’s relationship with Jesus Christ.  They never take a vacation, and they never sleep.  They have one obsession: rob the Christian of his victory in Jesus Christ, cause him to deviate from his walk with God.

        The Apostle John wrote, “I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:13).  The wicked one is, of course, Satan himself.  Satan is the archenemy of anyone who would walk with the Lord.  Satan has cohorts who aid him in his nefarious schemes.  The Apostle Peter admonishes every believer, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:8–9).  Vigilance and watchfulness are absolutely essential in this spiritual warfare.  Jesus told Peter, “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for you that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:31–32).  Prayer is also another essential when dealing with this enemy of the soul.

        The Apostle Paul states, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).  Ephesians 6:11 speaks of “the wiles of the devil.”  This word wiles has to do with the trickery or cunning of the enemy.  The English word methods is virtually a transliteration of the Greek word for wiles.  It is imperative that one understands the methods that Satan uses to accomplish his diabolical plans.

        Satan is a liar and murderer (John 8:44).  He tempts (Mark 1:13).  He binds (Luke 13:16).  He takes advantage of people (especially their weaknesses) (2 Cor. 2:11).  He steals the word of God from people’s hearts (Mark 4:15).  He disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  He hinders (I Thes. 2:18).  He produces lying signs and wonders (2 Thes. 2:9).  He possesses (Matt. 9:32).  He causes people to lie (Acts 5:3).  He oppresses (Acts 10:38).  He places snares and brings condemnation on people (I Tim 3:6).  Paul said that he is the “enemy of all righteousness” (Acts 13:10).  Satan and his cohorts will do whatever it takes to wreck havoc in the spiritual lives of God’s people and destroy their testimony.

        Another enemy of the Christian is the world.  The believer is called to overcome the world.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (I John 5:4).  The Word of God draws a clear line of demarcation between the world and walking with God.  “(K)now ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).  The Apostle John was also unequivocal when he stated, “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” (I John 2:15).  The world, and all that it has to offer, has a way of possessing the heartstrings of the believer.  At no time in human history has the world had so much to offer.  As Christians, we need to ask ourselves how much the music, entertainment, fashions, goals, and values of the world taint our walk with God.  Can people see a difference between us and the world?  Do we conduct our lives in the same way as the world?  These are questions that every born–again believer must answer for himself as he examines his life in the light of the Word of God.

        The Word of God declares that Jesus Christ came to “deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4).  The true believer is “not of this world” (John 17:14–16).  Like Abraham of old, we look for another city, another country, whose standards and values are based upon the Word of God.  Jesus stated, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).  In one sense, the follower of Jesus Christ will always possess a certain tension or dissatisfaction with this world and what it has to offer.  He is merely sojourning in a strange land as a pilgrim and stranger.

        Another enemy of the saint is the flesh.  The Bible tells us that the flesh works against the Spirit; and the Spirit, against the flesh (Gal. 5:17).  Our flesh, that is, the physical skin and bones, is not sinful in and of itself; however, the flesh offers the occasion for sin.  There is a warfare raging in the heart of every believer (James 4:1).  Either we will provide for the flesh, pamper the flesh, and give into the demands of the flesh or we will “walk not after the flesh” (Rom. 8:3).  We make choices every moment of our lives.  The Word of God presents a list of the works of the flesh in Gal. 5:19–21 and Mark 7:20–23.  These Scripture references list areas in the lives of the believer that must be dealt with through the work of the Holy Spirit.  The only answer for the flesh is crucifixion.  “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).  One is not even to “make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).  The choice is either sow to the flesh and reap corruption, or sow to the Spirit and reap life everlasting (Gal. 6:8).

A Victory to Gain

        In this struggle with the enemies of our souls, the good news of the gospel is that we have the victory through Jesus Christ.  “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:18–19).  “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11).  The blood of the Lamb and the Word of God uttered by the Saint are powerful weapons against the onslaught of any enemy.  The Christian who brandishes these weapons will be on the winning side.  In his own strength, the believer cannot overcome.  Jesus pointed out this fact to Peter before His crucifixion.  “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).  The prophet Zechariah declared, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord” (Zech. 4:6).

        It is time for the Church to arise and claim her rightful position in Christ.  A walk in victory and overcoming power is available through Jesus Christ.  “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).  “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).  The seventh chapter of the book of Revelation displays “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9).  This remarkable company of people “stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).  The white robes signify their righteous character.  The palms are evidence of the glorious victory that they had gained in Jesus Christ.  God is calling His people to be a part of that magnificent company of overcomers who “inherit all things” (Rev. 21:7).  Hosanna and praise be to God!

 

 

ETERNAL SECURITY IS IN OUR OBEDIENCE

J. Grant Swank, Jr.

Is it possible to lose one’s salvation?

        The Bible states clearly that such is possible.  Of course, it is hoped that every Christian will remain obedient to God until death; but if one does start on the Christian way and then backslides, he loses his salvation.  He may be reclaimed, returning to God’s will for his daily living; but if he does not, then he is in danger of eternal damnation.

        All of this is Biblical truth.  However, in some quarters today is it not popular to own up to this message.  Even some persons who actually believe this divine revelation find it more convenient to muffle it.  That which is “in” today is to be most accommodating to others, even if such does not always conform to the biblical message.

        However, for those who stand before the judgment seat of God daily, they live by the eternal verities, regardless of current doctrinal fads.  These believers are not influenced by whims and wishes; they are wedded to the eternal Word.

        What are the scriptural passages which delineate for us the fact that a believer can lose his standing before Christ so as to be in danger of hell?  They are numerous.  They are clear.  They are convicting so as to keep us in the highway of holiness.

        “It shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.  As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God” (Deut. 8:19–20).

        “My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him” (Hosea 11:7).

        The Hebrews were playing religion; they were continuing with the ritual but absented the righteousness.  God could not tolerate such spiritual schizophrenia.  Nor can He do so today.  Though the Hebrew worshipers called out God’s name, they had no respect for His holiness.  This hypocrisy brought God’s wrath upon them.  “Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground.  For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12).

        This cautioning message continues in the New Testament, beginning with the message of Christ.

        “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).

        The Christian commitment is to the close of life; it is a matter of enduring until the completion.  When we stay true to Jesus until the last breath, then we are accounted as saved.  If we renege, then we are accounted as lost.

        “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

        “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).

        “If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).

        “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (I Tim. 6:10).

        “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  If we deny him, he also will deny us” (II Tim. 2:12).

        “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38).

        “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God” (Heb. 12:14–15).

        “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.  But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit, and a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’” (II Peter 2:20–22).

        God’s word informs us that when one backslides, his position before heaven is worse than before he was saved.  Before one is saved, he is on his way to damnation; therefore, to have been saved and then backslide is to be worse than being damned!  In other words, it is a dangerous state to be in when one intentionally turns his soul against God after having come into His grace.

        The Bible is most graphic at this point; in fact, the terms used are repulsive.  Why so?  How can the Word of God become so gross?  The reason is because the backslidden state is so repulsive; it is so gross.  The language simply attempts to describe the awful condition of the backslidden soul.

        “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God” (II John 9).

        Yet there are those who believe that a Christian can “sin in word, thought and deed every day.”  This is contrary to the Bible.  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning” (I John 3:8).

        God has not called us to a life of sin; He has called us to a life of holiness.  “Be holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16).

        But what about those who say that once we have come into God’s hands, we cannot get out of His hands?  They use this verse: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

        The simple answer to those persons who champion eternal security from this verse is that no one can snatch a persevering believer out of God’s hands; however, by an act of free will, he can take himself out of God’s hand!

        Those who believe in “once saved, always saved” negate the human’s free will from the moment of salvation.  However, nowhere in the Bible is this stated.  We were born with the power of choice; we will die with that power.  We are not religious robots nor wind–up machines.  We have the right to choose God or refuse God, to remain in His grace or to backslide and lose our standing in grace.

        Yet there are those who say that once we become a child of God, we cannot get out of His family.  This is faulty in that by choice one comes into the family and by choice one can leave the family.  The analogy between physical and spiritual births breaks down when considering that free will does not bring us into physical birth; however, free will does bring us into spiritual birth.

        How many clergypersons will answer for wrongly dividing the Word of God at this point?  They have led hearers astray while proclaiming that they held to the infallible Bible as their guide for destiny.

        How crucial it is that we warn everyone about the diligence needed in living holy lives in Christ’s Spirit.  This is so strategic in this lax age.  Many are carving out their own easy religions; yet the Bible prohibits us from straying away from the revealed truth.

        A Christian is eternally secure as long as he has a clean conscience.  He simply spends his waking hours obeying God.  But if he starts to disobey, the conscience alerts him.  Then he must stop the disobedience to recoup.  He must confess his negligence and return to following the divine orders.  In that is his peace, his comfort, his rest – all the way home.

 

 

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

Harry Miller

        In the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he gives in detail the complete ministry of the Holy Spirit as it is manifest in a New Testament assembly.  “Diversities of gifts” (no less than ten are enumerated in the twelfth chapter); “differences in administrations” (one who executes the commands of another; a servant, attendant, minister. – Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon).  Definitely not a one man ministry: even the door–to–door ministers were sent out by twos – God never intended that His people be led by one man.  “Diversities of operations” (I Cor. 12:4—6); no chance for the church to get into a rut.  Nothing cut and dried or monotonous in God’s order for His church.  A full, rounded–out ministry was always available for the assembly of saints.

        The apostolic church had the answer to every problem known to human life: physiological, psychological, as well as spiritual.  Under God’s order the church was to be separate from “the world” (IN the world physically, but not OF IT in any way, shape or form).  It had the means to supply every need of the saints: physical health through the “gifts of healing”; mental peace of mind through a full and complete ministry, the economic problem was solved through the life of the Christian community; social problems found their full satisfaction in the fellowship of saints; the spiritual life of all was one of constant edification through the exercise of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

        One cannot help wondering why a church so endowed with heaven’s bounties would ever turn aside from God’s glorious order and exchange it for the carnal programs of man.  However, it was through foolishness and stupid self–will that our first parents lost Paradise.  Which of God’s blessing to men have they not defiled?  Is there anything heaven–sent that man has not abused?  Even the letter to the church at Corinth was written with the object in view of correcting their abuse of spiritual gifts.

        The apostle had to instruct this apostolic tongues–speaking church that the moving of the Holy Spirit in an assembly did not have to turn the meeting into a mad house.  They were informed that God is not the author of confusion; that He is the very Father of order, system, and law.  A so–called “holy roller” is like a shooting star out of orbit – he finally burns out or else he crashes into some other body.  “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40).  It might be well for every saint to consider this capstone of this most marvelous chapter.

        The manifestation of spiritual gifts of the Holy Ghost should not be manifested in a disgusting manner; fanatics try to impress their “audience” with the authenticity of their act by doing some outlandish caper with their manifestation.  Sad to say, the so–called Pentecostal movement is infested with many thousands of such characters.

        Things in the church should be done “decently,” declared this writer to the Corinthians.  Let us look at this word, here translated “decently” from the Greek: Euskaymon is the word in the original tongue.  Our translators used the word “decently” only once in the New Testament.  In other places this Greek word is translated as “honestly” (I Thess. 4:12; Rom. 13:13).  Just like “spoiled–brats” love to vaunt themselves and “show–off” before company, so do many adults when they get into an assembly of people.  There is a certain vulgar type of person who loves to be seen and heard.  It is such material as this that the devil will use to disgust people with “the manifestation of the Holy Ghost and power.”  Such characters are not honest: they are putting on a cheap show, and many times they are unctionized by familiar spirits that give them plenty of animation, and even “inspiration” so that often they can dance in the spirit one night and commit adultery the next without a qualm of conscience.

        How did it ever happen in our day that the Holy Spirit went to the slums on the “other side of the tracks,” among the riffraff, to find a house in which to dwell?  We all know the answer, but we hate to admit it – the “better classes” (those who recognize an ethical code, hold up certain commendable standards, and practice decency) were practically all overcome by the religious morticians (the professional priests, hirelings of Babel) who had embalmed their souls in the cold dead tombs of sectarianism.  Without God, and without hope, they slept the serene sleep of the spiritually dead, fully satisfied with the meaningless formalities of the sanctimonious mausoleums where the dead (in trespasses and sins) rest.  Not even the Spirit of God could disturb them – SO THEY THOUGHT – but times are changing.  The whole social structure of humanity is being shaken, uncertainty fills the very air – CHANGE is being screamed from the skies, and even the bodies of some of the “embalmed” ministry are beginning to quake with fear.

        Let us face the facts: The professing Christian church is in a dickens of a fix.  The Pentecostal church that claims all of the apostolic power is so far removed from the Bible order and pattern that we know her to be but a shameful fraud, a counterfeit.  Often enough certain of her assemblies could be likened unto a religious pigsty, a lair of evil beasts, or the “hold of every foul bird.”

        Somewhere between the madhouse of Pentecostalism and the deathly chill of the modern church there must be a people who still serve God in the spirit and in truth.  If the regal splendor and dignity of the atmosphere of a Roman Catholic Cathedral could be combined with the spirit of praise and worshipful singing of many full–gospel churches, and a Christian congress of the elders in Israel could take charge of the services, then I believe that a genuine revival of apostolic religion could be brought forth.  As a matter of fact, it is this writer’s opinion that there will not be a real awakening of the church until such a condition is created by the efforts of the elders who desire to see God’s ORDER restored.

        Let every student of the Word carefully examine every paragraph and word of the fourteenth chapter of first Corinthians.  No other portion of Scripture has so much truth packed into such a small space: the conduct of the New Testament ministry and the operation of the supernatural gifts in the public assembly is herein set forth in graphic detail.  It should be the earnest prayer of every Christian that the divine order of apostolic ministry be again restored to the church.  It is understandable why the so–called “nominal Christian churches” have no desire for such a restoration: they operate under their own power and prefer their own programs.  But it is incomprehensible that the professing Pentecostal churches refuse to seek the genuine; and that they, one and all, have settled for a lesser order.

        Deliberate rejection of God’s plan and rebellion against Christ’s Spirit are the sins of the so–called “fundamental” churches.  Fanatics of the Pentecostal stripe are often extremely ignorant, and in their craving for emotional outlets they, too, have settled for an intolerably inferior condition: spirit without God!  Congo music, jungle rhythm, be–bop antics, emotional excitement with a spiritualistic flavor.

        The one and only road to life everlasting requires humility, godly sincerity, and an earnest desire to obey the will of the heavenly Father.  There are no substitutes for these requisites.

        “Follow after charity,” the apostle admonishes the gifted church of Corinth (I Cor. 14:1).  “A more excellent way” is the message of the thirteenth chapter.  This, of course, is the introductory chapter to the momentous message of the mode of the operation of the powers of the supernatural in the public assembly.  The word “charity,” here, is somewhat misleading.  It sounds like a dole, or a “handout” to the poor; but this term speaks of personality, according to chapter thirteen, and nothing but the Holy Spirit of Christ truly fits the description: “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth…now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (I Cor. 13:4–13).

        In Paul’s admonishment “Follow after charity,” he laid a foundation for the success of the ministry of those who would seek to be endowed with the gifts and powers of the supernatural.  The gifts of the supernatural can be acquired by either one of two different methods.  “Violence” is the usual method employed by the self–willed.  As it is written: “The kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent take it by force” (Matt. 11:12).  This method, however, is illegal, and like all unlawful things, the thief will suffer great loss; his punishment is inevitable.  No other law of God or man is so exacting as those laws that govern things spiritual.  The only legal way to acquire right to the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to prepare one’s own heart by submission to Christ, and then He (the Holy Spirit) will present the gift when the conditions are right for its proper care and use.  Tongues of “men and of angels” can be acquired without “charity” (Christ), but woe to the individual who is satisfied to be but “sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal”!

        King Saul, the first monarch of Israel, actually prophesied by the Spirit of God when his heart was filled with a desire to murder his friend David.  Caiaphas, the high priest who sentenced Jesus to death, also prophesied by the spirit of truth (John 11:49–52).  One of the greatest enemies of God’s people was Balaam the prophet.  This character not only talked TO the Lord, but he heard FROM the Lord.  He also knew the power of the trance and saw visions of things to come.  This self–willed fellow had control of deadly occult powers that meant destruction to his enemies.  So great was this man’s control of things supernatural that heaven was alerted to send an angelic being to stay the man’s hand if need be.

        Jesus declared, “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 will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22,23).  This is a most solemn statement.  Those who will make these statements will be deadly in earnest.  They shall stand before the seat of eternal justice; there they will make their final and last plea for mercy.  There will be no doubt in their minds that their prophecy was genuine; they will not question the fact that they “cast out devils in His name,” yet they will be made to know that HE NEVER KNEW THEM.

        Many people think that a certain “gift” is evidence that God is with them.  Some even conclude that the Spirit of God is upon them when they feel a tingle, a jerk, or a quiver of their flesh.  “A sinful and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” and those who walk in their carnal ways depend upon outward signs to bolster their troubled consciences.

        The Pentecostal movement, which is now sweeping the civilized nations of the earth like a prairie fire, is the most spirit–conscious of all of the professing Christian movements of this hour.  This misinformed and misdirected religious steam roller boiling over with human zeal is devastating “the field” that is ripe with harvest.

 

 

ENDURING SOUND DOCTRINE

Randall Walton

        “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3,4).

        That time has come; it is already here.  Christianity has become a religion of fables, myths, and fantasies, and sadly, “the people love to have it so.”

        Truth has that distinctive quality of transforming people’s lives.  “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).  “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:17).  It is a separator, sanctifier, cleanser.  And it is a necessary ingredient for a spiritually healthy walk with God.

        But fables are a cheap imitation of the real gems of truth.  Fables necessarily appease one’s conscience and divert one’s attention from the stark reality of sheer fact.  Fables are usually dressed up in the garb of imagination, vagueness and fantasy; they are always supported by hypothetical assumptions that cleverly change the truth just enough to beguile the unwary and gullible.  And are supremely entertaining!

        Many modern “Christian” fables originated among the denizens of ancient pagan cults, most of whom were worshippers of the sun–god.  Modern Christians accept such fables as “Christian traditions” without questioning their origin or derivation, nor are they concerned whether they can be substantiated in the Holy Scriptures.

        One solid test of any doctrine is the kind of impact such doctrine has upon the lives of those who subscribe to it; does said teaching encourage a person to a deeper consecration, a fuller knowledge of God, a closer walk with Him; does it increase the comprehension of things Spiritual, does it whet the thirst for more of the divine, does it stir the soul to seek God in deep, earnest prayer, does it help in the struggle over sin, carnality, and rebellion?

Abstract Theories

        All of the teachings of Jesus were concrete, positive, absolute, whether they were spoken in plain, direct speech, or were in parables.  They were applicable to the lives of His listeners; they dealt with situations which were true to life.  His message cut straight through the façade of outward piety and religiosity and exposed the wretchedness of the human heart: “out of the heart,” He told His audience, “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” (Mark 7:21–23).

        But the traditions of the Pharisees have been passed along through these many centuries.  They were the hypocrites who covered up their wicked hearts with a beautiful and righteous–appearing exterior (Matt. 23:25–28).

        No matter how much we try to make the “outside of the cup and platter” look holy, it is still the heart that counts before God.  We have known many a life of sin and guilt hidden behind the so–called holiness profession of faith because they had embraced the fable of Phariseeism.  While it is true that modesty is a Biblical teaching, there is no single dress code which can substitute for a clean heart.  People should be able to know we are Christians by our mode of life, not by a traditional form of dress.

        This is why Jesus stressed the importance of the really defiling agents: sin!  Both in thoughts and in deeds.  This is the problem with abstract theories: they do no good for the rottenness of the human heart.  A person can wear the “proper garments” (religiously speaking) all his/her life and still harbor the gross sins Jesus enumerated.

        Consider the abstract theory of “eternal security” as another example: this fable not only does no good for a person, it contributes to the delinquency and degeneracy of those who believe it.  It offers license to practice the sins which Jesus said proceed from the heart.  It deprives its followers of a goal in this life, that is, of growth, progress, development, maturity.  A more accurate term would be, “Once a baby, always a baby”!  And, of course, this premise is in contradiction to the teachings of the Word.

        Another fable which goes back into antiquity is that God will eventually set up an earthly kingdom which will rule over the nations for a reign of peace.  Ancient Israel held to the delusion of an earthly utopia, although they did not specify its duration.  Their greatest hope for the Messiah was that he would restore the magnificence of Solomon’s kingdom.  The “good old days” to them were when the twelve tribes were consolidated under one human head and all the world took notice.  They were basking in the carnal sunshine which their forefathers demanded from the prophet Samuel.

        “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations,” they ordered (I Sam. 8:5).  God had set judges over them to rule according to His will.  They thoroughly resented God’s method of governing and wanted a system like the rest of the world.  God allowed them to have a king, but it was at His great displeasure, for He said, “they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (8:7).  God also said that they would “cry out because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (8:18).

        He declared to the prophet Hosea: “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (13:11).  The only reason God preserved the tribe of Judah was so that the Messiah would be a natural descendant of David, a man after God’s own heart.  But as with the kingdom itself, God said that His eyes “are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (Amos 9:8).

        God fulfilled this word when He scattered the ten northern tribes throughout Assyria and other parts of the world, and Judah was sent into captivity to Babylon.  The sinful kingdom was totally destroyed to rise again no more.

Promise To David

        “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).

        Mr. Scofield, in his celebrated notes, states that this refers to the “Future kingdom blessing: The Lord’s return and the re–establishment of the Davidic monarchy.”  But James, in conference with the other apostles and elders, had this to say: “Simeon (Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord” (Acts 15:14–17).

        According to James, this prophecy in Amos had nothing whatever to do with “David’s monarchy.”  This interpretation was a figment of Scofield’s carnal imagination and was based upon his belief in the restoration of the “sinful kingdom.”

        James rightfully saw the spiritual significance of the “tabernacle of David.”  The spiritual birth of the Gentiles, the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom into all the world, this meant the fulfilling of the words of the prophet Amos!

        The idea of a restored earthly kingdom was so persistent among the Jews that they wanted to force Jesus to be their king (John 6:15).  This was never a part of His mission.  He did not come to set up an earthly, worldly, political, fleshly, carnal kingdom.  He frankly informed Pontius Pilate that “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Yet we still, to this very day, hear “ministers of the gospel”(?) declaring that Jesus will very soon come back and set up an earthly, visible kingdom and rule the whole world.  This fable reaches all the way back to ancient Israel’s desire to have a king and a kingdom “like unto the nations.’

He Reigns Now

        “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us–ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:18–23).

        Need we say more?  Here is truth so startling, so profound, so all–encompassing that we marvel that mankind can read these words and still believe that an earthly kingdom is inevitable.  May the “eyes of your understanding be enlightened” to comprehend the glorious truths concerning our King, our Master, and our Lord!

 

 

BUY THE TRUTH

Randall Walton

        “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

        In this hour of great darkness (Isa. 60:2) there is an appalling shortage of these commodities among the people of God.  It is not that there is a lack on God’s part, for He is the very author of these qualities; the problem lies with us who have been unwilling to pay the price to obtain truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding.  These are worth any price we must pay!

        Some even try to “spiritualize” this passage by declaring that Jesus is the truth (to which we heartily agree); however, no one can buy Him.  He is the Father’s gift to mankind and is not for sale or barter.  This is not to say that following Him is not a costly experience, but that is only relative insofar as an individual is willing to deny himself to maintain a close and intimate relationship with the Lord.  But Jesus is not on the open market to be merchandised for ANY sum.  He is priceless!

        The truth referred to in Solomon’s verse is none other than the sacred gems cached away in God’s Holy Book, as well as those divine utterances of the Holy Spirit which are still spoken among the servants of God today.

        But, as the text suggests, truth is bought.  And once it is bought, it is not to be sold; it is not to be hoarded either, but given out, passed around, heralded forth and announced.

        We hear much these days about the supposed unimportance of doctrine.  It is singled out as the great divider and the creator of sectarian organizations.  But that is a half-truth which conceals the facts of the case.  Doctrine which is truth is as essential to the spiritual growth and well-being of a Christian as assembling ourselves together for the sake of fellowship.

        Divisive doctrine is that which is the by-product of man’s traditions; it is that man-made standard which demands acceptance by others before fellowship can be granted.

        Jesus taught that when the Holy Ghost came, He would guide men into all truth (John 16:13).  There is not the slightest hint that the Holy Spirit would lead men and women into truth expecting them to keep quiet about it.  Jesus always preached truth, truth which was in essence doctrine.  Paul even went so far as to order the church to hold the traditions which they had been taught (II Thess. 2:14; 3:6).

        Doctrines and traditions, if they are truth, are commendable and are to be followed.  It is only when they are NOT truth, or are used as a means to disfellowship others, that they are to be shunned.

        Truth is a great sanctifier (John 17:17).  When it is allowed to do its intended work it produces a positive reaction in the heart which draws one closer to God and separates from the world.  This is the true meaning of sanctification.  It is not enough to part company with the world and its pleasures.  True sanctification is to be set apart unto God; when this becomes a reality, the attractions of the world are no longer a problem nor a temptation.

        But this is a part of “buying” the truth.  Truth which sanctifies, separates and sets apart is indeed costly.  It could cost you your job, your relatives, your prestige, your position and your reputation.

        And even if you should pay this sum, you will have purchased a real bargain, for truth endureth forever and is worth any amount you may be required to pay in order to obtain it.  It could mean the difference between life and death!

 

 

CORRECTION

 

      A mistake was discovered in the August issue of The Testimony of Truth which we would like to correct.  One of our readers alerted us to this inaccuracy and we always appreciate those who notify us when errors are made.  The mistake was in the article written by Alfred King entitled, “Kingdom Boundaries” on page 11, second column, first paragraph.  The article was using an example of a traitor during the Revolutionary War and was referring to Benedict Arnold.  However, instead of naming Benedict Arnold, the article states this was Nathan Hale.  Nathan Hale was a very patriotic soldier who was captured by the British when he was attempting to gather information for the Continental Army.  He was discovered and hanged at the age of 21.  According to an eyewitness account, his dying words were, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country”.  Benedict Arnold was the traitor of whom the article referred.  We apologize for this error but appreciate it being brought to our attention so we could correct it.