People of The Living God

John 17

 

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May 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

Alfred King

        The recent decision by North Carolina’s governing body to protect its citizens and their religious convictions by rejecting the pressure from those who embrace the LGBT agenda, has raised an outcry from those who see no danger in permitting men and women using the same bathroom facilities.  The fact the Bruce Springsteen has cancelled his performance in North Carolina is probably more of a blessing than a curse and every logical thinking person should honor South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley for stating that children are more important than the four hundred jobs that PayPal had promised to bring to Charlotte.  PayPal’s plans to build a new facility in Charlotte has been cancelled with the stand North Carolina has taken against the agenda of the GLBT movement.  A few other southern states are also holding to the moral and logical decision to keep their women and children safe by refusing to bow down to the pressures imposed by the evil and diabolical agenda of men of perverse minds.  Jude describes those of this caliper thus: they are “foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 13).  Such evil that was once kept in the closet for its obvious shame is now the boast of men of corrupt minds who have given themselves over to all uncleanness and to that which is against nature.  Paul informs us that this has come upon them because they have rejected God and His word.  “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Rom. 1:24).  Paul further states in Romans one that God gave them over to a “reprobate mind,” a mind that is void of judgment or common sense.  The total stupidity of men thinking that bathroom facilities should be open to both sexes is so irrational and irresponsible that it causes any sane person to wonder why such an issue should be placed on the table at all.  Why is this even a topic of discussion?  Are we so ignorant and blind that we cannot see the dangers that this permissive law would impose upon our women and children?  Are we to think that those we love and care about the most are going to be safe when we open the doors for predators, rapists, pedophiles, and other perverts to have greater access to them and think they will not take advantage of this easy target?  Even under our present order thousands of children have been abducted and can we even remotely imagine that it will not get worse with the new laws allowing men to use the women’s rest rooms?  Thousands of women have been raped by evil men, and are we so irrationally blind that we cannot see that we are opening the doors for those numbers to increase?  Why is the GLBT agenda more important than our women and children?  This is the real concern and purpose of North Carolina’s ruling.  Where has our common sense gone?

        Scripture teaches that in the latter days these types of things will occur and will increase.  They are signs of the Lord’s return.  While America disgraces herself before the world, we must realize that our “redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).  All these things must come to pass before the Lord returns, and it will get even worse than it is today before the Lord returns.  According to Revelation 9, the pit in which the devil has been cast will be opened and from that pit smoke ascends.  This smoke blinds men.  This is why so many men today have fallen into the lie that the GLBT movement is okay.  They are blinded by the smoke from the pit.  They cannot see truth, and even their God-given common sense is lost to the point they cannot see their own corruptness or the deception of their own hearts.  Blindness is come upon America and so few see the evil movement of the GLBT for what it is.

        The next things that come from the pit spoken of in Revelation 9 are locust.  Locust are representative of evil spirits.  The GLBT movement (along with many other movements today) is inspired by evil spirits.  These spirits are the force that is motivating, controlling and pushing the evils that are being imposed by our federal government.  These evil spirits are under Satan whose sole purpose is to “steal, kill and destroy” all that is decent, pure, holy and right.  They hate God and they hate God’s creation.  They hate you and me.  They have made their way into our families, our schools, our courts, and our government so that there is no place clean.  “For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean” (Isa. 28:8).  All these things are signs of the times and are the harbingers of Christ’s return.  They are a warning to those who have ears to hear that it is time to awaken from sleep and begin to trim our lamps, for the midnight cry is sounding.  “Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him.”  There is an urgency in the air.  The handwriting is on the wall.  The hour of His judgment is close.  The signs of God’s judgments are imminent.

        While it is not for us to know the times or the seasons which God has in His own power, Jesus did give us many signs that we are instructed to watch for, so that the day does not come upon us unawares.  We are to be watchmen upon the walls sounding forth the midnight cry.  Things we are facing today as a nation and more specifically as the church of Jesus Christ are just the beginning of those evils which will proceed from the pit as times goes on.  Evil spirits will gain more and more control as men continue to open the doors for their ungodly activities.

        While these things grieve those who have eyes to see into the spirit realm, they are also signs to those who believe to begin to gird on the whole armour of God.  In the end God will triumph over all these evil spirits and those men who allow them to control their lives.  God will be glorified among the heathen.  He will be exalted in the earth through His people.  In Ezekiel 20, God declares that while the church has fallen far short of God’s way, yet “for His name’s sake” He will show forth His power in the earth and His power will operate through His church.  The church may look pretty feeble, malnourished and weak today, yet God will raise her up to be a shining light and will bring her into the fullness of His kingdom.  Ezekiel saw this while in Babylonian captivity.  God spoke and said He would bring them into the good land which He had promised to the fathers.  God will also bring His church into the promised rest, the fullness of His kingdom.  Consider seriously what God told Ezekiel in chapter 20 verses 33-37 “As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.  Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.  And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant”.  It will be through judgment that God will bring to maturity a godly church.  God will lead His people out of this present evil world and into a land of holiness, where God will be honored, and He will dwell among them.  What a wonderful God we serve, a God Who will triumph over all other gods and will show Himself mighty in His people and among the nations.  What a glorious hope we have in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

 

THE TURBULENCE OF CHRISTENDOM

H.O. Fain

        In spite of many pretenses to the contrary, we can say with certainty that never in history has there been more confusion, disorder and turmoil among the professed Christian forces as we see manifested today.  Spiritual purblindness and astigmatism seems to have reached epidemic proportions in all quarters of Christendom, and they grope as a blind man for the wall.  The ecumenical pageantry and gala processions that have greeted our eyes for some years past, pretend to be the answer for the spiritual ills that plague and beset on every hand, but this much touted panacea only adds more gloom to the ill-omened dilemma that has the professed Christian forces pinned down in every sector.

        While many who claim a call to religious leadership seem quite adept and able when dealing with questions that concerns only the world of non-believers, yet those prophets who are willing to stick out their spiritual necks, and bring a “thus saith the Lord” message to the Babel of tongues that goes to make up modern day Christendom are conspicuous by their absence.  Most persons who do venture to speak a word to the floundering and mixed up Christian forces, are generally found to be wearing the grave clothes of some peculiar and divisional sect, hence they only become “blind leaders of the blind.”  It is always noted that this type of prophet is careful to avoid the “back lash” that is sure to come, if and when the idols and fetishes of a backslidden and compromising world of professors are shown up for what they are.  Such prophets are expert strategists in the art of side-stepping and speaking only smooth things.

        The status quo of our contaminated religious atmosphere is strictly off bounds to them, for they remember Paul’s predicament at Philippi, when he dared to run counter to the religious necromancers of that city, and they are not anxious to be thrust into the inner prison that our 20th century inquisitors have built, and face the stocks, the thumbscrew and the rack, which comes in the form of embargo, blockade and boycott.  While many in high places seem to sense the peril that faces both church and world, and are wont to make known their concern, yet because of their own commitments and entanglements with the maze of divisional sectarianism, their words always fall just short of being effective.

        No messages, whether written or oral, will ever produce the desired results unless, and until, those giving out the message come to a clear knowledge of the truth concerning the oneness of the church, and who are able to see through the falseness and misleading pretense as given out today by a Babel of discordant tongues, and who are willing once and for all to separate themselves from this repugnant and dissentient spirit of denominationalism.  Half truth, in most cases, is worse than no truth at all; so let no one delude themselves with the thought that they can warn the body of Christ as to its peril in the wilderness of man-made churchanity, and yet continue to hold on to their own brand of division as something reputable and respectable.

        Jesus said, “I will build my church,” and this heaven-built church is all inclusive, and needs not the puny pens and cells that are man’s invention to make her complete, “for ye are complete in Him” (Col.2:10).  It is proper to speak of THE church, but to speak of A church is to malign and defame the very words of Christ as quoted above.  “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord,” hence it would amount only to distortion and monstrosity to imagine that a thousand sectarian superstructures could be built upon this one foundation.

        The words of this article will apply to one and all who foster and promote division in the body of Christ, even to the Pentecostal groups who have much to say about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and yet seem to be about the most divided hodgepodge of believers that are to be found on earth.

        The same Spirit that fell on the 120 in the upper room at Jerusalem, had an altogether different effect on those original believers, “for they were of one heart and one soul,” and because of this they could go to the world as one man with one message, and thus unitedly turn whole cities to God, and even change the course of Empires; but behold the impotence and ineffectiveness of 20th century Pentecost as they go before the world as factions, with each faction seeking by all means at their command to build their own carnal image before the world.  If these who claim such an intimate experience with God would only demonstrate it by forever standing clear from their carnal divisions as set forth in I Corinthians 1:10, then it might well be that the world about them could be salvaged from the servile thralldom that has taken over in every segment of society.

        We hear much about total commitment in these days, but total commitment will also include total obedience, and obedience at this point in church history will mean above all that God’s people should be done with any and all types and shades of division and come unitedly together in God ordained unity.  This sort of move will be the only hope of ever convincing the world of gainsayers that our boisterous claims concerning the gospel is true.

 

 

 

 

THE REBELLION

EXPOSED AND OVERCOME

Tom Scullin

        God alone is Divine and, as such, He is the Creator, Sovereign and Sole Proprietor of all the vast universe of Place and Being (Deut. 10:14).  “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.”  God claims ownership and governance over all His creation, of heaven, earth and the sentient beings He created to inhabit the place of His abode, heaven, and those on the terrestrial plane of earth (Ezek. 28:13-15; Ps. 24:1; Rom. 14:7-8).

        God’s will alone is the governance of His entire creation, for it alone establishes the perfect order, peace and tranquility for all His subjects.

        The beings God created to inhabit and serve Him, His purpose and His will, in heaven were each created for a specific glorious position of service.  This state of glory and service that was given unto them was their given area of duty and ministry to glorify God and was their fixed position of service and glory in the eternal hierarchy of God.

        We see a multitude of different and diverse ministering spirits who functioned in a vast variety of official duties (Heb. 1:13-14; Matt. 18:10).  There are Cherubim and Seraphim, each with a specific glory and service to God.  The being Michael was one of the chief princes whose position and glory was as a warrior in the service of God (Dan. 10:13,21; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7).

        Gabriel was yet another mighty spirit being whose glory and field of service to God was to give wisdom and understanding to God’s servants here on earth (Dan 8:16; 9:21-23; Luke 1:19; 1:26-38). Michael was not sent to do Gabriel’s work, only to fight the enemies that were resisting him from fulfilling his assigned task.  These and many others each functioned and served God in their own respective and appointed position of glory, and for eternity this is the fixed hierarchical order that establishes God’s governmental system.

        Lucifer, perhaps the highest and most glorious of all God’s created beings, became lifted up over his exalted rank, as though he was not a created being who was assigned this position by the benevolence of God but was himself the genesis and author of his rank and standing, in his pride and arrogance he challenged God’s right to be the sole possessor of Divinity and its prerogatives.  He said “I will be like the most high,” “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (Isa. 14:13-14).  “I WILL” advance myself beyond the limitations imposed upon me by God, as “the anointed cherub that covereth”, “I WILL” go beyond that, “I WILL” be like God, with no limitations at all.

        This rebellion against God’s will and established order shattered the perfect order, tranquility and peace in heaven and in the universe.

        It’s almost incomprehensible, but sin, which is rebellion against God’s will, started in the very presence of God in heaven.  That a mere created being, even though it was the most glorious of created beings, could lift itself up against its Creator, in defiance of His holy and benevolent will, in such a place and against such a God thunders out the inherit dangers, the hazards, the pitfalls, the snares and risks of the power of free choice in the hands of created beings, even one with such an exalted and lofty standing as “the anointed cherub that covereth.”  Thus, from eternity the power of free choice in the hands of created moral beings is shown to always be filled with grave and eternal consequences, and that the wrong choice, which was the choice for self-will over God’s will, is eternally the root cause of all sin.  This is the paradigm that all subsequent sin would follow.

        Lucifer raised up this rebellion against God and His authority by the lie that he had as much right to the Divine state as God, and therefore was the master of his own destiny and well, able to choose his own course of action, apart from and in opposition to the will of God.  So powerful was his sedition that a third of the angels in heaven chose to believe and to join him in his attempt to advance to the Divine state of being.

        This rebellion, this sin, introduced confusion and strife where perfect peace and order had prevailed under God’s benevolent and beneficent will, causing God to cast him and the angel hosts who followed him out of heaven into the earth (Gen. 3:1-15; Rev. 12:3-4,7-9).

        God created man a special creation, different from all other of His created hosts.  “For thou hast made him a little lower than the (Elohiym) and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Ps. 8:4-5).  This is the same Elohiym who had said “let us make man in our image and after our likeness” (Gen. 1:16-27).  This was a relationship and bond that was given to none other of all His mighty created beings, for even though this creation was made from the dust of the earth it was predestinated by God’s infinite wisdom and power to be transformed from their original created state to be “partakers of the Divine Nature” (II Peter 4:1) “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29), to enter into the eternal rest in God, that joined the creature to God in the highest degree of intimate and personal fellowship and oneness with God that is possible for a created being to ascend to (John 17:21-23; Eph. 4:11-13; Heb. 4:1-11), even to the degree that these mortal beings will not only inherit everlasting life (John 6:40,47) but beyond that, will put on immorality (I Cor. 15:51-54), which is more than eternal life, for the angels have that (Luke 20:35-36) but only God has immortality (I Tim. 6:16).

        No wonder the angels desired to look into and also be partakers of this great Salvation (I Peter 1:12), but this great honor was only reserved for those who were created “a little lower than Elohiym.”

        All that was required on man’s part to advance to this exalted state was to follow God’s instructions and will explicitly, for it was not in the creature’s ability to cause this transformation, only by God’s ability and power could and would such a change be accomplished.  Just obey God completely, that was all that was required.

        To accomplish this marvelous metamorphosis, God placed man in the perfection of paradise, the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it and gave him the right to eat of every tree in the garden except “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  But the serpent, Satan, deceived Eve to eat of the tree and she persuaded Adam, who was not deceived (I Tim. 2:14) by the serpent, to go ahead and eat, which he did, thus joining in Satan’s rebellion against God’s declared will, which resulted in man being cast out of paradise into the earth, or the world, where Satan as the god (demigod) of this world (II Cor. 4:4) “walked to and fro.” (Job. 1:7; 2:2), “seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8).  Thus the world, over which man was to have dominion (Gen. 1:26), came under the dominion of Satan through the fall of man (Eph. 2:2-3; Luke 4:5-6).

        Cast out of paradise and from God’s presence by rejecting God’s will, man is locked into the lordship, or rule of his own self-will instead of God’s will.  He has joined with Satan’s rejection of God’s will for the rule of self-determination and, with Satan, must accept the consequences of that choice which will be given the opportunity through earth’s history to be validated or repudiated.

        God could have swept this polluted dust from the universe with just a word, but from eternity He had known this would happen and from eternity had made provision (Rev. 13:8) to reclaim and to finish (Eph. 1:4-5; Titus 1:2) and bring to completion what He started in paradise by overcoming Satan (I Jn. 3:8; Heb. 2:14-15; I Cor. 15:24-25) and this rebellion and in the process bring many sons unto glory (Heb. 21:10) which will vindicate, honor and manifest His eternal wisdom (Eph. 3:10).

        This rebellion, or sin, whether from Satan and the angels who followed him or from mankind who also followed him in this rebellion resolves itself into; CREATED BEINGS CHOOSING AND FOLLOWING THEIR WILL OVER AND ABOVE THEIR CREATOR’S WILL.  All beings sin in the exact same way, whether they be perfect spirit beings in heaven, or whether they be perfect human beings in paradise, or whether they be Adam’s race here upon earth; self-will is chosen over God’s will.  This is the sin or rebellion that God is dealing with and will overcome here on the earth.

        The eternal, universal cause of all sin, Lucifer’s, Adam’s, and ours, is self-will chosen over God’s will.  This is the great controversy that is working itself out here on earth and will ultimately demonstrate the absolute foolishness of this rebellion against God by created beings whom God said are not capable of directing their own steps (Jer. 10:23).

        When a Being sins it is not the sinfulness of the choice upon which he is concentrating, rather it is the gratification to self that the choice will bring and it is this gratifying of self that he chooses.  Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit; that was sin, but the thing upon which their choice was fixed was not upon the sinfulness of the choice but was upon the gratification to self that it would bring.  Self-will or Self-pleasing is always, without exception, the end that is sought.  There is only one means to get what the self-will desires and that is to rebel against what God says, so self-will or self-pleasing is always the end that is sought and is the cause, while sin is the only means to accomplish it and is the effect.  Sin or rebellion is never sought as the end, always as the means to the end.  Self-gratification in some form or other is always that upon which the choice is fixed, not upon the sin.

        THE CAUSE IS SELF-WILL – WHILE – THE EFFECT IS SIN.

        This is the universal law of cause and effect that cannot be changed or abolished and has been at work from eternity onward among all created beings and which accounts for the commission of sin among all classes of created moral beings in every dispensation of existence and is that which God is overcoming here on earth through the “eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).

        This rebellion questions and challenges God’s character and motives.  Is He indeed just and selfless or is He selfish and tyrannical in demanding that His will is the only way for His created beings to live in order to have safety, peace, order, happiness, tranquility and the ultimate good for all?

        The issue to be resolved then is: Whether the creature’s will is indeed the best and most beneficial choice for created beings to live by, or is God’s will the only wise and correct choice for them to follow and adhere to.

        The earth is the arena or sphere where this will be determined and forever settled.  God will allow time and place for this to be proven and settled once and for all.  The earth and man’s rule of self-will upon it is the sphere where this rebellion will work out its ultimate end.  Here, not God’s will but the creature’s will and choice shall be in supreme control so that man is able to determine his own destiny.  Man chose this way and God makes him subjected to the outcome of his own willful choices (Isa. 30:28).  Here, God will allow this rebellion to prove its true end and here, God will prove the absolute necessity of the governance of His benevolent will in created moral beings.  God is educating the universe of created beings of the foolishness of the creature’s choice apart from His will.  The unseen but very real members of the spirit world are “the great cloud of witnesses” watching this drama unfold here on earth (Heb. 12:1).

        The Apostle Paul likened this great controversy being decided here on earth to a (“theatre”) a spectacle unto the world, the angels and unto men (I Cor. 4:9).  All doubts concerning the wisdom and correctness of God’s will being the only rule of action for His creation to live by will forever be settled and proven beyond any question here on earth, as man’s rule of self-will ends in chaos and anarchy.

        All of the suffering, pain, distress and evil that plague this world comes from and is the result of man’s choice for self-will over God’s will.  God provided an earth that had sufficient resources to meet the needs of all so that there need be none who go without.  But the evil choices of greed and avarice have created a world of want and misery for the greater part of humanity; this is not God’s will but is the result of man’s selfish choices.  Remember, this is the realm where self-will, not God’s will prevails, man was driven from the state of God’s will because of his choice to live by his own will instead of God’s will, so don’t blame God for all the evil that results from the selfish state of self-will that governs this world order of rebellion against God.

        People question; why does God allow all of the horrific evil and terrible suffering to take place on earth?  It is all the direct result of man’s will controlling and governing among men instead of God’s will which provides perfect safety, peace, order, happiness and tranquility for all.

        This present world order is not of God (I John 2:15-17) and its modus operandi is the result of man’s fall away from the perfect order and peace of God’s will into this morass of self-will.  Thus, this state of rebellion against the perfect peace, safety and order of God’s will for mankind is the direct opposite of that blessed state and results in the direct opposite results of misery, suffering and death.

        This is the eternal conflict that day by day, year by year is advancing toward the final resolution when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15) and “His will is done in earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).  This is not a future 1000 year millennial reign after this life; NO, this is how this present period of life and existence will end.  Christ is right now reigning (Matt. 21:4-5; Acts 2:29-36; Luke 1:32-33; Jude 25; Matt. 28:18), and he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet (I Cor. 15:24-25; Ps. 110:1-2; Heb. 10:12-13).

        The world and this present life cannot end and will not end until everything God ordained to be accomplished here is accomplished!  Briefly, that means He brings to an end and overcomes this rebellion and defeats all His enemies (I Cor. 15:24-25).  The glorious Church He gave Himself for becomes a reality (Eph. 5:25-27; Eph. 4:11-13) and, thus, His kingdom and His will shall be done in this period of earth’s history as it is in heaven, in and through this glorious church, His body united and made one in Him (John 17:21-23; Matt. 6:10).

        The great mass of humanity, and even most who call themselves Christians, are oblivious to this great eternal dispute that is being resolved during the interval of earth’s history.  But God is awaking those who have ears to hear; “the night is far spent, the day is at hand.”  We are well into the time of the midnight hour Jesus warned of in Matt. 25:1-13, when He will again intervene in the affairs of men, and few are prepared for the momentous changes that entails.  As Sovereign Lord of His creation, He sets the time and the seasons (Acts 1:7) for the outworking and fulfilling of His will in the earth, but we are given events and signs to look for that signify when those times and seasons are upon us, and they are definitely shouting out to God’s people to awaken and prepare, for those days are upon us.

        Yes, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein” and He will yet get “the precious fruit of the earth, for which he has had such long patience” (James 5:7).

        Friends, we are living in pivotal and climactic times, the demands this places upon us are enormous, but in and through Christ Jesus and His work on the cross, God has provided all that we will ever need to meet these demands and come forth victorious as He defeats all enemies, overcomes sin and this rebellion and brings into being that for which He paid such a stupendous price, the glorious, victorious and holy Church, without spot or wrinkle or blemish.  I want to be among those who are ready for this great move of God!  How about you?

 

 

 

 

OBEDIENCE IMPERATIVE

James Sanderson

        The Word of God reveals that God places utmost value on obedience in the life of the believer.  This one supreme lesson, set forth from cover to cover in God's Good Book, has never changed: “God expects obedience.”  Much of present-day society has departed from Biblical moral standards and embraced a secular, humanistic view of ethics and morality.  These cultural changes have had a profound effect upon the Christian world.  This permissive society promulgates the idea that God has altered His standards of right and wrong.  In turn, Christians must now conform to these new standards.  It is quite unfortunate that some in Christendom, in order to adapt to this present evil world, have yielded to these demands.  The Word of God plainly teaches that obedience is not merely an option in the Christian life.  It is an imperative.  The one distinguishing mark that sets apart those who make it through the pearly gates into that heavenly city from those who do not is obedience.  “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

        Since the days of Adam and Eve in the garden to this present time, Satan has sold man a “bill of goods,” and, in turn, man has willingly bought into his diabolical deception.  What is this lie?  “You don't have to obey the commandments of God.”  The modern-day church has formulated a theological system designed to circumvent the importance of obedience to God.  The clichés are many.  “The law has been done away.”  “All I need to do is believe.”  “Once in grace, always in grace.”  “Principles, yes; rules, no.”  “We're all God's children.”

        There are those who attempt to separate faith, grace, and love from obedience to God.  The Word of God clearly demonstrates that faith, grace, and love go hand in hand with obedience.  If these three qualities are truly manifested in one's life, then obedience to God's commands will be displayed.  God does not extend His divine influence into one's life without a distinct purpose.  That purpose is to make one conformable to the image of Christ.  That image will never be produced without obedience to what He has said to do.  The true hallmark of a Christian is his desire to obey Christ in all things.

Love And Obedience

        “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  The evidence of one's love for God is obedience to God.  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he will be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).  One who truly loves God will desire to please Him in all things by doing what He has commanded.  The Apostle John reinforces this relationship between love and obedience, “This is the love of God that we keep His commandments” (I John 5:2,3).  Again in Second John, “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments” (vs 6).

Faith And Obedience

        “By faith Abraham…obeyed” (Heb. 11:8).  There are a number of misconceptions regarding faith.  Some believe that when the Bible states that we are saved by faith, then obedience takes a backseat.  Faith and obedience walk hand in hand.  They are inseparable.  Abraham demonstrated his faith in God by doing what God told him to do.  James emphasizes this same point, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:17-20).  Paul wrote, “faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5:6).  In other words, faith is not inert.  It is not merely mental assent to a theological system of belief.  True faith has evidence: obedience.

        Just as obedience is evidence of one's faith, disobedience is evidence of unbelief.  The Word of God states that Israel “entered not in because of unbelief” (Heb. 4:6).  The word unbelief in this particular verse actually means disobedience.  The record of ancient Israel is viewed as an example of failure due to unbelief and, consequently, disobedience.  “But to Israel he saith, “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Rom. 10:21).

Grace And Obedience

        Grace is another theological concept that is often misunderstood.  In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:9).  In his concordance, Dr. Strong defines grace as “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.”  One cannot divorce the grace of God from obedience to God.  To be under grace (Rom. 6:15) is not to be without law.

        The Lord extends his divine influence (grace) into the heart and life of the sinner.  In return, God expects obedience to be reflected in the life.  Paul emphasized this principle in his letter to Titus, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).  When God's grace enters into one's life, it comes with a set of instructions.  We are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts.  We are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.  How does one live soberly, righteously, and godly?  By obeying what God said to do.

        Grace is not a license to sin.  Jude writes, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs.4).  Unfortunately, these “certain men” are present in the church today promulgating the same diabolical message.  Paul addresses this issue in his letter to the Romans, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1).  Paul answers his own question, “God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (vs 2).  Grace is completely compatible with obedience.

Salvation And Obedience

        Some churches teach, “You don't have to do anything to be saved.  Just accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.”  Is this statement truly Scriptural?  Is it possible to accept Jesus as one's Lord and Savior without obeying Him?  Jesus Himself answered this crucial question, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

        It is vital to understand that we accept Jesus on His terms, not on our terms.  In the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter declared, “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).  How does one fear him and work righteousness?  By obeying what He said to do.  The writer of Hebrews also stated, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).  In other words, salvation is reserved only for those who obey Him.  In reality, the new birth and sanctification are a result of obedience to God.  “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…Being born again” (I Peter 1:22-23).

The Great Commission And Obedience

        There is a common misunderstanding that the great commission is a call for missionaries to go into all the world to encourage people to believe in God and be baptized.  It might be well to read how Jesus Himself defined the great commission, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).  As one can see, the great commission is a call to obedience to our Lord's commands.  The Apostle Paul also emphasized this point, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel” (Rom 10:16).  In other words, the gospel is not a message that one merely believes, that is, gives mental assent to.  The gospel is something that must be obeyed.

Obedience Is Not A Burden

        “His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  According to Vine, the word grievous “denotes heavy, burdensome” (Page 519, Vine's Expository Dictionary).  The commandments of God are not a burden to the born-again Christian.  They are a delight and a blessing.  To the sinner, they are a yoke of bondage because his affections are set on the things of this world.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22).  When the Holy Spirit makes His abode in the life of the believer, his attitude toward the law of God changes.  No longer does he view Christ's commands as a difficulty, but a blessing.  “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).  To delight is to take great pleasure in.  One who loves God takes great pleasure in practicing what God has said to do.

        Jesus declared, ”the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).  Again in John 12:50, Jesus said, “And I know that his commandment is life everlasting.”  Obedience to the commands of God is life because obedience produces holiness and righteousness and, consequently, a deeper relationship with Him.  “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).  What greater delight can one experience than abiding fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ?

 

 

 

 

WHY NOT TALK TO GOD ABOUT THE SABBATH?

Erling Calkins did and here are the answers he got.

        Lord, I have been thinking about the Sabbath.  Some people keep it; some say it isn’t important.  Should I be concerned about it?

        “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.  Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5).

        Then tell me about the Sabbath.  Is every day alike or do You have a special day of rest for Your followers?

        “I was in the Spirit on THE LORD’S DAY” (Rev. 1:10).

         But which day is the Lord’s day?  Which day should be esteemed above the others?

        “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day”(Matt. 12:8).

        There are seven days in the week.  Which day is the Sabbath day?

        “The SEVENTH DAY is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Fourth Commandment – Ex. 20:10).

        Which day, according to our reckoning, is the seventh day – Saturday or Sunday?

        “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James…very early in the morning the first day of the week…came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun…And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man…And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen” (Mark 16:1-6).

        Do you mean, Lord, that the seventh day, Saturday, is a special day of rest above all the other days of the week?

        “God BLESSED the seventh day, and SANCTIFIED it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3).

        How do you expect us to keep this day You have blessed and sanctified?

        “Remember the sabbath day, to KEEP IT HOLY.  Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Fourth Commandment – Ex. 20:8-10).

        But, Lord, didn’t You abolish the Law which contains the Sabbath Commandment?

        “Do not suppose that I have come to do away with the law or the prophets.  I have not come to do away with them, but to enforce them” (Matt. 5:17 Goodspeed).

        Doesn’t faith set aside the Law?

        “Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid; yea, we establish the law” (Rom. 3:31).

        But aren’t we saved by grace?

        “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8).

        Then why should we any longer observe the Law?

        “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid.  How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1,2)

        I know Christians should not sin, but what does that have to do with the Law and the Sabbath?

        “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).  “Sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13).

        Which law do You mean, Lord?  Which law reveals sin?

        “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 7:7).  Note: the Law which reveals sin is the Ten Commandment Law.

        Do You mean, Lord, that it would be a sin not to observe the seventh-day Sabbath as the Fourth Commandment teaches?

        “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

        But, Lord, didn’t You change one of the Commandments so that today we Christians may keep another day than the seventh without sinning?

        “I tell you, as long as heaven and earth endure, not one dotting of an “i” or crossing of a “t” will be dropped from the law until it is all observed” (Matt. 5:18, Goodspeed).

        Then, is Sabbath keeping a work of grace?

        “The Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath…Many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.  And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (Acts 13:42-44).

        But isn’t it sufficient that I love the Lord and live by the law of love?

        “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

        Does that mean all ten of them?

        “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

        But isn’t the keeping of the Commandments a grievous yoke of bondage?

        “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous”(I John 5:3).

        Yes, Lord, of course I love You and it will be a pleasure to keep the Commandments; but I always had the idea that the Sabbath was made only for the Jews.

        “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).  (The Sabbath was made and given to man hundreds of years before the existence of a Jew.)

        If I could know for sure that Saturday is the Christian Sabbath I would keep it.  Did You leave an example in Sabbath keeping for us to follow?

        “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16).

        But, Lord, that was over 1,900 years ago.  Wouldn’t You keep some other day than Saturday if You should come to earth today?

        “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6).  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).

        Someone told me that after Your crucifixion, Lord, Your followers no longer kept the seventh-day Sabbath according to the Commandment.  Is this true?

        “And that day was the preparation, (when Christ was crucified) and the Sabbath drew on.  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid.  And they returned and prepared spices and ointments: and rested the Sabbath day ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT” (Luke 23:54-56).

        But didn’t the Apostle Paul always meet with the early Christians on Sunday in honor of the resurrection?  What was his manner in regard to a day of worship?

        “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

        Did he meet with the Gentile converts on the Sabbath, too?  Perhaps he met with the Jews on the Sabbath and the Greeks on Sunday.  What about that?

        “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (Acts 18:4).

        What did the author of the book of Hebrews teach in regard to Sabbath keeping?

        “There remaineth therefore a rest (keeping of Sabbath, margin) to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9,10).

        Is this, then, the instruction in regard to Sabbath keeping?

        “For I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD” (Acts 20:27)  (If God had intended His people to observe Sunday in the place of the seventh day, Paul or one of the apostles surely would have told us so.  In the New Testament there are no less than 59 references to the Sabbath.  The book of Acts records 84 Sabbaths on which the Apostle Paul and his associates held religious services.  Yet there is not one word in the entire Bible authorizing Sunday keeping.  The observance of the seventh day is taught repeatedly and emphatically as a work of grace whereby the Christian shows his respect and love for God.  He does not try to earn salvation by keeping the Commandments, but he keeps them because they are right.)

        Lord, does my salvation depend upon my obedience to this Sabbath injunction?

        “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Heb. 5:9).

        Then, by Thy grace, I will do what is right!  I will obey the Commandments and keep the Sabbath as You desire.

        “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

 

 

 

 

DON’T TRUST IN EGYPT

Melody Ax

        Where is your trust today?  I asked the Lord this question, and He led me to His word in Isaiah 30 and 31.  We are all guilty of trusting in Egypt!

        Egypt represents the world system.  In Isaiah 31:1 it states: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many, and in horsemen because they are strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!”

        Do you trust in the power of the world system or in the power of our Lord?  This is the question I have been asking myself.

        The world system (Egypt) includes not only the worldly things which we often think of in this world, but it also includes the worldly religious system.  In Isaiah 30:1, the Lord calls us “rebellious children.”  Isaiah 30:1 states: “Woe to the rebellious children saith the Lord that take counsel, but not of me and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.”  These rebellious children still trust in Egypt, the things of the world, and yes, they have a covering, but notice in Isaiah 30:1 that the covering is not of His spirit.

        Are you trusting in your stocks and bonds, your bank, your grocery store to have what you need tomorrow?  Are you trusting in your medicine to heal you and your insurance to pay when you are sick (Whether it is government or any other, it is still insurance)?  I am not saying we should not have these things, but I am saying, where is your trust today?  We are all guilty of trusting in Egypt.

        Isaiah 30:9 states: “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord.”  Isaiah 30:10 states: “Which say to the seers, see not, and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”  The religious world does not want the truth; they want to have their ears tickled.

        There will be much destruction on those that trust in the world system.  The heart cry of our Lord is “Come Out of Her My People” (Rev. 18:4).

        My prayer today is for the Lord to show us how to “Come Out.”  For there is a glorious blessing on those that come out.  Isaiah 30:29 states: “Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come unto the mountain of the Lord, to the mighty One of Israel!  Isaiah 30:23 states: “Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal and the bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous in that day shall the cattle feed in large pastures.”

        Let it be our prayer that we will all turn to Him with all our hearts and put our trust totally in the mighty One of Israel.

“Come Out of Her my People,

that ye be not partakers of her sins

and that ye receive not her plagues” (Rev. 18:4)

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

(Study number 3)

        Whenever we see the hand of the Lord begin to move among men, in power, there is sure to follow great distrubance and trouble.  Present day religion ever strives to keep all men at peace with all things, but the Bible has no record of the Almighty ever practicing such methods among men.  Such a state is the state of an apostate people, not a godly people.

        The power of God and the sinful things of men will not mix, and the greater the manifestation of His power, the greater the destruction that attends its work.  In Egypt, the Lord has set His hand to deliver His people, and if the whole country must be laid waste in the effort, then thus would it be; for He lets nothing stand in His way.

        The animal and vegetable kingdoms suffered frightfully.  The comforts of men disappeared; but even in the midst of all this judgment, we see the mercy of the Great God toward ANY MAN of faith.  Even an Egyptian who would exercise faith in the Hebrew God had a provision made for the safety of his cattle: “He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharoah made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field”  (Exodus 9:20,21).

        God honors faith in ANY MAN.  And as a matter of fact, “without faith it is impossible to please” God.  Many people think that in order to please the Almighty one must live some sort of a peculiar religious life, that one must attain at least the appearance of great piety, and have the sanctimonious air displayed by many of the great churchmen.  SUCH A LIFE IS NOT REQUIRED OF GOD.

        As the judgments of the Lord began to shake the kingdom of the king of Egypt, he cried to the servants of God to help, and even confessed, “I have sinned this time.”  It sounded as though he had never sinned before.  He was like a lot of people who cry out when they are caught in a corner.

        During the war, the incident was related of a sailor who, after being shipwrecked in the Atlantic, was on a small raft with three other men, and during the long days and weeks afloat, these men prayed unashamedly to God to have mercy and save them.  After they were picked up, this one man was asked whether it was true or not that he had prayed with the other men.  With very evident shame, he confessed his “weakness,” and said that at such a time a man would “try anything.”

        Pharoah's cry and prayer were something like the sailor's, for as soon as the pressure lifted, the old fellow hardened his heart again and fought the will of the Creator.  Pharoah refused to humble himself.  This is the sin of the human race.

        Moses was actually a murderer.  He had killed a man in anger and he tried to hide his crime like a thief: he fled from his own people and nation to save his own skin.  Surely we wouldn't select Moses for a man of great piety, YET HE WAS GOD'S CHOICE for the leader of Israel, because he was the MEEKEST MAN on earth.  He was humble enough that he was willing to be led.

        “Come … learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly.”  These were the words of the Lord.  “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God.”  Few men will humble themselves to do the will of God.  Even the king's own servants saw that the king was resisting the wrong power, so they asked him to let the people go.

        Pharoah “repents.”  The repentance of a lion caught in a trap: he was sorry he was caught.  He now offered to let the people go, PROVIDING they leave their children and their flocks behind.  Satan, when he sees his grip is slipping, always offers the children of God something that falls short of the Lord's will.

        The enemy tried a number of times to get Moses to compromise.  The whole plan of God would have failed if there had been any compromise.  No man can afford anything short of the Lord's best for his life.  Compromise may seem to be a short way out of a difficulty, but it is only a way to fail the Lord and will finally bring sorrow and disaster.

        There is no compromise between the Christian and the world.  A person must be FOR the Lord or AGAINST Him; there is no half way place.  To walk with God means a complete giving over, not a mere form of becoming religious or of joining a church.  Too many people have been ensnared into a compromise with sin by feeling safe in their church membership.  BEWARE: “In vain ye do worship Me.”

        As soon as Israel entered into blood covenant relationship with the Lord through the taking of the Passover, the Eyptians were going to DRIVE them out;  so also is it with a true lover of God;  they will “cast out your name as evil.”  “The time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”  “They shall put you OUT of the synagogues.”

        Israel was to DEMAND of the Egyptians, not to “borrow.”  They had worked for many generations for nothing, and as the laborer is worthy of his hire, it was time that they collect their wages; so it was right that they be paid, and this was another of the details that the Lord arranged for them.

        The death angel was going to work for them in even getting the Egyptians to “bow down” themselves and ask them to leave.  Even the power of death can be made to serve the people of God.

 

 

 

 

RESPONSE TO A LETTER FROM A READER

Under Law or Grace?

Alfred King

        We recently received a nice letter from someone in Washington State, who identified himself only as “a Truth Seeker,” from which I, because of its length, will only refer to the major concerns he addressed.  He wrote, “I have noticed that you people are following The Old Covenant which was between God and Israel.  That covenant did not include gentiles like us.”  He continued in the second paragraph, “I found last month that God made a covenant with Moses and Israel…That covenant was the Ten Commandments.  Later 600 or more laws and ordinances were added.  That covenant did not include the gentiles, Greeks, Romans, or Americans.”  Paragraph three: “The fourth commandment is the Sabbath Day…Sabbath means rest and does not mean going to church.  Israel was to rest and do no work on the Sabbath Day.  The Bible is very clear about what the Sabbath Day is meant to be.  It was a rest day for all those former slaves coming out of Egypt.  In Egypt they had to work seven days a week and maybe 12 hours a day.  God was giving them a rest day for their benefit so they wouldn’t get so tired walking in the wilderness.”

        A few portions of scripture were referenced to support the above statements, which I will include here for our reader’s convenience. (*emphasis mine)

        Ex. 34:27-28: “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words *I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.  And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And *he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

        Ex. 35:2-3: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.  Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.”

        I have emphasized those parts which the writer pointed out.  Attempting to address the points brought up in this letter by responding to each point from scripture is to pit scripture against scripture.  Generally speaking, with this approach both parties go away unchanged, still holding to the same opinions, supporting their positions with the same portions of holy writ as they did when they began the discussion.  The fallacy of this approach is that both have scripture which they use to support their particular views, at least in their own eyes.  However, they do not always see the whole picture.  They only see part of the whole.  It’s like someone saying their car won’t crank and it’s because the battery is bad.  That may be the case, but there are other things which can cause a car not to start, such as the starter, a bad cable, loose connection or corrosion at a connection, ignition switch, etc.  When one does not understand or know all the requirements a vehicle demands in order to start, one cannot make a positive diagnosis.  Likewise, when we study scripture, we cannot take one part and build our doctrinal position on it.  We must study the whole Bible, which, if studied correctly, will begin to reveal a picture of the divine plan of God and how that plan will be carried out.  We begin to see how all scripture works together in perfect harmony to aid believers in gaining a part in God’s divine plan.

        Understanding scripture correctly involves years of study and examination coupled with much prayer and seeking God that the Holy Spirit will reveal the whole truth contained in scripture.  While we may never all come to the exact same conclusion, we must always be open to re-examine our views and willing to change as new facts are brought to our attention.  If four people were to go to the White House and one stood in the front, one in the back and one on the two sides, each would give a different description of the same building but each would be different.  The one who looked at the White House from the front might say that the three others had not seen the White House at all because they did not describe it as he saw it.  However, none of them saw the whole, they each saw only one side.  Then, if we consider the interior and what was not seen within the house, we might conclude that none saw very much of the House at all.  So it is with scripture: None of us know it all nor understand it all so we must continue to search until all scripture begins to merge together and reveal the whole truth.

Law And Grace

        It is amazing how many people write us because of our stand on the Sabbath and many write about our teaching on obedience, especially in connection to The Ten Commandments.  We are labeled as “legalists” and people who are under the “Old Covenant” or the “law of Moses”.  And yet at the same time, when we present or preach about God’s marvelous grace, we are ostracized as those perverting the scriptures and turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (living loosely with little or no restraint).  Does scripture teach that grace abandons law?  Or does scripture teach that law rejects grace?  Like those who might describe the White House: one presentation is from the perspective of scripture which lifts the moral and righteous law of God to its pristine and honorable place, that place which is high and exalted, the place where God honors it above all His name (Ps. 138:2) while the other view elevates God’s marvelous grace without which no man could be saved nor could any person truly have a walk with God.  The law can never make one perfect by itself, it must be accompanied with grace.  On the other hand, grace if not joined to God’s law is no more than living as one pleases to gratify and satisfy his flesh and in reality, is not grace at all but licentiousness.  With the modern teaching of grace, grace is warped, distorted and becomes a license to sin.

        Anytime one places law or grace above the other in importance and necessity, they have missed the truth of both, for neither can create a Christian in themselves alone; they absolutely must work together.  God’s divine plan in creating and preparing a bride for Jesus Christ (believers are the bride) is accomplished by the amalgamation of law and grace.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3)  There was (and is) nothing wrong with the law.  The problem rests in the weakness of the flesh.  Grace is the power of God given in the Holy Spirit to deal with this problem of the flesh.  God’s law is the order He has prescribed to govern His people, and grace is the means or the empowerment by which God’s law can be perfected in the body of believers.  While grace is the ability and power given by God to overcome sin, it is also God’s mercy in that it makes room for our mistakes and faltering because it allows us to come to God in repentance and receive forgiveness for our failures.  Praise God for His marvelous grace.

The Sabbath

        Anytime the law is brought up for discussion, the seventh day Sabbath inevitably is set on the table.  To list all the scriptures that speak of the Sabbath, even in the New Testament, will accomplish very little because those who have seriously looked into this topic have already read and know the many times in the New Testament the Sabbath is mentioned.  But in addressing the letter of our “Truth Seeker” we want to point out our agreement that Sabbath is not “going to church” and that it is a day of rest.  While I am personally a firm believer in church attendance, I don’t find it absolutely mandatory.  What I do see in the New Testament is that the apostles and believers gathered weekly for services and it appears obvious that this was something desirable and beneficial to their spiritual wellbeing.  Apparently the writer of Hebrews thought it important also, when he gave the important admonition to the Hebrews.  Heb. 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

        It is one of the most unfortunate events in history that what the Sabbath portrays, and the importance of what it signifies and declares every week, has been lost by most New Testament believers.  While The Ten Commandments were a part of the covenant between God and Israel, the Sabbath did not begin with Israel.  It began with God at the time of creation.  The Sabbath is a reminder of God’s creative power and ability, and we rest that day in honor of God, not merely to rest our physical bodies.  Sabbath observance is to follow God, His law and His example: “he (God) rested on the seventh day”.  Jesus also observed the Sabbath, and while not all the religious leaders thought He observed as they thought, nevertheless Jesus observed it and kept it holy.  We want to follow Him for He is our Example.  And while the Sabbath does speak of creation, it is also a type or shadow of another most important truth in scripture.  This is the part that is so sadly missed by most believers today, whether they observe the seventh day or the first day.  Let’s consider what the Sabbath actually pictures. 

        Hebrews three speaks of how Israel sinned in the wilderness because of unbelief.  They died in the wilderness and were not allowed to possess the land of Canaan.  Verse 18 tells us that Israel did not enter into His rest because of unbelief.  What is His rest of which the writer speaks?  It is termed “His Rest”.  As we continue in Hebrews into chapter four beginning with verse one we read, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  2) For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  3) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.  4) For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.  5) And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.”

        What do we learn from these verses relative to the Sabbath?  1) God has a “rest” for believers to enter into and this rest still remains to be possessed.  2) This rest was preached to Israel as well as to us, same message.  3) Those who truly believe are entering into this rest.  It appears to be a progression.  4) The writer clearly informs us that the Sabbath is a picture of this rest.  The type or shadow, the observance of the seventh day, remains in effect until the fulfillment of what the type prefigured.  In this case the Sabbath message of the rest in God has not yet been fully obtained or possessed, therefore the type or shadow (the seventh day Sabbath) remains in effect until the time in which the Rest is fully experienced and possessed.  To verify this point let’s continue reading in Hebrews four, verses 8-11.  “For if Joshua (Jesus) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.  9) There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  10) For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.  11) Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”  Again, let’s consider what the writer is conveying.  1) God spoke of “His rest” which is far beyond possessing the land of Canaan.  It has spiritual implications and speaks of a spiritual reality.   2) The Rest is future, for it still remains to be possessed.  The writer of Hebrews presents it yet future and Paul in Philippians three writes that he also had not possessed the rest fully but was pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.   Verse 6a of the Hebrews four reads, “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein.”  The rest then is yet to be possessed fully.  3) Verse 10 gives us a glimpse of what the rest is: it is where man ceases from his own works, his own pursuits, his own ways, his own will and can say as Jesus, “not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  Is there anyone who has arrived there yet?  If we are not there, then it still remains open for man to enter and its type (the Sabbath) still remains in effect.  4) We are warned to be cautious and diligent in our walk with God and seriously fight against unbelief lest we also, as Israel, miss this rest.

        The enemy of God’s people has successfully removed the Sabbath from our churches and, with it, has removed the truth of the Rest of God.  Even the majority of Sabbath keepers observe the Sabbath more from a legalistic and traditional standpoint than for the spiritual truth it portrays.  Is Sabbath observance absolutely essential for one to enter the Rest?  I would not go that far because God knows every man’s heart and we don’t.  However, with the sacrifice of the Sabbath on the altar of worldly convenience and “going along with the Jones’”, the truth of the rest has been lost and few believers today truly understand the call to the Rest and even fewer are striving to enter into His Rest.  “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

Conclusion

        After I completed high school, I began working in a mechanic shop.  I loved the work and some days didn’t want to go home at the end of the day.  My boss told me I had a natural knack for mechanics.  However, I did not like to read the manuals; I just wanted to work.  Reading manuals meant I had to stop doing what I loved and wade through the pages of some manual trying to find some aggravating “needle in a haystack” information that was essential in order to finish the job.  However, as time went by and vehicles became more and more complex, I found I could not just depend on my natural ability, or “knack” as my boss described it.  The manuals became more and more essential to the automobile repair industry, to the point that today without the information, mechanics (now called “technicians”) cannot repair modern cars.  This is much like our walk with God.  Grace might be likened to one’s natural ability.  It is given us when we are saved by the entrance of the Holy Spirit into our lives, empowering us with certain abilities and enablements through the Holy Spirit’s presence.  How effective this divine ability is depends upon the individual, how much he depends on this divine presence.  The Bible, containing God’s divine wisdom, coupled with its moral and constitutional law, still remains absolutely essential to a successful walk with God.  We cannot just read the Bible and attempt to observe the commandments contained therein and think that will get us to heaven apart from the Spirit of Grace, for grace enables us to keep God’s word faithfully.  Nor can we imagine that because we have the Holy Spirit, are saved, and under grace that we can disregard God’s law contained the scripture.  The covenant made between God and Israel was not the same as that of the New Covenant, yet The Ten Commandments were never merely a part of the covenant made with Israel, rather they are a part of the covenant made between God and man and are an intricate and important part of the Everlasting Covenant.  The Ten Commandments are incorporated in the Kingdom of God and in that kingdom Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.  His kingdom is eternal and one jot or one tittle of the law shall not fail, pass away or be done away.  Jesus never changes and neither does His moral law.  To walk with God means we must have, both His law and His grace.

        I am confident this short article on a topic that is very broad will not answer all the questions regarding law, grace or the Sabbath.  I pray that it will bring to the reader’s attention and to our “Truth Seeker” some thoughts that will encourage and spur each onward for something more than mere churchanity or religiosity.  The idea that is so prevalent in today’s Christian arena is very superficial for the days which are ahead for God’s people.  My prayer and desire for every believer is that each grow and mature, endeavoring to become more like Jesus Christ and find that perfect and complete rest in Him.  God bless.