People of The Living God

Psalms 91

 

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March 2016



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

GENTILES IN THE TEMPLE COURT

Harry Miller

        “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.  But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles” (Rev. 11:1,2).  Gentiles represent the uncircumcised, those who are outside the covenant of Israel.  Spiritually speaking, the Gentiles are not the people of God; but take note that they are pictured in Revelation as a people who have been given (“It is given”) this part of God’s temple ground.

        “The time of the Gentiles” is to come to an end; but until this end they have been given certain privileges within the walls of the holy city.  They also are allowed to “tread under foot” the sacred territory originally designed only for saints.

        Just as the sins of God’s people, in the days of the Judges, were punished by the bondage of Philistines; so also have the followers of Jesus Christ, because of their sins, been plagued by the uncircumcised of heart and ears who litter the court of our holy city.

        A careful study of the New Testament makes clear the fact that the “holy city” and the church of Jesus Christ are one and the same.  It is also plainly evident, even to a casual observer, that not all who are members of the church are Christians.  The “holy city” (the professing church) has become infested with all manner of characters.  The extent of the corruption, and the depths to which professing Christendom has sunk, is almost incomprehensible.  The prophecies of Christ depict just such a condition.

        The Master, in speaking of the church, relates the kingdom of God (or kingdom of heaven) so closely to it that one is almost made to believe that they are one and the same.  The church (the ek-klesia, or called out people) are citizens of the kingdom of God.  But as with all kingdoms, both good and bad persons are in the realm.  It is the bad people who “trample under foot” the “holy city.”  “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:36).

        Consider this parable: “Another parable put he forth unto them saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof” (Matt. 13:31,32).  The “fowls” are the powers of evil (verse 4 & 19).  The “tree” becomes monstrous in size and its branches are made vile by the presence of foul birds.

        A parallel to this prophetic message is given in the following verse: “Another parable spake he unto them; the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matt. 13:33).  Take note that the whole mass of meal became corrupt.  Leaven is a symbol of corruption: “Beware of the leaven” (Matt. 16:6).  The present-day, so-called Christian church has departed so far from the teaching of Christ and the apostles that most of it bears not even the remotest resemblance to the apostolic church.

        “Behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people” (Isa. 60:2).  This is the picture the prophet Isaiah gave us of the day that would be like the day of Noah.  The conditions of Sodom are now here in the U.S.A., and only the spiritually blind would deny it.

        It is not the antics of the Gentiles that disturb saints so much these days; it is the close proximity of pagans and saints.  Greed, lust and murder have made havoc in the world for many generations; but where in the history of time has the professing Christian church been so cluttered up with impostors?

        Silly sisters of Sodom, “Laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (II Tim. 3:6), go about preaching the gospel of Christ.  Juke box music (?) applied to the words of the songs of Zion has replaced the sweet and dignified harmony of the heavenly chorus.  This is the day of the “big” revival, the colossal campaign, the city wide crusade.  Just like dirt swept under the rug; so also is the riffraff swept into the kingdom of God.

        Any mob has the force of madness.  It literally drives people to acts and deeds over which their rational powers have no control.  Converts, as the results of mass evangelism, are hardly worth ten cents a dozen; but these are the GENTILES that daily are being brought into the court of the temple.  It is this conglomeration of half-baked cakes who befoul the branches of the kingdom tree.

        “Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind” (Matt. 13:47).  At this point, it may be well to consider some of the different kinds of characters who have been dragged into the kingdom of God by the “net.”  In His Mount Olivet discourse Jesus spoke of the “MANY” impostors who would appear as miracle workers.  He said that they would even “cast out devils in the name of Christ.”  Now here is a ministry that should and does have a terrific impact upon the audience.  No man can cast out devils without a vast amount of spiritual force at his command.  Only through the gift of discernment can anyone mark the identity of the operator who casts out devils.  Here a diabolical character can hide under a cloke that few people can see through.  Let us bear in mind that the Saviour said there would be MANY of these fellows, and He acknowledges none of them as His own: “I NEVER knew you” (Matt. 7:23).

        “Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses” (II Tim. 3:8), and their abilities to produce supernatural phenomena have never been disputed.  Those who prophesy “Lord, Lord, and have done many wonderful works” in His name, will not have their works judged as complete frauds.  The judgment of the Almighty is that they did such things IN HIS NAME without Him acknowledging them: “I never knew you.”

        That man who makes supernatural oil drip from the hands of professing Christians, by what power does he do it?  That man whose prayers are so effective that fillings of gold and silver are created instantaneously in the gaping mouths of believers, by whose power does he operate?  Here, again, only the discerning believer can tell which power is functioning.

        Don’t be fooled by a display of miracles.  Such things are not evidence that God is with the individual who performs them.  Oh yes, we are aware of this passage of holy writ: “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2).  This is an inspired record, but not an inspired truth.  This was the conclusion of an unconverted Jew.  Jesus said to him, “I have told you earthly things and ye believe not” (John 3:12).  This testimony of an unbeliever should not be a standard by which saints should judge the character of a miracle worker.  The ability to do supernatural things, even in the name of Christ, is not proof that the operator is a servant of the Almighty God.

        There is one thing that characterizes all the workers of iniquity: THEY WILL NOT OBEY THE LAW OF GOD.  The devil will counterfeit everything but obedience to all the words of Christ.

        The “net” has gathered both good and bad.  The “wise and foolish” virgins are all of the same kingdom.  The faithful and the wicked servants eat at the same table.  The men who use their talents for God’s glory and those who bury them are all members of the same household.  Even some of those who are known as citizens of the kingdom of God hate Him and declare by their works, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).  The “sheep and the goats” feed in the same pasture until the very end of time; and even at the marriage, the good and the bad will sit down at the same table!

        Now this is astonishing, is it not they “Gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matt. 22:10)?  It takes no great imagination to be able to see how the mixed multitude of the Gentiles has infiltrated the ranks of the professing Christian church.  The church asked for numbers, and they opened the door to all by dispensing with the law of God and offering unlimited freedom of will.  This is the brand of Christianity that has flooded the earth with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  By word of mouth, radio, television, the internet, and by literature of many kinds, this most popular brand of so-called Christianity is slowly influencing the whole world into capitulation.

        A full house is one of the features of the “marriage supper,” “that My house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).  Forget it not, His house is going to be full of good and bad people.  But THEN COMETH THE END.  When the cup of iniquity has been filled to the brim, then the wrath of God will be turned upon the hypocrites and God’s house shall be cleansed.

        “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:49,50).  “And when they had received it, they murmured against the Goodman of the house.  Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.  But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?  Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee, is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matt. 20:11-16).  “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:40-42).

 

 

 

 

CALLED

Kenneth Fountain

        In this day when the bulk of Christians align themselves with the standards and sentiments of the world, it is rare to find a true follower of Christ instead of a mere professor of the Christian religion.  Virtually anything the unbelieving masses of lost souls say or do is mimicked by those claiming to love God.  If touting some hairstyle is popular, or some style of attire, or body decoration or ornament, or involvement in addictions and unprofitable pastimes is acceptable to those of the world, then it is also accepted by many proclaiming the name of Christ.  In Isaiah 4:1, we read, “And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.”  In prophecy, “women” often refers to religious groups.  Here we find “women” choosing their own bread and apparel, but still desirous of being associated with “thy name.”  As followers of Christ, we are to eat the truth of the Bread of life (Matt. 6:11) that God provides and “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Rom. 13:14)  This phrase “put ye on” means to be clothed with, or covered with as a garment.  This has to do with much more than choosing what to wear in a physical sense, but spiritually putting off the garments spotted by the flesh (our carnal nature: Jude 23).  As true followers of Christ, we are to put off the “old man” and his deeds (Eph. 4:22-25; Col. 3:8,9).  God is working to develop “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).  Jude warns us of those “who should walk after their own ungodly lusts” (verse 18).

        We (the church: the bride of Christ) are espoused to one husband, the Lord Jesus. (Jer. 3:14; II Cor. 11:2)  As such, we are to be sanctified (set apart, consecrated) solely unto Him.  While most Christians recognize adultery as sin before God, we can be guilty of spiritual adultery by going after other gods of worldliness.  Ancient Israel was guilty of spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods (Jer. 3:8,9).  Peter gives blunt warning in II Pet. 2:20, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (see verses 21, 22 also).  Paul makes a brief list of carnal sins in I Cor. 6:9-10, then continues in verse eleven, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified.”  He also said, “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto every good work” (II Tim. 2:21).

        How much of the stuff and nonsense embraced, justified and excused by Christian church attendees is actually pleasing and honoring to the holy, righteous God of heaven?  Because God is characterized by His prominent attribute of longsuffering love and mercy, many assume their preferences of choice in every area of their personal lives is, at the very least, okay with God if not actually approved by Him.  It is conveniently ignored that God is also pure, holy and righteous, and the testimony of our lives and person should primarily exemplify and honor Him – not replicate the world's standards which are directly opposed to His.  The word lasciviousness found in Gal. 5:19 and Jude 4 is further defined in the Greek as excess, licentiousness and absence of restraint, which would include much more than just sexual immorality.  Giving oneself license to make his own choices about his life is not conducive to following Christ!  We are admonished and commanded to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:4,5).  Christians of all ages should heed Paul's admonition, “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Tim. 4:12).

        A few years ago, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets were a fad among Christian circles, and the query posed is a good thing to always consider in word or deed.  Would Jesus become involved in practices, products or companies that create addictions and behaviors that are destructive to body and soul, let alone His testimony before the world?  No!  Then why would Christians do these things?  Paul gave excellent admonition which many consider as specifically addressing prospective couples, but it applies to much more than marriage.  “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?  and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial?  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  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.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Cor. 6:14-18).  No wonder Jesus instructed in Matt 7:13-14,  “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).  The many here are those who refuse to sacrifice their will, wishes and ways to conform to the image of Christ that He would develop within their lives.  They choose their own “bread” and “apparel” instead of the cleansing Word of God: the bread of life, and the clothing of righteousness.  The followers of Christ are to be clothed in white raiment, pure and clean (see Rev. 3:4,5, 14-19).  For one to walk worthy of the Lord is not an automatic result of having received salvation.  The person must choose daily whom he will serve and honor with the living sacrifice of his life (Rom. 12:1,2).  Our carnal nature will naturally choose to follow the world, so we must consciously and determinedly choose to be conformed to the example of Christ.  He (Jesus) must increase and the 'I' must decrease (John 3:30).

          Many tend to relegate the glorious bounties of heaven to “the sweet by and by” after death and the resurrection at the last day, looking forward to the streets of gold, glorious mansions, and the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem with its precious stones (Rev. 21:19-21).  There is much to be said about our future in heaven, but God has great things for us here and now if we will extricate ourselves from the dust of the earth (Isa. 52:2), and reside in heavenly (spiritual reality) places where He has seated us (Eph. 2:6).  According to Paul, God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).  We are called into His rest (cessation of carnal activity), and He has invited us to partake of His peace, His joy and His love.  Jesus called His disciples friends (John 15:13-15); Paul said we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17).  We are also called “sons of God” (I John 3:1,2) and are to “shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).  How are these to be attained if we are content to wallow in the mire of worldliness?  Jesus' earnest prayer says, “I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:14-17).  As Paul said in Rom. 12:2, “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  We have been called with a holy calling (II Tim.1:9) unto holiness (I Th. 4:7) without which no man shall see God (Heb. 12:14)!  Peter prayed, “that ye should shew forth the praises (virtues) of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

 

 

 

 

THE JOY OF THE LORD

James Sanderson

        “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).  Joy is a small word that bears great weight in the life of the Christian.  It is an anchor for the soul in times of undue sorrow.  “For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow” (Jer. 31:13).  It will carry one through the most severe trial.  “I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (II Cor. 7:4).  It will lighten the load of any cross that one must bear.  “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).  Joy will change a barren life into a garden of beauty.

        The fleeting pleasures of this world provide only momentary happiness; on the other hand, the joy of the Lord endures to eternity.  One may experience the excitement of a ballgame; however, when the game ends, the excitement is over.  The joy of salvation never loses its glow through all the storms and vicissitudes of life.

        Thayer's Lexicon defines joy as gladness.  Vine's Expository Dictionary calls it delight.  Vine continues, “Joy is associated with life (I Thess. 3:8,9).  Experiences of sorrow prepare for, and enlarge, the capacity for joy (John 16:20).  Persecution for Christ's sake enhances joy (Matt. 5:11,12) (Vine's, page 619).  Joy is a response of the heart, indicative of inner peace and confidence in God.  In a sense, it is a barometer of one's relationship with the Lord.  The psalmist declared, “In thy presence is fulness of Joy” (Psalm 16:11).

        Jesus had much to say about Joy.  “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).  This Scripture reference and others indicate that Jesus Christ places inestimable value on joy in the life of the believer.  One can lose that joy, or one can increase that joy.  We decide.  It is the desire of our Lord that every follower walk in the fullness of the joy of the Lord.  In His prayer to the Father, Jesus prayed, “that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13).  When our desires line up with His desires, then our joy will be full.  Joy results from being in harmony with Him.

        Again, Jesus stated, “Your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22).  No one can rob a believer of his joy without his permission.  This particular verse demonstrates that true biblical joy does not depend on one's circumstances in life.  Rather, it depends on the state of one's relationship with God.  The prophet Habakkuk declared, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:17-18).  One can have overflowing joy in the midst of any calamity.

        Jesus declared, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).  The more one drinks at the fountain of life the more one experiences exquisite joy.  In his account of the early church, Luke writes, “And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 13:52).  The two go together: joy and the Holy Ghost.  Do you want more joy?  Get more of the Holy Ghost in your life.  The prophet Isaiah declared, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the well of salvation” (Isa. 12:3).

        The Apostle Paul lists joy as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  In his letter to the Romans, Paul also writes, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13).  The word abound is quite significant.  It is the same word that the Apostle John employed in reference to the fragments left after the feeding of the five thousand.  Twelve baskets “remained over and above unto them that had eaten” (John 6:13).  To the degree one's life is filled with joy and peace, to that degree will hope remain over and above in his life.

        In his epistle, James writes, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3).  Patience means perseverance, endurance.  Joy in the midst of trials and tribulation is a difficult concept for many Christians.  In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul commends the churches of Macedonia, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (II Cor. 8:2).  Paul was moved by the abundant joy that the Macedonian Christians displayed in the midst of trials and tremendous privation.  They understood what God was accomplishing in their lives through the difficulties they faced.  Their love for God transcended all that this world had to offer.  This same motivation governed Paul and Silas as they prayed and sang praises to God after they had been beaten and bound in stocks in a prison at Philippi (Acts 16: 23-25).

        The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans writes, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  As a kingdom saint through the new birth, it is the right and privilege of every Christian to experience the fullness of the joy of the Lord.  God is calling every believer to cultivate a life of joy in Him.

        We close with this verse from the first epistle of Peter, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).

 

 

 

 

IDENTIFYING THE ENEMIES

Alfred King

        In 1941 the United States entered into a world war where she was compelled to engage enemies on both the eastern front and the western.  Having enemies on two fronts spread her military forces thin and required her to divide her strength in order to resist both enemies simultaneously.  To have centered her forces on one front while neglecting the other would have meant certain defeat.  Situations beyond her control demanded attention be directed toward both enemies concurrently.  In like manner, we as Christians have two major enemies that war against us and we must encounter each fiercely and consistently.  Those two enemies are Satan and our own evil heart.

          One of the most valuable truths I was taught as a young Christian is the warfare between the Holy Spirit, Who came within when I was saved, and my own carnal nature.  Being taught the deceitfulness of the human heart and seeing how the sinful nature connives, reasons against God’s will and often attempts to water-down the Word of God, has aided me in searching deep into the recesses of my heart to see what’s cooking there.  Unfortunately, what I find there is not always pleasant.  One portion of scripture that has been a constant reminder to me of the condition of the human heart is found in Jeremiah 17 verse 9 and it reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  Coupling Jeremiah’s words with those of the Apostle Paul alerts any serious student of God’s word that there is a great enemy within.  Paul wrote, “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:7-8).  Carnality is an enemy of God, an enemy residing within man, which not only will not please God but cannot please God.  How serious is this?  Its seriousness cannot be overemphasized.  John the Baptist certainly understood the human heart when he said, “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

        When we search for a definition of carnal, our search doesn’t present a very noble character.  Henry Thayer lays bare this enemy in his definition of man’s carnal nature.  He defines carnal thus: “it is prone to sin and opposed to God, it includes whatever in the soul is weak, low, debased, tending to ungodliness and vise… is connected with unchastity and includes the whole man, body and soul, reason and all his faculties because all that is in him longs and strives after the flesh.”  Of course, if we read what Jesus had to say about the evil heart in Mark 7, we understand clearly that Mr. Thayer was attempting to bring to our attention the seriousness of the enemy within.  Jesus stripped away this enemy’s mask and the facade when He said, “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).  It is easy to see from these few verses that there is an enemy within of which every Christian must be aware, always guarding his heart that it not be overtaken with evil. 

        As time has passed, I find that many Christians focus on another enemy more than their carnal nature; in fact, almost to the extent as to be oblivious to the fact that the flesh is an enemy at all.  This enemy is Satan or the devil.  Their focal point is Satan and his evil minions, or evil spirits that they must constantly resist.  I have attended churches where every minor symptom a person may have is the result of some evil spirit.  It might be a sniffle, a pimple, a habit unconquered, a lust uncontrolled or something more serious such as cancer or bladder infection, but whatever the symptom it was proclaimed to be an evil spirit.  Consequently, one church I attended spent over two hours casting out all sorts of evil spirits, at which point I left, so I don’t really know how much longer the service lasted.

        Paul, in referring to his missionary trip to Macedonia wrote, “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (II Cor. 7:5).  Paul speaks of the battles without, which are those that confront every believer who is laboring to walk in a manner well pleasing to God, but he also mentions some enemy within his own being with which he must contend.  It is easy to focus on the enemy without and miss the enemy within and vice-versa.  We live in a hostile world with enemies on every side.  Being aware of the enemy and his strategy is very important in winning the battles which we, as Christians, face every day.  Focusing our attention on one enemy while ignorant of the other is certain defeat.

The Enemy Without

        While every student of God’s word knows that the devil no longer has the power he possessed before Jesus came, Satan still has a very strong influence in the world.  Jesus overcame the devil and bound him, so he is very limited in his power today.  A few scriptures that support this assertion are Matthew 12, Jesus was accused of casting out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.  Jesus responded to these accusations in verses 23 and 29, “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.  Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man?  and then he will spoil his house.”  Jesus was declaring that one of His purposes in coming was to bind Satan and plunder his kingdom.  Following are just a few more verses that support Christ’s victorious defeat of Satan.  John 12:31: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”  Heb. 2:14: “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.”  Rev. 12:10: “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.”  These scriptures (and there are many more) declare that Jesus defeated Satan in His death and resurrection.  While Jesus’ victory over Satan tremendously curtailed his power and ability to operate in this world, it did not totally annihilate him.  Through Jesus’ triumph over Satan, He has provided those who will believe, power over Satan and all his devices.  “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 19:10).

        While man in his natural strength and human determination cannot overcome Satan (for he is stronger than man), yet because of the power in the blood of Christ, God’s word and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, every believer is empowered to overcome all of Satan’s devices and all the fiery darts he might send against him.  This is why, in the book of Revelation, the promises offered are for the overcomers, those who persevere and endure unto the end (Matt. 24:13); those who put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11, 13); and fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12).  The Apostle James encourages believers to engage with this fellow when he attempts to lead us astray.  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Peter 5:8-9).

        Even sinners benefit from Jesus’ binding of Satan, for sinners must open the door in some way for the devil to gain access to that person.  Satan cannot force his way into one’s heart against his will.  The sinner may be aware of how he opens the door or he may be ignorant, but the results are still the same.  Man opens that door by various sins, specifically when he sins against his own conscience.  The more often he violates his conscience, the more power the enemy has over him.  He becomes a slave to sin much like a person who begins drinking and after time is addicted and becomes an alcoholic.  It is possible for a man to allow Satan complete control of his temple so that he no longer has any say about the things he will or will not do.  He surrenders his will to Satan by opening the door of his heart for Satan to enter and, consequently, becomes possessed.

        It is important that we recognize that the devil is “as a roaring lion.”  He can only roar; he cannot force anyone to sin, nor can he force entrance into his heart.  As long as a man stays away from Satan’s territory, he cannot be overcome by this enemy.  It is when he enters Satan’s territory, he opens himself up to be, first influenced and later addicted or controlled by Satan or some of his evil forces.

The Enemy Within

        The enemy within is truly the most dangerous enemy, for he exists within us where the battle rages between right and wrong.  The natural man is prone to sin.  While he may have many good traits, he is also carnal, and that carnal nature gravitates toward certain things which are evil.  In our modern world where sin is so rampant, the human heart accepts the immorality around him as normal, even when his conscience is crying out against it.  Jeremiah’s warning of the “deceitful and desperately wicked heart” fades into oblivion as the wicked heart begins to reason away the convictions of the conscience.  When we turn our attention to Christians, we find some of the same evil devices operating as those that deceive and enslave sinners.  Christians have a tremendous advantage over sinners, because Christians have faith in God’s word and they have within them the abiding Holy Spirit who teaches them, revealing to those who have ears to hear, that self, the ‘I’ or ego, is a very destructive force and can destroy them.  Satan plays on the carnal nature and lures it toward sin.  There are many temptations cooked up in the kitchen of hell that are designed to bring Christians into sin.  It is because of man’s carnal nature that Satan has any power at all, but where carnality is found, there Satan will be found.

        In Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 24, He addresses several things that will cause some to miss the mark.  Let’s consider just a few.  “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matt. 24:15-18).  The warning here is the same as that given to the rich young ruler, the record of which we find in Mark 10:17-23.  Jesus told this man in order for him to obtain eternal life, he would need to sell all that he had, give to the poor and come and follow Him.  The young man went away sorrowful for he had great wealth and could not forsake it.  The warning in Matthew 24 is the same; there are those who will miss the call of God because they have their hearts set on their accumulated riches.  In the hour of testing, they cannot give up their idols and, therefore, will miss God’s call.  The human heart finds itself attached to so many idols, especially in this modern age where there are countless attractions and forms of entertainment, gadgets of all sorts, something to please everyone.  These things can very easily occupy one so that he has no time left for God.  Instead he is caught up in the many things that lead away from God or robs him of the time necessary to have a genuine walk with God.  The carnal heart, the lusts and desires of the natural heart can deceive and leave one unprepared in the day of testing.

        Returning again to Mark 7:20-23, Jesus gives us a quick glance of what might be hidden in our hearts.  “[F]rom 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.”  This is not a pretty list of attributes.  While most Christians are obviously not given over to bulk of these, such as adulteries, fornications, murder, thefts, wickedness, or blasphemy, they may find some on this list do exist within their hearts.  Do Christians have evil thoughts?  Evil thoughts can be evil imaginations, fantasies or things along those lines, or they can be evil thoughts of others.  Are Christians sometimes covetous?  Are they deceitful at times, either with themselves or with others?  Do Christians sometimes live loosely, not living as God’s word states as becoming to a true Christian?  Do Christians have an evil eye, looking at others critically and possibly even judging them?  Are Christians sometimes proud and haughty?  Any honest Christian will recognize that some of these traits do reside within and they are defiling agents according to Jesus Christ.  These are just a few of the things that come from our hearts and if not addressed and fought against will destroy us, for they are enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        We certainly can be grateful for the precious blood of Christ which is sufficient to cover these sins, but we must not be content to tacitly or indifferently go on with little concern of their existence in our hearts.  We are called to be warriors in the Kingdom of God, not with man’s weaponry, but with those spiritual weapons provided for us in Jesus Christ.  Paul lists some of those weapons in Ephesians 6:10-17.  He also gives us some great advice in his second letter to Timothy.  “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:4).

        While we have enemies without and within, Jesus Christ has provided the means by which every believer can be an overcomer.  Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians in II Cor. 10:4-6.  “(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.”  Let us go on to perfection, fully alert and aware of these two great enemies.  While we are warring on two fronts, there are many battles to be fought against both enemies.  Let us recognize the devices of Satan and the deceitfulness of the human heart and always keep our eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith, for He will lead us to total victory.

 

 

 

 

KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH?

Harold Kupp

        There is a verse in the book of Hebrews which should strike fear into the heart of all Christians who sin.  "For if we sin deliberately after receiving the KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries" (Heb 10:26-27).

        The author was saying that Christians should be sure to gather together and exhort each other (v.25) because if they were to sin willfully after receiving "the knowledge of the truth" their only prospect was "judgment and a fury of fire.”

What Is The "Knowledge Of The Truth"?

        If we dip beneath the surface of the English translation, we quickly discover that it is not just knowledge (Gk gnosis), rather, it is epi – gnosis.  The Greek preposition "epi" is an intensifier which, when combined with gnosis "always refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life" and implies a "full" knowledge.  Standard reference works explain epignosis in this way: Strong's Dictionary of the NT 1922, epignosis – recognition, i.e. (by implication) full discernment, acknowledgment; Thayers Lexicon 1922, epignosis – precise and correct knowledge; used in the New Testament, of the knowledge of things ethical and divine.  If you apply those definitions to "knowledge of the truth" we see that it refers to a full and CORRECT knowledge of things ethical and divine which in turn influences ones religious life.

        Vines expository dictionary agrees: 2. epignosis 1922,.denotes "exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition," and is a strengthened form of No. 1, [gnosis] expressing a fuller or a full "knowledge," a greater participation by the "knower" in the object "known," thus more powerfully influencing him.

        The author of Hebrews was pronouncing a dreadful warning to those who had received this "epignosis of the truth".  The warning was: "sin deliberately and there would be no more hope, only the prospect of judgment."  So, if epignosis refers to full and complete knowledge of the truth, what is "the truth"?

        There are two things which come to mind when we see the term "the truth" (not simply truth, but THE truth).  1.  Jesus, who is referred to as "the truth."  "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:6).  2.  The law of God, which is "the truth."  "Thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142).  The law of God and Jesus are forever intertwined.  If you know Jesus, you keep the commandments of God.  And conversely, if you keep the commandments of God, you know that you have come to know Jesus.

        Not true you say?  Argue with the apostle John.  "And by this we know that we have come to KNOW Him, if we keep His commandments” (I John 2:3).  "The one who says, I have come to KNOW Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and THE TRUTH is not in him” (I John 2:4).

        The term "knowledge of the truth" is used elsewhere by Paul, and if we look at those verses they will help us to understand what this enigmatic phrase really means.

        Titus 1:1: Paul, “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God's elect and their KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH which accords with godliness.”  In this verse we see that it is the "elect" who have the "knowledge of the truth,” and we see that the knowledge of the truth has to do with godliness.

        The word "elect" in the Greek text is a form of eklektos which is sometimes translated as "chosen" as indicated by Strong's Greek Dictionary: 1588 eklektos: select; by implication, favorite: KJV – chosen, elect.

        It is important to understand this because, according to Paul, it is the chosen (elect) who have the knowledge of the truth.  In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus used the same word eklektos when He said: “For many are called, but few are CHOSEN" (Matt. 22:14).

        If you refer to the definition of eklektos you will see that Jesus was saying that many are called, but few are selected.  That is, many are called by the Father – but only a few are "elect".  Many Christians have been called by God and given the gift of faith, but not all of them will be selected (chosen) by God to receive eternal life.  Those who are chosen are those who have received the knowledge of the truth ("the elect and their knowledge of the truth." Titus 1:1 above).

        Peter also referred to this process of calling and choosing when he said: "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His CALLING and CHOOSING you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble” (II Peter 1:10).  Was Peter really talking about salvation?  The next verse makes it absolutely clear that he was, "for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (v. 11).

        That is why the author of Hebrews warned the Christians to make sure that they continued to gather together and exhort each other about love and good works, because if those who had come to the knowledge of the truth were to "sin deliberately,” they could be certain of "a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

        Why are those who have "received the knowledge of the truth" and then "sin deliberately" punished so severely?  "How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:2)  Because, after receiving the "full and correct" knowledge of the truth, they have spit upon the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified and outraged the Spirit of grace by rejecting obedience to God's law and deliberately committing sin.

Peter Gives The Same Warning!

        Peter said this about Christians who have come to the knowledge (epignosis) of Jesus and have known the way of righteousness and then turn back to committing sin.  "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first.  For it were better for them not to have KNOWN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the HOLY COMMANDMENT delivered unto them" (II Peter 2:20-21).

        Like the dog returning to its vomit these people escaped the defilements of the world and ceased from sin through the KNOWLEDGE of Jesus (The Truth) and then turned back to sin.  They had KNOWN the way of righteousness (the truth) and then chose to "sin deliberately" and break one of the holy Commandments of God.  "It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire.”  The dire warnings found in Peter and Hebrews are there for our protection.  If the reader is a Christian who is still committing sin by deliberately breaking any of the Ten Commandments and is anxious to repent, let him take heart, for if he is able to repent, then he is not one who has come to a knowledge of the truth and turned back to sin.

        The very fact that one wants to repent is proof that he is still able to be saved, for God has not yet rejected him and sent him a delusion as described in II Thessalonians: "and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of THE TRUTH, that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe THE TRUTH but had pleasure in UNRIGHTEOUSNESS" (II Thess. 2:10-12).

        As I sat here pondering how to close, I decided there could be no better way than to simply repeat the words that God inspired in the author of Hebrews as he tried to warn his brethren about the awful consequences of intentional sin: "and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.  For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries."

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Harry Miller

Editor's Note:

        This is the first installment in a series of nine Bible studies concerning the history of ancient Israel, their deliverance from Egypt, and their sojourn in the Wilderness of Paran.  Various spiritual applications, profitable to the people of this latter day, are also brought out in these articles. 

        I Corinthians 10:11 tells us that we receive instruction from studying the things which befell the children of Israel, “All these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  We gather from this that there are many spiritual lessons which can be derived from the things implied in the history of Israel.

        There is great latitude given the human imagination in making applications from historical accounts in the scriptures.  It is not the custom of People of the Living God to draw such conclusions, except for bringing out some moral which may be applied to a person's life as a means for betterment of that life, but the moral we derive from the account is never used as absolute proof that things will always come out that certain way.

        There are many scriptures of this nature in the Bible, but none of them should ever be used as a foundation proof of doctrine.  This manner of human interpretation has caused much confusion.  Instead of building foundational teachings upon the plain words of Jesus and the apostles, many teachers have built upon human interpretations of allegories, parables, mystical sayings, and “dark speeches” of the Bible.

        Through the ages, many men have forsaken the plain ways of truth and light for an adventure into the shadows of vain imaginations, mythology, old wives' fables, and many doctrines of demons which have their only foundations in the mysterious.  It was vanity of the mind and human imaginations which caused man's fall in the beginning.  God had declared the truth in a plain and explicit manner.  The devil cast doubt and a seed of curiosity for the mysterious.  This invariably makes a wonderful appeal to the vain mind and is the bait that Satan has used to catch many in his net.

        An illustration of one erroneous method of proving doctrine by interpretation of “dark speeches” is the “type and shadow” method used by many who try to prove the “Rapture” theory – a doctrine which claims that the Gentile saints are soon going to disappear, or be translated and caught up to the throne of God, secretly, and before the great tribulation comes upon the rest of the earth.

        This “fable” claims to have a foundation in the “type” of Noah and his ark, and of Enoch, who was translated before the flood.  Enoch, we are told, is a “type” of the raptured saints; the flood is a type of the tribulation that will come upon the whole earth, and Noah and the folks in the ark are the Jews who will be kept by the Lord during the tribulation.  Not a speck of truth is contained in this vain invention of the natural man.  It is far worse than Cain's bloodless offering, for these tales delude and confuse many souls.

        Therefore “beware of the leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees.”  Build your doctrinal structure not on the sands of human imagination, but upon the solid rock of the plain statements from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ and the words of the apostles.

        As “All scriptures is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” we turn to the historical account of the children of Israel, knowing that as we use the plain words of Christ for our chart and compass, we will not fall into the errors of many who have “wrested the scriptures to their own destruction” because they sought not truth, but something to use for evidence to prop up the inventions of their own wicked hearts.

        The first four words in the book of Genesis are: “In the beginning God.”  The last four words of the same book are: “a coffin in Egypt.”  What a contrast!  Perfect God created perfect man, but man's way brought sorrow, bondage, and loss of life.  Man had become a corpse in a casket in a strange country.

        Adam, a creature of glory in a beautiful garden, soon lost his place and became an outcast in a material earth filled with thorns and thistles.  He, too, became a “corpse” far from God.

        Israel, the people chosen of God, soon forsook the “land of promise” for the bread of Egypt, and before many years passed, they became menial slaves of cruel task masters.  It is here that the account of Exodus begins.

        The first miracle mentioned in this book we must infer from chapter 1, verse 7 and 12, concerning the fruitfulness and the strength of the Israelites.  Even affliction did not check their increase, but rather multiplied it.

        Verse 17 says: “But the midwives feared God.”  This shows the work of the great God of heaven in protecting the “seed” that was to be used in delivering Israel.  The “lively” condition of the Hebrew women was not just chance, or a thing common to women of the Hebrews, but was another manifestation of the blessing of the Most High.  For only blessed women of God shall be “saved in child bearing? (I Tim. 2:15).

        We see the promise given to Abraham fulfilled in what the Lord did for these midwives, as it is written: “I will bless them that bless thee” (Gen. 12:3).  This blessing was not confined to purely spiritual things, for the Lord “made them houses” (Exodus 1:21).  What a wonderful manifestation of the providence of God is given in the account of Moses' birth and deliverance from the clutches of Satan.  The victory which the mother of Moses had, in being paid for nursing her own child, demonstrates the abundant way that the Lord rewards the faith of His saints.

        Right in reach of the very jaws of the lion, God's man was tutored and trained in the finest schools of his day, and all of this training never effaced the deep lessons of faith and of God that had been given him by his mother in the few years of his infancy. 

        The bustle and rush of city life and the demand of social things tend to keep the mind from the things of God, so Moses was given a desert education.  The peace and solitude of the desert will bring the thoughts of the honest in heart back to the Creator.  Thus did God prepare His man.

        Paul, a city man chosen for a great work of the Lord, was also given a desert education, for we read: “I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia” (Gal. 1:16,17).

        Man needs to get alone and be quiet and know that He, our Lord, IS God.  Quiet meditation and waiting upon the Lord is much needed to teach the soul meekness and submissiveness to the ways of the Almighty.

        Moses, in Egypt, thought that by the strength of his own arm he could avenge his people.  But after forty years alone in the desert, he realized that it was not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit alone, that anything could be accomplished.

        When Moses had come to the place where he had no faith in his own powers or eloquence, and fully realized the lack in all men, the Lord appeared unto him.  The God of fire in the midst of a bush: “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2).  The desert plant was glorified by the presence of the Almighty.  Man, the temple of clay, is filled with the Holy Spirit and fire, and like the bush, he is not consumed.

        This bush, in itself, was no different from other desert plants.  But with the touch of the Presence of God, it was so transformed that Moses “turned aside to see.”  In ourselves, we are no different from other men of flesh, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  But the touch of the Almighty changes and glorifies the individual, that he, like the bush, should be a witness unto men.

        The sacredness of the Presence of God is set forth in the statement that the ground upon which Moses stood was holy ground.  The ground was holy, not because some man, or men, had dedicated it to the Lord, but because the Lord Himself was there, and His presence made the things He touched sacred.

        Practically all of the third chapter of Exodus is an account of the conversation between the Lord God and His servant Moses.  The most valuable miracle to man is the Word of God, the wisdom and knowledge of the Most High.  In the days of the prophets, few people appreciated the value of having a channel through which the mighty God could speak unto them.

        How few rulers of nations ever asked counsel of God.  Some of the kings of ancient Israel sought the Lord at times for definite instruction about the most important matters, but most rulers of this “chosen” people did not seek the Lord for counsel.  Most men despise God's way and methods of doing things, so ignoring Him, they walk after the counsel of their own minds and hearts.

        Surely it takes a meek and humble people to walk as He leads.  God, on Mount Horeb, was seeking a leader who would have faith to venture to walk through a sea; to throw a tree in bitter water believing God would sweeten it; to believe that bread could fall from heaven; that water could gush from a rock; that a cloud would ever hide them from the heat of the sun, and that a pillar of fire could lead him.

        The presumptuous, self-confident man never goes very far with God.  He may, like Peter, step out of the material boat and take a few steps upon the waters of the eternal; but he will not walk far, for the evidence of his eyes drowns out the faith of his heart, and he slips down to his old natural ways.

        Moses' desert experience had removed all of the old self-confidence and headiness; so before God, this great leader of men hid his face in deep humiliation.  In answer to God's call to the work he said, “Who am I, that I should go?” (Ex. 3:11)  Humbly he asks another question: “What shall I say?” (verse 13).  After receiving much instruction, Moses visualized himself trying to convince Israel that he was their deliverer; eighty years old, a despised sheepherder with the marks of the blistering desert furrowing his tanned face.  To himself, he undoubtedly thought of the Moses at forty; well trained in the manners of Egypt, who might have impressed Pharaoh and the elders of Israel, but what could he do now?  This thought, no doubt, was the one which struck him with such force that he said: “But, behold they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, the Lord hath not appeared unto thee” (Ex. 4:1).

        Poor man!  He was looking at himself.  He was weighing his own talents, his natural ability.  Enough to discourage any man; but the Lord taught him a great lesson.  “What is that in thy hand?” the Lord inquired.  Why, just an old shepherd's rod, a dry, dead stick; so says the natural man.  But with God all things are possible.  Any bush or old dry stick may become a mighty instrument in the hands of the Almighty.

        That rod, which to the eyes of Moses was only a shepherd's stick, became a most noted thing in the history of Israel.  With it there was a mighty manifestation of power in Pharaoh's court; it was used to bring the plagues upon the heathen; it was stretched out over the Red Sea to part the waters; as it struck the rock, waters gushed forth; and in the tabernacle of God, it budded, blossomed, and bore fruit to His glory.  Thus did God glorify the usefulness of a stick in his hands, and taught Moses the great truth that there are mighty possibilities in anything, if touched by the power of God.

        The next lesson was a contrast showing the power of the ministry of the natural man, or man without God.  Man's hand from his own bosom is leprous, full of sin, “for the flesh profiteth nothing.”  Moses, without God, had good reason to be fearful; for without Him, we can do nothing.

        Moses was still fearful, and failing to comprehend the full significance of the things shown him, he asked for human assistance.  When the Lord speaks in plain language to a prophet, He never haggles or argues any question, but often gives men their own ways, even though later they may pay a costly price for their human desires.

        The fact of the omnipotence of Almighty God is little understood by His creatures.  We see the Lord working in various ways to awaken the understanding of Moses to the “Almightiness” of His power and authority.  “Who” He asks, “maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?  HAVE NOT I THE LORD?” (Ex. 4:11)

        God is the creator of both light and darkness, peace and evil, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isa. 45:19).

        God knew positively that Aaron would answer the call, so even before he was asked, the Lord was able to say to Moses: “he shall be thy spokesman unto the people” (vs. 16).  Here is a lesson in complete consecration; being ever ready to immediately respond to the call of God.  “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord … that when He cometh and knocketh, they may open unto Him immediately” (Luke 12:36).

 

 

 

 

PASSOVER 2016

 

        People of the Living God will be celebrating the feast of Passover this year beginning on Thursday, April 21st at sundown.  The Passover Sabbath will be Friday, April 22nd.  The observance of the Passover Feast is not an issue of salvation.  However, it is a celebration that points back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt when the death angel passed by those houses which had the blood sprinkled on the lintel and the door posts.  Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a type and shadow of the salvation Jesus came to offer those who will believe in Him.  As the Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in like manner men are slaves of sin and, consequently, slaves to the god of this world.  Jesus came to free men from the bondage of sin and create a free people who can, through the enabling power of the Gospel, overcome sin.  Just as Israel was delivered from Egypt with the intent they would possess the land promised to Abraham, so believers under the New Covenant are delivered from the bondage of sin in order that they might possess the kingdom of God, which kingdom is made available through Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore keep the feast in the power of the blood of the Lamb, knowing that we have been given a high calling, being ordained to possess all that Christ has promised to those that love and serve Him.

 

 

 

 

SISTER ALDA SCULLIN

 

        Sister Alda Mae Scullin, a very faithful servant of God and member of People of the Living God, passed away January 10th, 2016; she was 95.  She was preceded in death by her husband (also a long-time member of People of the Living God), who passed away last April.  Sister Alda was a very faithful wife, always supporting her husband’s ministries through the years as well as the ministries of People of the Living God.  She loved music, gardening, cooking, and loved reading and studying.  She loved to learn.  She also loved her family, her church family and above all, she loved the Lord.  For the past couple of years Sister Alda had been very limited in her ability to take care of herself, so required special help from others.  Yet, even through these times, she loved to attend the Sabbath services.  She would sing and always talk about how much she loved being able to go to the house of the Lord.  On her last night as she lay in her bed, she turned slightly and reached up her feeble hand and spoke her last words, “I see You, Jesus”.  What comforting words for those who remain.  She was a very faithful servant in God’s vineyard and she will certainly be missed by all.  Her husband, George Scullin, passed away last April and a report of his life and ministry can be found in the May 2015 issue of “The Testimony of Truth” for those interested in a more in-depth account of Sister Alda’s life.

 

 

 

 

LIVELY STONES

Melody Ax

        I Peter 2:1-9 – “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

        The Lord is building a house.  The house is made up of Lively stones.  The word Lively in the Strong’s Concordance in the Greek means “Life,” and in the World Book Dictionary “Lively” means, as an adjective: Full of life and spirit; vigorous.  Brisk, energetic, animated, spirited, vivacious.  Exciting.  Bright; vivid: lively colors.  Cheerful, bouncing well and quickly.  Fresh, invigorating, brisk or sparkling.  Adverb: In a lively manner; briskly; nimbly; vigorously.

        Come to Christ, Who is the living Foundation, the Rock upon which God builds.  Though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen Him above all others.  And now you have become living building stones for God’s use in building His house.  Christ is the precious Cornerstone of His church.

        The buildings out in your area may be labeled Methodist, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, non-denomination, etc., but God is building a house not made by man’s hands.  He is building His church with the chief Corner Stone Jesus, and the walls are living stones.  If your foundation is any other than Jesus Christ your house will fall.  Matthew 7:25 says, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.”

        The rock is Jesus!  Your church may be founded on a man, who truly may be a man of God; however, as it says in Matthew 7:25, it must be founded on Jesus Christ.  If any building is built out of faulty materials, you know that it will fall.  If the wood that holds up the roof is rotten, it will fall down.  Bricks that are soft, improperly made, or made from the wrong materials cannot support weight and will fall down.  A true Church that is made by God, not by man’s hands, is made of living stones – true Christians – as opposed to dead stones, bricks of straw.  If the House that God is making out of men and women is going to be able to stand, it must not have bad stones.

        Do you want your house made of straw?  Certainly not!  When the storms come; will your house stand?  There is hope for those that have their foundation founded on the Rock Jesus.  Isaiah 54:10-12 states, “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.  O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.  And I will make thy windows of agates, and the gates of carbuncles (red jewels) and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”

        It would be good for the reader to read the entire chapter of Revelation 21 paying special attention to verses 19-27.  The walls are Living Stones!!  Each Lively stone is precious to Jesus.  He made them all and He is building His church.  While some take Revelation 21 literally and others spiritually, one thing is certain, these stones are beautiful.  Jasper comes in various colors.  Some are opaque, others colored, some granular quartz (usually red, yellow or brown).  Green jasper was a very precious stone in ancient times.  Sapphire is a bright blue precious stone that is hard and clear like a diamond.  It is used also for polishing and grinding.  The Lord uses His precious stones to polish other precious stone.  We are all put into a rock polisher where we rub against one another and those who will stay in the polisher, will come out conformed to Jesus Christ.  Do you need a little polishing today, or some grinding to get some dirt off of you?  Stay in God’s polisher and allow God to use others to make you perfect before Him.  There are 12 walls made up of stones.  Look up the stones yourself – It is a wonderful study.  How beautiful are the lively stones.

        Our Lord is looking to and fro to find a real Church.  It will be one founded on the Rock, Jesus Christ.  It will be one with lively stones not dead ones.  It will be a house that God is making out of men and women who are going to be able to stand, not founded by man, but founded on the Rock allowing His Spirit to lead them and guide them (Zech. 4:6). – “IT IS NOT BY MIGHT, NOT BY POWER, BUT BY MY SPIRIT SAITH THE LORD.”

        Examine yourself.  Ask the Lord if there is any wicked thing in your heart.  CHURCH, this has to be done.  We must REPENT and ask Him to help us become that GLORIOUS CHURCH.  We cannot do this in ourselves, but through Christ that strengthens us we can do all things (Phil. 4:13).

 

 

 

 

SPECIAL NOTICE

 

        Brother Derwood Stewart is hosting a Fellowship Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas on April 1st and 2nd.  The topic of the services is “Hope for Us.”  Brother Stewart’s ministry is called “The House of Prayer Sabbath Ministries” and can be found on the web at: http://www.preachersteacher.org.  For more information call: 501-470-9131.