People of The Living God

Psalms 149

 

Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size

July 2015



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

A NATION GONE AWRY

Alfred King

        It doesn’t seem there should be any controversy that America was founded upon the Bible and Godly principles nor that most of America’s founding fathers were men who held God and His word in high esteem.  In the majority of America’s historic buildings, monuments and sites we find symbols and inscriptions which honor God and His word.  To list just a few, we offer the following.

        In the Library of Congress, within the Great Hall of the Jefferson building there rests two Bibles in climate controlled cases, one containing the Gutenberg Bible and the other a hand–copied Giant Bible of Mainz.  On the ceiling are many Bible verses inscribed including, “The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not,” and “Wisdom is the principal thing therefore get wisdom and withal thy getting, get understanding.”  The men of that day understood the necessity of God’s wisdom and guidance in the success of a nation.

        In the White House, cut into the marble facing of the State Dining Room fireplace, is written the words of John Adams, “I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and on All that shall hereafter Inhabit it.  May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under this Roof.”

        In the House Chamber of the Capitol Building and behind the podium of the Speaker are inscribed in gold, “In God We Trust.”

        The Washington Monument has engraved into its aluminum capstone Laus Deo which is Latin and is interpreted, “Praise Be To God”.  This monument is the tallest structure in Washington DC, rising 555 feet.

        The list of God–honoring inscriptions and engravings on our public buildings and monuments can go on and on, but I am sure that most Americans acknowledge that God and the Bible were very important to those men who engaged in the writing the young country’s constitution.  However, we don’t have to go to Washington DC to see that God was recognized as important to the country’s success.  “IN GOD WE TRUST” is found on the face of every coin and on the back of every bill in our currency.  While there are those who desire that those words be removed, it stands as inevitable proof that God played an important role in America’s history, and His council and guidance were instrumental in the founding of the United States of America.

        If we take a quick look at history from its beginning, we find there have been some great civilizations and prosperous nations.  But in every one of them we find sin somehow infiltrates, multiplies over time and decay begins from within.  It seems no matter how good a nation or civilization is, no matter how moral its laws are or how noble its rulers are in the beginning, sin eventually creeps in, slowly at first practically without notice but once the door is opened, it is not long before sin floods in and the door is impossible to shut.  The wise man, Solomon, wrote in his book of wisdom, “whosoever breaketh an hedge, a serpent will bite him” (Ecc. 10:8).  Israel, God’s chosen people entered the land of Canaan with God’s blessings upon them and God’s promises a surety for victory.  God not only promised them the land but swore to fight for them.  Their only requirement was to be obedient to him and refrain from sin and idolatry.  However, it wasn’t long before sin began to slip into the ranks of the Israelites and sin took them down a long and wearisome road.  As they allowed sin to work among them, they lost God’s blessings and protection and were overcome by their enemies.  Yet God in His great love and faithfulness would have compassion and mercy upon them when they called upon Him and He would deliver them from their enemies’ hands.  Still the victory never lasted, because they would again allow sin to enter and would take the same path over and over again.  Israel finally came to the place where God said there was no remedy.  “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (II Chron. 36:16).  When God says, “There is no remedy” that nation to whom He refers is in serious trouble.  Israel was sold into the hand of their enemy, Nebuchadnezzar, their temple leveled, Jerusalem destroyed and the people led away, prisoners and slaves, into a strange land.

        The importance of studying history is that “history repeats itself.”  By looking back at how other nations and civilizations have prospered, became affluent and its citizens obtained the best lives, in contrast to what brought about their demise, we can gain some valuable insight into what will bring the greatest freedoms to a people and cause a nation to be prosperous and successful.  America’s founding fathers each understood the history of nations and civilizations.  They studied the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires.  They had delved into the inner structure of the various governments, the factors and interworking of the laws which governed nations and they compiled all the good, the beautiful, the bad and the ugly and drew from the knowledge of those facts, ideas of what form of government would best create a nation where its citizens would be free and yet would be prosperous and strong militarily.  The framers of the USA constitution wrestled in their own minds as well as with one another, debating until tempers rose to the point that some of the delegates left before a constitution was drawn up.  But when all hope of coming to an agreement had vanished, one delegate requested that they go to God in prayer.  The very next day the whole of the USA constitution came together, was ratified and signed and the United States of America was formed.

        Acknowledging God on our money and in so many public buildings was only reasonable and was an expression of appreciation to God for His generous wisdom in establishing this new nation.  It was an offering of thanks to God and an acknowledging of the need of His continuing guidance for this infantile nation.  God graciously and bountifully blessed America for over two hundred years, bringing her through many difficulties, giving her victories when victory seemed impossible.  God brought her to the place where the sin of slavery was addressed.  Slavery is an issue very clearly addressed in America’s constitution as forbidden and yet it had been allowed to slip through the cracks and into America’s way of life.  It was tolerated and excused because of the false idea of necessity.  Nevertheless, God in His mercy brought the issue to a head and removed the curse of slavery from her, although it would be another century plus before those held in slavery would begin to find the freedom they were guaranteed under the constitution.  America paid a tremendous price for the emancipation of her slaves.  America’s citizens fought one another, brother against brother and father against son in a war that brought more American casualties than all other of America’s wars combined until it was finally eclipsed during the Vietnam War. “Roughly 1,264,000 American soldiers have died in the nation’s wars—620,000 in the Civil War and 644,000 in all other conflicts. It was only as recently as the Vietnam War that the amount of American deaths in foreign wars eclipsed the number who died in the Civil War.” (Civil War Facts www.civilwar.org/education/history/faq/).  God’s divine principle rang true once again as is recorded in Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  This divine principle applies individually as well as to nations.  America refused to address the slavery issue and it cost her dearly, and in all sincerity, she is still paying today.

        But has American learned from her mistakes or the errors of other nations?  Will she consider her roots, her Christian and Biblical genesis?  Will she repent of her wicked ways and turn back to God and Godly principles?  Will she open her eyes to the destructive path she has chosen and return to the morals and ethics that once brought this nation to its grandeur?  Is she so enslaved by her sin that she cannot pull herself free from its tentacles?  Is there hope for America?  There is only one hope for America and that is God.  God is a merciful God and He so loves the world that He sent His only begotton Son into the world to save, not the righteous but sinners.  He came to call sinners to repentance, for God is love and He desires all men to be saved.  He does not impose His ways or standards upon men because He is a tyrant or a God who enjoys seeing His creation suffer, but because He knows His ways are the best ways and He offers His laws as an act of love.  So much does God love that He offers even the greatest of sinners opportunity to repent and come to Him.  He also bids any and every nation to return to Him and He will once again cause His blessings to shine upon her.  God offered forgiveness and healing to the nation Israel in II Chro. 7:14.  “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  This promise still stands true today if America will repent and return to God and His standards.  God holds out a final invitation to America.  But the question is: Will she listen?

 

 

 

 

GOD'S ETERNAL PURPOSE

James Sanderson

        “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Cor. 2:9).  Here, in this portion of Scripture, the Apostle Paul reveals that God has some wonderful blessings in store for the people of God.  Two words stand out in this particular verse. The first is love.  These blessing are for those who “love him.”  What does it mean to love God?  To love God is to elevate Him to the highest position in one’s life.  He is more important than family, friends, possessions, position, or even one’s own life.  He is the focus of one’s longings and goals in life.  To please Him is the supreme desire of the soul.  Vine states, “Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments (John 14:15).  Self–will, that is self–pleasing, is the negation of love to God” (Vine’s, p. 703).

        Another word that stands out in this particular verse is prepared.  What God has made available to “them that love him” is not the result of sudden whim but a part of a well–coordinated, divine plan inaugurated before the world began.  “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).

        Modern secular science would have us believe that this present earthly arrangement is nothing more than the product of chance.  Man is merely the result of evolutionary forces, destined to live a few short years, and finally to die an ignoble death without any real purpose.  The Word of God reveals otherwise.  The Apostle Paul writes, “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).  Again in II Tim. 1:9, Paul writes, “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

        As one can see from these two verses of Scripture, this present earthly arrangement is the arena in which God is accomplishing His extraordinary program.  When His plan has come to fruition, this physical universe will pass away.

        What is God's eternal purpose?  The Word of God reveals three major aspects to God's divine plan.  First, in this arena where faith operates He is producing a divine family.  Second, God will vindicate His divine character.  Finally, God will bring lasting judgment on all evil.  One must understand that all three aspects of God's program are interrelated; however, it might be well to examine each in the light of the Word of God.

The Creation Of A Divine Family

        The Word of God declares, “God is love” (I John 4:8,16).  Because God is love, He desires to share what He has with others.  The greatest gift that God can share is His own nature.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4).  That word partakers in Greek is κοινωνός, which is derived from a verb which means to share, partake, have in common.  The “eternal purpose” of God is the creation of a family with whom He can share His own character and divine attributes.  This special family is His divine family.

        A number of Scripture references support this marvelous plan.  “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).  The word sons indicates a familial relationship.  God is bringing forth sons with whom He can share His glory.  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).  This portion of Scripture reinforces His heavenly plan to produce a family of sons who will be “like Him” in character and nature.

        The Apostle Paul continues this theme in his letter to the Ephesians, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph. 1:4–5).  Here one finds that this family will be holy as He is holy.  “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. 3:14–15).

        The Apostle Paul, also, relates that God made a remarkable promise before the foundation of the world, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).  God promised that He would impart to this family eternal life.  What is eternal life?  According to the Word of God eternal life has two aspects: immortality and incorruptibility.  What makes this promise remarkable is the fact that only God has immortality.  “Who only hath immortality” (I Tim. 6:16).  God has promised to share with other beings a divine attribute that only He possesses: immortality.

        This plan to produce a family that reflects the very qualities of God Himself is so striking that, according to the Apostle Peter, “the angels desire to look into” it (I Peter 1:12).  The Greek verb for look into literally means to stoop to a thing in order to look at it; to look at with head bowed forwards (Thayer).  In other words, this word means to look carefully into (Thayer).  Although angels dwell in that heavenly realm, they do not possess immortality.  The Scriptures demonstrate that these angelic beings have the power of choice and thus can choose to sin.

        There are two Greek nouns often translated immortality: αφθαρσί incorruptibility (Strong's) and αθανασια meaning deathlessness or immortality (Strong's). “Now unto the King eternal, immortal (in Greek, incorruptible), the only wise God” (I Tim 1:17).  Again looking at I Tim 6:16, “Who only hath immortality (deathlessness).”  God has promised to bestow upon His divine family both the divine attributes of immortality and incorruptibility.  Not only will they no longer be tainted with sin but they will no longer be able to be tainted with sin.

        Other verses of Scripture reinforce this marvelous truth.  “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:4).  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Cor. 15: 53–54).  “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality (incorruptibility) to light through the gospel” (II Tim. 1:10).  This last Scripture reference reveals that the gospel entails far more than the message of salvation.  The gospel also encompasses the entire eternal purpose of God.

        This eternal purpose was “purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).  Our Lord Jesus Christ came and died on the Cross of Calvary in order that this divine plan may come to fruition.  His prayer before His death on the Cross is a reflection of that plan.  “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).

        In this world, men strive for fame and fortune, but nothing can compare with being a member of that divine family and sharing in the glorious nature of God Himself.  Anyone who wishes to be a part of that divine family must come to the cross of Jesus Christ and yield his life totally to Him.  Nothing short of complete surrender will satisfy the living God.  God will then initiate the transforming work of His Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

        The manifestation of God's divine family will be the crowning event of the ages.  “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation (the unveiling, in Greek) of the sons of God” ( Rom. 8:19).  The Book of Revelation presents a snapshot of that family, “After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb” (Rev. 7:9–10).

The Vindication Of God's Character

        Throughout the ages, Satan, that arch–enemy of God and of all who would serve God, has labored tirelessly to undermine God's program and to usurp His authority.  Through ambition and pride, he fomented rebellion in the heavens themselves thus bringing into question God's integrity, judgment, and righteousness.  “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God... I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:13–14).   In the Garden of Eden, through his deceptive means, he challenged the veracity of God's commands, “Hath God said” and “ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:1,4).  In the days of Job, when Satan came before God in the presence of the angelic beings, he cast doubt on God's motives in blessing Job.  In essence Satan's message has always been, “My way is right, but God's is wrong.”

        God is in the process of not only producing His divine family but also demonstrating before all earth, heaven, and hell that His way is the right way and the only way.  This process of the vindication of His character is also a part of God's marvelous plan.  To vindicate means “to clear from criticism, censure, suspicion; uphold by evidence or argument; to justify” (dictionary).

        God is using three major avenues to vindicate His judgment and character: (1) the crucifixion of Christ, (2) the Church (His people), and (3) the judgment seat of Christ.  The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross vindicated the righteous character of God.  It proved to all that He would not tolerate sin.  In his interchange with God over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham posed an interesting question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).  The Cross of Christ accomplished many things.  It not only brought Salvation but also vindicated God's judgment.  It proved that He will always “do right.”  It demonstrated that He is righteous and just and that He will never overlook sin.

        The Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in the third chapter of Romans.  “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25–26).  In this portion of Scripture, verse 26 is Paul's clarification of his statement in verse 25.  The Amplified Bible translates verse 26, “It was to demonstrate and prove at the present time that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies and accepts as righteous him who has [true] faith in God.”

        God is also vindicating His righteous character through the Church, that is, His people.  “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).  The Church is God's vehicle by which He is demonstrating His wisdom.  “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence” (I Cor. 1:27–29).

        To the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote that their testimony of perseverance and faith in the midst of persecution and tribulation was “a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God” (II Thess. 1:4–5).  Vine states that the term manifest token means a plain token, a proof.  He continues by stating that this term is “said of the patient endurance and faith of the persecuted saints at Thessalonica, affording proof to themselves of their new life, and a guarantee of the vindication by God of both Himself and them” (Vine's, p. 1164).

        On that great and final day, at the judgment seat of Christ, God will not only evaluate every act of man but also thoroughly vindicate His holy name.  “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which, he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).  Note the standard of God's judgment: righteousness.  What is righteousness?  It “is the character or quality of being right or just.  It is used to denote an attribute of God...It demonstrates that quality of holiness in Him which must find expression in His condemnation of sin” (Vine's, p. 980).  At that final judgment, when all evidence is presented, God will be seen to be just, right, and true in all His ways.  This process of vindication will culminate in one simple act by even the enemies of God: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Rom. 14:11).  At that time every allegation against God's integrity will fade.

The Judgment Of All Evil

        Throughout the ages, men have pondered the existence of evil.  Evil has been a vexation even from the foundation of the world when Satan instigated rebellion against the Most High leading some of the angels to fall (II Peter 2:4).  Moreover, through lies and deceit he tempted Adam and Eve to disobey God thus introducing sin into the world (Gen. 3:1–7).

        The Scriptures never portray God as directly committing evil.  Evil is contrary to all that God represents.  Nor does God take pleasure in evil.  Evil results from the willful actions of moral beings.  The Word of God does reveal that God's plan takes into account the existence of evil.  God could easily destroy all evil; however, He has allowed good and evil to coexist in this earthly realm in order to accomplish His eternal purpose.  The parable of the tares is an illustration of this truth.  The Lord commanded the reapers to allow the tares and wheat to grow together until the harvest (Matt. 13:30).

        The production of a divine family necessitates the operation of free will.  The major hazard to allowing free will is the possibility that one will choose evil over good.  God was willing to allow this risk because He wanted in His family only those who love and serve Him out of choice rather than coercion.  Moreover, the immediate annihilation of evil would not allow for the conversion of sinners and the development of divine character.  Finally, God uses evil at times to accomplish a greater good.  Joseph in Egypt declared to his brothers, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen 50:20).  There is also that wonderful truth penned by the Apostle Paul, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

        Although in this present arrangement God has allowed good and evil to coexist, the Scriptures emphatically declare that God will one day separate the evil from the good, the tares from the wheat, the goats from the sheep.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).  “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28–29).

        The Apostle Peter is very descriptive of the destruction that will come to the wicked, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (II Peter 3:7).  The word perdition in Greek means “a destroying, utter destruction, the destruction which consists in the loss of eternal life” (Thayer, pages 70–71).  The Apostle Paul employs this same theme, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:7–9).

        The judgment and removal of all evil will complete the eternal purpose of God.  With the coming of that great judgment day, “heaven and earth shall pass away” (Matt. 24:35).  No longer will this material world be necessary. The Apostle Peter vividly describes its complete destruction.  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).  He then closes with a sobering admonition, “Seeing then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (II Peter 3:11).

 

 

 

 

THE EXCLUSIVENESS OF JESUS

Curtis Dickinson

        “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

        In recent years, some of the major denominations have been in debate over whether or not it is necessary for Jews to accept Christ in order to be saved.  The debate has now extended to question the claim that Jesus is the Lord and ONLY Savior, indicating that many in these churches think that “saviors” are to be found in other religions.

        Since World War I there has been a rising tide of pressure for a “New World Order,” or world government, and as one prerequisite for this united world, separate and exclusive religious concepts must be eliminated.

        In John Dewey’s book, A Common Faith, written in 1934, he describes the need for a synchronization of religions toward a common faith.  In the September 1950 issue of the Masonic magazine called The New Age, C. William Smith calls for “the unification of all races, religions and creeds…a new religion of ‘The Great Light’…and the American race will be the sixth Aryan Civilization.”

        In the same year, Alice Bailey’s book, Glamour: A World Problem, was published.  It indicated that a “new world religion is now on its way to externalizing” – and there will be “the inauguration of the New Age,” at which time, according to the book, the Masonic Ritual will be the only ritual of value.  Her book also presented Jesus and Buddha as “two great Sons of God.” (See “The Deceptive New Age” by Dr. D.L. Cuddy, Ph.D., The Christian News, April 30, 1990, p. 22.)

        As the movement to unite all races and religions intensifies, more anti–discrimination laws are enacted and more pressure is applied against Christians, as the Christian faith is the one religion that is totally exclusive.

        When Jesus said, “I am the way” He did not mean “a” way among many others, but the one and only way.  He went on in the same breath to explain: “No one comes to the Father, but by me.”  The creator has revealed Himself in only one man and provided in this same Man the means of atonement for sin, without which no one can be acceptable to God.

        It was this claim to exclusiveness that incited the greatest opposition to Jesus.  He had said, “He that enters not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber,” and then He stated, “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:1,7).  For such claims the Jews said, “He has a demon, and is mad” (John10:20).

        It is not hard to see why Humanists and New Age promoters would target Christians as their chief enemy and the one group to ridicule and try to silence.  While other religions may meld into Dewey’s “common faith,” there is no way the disciple of Christ can be true to Christ and, at the same time, give credence to any other faith.  If there is any truth to the other religions, then Jesus made false claims which would brand Him as a liar and an imposter.  If Jesus was, indeed, Who He said He was, then there can be no other valid access to God.  No matter how sincere and noble the believer or how beautiful and meaningful the ritual, it may satisfy one’s emotional and intellectual needs, but if it is any other way than that of Christ, it is not the way to God the Creator.

        When Jesus said, “I am the truth,” He labeled as false all other religious claims and revealed for all time the source of true enlightenment.  We live in a civilized society, not because of scientific discovery or industrial technology, but because of the application of Christian truth.  Check out the nations where one may find hospitals and charitable organizations for the care of the poor and the orphans, and you will see they are nations where the truth of Christ has been widely proclaimed and applied.

        Humanist Manifesto I was produced in 1933, with John Dewey as one of its chief writers.  Before this time the teachings of Christ often formed the moral standard for both politicians and educators.  Compare the present moral tone of the country to what it was in the 30’s.  In government, the laws of God have been abandoned.  In education there is no absolute truth, and young people see themselves as little more than trained animals, with no ultimate accounting to make to a Creator and no future beyond the present.  Poetry and music have become unintelligible, and in art there is no standard by which to distinguish the beautiful from the hideous.  Novels, plays and movies major in the absurd.

        Where Jesus is despised, truth is despised, and the more Christian doctrine (Christ’s teachings) is suppressed by education, the press and the government, the greater the decline in morality, peace, order, and stability.

        Christ’s claim to be Truth excludes as true any philosophy or idea that is contrary to His teaching.  For this reason, Paul writes that the Christian’s goal is that of “casting down reasonings and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

        None of Christ’s claims are more bold and offensive to the religions of the world than the one: “I am the resurrection and the Life.”  He said it over and over again in so many different ways that one could hardly fail to understand that there is no way to have eternal life except through Christ.  In the “golden text” of John 3:16, Jesus promised that “whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life.”  The only alternatives: believe in Christ or perish.

        Most religions teach that man has a natural eternal quality of life, but Jesus said the opposite, that life in the eternal state is dependent upon Him.  “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he will” (John 5:21).  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27,28).  Nowhere in scripture is there any record of a promise of immortal life to anyone other than those with faith in Jesus.

        Jesus repeatedly claimed that He had the power to raise man from the dead, either to judgment or to eternal life.  It was after He had driven this truth home four times in one sermon (John 6) that the Jews sought to kill Him (John 7:1).  That life for every person should depend upon a resurrection by this Jesus was totally unacceptable to the religious leaders of that day, and it is still unacceptable to all other world religions, secular humanists, and even to many among the various churches.

        Finally, when Jesus gave proof of His claims by raising Lazarus from the dead, the chief priests and the Pharisees could bear it no longer.  “So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death” (John 11:53).  Later, they tried to squelch the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead by bribing the soldiers who guarded the tomb (Matt. 28:15).  When the apostles began preaching the resurrection of Jesus, they ran into the same bitter opposition from the same people.  When Paul was brought as a prisoner before King Agrippa, the charge, according to Governor Festus, centered around Jesus, “Who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive (Acts 25:19).  As Paul made his defense, he declared, “And now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers…And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king!  Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead?” (Acts 26:6–8).

        Why indeed?  For the basic reason that it is the very opposite of what is generally believed by all the world’s religions.  Paganism says that man has an inherent quality of immortality and, therefore, cannot actually die but continues to live in a different state.  Jesus claimed that life after death depends upon a resurrection from the dead, and to make His claim more incredible, He insisted that the resurrection power was entirely in His hands.  How much more exclusive can you get?

        In the clamor for growth, many churches either deny or avoid the distinctive message that Christ is the only way to Almighty God, that all truth must be in harmony with Him and that the only hope of life is for Him to raise us up and give us immortality.  This exclusive message is still unpopular, and in its place is offered self–improvement programs: how to improve your self–image, think positively, and attain power for success, wealth.  It is no wonder that the late Francis Schaeffer wrote that “Ours is a post–Christian world.”

        No “common faith” of all the world’s religions could ever bring a person to God or grant him eternal life.  God has chosen to save man through His Son, Jesus.  All we do is in vain if we are not in Christ.  All we become is nothing without Him.  All is lost outside of Christ.  But, in Christ all is ours, for we are “heirs of God and joint–heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

        “No one comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

 

 

 

 

THE ABIDING FAITH

George Scullin

        John 15:7: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”  Did Jesus actually mean these words, or was this just idle talk?  Since He is God, is He not able to give anything to His people, whether it be riches and power, strength and health, or even life itself?  Did He not tell the fishermen where to catch fish in such abundance that their nets could not hold them all?  Was Peter really sent to take a coin out of a fish’s mouth or was that a trick?  Didn’t Christ heal multitudes of sick and diseased and even raise the dead, including one that was stinking from decomposition?  The answer to all of these questions is YES – absolutely YES.

        He is the Creator – the maker of all that man surveys, and more, for without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3 and Col. 1:16).  God said, “the cattle on a thousand hills” are His and since He made all these things, and shall destroy them when He chooses, is that not proof that God controls these things today?

        But what about these words in John 15:7?  Don’t people ask what they will when they pray?  Friends, let God be true and every man a liar.  God never fails, for He honors His word above His name.  When man meets the condition set forth, then (and not until then) God will do His part.  The requirements of this agreement are two in number.

        First, the man must abide in Christ.  To “abide” is to dwell continually, not just occasionally.  A person living in a city may have a cottage at the beach where he goes occasionally, or on Sunday, but he does not abide in the cottage – his dwelling is elsewhere.

        So it is with the bulk of religious people today.  Once or twice a week they make a social call on the Lord for an hour or two, but the rest of the week they live as their selfish hearts want them to live, spending their time to satisfy their own selfish lusts and desires.  Others may be more ambitious in their religious actions, but they still miss it because their faith is in a religious organization instead of in God.  They feel that their affiliation with their church is sufficient, but no church can save anyone.

        The difference between these people and the child of God is that the child of God has received the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9).  He doesn’t go once in a while and visit with the Lord – he lives with God, he is the temple of God (I Cor. 3:16).  They abide one with the other.  He feels the presence of God and knows the moving of God’s Spirit within him as God directs his daily life.  “If ye abide in me and – .”

        “ – my words abide in you – .”  This second condition is very important in this agreement between God and man, but just what did Jesus mean by “my words abide in you”?  By reading the parable of the sower (Luke 8:5–15) we get a better understanding of what is meant by “words abide in you.”  Notice especially verses 12–15 and see the different types of people and what each does with the word.  Only the good ground (they which in an honest and good heart, hear the word and KEEP it) brings forth fruit for God.  David said in Psalm1:2 that the man of God found his “delight in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”  This is quite different from thinking about it only when the preacher draws his attention to it, for this man meditates on it day and night.  He also bears fruit for God (verse 3).  He is the “good ground.”

        Jesus said (John 14:23) “If a man love me he will keep my words.”  In verse 21 He said practically the same thing about His commandments.  His word, His commandments, His will — keeping and doing these are a proof of love for God.

        Consider each of the Ten Commandments carefully.  Anyone that is honestly trying to keep these words of God is doing well, but that isn’t all.  Read John 13:34, Matt.6:31–33, Luke 14:26,27,33 and Luke 10:27.  Where do you find people today who even believe in these things, let alone try to observe them?  The men of God in the early church kept these words of Christ, and as long as they did, God answered their prayers.  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”

 

 

 

 

THE STILL SMALL VOICE

Alfred King

        With the many problems facing our 21st century world, it seems all the modern day prophets have stepped up to the podium with some new prophetic word for these troublesome times.  While there are some giving warnings to the world, it seems most are directed to Christians.  The turmoil throughout the earth today is certainly a direct result of the sin, for Isaiah warned of the time when “the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it” (Isa. 24:20).  Isaiah prophesied of this day stating that the earth would stagger under the weight of man’s immorality and debauchery.  It certainly seems that the prophesied day has arrived.  When our governments deliberately defy logic and reason by passing laws that any ten–year–old child with common sense would know is wrong, we have a very serious problem.

        The prophets of today have begun speaking out and prophesying of events that are soon to occur and stirring up many people to prepare by trusting in man’s ideas of how Christians are to survive these perilous times.  Many are encouraging people to purchase packaged foods that will be sufficient to feed them during the days of tribulation, generators and other gadgets so one can still have a few modern conveniences so we won’t suffer too much.  But what really makes this great for many of the prophets is that they are linked in with the companies selling all the survival kits.  While it’s not a bad idea to store a little extra food for a rainy day or even to keep a generator handy for when a storm shuts the power down for a few days, these things will not carry anyone through the time of great tribulation that Jesus warned would come upon the whole world.  What Jesus did warn of in Matthew 16:25 was: “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”  Beware lest we be found guilty of striving to save ourselves when rough times come.  The true security for the days of great tribulation is to be in tune with God.

A Shallow Gospel

        The Gospel that Jesus died for man’s sin has been preached and taught throughout the world and most people have either heard those wonderful words or have had opportunity to hear them.  It certainly has been sounded as a trumpet all across America.  However, as marvelous and necessary as those words are to a lost and dying soul, it is not all that is contained in God’s word.  Jesus accomplished so much more in His death and resurrection, and one’s born again experience is only the tip of the arrow.  The work of the cross achieved so much that we cannot begin to cover everything in this article, but we do want to examine one aspect of the provisions of the cross and that is the glorious gift of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus did not die on a cross only so sinners could be born again.  Jesus did leave His heavenly glory, condescended and became flesh and blood, lived and died because He loved you and me.  But He also came to give those who would believe the precious Holy Spirit to live within them with the gracious promise that He would never leave nor forsake.  Jesus also told those who would be His disciples that the Holy Spirit would lead them and guide them into all truth.  He would take the things of God and show those amazing truths to those who would follow His teachings.  He even said He would show them things to come, future events that are coming upon the earth (John 15:26; 16:13).  (Christians must have the discernment of the Holy Spirit when they hear any utterance of today’s prophets, and that discernment comes through the Holy Spirit.)  Those who believe that being born again is all there is to Christianity have a very shallow Gospel experience and it is doubtful they will stand in the days ahead.

Listening To The Teacher

        Two great gifts Jesus has given His followers are His word (scripture, the textbook) and the Holy Spirit (the Teacher).  That means the disciples of Jesus Christ have some things to learn just as a child who is sent to school.  He must apply himself to listening to the teacher and studying the textbook.  Every disciple of Jesus must learn to hear what the Teacher is saying.  He must have ears to hear.  Having ears that hear is developed through searching the scriptures and applying it to one’s life.  As he does this, he will begin to be a sheep who knows Jesus’ voice (John 10:1–16).  Developing one’s spiritual ears to hear God’s voice is something that is learned over time.  This is why the foolish virgins recorded in Matthew 25 were unable to acquire the oil quickly enough to be ready when the bridegroom came and, consequently, found themselves outside the door.

        A great example of how God speaks to His people is found in I Kings 19 where we read about Elijah who had fled into the wilderness for fear of Jezebel.  God spoke to Elijah but not in the way one might have thought.  Let’s read I Kings 19:11–13.  “And he (God) said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.  And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”  It is interesting to note in this passage that while God brought about the wind, the earthquake and the fire, and God was not in them.  He did not speak to Elijah through all the spectacular but in a still small voice.  Elijah had to have his ears tuned to hear what God said.  God did not speak through a megaphone or a sound system turned up deafening decibels but spoke quietly.  Elijah could not be caught up in all the commotion or the religious frenzy of the wind, earthquake and fire, for had he been, he would have missed hearing God speak.

        We might liken this to the magnificence of our universe.  God created the heavens with all its awesomely majestic splendor and breath–taking wonders.  Modern astronomy, through its technological advances, has been able to view and gain a certain understanding of galaxies, stars, planets and even what is called “black holes”.  But how vast is this universe?  Is there an end to it?  The extent, wonder and marvel of God’s universe is beyond what human minds are able to absorb, and while God does speak through His created universe and every day His heavens “declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1), neither that voice nor that knowledge can provide the leading Christians must have to face troublesome times.  The fact that we see God’s handiwork in the marvels of our universe or in the molecular structure of matter or understand how to split an atom, those wonders that boldly and continuously testify of God’s creation, will not provide man’s needs when persecution comes.  While God is manifest in those things in that He created them, the need for those who follow Christ is to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, that voice which is almost always a “still small voice”.  It is that quiet voice one hears as he gazes into the heavens and stands in awe, this sudden awareness settles upon him as he realizes that there must to be a divine being who designed and orchestrated so wonderful a creation.  It is that same voice that speaks when one sins and his conscience is alerted to his transgression.  It is the voice that instructs the disciple to be faithful on the job, to lay aside certain things that are hindering his fellowship with God, the voice that convicts him when he neglects God’s word or is absent when believers come together to worship and hear the preaching of God’s word.  If Christians don’t learn to hear the still small voice that is speaking daily to every born–again believer, no amount of preserved food or man’s gadgets will keep him in the hour when God’s judgment falls.  God alone will spare His people and He will spare those who have learned to hear and follow that still small voice.

Don’t Be Sidetracked By Racket

        The voice of the Lord to Elijah was not in the wind, earthquake, or the fire, it was in the still small voice.  Attending a Christian service once or twice a week, as good and necessary as that is, is not sufficient to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is not in the noise of a revival or in the reverential silence of a cathedral.  Our relationship with God is developed in the quiet of the morning devotion, in listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us as we perform our daily duties, and throughout the day as we interact with others.  God speaks and those who train themselves by obedience will hear His voice.

        The Lord has honored mankind by giving him His word.  He has blessed man by giving it in spite of the fact that men have tried to destroy it.  They have hated it, defamed it, attempted to squelch it, silence it, confuse it, distorted it and have burned it.  They have hated and persecuted those that read it, imprisoned those that possess it and killed those that have preached it.  Men have hated its Author and rejected its message even though God presented it in love.  God gave it for man’s good, so man could find salvation and obtain eternal life.  God sent it so man could live a long and happy life on earth and obtain eternal life in His heaven.  God provided it so man could know God, understand Him and have fellowship with Him.  God honored and blessed man with the opportunity to become like Him in purity, righteousness and holiness.  God delivered it so man could be restored to that divine state lost by Adam in the garden, in order that man could be restored to that pristine state of being, to be again created in the image of God.  The Holy Spirit has come to teach the disciples of Jesus these truths and to guide them into Christ–likeness.

        But who hath believed the report?  Who has been blessed with spiritual eyes to see?  Who has had their eyes anointed with eye salve?  If you see: “blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear” (Matt.  13:16), for many, and probably most, do not see nor hear.

        God still speaks today.  It is imperative that every true follower of Jesus Christ learn to hear His voice for the days which are ahead.  We all need to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church in this critical hour.

 

 

 

 

THE CRY AT MIDNIGHT

James Sanderson

        Conditions in the earth point to the fact that the coming of Christ is close at hand.  Many are beginning to realize that it is time to remove the Good Book from the shelf, dust off its cover, and find out what God has to say about the day in which we live.  The politician, the prognosticator, the media – none of these has the answer concerning the days that are ahead.  Only God Himself can reveal what is in store for humanity in these last days.  The Word of God has much to say about end time events and the responsibilities facing those who expect to stand worthy before God.  The seriousness of the hour cannot be overestimated.

        Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself presents some vital instructions essential to those who expect to weather the spiritual storms foretold in the Word of God.  One such portion of Scripture is verse 6 of Matthew the twenty–fifth chapter, commonly called the midnight cry, “At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  No other portion of Scripture bears so much urgency for God's people at this present time as this one verse.  The salvation of many will rest upon their response to this urgent call of the Spirit of God.  The “signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3) point to the fact that the midnight hour is definitely upon us.  The “day of the Lord” foretold by the prophets of old is close at hand (Zeph. 1:7).

        The word midnight refers not only to the lateness of the hour but also to the spiritual conditions prevalent in society.  Midnight is the darkest hour of the night.  The prophet Isaiah declared, “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2).  No other prophetic utterance so vividly describes the present condition of men's hearts as this one verse of Scripture.  Spiritual darkness results from the rejection of light.  The ecclesiastical system of Christ's day completely rejected His message and “crucified the Lord of glory” (I Cor. 2:8).  The apostle John wrote, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).  The situation is no different today.  Most of humanity has turned their backs on Jesus Christ and His moral law.  Jesus Himself declared, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

The Church Is Asleep

        This urgent cry at midnight is set in the context of our Lord's parable of the ten virgins.  The Word of God uses the word virgin primarily to refer to the Church, God's people.  The apostle Paul wrote, “That I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Cor. 11:2).  Again, in the book of Revelation, “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins.  These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Rev. 14:4).

        The parable of the ten virgins states, “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (Matt. 25:5).  The Church is asleep to the urgency of the hour.  The appearance of the Bridegroom, our Lord Jesus Christ, is close at hand, but the Church is not prepared.  Here lies a concept that is difficult for many Christians to grasp.  Being a Christian and being ready for Christ's coming are not synonymous.  All ten virgins in this parable had had an experience with the Lord; otherwise, Christ would not have called them all virgins.  One other point to emphasize is that whether they are wise virgins or foolish virgins, they “all slumbered and slept.”

        Our Lord is not addressing a condition of physical sleep.  Sleep is an inappropriate spiritual condition afflicting all of Christendom.  It is very easy for one to become so involved in the mundane affairs of life that he is totally oblivious to the urgency of the hour.  One who is asleep spiritually is unable to “discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3).  His spiritual senses have become dull. Another reason that many Christians are asleep is that they rest in a false security concerning the approaching “day of the Lord” vividly foretold by the prophets of old.  That false hope is called the pre–tribulation rapture.  According to this erroneous teaching, Christ will secretly remove all the born–again Christians from the earth before the wrath of God is poured out upon humanity.  If one truly believes this doctrine, he can continue in his complacency knowing that Christ will one day whisk him away to heaven, thus avoiding all the end time calamities and difficulties that man has to face.  He can disregard much of what Jesus Christ taught about the need of preparation.  If this scenario of a secret rapture were true, there would be little need for a midnight cry, at least one addressed to Christians.  Nonetheless, this cry at midnight is particularly directed to Christians.

The Purpose Of The Midnight Cry

        The primary concern of our Lord Jesus Christ in these last days is that the Church be prepared for the events leading up to and culminating in His second coming.  A sleeping church is an unprepared church.  If God's people expect to endure to the end, they will need to be awake, be in tune with Heaven, and be prepared to follow through on whatever instructions our Lord will give.  The purpose of this cry at midnight is to awaken the Church to the critical hour in which we live and the need of preparation.  God wants the full attention of His people.

        The use of the word cry is quite significant.  In days of old, watchmen sat in towers along the wall of the city as a lookout for any possible peril, especially an enemy attack.  With any sign of approaching danger, it was the watchman's duty, especially during the night, to alert the citizenry with a loud cry or trumpet.  The very safety of the people rested in the hands of the watchman.  The Spirit of God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, declared, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night” (Isa. 62:6).  God called the prophet Ezekiel to be a watchman.  “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezek. 3:17).  A warning cry, that is, the midnight cry, is sounding forth at this present hour.

        The fact that the Spirit of God issues a cry at midnight indicates that the situation is grave.  This warning cry from God Himself is of utmost urgency.  Time is an extremely important factor.  Immediate response is essential.  Those who don't awaken and prepare for the dangers ahead will not make it.  The forces of darkness have arrayed themselves against the Church, and the judgments of God are close at hand.  Only alert Christians will prevail.

“The Bridegroom Cometh”

        The glorious message of the hour is “Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.”  Jesus is coming again.  One of the cardinal doctrines of the Church is the second coming of Christ.  Jesus Himself stated, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3).  At His ascension, two men in white apparel declared, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

        The early church maintained a longing and anticipation for the coming of Christ.  One finds this anticipation throughout the New Testament.  “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).  “Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).  “When he shall appear” (I John 3:2).  “At the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7).  This longing to see and be with Jesus permeated the hearts of those early saints.

        As the years passed, the Church maintained the doctrine of the second coming but lost the expectancy.  Other things began to draw the attention of God's people.  The Church “slumbered and slept.”  That word slumber means “to become drowsy” (Berry's Interlinear).  They became drowsy, losing that anticipation, and fell asleep.  God never intended for the Church to lose that longing for Christ's return.  Christians are called as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13), sojourning in a strange land, anticipating a life in heaven with our Lord.  This world is only a temporary abode.  Like Abraham of old, we look for a “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).  Unfortunately, upon losing that longing for the return of Christ, the Church became more acclimated to the world and what it has to offer.  The apostle Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

        Now at this midnight hour, the Spirit of God is calling His people to turn their attention away from this world and rekindle that longing and expectancy for Christ's return.  Our long–awaited Saviour will soon return.  The focus of attention must be His return as the Bridegroom prepared to receive the bride.

“Go Ye Out To Meet Him”

        While the first part of this cry at midnight is a divine alert that the coming of the Bridegroom is close at hand, the last part of this urgent message presents vital instructions to those who expect to stand in that evil day: “Go ye out to meet Him.”  In other words, there is some preparatory work for those who expect to be in that company of saints who go in with Him to the wedding feast as described in the parable of the ten virgins.  The implication is that whoever does not “go out” will not meet the Bridegroom.  (It is noteworthy that this word meet is a special term used especially for important dignitaries and carries the idea of a face to face encounter. [See Vine's.])

        What is meant by the command, “Go ye out”?  This command offers a challenge to those who cling to the notion of a secret pre–tribulation rapture.  There is nothing secret about this message at midnight.  Furthermore, there is no real need for extra instructions since Christ will simply arrive without warning and remove all the saints from the earth.  Adherence to the idea of a secret rapture blunts the true significance of the urgent message that the Holy Spirit is attempting to convey and will cause many to miss the marriage supper of the Lamb.

        In order to understand the significance of this command “go ye out,” first, one must remember that Christ loves His people and desires what is best for each of them.  He alone can fully understand the perils that lie ahead for God's people.  The safety of His people in this evil day is His utmost concern.  Every command of our Lord is for the spiritual well–being of His people.

        Furthermore, in order to grasp the significance of this command, one must understand the forces at work in society today.  Humanity is living on the threshold of the most dramatic social changes that the world has ever experienced.  Society's moral fiber is disintegrating.  Sexual immorality is at epidemic levels.  At least nineteen countries now recognize same–sex marriage.  Terrorism is out of control.  “We are now seeing violence on a mass scale and an enormous refugee crisis caused by that violence” (Amnesty International, February 25, 2015).  Hostility to evangelical Christianity, both at home and abroad, has also grown in recent years.

        No other book from God's Word so vividly describes social conditions prevalent in the earth in these last days as the book of Revelation does, “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.  For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies” (Rev. 18:2–3).  The Spirit of God continues in verse five of this same chapter, “Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”

        What is Babylon?  Babylon is nothing more than the whole world in rebellion against God.  This rebellion will escalate in the years to come until evil thoroughly saturates all of society.  What does this have to do with Christians?  Christians will find it impossible to maintain their integrity in this hostile ungodly environment without being tainted with its sins.  It will even come to the place when they will no longer be able to buy or sell unless they are in league with the forces of darkness (Rev. 13:17).

        The remedy?  “And I heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).  The only answer will be the complete departure of God's people from the Babylonian system.  The message at midnight, “go ye out,” is in complete harmony with the call, “Come out of her, my people.”  In fact, the same Greek verb is used in both commands.  This message is the cry of the hour.  “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:17).  “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul” (Jer. 51: 6).

Old Testament Examples

        One can better understand the coming crisis by reviewing conditions prevalent in the “days of Lot” (Luke 17:28–30).  The similarity between Sodom and modern–day Babylon is quite striking.  Christ even compared “the days of Lot” in Sodom to the day in which He would be revealed.  Lot dwelt in the city of Sodom, where hedonism reigned.  The moral decadence of Sodom was so profound that it spilled over into the streets and came to the very doors of Lot's house.  Peter wrote that Lot “vexed his righteous soul from day to day” with the “unlawful deeds” of those dwelling in Sodom (II Peter 2:7–8).  It became intolerable for Lot to live in Sodom and still maintain his integrity before God.  Only the supernatural intervention of the Spirit of God saved Lot and his family from the ensuing judgments of God. “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29).

        The deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt and their travels through the wilderness of Sinai also offer some valuable lessons to the people of God in these last days.  The Word of God relates that over 600,000 armed men left Egypt at the time of the Exodus (Num. 1:46).  This number does not include women, children, and the elderly.  Scholars estimate that 2.5 million people followed Moses out of Egypt.  Here was a mass exodus miraculously accomplished by the hand of God, unheard of in recorded history.  God supernaturally sustained all of these people in a barren wilderness as they traveled toward the promised land.  They had manna from heaven, water from a rock, and their shoes and clothes did not wear out (Deut. 29:5).  In these last days, God will be quite capable of sustaining His people through the tumultuous times that lie ahead.

In Closing

        The midnight cry is a wake–up call to all of those who sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ.  This alarm is sounding forth even at this very hour.  Its cry promises to become louder and louder as that day approaches.  On a number of occasions our Lord declared, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).  This statement is repeated many times especially in the book of Revelation.  The Lord is not talking about that physical apparatus that collects sound.  His concern is our spiritual hearing.  The midnight cry is given that we might focus our full attention on what the Spirit of God has to say in this final hour of earth's history.  Our Lord also declared, “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18).  The Lord is faithfully sounding the alarm.  How each of us assimilates that alarm and responds is a choice that we individually make.

 

 

 

 

FROM THE MAILBAG

 

Hello Brother,

        I really enjoyed your last “God's Purposes” article and hope it may be fruitful.  I thought of something that may look as an issue in the paragraph under the subtitle of 'God desired to have a family;' and as you wrote "The extreme terminology, making Himself the Son of God, unsettled and angered the Pharisees and Sadducees so greatly that they had to somehow disgrace and discredit Him."  I guess somewhat of the nature of a Pharisee lurks in all of us, may He help us to beware of its leaven, which probably would make it easy to question Deity in the flesh.  "Jesus, however, did not reserve this title to Himself alone but taught His disciples to pray the same thing by saying, "Our Father which art in heaven" which would get a hardy "amen" from Mormons, JW’s and all religions which denounce Jesus as being the second person of the Triune Deity, early Christianity being the only religion acknowledging Jesus as the eternal I AM.  So I wondered if you could clarify what this statement meant by the disciples taking to themselves that same title that the Lord claimed when he stood before some of the same Pharisees at the Divine tribunal that night before his death?

                                                                Brother J.P.

Dear J.P.

        As always, we greatly appreciate hearing from our readers, and we welcome any questions that our readers have, especially any questions related to articles published in “The Testimony of Truth”.  We want the messages to be clear so truth is understood, and each can be encouraged to grow deeper in the things of God.

        I had to read your question over a few times to get a grasp on what the question actually is and so I will attempt to answer it as I understand the question.  It seems the article might imply that Christians are gods or can become gods.  The statement in the article which you quoted “Jesus, however, did not reserve this title to Himself alone but taught His disciples to pray the same thing by saying, "Our Father which art in heaven.." could easily be misunderstood or mistaken to mean that man can become a god.  That was not the intent of the statement.  The word “title” was not in reference to being God but in reference to calling God our Father.  I greatly appreciate you pointing this out for there are those groups that teach that men (those who follow the group’s teaching) are becoming gods and will one day have their own planet to rule over.  This is nonsense and is nothing more than the same old deception of Satan, “and ye shall be as gods” (Gen. 3:5).

        We at People of the Living God do not hold to the false teaching that those who follow Jesus Christ will be gods but believe that we can be conformed to Christ–likeness, in that our nature can be transformed by the power of God.  We believe when Jesus returns, this corruptible shall put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality (I Cor. 15:53–54).  As you so aptly stated in your letter that Jesus is “the second person in the Triune Deity” and that He is “the eternal I AM”.  While those who will be Jesus’ disciples, living according to His teachings, will be changed into His likeness in character, we will never be gods, for the Lord our God is one God, in three persons.

                                                                The Editor

 

 

 

 

HE CAME TO HIMSELF

Charles Woodard

        “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my Father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger” (Luke 15:17).

        The evangelical churches and fellowships of today need to come to themselves!  Christians as a whole have wasted their substance on materialism, tradition, compromise, carnality, and emotionalism.  Believers are feeding on the husks of religion.  They perish with hunger for the bread from heaven (see Luke 15:17 above).

        Metaphorically speaking, dead leaders and speakers have become the Prodigal Son.  They have created a “mighty famine” for confidence in God and His Word (Luke 15:14).

        Tel-evangelists and their mimics have proclaimed a gospel of prosperity, health and wealth.  They see no cross to bear, but a life of finger-snapping, hand-clapping, foot-stomping emotion: “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke14:27).

        When will believers see there is a cost to follow Jesus: “For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)

        One cost is to trust and be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ alone!  ‘The fear (reverence) of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).

        Safety is not found in reliance on any man (or woman).  There is only one prescription for discipleship: “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

        Not a church, denomination, seminar, workshop, counselor or good works are places of safety.  A believer must put all in the hands of the Lord.  Complete submission to the will of God and His word is the only way to discipleship.

        We must come to ourselves and recognize our trust in reasoning and psychology: “Casting down imaginations (Gk. reasonings), and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

        A mind divided between the material and the spiritual will fall.  We must come to ourselves in seeing that we glory in other things rather than the Lord: “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (II Cor. 10:17).  (See also Gal. 6:14)