People of The Living God

Psalms 150

 

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July 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

ACCOUNTED WORTHY

James Sanderson

        “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance” (II Peter 3:1).  If there were ever a time that God's people needed to be stirred, it is now.  The seriousness of the hour cannot be overestimated.  It is very easy to be sidetracked by the mundane affairs of life and, thereby, fail to discern the gravity of the situation at hand.  This word stir means to wake up, awaken, arouse from sleep (Thayer, page 147).  It is a word that is apropos to the time in which we live.  The signs of the times point to the fact that the day of the Lord is close at hand.  Many of the prophetic warnings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the prophets of old are coming to pass.  The days of Noah and the days of Lot are upon us.

        One particularly dire warning is found in the Gospel of Luke, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).  A snare is a trap fastened by a noose or notch (Strong's).  Thayer's Lexicon defines it as a trap or noose, particularly one used to entangle and catch birds.  Many will be caught in this end time snare because they did not heed the warnings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        God's people need to recognize that there are forces in society laboring diligently for the souls of men.  These forces will resort to any subterfuge or deceitful means to accomplish their nefarious plans.  They delight in trapping the unwary.  In His discourse on the Mount of Olives, Jesus specifically admonished His followers, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24:4).  “Many shall come in my name…and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:5).  The word deceive in Greek means “to cause to stray, to lead astray, to lead aside from the right way, to lead into error” (Thayer).  This end–time deception will be unlike any that has occurred in past ages.  Even now Satan is marshaling his forces for one particular purpose: turn the hearts of men away from the way of the Lord.

        The enemy realizes that his time is short.  With great wrath, he has determined to do the most spiritual damage that he can accomplish to undermine the glorious plan that God has for His people in this end time.  “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!  For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12).

        Unfortunately, while the enemy has declared all out war, the church continues to slumber and sleep oblivious to the significance of much of what is transpiring in society today (Matt. 25:5).  At the close of His Mount Olive discourse, our Lord Jesus Christ issued this admonition, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:36).  Only those who are aware of the lateness of the hour and are striving to meet God's qualifications will be “accounted worthy” to escape this end time snare and stand before the Son of man.

        What does it mean to be “accounted worthy”?  Both Vine and Thayer in their lexicons state that this phrase means “to judge worthy.”  Dr. Strong states that it means “to deem entirely deserving.”  It behooves every child of God to search the Scriptures to determine what our Lord Jesus Christ has set forth as essential for those who expect to meet the challenges of this end time.

The Parable Of The Marriage Feast

        In order to understand God's qualifications for those judged worthy, it might be well to examine a group of people whom God judged to be unworthy.  Matthew Chapter 22 records the parable of the marriage feast (There is a similar account in Luke 14:16-24.)  A king had prepared a sumptuous wedding feast for his son.  Everything was ready.  The king then commissioned his servants to summon those who had received a wedding invitation.  Unfortunately, every one of these individuals presented an excuse for not showing up.  One had just bought a farm while another had started a business.  The Luke account states that one of those invited could not come because he had recently gotten married.  Some of those who had been invited seized the king's servants and killed them.  They all treated his invitation with disdain.  The king then declared, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy” (Matt. 22:8).  Here was a company of people who had received a royal invitation, but, in the end, were found unworthy.

        This parable and Christ's warning to His disciples indicate that not everyone that names the name of Christ will escape the conditions that will prevail in this end time.  Many will be accounted unworthy because they had allowed the cares of this life to dominate their time and attention and draw them away from God.  Cares are those burdens of daily living that interfere with one's walk with God.  The “cares of this life” are even now hindering the spiritual discernment of many at a time when spiritual discernment is sorely needed.  Our Lord emphasized this message in the parable of the sower.  The seed that fell among the thorns represented those who had received the word but were “choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life:” and brought “no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).  The invitations that the king had issued to his countrymen went unheeded simply because they had other plans that they deemed more important in life.

Watching And Praying

         It is noteworthy that our Lord emphasized two specific activities absolutely essential for those who desire to be accounted worthy: watching and praying.  A snare traps only those who are unaware.  The Christian who lives a life of watching and praying is far less likely to be caught in the snare that is coming “on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”  What does it mean to watch?  Vine states that the Greek word used in this portion of Scripture means “to be sleepless.”  It is formed from two words which together mean to chase sleep.  “The word expresses not mere wakefulness, but the watchfulness of those who are intent upon a thing” (Vine, page 1224).  To watch is to be awake and alert, aware of the forces that are working in the earth.  The one who is watching understands the signs of the times.  Those signs are visible only to those who watch.

        The man who has his spiritual eyes opened has his focus riveted on God and comprehends the urgency of the hour in which we live.  In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul expresses this same theme, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  Ye are all the children of the light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night” (I Thess. 5:2-7).

        Watching leads to prayer.  One who watches carries a burden for the people of God and the needs of God's people in this late hour.  “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isa. 62:6-7).  God is seeking burden bearers in these last days, those who will stand in the gap for the deliverance of God's people in this end time (Ezek. 22:30).  Where are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezek. 9:4)?  A rich prayer life is absolutely essential for those who desire to be accounted worthy.  The Apostle Peter writes, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (I Peter 4:7).

The Wedding Garment

        It might be well to return to the parable of the wedding feast in order to gain greater insight into what it means to be accounted worthy.  After the king pronounced judgment upon those who had spurned his invitation to the marriage feast planned for his son, he again sent his servants into the highways and byways to gather as many as they could find so that the wedding would be “furnished with guests” (Matt. 22:10).  When the king entered to view the guests, he discovered “there a man which had not on a wedding garment.”  The king then commanded his servants to bind this man hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness.  It was not sufficient merely to receive an invitation and show up for the wedding feast.  In order to be found worthy, one had to have the proper wedding attire, as well.  Our Lord ends this parable with these words, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

        According to God's word, the crowning event of the ages will be the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Those who expect to be participants in that glorious event will have to meet God's specifications.  The proper wedding garment is one of those divine essentials.  The book of Revelation presents a snapshot of those found worthy, “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.  And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:13-14).  A white robe is the proper attire for those who expect to be counted among that company of guests.  Nor will God tolerate a defiled garment.  “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4).

        When the word of God alludes to garments, it is not talking about literal fabric such as cotton or wool.  These are spiritual garments that signify one's spiritual heart condition before God.  The word of God holds every Christian responsible for the condition of his own spiritual attire.  “Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (Rev. 16:15).  “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-8).

        The Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthian church, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Cor. 7:1).  God is looking for a clean people.  “Awake, awake: put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.  Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isa. 52:1).  Again in verse eleven of this same chapter, Isaiah writes, “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”  This world has a way of contaminating the spiritual garments of God's people.  It is our responsibility to maintain garments that are “clean and white” before God.  In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14).  The Greek word for put on can also be translated be clothed with.  Dr. Strong states that this word has to do with “sinking into a garment.”  It is as though one has sunk down into a huge overcoat.  God's people are to clothe themselves with the attributes of Jesus Christ.

        The “beautiful garments” mentioned in Isaiah are those divine qualities that radiate from our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Peter wrote, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.  For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.  Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:4-11).

Oil For The Lamp

        The parable of the ten virgins, found in the gospel of Matthew Chapter 25, offers another vital lesson for those who expect be accounted worthy in these end times.  This parable is an account of ten virgins who had set out on a path to a wedding where they expected to meet the bridegroom.  As they prepared for their journey, five of them were wise, but five were foolish.  They all took lamps; however, unlike the wise virgins, the five foolish virgins did not obtain a sufficient supply of oil for their lamps.  As night began to fall, they all grew weary and decided to rest.  “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept” (Matt. 25:6).  Suddenly, in the middle of the night, a cry was heard, “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Vs. 6).  They all awoke and began scrambling to get their lamps in order for the journey ahead.  The foolish virgins discovered, to their dismay, that their oil supply was running low.  They besought their companions, “Give us of your oil!”  The wise virgins responded, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”  The parable then continues, “While they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”  Later on, the foolish virgins returned and demanded entrance into the wedding chamber, “Lord, Lord, open to us.”  The Lord responded, “I know you not.”  Our Lord closes the account with this admonition, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

        The one commodity that set the wise virgins apart from the foolish was the supply of oil for the lamps.  The wise virgins had gathered a rich supply of oil.  “The wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps” (vs.4).  On the other hand, the foolish “took their lamps, and took no oil with them” (vs.3).  Our Lord Jesus Christ equates oil with being ready for His coming.  “They that were ready went in with him to the marriage.”  In the kingdom of God, lamp oil is considered to be a precious commodity.  Oil is absolutely essential if one expects to see his way through the spiritual darkness that permeates society in this midnight hour.  During this day of preparation we are either laboring for the things of this world or for the oil for our lamps.  This parable, also, demonstrates that there is another precious commodity – time.  The wise virgins used their allotted time to secure a sufficient supply of oil.  The foolish virgins wasted their time and discovered, too late, that they were not prepared.

A Firm Foundation

        Turning to the book of Hebrews, we discover another commodity essential for those who expect to be accounted worthy.  “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but the heaven.  And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Heb. 12:25-27).  In this end time, God will bring forth a work that will be unlike any that has been accomplished in previous ages.  These are truly serious times in which we live.  This portion of Scripture from the book of Hebrews indicates that God will test every man's foundation in these last days.

        Those who expect to be accounted worthy and weather the coming storms will have to establish a firm, unshakable foundation in God and His word.  At the close of His Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus Christ underscored this vital truth, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matt. 7:24-27).

In Closing

        The signs on every hand point to the fact that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).  The Word of God declares that perilous times lie ahead for the people of God (II Tim. 3:1).  The economic and political systems of this world teeter on the brink of complete collapse.  God's judgments loom on the horizon.  Only the mercy of God is sustaining the present calm.  The vital question of the hour is “Who may abide the day of his coming: and who shall stand when he appeareth” (Malachi 3:2)?  Being accounted worthy to endure the dark days ahead and stand before the Son of Man should be of utmost concern to every believer.  In the midst of the daily grind, it is easy to forget that, as Christians, we are not our own.  We have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ (I Cor. 6:19-20; I Peter 1:18).  As strangers and pilgrims on this earth, we are merely passing through (Heb. 11:13).  Our Lord Jesus Christ demands complete and unswerving allegiance.  Only those who offer Him complete and unswerving devotion will stand in this evil day.  “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37-38).

 

 

 

 

SANCTIFY THE ORDINARY

A.W. Tozer

        Today more than ever we Christians need to learn how to sanctify the ordinary.  This is a blasé generation.  People have been overstimulated to the place where their nerves are jaded and their tastes corrupted.  Natural things have been rejected to make room for things artificial.  The sacred has been secularized, the holy vulgarized and worship converted into a form of entertainment.  A dopey, bleary-eyed generation seeks constantly for some new excitement powerful enough to bring a thrill to its worn-out and benumbed sensibilities.  So many wonders have been discovered or invented that nothing on earth is any longer wonderful.  Everything is common and almost everything boring.

        Like it or not, that is the world in which we find ourselves, and we are charged with the responsibility to live soberly, righteously and godly right in the middle of it.  The danger is that we allow ourselves to be too much affected by the degenerate tastes and low views of the Hittites and Jebusites among whom we dwell and so learn the ways of the nations, to our own undoing, as Israel did before us.

        When the whole moral and psychological atmosphere is secular and common how can we escape its deadly effects?  How can we sanctify the ordinary and find true spiritual meaning in the common things of life?  The answer has already been suggested.  It is to consecrate the whole of life to Christ and begin to do everything in His name and for His sake.

        Fenelon teaches that to make our deeds acceptable to God it is not necessary that we change our occupation (if it is honest), but only that we begin to do for Christ’s sake what we had formerly been doing for our own.  To some of us this will seem too tame and ordinary.  We want to do great things for God, to hazard our lives in dramatic acts of devotion that will attract the attention of fellow Christians and perhaps of the larger world outside.  Visions of Huss at the stake, Luther at the Diet of Worms or Livingstone in the heart of Africa flit before our minds as we think on spiritual things.  Plain workaday Christians like us – how can we rise to such heroic heights?  With our families to support, with our lot cast in the dull routine of the commonplace, with no one threatening us with imprisonment or death, how can we live lives acceptable to God?  What can we do to satisfy the heart of our Father in heaven?

        The answer is near thee, even in thy mouth.  Vacate the throne room of your heart and enthrone Jesus there.  Set Him in the focus of your heart’s attention and stop wanting to be a hero.  Make Him your all in all and try yourself to become less and less.  Dedicate your entire life to His honor alone and shift the motives of your life from self to God.  Let the reason behind your daily conduct be Christ and His glory, not yourself, nor your family, nor your country, nor your church.  In all things let Him have the pre-eminence.

        All this seems too simple to be true, but Scripture and experience agree to declare that it is indeed the way to sanctify the ordinary.  “For Thy sake,” will rescue the little empty things from vanity and give them eternal meaning.  The lowly paths of routine living will, by these words, be elevated to the level of a bright highway.  The humdrum of our daily lives will take the quality of a worship service and the thousand irksome duties we must perform will become offerings and sacrifices acceptable to God by Christ Jesus.

        To God there are no small offerings if they are made in the name of His Son.  Conversely, nothing appears great to Him that is given for any other reason than for Jesus’ sake.  If we cannot die for Christ we can live for Him, and that is often much more heroic and will bring a larger reward.

 

 

 

 

THE SUPREME CHALLENGE

Lorraine Scullin

        It was not the purpose of the Great Creator that those beings which He fashioned from dust be subject to the “beggarly elements” of this world – slaves to materialistic forces and to their own selfish interests – as we see that many men have become in these last days.  This slavish pursuit of mercenary objectives is moving many professors of religion today, as well as non-professors, in spiritual matters.  This is THE motivating, actuating force that grips the people of our day and controls them.  The human race has come under bondage to the insistent, all-engrossing demands of this subtle power which dominates it.  The human race is UNDER THE YOKE.

        Man has been given a body of flesh.  He has been “made subject to vanity” (Rom. 8:20).  In the Hebrew, vanity means that which is transient and profitless.  “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63).  That which is profitless is the flesh.  As long as men serve the flesh – themselves – they are under this yoke of vanity and are subject to its dictates.  This yoke profits them nothing and, in addition, makes total slaves of them.  It is not possible for men to serve God in the Spirit when in this condition of bondage to the flesh, for the flesh is the enemy of God.  “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).  The carnal man serves himself, regardless of what he may profess with his lips.  The spiritual man serves God.

        Man himself, when he walks in the flesh, is the real enemy of the things of God, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).

        It was on this very issue that Adam lost his place and inheritance in the realm over which he had been given dominion.  Adam did not put down his own desires, thereby failing to subdue and crucify his flesh when it conflicted with the command of the Lord.  He yielded of his own will to the lust of the flesh (I Tim. 2:14).  Man was never to serve these physical and material forces, for “his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Rom.6:16).  Had Adam refused to consider his own thoughts and wishes when the enemy approached him with a temptation that touched his physical man, Adam would have subdued these carnal forces.  By such a process of “denying himself,” in due season, the desires of the flesh would have shriveled and died from lack of nurture and expression.  “Self” grows in proportion to the degree in which it is exercised and indulged.

        Adam knew no yoke; he served under no bondage when he walked subject to the laws of God which controlled man’s existence in the garden of Eden.  But when he gave himself over to the will of the flesh Adam began to labor under the yoke.  He began to know the burden and the misery that results from walking subject to the flesh and from yielding to its demands.  He was galled by the weight of this yoke, for its pressure began to fill and rule his life.  He was chafed by it, for in yielding to the will of the flesh, he pulled against the Spirit of God, the Spirit within him who has now been sent to walk with us and to lead us out of our carnal ways.

        It has been forgotten in these days that Jesus Christ died that men might be delivered not only from a sinful nature and the power of sin, but also from this yoke of flesh in the first place, “because the creature” (Rom. 8:21) “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (flesh) through the work of Jesus Christ.  “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14,15).

        How is this deliverance accomplished?  “Come…learn of me; Take my yoke upon you…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  What was this yoke of which Christ spoke?  While He was here, Jesus Christ limited Himself to one single purpose.  He put Himself willingly and deliberately under obligation to do but one thing.  That was the Father’s will.  This controlled His every thought and every act.  It was this which comprised the yoke to which He voluntarily submitted Himself.  He was never out from under its restraint, yet “for the joy that was set before Him (He) endured the cross” – laying aside His own desires and taking up His Father’s will.  By this process, He conquered Himself, His flesh.  This was Adam’s call, although he did not enter into it.  “And God said, let us make man in our image…and let them have dominion…over all the earth…and subdue it” (Gen. 1:26,28).  Adam was given the privilege of learning to subdue Himself (earth), and thus to demonstrate that he was actually a son of God.  This was the great challenge to Adam.  This has been THE challenge to every child of God since the time of Adam.  It remains the SUPREME challenge to every son of God in this day.

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

H. Miller

(Study No. 5)

        Moses and Aaron had requested Pharoah to allow the children of Israel to go for a three days' journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to God; but he refused in no uncertain way.  In fact, this request had been directly responsible for the increase of their miseries and the intolerability of their living conditions.  But God had rained plagues upon Egypt until finally Pharoah, under great constraint, had all but driven them forth from the land.

        Actually, no promise had been made that Israel would go only a three day's journey, but Pharoah was under the impression that they had gone forth only to worship.  After a week had passed “it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled…the heart of Pharoah was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” (Ex. 14:5).  So Pharoah assembled his horsemen and his army and went out after them.

        Instead of Israel having been led in a short, direct route to the promise land, the Lord had led them into a pocket between two mountains with nothing but the sea before them.  The seashore at this point was so rough and rugged that there was absolutely no escape to the right or to the left.  To all appearances it was a perfect trap.  If Moses had led them with a slight turn to the north, they could have passed over the shallows at the north end of the Red Sea; but he had deliberately taken a course directly south into this impossible pocket, and his round about route had consumed three valuable days.

        By the time word reached them that Pharoah was in pursuit, it was impossible for them to turn north and make an escape.

        The Egyptians were jubilant over the latest information from their scouts who reported: “They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in” (verse 3).  Little did they realize that God's ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts.  The “entanglement” was God's means of getting vengeance upon these cruel taskmasters who for years had ground His people under foot.

        It, also, was the Lord's way of creating faith in the hearts of His people.

        Many times, God leads His people into what seems like a trap, in order to prove them, to purify them, and give them faith in Him.  These impossible places are the fabric of the victory of the Lord, for the “foolishness of God is wiser than men.”  And it is here that He is glorified in His people when victory is won.

        Faith is created by many impossible situations through which the Lord has brought us to victory.  God is the Master of every situation, but His people learn this only through many trying experiences.

        Job, a man of God, was brought to the place of deeper faith and sweeter knowledge of the Lord through TRIAL.

        Joseph was not brought forth as a leader until “the Spirit of the Lord had tried him.”

        David, “a man after God's own heart,” was a long time in coming to the throne, and many weary days and nights he was compelled to live in caves and dens of the mountains.  For years he fled in terror for his life, until he finally called himself “a dead dog…a flea” (I Sam. 24:14).  But even though he was so ground down and reduced in his own eyes, his hope was still in his God.  He said: “The Lord plead my cause and deliver me” (verse 15).

        And so the chariots of Pharoah rumbled through the hills high above the camp of Israel, and as the afternoon sun slowly sank into the western end of the sea, their hearts were filled with great fear.  Many cried out to the Lord, but there were others who, being carnal, turned to Moses and Aaron and railed upon them: “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  Is not this the word we did tell thee in Egypt, saying Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians?  For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Ex. 14:11,12).

        Many times through the years, Moses and Aaron were to hear this accusation.  Whenever things looked black, the blame for the whole enterprise was laid upon their shoulders.

        “Fear not,” “stand still,” and “see the salvation of the Lord.”  God is the Creator, and He created both GOOD AND EVIL.  The devil and his agents are mere tools in the hands of the Almighty.  Principalities and powers and rulers of spiritual wickedness in high places often plan out great plots for our destruction, but “if God be for us who can be against us?”  He turns the evil for good; therefore “all things work together for good to them…who are the called” (Rom. 8:28).

        “Stand still.”  “Not by might nor by power saith the Lord, but by My Spirit.”  He does not need our suggestions, devices, or help.  What we need is faith TO STAND AND WATCH HIM WORK THINGS OUT.

        As the blackness of night settled down over the people, the pillar of cloud moved to the rear of the camp and became great darkness to the enemy; but it had a glow of light for Israel.  The east wind began to blow upon the sea, and the waters were parted “so that they were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left,” and Israel was told to go forward.  Throughout the night they marched over the path made on the bottom of the sea.  The dry land bore up even the wagons of this great company.

        In the morning, after the last man had left Egypt's shores behind, the Egyptians burst through the shadows of the lifting cloud to see the rear guard of their quarry withdrawing through the dry channel of the sea.  Raging with fury, Pharoah drove his plunging horses across the sandy channel which had afforded his slaves an excape.

        At the place of crossing, the channel was probably from six to ten miles wide; so before many minutes the hundreds of “chosen chariots” and “all the chariots of Egypt” were between the two walls of water.  As the hand of God lifted, the waters began to seep through the sands under foot and the wheels of the chariots “drave heavily.”  Wheels began to come off, and the confusion of stamping, fear-crazed horses caused the army suddenly to awaken to the fact that the God of Israel was against them.

        They cried “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fighteth for them.”  But their change of mind was too late, for on the far shore the servant of God was lifting his hand over the sea as the Lord had commanded him.  God can make even the lifting of a man's hand a thing of great power.  The walls of water suddenly collapsed and the sea returned to its place with a mighty rush.  Men, horses, and chariots were suddenly crushed by the mighty force of the many tons of water which roared over the army of Egypt.

        Of all that great host of men, not one remained to return to Egypt and tell the story.  The destruction of Israel's enemies was complete.  As they stood upon the sands of the northern shore of the Red Sea, hearts were filled with awe and wonder at the judgment of the Great God.  But there were those who caught the triumph of the Spirit in this victory, and they began to sing and praise God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

        Miriam, a woman over eighty years of age, took a timbrel and led the other women with timbrels and dancing as they gave praise unto God.  Then Moses led that great multitude, as they stood beside the sea, in a song of victory which will be sung again in the near future when the servants of God shall in the last day have victory over the beast and his image (Rev. 15:3).

        For three days Israel journeyed southeast along the shore of the Red Sea.  Finding water for so many would be a great problem, and it was necessary to call a forced march until they reached an ample supply.  They probably traveled about fifteen miles a day.  This was the greatest distance they ever traveled in so short a time.  Bear in mind that there was much cattle to be driven on this march, and the women and children were all afoot.

        The clouds of dust combined with the heat of the desert soon put nerves on edge, and the people became irritable.  At the end of the third day, they reached the waters of Marah, an adequate supply for all, but the water was so bitter that none could drink.  That night there was a great murmuring in the camp against Moses.  All the blame for the whole adventure was cast upon him, and they harassed him with the question, “What shall we drink?”

        Moses called upon the Lord, and “the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Ex. 15:25).  These people were being taught (the painful way) that God was the God of miracles.  The method of teaching this great truth was severe, but even as it is today, few people learned the lesson.

        Problems, difficulties, and impossible situations must come if God is to perform a miracle.  How can any man know a victory unless he has known a battle?  It is through trial that God “proves” men; “and there He proved them.”

        This “proving” was not merely to test their mettle, for God knows what is in man.  But He “tries” our faith to purify and refine it.  It is one of the processes in the creation of faith.  “We have not made ourselves;” “He that began a good work in you shall also finish it.”  He is “bringing many sons unto Glory;” “We are His handiwork.”  If man will trust in His judgment and yield to the processes of His hand, they will much sooner reach the place of the finished product.

        Another day's journey brought Israel to the waters of Elim where there was an abundant supply of water, grass for the cattle, and seventy palm trees for shade.  Their first encampment was made here and the people were given a breathing spell.  Israel rested for about a month at this green spot.  Then they were led of the Lord to go farther south into what was known as the Wilderness of Sin.  The rolling hills soon separated them from the cool breezes of the sea, and the pebbly ground made it harder to travel.

        The rest at Elim would have done them much good if they had reflected upon the great things that the Lord had done for them; how He had saved them from the plagues of Egypt, and how His hand had delivered them by miracle power in the sea.  But instead of reflective thought that would strengthen them, they had lusted after the “flesh pots” of Egypt.  They thought of all of the onions, leeks, and garlic that had been so plentiful in Egypt – there they had eaten to the full.

        “Would to God we had died…in the land of Egypt.”  They felt sorry for themselves.  They actually pitied themselves to such an extent that they became exceedingly bitter in their murmuring against Moses.  This was not confined to a few disgruntled people, but “the whole congregation…murmured.”  They accused Moses of bringing them into this barren place in order to kill them all with hunger.

        The Lord then spoke to Moses and told him that He had heard the murmuring of the people and He was now going to prove them, whether or not they would walk in His law.

        Late that afternoon a cloud was seen toward the wilderness, and in the cloud the glory of the Lord appeared.  Just what this manifestation of the presence of God was, we are not told, but they all recognized that it was of God.

        The Lord told Moses what He was going to do; and late that afternoon the quails came in and covered the camp, so the people were given all the meat they lusted after.  Early the next morning the Lord caused the first manna to fall.  After the dew lifted, there appeared small round objects “as the hoar frost” all over the ground.  Moses told the people that this was the bread which the Lord had sent them.  They called it “manna,” which means “what is it?”

        This manna fell six days a week for forty years, and each week there was a miracle as a constant reminder of the power and gifts of God.  The manna did not fall on the Sabbath Day, and on that day the extra supply would not breed worms.  On any other day of the week it could not be kept longer than twenty-four hours.  If Israel had not been so hard of heart, this alone, of all the miracles, would have been enough to keep their faith as white heat before the Lord.  As we look back at the stubborness and constant rebellion of these people of old, we cannot help but wonder at their hardness of heart.  Yet many of us today are little better than they.

        It was here in the Wilderness of Sin that Israel was “given” the Sabbath.  It is quite likely that in all of their years of bondage in Egypt they had forgotten this ancient rest day which had been given to man in the beginning.  The week, or seven, is spoken of a number of times in Genesis, so we know that some of the ancients were acquainted with God's holy day.  Noah speaks of “a seven” numbers of times.  This was the ancient terminology for a week.

        Some of the people went out to gather manna on the Sabbath, but found none.  This shows that they had not been used to respecting the Holy day.  Bear in mind that the Holy day was not a new thing in the world – it was a new thing only to the Jew.  The Holy day had been blessed, hallowed, and sanctified by the Lord over two thousand years previous to this time.  Jesus said that the Sabbath day “was made for man,” and so, without a doubt, many of God's men down through those two thousand years had known the blessing of His Holy day.

        The seventh-day Sabbath is a type of the Great Sabbath of the Lord wherein men shall rest, or cease, from their own labors “as God did from His.”  Read the fourth chapter of Hebrews.  “Let us labor to enter into that rest” (Sabbath).

        The manna is also a type, or shadow, of Jesus Christ who is the true bread.  During the “week” of man's preparation, he makes an extra preparation which will carry him through the Sabbath of eternity.

 

 

 

 

SOWING AND REAPING

Alfred King

        The fundamental and universal truth found in God’s word of sowing and reaping is no more clearly revealed than in Genesis 2 and 3 where we read of the fall of Adam.  Four millenniums later, the Apostle Paul penned this truth in his letter to the church in Galatia.  Chapter 6 verse 7 reads, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  Adam and Eve experienced very dramatically the consequences of this divine law in their decision to disregard God’s command and listen to the serpent.  They found themselves not only driven from God’s garden but also the utopian life they previously experienced was replaced by death.  This death was not only their physical passing a few centuries down the road, but the pristine and glorious life they lived in close and personal relationship with God was lost.  The freedom, ecstasy, peace, joy, and love that was created innate within them slipped away and in their place was found carnality, labor, pain and hearts that were cut off from God.

        Not only did Adam’s transgression affect this first couple but it has plagued every man and woman born upon this earth since the day of that lethal decision.  The whole human race was to face the consequence of our original parents’ decision to disobey God.  So, not only did that first couple reap the fruit of the choice made but future generations have also reaped its harvest.  Since that fatal day man has lived in a fallen state.

        In spite of man’s fallen state, God in His great mercy chose the descendants of Abraham as His special people with whom He communicated His divine will and set Himself to be their God and they to be His people.  He powerfully and miraculously delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey.  However, years after God had brought them into this promised land, Israel determined to be like the other nations of the world.  They wanted a king to fight their battles for them, someone who would lead them in and out.  They wanted a king they could see, a king in whom they could glory before other nations, a king with visible majestic splendor, wealth, pomp and power of whom they could boast.  God was displeased with Israel’s carnal desire but, in love, warned them of the consequences of what they were requesting.  As Samuel grieved over Israel’s carnal reasoning and determination, God spoke and exposed pointedly the problem which existed in Israel.  They had rejected God as their King and in His place preferred a man to sit upon a physical throne, a man whom they could see, a physical king to lead them.  It was a sad day for Israel, for God told them plainly what this choice would reap.

        God gave them a king according to their request but Israel reaped exactly as God had warned.  Their kings brought them into bondage, they became his servants, their lands became his, their children labored in their king’s military and in his service, they were required to pay high taxes and Israel reaped what they had sown.  The law of sowing and reaping has proven itself not only for Adam and Israel but for all humanity, for we all reap the choices made by men who have gone before us.  Wherever we live in the world today, to a great degree we live the way we do because of the choices men made who walked here centuries before we did.  We in America live in freedom because certain men made a decision to fight for their liberty and designed a constitution which would support and protect the freedoms and liberties of their posterity.  Even though there is an effort today among many of our political leaders to remove the authority of the Constitution, so far we still have many freedoms that other nations know nothing of.  So the sowing and reaping law not only affects us by choices made by evil men but also the choices made by good men.  America is still reaping the fallout of slavery although it was abolished over 150 years ago and yet, at the same time, America is reaping the benefits of good men, our founding fathers, who made noble choices.

        While men universally find themselves in bondage to a carnal nature, God has provided a means of deliverance through Jesus Christ.  God did not leave man without hope but sent His only Son into the world to atone for man’s transgression and opened the door for man to return to God and to again experience the love, joy, peace and ecstasy that Adam once knew.  The offering of the Son of God as man’s propitiation was not only to save his soul from eternal death through initial salvation but was designed and is sufficient to bring him into a relationship with God equal to that which Adam knew before the fall.  The law of reaping and sowing again manifests itself on the world stage as those who come to Christ find in Him that for which their empty soul longs.  Jesus Christ wrought a good work and there will be a harvest, for He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied (Isa. 53:11).

        Revelation reveals to us the fruit for which Christ travailed.  Christ sowed and He will reap.  Rev. 7:9: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”  Even in heaven the law of sowing and reaping operates.  Man has been offered the greatest opportunity a created being can be given.  The opportunity to partake of the work of Jesus Christ through faith and reap the wonders of His salvation, eternal life and all that heaven holds.  It is at this point that we must make a choice: we must choose to accept Jesus as our personal Savior and then choose to live our lives according to His divine will revealed to us in His word and through the Holy Spirit.  Will we choose to make Jesus King or will we accept the gods of this world in order to be like the world?  We will reap what we sow.

 

 

 

 

“YE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH”

Eda Sanderson

        “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted” (Matt. 5:13).  I’ve read this scripture many times and have heard many sermons about it.  However, the parallel scripture, Mark 9:50, brings it into another perspective.  “Salt is good, but if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it?  Have salt in yourselves and have peace one with another.”  “Have salt in yourselves.”  Mark 9:49 says, “For everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”  Let’s look at these verses, because if we are supposed to be “salty” we certainly want to know how not to lose our saltiness.

Uses Of Salt

        Today, salt is a common commodity found in any grocery store.  However, in ancient times, salt was very valuable.  So much so that it was sometimes used in trading.  It is well known that salt flavors food very nicely, and it has been used for many, many years to preserve meat.  It was especially useful for preservation of meat in the ancient world where there was no refrigeration as we have today.

        In ancient Israel, when God gave instruction for all the sacrifices Israel was to perform, He said, “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt, neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt” (Lev. 2:13).  If you read through the instructions for the sacrifices, you’ll find references to salt with several of them.  These were not sweet offerings.  These sacrifices had a different function than the sweet offerings.

        Notice, in the midst of the above verse God says, “neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering.”  This was a reminder to Israel to not forget the covenant between them and their God.  Salt was also used in making covenants.  To seal a covenant, the two parties partook of salt together.  That act made the covenant binding.  The second part of Leviticus 18:19 says, “It is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord unto thee and thy seed with thee.”  In II Chron. 15:5, Abijah tells Jeroboam and all Israel, “Ought ye not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?”  The covenant of salt was as binding then as a covenant signed and notarized is today, probably more binding.

        Ezekiel 43:24 mentions salt in the burnt offering.  Also, It is interesting to note that in Ezra 6:9 and 7:22, Darius and Artexerxes both decreed that salt was to be sent to Jerusalem for their sacrifices.  How did they know it was an important part of the sacrifices to God?

Can Salt Lose Its Flavor?

        Salt is sodium chloride.  According to scientists, sodium chloride is so strongly compacted that it is very stable, cannot be taken apart.  Therefore, it cannot lose its flavor.  So, what was Jesus referring to when He alluded to salt losing its savor (flavor)?

        In Bible times, salt was harvested from the Lake of Jebbul along the Dead Sea and along marshes and lakes.  Their methods for extracting the salt was very different from the methods used today.  They could not get rid of all the dirt and rock that the sodium chloride clung to, so their salt was full of impurities.  A man named John Oakes went to the Lake of Jebbul and found salt lying on the surface exposed to the sun and rain.  He broke off a piece and tasted it.  He found that, although it looked like salt and glittered like salt, it wasn’t very salty to the taste.  He, then, dug under it and tasted a piece that had not been exposed to the elements.  He found it to be salty as salt should be.  The sodium chloride had leached out of the exposed piece leaving only the impurities (earth and minerals), which still glittered like grains of salt, but didn’t have the flavor.

The Application To Us

        What do Jesus’ words in Mark 9 mean to you and me today?  How do we become salty?  How can we lose our saltiness?  At the time of salvation, when Jesus comes into a heart, there is a freshness that comes into the soul.  That person feels so clean and happy that all he wants to do is talk about the Lord, what He has learned from the Word, what Jesus means to him and what He’s doing in his life daily.  That person wants to share Jesus with everyone he meets.  The Holy Spirit has set him on fire for the Lord.  “for everyone shall be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49).  John the Baptist said of Jesus’ appearing that “he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire” (Matt. 3:11; Luke 3:16).  The Holy Spirit comes into a heart and sets it on fire for God.  The Holy Spirit in a life created the saltiness in the person.  Just as physical salt preserves meat and keeps it fresh, so the spiritual salt preserves the soul and keeps it fresh.

        Unfortunately, the Holy Spirit is not the only influence in the heart.  The will, self, and Satan are also trying to influence the heart.  John the Baptist also said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  This is vital to staying “salty.”  To remain salty, there must be a constant communication with God, listening to His voice, praying, studying God’s Word and obeying His voice.  As we do these things, His presence increases in our hearts, and self decreases.

        The opposite is true when we allow the will, self, or Satan influence us.  As they are allowed to work in us, they increase and the Holy Spirit is pushed out.  His influence lessens and our saltiness leaks out.  If something isn’t done to preserve the saltiness (push self, etc. out of the heart), the saltiness (the Holy Spirit influence) will be gone and all that will be left are the impurities.  Then that person can act like a Christian and talk like a Christian, but he’s no longer an effective Christian.  And, just as salt that has lost its savor, he is good for nothing in God’s work but “to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matt. 5:13).

        Have you felt your saltiness leaking out?  Is the joy of the Lord just not what it used to be?  Brothers and sisters, God desires to use you in the work of His Kingdom.  He needs people who are on fire for Him and His word.  To be able to be used of God, you need to preserve your walk with Him.  Do whatever it takes to keep your “saltiness” so you can be one of those whom God can use in this end time to finish His work in the earth.

 

 

 

 

BAD ACTORS IN THE PULPIT

Harold & Donna Kupp

        Shakespeare observed that “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women in it, merely players.”

        Since the time of the apostle Paul, men and angels have been watching the on-going drama of Christianity.  Through the centuries, kings and peasants in every hamlet and city of the world have carefully observed the lives of Christians.  They have seen that some Christians are merely actors hiding behind a pious mask.

        In Paul’s day, stage actors would put on large masks so they could pretend to be someone they were not.  These players were called hypocrites.  The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek word Hupokrisis which means play acting.

        Today, the world’s spotlight is being focused upon the bad actors in the pulpit.  Their scandalous behavior has brought reproach and embarrassment to Christians everywhere.  Friends, let us be on guard, because the scriptures warn that the lies of hypocrites will cause some to fall away from the faith.  In I Tim. 4:1-2, we read Paul’s warning:

        “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (KJV)

        Notice, the masked liars of this prophecy were once of the faith but departed from itand yet they were still teachers.

        Friends, we need to face the facts: On center stage today, there are imposters who are teaching God’s people.  They are hiding behind masks of virtue, they have all kinds of religious trappings, and they speak many words of scripture – but they teach that we can willfully disobey God’s Ten Commandment laws and still be saved.  They cause many to die in their sins and lose their souls.

        SOME OF SATAN’S MOST ADEPT SERVANTS HAVE LEADING ROLES IN TODAY’S CHURCH.  It is sobering to think of the soul-destroying consequences of this situation. And when we consider how many of our family, friends and even ourselves are in danger, we see the urgency to test the genuineness of every teacher.

        Whenever a teacher claims he is God’s prophet or we start hearing buzz-words like “the anointing is here” or “I feel the anointing,” this should be our cue to start testing – and fast!  The charlatans use this kind of hocus-pocus to intimidate us and paralyze our brains.  Then, we begin to hear people making ridiculous statements like this: “We are not to touch God’s anointed – even when they are living in sin.”  This kind of irresponsible use of scripture only serves to shield these spiritual quacks.

        Here are two Bible tests that will expose false teachers:

        1.  If they are committing sin, you can be sure they have not been sent by God.  The apostle John gives us this test: “He that saith, I knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

        2.  They are false if they do not tell people they MUST stop committing willful sin.  The prophet Jeremiah gives us this test: “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.  But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jer. 23:21-22).

        Those two scriptural guidelines for testing preachers will quickly eliminate most of the imposters.  God’s true servants are working under His authority and God’s instruction to us is to “prove all things” – that includes both the prophet and his message:

        “Despise not prophesying.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:20-21).

        Considering that God is sovereign, have you ever wondered why the hypocrites are given a platform from which to propagate their lies when their deceptions undermine God’s authority and their lives bring reproach to the cause of Christ?  This is “The Mystery of iniquity.”  Though we cannot fully understand all of this, we can find some answers to this perplexing question from the scriptures.

        False prophets (even if their signs and wonders come to pass) are a test to see if we will obey God.

        “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, let us go after other gods, which thou hast not know, and let us serve them; (We “go after other gods” by breaking God’s law.) Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth (test) you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (The love of God is to keep His commandments [I John 5:3]).  Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him” (Deut. 13:1-4).

        By considering these things, we can easily see that God is using false teachers to test our faithfulness.  Will we obey God’s law?  Or will we fall for the deception of these vipers with the holy mask?  The original serpent’s message has never changed; he is still tempting believers to sin with the words: “Ye shall not surely die.”

        Friends, “Let us count it all joy” when our faith and endurance are tested by the false prophets.  They are simply another test that we must pass in the school of faith as we grow to the perfection that God requires for eternal life.  James spoke of this testing when he said:

        “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12 KJV).

        Again, we see the word LOVE…and remember…love means obedience to the commandments of God, just as Jesus said: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that LOVETH me” (John 14:21).

        Friends, we are approaching the grand finale of this earthly drama when Christ returns to judge all men.  The hypocrites will have their part in the lake that burns with fire, but those who love God will live forever with their Lord.

 

 

 

 

“STAND THEREFORE”

Alda Scullin

        If ever there was a time when God’s people needed to gird for battle, it is today, but sad to say, many are at ease in Zion.

        We live in the end time, the last few years of earth’s history, a period of which Daniel prophesied.  Daniel could not understand that which God gave him because it was not for his day, but for the end time.  He was told to seal up the book until the end of the end (Dan. 12:4).  Because it is mostly dark speech it will only be understood when God Himself interprets it, or circumstances make it plain.  He speaks of one who will “speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High and think to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25).  In chapter 12, verse 7, he speaks of one who “shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people.”  Now that these things are happening, or have happened, it is not too difficult to understand them, at least in part.

        Great words against the most High are certainly being heard even from many who profess to serve Him.  Because many prefer an easy way rather than the way of sacrifice, the enemy has little difficulty in using them for his purposes, which are to make the Word of God seem ineffectual by casting doubt upon it; to wear out the saints through many means from government agencies who try to restrict their activities and hale them into courts, to the evil influences of the atmosphere in which they must work and the trash piped into their homes through every kind of audio or visual media.  “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” Jesus said (Matt. 24:12).

        But surely the enemy’s greatest achievement has been “to scatter the power of the holy people.”  This he has done by dividing them into many, many segments.  The devil is terrified by the thought of God’s people becoming ONE as Jesus prayed they would.  Paul warned the Romans to “mark them which cause divisions…and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17,18), for, he said, “They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

        Satan, himself, is still around with his question: “Hath God said?”  Like Eve of old, many listen and begin to doubt, murmur and dispute.  The reasonings of carnal minds are allowed to be the determining factor rather than the “thus saith the Lord.”  This in turn brings confusion and God is not the author of it.  Satan is.

        Why is it possible for Satan to penetrate the ranks of those who should be standing fast as soldiers of the cross?  Let us examine Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 6.

        “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10).

        Sounds like good advice.  Our own strength is surely not sufficient for the battle.

        Paul goes on to tell us how to prepare for battle; how to be strong in the Lord.

        “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore” (Eph. 6:11-14).

        The inference from these words certainly suggests that stability and steadfastness are important and, in fact, necessary even for the donning of the armour.  Anyone knows it would be foolhardy to go forth barehanded to battle the enemy.  Surely it would be well to take inventory of ourselves to see how well prepared (or unprepared) we are before we sally forth to meet the foe.  Notice especially the parts of the armour that protect the most vital parts of the body.

        Truth girds the loins.  Psa. 91:4 also refers to truth as our “shield and buckler.” Jesus said, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17).

        Righteousness is the breastplate.  Not our own righteousness, which Isa. 64:6 says is as filthy rags, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ, His very divine nature which we must put on (II Peter 1:4).  Or as in Rom. 13:14, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

        Faith is the shield for fending off the darts of the wicked.  Faith is that quality which causes one to believe God’s Word enough to act upon it.  Read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.  By FAITH Able offered; by FAITH Noah prepared; by FAITH Abraham obeyed.  “Without FAITH it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).

        We might say these parts of the armour are defensive, but we are also given a weapon with which to slay the enemy: the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (v. 17).  Notice how much of this armour is directly related to God’s Word.  So we see that “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (II Cor. 10:4).

        What, then, is wrong?  Why are God’s people weak instead of strong?  Why the confusion and division?  Too much of the armour of God has been laid aside.  The shield of faith has apparently become too heavy to hold up before us, therefore, the fiery darts of the enemy are not quenched.

        Truth and righteousness are not fervently desired and sought after.  Carnal desires, material possessions and worldly pleasures are given priority over searching through the Word of God and seeking Him for enlightenment.  When He does reveal truth, many are staggered by the cost of walking in it and so find excuses for not doing so.

        It is very apparent that most church goers today are content with the status quo. They enjoy revivals, conventions, campaigns, tours to the “Holy Land,” and all the other gimmicks of modern religion.  Even so, God, in His mercy, pours out of His Spirit upon them and blesses them and answers their prayers, but between blessings most feel no obligation to walk in His will, but rather pursue their own way of life and desires.  Few really believe that they must be fully committed and dedicated to His way of life; that their all must be put upon the altar and consumed; that He must be their God even as He was Abraham’s God.  Abraham was not distracted or enticed by the riches of this world.  He looked for the heavenly and walked with God in devotion and obedience so that he was prepared for it.  Such is THE faith – steadfast – unshakable.  He was not turned aside by the enemy’s “Hath God said?” not even to the offering of his son.  Such steadfastness is an absolute requisite in this end time in which the Lord said we would see trouble such as the world has never seen before.

        It is time for God’s army to stand as one, fully girded for battle and ready to present a solid front to the enemy so that he can find no place through which he can infiltrate and work havoc.

        The gaps must be stopped, the breaches repaired, the stones gathered out, the highway of holiness cast up.  There is much work to do and little time in which to do it.  There is no time to pursue our own desires or be at ease in any way.

        “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).

        Hear the call to battle! Satan has declared all out war on the true servants of God.  He has “great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12).  Those who are comfortably at ease will surely be overcome by him.  It is imperative that God’s people become “disentangled” from everything that hinders them from being in close communion with the “captain of their salvation.”  Each soldier is responsible to be faithful in his duty.  No one else can do it for him.  Quickly don the armour that has been laid aside, and having done all to stand, STAND therefore.  Satan cannot stand before those who are STRONG IN THE LORD.

 

 

 

 

HOLINESS IS …

J. Grant Swank, Jr.

1- the DEDICATION OF ONESELF TO GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT

          In Matthew 6:24 we read that “no man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other; Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

        The call to holiness is to give up one’s right to himself by God’s Spirit.

        Paul stated: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, HOLY, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

        The claim of holiness is a total claim: a wholeness in holiness on the altar of the living God.

        After one makes that dedication of self-will to the divine will, there follows:

2- the DISCIPLINE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

          Galatians 5:25 states: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”  Someone has said, “Don’t talk the talk if you don’t walk the walk.”  How true!

        Paul writes elsewhere (in Philippians 2:15): “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”  This calls for daily Bible reading, daily prayer, and consistent worship, as well as a practical witness for Christ in the world at work, study, and home.  This is the acceptance of the rigors of discipline, the grappling with the work of holy living.

        Living the pure life takes toil, never forget it.  “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

        Realizing that holiness is the dedication of one’s whole self to God’s daily will, and understanding that there is the real dimension of discipline to purity of life, one enters into:

3- the DELIGHT IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

          Keep in mind that the holy life is no drag.  It is no long face.  It has nothing to do with sad-sack religion.  The infilling with the Spirit of God brings the joy of living.

        Jesus said in John 10:10: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  That abundant life is the empowering daily presence of Christ’s Spirit.

        Paul knew of that happiness in the holiness of God: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).  Paul had been dead until he met the Spirit of Jesus in a personal encounter.  The he dropped that dead past for the living future in Christ.

        No wonder Paul could pen: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  That’s it!  That’s the “high” of existence.  That is the intoxication that leads to walking the straight line of Christian living.