People of The Living God

Isaiah 53

 

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September 2015



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

THE PLIGHT OF THE UNPREPARED

James Sanderson

        One cannot read the gospel accounts without being impressed with the emphasis Jesus Christ placed on the need of preparation.  Directly and through various parables our Lord conveyed the message that only those who are ready will abide the day of His coming.  “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not have suffered his house to be broken through.  Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:39-40).  “[T]hey that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut” (Matt. 25:10).  “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh...Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.  And what I say unto you I say unto all Watch” (Mark 13:35-37).

Only A Few Will Make It

        Unfortunately, even with all of these clear warnings from the lips of the Son of God, the Scriptures reveal that only a few will make it to the end.  One of the greatest tragedies of this final hour is that most of humanity, including many Christians, will be completely unprepared for the coming of the Lord.  “Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?” (Luke 13:23).  Note carefully that the response that Jesus gave to this crucial question is particularly addressed to those who live during the time of His coming.  “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.  When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door” (Luke 13:24-25).  The prophet Isaiah, having been given a view of the consumption that God had decreed upon the whole earth in this end time, declared, “Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left” (Isaiah 24:6).  Only “a remnant shall be saved” (Rom. 9:27).  In the days of Noah, when God brought complete destruction to humanity, only a “few, that is, eight souls were saved” (I Peter 3:20).

        Why is it that only a few will make it to the end?  Only a few will seriously evaluate the words of Jesus Christ and set themselves to make the necessary preparation.  Only a few will be willing to put forth the supreme effort required of those who expect to endure until the end.  Only a few will understand the urgency of the hour.  In the verse previously quoted from Luke 13:24, Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.”  The Greek verb for strive is agonizomai from which the English language derives the word agonize.  To strive is “to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers, to endeavor with strenuous zeal, to labor fervently” (Thayer's Lexicon).  Much of the church world has little interest in laboring fervently and endeavoring strenuously in preparation for the coming of the Lord.  The words of Jesus Christ fall on deaf ears as many continue to conduct their daily lives and formulate their future plans as though all things continue as they have from the beginning of creation.  Many are satisfied and secure in their present state, unaware of the handwriting on the wall.  In His parable of the ten virgins, our Lord Jesus Christ stated, “All those virgins slumbered and slept” (Matt. 25:5).

An Awakening Is Coming

        What will it take to awaken God's people (the ten virgins) from their state of sleep to a true comprehension of the lateness of the hour?  In the natural, a sudden disturbance of any kind will usually jolt an individual out of sleep.  One can only speculate as to what it will take to awaken the church.  But it is certain that the church will awaken.  “All those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps” (Matt. 25:7).  God will bring forth conditions in the earth that will make it impossible for any Christian to remain in a state of sleep.  Even now the midnight cry is going forth, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him” (Matt. 25:6).  As this cry becomes louder and louder in this critical hour, economic collapse, lawlessness, pestilences, plagues, famine, tribulation, and the wrath of almighty God will cause every individual to realize that the end is truly at hand.  Many will awaken to the awful fact that they are woefully unprepared for the Lord's coming.  They will suddenly realize that they have wasted valuable time on foolish pursuits that have no bearing on eternity.  At the last minute they will become serious about their walk with God.  As they feverishly attempt to make the necessary preparation, they will find to their dismay that it is too late.  “The foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are going out (the actual Greek).  But the wise answered saying, Not so…but go ye rather to them that sell and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut” (Matt. 25:8-10).  What more serious words can be uttered?

God's People Need A Sense Of Urgency

        Those who expect to be counted among the wise must begin to comprehend the urgency of this present hour and the necessity of redeeming the time.  Many believe in the imminent return of our Lord.  Nevertheless, their daily lives testify that they really believe that He will come in the distant future.  What would be the spiritual state of an individual who truly believes that the end of all things is at hand, that is, not merely a mental assent to a theological truth, but an actual realization that this is the last generation, the end of earth's history, the climax of God's program for humanity?

        The individual who has begun to sense the urgency of this final hour will make some drastic alterations in the way that he conducts his life.  (1) Fasting and prayer will become an integral part of his life as he sees the need of drawing closer to God.  (2) He will search the Word of God more diligently and prayerfully for a deeper understanding of God's requirements for those who expect to stand with the elect in these last days.  (3) He will begin to set his priorities right as he evaluates present conditions in the light of eternity.  An urgent person wants every minute to count for God.  Those activities that hinder his pursuit of a closer walk with God will begin to lose their attraction.  (4) An urgent Christian is an earnest Christian.  His attention is focused on one purpose: being prepared for the coming of His Lord.  (5) The urgent person sees the sword of God's judgment coming upon a sin-loving, morally depraved world and is burdened to warn others of the coming calamities.

        One cannot manufacture this urgency; however, he can search the word of God and call on the Lord to grant him a greater understanding of the lateness of the hour.  The Lord will faithfully work in his life to stir him to a greater burden of prayer.

The Urgency Of The Hour

        What makes this final hour so urgent?  It is important to understand that the coming of the Lord involves more than His breaking through the eastern sky to whisk the saints away to glory.  The conditions that will prevail in these last days will severely try every man, including Christians, as at no other time in earth's history.  Jesus warned, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35).  A snare is a trap fastened by a noose or notch (Strong's).  Thayer's Lexicon defines it as a trap or noose, particularly one used to entangle and catch birds.  Many will be caught in this end time snare because they did not heed the warnings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        The apostle Paul declared, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (II Tim. 3:1).  The word perilous means “difficult, dangerous, furious, fierce, hard, hard to bear, troublesome, harsh, savage” (dictionary).  Berry's Interlinear translates this word as violent.  When the prophet Habakkuk was given a vision of the conditions that would prevail in this end time, he exclaimed, “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble” (Hab. 3:16).  It may be that God's people need to have the same view of the end time that God gave the prophets of old.  The prophet Joel also declared, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand” (Joel 2:1).  The need of an alarm indicates that God's people are asleep and must be awakened.

The Coming Cataclysm

        Our Lord Jesus Christ likened the day of His coming to the days of Noah.  “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”(Matt. 24:37-40).  The word flood in Greek is κατακλυσμός (kataklusmos), a deluge, from which the English language derives the word cataclysm.  A cataclysm is “any great upheaval that causes sudden and violent changes” (dictionary).  This final hour will bring judgment and destruction on a scale unprecedented in the history of the world.  “Alas for the day!  For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15).  The Word of God declares that God will shake everything that can be shaken (Heb. 12:26-29).  “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants there of” (Isa. 24:1).  It is quite interesting to note that the Washington Post reported that there are more than 50 million displaced people in the world today, the highest number since World War II (June 20, 2014).  That number continues to grow due to the increase in violence and terrorism.  Not a single sphere of man's activity –social, political, economic, or religious – will escape the storms of this latter day.

        The Bible records one particular cataclysm that will affect every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth in this end time: the fall of Babylon.  The eighteenth chapter of the book of Revelation vividly describes this awesome event.  Babylon symbolically represents the whole world system that man has instituted through the inspiration of Satan himself.  This system is in total rebellion against God and the way of Jesus Christ.  It is a system that is morally bankrupt and becoming more saturated with evil as the years go by.  “Babylon…is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2).  This system does not have a single political entity that can truly call itself Christian.  “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 18:3).  The sword of God's judgment is soon to fall upon this vile metropolis.  “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!  For in one hour is thy judgment come” (Rev. 18:10).

        All of humanity has placed its security and confidence in this ungodly system.  Unfortunately, even Christians have become satisfied with all that Babylon has to offer.  The call to God's people in this end time is “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).  Conditions will become so intolerable that the people of God will no longer be able to carry on business in this system without forfeiting their integrity before God and partaking of the sins of Babylon.  The total economic collapse of this monstrosity called Babylon is much closer that most people want to admit.  It is only the mercy of God that judgment has not already come.

        What will occur when economic collapse strikes?  Only tyranny and the rule of force will be able to maintain any semblance of order.  Remember, too, that as the U.S. economy goes, so go the economies of the rest of the world.  This soon-coming economic crash will be experienced on a worldwide scale.  With the ensuing political upheavals will come the loss of many freedoms that the Western world has so long enjoyed.

        The church will then face the most severe persecution that it has ever faced.  “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 12:17).  “The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.  And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (John 16:2-3).

        In the midst of these conditions, God will accomplish a mighty sifting among His people.  He will separate the wheat from the tares.  The half-hearted, lukewarm professors will not make it.  Those who have merely drifted along without seeking God will not stand.  Only those who have put forth every effort to make their calling and election sure will enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb before the door is shut.

In Closing

        The purpose of this article is not to present an exact chronology of end time events but to stir God's people to seek the Lord earnestly and diligently.  Serious times are in store for all of God's people.  The obligation to watch and be ready is a responsibility that rests upon every single Christian.  “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).  The word watch literally means “to be sleepless, to keep awake.”  An individual who is watching is constantly alert and on his guard.  Sleeping Christians will not endure the difficulties and privations that they will have to face in this end time.  “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Rom. 13:11-12).  (Emphases are that of the author.)

 

 

 

 

MARRIAGE

Alfred King

        As the United States Supreme Court debated the issue of marriage, they seem to have forgotten that the decision had already been determined by THE SUPREME COURT of heaven.  But true to Jesus’ words in Luke 19:14 “his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.”  It was God Who in the beginning created man and woman and gave them instructions to be fruitful and multiply.  Jesus referred to this order, adding to it, “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt 19:4-6).  Note carefully how Jesus confirms the structure and order of marriage, clearly defining it as the union of a man and a woman.  Any logical mind can easily understand that to be fruitful and multiply requires two of the opposite gender.  Two men cannot produce offspring, neither can two women procreate.  Have you ever wondered why that is?  Apparently five of the nine justices haven’t.  It’s because God created them male and female and set up His structure for the family and gave instruction that the couple together should rear their children with the positive influence of both father and mother.

        On the gaymarriage.procon.org website, the very first pro (in favor of) same-sex marriage post states, “Denying some people the option to marry is discriminatory and creates a second class of citizens.”  The statement is false in at least two ways.  First, no one is being prohibited from getting married.  They can marry, but they have to marry according to the law.  The law in the USA and in every country or nation since the world began has always been between two of the opposite gender.  The second false idea promoted in this statement is that it creates a second class of citizens.  Because we have laws that prohibit a man from marrying an eight-year-old girl, does that mean the man is a second class citizen?  If a woman wants to marry her dog, is she a second class citizen?  This is nothing more than political correctness gone awry, propaganda that holds no water in any logical mind and is merely a lie to ease the conscience of those who know that the same-sex lifestyle is sin but want to continue to live in sin without the burden of guilt.  It is no different than the alcoholic who wants to continue drinking and, rather than facing the truth, he claims he has a disease.  However, God is the One Whom the sin is against and He is very discriminatory, as we will all find out on the day of judgment.  Jesus informs us in Matthew 25 that God will set the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left.  He will tell the sheep on His right hand that they can enter into His kingdom, which has been prepared for them since the foundation of the world.  He then addresses those goats on His left hand and says, “depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”  No man-instituted political correctness here, just the bare and naked truth.  Brothers and sisters, this is God’s truth and one day we each will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will receive our just rewards.

        As concerning and even shocking as it is that the issue of same-sex marriage has reached our Supreme Court, the more serious question is where will society be fifty years in the future?  If we consider the events and decisions of the past fifty years that has brought us to the place where we debate and finally “legalize” same-sex marriage, we must be even more concerned about what will transpire in the next half century.  Returning to our pro/con website, another pro argument: “Same-sex couples should have access to the same benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples”.  Under this sub-title, they feel they should have “child custody, spousal or child support”.  It is absolutely impossible for same-sex couples to have the same benefits as heterosexual married couples because they cannot possibly have children.  God created men with certain capacities and women with different capacities and it takes those two together to give birth to a child and that child is the offspring of the man and the woman.  Nothing man can do can change that because God designed it so.  Yet man has been on the road of rebellion for years which is evidenced in that man has refused to obey God’s command to “let not man put asunder,” has broken his marriage vows, forsaken the bride of his youth, lusted after other women, all the while women have played the harlot.  So, today, we have broken homes where children are reared primarily by one parent and raised in a society where broken vows and divorce are considered normal; marriage has little meaning in half of our modern society.  The sacredness of marriage has been forsaken and a “if it feels good, it must be good” mentality permeates the minds and hearts of most adults and the great majority of our youth.

        When America legalized abortion a door opened which will probably never be shut.  As the top court of this country “legalizes” same-sex marriage, a door has been opened that will destroy any hope for this country.  God’s judgment already hangs over this country like a dark cloud, but the future judgment of God will make today’s world seem like a paradise and, if time continues for another fifty years and America somehow survives, I pray I will not be here to see what has happened to a country upon which God’s blessings once rested.  Many have predicted that when this law passed, it was the beginning of the destruction of Biblical, truth-teaching churches in America.  America is fast becoming a sex addicted society, enslaved by their own lusts.  But let there be warning.  With all the stops pulled, the door of hell is opened and evil spirits will begin to possess men; violence will erupt in unprecedented ways.

        It is ironic, for it is not with the GLBT people that the greatest problems lies, it is with those in authority who condone and legalize sin.  Jesus came to save sinners, which includes all of us along with the GLBT group.  But those who should know better, those who have the power to help deliver those who are sold into bondage and slaves under sin’s control, legalize their sin.  One wonders: Who will be more accountable in the day of judgment?

 

 

 

 

THE CHRISTIAN REVOLUTION

Harry R. Miller

        Twenty centuries have rolled irretrievably on down through the corridors of time, and into oblivion, since the debut of our Christian era, making it virtually impossible for 21st century minds to grasp any real comprehension of what a cataclysmic impact the advent of Christ may have made upon the church of His day.  The church expected and looked for a Messiah.  For more than four thousand years mankind had anticipated His coming; numerous prophets had spoken and written hundreds of detailed predictions concerning Him.  This was a people surrounded by the mute testimony of countless sacrifices, traditional practices, symbolic rituals; all of them daily reminders of Israel’s long-awaited Saviour.

        Every Israelitish woman fondly cherished the hope that SHE might be the honored vessel chosen to become the mother of this great leader.  Countless thousands of prayers were constantly ascending for the “consolation of Israel,” as a whole nation strained in expectation for the soon fulfillment of this promised “seed of David.”

        Imagine, then, the furor, the excitement, the startled questioning, the just plain talk when John the Baptist, “greater than any man born among women,” suddenly “came…preaching in the wilderness of Judea” and announced himself herald of “the Holy One of God.”  The stage was set, ready for the most dramatic performance of the ages: and into this pulsating, emotion-charged atmosphere walked Jesus of Nazareth, the humble man of Galilee.

        Israel had long looked forward to the coming of their King – their liberator.  They had expected to establish him, with great pomp and ceremony, upon the earthly throne of David.  THEN they would be able to hold up their heads among the nations!  With a powerful king on a visible throne their position would be secure.

        How great, then, must have been their disappointment – how profound the shock – as they looked with disbelieving eyes upon this meek and gentle, unassuming man whom John the Baptist was proclaiming to be their Messiah!  The politicians, no doubt, had secretly hoped for a spirited organizer – even a rabid rabble-rouser like that seditionist, Barabbas, would have presented greater potentialities for the job than did the mild mannered, simply dressed young man whom they now confronted.

        However, the politically minded began to rally themselves and take stock of the situation – things looked bad, but not hopeless – this man was deplorably meek and retiring – but he did look intelligent.  There might even be certain advantages in having a docile leader: a violent one might have some rather annoying ideas of his own, which could become quite embarrassing!  So, the rulers of Israel watched, with mixed emotions, as the Galilean grew in popularity with the multitudes: people flocked to His side wherever He went; and little children clambered fearlessly into His arms or perched happily on His lap, as though they felt completely at home in His presence.  And, before very long, the rulers, also, began to succumb to the charm of His compelling personality – the Man’s very meekness was disarming – and besides all that, He seemed to be a veritable “sleight of hand performer,” too – some of those people who had been following Him about had some odd stories to tell, of how He could turn water into wine – GOOD wine – and feed whole multitudes with a couple of small fishes and a few little biscuits which He would usually borrow from some wide-eyed boy’s lunch basket!  Well, there was no doubt about it – this Nazarene definitely did have SOMETHING – because even those material-minded rulers had seen people who, they knew, had been too sick to stand up – some of them for years – and those same politicians, fascinated, had watched the sick people get up and walk all around the place at this Man’s command!

        And so political ambition began to reassert itself – it had never really died out, of course, merely waned a bit – and the rulers busied themselves in making elaborate plans for their Kingdom – and for establishing their new King – ideas which quickly gained precedence over everything else in their minds.  But they were doomed to disappointment.  Jesus’ complete disregard for power and prestige was a great blow to their dreams of grandeur, and they began to consider what steps they could take to bring Him into line.  But “He perceived” that they would come and “take Him by force and make Him a King” (John 6:15), and so He slipped quietly away into a mountain, alone.  He did not reprove them for their worldly intentions – He merely vanished from their sight!  What consternation must have filled their hearts when they discovered that He had disappeared!  Then Jesus quietly took shipping across the sea to Capernaum, where He remained until the fever of their national ambitions had subsided, and He could continue on with the work which He had come into this world to do.

        No greater prophet than Jesus of Nazareth ever lived upon the earth; no miracle-man has ever been worthy to compare with Him: time and space became as putty in His hands – He spoke, and they performed His will – the very elements obeyed His commands; He demonstrated conclusively that He was master of death; and even the demons of hell trembled at His word.  All manner of sickness, disease, and crippling infirmities were occasions for the demonstration of His authority and power.  He amazed, mystified, and constantly astounded His audience by His complete mastery and control over every force, visible or invisible.  No mystic in any age has ever duplicated that unassuming, yet spectacular authority that Jesus of Nazareth wielded over the forces of heaven and earth.

        If this Man had refrained from delivering His MESSAGE to the world, He would have been accepted by every earthly Kingdom and could have reigned undisputed, lo, these last two thousand years!  But, as He began to unfold the revolutionary message which His Father had entrusted with Him for mankind, the crowds began to thin out – people suddenly remembered other things they wanted to do! – and His popularity swiftly faded.  One sad characteristic of mankind is a certain fickleness of heart which seems to decree that the popularity of a man who has been greatly loved and respected cannot be allowed merely to die out – apparently the pendulum must swing completely to the opposite side, so that yesterday’s hero becomes today’s worst enemy, in the minds of men: one moment beloved; hated, the next – and so those who yesterday, would have made Him their King, today sought only to trap Him.  Seemingly, there is no middle ground.

        Learned doctors of divinity and brilliant lawyers who interviewed Jesus were astonished at His wisdom.  Some of the most clever minds of His day made deliberate and concentrated efforts to “entangle Him in His talk,” but all to no avail; “Never man spake like this man.”  Shrewd, worldly-wise conversationalists soon realized that this time they had met their match; and after a few rounds of trying, unsuccessfully, to trip Him up, it developed that none of them “dared ask Him anything” (of a heckling nature), for those who tried it suffered a swift and disgraceful public defeat.  Yet, with all of His skill and wisdom, He was allowed to minister for only three-and-a-half short years – before they murdered Him.

        Many centuries before Christ, national Israel had rebelled at their heaven-ordered government, administered through God’s prophet, Samuel; and he (Samuel), being extremely distressed because his countrymen were not satisfied with God’s way and desired a political throne and an earthly king, cried unto the Lord; and God answered him: “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (I Sam. 8:7).  And so it was, also, with the mild-mannered Jesus, who often condescended to men of low estate, many times even eating and drinking with “publicans and sinners.”  And many were the times that He ministered to the sufferings of mankind: He once even stopped a funeral procession and restored a widow’s son to life.  He blessed the little children, and thanked God that great truths had been revealed to “babes and sucklings.”  His humanity was often publicly displayed, for He wept at the tomb of a friend; and again, agonized over the dreadful condition of the “city of the great King.”  People did not actually hate Jesus any more than ancient Israel had hated Samuel of old – They hated the message of the Father that came through Jesus.

        The fury of hell was unleashed through men of the church who had rejected the message Christ brought, and for centuries afterward, the blood of many Christian martyrs was spilt in the vain attempt of hell to silence the Father’s message.  Christ was crucified; Stephen was stoned; “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:36-38).  Whenever the Devil succeeded in murdering one saint, ten more rose up to take his place; and the Father’s message was scattered to the ends of the earth.

        After numerous centuries of employing the tactics of fury, it suddenly dawned upon the forces of evil that Christianity thrives upon persecution: when the saints were deprived of their homes, and of their families, and were driven to the caves, instead of forsaking the Lord they drew nearer to God and to one another and with true Christian love they joyfully served one another.  Persecution also purged out all of the hypocrites from their ranks, and it was very easy to tell who were their real brethren in Christ.

        The adversary might have been successful in corrupting the Christian church a long time ago if he had learned a certain lesson, taught by Moses, in the book of Numbers: Israel committed whoredom with the Midianitish women (Num. 31:15,16), and whenever God’s people cohabit with the world they become corrupt, and God Himself turns His face from them.  The curse of Balaam was ineffective, just as the curse of the Devil is ineffective; but when God’s people become amalgamated with idolatrous religious institutions (women), the wrath of the Most High is certain to fall upon them.

        The message of the Father, as it came through the lips of Jesus, not only changed man’s way of life; it revolutionized the believers: spirit, soul and body.  The change was so complete that it was likened unto a new birth; and as a matter of fact, believers actually became “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17).  Instead of being “of the world,” converted folks were “sealed” (Eph. 1:13) with the King’s holy insignia, and were then counted as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).  These are the folk for whom Jesus prayed and declared to the Father concerning them: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).

        The “doctrine of Christ” was not only radical, it was revolutionary to the churchmen even of His own day; and most of professing Christendom of our day is so estranged from the truth that they are totally unprepared to accept His message even though they read it word for word, from their own Bibles.

        The priests (so-called “pastors” and “ministers”) of Babylon fear to tell the people what God said: they explain what God meant.  “Times have changed,” we are told, “and many things do not apply to us today.”  (Such “things,” of course, are always those which the professing Christians do not care to accept.)  The most diabolically effective method of making the Word of God “of none effect” is the “type and shadow” method of interpretation: the people are told that the Word of God is a mysterious thing, which poor common folk cannot understand, so they must have interpreters – and the priests of Babylon offer to explain what God means by the things that He says!

        Here, for example, is a plain command which the Father gave to us through His Son Jesus: “Lay not up…treasures upon earth” (Matt. 6:19).  But all of the money that the “Ananiases” and the “Sapphiras” have piled up in banks all over the world, would keep numbers of thousands of missionaries in the field for many years.  Stocks, bonds, and many other securities are hoarded hungrily by millions of professing Christians, in spite of the fact that the Saviour commanded: “Take no thought for the morrow” (Matt. 6:25,31).

        God, the Father, spoke these orders through the lips of His Son.  Is it possible for men to read these COMMANDMENTS from the Good Book and remain without responsibility before God?  Are the multitudes who have shut their eyes to these particular commands without guilt before the throne of the Lord?

        The Saviour answers these questions: “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.  For I have not spoken of (or from) Myself; but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:48,49).

        Disobedience characterized the religious professors of Jehovah’s religion in the days of Christ.  Of these, Jesus said: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition” (Mark 7:7-13).  SUBSTITUTION is a very old religious maneuver: Cain refused the laws of God that governed sacrifice and substituted his own form of worship.

        Human nature has not changed in all these centuries. The carnal man, by nature, expresses his religious convictions in his own way.  No amount of training can induce him to serve God in God’s way.  Carnality rebels against the law of God; this is the natural reaction of the carnal man in every age.  From the beginning of time, this contest of the wills between that of the Creator and that of the creature has been the battlefield of all humanity.  Those who refused the will of God (His Commands) suffered loss; those who humbly surrendered to the will of God were considered His friends.

        Abraham was the “friend of God” because he willed to surrender to the will of the Father rather than follow his own human ways: “Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5).  OBEDIENCE TO THE FATHER’S WILL is the kind of faith that heaven expects from all those who expect to gain life eternal: “the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Rom. 4:12).

        God is pleased only with a CERTAIN KIND of faith: the Abrahamic kind.  There are varieties of beliefs that are often called faith, but these are mere travesties of the genuine.  The author of the book of James wrote of “dead faith:” “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).  This author also refers to “the friend of God” as an example of a man who practices the faith acceptable in heaven: “was not our father Abraham justified by works?”  He asks, and as proof he refers to the time the patriarch offered up his son Isaac; then he says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:21,22)

        Here is the order of that faith: (1) God spoke His will to His friend.  (2) The “friend” believed, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith” (Rom. 4:20).  (3) Then the “friend of God” “being fully persuaded, that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform” he OBEYED THE COMMAND of the Voice from heaven and thus made his faith perfect (complete).

        The heart that truly loves the Lord does not “stagger” at the seeming impossibilities of carrying out the commands of the Lord.  It was the KIND OF FAITH that saved Caleb and Joshua: they had more faith in what the Lord had said than they had in circumstances that appeared impossible.  Again, and again, the Lord has revealed Himself to those who have taken Him at His word, and stepped out upon His commands and obeyed Him in the face of all manner of contradiction.

        Many hundreds of years ago, a seer by the name of Hanani, rebuked a tyrant king for his lack of faith in God, and he said, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (II Chron. 16:9).  It is the heart condition of man that governs many of the acts of the Lord.  When men by their works of obedience to the commands of the Lord demonstrate their faith in Him, then and only then, is heaven moved to reward the believer.  This is an inflexible law.  It is universal, and it is absolute.

        Many people today have concluded that “faith” is an end, and this has caused them to fall into all manner of delusions.  This mysterious “substance” which is called faith is a rewarding utility, available for use by either saint or sinner.  He who abides by the laws that govern the operation of this force (known as faith) is able to produce results in many fields of endeavor.

        In this very religious age people whose hearts are “overcharged with surfeiting” (Luke 21:34) are attempting to USE the Lord and the powers of heaven to embellish their own plans.  Such is the faith of Jannes and Jambres (II Tim. 3:8), and it would be well to note that these characters withstood Moses who represented THE LAW OF GOD.  In this same verse of Scripture we are told that they “resist the truth.”  Since Christ is the truth, we may understand by these words that this type of miracle worker resists the words of the Lord Jesus.

        Let us examine this Jannes and Jambres faith a little further.  In verse nine, of this same chapter from Timothy, it speaks of their “folly,” and it further states that it is “manifest unto all men.”  Here then is a public demonstration of foolish faith; or we may say: the faith of a fool.

        Now, how does the faith of a foolish man manifest itself?  Again we refer to the words of the Master who has given us the correct answer to every important situation.  His answer is not remote from the very subject which we have under consideration, but is in direct reply to the question of the folly of those who practice any faith other than the Abrahamic kind.  “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.  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, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it”(Matt. 7:24-27).

        Isn’t it rather odd that the words of the founder of Christianity have fallen into such disrepute that few people pay any attention to ANY OF HIS COMMANDS any more?  If men truly loved Him, they would delight in doing the things which they felt would please Him; His every SUGGESTION would be valued, and response to His COMMANDS would be immediate.  But so often, today, “ANTI-CHRIST religion” is practiced instead of Christianity – IT PLEASES THE FLESH AND DOES NOT DISTURB HUMANITY’S PLANS.

        The gospels record no less than SEVENTY COMMANDS of Jesus; all of which are supposed to be practiced by any professing Christian; but most of the man-fearing ministry of our day have sold the church “down the river” for a comfortable parsonage, a respectable salary, retirement funds: something that spells SECURITY – and they refuse to tell the people THE WHOLE TRUTH, lest they jeopardize that security!

        “Whosoever (and that means you, or anyone else) doth not bear his cross, and come after Me (and to “come after Him” is no small matter), cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27).  These words certainly imply that every BELIEVER in Christ is obligated to follow Jesus.  In order to follow Him, or to “come after Him,” it is necessary for one to DO ALL OF THE THINGS WHICH HE COMMANDED; and “whosoever” will do this, will discover that his life’s work is to serve Jesus day and night.

        As soon as the professing church of Jesus Christ returns unto “the faith once delivered unto the saints,” then and only then will there be a restitution of the glorious powers and gifts of the Holy Ghost.

        When these ministries and gifts of the Spirit are fully restored, the whole world will be made to recognize the Christian revolution.

 

 

 

 

KNOW HIM NOW

Harry R. Miller

        “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (II Cor. 13:5).

        This message Paul wrote to the Corinthian church was directed to a gathering of Spirit-filled people.  These folks claimed gifts of the Holy Ghost; they claimed to believe in and to practice spiritual powers and gifts; they spoke in tongues and they sang in the spirit.  They had everything that “Holiness people” claim today, YET IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THEY MIGHT NOT BE IN THE FAITH!

        The fact that someone possesses supernatural power is NOT PROOF that God is with the miracle worker.  The tongues of men and of angels can be “as sounding brass and a tinkling symbol” if the speaker is not “right with the Lord.”

        There are many false teachers today who claim great healing powers.  Followers of certain cults that even deny the blood of Jesus Christ, actually claim the blood of Jesus Christ, actually claim “divine healing” (e.g., Christian Science, Theosophy, Yogism, etc.).  Jesus taught that in the last days there would be many great “signs and wonders,” and so convincing would some of them be that they would deceive even the very elect, if it were possible.

        It is imperative for Christians to EXAMINE THEMSELVES and make a thorough check of the foundations of their faith.  You may be an ardent church-member, or even a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, or a trustee, but what scriptural assurance do you have that these things will justify you in the sight of God?  You trust that you are doing the will of God.  You think that things are well between you and your Creator, but YOU SHOULD KNOW FOR SURE.  This is no matter for mere conjecture or supposition.  The one real thing of great value in each man’s life is his OWN SOUL.  He, alone, determines its future state.  Surely it is time for every man to make doubly sure of his destiny.

        Have you ever bothered to examine your doctrinal beliefs in the light of the teachings of Jesus Christ, ALONE?  In order to do this one must take all of the teachings of Christ, and consider His central teaching, apart from the writings of all of the other New Testament teachers.  In the life and ministry of Jesus, WHAT did He stress above all other things as being the most “essential to salvation”?  You may be surprised to learn that the Lord barely mentioned many of the things that most of us have always considered as very essential to a Christian walk.  Actually, He did not dwell much upon theological concepts.  Even the major doctrines He did not explain to any great extent, although He did make plain the fact that there is a necessity to know truth.

        But the chief teaching that Jesus stressed was the fact that men should KNOW GOD.  Not that they should merely know ABOUT God; but that they should have a constant knowledge of their relationship with the Creator.  “And THIS is life eternal, that they might KNOW THEE the only true God” (John 17:3).

        To “know” the Father is to have a personal relationship with Him: something more than a mere acquaintance.  There are many people who “taste” the powers of the world to come, but like Demas (II Tim. 4:10), eventually forsake the Presence of the Father because of their love for this “present world.”  However, there are also those who do KNOW the Father, and who daily ABIDE in Him.

        Simeon (spoken of in Luke 2:25) was such a man.  When Christ appeared in this world as a tiny babe, Simeon KNEW Him, for he was a man who daily KNEW God.  Anna, the aged prophetess, also KNEW the Lord, and she also recognized the Lord’s Christ when He appeared (Luke 2:36).

        You may ask, “How can I have a personal acquaintance with the Father?”  Here, my friend, is the answer: Seek Him in deep secret prayer.  Lay aside all earthly affairs and activities until YOU KNOW HIM.  In plain words, apply yourself to this one thing only: SEEKING THE LORD.  Bear in mind that nothing else matters in this life.  This is the ONE ESSENTIAL.  For one cause are we here upon this earth, and that is that we might KNOW GOD.

        After you have found Him, don’t become satisfied with just AN EXPERIENCE.  Paul had many experiences: he saw a shaft of light that reached to heaven; he heard the Lord’s voice; he had visions of angels; he was caught up into Paradise; he had many revelations.  Yet even he said there were things in which he had to continue, lest he be a CASTAWAY.  “To KNOW the Father,” is in the PRESENT TENSE.  To “have known” Him, in the PAST TENSE, shows that WE HAVE FAILED; we sinned; we have LOST The Presence.

        To KNOW God daily is conditional.  It has to be kept up to date.  Here is where many believers have stumbled and fallen.  The first experience with the Father should have awakened an eternal love for Him in the hearts of the believers; but the fickle hearts of men often quickly forget Him, and they soon turn back to the beggarly things of this world in an effort to satisfy their hearts.  It is through the affairs and the things of the world that the love of God is lost.  Even the “cares of this life” (Luke 21:34), are as damning to the soul as drunkenness.

        This is the reason Christ taught that men should “take no thought for the morrow”; “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”; but “go sell that thou hast, and give to the poor…and come and follow Me.”

        My good friend, Jesus TAUGHT that believers should not have earthly possessions for selfish purposes.  Those who acquire possessions become Christ’s STEWARDS, and what they possess is to used in furthering the work of the Lord.  Every Christian and his possessions should be completely devoted to God’s service.  To those who have obeyed Him in these things He has promised “much more in this life, and eternal life in the world to come” (Luke 18:30).  To OBEY the teachings of Christ is to FOLLOW Him.  To those who will follow Him, He said, “He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

        To obey the teaching of Christ is to have one’s way of life completely changed.  So radical (according to the standards of men) are His teachings that many religious ministers have resorted to lowering His standards in order to reach the masses of humanity.  Instead of COMPLETE Christian devotion, then, men are taught “part-time” service; and for such service they are given a “promise of life.”  But such a promise of life is not from the Lord.  God makes no compromise.  This promise is of purely human origin.  Beware of such “leaven.”  Salvation, or eternal life, is obtained ONLY by having the PRESENCE of the Father; and His presence remains only upon the condition that we WALK WITH HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, “IF we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

 

 

 

 

“NOT MY WILL”

James Sanderson

        By far, the greatest testimony in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ was His devotion to the Father's will.  No other purpose so defined His earthly ministry as His one consuming desire to obey the Father in all things.  Even as a young lad sitting in the temple conferring with the doctors of law, He stated, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” (Luke 2:49).  To those assembled in the synagogue in Capernaum, He declared, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).  This devotion to the Father's will set Him apart from all others.  “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7-8).

        Jesus lived a life of complete surrender to the Father.  This devotion was so complete that 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).  Again in John 5:30, He emphatically stated, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  Even as He faced the most severe trial of His life, death on the cross, the cry of His heart was, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Christians Have The Same Call

        Every disciple of Jesus Christ has received this same call to do the Father's will.  “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Matt. 10:24-25).  To walk in the footsteps of Christ is to walk as He walked: living to the will of God.  “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of the time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (I Peter 4:1-2).

        Man, apart from God in his unconverted state, is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).  He walks “according to the course of this world”(Eph. 2:2), satisfying “the desires of the flesh and of the mind”(Eph. 2:3).  In other words, his own will governs his life.

        When Christ comes into his life, the Holy Spirit makes His abode in the heart.  This man, then, becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus (II Cor. 5:17).  His old way of life becomes a relic of the past.  He acquires a new purpose and goal in life: living a life pleasing to God.  “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all then were all dead.  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again (II Cor. 5:14-15).

        One's relationship with Christ hinges on his doing the will of God.  “And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.  And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?  And he looked round about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:32-35).  Also, in John 15:14 He declared, “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

        Devotion to the will of God is a requisite for those who desire to make it to heaven.  “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

Obstacles To The Will Of God

        “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1,2).  In this portion of Scripture, the Apostle Paul presents a major obstacle to knowing and doing the will of God: conformity to the world.   What is the world?  The Scripture is not referring to the material from which this universe is constructed.  Rather, it is the present condition of human affairs in opposition to God.  The Apostle John aptly describes the world, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16).  The values embraced by the world are the antithesis of those values for which God stands. The lust of the flesh is sensualism.  The lust of the eyes is materialism.  The pride of life is egotism.  Conformity to the world works in direct opposition to the will of God.  The Apostle John continues, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I John 2:17).  Only those who renounce this world's values will abide forever in God's kingdom.

        In the sermon on the mount, Jesus states, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).  According to Christ the choice is simple.  Devote one's life to the will of God or conform to the values of this world.  The Word of God reveals that Jesus died on the cross that He might, “deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal. 4:1).  Christ's death on the cross gave His followers power to live above the dictates of the world and, thereby, embrace the will of God.

        As followers of Jesus Christ, we must also fervently be about our Father's business.  God has little interest in part-time Christians.  “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:33).  This one verse alone indicates that walking with Christ is a full time occupation, affecting every department of one's life.  God is looking for total and complete surrender to His divine will. (Emphases are that of the author.)

 

 

 

 

SIN: THE ROOT PROBLEM

Alfred King

        There is the common idea among many Christians today that the church needs to oppose the social ills that plague our society.  We advocate marches against abortion, petition Congress concerning same-sex marriage, and prayer in schools.  We speak out when the Ten Commandments are removed from America’s courts; we ignore laws which would stop us from praying or witnessing, claiming our constitutional right of freedom of speech.  We fervently challenge the evil theory of evolution, knowing its destructive force to all those who promote it.  Evolution, if fully embraced, casts aside man’s ethical responsibilities and eventually will annihilate every moral and humane principle, for its basic foundation is that man is a mere animal, which evolved from a glob of cells, and as an animal he can act and behave as an animal.  There are no moral laws which govern behavior.  Consequently, every man does what is right in his own eyes.

        There are many Christians who have felt led by God to stand in the gap and fight against these gross sins that are flooding into our world.  Some victories have been gained but the battle is long and difficult and it appears that when one battle is won two more hellish causes against Christians are released from the pit of hell.  The purpose of this article is not to condemn nor discourage any who are on the front lines warring against the principalities and powers that are determined to destroy our society.  We are certain that hell’s efforts have been stunted by the labors of those Christians who have resisted and stood for God’s truth.  We are well aware of the evil that is coming forth from the pit “to steal, and to kill and to destroy” and will continue to speak out against it and expose it for what it truly is, SIN.  However, if examined closely, we must admit that if we by some great effort and legal victory, are able to shut the door on one evil activity, we have only hindered Satan’s cause.  What we have done is we have dealt with a symptom but not the root of the problem.  The root problem is sin.  Jesus, understanding this, gave the Great Commission to His church, and that commission is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.  The only true and lasting solution is to deal with the root problem of sin, and the only way sin is dealt with is through a genuine salvation through Jesus Christ.  One must be born again.

        What would Adam think and how would he feel if he were to see what powers of evil were unleashed upon this globe that day he chose to disobey God?  The door was opened for sin to permeate every area of this world as its population grew through the centuries.  All men have evil hearts.  We are born, spiritually cut off from God.  It is for this very reason that sin reigns in man.  The unconverted are slaves of sin, bound to evil desires, lusts, sinful appetites and cravings for forbidden fruit.  It is for this very reason that we must be born from above.  It is in that new birth that God reveals Himself and gives us a new heart.  Ezekiel prophesied of this new birth in Ezekiel 36:26-27: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”  The only way man can be set free from the sinful heart is to come to Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He is then born from above, a new heart given him through our Lord Jesus Christ and he becomes a son of God.  He is adopted into the family of God, being now a new creation with new desires, new ambitions, new interests, new love, for he is a new man.  This is the only way to accomplish complete annihilation of sin, all other means only deal with the symptom.  The purpose here, then, is not that we discontinue standing firm against the evils that threaten our nation, our society and even our churches, but that we not forget that, ultimately, sin is curbed through the salvation of those involved in those sins.  Sin is dealt with when sinners come to know Christ Jesus.

        However, the problems that confront Christians today, and just as serious as those we war against in our nation, are those which are plaguing the church.  Sin has crept into our churches and continues to make inroads.  Many churches are accepting abortion as an acceptable form of contraception.  Other so-called Christians are permitting the gay community to become members of their churches.  Some are ordaining homosexual pastors and the congregation accepts it with little complaint.  Fornication and adultery are common in most churches in America today.  Sin is not to be spoken of in sermons for it might be offensive to someone’s sensitivities.  We are breeding a generation of thin-skinned Christians who have “no root in themselves” (Mark 4:17), no foundation in God’s word and who will cave when the real battle comes upon them.  The outcome is inevitably; they will fall.  Preachers are being taught today in our modern seminaries not to speak about sin, for it will hurt their message and they will not be successful.  Ministers must tell their members today that they cannot walk with God and live in fornication.  They can’t tell those who “heap to themselves teachers having itching ears” (II Tim. 4:3) that they can’t serve God and continue in any sin, be it homosexuality and fornication, or whether it be carnality, worldliness, or what we like to call “little sins.”  Sin is sin and it can only be dealt with by the power of God working in our lives as we submit ourselves to God’s will, God’s law, and God’s word.

        The Bible warns that there will be those who fall away from the faith (Luke 8:13; Heb. 6:6; II Thess. 2:3).  The battle against the sins that are afflicting America and the world’s societies is great, and we are all called to war in that arena.  Those on the frontlines of this battle need God’s blessing and the support of every Christian.  However, the hostile campaign that has been launched by the powers of hell and evil men against the church is of even greater concern, for if the church were to be overcome, there will be no light to repel the darkness or the sin.  Every Christian who sees and understands the evil that is infiltrating our ranks through the lowering of God’s standards needs to be prayerfully on-guard that sin does not continue in our churches.  Jesus is coming to receive to Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, a holy and righteous church, living and walking above sin.  Sin is the root problem of all of America’s and the world’s problems.

 

 

 

 

THE MISSING INGREDIENT

Curtis Dickinson

        “One thing you lack,” Jesus said to the rich young ruler who had kept the commandments all his life.  He didn’t tell him what the thing was but instructed him to give away his riches and become His follower.

        The rich man turned away sorrowfully.  He would retain his security in the world.  His faith in the power of Jesus was not as great as his faith in his own resources.  He could not truly follow Jesus because he hadn’t faith to depend entirely upon Him.

        Scripture says that “without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing (to God); for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11:6).  It is this element of faith that was lacking in the rich man and that is so often missing today.

        Jesus expected His disciples to enjoy life.  He promised peace and joy, saying, “Be of good cheer” and “My peace I give unto you.”  Such promises, at that time, must have seemed empty and impossible to keep, for Jesus had no visible resources, no political power, and was Himself the target of criticism and opposition by powerful forces.  Yet He expected people to have faith to follow His teaching.

        The question in many minds today is “How can I live as a happy and successful Christian in a world hostile to Christ’s way?”  The answer is “By faith.”  “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7).

        This has become more difficult with the modern technique of visuals.  Through television and the internet we are able to see from our living room chair a world-wide host of enemies, and they are assaulting the Christian community on every hand.  We see ourselves outnumbered and outmaneuvered at every turn.  Humanism has so permeated our thinking that even the statements and commands of Jesus are generally measured by humanistic standards.  If it is practical, acceptable to society and profitable, then it is permitted.  If we try to follow Christ and at the same time meet the criteria of our humanistic culture, we will be frustrated and defeated continually.  Christ’s way is not normative for a culture that makes materialism and pleasure its gods.  It is only by faith that we can live contrary to that culture and overcome the obstacles it sets before us.

        Worry over finances is one of the chief obstacles to peace and joy.  Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord alway; again I will say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).  But one may ask, “How can I rejoice when I don't know how I’m going to pay my bills?”  God promises to provide a way for us to have everything we need.  “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on,” Jesus said.  “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:25,33).

        Bills accumulate, not from seeking God’s righteousness, but from gratifying our pleasure and ego and keeping up with the Joneses.  Faith begins when we begin to follow God’s instructions, not when we follow our own way of disobedience then expect Him to bail us out!

        Another wall in the way of peace and joy is fear of what the future may hold.  People see the world coming apart at the seams with anti-christs in power.  It is frustrating to know that things are going the wrong direction, but that there is no place to take hold to turn it around.  What is a Christian to do?

        In apostolic times the future for Christians also was bleak.  There were wars and rumors of wars, pestilence and famine, along with physical persecution of believers.  Jesus, knowing all of this, still told His disciples to be not anxious and to have no fear.  Paul saw his generation as “crooked and perverse” but exhorted Christians to be obedient to God, knowing that “it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  It is our task to “become blameless and harmless children of God without blemish, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom (we) are seen as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15,16).  Whatever results we see from this, we have faith that it is right and pleases God.

        Some believers may be discouraged about their faith because of a false notion of what is meant by peace and joy.  Peace does not require the total absence of conflict in the world but peace in one’s own life because he is pursuing the purpose of God, the purpose for which he was created.  Jesus was at peace even under the constant attack of Pharisees.  He said, “My peace I give unto you; not as the world gives, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful” (John 15:27).  You can have peace now, by putting complete faith in God, relying solely on Him and trusting that He is working His will and that His purpose will be accomplished.

        Joy is not that which the world calls fun and pleasure.  Jesus wanted His “joy made full” in His disciples but also affirmed that they would be hated by the world (John 17:13,14).  Obviously, the joy Christ promised is not the joy of being accepted, loved and honored by others, nor the joy of power and prosperity.  Real joy is in knowing you are in Christ, that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life and that He is present with you.  But to experience such joy requires faith.  You must have faith that He really is there, through His spirit, right now, even as you read these lines; that there is never a time, even on your worst day, that He is not with you.  If we can have faith in the ultimate miracle of resurrection from the dead to an eternity of indescribable glory, surely we can have faith for all the other promises He made.

        When you set your life to the course of pleasing God, you may be sure that He will keep His word, in spite of all circumstances.  The more you turn loose of security in the world, the more you can focus your faith in God’s power and purpose.  He has power over His creation and all circumstances and can use even your weakness and failure to accomplish His will.

        This is the case even in personal calamities, like the death of a loved one, a severe illness, or a major financial loss.  God uses such trials to mold you to His own image.  That’s why Peter wrote that “you have been put to grief in manifold trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold that perishes though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6,7).

        Note that he does not say that faith makes things easy, that if you have faith everything will turn out the way you want it.  On the contrary, faith allows you to rejoice when things are hard and even the opposite of what you desired or planned.

        Faith is to live by His word.  It is to submit to Christ’s way when other ways promise more pleasure and success.  Faith is to tell the devil, “Get out of here,” and to say to the flesh, “You’re not in charge.”  Faith is to return good to the one who harms you, to be honest when cheating would be far more profitable, and to reject the glory of men in order to accept the role of a servant.

        Where there is faith there is action.  Faith produces works, but where there is no obedience to God, there evidently is no faith.  This explains why there is a great surge in religion, in church building and spiritual experiences but, at the same time, an increase in stress and immorality.  The missing ingredient is faith.

        One who believes Christ believes everything He said and commanded.  His faith changes him.  He acts according to his faith.  But “faith without works is dead in itself,” that is, it is not truly faith (James 2:17).

        You don’t have to wait until all the ducks are in line – all the problems solved, all opposition eliminated and all conflict gone – to experience joy.  The condition required is faith.  Faith is to believe that God can give you peace and joy and happiness without anything else.

        “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).  Don't let it be the missing ingredient in your life.

 

 

 

 

DID JOHN THE BAPTIST LOSE FAITH?

Charles Woodard

        “Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto Him, Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?”  (John 11:2-3)  John, his disciples, and many believers today share the same misunderstanding of the Divine concept of the Kingdom.  John expected a material kingdom where Jesus would throw off the Roman yoke, cast out the Pharisees and Sadducees, and set Himself up as King.  Jesus taught of a spiritual kingdom: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

        John the Baptist did not lose faith in Jesus, he just did not see the spiritual kingdom!  Jesus tried to explain: “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 (Gk. with outward show): Neither shall they say, Lo here! or Lo there! for behold, the Kingdom of God is within you (Gk. among you)” (Luke 17:20-21).

        This is the main error of much of Christianity today!  A gospel is preached based on demonstration.  Ministries are founded on a tangible showing of the power of God.  People want to see and hear a former dope addict, an entertainer, a showman, or a miracle.  This “vile” body has become the object of attention: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like His glorious body” (Phil. 3:21a).

        Short legs are expected to grow out, deliverance of all kinds is commanded, all affliction is of the devil contrary to David’s recognition of God’s will: It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).

        Jesus said not to depend on the material: “And He said unto them, take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor script, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece” (Luke 9:3).  They were not to be religious hucksters selling success videos, books, tapes, and gimmicks of all kinds!

        Isn’t it plain that entrance into the kingdom is spiritual?  “[E]xcept a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God” (John 3:5b).  Cannot believers see the gross error of promoting the physical?  “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 15:50a).

        When will people learn that “Success-n-life” is a false gospel?  When will believers see that false emphasis on health, wealth and prosperity and worldly affluence is not of God?  It’s not the outward that is important, it is the inward strength that controls the outward.  We need to pay more attention to Jesus’ redemption, His forgiveness, His sanctification, His cleansing, His reconciliation, His spiritual protection, and His indwelling presence.

        It is not literal bread from heaven we need to feed on, but the BREAD OF LIFE: “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.”