People of The Living God

Isaiah 4

 

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October 2015



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST

James Sanderson

        The signs of the times point to the fact that the end of all things is at hand.  The social and political systems of the world are moving inexorably in the direction that the Word of God has long ago prophesied.  God's word is the one faithful barometer by which one can predict and understand those conditions that are occurring in the earth today.  The Scriptures indicate that one of the major events on the program will be the institution of a governmental system that will hold sway “over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations” (Rev. 13:7).  In other words this political entity will be a worldwide dictatorship.

        The intelligence behind this tyranny will be Satan himself incarnate in a willing vessel called “the man of sin,” that is, “the son of perdition” (II Thess. 2:3).  He is also referred to as the Antichrist.  “As ye have heard that antichrist shall come” (I John 2:18).  Those who succumb to the machinations of this cruel despot will lose their souls.  “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Rev. 13:16-17).  “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God” (Rev. 14:9-10).

        Throughout the years, many have attempted in vain to identify this ruthless character; however, there is little value in such speculation.  The Scriptures declare that the Antichrist will be “revealed in his time” (II Thess. 2:6).  It is much more imperative that every true believer understands the design that Satan is presently implementing to condition men to accept his despotic rule.  By the time this man of sin has been revealed most of humanity will have been prepared to accept his appearance.

        How will this character ascend to the highest position of authority?  The answer is found in one word: deception.  Satan is not a gentleman; he doesn't play by the rules.  Intrigue, subterfuge, and deceit are the hallmarks of his twisted nature.  “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if (it were) possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24).  The words “it were” do not occur in the original Greek text.  The implication is that genuine born-again Christians can be deceived.  Why would Jesus go to such great lengths throughout His Mount Olive address to warn His disciples against deception if they could not be deceived?  The only immunity to deception is a love for truth and a firm foundation in the word of God.  It is the responsibility of every Christian to make his own calling and election sure.  It is the responsibility of every Christian to have his senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Satan's Agenda

        Satan is presently laying the foundation for his acceptance as the man of sin.  One must understand that, just as God has a plan for this endtime, Satan, also, has his plan.  Satan, along with all his cohorts, is laboring tirelessly to undermine the plan of God and gain the allegiance of the masses.  Here are a number of goals that he has set for himself.  (1) Cast doubt on the veracity of the Biblical accounts.  (2) Do away with Christian moral values.  (3) Destroy the traditional family structure.  (4) Destabilize or destroy the Christian church.  (5) Restructure the whole social order to conform to a humanistic philosophical system.  (6) Set himself up as god to whom all will do homage and falsely see as the benefactor of all of society.  One glance at present-day society reveals that Satan and his cohorts are well on their way toward fulfilling these goals.  People are selling out their souls to the devil and don't realize it.

        In the 1960's, Joseph Fletcher, an Episcopal theologian later turned atheist, wrote a book called Situation Ethics, The New Morality.  His statement “principles, yes, but not rules” (Situation Ethics, page 31) summarizes his thesis.  According to situation ethics, there are no absolutes.  What is considered right depends on the person and the situation.  God and the Bible are virtually eliminated from the discussion.

        This “new morality” has swept through much of the civilized world.  With the removal of references to God and Biblical principles, the powers of darkness have had full rein to instill their godless values in the hearts of men.  It is quite interesting, as a side note, that Vladimir Lenin once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Antichrist Defined

        The word antichrist literally means “against Christ” or “instead of Christ.”  Perhaps a better definition has been presented by Westcott (New Testament Greek textual scholar of the nineteenth century), “one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ.”  Although there will be one Antichrist revealed before Jesus comes, according to the apostle John there are many antichrists in the world (see I John 2:18-19).  John “employs [antichrist] of the corrupt power and influence hostile to Christian interest, especially that which is at work in false teachers who have come from the bosom of the church and are engaged in disseminating error” (Thayer's Lexicon, page 51).  An antichrist knows the right terminology.  He understands how to tickle the ears of the masses and gain their confidence.  He knows how to disguise himself as a minister of righteousness.  In short, he is quite adept at putting on a convincing front.

        Just as the Spirit of God strives to produce the divine nature of Jesus Christ so, also, the spirit of antichrist strives subtly among men to produce the corrupt nature of Satan.  “This is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (I John 4:3).  By a process called conditioning and mass behavior modification, this antichrist spirit is also preparing willing subjects for the revelation of the man of sin.  These subjects will surrender themselves to the complete dominion and control of evil powers.  The agents of this diabolical scheme abound in the world today.  Our Lord Jesus Christ declared, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”  It might be beneficial to identify the fruits of the spirit of antichrist and understand how these fruits are being manifested in opposition to Christ.  The Scriptures reveal three major identifying marks of the antichrist spirit: exalts self, craves power, and despises law, especially God's law.

Exalts Self

        “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God” (II Thess. 2:4).  Self-exaltation is probably the most prominent characteristic of Satan's nature.  Note the inflated ego of this unscrupulous character.  “I will ascend into heaven.  I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).

        This same self-centered spirit permeates society and even extends into the church distorting the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The answer to man's problems is no longer a Christ-centered life of self-denial, humbleness of spirit, and service to others.  Witness the proliferation of self-help books that emphasize the importance of self-worth and self-esteem.  Robert Schuller, in his book Self Esteem: The New Reformation, proposed a new definition of sin: “any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem”(page 14).

        “We live in a self-centered, self-absorbed, self-love world where everything is designed to cater to self, to meet self's wants, and to meet them lavishly” (Modern Christianity Corrupted, Bob Klingenberg, 2012).  This new gospel of self is nothing more than a fulfillment of Scripture.  “But this know thou, that in the last days difficult times will be present; for men will be lovers of self” (II Tim. 3:1-2, Berry's Interlinear).  Contrast this view with the mind that was in our Lord Jesus Christ who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7).

Craves Power

        “Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thess. 2:9).  “And doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do” (Rev. 13:13-14).

        Satan is obsessed with one supreme desire in life.  That desire dominates his thinking and determines his every act: to exalt his throne above the throne of God.  Our Lord Jesus Christ checked this diabolical scheme in the heavenly realm when He arose victorious over the powers of darkness with Satan falling as lightning from heaven.  With great wrath and bitterness of spirit, Satan continues to yearn for the day when he can sit “in the temple of God” and ostentatiously demonstrate to the world “that he is God” (II Thess. 2:4).  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12).  In order to accomplish his vile plan, he has to undermine the authority of Christ in the lives of men and gain their allegiance.  Signs, lying wonders, and miracles will help to give Satan that air of authority.

Despises Law

        “And then the lawless one will be revealed” (II Thess. 2:8 NKJV).  A kingdom is only as stable and secure as the law upon which it is established.  Where there is no law there is only anarchy and confusion.  These statements hold true in the heavenly realm as well as in the kingdoms of men.  God's kingdom is based upon divine law.  That law is as immutable and eternal as God.  Law in the kingdoms of men is often quite defective and imperfect.  On the other hand, “The law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7).  God bases His law on what is best and right for His subjects.

        Satan hates all law, and he especially disdains God's law.  For this reason, the man of sin is also called the lawless one.  He is a law unto himself, and, unlike God, governs by whim and fancy.  Through his superior cunning, Satan continually attempts to discredit divine authority by instilling a spirit of rebellion in the hearts of men.  Jesus declared that, before His return, iniquity would abound in the earth (Matt. 24:12).  The Greek word for iniquity means lawlessness.  Iniquity is lawlessness.

        Lawlessness certainly abounds today.  If one desires a first hand look at what life was like in the days of Noah and Lot, one has only to look at America today.  In order to grasp the enormity of the situation, one can contrast the America of 1960 with the America of today.  There were no X-rated or R-rated movies on TV.  Millions of innocent babies had not been murdered in their mothers' wombs, because abortions were illegal.  There was no such thing as a “gay-rights” movement, and definitely no thought of same-sex marriage.  Rock music was just starting to become popular.  The consumption of so-called “recreational drugs” were not openly accepted.  Prayer and Bible reading were still allowed in our public school classrooms.  There was little need of armed security guards in the corridors of our schools.  Travelers in major airports did not have to be subjected to extensive body searches and luggage searched or X-rayed to prevent hijacking.  The majority of children grew up in a home with two parents who were of the opposite sex.

        Society has dramatically changed since 1960.  “Two generations of American young people have been taught” that right and wrong are “nothing more than personal preferences” (“America's Accelerating Decay,” National Review, April 7, 2015).  This generation has abandoned the moral and ethical code of our forefathers.  The Ten Commandments and other Biblical references are outlawed in our schools and public buildings.  The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate, the highest abortion rate, the highest divorce rate, the highest incarceration rate, and the highest STD rate in the industrial world.  One in three children live in a home without a father.  According to a Gallup poll in 2014, 66% of Americans believe that sex outside of marriage is acceptable.  America has the highest percentage of one-person households in the world.  Fifty-two percent of American Christians believe that Jesus Christ is not the only way to eternal life.  This generation is the first generation in recorded history in which gender has become meaningless.  The majority of Americans believe that homosexual relations are acceptable.  Recreational drugs are publicly condoned and openly used.  These statistics, and many others that have not been mentioned, demonstrate that most of society has fallen prey to the spirit of antichrist.

In Closing

        There is a strong indication that some climatic changes will soon occur.  Those changes will have a profound effect on every aspect of man's existence: political, social, economic, and religious.  The Scriptures intimate that God will not sit idly by while society decays and self-destructs.  The Biblical record indicates that God ultimately brings judgment on iniquity.  The Lord Himself has promised to shake everything that can be shaken (Heb. 12:26-27).  The only ones who will stand in that day will be those who have taken advantage of the time that God has given for preparation.  When the door of the ark was shut and the flood came in Noah's day, it was too late to prepare.  Time is a precious commodity.  Now is the time to set one's priorities right.  Now is the time to lay aside the pursuit of material things and seek a closer walk with God.  Now is the time to acquire the necessary oil of a surrendered spirit (Matt. 25:1-13).  Now is the time to become serious with the Lord.

        Jesus clearly warned His disciples to take heed lest “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 21:34-35).  A snare is a trap designed to allure or entice the unwary.  Many who fail to use this time of preparation wisely will become easy victims of the “snare of the devil” and the deceptions of the antichrist spirit.

 

 

 

 

CARNAL REASONINGS

Alfred King

        One of the great mistakes Christians (as well as non-Christians) fall prey to is reasoning with sin.  Sin cannot be reasoned with, and those who attempt to will most often fall into its grip.  All sin is unreasonable.  Paul besought the Roman Christians that they would present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto the Lord which he then states is their “reasonable” service.  The lies from the god of this world would endeavor to “reason” God’s word away, for he would attempt to bombard the mind with all the reasons why one should not obey this extreme order.  He would show why this command is absurd and truly impossible.  He would bring to the mind, other Christians who aren’t following this way of life.  He would have you hear preaching that contradicts this standard that God has set down and if we listen to carnal reasoning, we would reject God’s commandment, leaving ourselves deprived of the blessings God intended to be ours when we follow His word.

        An example from scripture along this line is the life of King Saul, whom God appointed and anointed to be the first king over His people Israel.  Saul was chosen because he was humble and “little in thine (his) own sight”.  Unfortunately, Saul did not stay “little” but began to think he knew better than God.  In I Samuel 13, Israel was going to battle with the Philistines, but things were not going well for Israel.  The men were afraid and were hiding in caves, thickets, high places and in pits and some had crossed over into the lands of Gad and Gilead.  Those who were left with Saul were trembling in fear.  Saul had been ordered to wait for seven days until Samuel came to him to offer sacrifice before going into the battle.  Saul had waited but the seventh day had come and Samuel had not yet arrived.  He began to reason within himself why it was essential to disobey the direction of God.  Because the apparent need pressed upon Saul, he offered a sacrifice before the Lord, which was a duty only to be performed by the priests.  Not even kings were allowed to offered sacrifices.  However, Saul grew increasingly impatient and began reasoning why he needed to disobey the divine order and offer a sacrifice to God.  If Saul had emphatically trusted God, he would not have had the problem he faced that day, for he would have known that God, Who had called him, would answer and meet the need that day.

        Saul made two mistakes because he reasoned why he should not obey God’s commands.  He offered a sacrifice and he did not wait on Samuel as he was instructed.  Matthew Henry makes an astounding statement in his commentary, “every sin is a forfeiture of the heavenly kingdom” (Matthew Henry's Commentary on I Samuel 13).  As we read further in I Samuel 13, we find that when Samuel arrived he was very disturbed by what Saul had done.  But what was of greater concern was the lack of repentance found in Saul’s heart.  Saul immediately began to make excuses for his transgression, even to the point of throwing some of the blame on the prophet Samuel.  In verse 11, Saul says, “Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed”.  Isn’t it strange how easy it is to throw the blame on someone else or some situations that have arisen rather than facing the truth that the problem lies within our own hearts?  Saul, instead of facing squarely his own sin, attempted to excuse himself for his sin.  Reasoning in this manner is to avoid repentance and, consequently, we forfeit God’s forgiveness.  God desired a man after His own heart, but Saul proved himself not to be that man.

        In I Samuel 15, God gives Saul another opportunity to prove himself worthy to be king over God’s people but, again, Saul follows his previous path of pride in choosing his own way above God’s.  When Samuel gave Saul God’s order for the battle against the Amalekites, Saul was instructed to completely destroy everything, including men, women, children, babies, and all cattle.  Nothing was to be spared.  However, Saul had a better idea.  He spared the king and the best of the cattle and took it for spoil.  Saul again reasoned with a carnal mind.  “Why should not these nice cattle be taken back to the land of Israel rather than destroyed?  And the king will be great to show my great accomplishments.”  But what had God said?  Why did he not obey God’s commands explicitly?  Because he reasoned with a carnal mind.  “For to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).

        Yet Saul stubbornly retained that he had fulfilled the command of God, as though a partial obedience should be sufficient to Samuel and to God.  It is amazing how the carnal mind will skirt the truth in order to justify its sinful actions.  Humanity is still the same today, and this is why Jesus warns us to be conscious of what comes out of our hearts, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).  Through Jesus Christ and His word we have been given insight into our sinful hearts so that we might, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit, overcome these sinful traits.  Paul informs of the power given us through the blood of Jesus Christ over the works of the flesh.  Consider his words in II Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”  Jesus has given us power to bring every thought into obedience to God’s word.  Some would make us believe that to walk above sin is impossible, but that is heresy.  It is true that it is impossible in the strength of the flesh, but through Jesus Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit, it is possible to walk in complete obedience to Christ Jesus.  This is just another one of the many lies which have come from the great deceiver, Satan.  If he can cause us to believe that we cannot cease from sin, then he has won a tremendous battle, for he has us enslaved to sin, making sin greater than the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

        Returning to our passage in I Samuel 15, sadly, Saul again refused to truly repent but instead made excuses by blaming the people for sparing the cattle, saying it was brought back to be used as a burnt offering to the Lord.  What though, was Samuel’s response to his idea of offering sacrifice to the Lord?  1 Sam 15:22: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  Obedience is the greatest way to worship God, for it is through obedience that God is most honored.  Many Christians go to church every weekend and “worship” the Lord by singing, raising their hands and giving testimonies, etc. but go through the week with little thought about obeying God’s commands.  While we are to sing and worship God in our gatherings, “to obey is better than sacrifice”.  In the end, Saul continued to reason away his transgressions and refused to repent.

        Samuel made a declaration to Saul which every Christian seriously needs to consider and heed, for Samuel equates sin to demonic activity.  I Sam. 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”  This verse exposes the seriousness of sin and lifts it up to a level which should cause every Christian to fear, abhor and despise even “little sins”.  God hates sin, and as followers of Jesus Christ, we also must hate sin, not only the sin we see in others but the sin we behold in our own lives.  It was because of Saul’s sin and his refusal to repent that he was rejected as Israel’s king.  Saul’s kingdom would not continue but would be given to another, a man after God’s heart, one that would be obedient to God’s words and commands.  Under the New Covenant, Christians are called “kings and priests” (Rev. 1:6, 5:10).  The authority of the kingdom of God has been given to those who will follow God’s word and be obedient to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  The reason the church is so weak today is because of disobedience.  As Mathew Henry wrote, “every sin is a forfeiture of the heavenly kingdom”.  God still looks for those whose hearts are set on God, who have turned from the reasonings of men and the ideology of the world.  They are those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Sin has become exceeding sinful in their eyes, and they willingly and continually turn from it in favor of obedience to God Almighty.  These are the men and women who are laying up treasure in heaven rather than having the glory of the world.

        As we near the end of the age, it is essential that Christians everywhere begin to walk in complete obedience to God’s word, for it is in this manner they will become those who can be entrusted with the power of God to face the days which are ahead.  Those who have not learned to trust in God and His word will not stand in the evil day that is fast approaching.  The church has been weak far too long and it’s time to awaken out of our slumber, gird on the whole armor of God and engage in the battle that is at our door.  God will have a victorious church but it will be made up of those who have learned to trust God fully and forsaken their own carnal reasonings.  May God do this work in all those who hunger for more of God in their lives.

 

 

 

 

CALLED UNTO HOLINESS

James Sanderson

        Holiness is a theme that resonates throughout the Word of God.  The call of God encompasses a walk of purity and holiness before the Lord.  “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness” (I Thess. 4:7).  Note the contrast between uncleanness and holiness.  Holiness “signifies separation to God” and “the conduct befitting those so separated” (Vine's, page 565).  In other words, holiness is godliness, God ruling in the heart.

        “We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life.  We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness.  Today we have far too many desires and interests, and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them.  Many of them may be right, noble, and good, and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease.  The only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest).

        We must understand that God is in the process of producing saints.  “For this is the will of God even your sanctification” (I Thess. 4:3).  The Greek noun for sanctification in this particular verse is the same as the word holiness in verse seven above.  Sanctification conveys both the idea of being set apart unto God and the idea of being holy.

God Highly Values Holiness

        God places inestimable value on holiness.  It is a commodity that is absolutely essential for all those who expect to enter the pearly gates.  “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).  Holiness, or sanctification, includes every department of one's life.  In His Sermon on the Mount, our Lord stated, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).  The scribes and Pharisees displayed an outward façade of religiosity.  They exhibited a “form of godliness” but denied the power of God to deal with the unclean condition of their hearts (2 Tim. 3:5).  Jesus aptly described them, “for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).  Holiness is more than being free of outward religious defilement.  It is the very character of God working within to produce His divine nature.

        Again, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).  This call to embrace His righteousness is a call to holiness.  Man apart from God is full of all manner of uncleanness: “evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7: 21-22).  The call to holiness is a call to every believer to rid himself of all this uncleanness through the working power of the Holy Spirit within the heart.  The production of holiness is a joint venture between the Holy Spirit and the believer.

The Tabernacle In The Wilderness

        The tabernacle in the wilderness was a constant reminder to ancient Israel that God expects a life of purity and holiness in all His followers.  The high priest who ministered in the holy and most holy places wore an ornate headdress called a mitre.  On this mitre, at the level of his forehead, was “a plate of pure gold.”  Engraved upon this plate were the words HOLINESS TO THE LORD (Exodus 28:36).  Here was a constant reminder that God is holy and those who minister before the Lord must also be holy.  The prophet Isaiah cried out, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isa. 52:11).  The psalmist also declared, “Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever” (Psalm. 93:5).

        Many of the laws given to ancient Israel in the wilderness were given to emphasize the supreme importance that God places on a sanctified and holy life. “For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).

        Unfortunately, ancient Israel maintained the outer accouterments of religion but failed to exhibit a life of holiness and righteousness before God.  “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).  The prophet Malachi also declared, “Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god” (Mal. 2:11).

“Search Me, O God”

        The psalmist cried out to God, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).  God is well aware of the conditions of our hearts.  The problem is that man is often blind to the ungodly traits that lurk within.  The prayer of the psalmist is absolutely essential if “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” is to be purged and holiness is to be perfected “in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).  He requires our full cooperation in order to accomplish this process of cleansing.  Each of us must be willing to allow the searchlight of the word of God and the Holy Spirit to examine every corner of our hearts and root out all those qualities that are unlike Him.

        The standard of holiness is Jesus Christ Himself.  The apostle Peter wrote, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (conduct); Because it is written.  Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).  In other words, it is as though Christ Himself were saying, “Be like Me.”  The apostle Paul wrote, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

A Remarkable Promise

        The Scriptures declares that He will have a people as holy as He is holy.  They will radiate the divine qualities of God Himself.  “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).  Again, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col. 1:21-22).  And, finally, in the letter to the Ephesians, we read, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

 

 

 

 

QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS ABOUT GOD’S LOVE AND JUSTICE

Alfred King

          There are many people who either call or write in with questions that trouble them in regard to Christianity and other religions around the world.  Christianity is so exclusive, so selective, and those who are accounted worthy to obtain heaven consist of such a limited and special class that only those who are believers in Jesus Christ and are saved can be a part of that elite group.  When Christians quote Jesus’ words from John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” and seriously believe and teach that Jesus is the only way, it leaves all other religions completely void of any hope of eternal life in heaven.  This truth is very disturbing to many people and is extremely offensive to those who are Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, or of other religious faiths.  Not only do those of other religions find this teaching difficult to swallow, many atheists, agnostics, pagans and back-slidden Christians struggle with the idea that millions of people will be sent to an eternal hell because they have been reared in a nation or area in which a different “gospel” was preached and is, and has been, the common religion of that people for centuries.  They wrestle with the rigid and unbending theology of a God Who is claimed to be “Love” and Who so loved that He gave His only Son to die for sinners and yet would send millions to hell for not believing in Him, many who never heard of Jesus nor had any opportunity to hear the gospel.  The Christian’s God then becomes odious in the minds of many who ponder these things, not only pagan but even in the minds of some who once believed in Jesus Christ but have fallen away because they found themselves unable to answer questions that have arisen in their hearts and minds.  The exclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was so disturbing to their minds that they could not continue in the religion of Christianity.  Consequently, they pulled away and began to walk the path where these questions would not consistently trouble them.

          The apostle to the Gentiles, in writing to the Corinthians, wrote, the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).  Paul was burdened for pagan nations and desired that they should have the gospel preached unto them, and he diligently labored to spread it wherever he went.  He suffered tremendously as he endeavored to spread the good news to those who had never heard, in order that they would have opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel that Jesus Christ came to bring.  God’s love, revealed in that “glorious gospel”, had so touched his heart and changed his life that he knew it could change the pagan just as effectively.  Jesus also showed His love and concern for the Gentile nations, for He expressly instructed His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person (Mark 16:15).  God’s desire then is that all nations should have the gospel preached unto them, and He left this responsibility to the church.  A certain obligation then rests upon every church and every Christian to do his part in seeing that this message is proclaimed to every nation throughout the world.

          Nevertheless, in spite of the efforts and labors of the Christian church to spread the gospel, the fact remains that thousands go through their whole lives never having heard the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.  This, then, leaves us with the same dilemma that has brought about this article.  Millions will go to hell because they have not heard the gospel.

        Scripture informs us that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).  His ways and thoughts are far superior to ours and when we think that we know better than God, we make a tremendous mistake and open ourselves up to all sorts of inspiration from the god of this world.  Our mother Eve fell into this trap when tempted by the serpent.  She thought evil of God and consequently fell to Satan’s deception.  Man, in his finite wisdom and knowledge, cannot fully know the mind of God nor understand His ways.  The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 19:1-3, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”  The Apostle Paul affirms this in his epistle to the Romans, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1 20).  These words were not written merely to take up space in our Bibles but to show that God is just and makes a way for those who never heard the gospel to recognize that there is a God and, in that simple faith, may find salvation.  How does it all work?  I may not know, but God does.  Man cannot possibly know everything about God, therefore, He does not call us to understand every mystery of His kingdom; rather, we are called to walk by faith.  Faith is not just to believe on Jesus Christ for salvation but to believe that He is God and, with that knowledge, to be fully confident that He does all things well.  Whatever He does is right, and it is just.  His actions are from a heart of love, yet at the same time, from a God of righteousness and justice.  In other words, whatever God does is the correct thing.  He will not unjustly send any soul to hell, nor will He unrighteously take a soul to heaven that should not be accepted.  God will do what is right and just, and we need not bother ourselves with worry or fret over questions that we cannot answer, for it is evident that God does not intend for us to know everything, rather He desires that we so trust Him, that we walk by faith and not by sight even without full understanding of His ways.  It is well for us to remember Abraham’s prayer to God when he was interceding for Lot, who lived in Sodom.  “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Gen. 18:25).  God will do right and we can be confident that whatever God does, how He judges those of other religions, what their eternal destiny is, we know and are fully persuaded that what He does will be the right and just thing, and He will be glorified by all angels and beings in heaven and by all men upon the earth, for every knee shall bow and in that bowing, they will acknowledge before all that God is the God of all righteousness and justice.  So let us not fret over questions we cannot answer but, rather, let us ever learn to know Him better and to recognize His holiness and love in a way that it will be contagious to others with whom we come in contact, that they also may desire to know Him, Whose love and grace has transformed our lives to serve the living God.

 

 

 

 

CHANGED

Demelza G.

Last night as I lay sleep
Lost inside a slumber deep,
Came a voice that bid me wake,
“Tis your soul I wish to take.”
I lay there for quite a time
Wonderin’ maybe had I lost my mind,
When the voice came again,
Said, “Leave behind this life of sin.
Now sleep in peace ‘til the mornin’ Sun.
Then go and make sure my will be done,
For with me you shall have eternity.
My path shall guide and set you free.”
In comfort I slept that night
And woke with wonder in the morning’s light
Looking forward to the day,
For I knew I’d found a brand new way.
Now I walk with Jesus by my side,
Living life with grateful pride.
I ask you now to walk with me
To stand by God and all His glory.

 

 

 

 

ADMONITION AND WARNING FROM THE EDITOR

        When I hear predictions by men professing to be prophets setting specific dates or those receiving revelations of Jesus’ coming, I always cringe.  Such prophesies place Christians in the uncomfortable position to determine if the predictions are from the Lord or are merely imaginations of some man’s own heart.  The question arises: are they hearing from God or are they just parroting the “revelations” of others.  It seems that once an idea gets started, others want to jump on the prophesy wagon, hoping to be some of the first to make said proclamations.  September of 2015 has been the month prophesied by many to be when everything begins to fall apart, and so loud and concerted have been the voices crying out that even many secular media are reporting their edicts on public stations.

Background Of September Seed

        It is possible that the seed of this year’s September assertions of disaster for America and the world was planted in a book written by Jonathan Cahn entitled, The Mystery of the Shemitah.  In this book, Jonathan Cahn goes into the Jewish seven-year cycle contained in scripture.  He begins by showing that there were many ‘sevens’ used in scripture, the most prominent being the seven day cycle of the Sabbath.  He shows from Lev. 25:1-4 that Israel was commanded to allow their land to rest every seven years, for it was the land’s Sabbath.  From there he proceeds to the Mosaic seven year cycle, at which time debts were cancelled.  “At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.  And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord's release” (Deut. 15:1-2)  Continuing, he then refers to the year of Jubilee which began at the end of seven sevens or after forty nine years.  At this time, all land which had been sold or lost for any reason was to be restored to the original family to which it was given when Joshua divided the land among the twelve tribes.  From this premise, Mr. Cahn takes us back into more recent history showing various events that occurred, seemingly in a seven-year pattern.  Many of these revolve around the stock market crashes over the past 100 years.  Other issues are brought into the mix as well, but his book is very interesting and gives room for a lot of thought.  Jonathan Cahn’s knowledge of Jewish history is profound, and one can certainly learn from his expertise in ancient Jewish customs.

        The Jewish civil year began in the month Elul, which coincides with our month September.  It is this time period that the seven-year cycle ends and a new year or cycle begins.  A couple of examples of this cycle would be September 11, 2001, when the trade centers were destroyed, along with the damage to the Pentagon and the stock market crash the following Monday.  The stock market crashed again in 2008 in the month of September, causing a recession, which is still in the recovery stage today.  While The Mystery of the Shemitah presents very many interesting facts that seem to be (at least to some degree) supported by scripture, Jonathan Cahn was careful not to predict anything occurring this September 2015, rather he left it only as a possibility.  While he seemed very cautious not to be dogmatic, many others have cast off caution and leaped headlong into the unknown, proclaiming that God’s judgment will fall this month.  Jesus plainly told His disciples that only the Father knows the day and the hour when Jesus will return (Mark 13:32).  Jesus said that even He did not know the time of His return.

What Sayeth The Scriptures?

        In I Kings 22, we find the account of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, joining with Ahab, king of Israel, to battle against the Syrians.  Ahab gathered his 400 prophets to prophesy of the battle and how it would go.  They all with one accord prophesied that there would be victory for Israel, and they would completely defeat the Syrian army.  Jehoshaphat, being a godly man, sensed in his heart that these prophets of Baal didn’t hear from God, so he asked Ahab, “Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we might inquire of him?” (I Kings 22:7)  The account continues with a godly prophet named Micaiah being summoned, a man for whom Ahab had no use.  Nevertheless, he was called and the word of God which came to him totally contradicted Ahab’s prophets.  However, Micaiah’s words were fulfilled the next day as Israel fled before the Syrian army and Saul and his son were killed.   The true prophet was exonerated and the false prophets exposed, for they had not heard from God, rather they heard another voice, a voice that would please King Ahab.

        If we liken this portion of scripture to the present situation, it leaves many in a very precarious place.  But the question here to those who have predicted things which do not come to pass is: Will you be humble enough to admit that you missed it and were deceived?  Will you confess your fault to God and repent?  Or will you make excuses for your mistake.  One excuse I heard several years ago was, “Something did take place but it was in the spiritual realm and we don’t know exactly what it was.”  What a flimsy and even diabolically deceptive path to take.  Consider two obvious cases where this has happened in history.  Ellen G. White prophesied that Jesus was going to return in 1844, and hundreds believed her false prophecy and sat waiting for Christ to return.  When the year ended and Jesus had failed to fulfil His promise to Ms. White (tongue in cheek), she had to come up with a new doctrine termed “Investigative Judgment” to cover her false prophecy.  And how many times have the Jehovah’s Witness done the exact same thing?  Dates were set by the founders of Jehovah’s Witness many times in the early 20th century which failed to materialize, yet they refused to admit their false prophesy and, instead, made excuses.  There were many who have prophesied that Y2K was the final year.  I read a book back in 1996 in which the author used scripture to convince his readers that Jesus would return in the year 2000.  Of course He didn’t come.  Did the author write another book to explain how he missed it and apologize for his false teaching?  (I can’t say he didn’t but I never saw it if he did.)  As Jehoshaphat discerned something wrong with Ahab’s prophets, so also is there something about the September 2015 prophesies that have not rung true.

        God gives clear indication of how a prophet receives his message.  God informs us in how He speaks to prophets in Numbers 12:6.  “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”  In Biblical days prophets were called “Seer(s)” because they saw their message.  Consider I Sam. 9:9, “(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)”  If you look up “seer” in your concordance, you will find it used 21 times.  Also consider three verses in the introductions of the books of Isaiah, Amos and Micah: Isa. 1:1 “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw.”  Amos 1:1 “The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.”  Micah 1:1 “The word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.”  These prophets saw their messages.  But even more serious are the words spoken by Ezekiel, “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!  O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.  Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.  They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.  Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God.” (Ezek. 13:1-8)

        Another very obvious indication of a false prophet is that they are making gain of their prophecy.  They either are selling some gadget that is to aid you through the rough times ahead, or they are trying to create or hold onto a following.  True prophets of God never prophesy for gain of any kind except the approval of God.  When Naaman the leper came to Elisha and was healed according to Elisha’s word, Naaman returned to offer Elisha riches in appreciation.  Elisha refused his offer.  Sadly Elisha’s servant Gehazi did not have the same heart as Elisha, for he coveted the riches in his heart, ran after Naaman and lied in order to receive some of the wealth offered Elisha  (Read the account in II Kings 5).  There is more to the gift of prophecy than foretelling future events.

        The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, teaches how the ministry of prophesy works.  He states in verses 24 and 25, “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.”  A prophet is more than a man who predicts the future.  The prophetic ministry of future telling is probably the least important element of the ministry of this gift.  The gift of prophesy is invaluable to the church, for it is God’s order and guidance for the church.

The Purpose Of This Article

        This article is written with the desire that those who have participated in predicting events, that did not occur, will humble themselves before God and will be honest to those whom they have proclaimed things not true.  Humbling oneself and repenting are very difficult to do and, yet, it is the right thing.  Most of those who have promoted calamities for September, have also referred to II Chron. 7:14 with their proclamations, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  Listen, then, to God’s directions and your own words and “humble” yourself, repent, pray and seek God’s face.  We all make mistakes in our walk with God.  But remember: God’s mercies are new every morning, and He is ever ready to forgive and use these things as teaching tools to create godliness within you.  This article is also written to the sheep who may have been deceived by false prophesies.  Too many Christians have been disillusioned when they were solidly convinced that things prophesied to them did not materialize.  Many not only rejected the prophet but also the scriptures and, consequently, turned away from God over prophecies just like these that revolve around September 2015.  Don’t give up on God because of these things.  Draw closer to God and learn from this experience.  Those Christians that have walked with God over a period of years, have all worked through situations just like this one and have learned.  These more mature Christians have learned to be more sensitive to God’s still small voice rather than the voices of deception that shout out so loudly.  If you will keep your eyes on Jesus and trust Him through these times, you will grow and mature in knowledge and wisdom and these lessons will be found to be invaluable in the days and years to come.

A Final Word

        We have an encouraging word from the Lord recorded in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  Will God reveal things concerning His second coming?  I believe He will.  Will He reveal the day and the hour?  Maybe not, but He will reveal many of the signs of His coming to those who are watching and praying.  Jesus told His disciples in conclusion of His discourse concerning His return, “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)  His command to watch gives evidence that some things will be revealed to those who are watching.  But while Jesus instructs us to watch for the signs of His coming, He also warns us to watch for the deception which will be bountiful in these last days.  Discerning between those who speak the word of God and those who speak from their own imagination can sometimes be difficult, but the closer one walks with God and learns to hear His voice, the more secure he will be and will discern the voice of the Shepherd and that of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

 

 

 

 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE CROSS

Marjorie Hidley

        “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” was the cry of the Sinless One as He hung dying upon the cross – our Creator, our Redeemer, our Saviour, our King.

        “Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

        “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent’

        “And the graves were opened” (Matt. 27:46,50-52

        The Father Himself, before the foundation of the world, had given His only begotten Son to salvage His lost sheep, and there, within the heavenly courts, redemption was paid “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:18-20).  And the promise of eternal life was given (Titus 1:2).

        For thirty-three and one-half years heaven forfeited the presence of the King of glory, while He came to earth and lived a victorious life in human flesh.  He submitted His will in obedience to that of His Father, and overcame every temptation the devil brought before Him.  His life was the perfect demonstration of love and selflessness, which the world had never known.  Now the time was fulfilled, and the sinless life of this Holy One was brought to its climax.

        Having been fortified in strength by the ministering angel when He prayed in the garden, “Not My will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), THE redeemer of men now hung on the cross.  Patiently He had borne the taunts and ridicules of the rebellious persecutors, but now was to be heaped upon Him the greatest trial of all.  The sins of the whole world were laid upon the Son of God, as He became sin for us.  Our Father God is so holy that sin cannot remain in His presence.  God had to withdraw Himself from His only begotten Son.  And it was then that Jesus died of a broken heart.  Such love we mortals cannot fathom!  It is higher than the heavens.  It is deeper than the sea.  It has no limits.  It knows no bounds.  Such is the love of God for each one of His creatures.

        This most horrible manifestation of suffering and death – Why was it necessary?  What did it accomplish?

        God honors His Word above His name.  The death of His Son on the cross most assuredly vindicated the Father’s Word.  God had said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18:4,20).  Now sin is the transgression of God’s law.  Have we not all been condemned?  We are all sinners.  Do we not justly deserve the death sentence?  Jesus Christ took on Himself our penalty and actually became sin for us.  The atoning blood of this Sinless One made the way for our redemption.  For “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).  Those who meet the conditions find salvation, which is the glorious entrance into God’s kingdom.  And great is the matchless treasure-house which awaits those who will continue in a walk of obedience to God’s Word.

        Jesus’ death fulfilled the Father’s will.  The cross was the most triumphant victory of the ages.  Here was a demonstration before principalities and powers, angels and men, of a life of complete victory – VICTORY over every attack of the enemy, VICTORY over every desire of the flesh, VICTORY over His own will.  He had not only proclaimed the good news of the Father’s kingdom, but also He lived the message.  He became the message.  He, Jesus Christ, was our perfect example.  “Be ye therefore followers of God” (Eph. 5:1).  And for us He provided the means whereby we can be like Him.  He gave us the Comforter to abide with us continually.  He will show us when we err.  And it is the Holy Spirit that takes of the things of God and reveals them unto us.  He will lead and guide us into truth IF we will follow.  Jesus made the way so that IF WE FOLLOW HIM, we shall be like Him.

        We come to another mighty victory that was accomplished at the cross – This was the victory over Satan.  Jesus’ death made powerless the enemy.  This subject is a study in itself, but we will attempt to mention a few scriptures here in order to clarify our statements.

        Jesus said, in Matthew 12:29, “How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?”

        “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:18,19).

        “NOW is the judgment of this world: NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).

        There was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the devil and his angels, and these were cast out of heaven.  “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” (Rev. 12:7-9,10).

        “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy (make powerless) him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15).

        “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).

        Friends, we know the devil is not dead, but his power has been greatly reduced, has received a death blow.  It is true that he goes forth as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  But this enemy of the Most High has no power over the children of God.  If we are under the blood of Jesus and walking in victory in obedience to His Word, the devil cannot bring railing accusations or make a determined fight against us.  Jesus has given us power over all the power of the enemy.  We have authority over him.  The Word of God is a sword and weapon with which we can put down all his attacks.  Do not listen to his lies, his shadows, and his torments.  He will try to get us to doubt God’s Word.  Brother James tells us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  There is power in the blood of Jesus, and remember, God honors His Word above His name.

        And so throughout the ages of time, the cross of Jesus has stood a monument of victory and triumph.  In faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob looked forward to the cross to atone for their sins, as they offered the little lambs on their altars of sacrifice.  Their Messiah was yet to come.  We, on this side of the cross, point back to the precious Saviour who redeemed us by His blood.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).  No other event in all of the history of time was as essential and accomplished so much as this selfless manifestation of the love of God.

        In the cross is LOVE supreme:

        In the cross is POWER unlimited:

        In the cross is VICTORY complete.

 

 

 

 

ARE THE DEAD REALLY DEAD?

Alda Scullin

        Solomon said, “The dead know not anything” (Eccl. 9:5).  Jesus said, “He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” (John 11:26).  If a living believer shall never die, how could he be in a condition or state of being where he knows nothing?  He has knowledge while he lives, and if he never dies, does he still have knowledge, or does he know nothing?  Who is right, Solomon or Jesus?  But that is not all.

        Paul tells us that Jesus “abolished death” (II Tim. 1:10).  That means there is no death.  Then who can die?  Did Paul know what he was talking about?  Why is there so much confusion among denominational Bible teachers about this subject?  Is it because they try to use the scriptures to support their view?  If one is searching for truth he must use all of the scriptures relative to that subject, and they must all harmonize with the conclusion of the study.  When one studies this subject, let him not ignore the following facts.

        The Lord said to Adam, “Do not eat of that tree” (the commandment).  “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (the penalty) (Gen. 2:17).  Adam ate.  Adam died that day.  Oh, his body continued on for hundreds of years, but Adam was dead in trespasses and sins the day he disobeyed God’s commandment (Rom. 5:12).  Because of sin, Satan had a legal claim upon those beings who had come under the curse of the law.  He had authority over them.  Not only could he get at them while they walked in sin upon the earth, but when they passed out of this body, he claimed them.  He said they were his.

        Jude tells us of Michael and Satan disputing over the body of Moses (Jude 9).  Moses was going to appear on the mount of transfiguration and God wanted his body, but Satan claimed it as belonging to Him.

        Where and under what circumstances did Satan keep the dead?

        In silence – Psalm 31:17; Isa. 38:18

        As prisoners (Satan is a tyrant) – Job 3:18; Isa. 14:17; 42:7.

        In an unconscious state – Psalm 6:5; Eccl. 9:5.

        In darkness – Isa. 42:7.

        In chains (bound) – II Peter 2:4; Isa. 61:1.

        So Solomon was right.  He said the dead know not anything.  But that is not the end of the story.

        When Jesus came, He began to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.  In His first recorded sermon (Luke 4), He quoted from Isa. 61 which, in part, says, “The Lord hath anointed Me…to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”  Could He be referring to the dead – those saints that had died centuries before?  The Lord, through Moses, prophesied of this, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death” (Hosea 13:14).

        In John 5:24 Jesus said, “He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”  Notice the tense.  Jesus is plainly saying that the “hearer” and “believer” hath everlasting life and is passed from death unto life.  Present tense.  Most people are looking for everlasting life to be given at the first resurrection when Jesus returns.  Friend, this is the first resurrection – passing from death unto life – now.  When we hear and believe, we have part in the first resurrection.  On such the second death has no power.  Glory!  What about the grave?

        In John 11:26 Jesus told Martha, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”  Wonderful truth.  The believer never dies.  He may pass out of this physical existence, but he does not die.  He is still alive.  He is conscious.  He knows.  James said, “The body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26).  When man’s spirit leaves this physical body, the physical body is dead and is put into the ground.  But, what about the spirit?  We are not talking about man’s breath (the air, the wind) which goes back to God who gave it.  We are talking about a spirit entity, a rational being.  God is Spirit.  He is not breath or wind.  The angels are ministering spirits, rational beings.  The Hebrew and Greek words translated spirit are also translated breath, air, wind.  We are essentially spirit beings dwelling in a fleshly house.

        Paul said that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord (II Cor. 5:6).  Stephen, being stoned to death, cried, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59).  Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).  Paradise?  Jesus said Paradise.  The Lord said the tree of life is in the midst of the Paradise (garden) of God (Rev. 2:7).  That is where Adam was placed, where the tree of life was placed, where the tree of life was.  Because of sin he was driven from that place into the earth.  Jesus opened it again.  That is where He took the repentant thief.  At the same time He preached to the spirits in prison (I Peter 3:19).  He proclaimed liberty to the captives (Isa. 61).  He led captivity captive (Eph. 4:8).  He descended into the lower parts of the earth (Eph. 4:9).  He preached; they heard, they were awake; they no longer were captives.  They were brought to the third heaven (II Cor. 12:2-4).

        Jesus said that He has the keys (authority, control) of hell and death (Rev. 1:18).  Jesus bound the strong man (Matt. 12:29).  He plundered his house (Col. 2:15).  He loosed the prisoners (Eph. 4:8).  Satan no longer controls them.  He has been judged and cast out (John 12:31 and 16:11).

        “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil: and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15).  Jesus took Satan’s authority away from him.  Jesus judged him and cast him out.  Jesus triumphed over the evil powers (Col. 1:13; 2:15).  JESUS REIGNS (Eph. 1:20-23; Matt. 28:18).  He is king.  He is Lord of all.

        Jesus abolished death.  The believer need not fear death, for he has passed from death unto life and Jesus said, “He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.  Believest thou this?”

 

 

 

 

 “SIN”?  (IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK…)

Harold & Donna Kupp

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.  BUT IF THE WICKED WILL TURN FROM ALL HIS SINS…HE SHALL NOT DIE.

                                                Ezekiel 18:20,21  KJV

        Sin is a matter of life and death for the Christian.  Therefore it is vital for us to understand what sin is, and also what sin is not.  Without the true definition of sin, the Christian will be constantly “tossed to and fro” by the deceits of man and the accusations of the Devil.

What Sin Is

        The apostle John gave us an absolutely clear definition of sin.  He said: “whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: For sin is the transgression of the law*” (I John 3:4 KJV).

        *LAW  1.  The Ten commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20:3-17), summarized God’s requirements of Man (New Compact Bible Dictionary-Zondervan)

        The Scriptures clearly teach that in order to commit a sin we must transgress one of God’s Ten Commandments.  Therefore, whenever you see the word sin used as a verb, simply substitute John’s definition, which is “Transgression of the law,” and you will never be led astray from the truth.  For example:

        “Go and SIN (transgress the law) no more” (John 8:11)

What Sin Is Not

        Sin is not a wrong thought, or evil desire, or even an impulse to do wrong.  A temptation to sin may fill your heart till you ache, but in order to commit sin you must actually break one of God’s Ten Commandments.

        Sine we know that “Sin is transgression of the law,” we may say that only transgression of the law is sin!  As a man, Jesus was tempted with evil thoughts, but He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).  His thoughts were not sin, and neither are yours!

        Many will say that our thoughts are sin because Jesus gave this warning to the disciples: “but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5:28 KJV).

        Although that verse does seem to say that what we are thinking can be sin, we also know that “sin is transgression of the law.”  How can we make these two ideas fit together?  The answer is this: Jesus was explaining that we could break God’s law not only by the outward physical act, but also by the intent of (in) the mind.  They wrote “if.”

        Therefore, if a man looks upon a woman with the intent to commit adultery (i.e. he would if he had the opportunity), then he has already sinned, because he has already decided to break God’s law.

        If, knowing that it is wrong, we decide to break a commandment, in God’s eyes we are already guilty.

        Our thoughts or emotions could not possibly be a sin because we cannot control what comes into our minds; in fact, many suggestions come to us straight from the devil.  Therefore, it is not the desire or emotion itself that is an act of sin, but what we choose to do.

Willful Sin

        We must be careful to distinguish between sins done in ignorance and willful sin.  In order to commit willful sin, there must be both knowledge and intent:

  1. A knowledge of God’s law.
  2. A deliberate intent of the mind to disobey God’s law.

        Once we become aware that a particular act is sin and we do not stop doing it, we are then choosing to commit willful sin.  The Bible warned us that the Christian who continues to sin willfully will be lost!  He said, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26,27 KJV).

Christians Hate Sin!

        Those who are truly born of God hate sin and want to live far from it.  As Christians grow and the Holy Spirit teaches them to recognize their sins, they will immediately stop doing them.  Thus, we may understand the meaning of John’s statement: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (I John 3:9 KJV).

        The real Christian’s attitude toward sin was described by the Bible commentator John Ebrard in this manner: “To the truly regenerate man it is altogether impossible willing and willfully to do that which he knows to be forbidden by God.”

        He said that a Christian may be ensnared (tricked) into sin, but that sin is “contrary to the bent of his will, he cannot love, and cherish, and entertain sin.  Nor can he sin in such a way as to knowingly and willingly act contrary to the will of God.”  (commentary on St. John’s Epistles by John H.A. Ebrard, T & T Clark 1860)

        In order for a Christian to continue in the faith and grow to maturity, he must completely cease from the doing of willful sin.  Thus, we are able to understand these verses from John’s Epistle: “Whosoever Abideth in Him sinneth not” (I John 3:6 ASV).  “And he that keepeth His commandments abideth in Him” (I John 3:24 ASV).

        Please read that verse again.  John said that those who abide in Jesus are those who keep His Commandments!

        Jesus Himself warned us that those who do not abide in Him will come to a terrible end.  Our Lord said, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6 KJV).

        For those Christians who, after reading this, still choose to take sin lightly because they think they are “under grace,” here is what Jesus had to say to you: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Matt. 5:29 RSV).

        If you think that verse was not written for you – May God have mercy on your soul.

        Any of you who professes to be a Christian and still continues to sin willfully may be sure of one thing – you are not yet born of God, because “whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (I John 3:9 KJV).

        Although God may indeed be pouring out His love upon you and calling you to be saved, if you are still committing sin (i.e. knowingly breaking even one of God’s Ten Commandments, including God’s Sabbath), you are still a servant of sin, and Jesus left this warning for you: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.  And the servant (of sin) abideth not in the house forever” (John 8:34,35 KJV).

THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE”!