People of The Living God

Romans 8

 

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February 2016



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

THE APOSTASY IS NOW

Harold Kupp

        There is a verse in the first Epistle of John that seems to condemn many Christians.  According to this verse, some of those who think they are saved are still under the threat of God’s wrath.  The apostle John has drawn a clear dividing line between those who know God and those who do not.  He said: “He that saith, I KNOW HIM, and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).  Oh, the heartache this verse brings to those who have ears to hear.  How many of our family and friends does it sentence to death?  Yet that unshakeable truth was written for our protection.  Those who accept what it says cannot be deceived about salvation.

        Perhaps you are saying, “Well, even if I don’t keep God’s commandments, I am still saved because I believe.”  This cannot be true because Jesus said that only those who “know God” will inherit eternal life: “And these words spake Jesus…and this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent” (John 17:3).  We do not come to “know God” the moment we are born again.

Question?

        If only those who “know God” will inherit eternal life; when do we come to know Him?

Answer:

        “and hereby we KNOW that we know Him, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS” (I John 2:3, ASV). 

        John is saying that those who fully keep God’s commandments (who are able to say “NO!” to sin) are those who have come to “know Him.”

        Here, then, are the facts that Satan carefully hides from the believer:

        1.  Only those who “know God” will finally inherit eternal life.

        2.  Those who know Him, keep His commandments.

        3.  Those who say that they have come to know Him and do not keep His commandments do not have the truth in them.

        You may be sure that “His commandments” are the same Ten Commandments which were carved in stone by the “finger of God,” AND the even higher Law of Love as commanded by Jesus (John 15:12).  Those who will not obey them will not come to “know God.”  The apostle Paul warned those who do not “know God” to expect vengeance on the day of judgment “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that KNOW NOT God” (II Thess. 1:7).

True Or False Teachers?

        Many born again believers have not yet come to know God because they are being led astray by false teachers in the pulpit.  The Bible constantly warns us to beware of false prophets, those wolves “who come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  Doesn’t it make sense that God would provide a fool-proof way to recognize them?  There must be a way to see who the “wolves” are or we would be helpless before the power of Satan, the one who “deceiveth the whole world.”  Of course there is a way; it is just this simple: The ministers and pastors who have truly come to know God will keep His commandments and teach others to keep them!

        Many born again Christians will be lost because of their blind trust in the denominational church system.  They are relying on their teachers and scholars instead of trusting their Bible and Jesus Christ.

        Most denominations have allowed their scholars to set aside the commandments of God in order that they may “keep their own traditions.”  The people themselves have chosen these leaders because they are teaching exactly what the people’s ears are itching to hear.  It has come to pass just as Paul said it would: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth” (II Tim. 4:3, NAS)

Question?

        What is “the truth”?

Answer:

        The Bible teaches that “all scripture is inspired by God,” therefore, “the truth” must forever include God’s law, for it is written in the Psalms: “and thy law is THE TRUTH.…and all thy commandments are TRUTH…and thou has founded them forever” (Psalm 119:142,151,152).

Apostasy Now!

        Listen to what Paul said to the Thessalonians concerning the day when Jesus shall return: “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy* comes first, and the Man of Lawlessness** is revealed” (II Thess. 2:3, NAS).  *Apostasy is from the Greek Apostasia.  It means “defection from truth” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).  The KJV translates it as “a falling away.”

        We are living in the midst of that “falling away.”  Now is the time of the Great Apostasy that is predicted by the scriptures.  Most of the church system has already defected from the truth (i.e. God’s law).  The leaders of the churches have failed to recognize the “man of lawlessness” because they do not recognize the law.

        **(Man of) Lawlessness is from the Greek anomia.  It means “contempt and violation of the law, iniquity, wickedness” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).  The KJV refers to him as “The Man of Sin.”  The apostle John used the same word (anomia) when he gave us the scriptural definition of sin.  He said: “Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (anomia)” (I John 3:4).

        Jesus also used the word anomia when He warned those who continued to sin to beware of the judgment day.  He said: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity* (Anomian)” (Matt. 7:21-23).  (*i.e., depart from me, ye that transgress the law of God.)

        I pray that all of the readers who call Jesus “Lord” will take heed.  No matter how good your intentions, no matter how sincere your “faith,” if you do not keep His commandments, you are the one Jesus is warning.

        The seduction of the church had already begun even as the apostles were spreading the Gospel.  Paul also used the word Anomia when he cautioned the Thessalonians.  He said: “for the mystery of iniquity (anomia) doth already work” (II Thess. 2:7).

Therefore, each believer must constantly test his teacher’s doctrine for any sign of the “man of Sin.”  Remember, Satan will show himself to believers as an “angel of light,” and his servants will seem to be “ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:14).  The evil one works under the cover of goodness, and thrives on the word “love.”  His teachers are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.  They will cover a pint of poison for a river of good.  But they can be found out, for the teachers who know God, keep His commandments.

        Many who stand in the pulpit have already been led astray by false teachers in high places.  For example, those ministers who say that a believer may keep his sins (i.e. be a “carnal Christian”) and still inherit eternal life are teaching the principles of lawlessness.

        Beware, for there can be no compromise with God’s truth.  Those who accept the devil’s lies will be lost.  Paul warned the churches about the fate of those who would not love and obey “the truth.”  He said they were those who would perish “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (II Thess. 2:10).  “But unto them that are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath” (Rom. 2:8).  “Thy law is the truth” (Psalm 119:142).

        I hope that whenever the reader sees the words “the truth,” he will immediately think “God’s law.”  If you do, Satan will never be able to deceive you.  He and his workers are continually trying to lead us into apostasy through sin.  Without God’s law we have no measure of good and evil, but if we walk in the light of the Ten Commandments, then we are always able to make the right choices, because: God’s will never conflicts with God’s law!

        We may also be sure that the Holy Spirit will never lead us to do something that would cause us to break any of God’s commandments.

        When we learn to trust the law of God as the only reliable measuring stick of truth, then the deceptions of the devil become as visible as a man waving a red flag.  Anyone who teaches against keeping God’s law in any way, shape or form is either a deceiver or has been deceived.

        A good example of this deception is the school of dispensationalism (Scofield, etc.), which teaches that we no longer need to obey God’s law because we are under the “dispensation of grace.”  By this device they ever so smoothly set aside the obligation to obey the Ten Commandments.  There it is!  The “red flag.”  No matter what they call it, the fact remains that they have turned away from the truth.  There are others who teach that the law was only for the Jews (even the “Sermon on the Mount”).  There it is again, the red flag of lawlessness.  To say that the Old Testament is not for “today’s church” is just another way to get around God’s law.

        One of the most popular modern day “prophets,” Hal Lindsey, has gone so far as to say that those who teach obedience to God’s law are teaching “doctrines of demons.”  In his book, “Satan is Alive and Well On Planet Earth,” he said: “seeking to live for God by the principle of the law is the first and worst doctrine of demons.”  On the contrary, God’s word says “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who WALK IN THE LAW of the Lord (Psalm 119:1).

        No matter how big the church, no matter how many scriptures they use to prove their doctrine, look for the red flag.  If they have set aside even a part of God’s law, they have turned away from the truth.  By the way, the Sabbath is the fourth commandment.  To deny it is to deny the God that has declared the seventh day to be holy.  The Epistle of James teaches that there is one law with ten parts.  If you refuse to obey any part of it, you are refusing the authority of the lawgiver.  James wrote: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one, he is guilty of all.  For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill” (James 2:10).  He that said, Do not kill” also said “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy…the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God” (Ex. 20:8,10).

        Another red flag appears every time we are told that we are unable to keep the Ten Commandments.  How could that be true?  The apostle Paul taught that by the power of God, we who believe are able to obey that which we choose.  He said: “his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16, ASV).

        In order to excuse disobedience to God’s commandments, many will say, “Jesus is my righteousness!”  John has already answered this deception: “Little children, let no man deceive you: He that doeth righteousness is righteous” (I John 3:7).  Paul adds: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19,21, ASV)

        If you look closely you can see the red flag of lawlessness, because what they are really saying is that you may keep doing your sins and still inherit eternal life.  Or as Satan suggested to Eve: “Don’t worry, Eve, even if you eat the forbidden fruit ‘ye shall not surely die.’”

        That is Satan’s message to all Christians, “Ye shall not surely die!”  Do not be deceived, only the righteous who have conquered sin by the power of the Holy Spirit will inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

VENDORS OF DECEPTION

Harry Miller

        Concerning this present time Jesus told His disciples: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…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. 24:11,24).  From the evidence recorded in prophetic Scriptures it is apparent that the “latter day” will be a “heyday” for the false prophet.

        Because the false prophet is a master of deception, it would be well for every Christian to make a thorough study of the character and nefarious ways of this cunning fellow in order to identify him more easily.  Jesus said that the devil could even change himself into an “angel of light” (meaning a messenger, or bearer of truth).  Undoubtedly, the “false prophet” is a real celebrity among the “principalities and powers” of evil.  By using deceit and divers cunning subtleties, the powers of hell have well-camouflaged the “leavening” activities of their agents.

        Consider the word MANY (vs. 11), which Jesus used in connection with the false prophets: numbers, alone, seem convincing to most people: popular acclaim – something that is supported by humanity in general.  In this latter day much of the world has accepted the ministry of the false prophet.  His cunning magical spell has spread over the earth – men and nations are his subjects.  At no time in human history has there been any shortage of false prophets, but the “last days” are especially noted for their abundant supply – so much so, that Paul, in writing to Timothy, said that many of the professing Christians of the last days “shall heap to themselves teachers” (II Tim. 4:1,2).

        The position of the “teacher” is one that is greatly respected today; but even the very word, “prophet,” has fallen into sad disrepute.  What respectable man of God would dare claim to be a prophet in these days when even the false prophets shun this title?

        Paul speaks of the latter day false prophets as “a teacher of fables.”  The Greek word translated here as “teacher” is rather broad, and means literally, “an instructor.”  In II Cor. 11:13-15, Paul speaks of these instructors of fables as “deceitful workers,” saying, “Therefore it is no great thing if his (Satan’s) ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.”

        Now we have discovered the type of place where the activity of the false prophet is carried on: he will always be found in some place where one would expect to see a minister of righteousness.

        The words of Jesus recorded in Matt. 7:15 agree with this.  He says: “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  Satan’s agent is always well covered.  His outward appearance is most disalarming – he acts and looks like a sheep.  He appears as a peace-maker; a smooth, suave, individual who never opposes convention, but always finds a way to CONFORM. He moves with the tide, never against it.  Such a cooperative spirit is hard to oppose, even though it be detected.

        The false prophet is rarely found in combat; he wins his battles by nonaggression.  Where he finds an enemy too strong for him, he simply joins him!  Like the rust eating away at the iron, this fellow works day and night with untiring devotion to his awful master.  A little doubt here – a little unbelief there – a little twist of the Word – a human slant to the Text – and the work of the enemy is under way.

        The false prophet does not accept, as such, the plain statements of Jesus Christ.  He may say that he does; but his works deny it.  “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20), and the proof that any man believes the plain words of Jesus is that he will do what Christ has commanded.

        The false prophet always puts a human interpretation on the words of our Lord.  Instead of even admitting that Christ said so-and-so, this fellow says that Christ MEANT something else.  This is the fashion for changing any truth of the Bible.  Oh, yes, they have some logical sounding reason for not DOING what the Word says: they tell us that certain things were for the Jews, and that some of these things do not apply today; or that times have changed, and it is impossible for man to do as he did in the day when Jesus walked and talked in Galilee.

        What a mockery could be made of the Christian religion if each believer practiced only those things which are most convenient to his own particular way of life!

        In the book of Jude we find some extremely pointed remarks concerning “the mockers in the last time” (verse 11). The “mockers” should be distinguished from the “scoffers” of II Peter 3:3.  The “scoffers” make light of the things of God, making no claim to be of Christ; but the “mockers” are imitators: they claim to be Christians, but they have no walk with Him.  In speaking of these “mockers” Jude says that they have “turned the grace of God into lasciviousness” (loose living).  He also calls them “dreamers,” who “defile the flesh.”

        The false prophet has always thrived in the business of satisfying the desire for religious expression for the carnal man without disturbing his greeds and fleshly passions.  No matter what complex elements possess the affections of the worldling, if he desires a “form of religion” there are countless open doors ready to accept whatever “devotion” he may decide to ascribe to God.  Satan’s ministers have been most successful in putting multitudes at ease, and making it possible for them to continue to bask in the sunshine of fleshly indulgence.

        Of these, the writer, Jude, says: “Woe, unto them!  For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”  Here are named three infamous Bible characters who were outstanding celebrities in the realms of wickedness.  A careful study of the acts of these evil “worshippers” of God will give a very clear idea of the person of the FALSE PROPHET in any age.

        Cain, the man who murdered his own brother over a matter of religion, was extremely religious.  Before men of the world he claimed to worship the one and only true God; but in his heart Cain despised LAW and commandments.  Even before the creation of the world, however, there was LAW.  In the garden of Eden, before this man was born, his father had transgressed the law and became a sinner.  The custom of sacrifice, wherein Cain erred, was God-given, and was governed by LAW, and men who promiscuously or presumptuously attempted to serve the Creator were guilty of sin.  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  “Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken His commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him” (Num. 15:31).

        The very fact that “righteous Abel” had offered the right kind of sacrifice shows that God had made known unto His creatures His LAW concerning sacrifice.  But Cain hated LAW, and so he invented his own system of worship.  His own methods must have appeared more humane to his “natural man:” the horror of death, and the odious smell of blood were removed from his ritual.  In those days when all animals were as tame as our family pets are today, it must have been a revolting thing for anyone to have to take the life of one of these innocent little creatures; but “THE WAY THAT LEADETH TO LIFE EVERLASTING” has not always been pleasing to the “natural man.”  As a matter of fact, it has been so diverse from human custom and conception that of this way, Jesus said, “FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT.”

        Cain, evidently a thoroughly sentimental fellow, proceeded to do a terrible thing in the eyes of heaven: he mocked the Lord of Glory by substituting human religious devices for THE LAW OF GOD.

        We all must pause to wonder why it is that people such as Cain bother to make any attempt to worship God.  Surely they cannot help knowing that to despise His COMMAND is an affront to the Lord; so of what possible value is such service?  The answer to this is that the sentimental “believer” has found that religion is a good outlet for emotional expression.  Cain gave vent to his religious feelings, not because he had a desire to OBEY the God of heaven, but merely as a means of satiating his religious passions.

        The fact that Cain was sentimental is revealed in I John 3:11,12, which tells us: “this is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another.  Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.”  The love of Cain is not true love; it is akin to the love of Delilah for Samson, or the perverted love of the Sodomites.  This so-called love is devilish, being full of selfishness, jealousy, hatred, and murder (Rom. 1:21-29).

        “The way of Cain,” then, is a way of sentimental love.  A way that is devised by men.  The Cain-type of minister pictures our heavenly Father as always ready to sweep one and all through the gates of Glory.  He declares that all we need to do is to “accept” and “believe” the “old, old story.”  Grace and mercy are emphasized to such a degree that when believers “hit the sawdust trail,” or “come forward,” many of them actually think that they are doing the Lord a very noble service.

        Honest conviction of sin has often been overthrown by this type of shallow, so-called “Christian stand.”  Today, the consciences of multitudes have been drugged by the quieting sedatives of modern evangelism.  Peace is promised to the wicked, without godly sorrow and repentance.  The love, grace, and mercy of God have been made so sentimental that there is no place for conviction, restitution, or even for regeneration.  The false prophet has gained a great following by “PROMISING PEACE TO EVILDOERS" – so “that none doth return from his wickedness” (Jeremiah 23:14).

 

 

 

 

CHRIST

Harry Miller

        Many people, while living in much error, are honest in their beliefs; however, honesty does not make their beliefs truth.  If such people have honest hearts and walk humbly with Christ, then through the leading of His Spirit He will guide them out of their beliefs of error, and lead them into the truths of God.  Multitudes have accepted the false doctrine of the apostate Protestant denominations relative to the PRESENT POWER OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD; they state that we are now living in the “church age” and deny that Christ is now king.  Dogmatically, false teachers declare that Christ’s kingdom has been “postponed” until the millennium.  If such a thing were true then we could expect no supernatural things during this present so-called “Church age.”  But this system of doctrine is so full of error that it completely falls apart when judged by the New Testament Scriptures – a hundred or more of which disapprove this “postponement” theory.

        Jesus Christ, when on trial for His life, told Pilate that He was a king and he said: “To this end was I born” (John 18:37).  However, lest Pilate think that He intended setting up a physical throne and reigning in defiance of Caesar, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

        Concerning Jesus, Peter said: “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Peter 1:16).  Jude stated: “Now unto Him…God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever” (verses 24,25).  John, in the Revelation, declared: “Jesus Christ…the prince of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).  Paul testified that the Father raised Jesus Christ and “set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20,21).

        There are many other Scriptures that testify that Christ is now king; a ruler with the power that Christ now has certainly must be reigning over someone and something.  If He is now king, some will ask: “What is He doing in heaven?”  What better place for a throne?  Does anyone know of a better location?  Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to suggest that He might do better in the pentagon, or in the United Nations building, in New York City?  Then, why do some think that Christ can’t reign until He sits upon a literal throne in the musty old city of Jerusalem?

        Upon the throne in heaven Christ our King is bringing many great powers and authorities into complete subjection to heaven’s government.  Far greater powers than all the combined armies of earth are being subdued.  As commander in chief of the armies of God, mighty angelic beings with tremendous powers are being ordered by the KING OF GLORY.

        “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.  And the great dragon was cast out …he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7-9).  The devil and his angels are working behind the scenes in the earth today – but our King is outflanking, outmaneuvering, and outwitting the fellow on every hand.  The “kingdom of darkness” is disintegrating and is about to completely collapse.  The wraps which hide the “kingdom of God’s dear son” will soon be thrown off, and then the sons of God will be manifest and His kingdom shall shine forth in mighty glory.

        “The prince of the power of the air” has not been literally put out of the way; legally, every devil was defeated at the cross, but actually many enemies are now in the process of being subjected: “But now we see not yet all things put under Him” (Heb. 2:8).  “Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (I Peter 3:22).  Concerning the return of Christ, the apostle Paul said: “Then the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (I Cor. 15:24,25).  Here we have a plain statement that Christ REIGNS before His coming, and He does not return until EVERY ENEMY IS SUBDUED.

        The night of His betrayal the Savior made this statement: “Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).  And in the next verse He said: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth (this He said, signifying what death He should die) will draw all men unto Me.”  Take notice that at the very time “the prince of this world” was cast out; salvation was provided for all men.

        This agrees perfectly with the account of Revelation twelve, where the record says: Satan and his angels were cast out of heaven.  At that same time a loud voice proclaimed: “NOW is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (Rev. 12:10).  Mark this well: The gospel of our salvation and the gospel of the kingdom are one and the same gospel.

        The Kingdom of God gospel is not a system of abstract doctrinal beliefs; this “good news” is not merely in “letter,” but in power: “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).

        The final commission of Christ to His disciples was “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:18-20).  Luke refers to these final instructions of the Master thus: “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry…until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  And again in the book of Acts he says “Wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me…Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts1:4,8).

        According to the words of the Lord, every professing Christian should observe and obey the same commands that He gave to His apostles.  They were instructed to “tarry” and “wait” upon the Father until endued with power from on high – every Christian should do the same thing.

        In Peter’s message to the first seekers of Holy Ghost power, he declared: “Repent (turn about, a complete change of one’s way of life), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38,39).  But don’t stop with the gift of the Holy Ghost – “tarry” and “wait” upon the Father until you are baptized with the spirit baptism of Jesus Christ.

        “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment”(Heb 6:1,2).

        You good people with a Holy Spirit baptism, DON’T STOP but “GO ON.”  There is a goal ahead.  The apostle Paul, a Spirit baptized and gifted man, said he had not yet reached it but was pressing on.

        Not until Hebrews 4:10 has been completed in a saint can it be said that he has “won Christ.”

 

 

 

 

THE PARACLETE

James Sanderson

        “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4).  It is a rather sobering thought that one can take nothing out of this life but what has been created within.  Man strives for success, position, fame, and fortune.  Jesus stated, “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).  What man tends to value in life is actually a detriment to his progress and growth in God.  In other words, the things that man places in high regard are diametrically opposed to God's purpose for creation.

        God is calling man to apprehend something that is far greater in value than anything that this world has to offer.  What God offers has value both in this life and in the eternal ages to come.  This portion of Scripture from Second Peter reveals that God has extended to man the extraordinary opportunity to be a partaker of His very nature – the divine nature.  The most wonderful gift that God can impart to His creatures is His nature.  What is this divine nature?  It encompasses all the attributes of God's moral character – the God nature.  God is calling His people to be as holy as He is holy, as pure as He is pure – untainted by any corrupting influences.  When the Word of God speaks of His people becoming like Him, it means that they will bear the moral likeness of God.

        God is producing His moral likeness within the hearts of those who willingly yield to His divine process.  Here is where the difficulty lays – the divine process.  It is easy to rejoice at this wonderful call to bear the nature and character of God Himself; however, when the Word of God discloses that there is a divine process, one's flesh begins to cringe and often recoils at what lays ahead.  Without a divine process there can be no divine nature.

An Unction From Above

        This plan that God has inaugurated in the earth is so profound that He has not left its accomplishment in the hands of mortal man nor those of angels.  The Holy Spirit of God is the Father's personal Representative commissioned to oversee and bring to fruition this divine purpose.  Jesus Himself declared to His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 14:7).  The Greek word for Comforter is quite significant: παράκλητος, that is, Paraclete.  This word Paraclete means “summoned, called to one's side, esp. called to one's aid” (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon).  The Holy Ghost is the Divine Aid called to accomplish God's marvelous purpose in the earth.  Jesus stated, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).

        It must be understood that the Word of God is not talking about a mere influence from without, but a mighty Being working from within to effect change in the life.  The Apostle Paul declared, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7).  What is this treasure?  Those who have come to God in true repentance have received an Unction from above dwelling within their hearts.  This Unction is the Holy Spirit of promise, God Himself, living within the believer.  Paul wrote, “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).  Again, in his letter to the Philippians, he writes, “For it is God which worketh in you” (Phil. 2:13). Finally, in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul declares, “For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16).  The presence of the Holy Spirit within sets the true Christian apart from the unbeliever.

        One of the greatest lessons in this Christian life is to learn to be more sensitive to the work of the Spirit of God.  Cultivating an awareness of the still small voice within is an absolute necessity to those who desire to progress in God.  One must not treat lightly nor take for granted this divine Presence.  The Scriptures also warn that it is quite easy to quench the work of the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 5:19).  There are many facets to the extraordinary work of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer.  It might be well to explore what God's Word has to say about His divine influence that we might be better equipped to heed His work in our lives.  As we pursue this topic, it is important to understand that although we will deal with each facet of the work of the Holy Spirit separately, these activities often overlap as the Spirit of God works to effect change in the heart of man.

Convicts Of Sin

        “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).  The Holy Spirit is the enforcer of God's law.  In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul explains that the church is now under the ministration of the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3:3,8).  The word reprove means convict, rebuke, expose, convince, and refute (Vine's Expository Dictionary).  The Holy Spirit is the inner Monitor of the soul.  A monitor is one who “advises or cautions especially in matters of conduct; warns and reminds” (dictionary).  He lays bare the heart's true condition before God (Eph. 5:11, 13).  Man, by nature, does not like to have his self-life exposed for what it is.  Nevertheless, those who truly love God appreciate the work of this inner Monitor.  “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20-21).

        King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then sought to hide his sin by sending her husband Uriah into the thick of a battle where he later died.  He then took Bathsheba as his wife.  The Scriptures record, “But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord” (2 Samuel 11:27).  David felt that he could hide his sin from God.  The prophet Nathan came to David and revealed the horrible condition of his heart.  By the power of the Spirit of God, Nathan declared, “Thou art the man” (2 Sam. 12:7).  In verse nine of this account, the prophet Nathan continues, “Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight?”

        The book of Acts records the account of Simon the sorcerer who had become intrigued with the miracles accomplished by the Spirit of God through Phillip and later through Peter.  On one occasion, he came to Peter and offered him money if Peter would give him the same power.  By the power of the Spirit of God, Peter declared, “Thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).  When the scribes and Pharisees came to John the Baptist and later to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God revealed the true conditions of their hearts.  All of these examples demonstrate that one of the major duties of the Holy Spirit is to make manifest the secret sins of the heart (I Cor. 14:25).

Gives True Freedom

        “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1-2).  Then again in verses nine and eleven of this chapter, Paul states, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. … But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”  Here in this portion of Scripture the Apostle Paul makes a remarkable declaration.  Essentially, Paul is saying, “The presence of the Spirit of God in the heart makes the difference.”  We now have true freedom and life and a relationship with God all because the Holy Spirit dwells within.   The Christian is now dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11).  Throughout chapter six of Romans, the Apostle Paul emphasizes the tremendous transformation that has occurred in the life because the Holy Spirit now reigns within.  The contrast is remarkable.  We are no longer “servants of sin” (vs. 20) but “servants of God” (vs. 22).  We no longer have to live by the dictates of the carnal mind.  “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him” (vs.6).  We now have the ability to walk in “newness of life” (vs.4).  “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (vs.18).

        Man believes that freedom is the ability to do what he wants to do – to fulfill all his own desires, to pursue his own dreams in life, that is, to do his own thing.  True life and true freedom occur when one is released to do what God wants him to do.  True freedom is the ability to live for God.  The presence of the Spirit of God spells the difference between life and death.  The Christian no longer lives with the sentence of death over his head.  Life and peace and joy are now freely his because God now dwells within.

Testifies Of Christ

        “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).  The word testify means “to bear witness, to witness” (Vine).  Another duty of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to all things that pertain to Jesus Christ.  Jesus also said, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).  In his first letter, the Apostle John follows this same theme, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.  He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son” (1 John 5:9-10). That “witness in himself” that testifies of Christ is the Holy Spirit Himself.

        One cannot truly understand Christ in all His beauty and majesty except by the Holy Spirit.  Moreover, only as one views the image of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the Spirit of God can he be transformed into that same image (2 Cor. 3:18).  True, one can read a biblical account or hear a sermon concerning Jesus Christ; nevertheless, “the witness of men” will have little effect on the life without the testimony of the Spirit of God.  It is the Holy Spirit in the life that make all things that pertain to Christ alive and real to the believer.  The comprehension of one's relationship with Christ Himself hinges on the testimony of the Spirit of God within.  “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).

Renews The Mind

        Although the Christian has been born again and found new life in Jesus Christ, he soon realizes that the old nature, the carnal mind, frequently usurps the authority of God and expresses itself in ways that are contrary to the nature of Christ.  “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).  Having been saved, every Christian must now experience an ongoing spiritual transformation.  That is, the carnal mind, the old man, must be brought under control while the spiritual mind, the new man, finds greater avenues of expression.  In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul writes, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2).  Again, in his letter to the Ephesians, he admonishes, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23).

        This ongoing work of renewal is another duty of the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul writes that the believer was saved “by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).  He also writes, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).  What is this power that “worketh in us”?  It is the blessed Holy Spirit faithfully accomplishing the divine task of renewing and transforming the inner recesses of the heart.  As the Christian surrenders to this divine influence, the fruits of the Spirit begin to radiate from his life.  His life can now manifest the character and nature of Christ.  The Apostle Paul emphasizes this process of renewal throughout his epistles, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).  “Ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is (being, Gr.) renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).

Teaches

        “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).  Every true believer has an inner teacher, sent from above to instruct in the ways of righteousness.  That teacher is the Holy Ghost.  There are two aspects to this particular activity of the Holy Spirit.  As a teacher, the Spirit of God takes the word of God and makes it alive and real.  It is this Unction, that is, Anointing, that instructs in the truths of God.  The Holy Spirit breathes life into the written Word of God. “For the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3:6).  In particular, He takes the words of Jesus and reveals their significance to the believer.  “All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:15).

        Teaching also implies discipline.  The discipline of the Holy Spirit is vital to the Christian walk.  “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:6-7)  This word chastening is also translated teaching and instruction in other references in the New Testament (Tit. 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:16).  Vine states that this word “denotes the training of a child, including instruction; hence, discipline, correction” (Vine's, page 185).  Thayer also adds this definition, “whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, esp. by correcting mistakes and curbing the passions; hence instruction which aims at the increase of virtue” (Thayer's, page 473).

        One possesses only what God has wrought in his heart by the Spirit of God.  One's profession and even one's experiences are one thing, but what has been created within by the discipline of the Holy Ghost is what truly counts in the eyes of God.  One of the major purposes of discipline is the production of brokenness and, consequently, the realization of one's dependence upon God.  Most Christians desire to be useful in God's kingdom.  One is useful to God only to the extent that he is broken and yielded to God.  The discipline of the Holy Spirit is God's provision for attaining that goal.

        God, also, desires holiness in one's life.  “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).  The chastening and discipline of the Holy Spirit work to accomplish this purpose.  “Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us…For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:9-10).

Guides

        “Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).  The word guide is quite significant because it sheds light on the character of God.  God does not use force or coercion as He works to produce divine character.  This same word is used of the Ethiopian eunuch.  “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:29-31)  The word guide means “to show the way,” “to lead the way,” “to give guidance to.”  The Spirit of God leads the way.  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

        Notice that in this portion of Scripture, Jesus states that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth.”  God desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6).  The Spirit of truth brings us face to face with truth.  Why truth?  Truth is a sanctifying agent.  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).  Truth in the inward parts, that is, in the heart of man, cleanses the life and sets it apart to God.

Empowers

        “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities” (Rom. 8:26).  Although the word infirmity often brings to mind a physical sickness or malady, it has far more significance.  Infirmity literally means “want of strength.”  It is a “weakness, indicating inability to produce results” (Vine's).  Without the help of the Holy Spirit, one is powerless to resist the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.  God has laid help on one that is mighty (Psalm 89:19).  In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul prayed that they might “be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16).  It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart that empowers the Christian to rise above sin and the weaknesses of the flesh.  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).  “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19).  The Apostle Paul again admonished the Ephesian church, “Finally, my brethren, be strong (be empowered, Greek) in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10).

        God's people are in a spiritual battle.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).  Without the spiritual armor provided by the Spirit of God, the Church is no match against the forces of darkness.  As Jesus was preparing to ascend into heaven, He declared to His followers, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).  It is the Spirit of God Who enables the Christian to witness and live for Him.

The Choice Is Ours

        Where do you and I stand in relation to this work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts?  How much do we desire to see this divine work of the Holy Spirit accomplished in our lives?  There is an inexorable law in the realm of the Spirit.  That law is the law of sowing and reaping.  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).  The choice is ours.  We are either cultivating a life in the Spirit or a life designed to satisfy the flesh.  We are seeking for those things that this world has to offer, or we are striving to embrace the character of Christ.

        It has become ever so obvious that the Church needs a greater anointing of the Holy Spirit.  God's people have settled for far less than what He has made available to the body of Christ.  Since the Holy Spirit is vital to spiritual growth and progress in God, we need more of Him.  The urgency of the hour and the call that rests upon God's people demand a greater infilling of Spirit of God.  To the church in Galatia, Paul posed a vital question, “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)  The work that has been initiated by the Spirit of God must also be sustained by the Spirit of God.  Today's supply is not sufficient for tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 “THAT REST”

Marjorie Hidley

        There is a longing within the heart of every man which must be satisfied.  Wealth is not the answer.  The gaining of worldly possessions only calls for more.  The stimulant from fame or prestige soon fades away, leaving the void of true reality.  Family and friends are dear to us.  Yet, still within us there is a constant craving, a longing for something more.  Never in the history of mankind has man grown to such heights of knowledge as in this present space age in which we now find ourselves.  But, does the acquiring of all this knowledge truly satisfy the yearning within the heart of man?  In this day of hypertension man’s inner soul cries for something more – rest, sweet rest.

        “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28,29).  Such were the words spoken by the One full of divine wisdom, understanding, love, mercy, grace, and truth – Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

“COME UNTO ME,

all ye that labour and are heavy laden”

        Jesus calls to all.  Whosoever will may come.  He stands at the door of every heart and knocks, waiting for man to respond to His gentle wooing.  In every heart God places a tiny seed of faith, with the hope that it will take root and grow to glorify the Father.  “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).  This faith is in His Son, Christ Jesus.  He would not that any perish.  The Spirit of God faithfully draws every man.  “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).   In hope He pleads with each individual, yet the choice remains in our own hands.  The shedding of His blood by the Son of God brought redemption to all mankind.  Praise God for the blood of Jesus!  He is the only healer of all our souls’ diseases.  By Him we have redemption, immortality, eternal life.

“TAKE MY YOKE

UPON YOU”

        It has been said that a yoke is a neck harness for two.  Surely a yoke is most confining.  Two are bound together – Jesus and you, Jesus and I.  He calls us to take His yoke upon us.  Just what does He mean by this?  Friends, when we come to Jesus, repent of our sins, and are washed in His blood, we surrender ALL to Him.  We are not our own, for we have been bought with a price (I Cor. 6:19,20).  No longer do we live our lives according to our own choosing.  We have become new creatures in Christ.  Our life now is wrapped up in Him.  We are love slaves of our Savior.  He will guide us.  Just let Him hold the reins.  He is our leader, our Master, our Lord.  We go where He wants us to go, and obey His Word.

        Many do not want their Savior to be Lord of their lives, for the Lord is a commander, and man desires to rule his own life as he pleases.  But, O, friends, when we yield our lives to Jesus and submit our wills to His will, we find His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30).  He will lead us in the right paths that bring life everlasting, IF we are willing to be lead.  His Word directs us; His spirit leads us.  And, friends, we must let Him lead, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).

“LEARN OF ME”

        Jesus calls us to learn of Him.  What knowledge is greater than this?  It far surpasses all the wisdom of man.  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10).  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).  “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).

        How do we learn to know God?  His Holy Spirit has been put in the heart of every born again child of God.  Jesus said that when the Comforter came He would testify of Him, and He would take of the things of God and show them unto us (John 14:26 and 15:26).  We learn of God as we read His Word and let it become a part of our lives.  We learn of God as we obey His precepts, thus preparing our hearts to be recipients of His nature.  We learn of God as we daily “take up our cross,” deny self, and follow His Words.  Prayer and communion with God daily, hourly, prepare our hearts to be in tune with the “still small voice” that will lead us IF we will only follow.

“YE SHALL FIND REST

FOR YOUR SOULS

        Here is the ultimate reward God gives us.  Man cannot give this state of divine joy.  It is a gift to the one who has surrendered body, soul, and spirit to the Spirit of God.  The only true rest for the soul is found in the divine presence of our God, where one is lost, submerged in the fullness of the Spirit of the Almighty.  In this state one is wholly surrendered to the will of the Most High.  “In Thy presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

        Israel of old was offered this state of rest, but they entered not in because of unbelief (Hebrews, chapter 3).  Every seventh day the weekly Sabbath spoke to the children of Israel, even as it does to us in this day.  “A sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God” (Ezek. 20:20,12).  A sign forever to God’s people, a perpetual covenant which never ends (Ex.31:13-18), this holy Sabbath day continually reminds us of the great rest to which God is leading His people (Hebrews, chapter 4).

        “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb.4:9).  “Some must enter therein” (verse 6).  “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people.  To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest: and this is the refreshing” (Isa. 28:11,12).  Friends, the baptism of God’s Holy Spirit speaks to us of this rest, for it is a foretaste of the fullness of His presence, that great rest which awaits the people of God.  And “His rest shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10).  “He that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10).  When one has entered into this place with his Lord, the Spirit of God will be working completely through the vessel, and the vessel will be walking in complete obedience to God.

        “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest” (Heb. 4:11).

 

 

 

 

WE'VE BEEN ROBBED!

Kenneth Fountain

        Anyone who has ever suffered the indignity of having been robbed may recall the powerful mixture of emotions that engulf them.  The insult, loss, frustration, anger, and aggravation of the experience are long-lasting and prompt adjustments in how a person views others.  Evaluation is made about how to avoid a recurrence and better protect oneself from giving opportunity to a thief again.  However, many fail to recognize that the greatest thief of all time still works with much impunity throughout the world and specifically within the Christian church worldwide.  He is extremely skillful and has amassed actual centuries of experience in his art of stealing from mankind.

        This ignoble character is none other than Satan.  He is the father of lies (John 8:44), the deceiver of man (Rev. 3:20), the destroyer (I Cor. 10:10), prince of this world (Eph. 2:2), and he goes about as a roaring lion (I Pet. 5:8) seeking whom he may devour.  John plainly states Satan's purpose: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10).  While evil may be subtle enough at times to seem harmless, the path leads directly to eternal destruction.  He does not entertain through the pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25) with the goal of providing mere enjoyment, satisfaction, or comfort, but to distract from spiritual reality and to misdirect our steps onto the path of death.  He employs a vast array of tools to accomplish his goal to claim as many of God's intended family members as his own subjects.  (God created the earth and man in order to have a divine family who love Him above all else, but Satan is endeavoring to thwart God's purpose.  God would that all should come to repentance and find life, but while many are called, few are chosen because of their individual response to His call.)

        The most successful thieves are those who are skillfully disguised not only in their appearance but also in their techniques and purposes.  They appear to be trustworthy, honest, sincere, and of high integrity.  While sneaky, they are also brazenly bold and attack suddenly and unexpectedly.  Many times the results of their thievery are unnoticed for some time while they make clean their escape.  (For example, embezzlement often spans several years before it is noticed.)  Satan has successfully used this very technique of deception in working against the body of Christ.  He sneaks into the heart, the home and the church to lead us away from “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).  He brings doubts and fears, discouragement and condemnation, and burdens of worry, concern and problems on numerous fronts.  The solution to all these confrontations is found in the Word, by exercising the weapons of the Spirit (Eph. 6:10-18).  By using spiritual eyes looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, instead of physical observation, our focus is clarified.  By reading, studying, and applying the truths of the Word, our confidence and faith in Him is increased.  Through prayer and worship, our burdens are released into His capable and loving care, so we can have peace.  With this lethal combination, Satan is defeated on every front.

        We have to examine the early church in Acts and read Christ's and the apostles' words and examples to even get a glimpse of what the church is intended to be because what we see and experience in the current church world does not even remotely resemble what was then common practice!  Jude sounds exasperated in verse three when he said, “it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”  In astonishment, we ask, “What happened?  Where did it go?  Why did it diminish?”  Obviously, the thief was busy and the church did not notice until much loss had been suffered.  Where are we today some two thousand plus years later – better off, or worse off?  With zealously realigned devotion and prayer, we must become those of whom God said, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give Him no rest, till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isa. 62:6,7)  Every area of our lives and service should be compared to what Jesus established in the church recorded in Acts – not directed by our views, experiences or the church down the street.

        Satan is a defeated foe, his demise is certain and God is in control, but we have a high calling in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14) that must be achieved.  We are told, “Behold, the Husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until He receive the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).  As a deceiver, Satan has distracted many with the glamour of showmanship and outstanding phenomena (even within the church), so that God's purpose of developing a divine family by producing godly fruit in the life is forgotten.  For those upon whom this technique does not work, he may draw focus upon another's faults to entice criticism and discord.  Disagreement over petty issues and opinions hinder or destroy unity and Satan wins another battle.  Brethren become “off-ended” instead of “love-mended.”  By appealing to the fleshly senses, Satan causes many to err, or he may simply captivate with the cares of everyday living.  We are plainly warned, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:15,16).  By these and many other methods, Satan hinders the production of godly fruit as well as preventing us from receiving the bountiful blessings God wants to share with us throughout our lives.  Whenever we allow ourselves to be drawn into sin, we are separated from God: our fellowship with Him and prayers to Him are distanced from the intimacy and confidence (I John 3:21) we previously enjoyed.

        Jesus' life and ministry on earth embodied the matured fruits of the Spirit that the Father is so earnestly looking for among His people.  As we examine His ministry, we find that the powerful miracles in deliverance and healing were extensions of these qualities.  Many of His recorded healings are preceded with the phrase “moved with compassion” (Matt. 14:14).  His teaching was with authority, but gentleness.  He was patient and meek, temperate and longsuffering with His disciples and His accusers.  He retained His peace and joy in His service to the Father to the end.  He is the firstborn among many brethren whom the Father also expects to “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14; Col. 3:12-14).  Our personal lives, our families, our assemblies and our ministries will thrive with the blessings of God and the shining light of the gospel when the distracting wiles of the Devil are put aside, and Christ-likeness is embraced within our hearts.  We allow ourselves to be robbed of our inner joy and peace because of not exercising our heart in the attributes of godly love toward others around us with gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance and longsuffering.  We choose our friends based upon various criteria, but God has chosen our family members.  He has extended His love and calling to each of us, and we are to love one another as He loved us – completely.  We tend to look critically at others' faults, failures and shortcomings, thereby judging them instead of ourselves (Matt. 7:1-4).  God intends and provides “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Pet. 1:8), as well as perfect “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but we must exercise “unfeigned love of the brethren” (I Pet.1:22).  We must “abound in love” (I Thess. 3:12), “and above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (I Pet. 4:8).  This type of love would include gentleness to all (II Tim. 2:24), one who is full of goodness (Rom. 15:14), with a meek spirit (I Pet. 3:4), and practicing self-control (temperance: II Pet. 1:6).  For these to abound, longsuffering will be required, which Paul recognized as instrumental in his salvation (I Tim. 1:16).  Paul was addressing the church in Ephesus when he said, “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

        Let us focus our service to God upon His goals as the apostle Paul prayed, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Col. 1:10).  When this is done, the glory of the Lord will rest upon His people, and certainly the gates of hell will no longer prevail against God's holy church! (Matt. 16:18)

 

 

 

 

THE SIN OF OMISSION

Alfred King

        “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).  Such a simple command given by Jesus as a loving warning to His disciples in His discourse concerning events just preceding His second coming, and yet a command so effortlessly shelved.  Jesus’ words are easily dismissed and casually set aside for so many “good” reasons.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave a parable in chapter 22, in which He speaks of a king who prepares a marriage for his son.  Let’s read the first part of the parable as Christ presented it: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy” (Matt. 22:2-8).  The parable continues through verse 14, but in this article we want to focus on one very important and often overlooked point of the parable.  It is found in verse five.  The response by those who were bidden was “they made light of it.”  The King James translators chose to translate the Greek word άμελέω as “made light of” which would indicate to us today that they disdained and mocked the invitation to the king’s celebration.  A better translation for today’s child of God would be “neglect” and this is the word that is used by the KJ translators in two other places in the New Testament.  1 Tim 4:14: “Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”  Heb. 2:3: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.”  So we see the idea that Jesus was presenting in the parable of the wedding feast is that those who were invited to the feast “neglected” the invitation.  It was not that they consciously despised or hated the invitation, for they may have thought themselves to be good Christians, faithfully attending church and having all the accouterments of modern Christianity.  It was not necessarily intentional that they rejected the king’s offer, rather it was they were too involved in their own pursuits and the interests of their personal lives that they ignored and dismissed the bidding.  To them it was just not that important.

        Realizing that the parable given in Matthew 22 was clearly in reference to Israel rejecting God’s call to be a part of God’s glorious church, the church for which Jesus came and died, it must not be overlooked that the parable is applicable as well for the Christian church today.  It is still in God’s divine plan to have a wedding feast for His Son and every Christian is invited to that feast.  The admonition and warning contained in Jesus’ parable is that we can, by neglect, miss the invitation.  Simply by being negligent and careless in preparing ourselves today, we may find ourselves forfeiting our part in God’s wedding feast.  When I started school in first grade I began in a public school in Pensacola, Florida.  During the summer the school had a summer camp which my brother (who was a grade above me) and I attended.  On Fridays they would load the bus and take everyone who had registered swimming.  My brother and I were so enjoying all the games and fun that were available that we never paid attention to the requirements given that we had to sign up in order to be allowed to go swimming on Friday.  We had to have permission from our parents, but because we were too involved in fun and games, we never registered.  When Friday came we put on our bathing suits and took our towels to school all excited about going swimming but when we started to get on the bus, they told us we could not go because we were not registered.  We were left out because we had failed to meet the necessary requirements.  Likewise, those who partake of the feast God has prepared for His people must accept God’s invitation by applying themselves to fulfilling the requirements for attendance.  We must not be so encumbered with the affairs of this life that we neglect preparing for the feast and the life hereafter.

        If we read further in Matthew 22, we find once the wedding was filled with people, there was a man there who lacked the proper garment.  Not only are we invited to heed the invitation, we are also required to have girded ourselves with the proper garments.  Recorded in Revelation 19 are the stipulations for those who attend this wedding.  “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9).  While all who are invited to this feast are blessed, privileged and honored to receive this invitation, it is essential that they not be negligent but that they take heed and live holy and righteous lives in this present evil world.  The proper garments that are required in order to be accepted are robes of righteousness.  Righteousness is obedience to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ.  The man who somehow managed to get into the wedding feast was later cast out for lack of these precious robes.  Consider also another scripture found in the book of Revelation which speaks of these necessary robes: “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.  And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:13-14).  We find then that these robes are not found in one’s obedience alone but they must also find their righteousness in Christ Jesus.  These robes are acquired through a joint effort between ourselves and Jesus Christ, our obedience and Christ’s shed blood which cleanses us from sin.  There is not a man alive who has not transgressed God’s law and therefore disqualified for attendance of the wedding feast.  It is clearly evident that one must first come for cleansing to the foot of the cross and be washed from all his unrighteousness in the sanctifying blood of Christ.  As the believer continues his walk with God, he is disciplined through scripture and through the Holy Spirit and as he submits himself and is conformed to that teaching, he is putting on the robes of righteousness in preparation for the time when he will be accepted and able to partake of the wedding feast.

        The time of the wedding feast is near and those that are ready will go in but those that have neglected the call will find themselves knocking at the door that will not be opened for them.  “Let us give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.  How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation” (Heb. 2:1,3a).