People of The Living God

Matthew 24

 

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August 2015



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

ONE HOPE LEFT FOR AMERICA

Alfred King

        “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34)  What might be God’s word to America today?  “O America, America, which refuses to hear the word of God spoken in these last day by His Son (Heb. 1:2), and persecute those sent to declare God’s word, removing your Christian monuments and renouncing your Christian roots; how often would I have gathered your children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”

The Fool Hath Said

        With the recent Supreme Court ruling we find another huge step taken toward a more decadent society that will open wide a world for sin to increase, evil to grow and those given over to perversion to “come out of the closet.”  Already there are those who are pressing this ruling to its limits by wanting to marry their own child, be married to more than one person and pedophiles who find the law an opportunity to escape laws that have curtailed their sick and depraved lust.  It is not that most Americans didn’t expect same-sex marriage to become forced upon the states, but those who believe God’s word were hoping and praying that God would not give this generation over to a reprobate mind by “legalizing” this gross sin, a sin which He calls an abomination.  “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Lev. 18:22).  “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 20:13).  The first response to these verses by those who are debauched in their hearts and minds is that this is Old Testament and not applicable for the New Testament church.  So let’s read from the New Testament.  And for this modern age of believers who have difficulty in understanding the King James, we quote from the New International Version: Romans 1:18-28, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised.  Amen.  Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.  Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” (emphasis mine)

        While we hoped and prayed that the Justices would make an intelligent and wise decision, we did not expect it.  Since our government is striving to take God out of every part of American society, we didn’t expect a ruling based on any biblical view, but we hoped that they would have the wisdom to see the “can of worms” they had opened.  Apart from a Biblical perspective, their decree violates the constitution, for it is not the place of the justices to make and pass laws.  Their office is to interpret the Constitution and ascertain that the laws made do not violate the constitution.  However, they took it upon themselves to disregard the order and structure of America’s founding fathers and passed a law.  The legislative branch is Congress and Congress is to make laws, not the judicial or the executive branches.  This new law forced upon our nation is unconstitutional and is just another step toward the complete annihilation of the American Constitution.  There are many men and women in government that hate the constitution and would love to see it destroyed.  However, the gravest immediate repercussions are those evils that will come “out of the woodwork” now that they have some hope to “legalize” their perversions.

        Scripture tells us in Psalm 14:1 that it is the fool who refuses to acknowledge God.  “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”  As we are shoving God out of our society, removing Him from our historic monuments, forsaking Him in our schools, educational institutions and universities, “fools” are producing a generation of “fools” according to God’s word.  And fools will do exactly as five of our Justices have done, they disregard God and His word.  Our schools are teaching a theory termed “evolution” in our schools and thereby producing a future populace that accepts the lie that there is no god, that man evolved from animals, and the final result is that we might as well act and behave as animals.  The blindness upon our country is unbelievable.

The Church Needs To Wake Up

        The future of our nation is dismal unless the church wakes up.  How many years have we all heard that the church needs to awaken and begin to be the light and salt Jesus commanded us to be?  Yet we continue to sleep on.  In the garden when Jesus prayed and sweat as it were drops of blood, He told His disciples to pray lest they fall into temptation.  Their eyes were heavy and they slept at the very moment when danger loomed, as Jesus faced His greatest trial and carried His heaviest burden.  And what happened shortly after?  The disciples fell into temptation, for they all fled and Peter three times denied that he even knew Jesus.  Jesus’ words of warning to Peter at the last supper as well as his confident boasting were now forgotten and Peter was afraid and succumbed to temptation.  If he would have prayed fervently and not fallen asleep, he might have not denied Jesus.  Unfortunately, he slept and fell when temptation came.  We as Christians are entering a time when our faith will be tested just as Peter’s was.  Will we sleep during the day of preparation or will we awaken to the hour and begin to put on the whole armor of God, preparing ourselves for the day of battle?  Will we be overcome with the pleasures of this life? the cares of making a comfortable living? the deceitfulness of riches?  Will we be resolute when we face tribulation and persecution for our Christian stand?  Are we ready to be imprisoned or even killed as Jesus said would be the lot of some of His followers?  Or are we like Peter, who will say, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee”?  Do we truly know our own hearts?  Words come easy but actions come from a heart that is devoted to Jesus Christ and has laid a foundation that will not be shaken when the storms of life come.  Those who are obedient to God’s word are like the wise man who built his house upon a rock.  Matt. 7:24-25: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”  But the fool: Matt. 7:26-27 “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (emphasis mine)

United Church

        The only hope for America is that the American church awaken and begin to unite together in Christian love with a determination that we are going to return to the Lord with all our hearts.  Division has allowed Satan to work among God’s people and division has made the church weak.  Jesus said a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  His church will not stand if it cannot unite together and become more Christ-like in our interactions with one another.  This is not to imply that we are to compromise God’s word or our Christian obligation to obedience to what Jesus has commanded.  It is not to imply that we unite with the disobedient and those who call themselves “Christian” yet live in deliberate and continual sin, disregarding the Christian obligation to walk in righteousness and holiness.  But there are many Christians who love God and love His word and desire to walk in obedience and humility before Him.  They are committed to Him and long for more of His Holy Spirit in their lives.  They hate the sin, not only in the world around them but hate it in their own hearts.  They seek God daily for His empowerment and grace to be overcomers.  Their desire is to please Him Who died for them and saved them from an eternal hell, lifting them out of a miry pit from which they could not deliver themselves.  There are many Christians today who long to be a part of a holy church.  They long for fellowship with other believers who love God as they do.  They are willing to daily take up their cross and follow Jesus Christ.  They are ready to forsake everything in order to have a deeper relationship with the Lord.  It is these that must somehow unite in Christian brotherhood and not be divided over certain doctrines and traditions which have served only to separate those whose hearts long for holiness and righteousness in this evil world.

        The Psalmist wrote of the blessedness of that place of unity in Psalm 133.  “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”  In the unity of the Spirit of God there is a commanded and certain blessing that will overtake those who dwell in that place.  Can the church come to this place?  Yes!  It will be brought about only by the Holy Spirit and will be accomplished through God’s love.  “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:5).  As love, that wonderful fruit of the Spirit, is produced in those who will allow it to bud and grow, God will bless in ways that the world has never seen.  The hope for America and the world rests upon His church.

 

 

 

 

HIS REST

James Sanderson

        The book of Hebrews is a remarkable book, unfolding some wonderful truths for the people of God especially in this endtime.  The writer presents his message as a “word of exhortation” (Heb. 13:22) written to encourage God's people to press toward “better things” (Heb. 6:9): “a better hope” (7:19), “a better testament” (7:22), “a better covenant” (8:6), better promises (8:6), “better sacrifices” (9:23), “a better country” (11:16), and “a better resurrection” (11:35).  The writer addresses this epistle to “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling” (Heb. 3:1).  These brethren are holy because they have come to God “by a new and living way” (Heb. 10:20), having received forgiveness and deliverance from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.  As new-covenant saints, they now have the Holy Spirit of promise dwelling in their hearts.  Furthermore, they are now partakers, that is, sharers, in God's “heavenly calling.”  As members of God's family, they have a new goal and purpose in life.  The writer introduces the reader to this “heavenly calling” in chapters three and four.  “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Heb. 4:1).  This “heavenly calling” is the call to enter into His Rest.

The Rest Defined

        What is this rest?  One must first understand that the rest is a divine state of being that transcends the salvation experience.  The command to enter into that rest is addressed to those who are already saved.  The writer's use of the first person plural, “Let us” (Heb. 4:1,11), indicates that he himself had not entered in.

        The Greek word for rest (κατάπαυσις) is derived from a verb which means “to cause to cease.”  The word rest “denotes a causing to cease or putting to rest, rest, repose” (Vine's, page 970).  The writer reveals the significance of the term rest in Hebrews 4:10, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”  From this verse of Scripture, one can ascertain a definition of the rest.  It is a state of being in God in which the individual has completely surrendered his own will and now fully embraces the will of God in every department of his life.  He who has entered into the rest has caused to cease, or put to rest, every work of the flesh, every earthly ambition, and every carnal motive of the heart.  As this verse of Scripture states, he has “ceased from his own works.”

        In order to fully grasp this wonderful call, one must observe the life of Jesus.  Jesus Christ was the Supreme Example of the rest.  Jesus lived and dwelt in a complete state of rest in the Father.  “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10).  The words that Jesus spoke and the works that Jesus did were not His own.  They were initiated by the Father.  “The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do” (John 5:36).  “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16).  Jesus went so far as to say, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30).

        Jesus Christ was fully dedicated to the will of the Father.  “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).  He derived His very sustenance from doing the Father's will.  “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).  He also stated, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30).  Why was Jesus' yoke easy?  He was completely surrendered to the Father.  He had no will of His own.  The Father's will was His will.  Jesus was a living demonstration of that state of rest to which God has called every one of His followers.

        Man places many obstacles in his own way as he treads this road of life (Matt. 11:28).  Those obstacles that make his burden difficult result from his own will working in opposition to God's will.  When an individual comes to God in true repentance, he still retains his own will.  That will must be fully surrendered to the will of God.  God is calling His people “into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).  This “glorious liberty” is a state of complete freedom to do the will of God in every aspect of one's life unhindered by his own will.  It is complete deliverance from every work of the flesh, every earthly ambition, and every carnal motive of the heart.  This “glorious liberty” is the rest to which God is calling every believer.

        The prophet Isaiah eloquently presents this same message, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Is.  52:1-2).  Like the writer of Hebrews, the prophet Isaiah is addressing God's people, “the holy city.”  Unfortunately, this “captive daughter of Zion” has a heavy burden about her neck, and she is covered with the dust of this world.  God is calling His people to loose themselves from this burdensome load, shake themselves from the dust, and embrace the fullness available to them in Christ Jesus.

        “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father” (John 14:12).  As one reads this outstanding promise of our Lord, he tends to think of the miracles that Jesus performed in His earthly ministry.  It is very true that Christ performed many wonderful miracles; however, the greatest work that Jesus ever accomplished was to live a life in complete surrender to the Father.  God is calling His people to embrace that same life.

The Rest And Ancient Israel

        In this discourse from the book of Hebrews concerning the rest to which God has called His people, the writer alludes to the children of Israel (Heb. 3:8-11).  The Israelites had lived in bondage to the Egyptians for over 400 years.  They had become virtual slaves to their captors.  God had made a wonderful promise that He would deliver them and lead them back to that land promised to their fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God raised up Moses to accomplish this mighty work of deliverance.  The Word of God also reveals that God had offered Israel something far more glorious than a piece of real estate in Canaan.  God had also called them to enter into His rest.  Unfortunately, through hardness of heart, unbelief, and disobedience, ancient Israel rejected the call of God.  “They to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief” (Heb. 4:6).  The children of Israel regained the land of promise and obtained physical rest from their enemies, but they failed to apprehend the spiritual rest to which God had called them.  “Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest” (Psa.  95:10-11).

        The account of ancient Israel is a sobering reminder that God's people today can also miss this great call of God through hardness of heart and unbelief.  “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12-13).  The same gospel that has been preached to God's people today was also preached to ancient Israel “but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 4:2).

The Tabernacle In The Wilderness

        As mentioned earlier, the gospel was preached to ancient Israel as well as to God's people today.  “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them” (Heb. 4:2).  What is this gospel?  The same gospel that is preached today: that men can enter into His rest.  The salvation message is merely one aspect of that gospel.

        The tabernacle in the wilderness was one of God's methods of communicating the gospel to ancient Israel.  This divine structure, fashioned out of linen, gold, silver, brass, and wood, was an “example and shadow of heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5).  Every ornate furnishing declared some aspect of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one supreme message that this whole edifice conveyed was “Let us go on unto perfection” (Heb. 6:1).  God expects progress, or growth, in Him.  Progression through each chamber of the tabernacle by the priest represented a greater degree of surrender before God and the attainment of a higher state of being in God.

        The priest first ministered in the courtyard cleansing himself in the laver of brass and offering sacrifices at the brazen altar.  The courtyard represented the salvation experience.  The priest then passed through a narrow doorway into the holy place.  The light of the outside world could not enter.  The golden candlestick illuminated the room as the priest ministered at the altar of incense.  Entrance into this chamber required a greater degree of purity and holiness before God than the courtyard.

        Once a year, the high priest passed through the veil and entered the innermost sanctuary called the Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place.  There the Shekinah glory, or Divine Presence, resided.  This chamber contained the Ark of the Covenant over which were the Mercy Seat and the two cherubim.  Here the high priest ministered once a year bearing the blood of sprinkling.  Since the high priest represented our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, Who entered once and for all into the Holy of Holies to offer His own blood as an atonement for sin, this chamber portrayed a walk of full surrender to God.  One who enters this chamber has attained the highest state of purity and holiness before God.  Here the priest ministered under constant eye of the Divine Presence of God.  One who enters the Holy of Holies finds complete rest in the Most High.

The Sabbath As A Reminder

        The writer alludes to the Sabbath directly or indirectly throughout his presentation concerning the rest. “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works” (Heb. 4:4).  This analogy continues in verse 10, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Heb. 4:10).  The Sabbath is not merely a reminder of the creative powers of God, but also a constant weekly reminder of the call that God has made to His people to enter into the rest.  It is a reminder that they, too, must cease from their own works as God did from His.

        Verse nine of chapter four is quite significant.  “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).  The Greek word for rest in this verse is somewhat different from the word used in the other portions of this account regarding the rest.  This word rest (σαββατισμός) is derived from a Greek verb which means “to keep the Sabbath” (Thayer).  The word rest hereliterally means “a keeping of a Sabbath.”  The prophet Isaiah pictures this divine state of rest, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Is. 58:13).  Can any other words be more descriptive of the rest than these?

The Rest And The Baptism In The Holy Spirit

        One cannot deal with the subject of the rest without discussing the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist declared, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire” (Matt. 3:11).  Just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus commanded His disciples not to “depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5).  That early company did as their Lord commanded and tarried in Jerusalem.  “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come” the Holy Spirit swept through the room where they had gathered (Acts 2:1).  The book of Acts continues, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

        It is quite noteworthy that all who assembled in that upper room came under the complete control of the Holy Spirit.  God was in full charge of all that transpired.  Their very words were not even their own.  They all spoke in a heavenly language as the Holy Spirit gave utterance.  The baptism in the Holy Spirit with the accompanying heavenly tongues is a foretaste of the rest to which God is calling His people.  “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing” (Is. 28:11).  The saints in that upper room received a foretaste or earnest of the inheritance that God has called His people to possess (Eph. 1:14).  The Apostle Paul also calls it the “earnest of the Spirit” (II Cor. 1:22).

A Divine Promise

        “Some must enter therein” (Heb. 4:6).  Here is a divine declaration that God will have a people who will enter into the fullness of His rest.  The first verse of Hebrews chapter four calls it “a promise.”  In this endtime, God will affect conditions that will accomplish this work.  As God poured out His Spirit on that first company of believers with the early rain, He will again pour out His Spirit in what is called the “latter rain.”  “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.  Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).  The precious fruit of the earth to which James refers is that company of people who enter into the fullness of God's rest.

        Along with this outpouring, God will initiate His program of discipline to cleanse every servant who would be a part of that company of saints.  “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.  And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Ezek. 20:33-37).

        This portion of Scripture addresses spiritual Israel, who have found salvation by the blood of Christ and who are now in covenant relationship with Him.  His laws, written in their hearts, are the terms, or specifications, of that covenant.  God will have a people who will come into full compliance to all the terms of that covenant.  He will bring to bear every resource of heaven to accomplish this work in these last days.  The rod represents God's program of discipline and correction that He will use along with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to produce a holy people who bear the image of Jesus Christ.  Those who enter into His rest will meet every specification of God's covenant.

The Prize

        “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest” (Heb. 4:11).  God's people have one purpose and one purpose only in this life: “to enter into that rest.”  The Greek word for labour means “to hasten, exert one's self, endeavor, give diligence” (Thayer).  It is unfortunate that, many times, as Christians we have allowed other endeavors to deter us from this heavenly call.  The Apostle Paul admonishes each of us, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on this earth” (Col. 3:2).  Then in his epistle to the Philippians, he writes, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).  “The prize of the high calling” to which Paul refers is the rest that God has called His people to embrace.

 

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING ACTS 15

Alfred King

        There seems to be a considerable misunderstanding of Acts, chapter 15 when Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to meet with the twelve apostles to consider accusations that they were teaching a different gospel than that of Jesus and that which the twelve taught.  It would be wise for those unfamiliar with this chapter to stop and read through the chapter to get a grasp on its content, so as we precede, a better understanding can be obtained.

        Paul’s preaching was often opposed by Jews who retained the Mosaic law and not only practiced them but tried to impose them on Gentile converts.  They pressured the Gentiles to be circumcised, to refrain from certain meats which they deemed were unclean and many other ordinances taught under the Mosaic law.  On this occasion, certain men from Judea had come and debated with Paul and Barnabas saying that the Gentiles could not be saved unless they were circumcised after the commandment of Moses.  After much disputing, Paul and Barnabas decided it was time to settle this question by meeting with the twelve apostles and the elders in Jerusalem.  As they gathered together, there was much discussion relative to the gospel Paul was preaching.  This newly founded church was in the throes of pulling itself out from under the bondage of the old law and of building its foundation upon a better covenant, and the decisions determined that day would have tremendous consequences for the future of the church.  This meeting would be a major turning point, as it would determine what, if anything, was to be adhered to of the Levitical law.  It was a time when these twelve apostles themselves would make a decision of whether to cast off the yoke of bondage and take Jesus’ words as the full gospel or whether they would be unable to free themselves from the Old Covenant and enter into the New.  This was not an easy time for these twelve men who had been raised under the strict teaching of the law of Moses, had referenced them and knew them to be from God Himself.  Yet they also had walked with Jesus for three and a half years and been taught by the very Son of God, Whom they saw crucified, buried, resurrected and were present that day as He ascended into heaven.  They had tasted the marvelous power and anointing of God as they received on the day of Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  They had experienced the reality of a New Covenant established upon better promises.  Now they had come to the day in which they were called upon to set the stage for the future of the church.  Would they hang onto the old way or would they build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ?  “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11).  They chose to build upon Christ.

        After much discussion and reading of scripture they finally came to a decision, which seems to be extremely insufficient and inadequate when one reads Jesus’ words and to what Jesus had called His followers.  To establish the foundation for the church on these four things, things which seem almost unnecessary even to mention, leaves us baffled as we try to reconcile this edict with the words and teachings of Jesus Christ, or even the epistles for that matter.  It seems as though they made a proclamation to which, in reading Paul’s epistles, he paid little attention as he preached and taught.  Yet in Acts 15:28 we read, “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.”  When these apostles stated it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, we can hardly sit back in condemnation of their conclusion of the matter.  So let us consider these four requirements determined that day with the realization that this was of the Holy Ghost.

The Four Requirements For The Gentiles

        They wrote down the four requirements for the converted Gentiles, and letters were sent to the Gentile churches by the hands of Judas and Silas as confirmation of the decree from the Apostles as was shown them by the Holy Spirit.  The four things are recorded in Acts15:29.  “(1) That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, (2) and from blood, (3) and from things strangled, (4) and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.  Fare ye well.”

        If that is all that is required today, we have it very easy, for which born again believer desires any of these things?  The issue the apostles and elders focused on was that each of these things were a part of their idol worship.  This whole matter at hand revolved around the idolatry of the Gentiles.  These four restricted sins were an intricate part of their idol worship, and idolatry was the crucial issue that necessitated and required immediate separation.  So what the apostles were addressing was not every single issue which is required of believers but what was essential for them as a first step in their newfound faith.  It is pertinent to the very first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3) and the command Jesus said is the first and greatest commandment: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).  The very first step in coming to Jesus Christ is one must turn from all his idols and make Jesus his God.  One can proceed no further if he cannot make this first step.  Fornication was involved in most of the heathen idolatry.

        So we see the purpose of the decision made by the apostles and confirmed by the approval of the Holy Spirit was to deal with the first step in walking in their newfound faith.  However, the question then arises: What about all the other commands and instructions Jesus taught His followers?  Are they to be disregarded and the new church only be responsible to rest in some slippery, impotent, ineffective and unscriptural grace?  No!  Every word that proceeded from the mouth of the Son were to be strictly obeyed and never to be dismissed or forgotten.  All of Jesus’ words are elements for Christian growth and are to bring converts to maturity in Christ and are absolutely and unequivocally essential.  These things, however, were to be taught by the churches, which were established in every city and town where the apostles preached and where people responded to the Gospel.  It is the church’s responsibility through pastors, teachers, elders and deacons to teach and instruct its members in the word of truth and in that God-ordained structure, the church will grow and mature.  The gathering in Jerusalem was not intended to make a long list of do’s and don’ts for the church, for the church was to follow the teachings of scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  A list of laws can never create the church that is to be the bride of Christ.  The church of Jesus is created as she falls in love with Jesus Christ and loves Him with all her heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love is the fulfilling of the law, for God is love.

          I close with a quote from Gail Eckard which was written in reference to the first and second great commandments.  “The law of God still stands in glorified form, but the Lord hath so filled His people with a love for God and the love for man that only these two laws stand out before the people.  For lo the others are covered with that mighty love that moves and controls every child of God.  But the duty of the law becometh a great pleasure and a delight through the love of Jesus Christ and this pleasure and delight is what men call ‘living under grace.’  This is the way that the Lord hath told His people He would write His laws within their hearts.  Lo, He hath written it with the finger of love.  When the love of a man’s heart is actuated by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he is so filled with love for his brother that it is such a joy unto him to serve his brother that he realizes no law in the affair at all.”

 

 

 

 

CEDARS OF LEBANON ACADEMY

 

        Those readers who have been receiving “The Testimony of Truth” for several years may remember reading that People of the Living God has been operating a Christian school since 1983.  The school presently takes in students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Last year we had 55 students, although we have in the past, had as many as 75.  This school has been tuition-free for the past 32 years with People of the Living God paying the expenses necessary to keep the school operating.  However, because of the poor economy over the past few years and other circumstances beyond our control, People of the Living God can no longer offer this tuition-free service to the community.  At a recent gathering of parents, teachers and board members, this problem was discussed.  The parents desired that we begin requiring a tuition so the school could remain open and be a service and ministry to the families who desire a Christian education for their children.  People of the Living God has agreed to keep the school open provided the tuition would be sufficient to cover its operating costs.  An analysis was made of the annual expenses and a tuition amount was established, an amount considerably below other Christian schools in this area.  Most parents have committed to pay the required tuition but there are several families who are unable financially to continue to send their children.  There is presently a concerted effort by all the parents to raise funds to aid those who are unable to pay so that those children may continue to receive the Christian education they desire.  It is for these families that we send this notice and ask that our readers prayerfully consider helping these families at this time. 

        People of the Living God does not solicit funds nor ask for donations, for Jesus said, “Freely ye have received, freely give” and therefore we strive to do as Jesus commanded.   Our concern in this notice is not for ourselves but for these who desire their children to receive quality education in a morally clean environment undergirded with a biblical foundation. 

        The parents are presently raising funds which will be placed in a scholarship fund to aid those families which are unable to pay the full amount themselves.  Please, pray for the ministry of the school and for those lacking the necessary funds.  Also, if any of our readers, after prayerful consideration, desire to contribute to this ministry, all contributions will be greatly appreciated. All donations are tax deductible and a receipt will be sent out as soon as the donations are received.  If you desire to make a contribution for this cause, please make the check payable to “Cedars of Lebanon Academy” and state it as being a contribution for scholarships. 

        Cedars of Lebanon Academy has a website which may be accessed online at www.cedarsoflebanonacademy.org.  The web site is still under construction but you can go there to get a better view of the school and its operation.  Thanks to all of you for your support for the ministry of “The Testimony of Truth” throughout the years.  We pray God will bless you each in your walk with God.   

        If anyone desires more information or has questions, feel free to call 931-692-2849 or email potlg@blomand.net   

 

 

       

 “THINGS ABOVE”

James Sanderson

        A reporter once asked the billionaire and oil tycoon, John D. Rockefeller, “How much money is enough?” Rockefeller's response?  “Just a little bit more.”  Covetousness has a way of possessing a man's heartstrings.  Christians are not beyond its treacherous grasp.  It is for this reason that our Lord admonished His followers, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

        Our Lord continues this theme by relating the parable of a rich man whose land “brought forth plentifully.”  In fact, his profits were so bountiful that he tore down all his barns and constructed much larger ones so that he could store his harvest for his personal benefit in future years.  Unfortunately for this poor soul, the Grim Reaper came calling one night.  All these earthly treasures for which he had labored were left for others.  “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:16-20).  Covetousness destroyed this man's soul.  The riches that he had amassed had become a snare.  It is quite interesting that the Scriptures equate covetousness with idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5).

        Man has but a very short span of time on this earth.  As Christians, God has called us to use that time wisely by laboring for those things that count for eternity.  In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20).  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.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2).  What are some of those “things above” that God implores His people to seek after?

A Heavenly Abode

        Abraham dwelt in the Chaldean city of Ur, which, at that time, was the cultural center of the world.  The Lord visited Abraham and commanded, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1).  Ur no longer had what Abraham wanted.  Life in Ur had lost its appeal.  Abraham, being “strong in faith” (Rom. 4:20), obeyed and set out according to the Lord's command.  One must understand that God did not call Abraham merely to possess a piece of real estate to pass on to his posterity.  The Word of God states, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).  Abraham had his heart set on things above.  He realized that he was merely a stranger and pilgrim on this earth.  He desired a “better country, that is an heavenly” (Heb. 11:16).

        This world is not our home.  It is only a temporary abode where God is accomplishing His eternal purpose.  “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13:14).  Jesus stated that this world will pass away (Matt. 24:35).  When God's plan has come to fruition, He will make an end to this physical existence.  Nevertheless, that heavenly abode will endure forever.

The Kingdom Of God

        In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded, “But Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).  Throughout His earthly ministry, our Lord placed great emphasis on the Kingdom of God.  In fact, His message was called The Gospel of the Kingdom.  This kingdom is not a material kingdom.  As Jesus stood before Pilate, He emphatically stated, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  Many today expect God to establish a material kingdom on the earth.  It will never happen.  Such a kingdom would contradict the very words of Jesus Christ.  The kingdom of God is one of those things above upon which one must set his affections.  It is a heavenly kingdom.

        Although this kingdom is not of this world, the good news is that it is within the reach of man.  One enters God's kingdom through the new birth.  “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Again in verse five, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  The manifestation of that kingdom is in the hearts of men.  “And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, the kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

        The kingdom of God is a state of being in God.  That is, it is a spiritual kingdom under the authority of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul aptly described this kingdom, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  It is the duty of every Christian to desire that that kingdom be fully manifested in his heart and life.

Heavenly Bread

        “Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27).  Man toils to provide the physical food needed to sustain life but frequently fails to seek the spiritual food necessary for growth and development in God.  It is imperative that each Christian maintains a fresh relationship with Christ.  “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  Every follower of Christ needs his daily portion of manna from above.  The Heavenly Bread is one of the things above essential in one's walk with God.

        Jesus stated, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever” (John 6:51).  Without this living bread, one would simply die spiritually.  In the book of Revelation, to the church at Pergamos He wrote, “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:17).  This manna is “hidden” because those who are earthly minded do not understand its true value.  Their minds have been darkened by the god of this world (II Cor. 4:4).  Only those who are spiritually minded desire whatever God offers from above.

Riches In Christ

        Moses was brought up in the court of Pharaoh's family amid wealth and prestige.  The Word of God states, “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).  Nevertheless, he was also a man who had his heart set on things above.  “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” (Heb. 11:24-26).  Moses had discovered the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).  In his lexicon, Thayer states that unsearchable means, “that cannot be traced out, that cannot be comprehended.”  The riches in Christ are beyond man's ability to fully comprehend.

        The riches of this world cannot begin to compare in value with the heavenly riches found in Christ Jesus our Lord.  In fact, Christ warned His followers that the pursuit of earthly treasures can be detrimental to one's walk with God.  “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).  The riches of this world are deceitful because they provide a false sense of security.  Paul states that they can become a huge source of temptation and a snare (I Tim. 6:9).  Jesus said, “Provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not” (Luke 12:33).

Divine Character

        In his second epistle, the Apostle Peter writes that God's people have been called to a life of “glory and virtue” (II Peter 1:3).  Virtue is moral excellence.  Moral excellence flows from God Himself; it is one aspect of His divine character.  The wonderful part is that God has called His people to share in that divine character.  Peter continues, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious (priceless) 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).  The pursuit of the “divine nature” is one of those things above that should motivate every believer.  The divine nature is God's supreme character.

        “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to you faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:5-8).  The Apostle Paul states it another way, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:12-14).  Charity (agape, divine love) is the adhesive that holds all of these qualities together.

The Prize

        The Word of God occasionally compares this Christian life to a race or a contest in the arena.  “Let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).  The Apostle Paul also states, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain (Gr. apprehend)” (I Cor. 9:24).  The implication is that only those who run will apprehend.  The metaphorical use of the word run implies the necessity of decisiveness, determination, and endurance in this Christian life.

        Paul also states, “They do it to obtain a corruptible crown” (I Cor. 9:25).  The world wants a trophy or crown that they can take home and place on their mantels.  Such a prize is soon forgotten and dies with the runner.  Nevertheless, the prize that one apprehends in this Christian life endures to eternity and is written in the annals of heaven.  “But we an incorruptible” (I Cor. 9:25).

        The Apostle Paul continues this same theme in his letter to the Philippians, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).  Vine states that the verb press means “to pursue” and “is used as a metaphor from the footrace” (page 890).  One must exert supreme effort to obtain this prize.  The Apostle Paul had his sights set on things above.  He was willing to suffer the “loss of all things” that he may “win Christ and be found in Him” (Phil. 3:8-9).  What greater prize can one obtain?

 

 

 

 

FROM THE MAILBAG

 

        Recently we received a letter from a reader who did not give his or her identity but had a couple of questions which we would like to address.  The questions were in regard to our reply to an earlier question regarding tithing, published in the March issue of “The Testimony of Truth”.  The editor’s answer to the questions asked referred to the modern church being wishy-washy, presenting this fact in a very negative manner, to which the reader agreed.  But coupled with the thought of America’s vacillating churches, was the statement that church membership is diminishing, and this also was presented as being a negative influence upon our society.  This seemed a little confusing to our reader, which is understandable.  If the church is “wishy-washy”, is it not a good thing that people are not attending church?

        In reference to this question, I refer to Phil. 1:11-18, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.  What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice”.  The fact that truth is not fully taught in many modern churches does not mean that Christ and the gospel is not preached to some degree, which is certainly better than nothing.  Because Christ is mentioned and some truth is declared is positive, for if Christ was not preached at all, world societies would be much, much worse than they are.  If churches were completely dissolved, and no one heard the Gospel at all (of course that will never happen), our world would be a horrible place in which to live.  Though truth is not sought nor fully taught, the little truth which is presented will find entrance into the hearts of those who are seeking for truth.  Those who have honest hearts will respond to the truth that is presented and if they are sincere, the Holy Spirit will lead them into the full truth of the Gospel.  The Holy Spirit coupled with scripture can and will lead the honest heart into truth and will lead him to find fellowship with other believers who walk with God in sincerity and truth.

        In the days when Jesus walked in Galilee, His greatest adversaries were religious fanatics, yet He told those to whom He spoke to adhere to what they say but don’t do as they do.  For in their teaching was buried the Gospel, and although covered over by their many legalistic laws and ritualistic traditions, the honest soul could find the hidden treasure and come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  From that group of Pharisees some believed, came out of their false religion and walked in truth.  Nicodemus is one good example of a man who, though a Pharisee, had an honest heart and searched for truth.  In that search he found that Jesus was the fulfillment of scripture, for it (scripture) testified of Him.

        The second question from our reader is that the article referred to the account of King Saul, who had at one time had the Spirit of the Lord come upon him as he was anointed to be the first king in Israel’s dynasty.  Yet after years of rejecting God’s directions, he came to the place where scripture states, “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (I Sam. 16:14).  The question revolves around the statement that the evil spirit was from the Lord.  This is not a new question, for many have pondered this verse of scripture.

        To aid in understanding this question regarding King Saul, we would do well to consider a couple other incidents recorded in scripture, accounts that inform us of what was taking place in heaven.  The first one is recorded in Job the first chapter verse 6.  “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.”  When the beings in heaven came before the Lord, along came Satan and he came with the specific purpose, to accuse God of showing favoritism to Job.  He accused God before all the other beings who were in attendance.  No doubt this same diabolical and deceptive tactic was used to deceive a third of the angels that fell when he was cast out of heaven (Rev. 12:9).  He cast doubt into the minds of those angels and in the process, caused them to fall.  This gets into another topic which would take more time than we have for this article and would take us away from the question we are addressing, but briefly:  Before the death of Jesus Christ, Satan was able to go into the presence of God and accuse God and God’s people.  Since the cross he is no longer able to appear before God to defame, accuse or dishonor Him or His people.  In Revelation 12:9-10 we read, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

        Back to Job’s case: Satan came before God with accusations of favoritism.  He accused God of putting a hedge around Job, protecting him from Satan’s attacks.  God allowed Satan to do whatever he wanted to test Job, but God had absolute control.  Satan could only do what God allowed.  God permitted it, for He knew Job would stand firm.  God was exonerated before all the beings of heaven and the beings of hell and Satan was shown to be a liar and an accuser of the brethren.  God’s integrity was shown to be above reproach or question.

        We have another account of events that took place in heaven regarding King Ahab.  In I Kings 22 Ahab and Jehoshaphat were going out to war against Syria.  Ahab had his prophets prophesy about the battle ahead and these prophets of Baal prophesied that Israel would triumph over the Syrians.  However, Jehoshaphat, being a godly man was not comfortable with these prophets, knowing their prophecies were not from God.  He asked if there was not a prophet of God who would speak the word of the Lord.  Ahab reluctantly sent for Micaiah who spoke clearly what God had spoken concerning Israel’s defeat and Ahab’s death.  He also revealed the events that had transpired in heaven.  I Kings 22:19-23, “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.  And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?  And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.  And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.  And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith?  And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.  Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.”  God permitted an evil, lying spirit to go forth and deceive Ahab.  It was not that God was evil but He is sovereign and allows certain evils to take place, not because He desires evil to fall upon men but because it is necessary when men reject Him and His word.

        So in the case of Saul, an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him (I Sam. 16:14).  This evil spirit was not a part of God’s heavenly kingdom but a spirit used by God to deal with Saul’s transgression and rejection of God’s commands.  Under the New Covenant, Satan can no longer go into the presence of God and accuse God or His people.  In the book of Hebrews it is recorded that the heavenly sanctuary had to be cleansed.  Heb. 9:23-24: “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”  When Lucifer sinned in heaven, a certain area of heaven was defiled, sin had entered into heaven.  It can be likened to when God created the earth, it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31).  But when sin entered through Adam, that “very good” was tainted with sin and sin was given access to work.  Similarly, Satan’s sin in heaven left it open for Satan to come and accuse God.  This is not to say that all of heaven was defiled, but at least some part was open where Satan could enter.  However when Jesus came He cleansed that area as we see from the writer of the book of Hebrews.  Satan had access which he lost when Jesus died, for we quote again, “the accuser of the brethren was cast out which accused them before our God day and night, he was cast out and his angels were cast out with him”.  Jesus gave Satan a fatal blow from which he will never recover.  Jesus established a better covenant established upon better promises and we today enjoy this better covenant provided through Jesus Christ.

        I hope this gives some insight into these questions.  If these things seem difficult to grasp, remember that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to teach us and to guide us into all truth.  Seek God and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you as you need to understand His word.  God bless you as you search and study God’s holy word.

The Editor

 

 

 

 

 “THE EARTH IS DEFILED UNDER THE INHABITANTS THEREOF”

Isaiah 24:5

Randall Walton

        The word “defiled” is defined by James Strong as, “to soil, especially in a moral sense;” it is used in other synonymous terms such as corrupt, pollute, profane, all of which carry the same idea of a debased moral state.

        Ecologists are trying to blame the earth’s troubles on pollution from hydrocarbons, Freon, diminished rain forests, and other forms of human irresponsibility, but God sees situations in their true light, not as mankind does.

        God declares that it is because of SIN: “because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”  Man’s arrogant rebellion against the Almighty’s standards is the number one cause of the pollution of the world; and by this we do not mean merely this terrestrial globe, but rather the entire sphere of human activity.

        Sin has been present in the world since Eve was deceived by Satan; there have always been multitudes of people who could be classified as sinners.  But the worst kind of sinner is the religious rebel, the hypocrite, the impostor, the “wolf in sheep’s clothing.’  The greatest sins are religious sins; that is, sins which are committed by professing believers who justify themselves through rejection of the laws and commands of God, and yet continue to claim God as their Lord.

        “They have transgressed the laws” is no insignificant matter.  In addition to being a God of love and mercy, He is a God of perfect law and order.  His kingdom is one of righteousness (Rom. 14:17), and He rightfully expects His subjects to obey His righteous laws, precepts, and decrees.  The idea of a doting, compromising, spineless creator is not the God of the Bible.

        Jesus stated most emphatically that “He that rejecteth me, and RECEIVETH NOT MY WORDS, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Sin Is Magnified

        Contrary to much popular teaching which claims that Jesus abolished all law, He actually magnified the law (Matt. 5:20-22; 5:27-28; 5;38-47; isa.42;21).  And with the magnifying of the law, sin also then is magnified.  Sin is more vile in the eyes of the Lord today because Jesus has given people greater ability and strength to override sin than those who lived before the cross had.

        The abundance of grace enjoyed by people today is an empowerment to live above sin (Rom. 5;19-21).  Therefore, those who are in Christ Jesus are expected to conform to the standards of the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

        We are not surprised to see people of the world practicing homosexuality, aborting their babies, committing fornication, misrepresenting themselves in business.  But when professing Christians become engrossed in these gross sins, you can be sure that the defilement of mankind has reached the point of no return.

        This is why it grieves us to see those who are in high office in our government and who claim to be Christian, espouse and sponsor the cause of the homosexuals, abortionists, and other ungodly elements.

        But let it be known that sin does not go unnoticed; “the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zech. 4:10).  God is well aware of the iniquity which is being practiced and promoted in His name, and He does and will hold guilty those who have brought such terrible reproach upon Himself.

The Deceitfulness Of Sin

        Sin is self-promoting; that is, one who commits sin either repents and vows to sin no more, or he finds some means of justification for his waywardness and continues to indulge until all sense of right and wrong disappears.  Thus, sin encourages more sin; the sinner convinces himself that he got by, and therefore his sin no longer appears to him to be sin.  “lest any of your be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13).  This hardening process is very difficult to overcome once it has solidified.  The person so afflicted becomes bound by his sin as much as if he were in chains.  There are no bounds or limits to his moral (or immoral) behavior.

The Influence Of Evil Spirits

        In addition to the native tendency toward sin and rebellion, mankind is encouraged to revolt against God and His word by evil or wicked spirits which are active in the unseen realm which is a part of the cosmos, or the ‘world.”  Ephesians 6:12 states most clearly that these wicked spirits (spiritual wickedness) actively oppose the believer (as well as the unbeliever) in an effort to overcome and control them.

        Too many believers forget that walking with God is spiritual warfare; and those who fail to combat the forces of evil will soon find themselves victims rather than victors.  This will help to explain the dominance of evil spirit influence among those who have deviated from the pure words of the living God.

        This explains, also, why homosexuals talk about the time when they found out they were gay.  Where did they get the idea that the same gender was attractive to them?  From an unclean spirit who planted the idea in their mind!  But the foul spirit didn’t do it without their permission and cooperation.

        But once they have accepted this “doctrine of devils” (I Tim. 4:1) they are hooked.  Only a supernatural deliverance of God can set them free from this snare of the devil.  This helps us understand why these perverted people insist that their filthy relationships are an act of love.  Their inspiration comes from the source which knows no love.  Hell and the devil know nothing but selfishness and hatred.

        There is no doubt that most of the ideas which are prevalent in the so-called New Age Movement are the work of demonic powers working among mankind to overthrow him.  Who but an evil spirit would suggest to the “dust of the earth” that “I AM GOD”?  His is the same voice which spoke out in the garden to Eve, “ye shall be as gods.”

        This demonic inspiration has permeated society in general and much of the religious element in particular.  It is no mystery that most modern music is inspired of evil forces.  It really got its start with the advent of rock and roll, the raucous, sensual, and sexual cacophony which began the sexual revolution in the U.S. in the fifties and has continued unabated for decades.

        It has succeeded in changing society from a conservative, “old-fashioned” outlook to the present uninhibited, “all-stops-pulled” generation which has adopted a neutral stance in regard to right and wrong.  The only wrong attitude today seems to be to disagree with the status quo.

        But while society has surrendered its moral standards to rock ‘n roll, rap and reggae (along with most of modern “country & western”), the greatest disaster occurred when the CHURCH opened its doors to the same ungodly, demon-inspired “rhythm and blues” type music.  The only recognizable difference between barroom and dance hall music, and that employed in most churches is in the words, and it is a shame to connect such awful, sensual sounds with that which is supposed to be holy and divine.

        It is amazing to see most “full gospel” or Pentecostal type churches sporting a full drum set on the platform along with electric guitars and synthesized keyboards, the same trappings you find on the stage where a worldly group performs.  The inspiration is most evident, and in both cases the inspiration is not from above.

        Said music drives people to do all sorts of weird things during a religious “service.”  In fact, meetings have become a place for you to “let your hair down,” pull all the plugs, and have a rip-roaring big time.  It is plain that the churches are competing with the world for an audience, and are becoming somewhat successful, but at what a price!

        “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” (Prov. 6:27,28)

The Results Of Sin

        Spiritism, or the communication of evil spirits with mankind is a terrible sin.  We tend to attribute most such activities to voodooism, or witchcraft, but let us not be deceived by the goings-on of the “Christian” faith.  When people resort to classes to learn how to “dance in the spirit” or to speak in tongues, or to do some of the other many things which are being done in the name of the Lord, you can be sure that inspiration (not Holy Spirit anointing) is involved which is not of God.

        Usually, demonic influence and inspiration come as a result of sin, or breaking God’s law.  Lawlessness opens the door for the lawless one to step in.  We are not talking about possession here; it is a matter of obsession, inspiration and influence.  When anyone insists on living contrary to God’s word and will, he places himself in a position to be tormented by evil spirits; especially if he professes to be a child of God, because the main target of the hosts of hell is the person who walks with God; “whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him” (Eccl. 10:8).

        God’s laws are meant to be a “hedge” of protection about the people of God.  Many ministers are guilty of presenting God’s laws as bondage, something to rid oneself of.  This is a terrible mistake.  It is within the confines of the Almighty’s precepts that there is safety and security from the attacks of the enemy.

        Those who break through this “hedge” do so at the risk of being bitten by a serpent.  It is time that people be told the truth regarding the law and the commands of God.  You cannot disregard the voice of God (His will, His word, and His law are all the same) without paying a price for it.  The serpent is always waiting for a breakthrough of the hedge, and will certainly “bite” those who penetrate it.

        Yes, the earth is defiled under its inhabitants, because they have fought God’s laws, rebelled against His lordship, rejected His words and His counsel, denied Him His rightful authority and power, and have insisted in joining hands with the enemy.  We urge everyone who claims the name of Jesus to seriously return to the word of the Lord, search out the Scriptures yourself without benefit of the clergy, and see what God has to say about these things.

        Judgment is on the way.  Nations are toppling, governments are being overthrown, people are turning to suicide in greater numbers, crises are looming on the horizon which will devastate whole populations, and few people are ready to face the terrible consequences of having lived in rebellion against a great and omnipotent, living God (Isa. 24:1-6).