People of The Living God

Psalms 91

 

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August 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

LIVING IN SODOM

Alfred King

        As Lot sat at the gate of Sodom, he reflected upon the events that had brought him to this place.  It seemed like only yesterday that he and his uncle Abram had left Ur and set out for a land that God had promised his uncle.  They had traveled for several years through the land of Canaan and even into Egypt when famine had struck the land.  Living in tents certainly did not compare to the luxuries he had here living in Sodom.  Remembering the dispute between his herdsmen and Abram’s herdsmen brought a slight sense of grief, yet that event was what had changed his course and caused him to settle in Sodom.  Abram heard of the dispute and desiring to maintain peace with his nephew, offered Lot the choice of the land before them.  Their herds had so increased as God blessed Abram’s obedience that the land could not supply enough feed for both herds.  The Canaanites and the Perizzites had their cattle in the same area adding an even greater shortage of pasture land and wells for water were also a cause of concern.  Lot was glad those days were over.  He now had a comfortable home in Sodom where he and his family had things much easier.  His girls, now grown, were soon to be wed.

        As he thought about his family, his thoughts changed somewhat.  Thinking of his daughters brought considerable concern to his mind.  His daughters had grown up in Sodom and the permissive society of the city had had some very negative effects upon his daughters, especially concerning issues of morality, godly character and ethics.  They certainly had missed the strong godly influence he had experienced under the mentorship of his uncle Abram.  Abram always spoke about the Lord, prayed many times daily and Lot had seen how God spoke to Abram and led him.  It was because of God’s blessings upon Abram that he had received the wealth he presently had.  His cattle had increased as Abram’s had.  He owed his wealth to his uncle.  A momentary conviction settled upon him as he thought of his selfish decision to take the well-watered land of the plain leaving his uncle to the fate of mountainous terrain, and yet, God continued to bless Abram.  Why should he think that Abram would suffer loss since God always blessed him?  This thought eased the conviction as he excused himself thinking, “maybe it was best for him to have taken the plain.”  But again his mind returned to his daughters.  Two young men had asked for the hand of his daughters and although he wasn’t pleased with either, his girls seemed to be blind to their blatant disregard for truth and the total absence of righteous living.  They were as pagan as those he and Abram had left in Ur or maybe more so for they saw no problem with the licentiousness of the citizens of Sodom.  Even those who claimed to walk with God and were religious had accepted same-sex marriage into their churches.  Several businesses were pressured and even boycotted until they surrendered to the demands of men who had lost any trace of rationality.  One school had been shut down because they would not allow the boys and girls to use the same bathroom facilities.  It was as though God had given them over to a reprobate mind.

        As his thoughts roamed through the events of his life, his meanderings led him to think of his wife.  It seemed she also had been caught up in the ungodly lifestyle of Sodom.  How had this happened?  She had encouraged him at times when he was struggling to maintain his moral principles in a city where truth and morality had long ago been cast into the streets.  Surely she was strong enough to stand and not be deceived by it.  But then he thought of the time she spent in the pleasures and entertainment of Sodom.  He thrust it aside rather than let it bother him too much because he had mentioned this to her several times before and it only caused her to bring up some of his faults.  No sense in going into that again.

        The sun was lowering as the day was coming to a close and it was time for him to head home for the day.  The day had been a slow day and he was happy that he had not had to deal with some of the petty differences these godless souls of Sodom so often experienced.  His thoughts were interrupted when he spied two men whom he did not recognize approaching the gate.  Lot arose and bowed himself before them.  Something was different about these two men and desiring to protect them he offered them lodging in his home.  They thanked Lot but said they would just abide on the street for the night.  Knowing the conditions in Sodom after dark and having heard as a judge in Sodom how militant these groups of homosexuals can be, he greatly pressured them to come into his home and refresh themselves.  After some persuasion they agreed.

        Unfortunately for Lot, some of the men of Sodom had seen the men enter the city.  These perverted men gathered several other reprobates and surrounded Lot’s house demanding that Lot send the men out to them.  Lot knew their evil intent and refused.  Trying to reason with them was futile and as the crowd grew more and more militant, they began threatening Lot’s safety.  Only Abram’s prayers had moved the hand of God to intervene in Lot’s life.  God had sent two angels and they reached out and saved Lot from imminent danger.  The angels smote the ungodly host with blindness and commanded Lot and his family to flee Sodom, for God’s judgment was determined upon the city at the breaking of day.  Lot tried to warn his sons-in-law but they mocked him, which didn’t really surprise him.  They determined to remain in Sodom although Lot had spoken to them several times of the evils of the place, Lot’s righteous soul being vexed daily.  They had heard him speak of the evils of the city.  The school system of Sodom had successfully produced a society that no longer had any concept of morality or decency.  Respect for others had been replaced with a selfishness and self-gratification.  Sodom had produced a generation of corrupt minds, void of God and consequently barren of godly virtue or standards.

        Lot struggled to get his family ready for their departure.  His wife and his daughters seemed to procrastinate and linger as though they did not realize the seriousness of the hour.  As the night gave way to the morning light, the angels took hold of Lot, his wife and his two daughters and drew them outside the city.  As the angels departed from Lot, they gave one last command, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee.”  This whole ordeal was so shocking and unexpected.  Lot’s wife was grieved as she thought of the good life she had in Sodom.  Was she now to return to the mountains to tend sheep again?  Was she to live in tents, fighting insects, heat in the summer and cold in the winter?  What was she leaving behind?  As the fire came down from heaven and the noise of God’s judgment fell, she remembered the words spoken by the angel, “Don’t look back.”  What difference does it make?  She had been disobedient several times through the years and one more time would not send her to hell.  She turned and as she saw the fire of God’s judgment strike Sodom and consume all her idols, she immediately was changed into a pillar of salt.  Yesterday for Lot, was a day like any other, but today his world was changed forever.

        From watchmen on the walls, there is a cry for God’s people to get ready to extricate themselves from Babylon.  God in His revelations to John on the Isle of Patmos, gave warning that the time would come when God would call His people out of Babylon.  Take note of Revelation 18:4-5, “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.  For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”  Pay special attention to the highlighted portion.  The implication is that if those to whom the angel is speaking don’t “come out of her,” they will be partakers of her sins and they will receive of her plagues.  Lot’s wife had her heart in Sodom and it was her destruction.  The common teaching among most Evangelicals is that Babylon is the Roman Catholic Church.  Is this true?  Does the Catholic Church live up to all that scripture speaks concerning the identity of Babylon?  No, it does not.  But if it is not the Catholic Church, then what and where is Babylon?  How can God’s people come out of Babylon if they do not know what Babylon is?  It is imperative as we see the signs Jesus spoke of appearing on the horizon that we begin to seek God to reveal not only what Babylon is but also how to “come out of her.”  Knowing what Babylon is will not deliver anyone, just as knowing the judgment determined on Sodom did not deliver Lot’s sons-in-law or his wife.  Evil is permeating our land and the next election will not stop the flow of ungodliness in America nor will it keep it from increasing.  In the days of Noah, scripture states that men’s hearts were wicked.  Genesis 6:5 reads, “every imagination of his thoughts was only evil continually.”   It refers to the violence that filled the land and the earth was corrupt (Gen. 6:11).  In recent months violence has become prevalent on America’s streets as hatred to law and order has been brought to the forefront.  Not only has this hatred and rebellion expressed itself in our streets but in many of our businesses as police officers have been refused service or been disrespected in those businesses.  Those who desire to please God in their businesses have been sued and some have had to shut their doors because they refuse to bow to the demands of political correctness.  Standing up for God’s word is going to become more and more challenging as time goes on and only those who know their God will stand in the days ahead when persecution comes to America.  How soon with that happen?  Only God knows, but if God judged Sodom and the antediluvian world, He will judge again when the cup of iniquity is full.

        Jesus warned His people of these days in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 & 21.  Read carefully and prayerfully His warnings.  In Luke 21:36 Jesus gives instruction regarding how we are to prepare for this time.  “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.”  Those who heed His words will be prepared when judgment falls.  God will deliver His people but that deliverance rests in “coming out of Babylon” and going out to meet Him, Jesus Christ.  Let the church arise and prepare herself for God’s great work in these latter days. 

 

 

 

 

TO THE SERVANTS OF GOD

Harold Scullin

        “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).

        We can only conclude that if an individual walks after the flesh, that he should expect to be attacked by the spirit of condemnation.

        Our walk in the Spirit is greatly opposed by the carnal mind and by the desires and appetites of the flesh, as well as the “lusts of the flesh and the lust of the eye.”  These are areas in the life of the child of God that the enemy, the devil, will seek to infiltrate and work against the saint of God.  Once this foe is entrenched he can work havoc in the thought life of a saint.  Discouragement, despair, despondency, wanting to forsake the way of the Lord, are some of the results of the enemy working in your mind.

        “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5).  There is a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit of God which dwells within the temple of God.

        “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17).  Confusion enters the mind and spirit of the individual who is caught in such a conflict, and as a result he is not able to express the glories and majesty of the Kingdom of God, neither can he exalt Jesus Christ satisfactorily even though he may desire to do so.

        THERE IS VICTORY AND DELIVERANCE FROM THIS CONDITION!

        “Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).  That is very easy to write but it is very difficult to do.  Sometimes this lack of ability to express and exalt Jesus is hard to understand, especially when there is a strong desire in the heart to please and honour the Lord.  What is the problem?

        In Eph. 2:2,3, we read, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

        It is understandable that an individual that has not been “born again” does walk and talk and think “according to the course of this world.”  He receives pleasure in “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind.”  But even while “dead in trespasses and sin” the Lord Jesus can manifest His saving grace to him.  He can cleanse him from all sin when there is repentance, confession, and asking forgiveness from transgression.

        The new convert is filled with joy and praise to the Lord Jesus for His great salvation and the knowledge that he has “passed from death unto life.”

        This babe in Christ soon finds out that he is buffeted in his mind.  He finds that he has thoughts that trouble him.  There are fleshly desires and appetites that are demanding to be satisfied.  He is in turmoil.  His mind is filled with vile and ungodly acts that he committed before he found Jesus.  He wants deliverance from these spirits of oppression.

        He reads in the Scriptures that, “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).  How can he be spiritually minded when he is tormented with such carnal thoughts?  He reads on, “because the carnal mind is ENMITY against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).  “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).

        This word “enmity” has to do with hostility, that which is diabolically opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit.  Salvation does not eradicate our fleshly body and mind.  We still have the same body and mind as we had before salvation.

        Most young converts have to face and deal with this same problem.  This evil force that comes against the servants of God is not demon possession.  Not so.  Evil spirits cannot take possession of any individual apart from the consent of that individual.  But the adversary can and will exert great pressure and endeavor to influence our flesh, our thoughts, and our human spirit to transgress the Word of God.

        Paul in writing to the Romans about this conflict between the flesh and the Holy Spirit has this to say, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (Rom. 8:11,12).  It is true we do have the flesh to contend with, but we are in no way obligated to walk or live after the flesh.  We are “new creatures in the Lord.”

        The “born again” individual that is “a new creature in Jesus Christ” has not yet learned that he has complete power and authority over his carnal mind and over the fleshly desires and appetites.  The lack of knowledge of your legal inheritance in the Lord Jesus Christ can also be a deterrent to you in your walk with Jesus.  Hosea, the prophet wrote, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

        The Lord Jesus has won the victory over the powers of darkness for you.  As a child of God, “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made you free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).  You have been given the ability, the power and the authority through Jesus to take the promises of God “and cleanse yourself from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (II Cor. 7:1).

        Read this declaration of victory, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy (make powerless) the works of the devil” (I John 3:8).  We read in Heb. 2:14,15 “…He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy (make powerless) him that had the power of death, that is the devil.”  Again in Col. 2:15, we are told of the triumph and victory of Jesus over the powers of darkness.  “Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”  Here is some marvelous good news, “Behold I give unto you power to tread on scorpions and serpents, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).  “Who hath delivered us from the powers of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13).  There are other Scriptures that testify to the great victory of Jesus Christ over the forces of evil.  The very fact that Jesus Christ cast out devils is indisputable evidence that these evil spirits were in subjection to Him, The King.  You as a child of God have power and authority over all the power of the enemy.

        BUT THAT IS NOT ALL.

        Jesus said in Matt. 16: 19, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; that whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  The apostles and disciples in the early church exercised this power and authority.  They healed the sick, they cast out devils, they raised the dead.  This same power and authority is for the servants of Jesus today.

        Every child of God, young and old, that is being tormented and harassed by evil spirits has been given authority through the Word of God, and in the Name of Jesus, under the covering of the blood to take a stand against these lying spirits and to bind them and cast them out, and walk in the victory of Jesus.

        The people of God have also been given “weapons that are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:3-5).  This victory is for you.  You can ask God to help you that the Holy Spirit can quicken these Scriptures to you, that you can understand them and apply them to your life and needs.  He will help you.

        You can measure your degree of victory and deliverance by the exact amount of your surrender and submission you have made to the Saviour.  To surrender your will to do His will means that you will be as dependent upon Jesus to lead you, to instruct you, to tell you what to do, as Jesus was dependent upon His Father to tell Him what to say and what to do.  Jesus did not speak His own words; He did not do His own works.  The Father gave Him instruction what to say and what to do (John 14:10).

        But you may wonder, where do you come in, into such a program?  Listen to what John the Baptist said about Himself, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).  John was surrendered.  Paul also wrote about submission and surrender to the will of God: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ” (Gal. 2:20).  Paul understood that to walk with the Lord Jesus, was to walk completely given over to Him in body, soul, mind, and spirit.  The self, the I, the ego was not to be expressed.  Only the Lord Jesus was to be exalted and lifted up.  He was to receive ALL of the glory, ALL of the honour, ALL of the praise.

        In such a complete surrender, the child of God is manifesting the virtues of Jesus, His Divine Nature.  This is the way Jesus walked.  In speaking only the words of the Father and doing only His works, Jesus was giving forth a Divine testimony of the Divine Nature of the Father.  In fact Jesus told Philip, “ he that hath seen Me hath seen the father ” (John 14:9).  The Book of Hebrews states this relationship as, “the express image of his person ” (Heb. 1:3).  The Greek translates this portion of Scripture as, “The precise reproduction of His Person .”  This expresses an absolute surrender of the will of Jesus to the will of the Father.

        “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (purchased) people, that ye should shew forth the virtues of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).  “His virtues” has to do with His moral excellence, His glory, His majesty.

        To walk with the Lord “in the spirit” is a most high calling; it is a holy calling, yes, even a sacred calling.

        You want victory and deliverance from carnality?  That is commendable – you can have it.

        The magnitude and scope of such great victory and deliverance does not come by a mere profession of Jesus Christ.  Complete victory in your heart and mind and life can only be obtained by a deep hunger and desire for the will of God to be wrought in your heart.  A complete, 100% commitment to the Lord and His work is an absolute requirement.

        YOU CAN BE DELIVERED, YOU CAN HAVE VICTORY, YOU CAN WALK IN THE SPIRIT.

 

 

 

 

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Harry Miller

(Study  No. 6)

        Huge clouds of dust filled the hot dry desert air as the great cavalcade moved slowly eastward.  The stifling heat was tempered by the great canopy of cloud which the Lord had given to provide shade for His people, but the fine sand and dust of this bleak land soon filtered into every pore of their bodies.  Everything they owned was coated with dust.

        The patience of the people began to grow threadbare.  The hastily prepared night camps afforded them little relief for their discomfort and the weariness of travel stimulated short tempers and gave occasion to much irritability.

        Before long the supply of foul-smelling water they had carried in goatskin bags was gone.  Scouts were sent out to search every canyon and ravine for water, but in vain.  When the discouraging report was brought back to Moses, Israel sank into the depths of gloom.  At first there was murmuring – a little caustic word dropped here and another there – as others were moved to add to the sound of discontent.  They began to “chide” Moses, and some of the less timorous ones openly asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

        This question is akin to the one the devil tried on the Lord Jesus when he tempted Him in the wilderness: “If thou be the Son of God. ”  In other words, prove that God is in You now by turning these stones into bread.  Prove that You are a son by casting Yourself down from the top of this temple, for He said He would give His angels charge over thee,  IF thou art a son.  Jesus was not shaken by this trick of Satan's, but Israel fell for the old line, and as soon as the going began to get hard, the kickers began to murmur.

        “The people murmured against Moses.”  God they could not see; but Moses they could see and complain against.  “Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”  God was left out of the whole picture.  They denied that God had anything to do with it.  It was all Moses' fault.  Every discomfort became a personal grievance, and this man Moses, with all of his promises and his great speeches, had been the cause of their leaving the lush country of the Nile.

        Many now remembered how they had asked him to let them alone.  Things hadn't been as bad as he had made them appear.  Besides, they had plenty to eat as well as to drink in Egypt.

        As the elders began to take counsel one with another, the feeling of rebellion mounted until many were ready to take up stones and make a quick end of the man who had led them into such an awful predicament.

        In desperation, Moses cried unto the Lord, “What shall I do unto this people?”

        He was instructed to take the rod and strike the rock on the side of the mountain.  The Lord told him “There shall come water out of it that the people may drink.”

        Many people today try to explain miracles by scientific means.  Some have said that a spring was at this place and Moses, striking the rock, caused a stone to be dislodged and the water gushed forth.  But bear in mind that there were two and a half million thirsty people to satisfy as well as many thousand head of cattle.  The water must be a good-sized stream to supply them all, and so it was.

        The rod is a type or emblem of the Word and the law of God.  In Egypt, the “Word” cast to the ground became a curse.  When it was used to smite the waters, all of the fish in those waters died and the water became blood.  Christ is the Rock, and God the Father smote Him for our sakes, that we might drink of the water of life “FREELY.”

        “Then came Amalek.”  The name Amalek means “warlike.”  The end of peace came for Israel when they murmured against the Lord; complaining is a prelude to a real attack of the enemy.

        The host of this enemy came like a flood against the people of God.  That night Moses planned the attack of the following day.  Joshua, a young man of great faith, was chosen by Moses to lead Israel against the enemy.  To encourage Joshua, Moses told him he would stand on the top of a hill overlooking the battlefield, and he would hold the rod of God in his hand.  Already these men were attaining great faith in that dry, old stick that the Lord had chosen to use as an instrument of power.

        And so, as the first rays of the morning sun slanted across the barren desert, three solitary figures could be sighted trudging slowly up the hill: three men in single file, their faces set with determination – Moses, Aaron, and Hur, going forth to prevail against the enemy with a single weapon – “the rod of God.”

        All through that long day, these men remained on top of the hill.

        As soon as Moses lifted up the rod, power was given to Israel to prevail against the enemy.  (And herein lies a secret for prevailing against the enemy today – by holding up God's Word before the throne until victory is ours.)

        “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Moses' arms became tired, and for only a moment's rest, he lowered the rod.  Instantly the battle turned against Israel, and “Amalek prevailed.”

        It is such an easy thing to let down – such a natural thing.  And before we can realize it, the enemy has taken the advantage.  “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”

        But teamwork and the combined efforts of the men of faith saved the day.  A stone was placed for Moses to sit upon, and his brother Aaron stood on one side of him and helped to hold up a tiring arm.  Hur stood on the other side and held up the other arm.  This strange trio kept its place “until the going down of the sun,” and Joshua was given complete victory in the battle.

        The combined effort of the saints of God will also bring victory in this last day, and as battles are fought together in the spirit, each man holding up the hands of his brethren, the fulfillment of the great promises of God shall be seen.

        Jethro the Midianite, father-in-law of Moses, heard of the great things that the Lord had done for Moses, so he went out to meet him.  He also brought Moses' wife and two sons with him.

        Moses was glad to see Jethro.  He seemed to like the old man very much.  After Moses had rehearsed to Jethro all the trials and victories of Israel, Jethro rejoiced in the Lord for these things and declared, “Now I know that the Lord, He is God.”

        He then offered a burnt offering and sacrifices unto God, and Aaron and all the elders of Israel gathered together with Moses and Jethro “to eat bread before God.”

        There are numbers of Old Testament scriptures which tell of men observing the ordinance of communion.

        Moses, a great leader of the people of God, was a judge of many affairs of their daily lives.  A steady stream of people came to him daily for counsel.  Jethro saw the great strain this brought Moses under and suggested that he have “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such men to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, rulers of tens.  And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge.”

        Here we have a great pattern for good government.  How wonderful it would be to see a country ruled by the standards set forth by this aged priest of Midian.  His humility to the “Most High” is set forth in his next words: “If thou do this thing and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.”

        Moses was a humble man, a man easy to teach, a man who was not too big in his own eyes to receive instruction.  “So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.”

 

 

 

 

WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE

Curtis Dickinson

        The Humanist Manifesto II states that traditional authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species.  “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience,” they say.  This is the basis for the philosophy of “situational ethics.”  It is also one reason why every time a terrible crime is committed, the press is filled with speculations about who caused the criminal to commit the wicked deed.  Was it his parents, his environment, or his peers?  Or perhaps we are all to blame – anything but the obvious, that he is guilty of sin.

        That’s the one word modern man has no use for. Yet he fills the waiting rooms of the psychiatrists and psychologists trying to rid himself of his guilt.  Let the funds for public counseling run dry and a community thinks it is in crisis!  Even the churches welcome “pop preaching” that promises wealth and success to everyone without ever mentioning sin.

        In the beginning man was created accountable.  Adam and Eve knew very well why things were so radically changed, even though Adam tried to blame Eve: “the woman you gave me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.”  Eve blamed the serpent: “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”  But they knew they were guilty of sin.  They had rejected the purpose of their creation, to live in the image of God, thinking and acting and living according to the Creator’s plans.  They wanted their own way, and this is the root of sin.  James writes, “Each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.  Then the lust when it hath conceived, beareth sin: And the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15).  No one can force us to sin!  Whatever the sin, it is the result of our having our own way, fulfilling our own desires, instead of being obedient to God.

        Taylor Caldwell wrote, “No matter how an individual man pleads that he is not responsible for his evil deeds, he knows in his heart that he alone is to blame.  When the maudlin and sentimental try to explain a man’s fall from virtue and decency as ‘the fault of society or environment,’ each man knows that is a lie, and that what he has done is his own crime and inspired from within, and that he has listened in the darkness of his soul to the terrible Adversary, and that he has, by the full force of his will, rejected the Good.”

        Every religion recognizes that sin lies at the root of man’s problems.  The pagan poet Ovid wrote, “We all strive for what is forbidden.”  The Bible states, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

        The humanist solution to sin is not new.  Throughout history restraint has been attempted through regulative laws.  When these fail, man decrees new laws and sets up more state agencies to control the populace.  Eventually, sin is not seen as that which violates the will of God but that which violates the will of the state.

        The reason the Constitution of the United States is such a marvelous document is not because the men who wrote it were better educated than statesmen today, but because they recognized that moral and social order which makes freedom possible must be rooted in the will of the Creator and that whatever violates that will also undermine man’s freedom.  Having abandoned the basis of the Constitution, God, the modern state turns in desperation to a form of tyranny where man is forcefully regulated by the state from the cradle to the grave.

        Of course, this cannot eliminate sin and guilt.  One may not be free to act, yet harbor the sin in his mind and heart.  He is still alienated from God and full of guilt, for all sin is against God.  David cried out, “Against thee, thee only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4).  Sin not only alienates us from God, but places us under the final sentence of death.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ex. 18:20).  This death is final and eternal.  The judgment is described by John where Jesus is portrayed as gathering up the wheat for Himself, but burning up the chaff.  Jesus compared it to the harvest, where the wheat is harvested but the weeds are gathered and cast into the furnace to be burned up (Matt. 3:12; 13:37-43).

        The solution to sin is found nowhere else but in Christ, who came into the world “to save His people from their sins.”  Sin violates the very nature and purpose of God, yet He provides its cure through His Son, Jesus.  “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, but the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6).  Christ, who was totally obedient to God, suffered the penalty of death on our behalf who believe in Him.

        What God requires first of all is our acknowledgement of sin.  The Pharisee, who could see nothing amiss in his life and thanked God for his perfection, remained in his sin.  It was the publican, who shamefully but contritely said, “Be merciful to me, a sinner,” who went home justified.  The Prodigal Son made no excuses for his conduct and blamed no one else for his predicament, but confessed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight.”  David found no relief from his guilt until he faced up to the fact of his terrible sin and confessed it.  Seminars on improving one’s image, “coping,” and possibility thinking may only help to avoid the real issue – sin.  Jesus did not send people to therapy, but confronted them with sin and offered forgiveness.  The apostles’ message was not “Smile, God loves you,” but “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sin.”

        The evil that is in the world, which surfaces in mass killings, rape, child abuse, the ugly brutality of war and the oppression of whole nations, comes from the heart of man.  It is individual, personal.  And it can only be cured individually, personally.  This is why Jesus charged His disciples to take His message to all the world, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching them.

        The answer to our ills, personally and publicly, is not more welfare, more government, more laws and more secular education, but a recognition of the core of evil in human hearts that can only be removed by the power of the Creator through the means He has provided in Christ.

        “God commended his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

 

 

 

 

LETTER FROM A READER

 

Dear D.D.

        We at “The Testimony of Truth” appreciate your letter and the concerns which you posed.  For the benefit of our readers we want to print part of your letter here and then attempt to address your concerns.

        “The publication has had a constant bombardment on speaking in tongues – yes, there is much abuse – but how can we worship the Father without our control in speaking and singing?”

        Your first statement concerning the constant bombardment leaves me uncertain from which perspective you are coming.  I am not sure if you are saying that we write too much against it or in favor of it.  For the most part the articles contained in “The Testimony of Truth” have been negative or in opposition to what is going on in most Pentecostal and Charismatic circles.  And yet your question sounds more like you do not understand how we can worship God when we don’t understand what we are saying (or singing).  I will therefore try to explain my view of the topic of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.  I refer to “my view” because not all of us at People of the Living God see eye to eye on everything relative to this topic.

        Let me begin by saying that anything supernatural cannot be understood without something supernatural providing that understanding.  For example: How can you tell a sinner about the joy of being born again and expect him to understand it perfectly?  How can you explain the fragrance of a rose to another person?  You cannot.  They must experience it in order to know very much about it at all.  You may say, “a rose smells sweet, like perfume, it’s a delicate smell and almost heavenly.”  Does he now know what a rose smells like?  No.  He must experience the smell and then he knows.  So it is with the things of the Spirit.  In John 3 Jesus likened it to the wind, which you don’t know from whence it comes nor where it goes.  Such are the things of God’s supernatural.

        Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49).  Of course we know that the Holy Spirit fell on those disciples a few weeks later on the day of Pentecost, and they were all filled with the Spirit as the Holy Ghost came upon them with cloven tongues like as of fire and sat upon each of them (Acts 2:3).  Verse four of Acts 2 reads, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  Later in Peter’s discourse to those who questioned him concerning this outpouring, he stated very clearly that “ the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).  What is established here is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was not only for those disciples present that day in Jerusalem but is for all believers for all time, which means it is for today.  The first thing of which we must be convinced is that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which includes speaking in tongues, is for us personally.  If we don’t understand this and believe it, any further discussion is fruitless, for the supposition or premise becomes ethereal to the unbeliever.

        What we have considered so far is that one must believe it is an experience that God has provided for His people today through Jesus Christ and that we cannot understand very much about it until we experience it.  One important point in connection with your question is that those who speak in tongues do have control of it.  Paul gave instructions to the church at Corinth concerning some of the gifts of the Spirit; in I Cor. 14 verse 32 he writes, “And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”  In fact it is very easy to quench the Spirit by refusing to let the Holy Spirit have the control.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit can be likened to water baptism in that when one is baptized in water, he is completely submerged into the water.  Likewise, when one is baptized into the Spirit, he is completely submerged into the Holy Spirit.  Many say that this is evidenced by one giving over so completely that the Holy Spirit takes control of his tongue and speaks through the individual.  Of course we know that this does honor the Father and is a tremendous avenue of worship that is far beyond what man can say with his own limited vocabulary and abilities.  But speaking in tongues in itself is not the baptism of the Holy Spirit; it is only an evidence.  The baptism is much more.  One person said it is a baptism of love.  They describe it as being immersed into an ocean of God’s love.  Another’s attempt to portray it was that it was like God was pouring into him His love and he felt his body could not contain the whole if God were not to stop.  In essence it is an infilling of the love of God, and the results of the genuine baptism is that your life is transformed tremendously.  You love everyone.  Your attitude towards people radically changes so it is easy to love those whom you once hated and even those who were your enemies.  Love is the greatest proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

        However as with all the truths of God, there are the counterfeits.  There are many who just want the emotional experience and are not serious in going on with God.  They look only for another quick fix, like the junkie with his drugs.  This is the problem of certain groups who want everyone to receive “the baptism of the Spirit with the evidence of talking in tongues.”  They want people to have an emotionally good time but do not teach nor have any intentions of the necessity of absolute surrender to God.  They are not determined to take up their cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).  They are not interested in forsaking all that they have and becoming a true disciple of Christ (Luke 14:33).  A true disciple is one who is disciplined to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  While the baptism of the Spirit is given to men freely just as salvation is given freely, there is no certainty that the baptized person will continue in this greater degree of spirituality any more than there is certainty that one born again will continue to walk with God.  The baptism opens up to him a greater degree of understanding and power in the spirit realm, both in prayer and in God’s word.  However, let the baptized one not think that he is home free, for this entrance into the spiritual realm through the baptism also opens the door into the spirit realm where Satan is allowed to test and prove him in a greater manner than before his baptism.  This should not be an encumbrance or cause for one to draw back from this wonderful gift from God but cause him to realize that as he draws closer to God he acquires a greater enduement of power to overcome Satan’s attacks.  The baptism is one of the gifts which Jesus offers to all who desire to walk with Him.  It is an avenue to a greater fellowship with Him where one can gain godly character and put on the divine nature.  Peter informs us of this very fact in his second epistle.  II Peter 1:4, “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.”  One of these many promises is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and Jesus said it is the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4).

        Most people receive the baptism of the Spirit while they are worshipping God.  They are so full of praise and worship that words cannot express their love and devotion for Jesus Christ.  Consequently, the Holy Spirit comes in and fills their mouth with words which they could not utter, thus satisfying and expressing what they feel in their hearts.  Yet worshipping God is not the only door through which the baptism comes, for we cannot limit God to any certain order to which He must follow.  There are those who have been baptized while in prayer or when they were listening to a sermon or singing praise to God.  God knows what is best for us and we must be content to rest in Him.  No man can see God’s face and live scripture says.  His beauty, holiness, majesty, and all that He is, is too marvelous for these mortal bodies to contain; yet we get a glimpse of Him through various means and one great means is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

        With the baptism of the Holy Ghost we don’t have to worry about being conscious of what we’re saying or singing because God knows what is coming from our hearts.  The Holy Spirit takes control and we can rest in what He would speak through us, whether it be in tongues or praise and worship or whether it be in prayer and intercession.  The Spirit knows what the needs are in the spirit realm much better than we and we can be confident in that knowledge and rest in Him.  I conclude with quoting Charles Finney as he describes his experience which shows the utterances he had when he received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

“I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.  Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul.  I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me.  Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way.  It seemed like the very breath of God.  I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.  No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart.  I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart.  These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, ‘I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.’  I said, ‘Lord, I cannot bear any more.”*

* Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney

Sincerely, The Editor 

 

 

 

 

LETTER FROM “A BIBLE STUDENT”

 

        We have received a couple of letters over the past few months from one of our readers who refers to himself only as “A Bible Student”.  He leaves no return address so we cannot answer him personally but like to answer questions our readers ask in “The Testimony of Truth” anyway.  Because of the length of his letters we will only print the heart of the questions he is addressing.

        In his most recent letter he wrote: “On page 28 of the May issue of your publication you say: ‘… the apostles and believers gathered weekly for services …’  The word weekly doesn’t appear in the Holy Bible.”  He goes on to say that the early disciples as well as the Gentiles met daily and gives the following scriptures in support of his statement  (Acts 2:46-47; Acts 5:42; Acts 6:1; Acts 16:5; Acts 20:7).  Our reader is correct in that the word “weekly” does not appear in the Bible, and he is also correct that the early disciples did meet daily.

        Judging from this question it seems that the major point of this article was missed, for the article was intended not to deal specifically with the Sabbath but with the manner in which believers approach law and grace.  Many and probably most of our present day churches have distorted these two doctrines and removed the demands and seriousness of obedience to God’s divine law.  They have strategically created a grace that is nothing more than a license to circumvent God’s law.  This was the heart of the article.  However, the Sabbath was included because seventh day observance is considered by these same professors not as being obligatory for the church of Jesus Christ even though it is contained in The Ten Commandments.  The point in dealing with the Sabbath was to show that the seventh day Sabbath is not a law just for Israel but is for the church under the New Covenant as well.  The sentence in question regarding “weekly” gatherings is supported by the book of Acts.  Consider the following scriptures: Acts 13:42-44,“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.  Now when the congregation was broken up, 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 16:13, “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.”  Acts 17:2,  “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”  Acts 18:4,  “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”

        The fact that the early disciples did meet daily does not in any way affect the observance of the Sabbath and as the above verses clearly reveal, they did observe the Sabbath according to God’s divine and eternal law.  I hope this clarifies the sentence in question and gives a better understanding of the Sabbath.

        In a previous letter our “Bible Student” asks 100 questions.  We will only publish a few of the questions written because they are all self-explanatory.

        1.  “Where is the word Christianity found in the Bible ?"

        The truth is: Christianity is not found in the Bible.  This question though requires another question: Does the fact that a word is not in the Bible make it a non-Christian word or a word that cannot denote, in this case, a certain group of people?  The root word for Christianity is Christ.  Also from the root word “Christ” we have the word “Christian” which is used in the Bible, in Acts 11:26b.  It reads, “ And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

        The word “Christian” means a disciple or follower of Christ.  Christianity then is the religion or the order of those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the term “Christianity” distinguishes them from those of other religions.  There is nothing wrong with the word “Christianity” even though it is not found in the Bible, its root word is found there.  The fact that many people who claim to be Christian do not observe His commands, does not devalue the word or term, it merely exposes and confirms exactly what the apostles Paul, Peter, James and John all warn us of and that is that there are “many faults Christs” that true disciples of Christ must be wary of.  There are false Christians and there is false Christianity.  The fact that there is a false implies there is the true and the genuine.

        2.  “Where is the name Pastor found in the New Testament?”

        The name Pastor is not used in the New Testament but the term used in the plural “pastors” is.  Eph.4:11, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.”  Ephesians 4:11 is the only place the English word “pastors” is used in the New Testament, however the Greek word ποιμήν, which is translated “pastors” in the KJV is used 18 times and is translated 17 of those times as “Shepherd.”  Jesus referred to Himself as “the good shepherd” in John 10:11 & 14.  Thayer’s defines the Greek word as, “a herdsman, especially a shepherd.  He to whose care and control others have committed themselves, and whose precepts they follow.”  It is one who cares for the sheep.  Jesus likened His followers to sheep on several occasions and Himself as their Shepherd.  It is understood from scripture that Jesus is the Great Shepherd of the sheep but there is the office of shepherds or pastors.  Just because the term is used, in many cases, of wolves in sheep’s clothing, does not mean the term is unbiblical.  Whether a person should be called a pastor might be something to debate; there are so many important issues which plague the church that if this term is an issue it is probable that it is towards the bottom in the list of importance.

        3.  “Where is the phrase, ‘Go To Church’ found in the Bible?”

        Again, this term is not found in the Bible.  But we are told in Hebrews 10:25 not to forsake assembling together.  “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.”  We are encouraged to gather together even more as we near the end times.  Obviously then, we need to be gathering together more as we see the storm clouds gathering.  It is our conviction that believers can and should gather together as much as possible to encourage one another and learn more about God.  This does not remove our responsibility to study for ourselves to show ourselves approved unto God.  I have seen personally that without the Holy Spirit being the Guide of such gatherings, many times confusion breaks out as people begin to disagree and argue over various doctrines.  Such gatherings are unfruitful and even damaging to those who attend, as those who want to contend for their specific doctrine become angry and neglect the more important instructions Jesus gave, those being to love one another as He loves us, to be patient, slow of anger and plenteous in mercy.  I have personally seen babes in Christ walk away from Christianity because of the confusion men, who argue doctrines, brought into their minds.  The simplicity of Christ was lost and the example of the believers was destroyed by such tripe.  Christians need fellowship and if those assemblies are scriptural, those who attend will be strengthened, edified, and encouraged in their personal walk with God.  I may not be walking with God today if it were not for the regular assembling of the saints.  The encouragement and instruction of those who have gone before me, nurtured in me a desire for more of God.  The example they portrayed was a positive influence upon me.  I am a very strong believer in regular gatherings of the saints.  Listening and learning, and gaining instruction from those who have been given understanding of scripture, God’s holiness and His love are indispensable to growing in Christ.

        4.  Some other things asked are: Where are the words Christmas, Rapture, Trinity, Sunday school, Seminary & Bible school, go to church, clergy & Laymen, Millennium, Halloween, Purgatory, and many more, which are not found in the Bible.  Many of the things mentioned are not found in the Bible or in the New Testament.  They are traditions of men or doctrines of various churches.  We are told to buy the truth and sell it not (Prov. 23:23).  Finding truth is work in both studying ourselves and learning from godly saints who are being led by the Spirit even as we are.  There were many other questions (100 to be exact) but many of them were relative to Catholicism which has more doctrines that are merely traditions of men and are certainly not scriptural.  I know that many (if not most) were to bear out a point but some seemed, to me, needed to receive a response.  I appreciate your letters and pray God will lead you into all truth.  May God bless you as you continue to be “A Bible Student.”

The Editor

 

 

 

 

MAKING DISCIPLES

Randall Walton

        “Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20, NIV).

        This commission was given by Jesus to His followers as one of the very last orders before He ascended into heaven.  It is remarkable for its simplicity, yet profound in its scope.  The difficulty of fulfilling the divine call is clearly manifest by the shortage of disciples today.

        The meaning of the word disciple is “one who follows another’s teaching.”  In a day when the teachings of Jesus are held in very low esteem it is not an exaggeration to say that disciples of Jesus are not plentiful.  Some of the most popular doctrines making the rounds are based upon the idea that the words of Jesus have absolutely no application for the people of this era!

        The Doctor C.I. Scofield, D.D. in his annotated reference Bible had this observation to make: “the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the church.  These are found in the Epistles” (of Paul).  In other words, the four Gospels are irrelevant and unimportant for us who live during this so-called church age, and Jesus did not mean what He said when He ordered the disciples to make more disciples by teaching them to obey the commands which He issued!

        The importance of this error lies in the fact that so many hundreds of thousands of people have unwittingly accepted this false idea and they pay no attention to what Jesus had to say.  Entire denominations have unquestioningly accepted the notes of Dr. Scofield as gospel truth, thereby giving assent to the lies which he so cleverly published.  The only value to be placed upon the first four Books of the New Testament, according to Scofield, is of historical fact.  If they have no practical application (privilege nor duty), what else is there except possible references for archaeology, history buffs, or students of genealogy?

        All of which forces us to make a choice between Jesus and Dr. Scofield!  It shouldn’t be difficult to decide who is correct in the struggle, but isn’t it amazing how few people recognize the controversy which exists between Jesus and Scofield (as well as others who teach as Scofield did).

        The Christian society needs a mighty overhauling and a new revelation of the validity and relevance of the teachings of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  His own Words qualify a disciple as one who is taught to obey His commands; it therefore follows that those who do not obey His words are not His disciples, no matter how religious they are nor how pious and spiritual they appear to be.

        The world has yet to see true disciples of Jesus – those who obey His words – living according to His message, applying the divine principles to their every-day lives, practicing the very essence of the thought and intent of His commands.  We are hopeful that out of all the mass of churchanity and frivolous religious fervor, a remnant will catch the vision of the value of discipleship and will return to the words of our Master written in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

        While most of the clergy is stressing quantity, huge buildings, swelling congregations, popularity, public appeal, Jesus in very simple phrases emphasizes quality – humility, meekness, shining lights in a darkened world, self-abasement, just a few squeezing through a tiny door.  What a contrast!

        We are forced by sheer logic to conclude that Jesus was correct because He had the words of Life.  And if we are to obtain that Life, which He was, we must do so through discipleship, through adherence to His commands: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

 

 

 

 

MY KINGDOM

Harry Miller

        In the tenseness of that desperate hour, as the “man of Galilee” stood with His accusers before the highest magistrate of the land, the true significance of the earth-shaking drama unfolding before their very eyes was lost upon every spectator at the court.

        Israel had been willfully rejecting their King for many centuries, and this day was the inevitable climax toward which their own stubborn wills had inexorably propelled them, down through the years.  He of whom it was said, “never man spake like this man” (John 7:46), was being called upon to give account before this hostile mob for His public words and ministry.

        For many weeks His enemies had daily sought to trap Him into making some public statement against the authorities of Rome.  All sorts of tricks had been resorted to in an effort to ensnare Him in the meshes of the law.  Under the guise of seeking truth they had said to Him, “Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?” (Luke 20:21,22).  “But He perceived their craftiness,” and taking a penny, He asked whose image and superscription was on it.  They answered, “Caesar’s.”  Then He told them to “render unto Caesar” the things which were Caesar’s, and unto God the things which were God’s.  His enemies “marveled at His answer,” but after they had arrested Him and brought Him before Pilate, they lied about His answer and said that He had forbidden tribute to Caesar.  They claimed that He had been found “perverting the nation,” and that He had said that He, Himself, was “Christ, a king” (Luke 23:1,2).

        These accusations added up to this: TREASON.

        Government is of God; and even the ruling of the nations is divinely ordered, for Paul says: “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1).  And the apostle Peter tells us that the citizens of Christ’s kingdom shall submit themselves “to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (I Peter 2:13).

        Did the Saviour come into this world for the purpose of opposing and overthrowing the rule of ancient Rome?  Can any of His preaching or teaching be construed to the point where it might possibly imply that He was “subverting the nation?”  No!  Not one time did Jesus tell men that He was even remotely interested in their political affairs.

        Certain of our present-day Bible scholars try to tell us that the Lord Jesus “offered” a political kingdom to the Jews.  But this is not true; although at one time they tried to take Him by force and make Him king: He had multiplied the loaves, and they were well fed, and were moved by His ministry of miracles; therefore they were convinced that “He was that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14).  But as soon as the Lord perceived that they hoped to realize their political ambitions through Him, He quickly departed from them, and went off into a mountain, alone.  “He did not commit Himself unto them, for He knew what was in man.”  The manner and kind of kingdom that they had in mind was a political affair; with a champion who would sweep the Roman oppressors from their country.  The manner of kingdom they yet saw was OF the flesh, and FOR the flesh.

        WAS THE LORD JESUS GUILTY OF TREASON?  According to the false statements of His accusers He most certainly would have been; but according to His own words, HE WAS NOT.  Pilate asked Him if He claimed to be the King of the Jews, and Jesus answered by asking Pilate a question: “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?” (John 18:34).

        The answer depended upon the source of the question.  If the Roman ruler was asking concerning Christ’s ambitions for a political kingdom, the answer would be NO; but if it had to do with the kingdom promised to the fathers of Israel, then the answer was YES.

        Jesus further stated to Pilate that of the latter type kingdom He was king.  He said: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”  But He wanted Pilate to plainly understand that He was not an enemy of Caesar’s government, for He declared: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

        The literal rendering of the seventeenth verse of the fourth chapter of Matthew is: “Repent, for has drawn near the Kingdom of the Heavens.”  Comparing the Scriptures that use the terms: “Kingdom of the heavens,” “Kingdom of God,” and the “Kingdom” which Jesus said was not of this world, we find them to be synonymous.  They speak of but one kingdom.  To say that the kingdom has a material aspect is to beg the question: such a statement is pure assumption.  There is positively no scriptural foundation for such a position.

        In point of time there is a present aspect and a future aspect of the Kingdom, but it is that one and same Kingdom.  The same King, the same laws, the same subjects, are found in the Everlasting Kingdom.  The essential difference between the NOW and the THEN of the kingdom is that at present those loyal subjects of His kingdom, on this side of the vail are demonstrating their faithfulness to Him in the midst of an evil world; while those of His subjects on that side of the vail are now a “great cloud of witnesses.”

        As earth’s day is ended, the subjects of the Kingdom on this side of the vail will merge with those on the other side; until finally all will be one even as He and the Father are one.  However, this will not be a new kingdom; it will be the same kingdom which was declared to be “at hand” by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the twelve, by the seventy, by Paul, and by all of the other saints of God.

        This Kingdom, which Jesus declared to Pilate was not of this world, is not at this time, and never can be of this world.  A careful study of the nature, the demands, and the divine purpose of the kingdom disprove the idea that it shall ever be an earthly affair.  Christ’s Kingdom is not a political Kingdom.  Even at the beginning of National Israel God did not give His people a political form of government.  God has always dealt with His people as with a family.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the patriarchs, were heads of God’s family.  Moses, also, was the head of the family of Israel in his time.  In Hebrews 3:2 Israel is spoken of as Moses’ “house,” or family.

        Moses, in his final admonition to Israel, warned them AGAINST desiring a political government.  He told them, “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord Thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…The Lord shall smite thee with consumption…with madness…and blindness…The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known” (Deut. 28:15-36).

        Joshua, Moses’ successor, was also one of the leaders chosen of God to be the head of His people.

        Not until the days of Samuel did this form of government change when Israel completely rebelled against the Kingdom of Heaven, and cried out for “a king to judge us like all the nations” (I Sam. 8:5-7).  This was the beginning of political Israel; a nation “like unto” other nations; a government “like unto” the heathen.  God’s rule was not only despised by His people, it was actually spurned and rejected by them.  In mercy, the Lord told Samuel to speak to the people and tell them exactly what would be involved in such a government as that for which they now asked.  He told Samuel to “protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”  They were told how their land would be taxed, and some of it even confiscated.  They were told that they would become slaves to a system: their cattle, servants, sons, daughters, and even they, themselves, would be mere servants.  Eventually the bondage would become so great that they would cry out to the Lord for help – but the Lord warned that in that day He would not hear them.

        Through His prophet Samuel, God gave Israel a complete and graphic picture of the bondage of a political government. Yet in spite of all this warning, “the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (I Sam. 8:19,20).

        The Lord, who was their King, had every reason to be angry at their rebellion, so He gave them a king in His anger (Hosea 13:11).  After the selection of their king, Samuel called Israel together and said: “The Lord your God was your king.  Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired: and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you…Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the Lord will do before your eyes.  Is it not wheat harvest today?  I will call unto the Lord, and He shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king” (I Sam. 12:12-19).  The Lord then sent forth thunder and rain to confirm the word of His prophet that their wickedness was great in rejecting His form of government and choosing instead a form of rule that opened doors to all manner of oppression and wickedness among the people.

        Many years later the prophet Amos wrote concerning political Israel: “Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth” (chapter 9: verse 8).  No more would political powers take the place of the King of Glory in matters of government among the children of God.  Israel, “like unto the nations,” was a sinful nation ruled by a sinful kingdom – a system not called of God for His people, but a political device subject to fleshly corruption.  In such a kingdom those who were strong in the flesh ruled over their weaker brethren with rigor.  Covetousness and greed lorded it over charity and virtue.  Mercy and truth were ground into the dust by lawlessness and deceit.  Bit by bit the laws of God were set aside and replaced with the ethics of man, until by the time Jesus made His advent “the commandments of men” were the accepted standards for right and wrong.  Men had become strangers to the way of the Lord.  His laws and His counsel had been circumvented, by-passed, “modernized,” and made void.  The government was of man, for man, and by man.  Such was the manner of kingdom that Christ declared His kingdom WAS NOT.

        Even the finest human government is “of the world.”  Favoritism, injustice, and oppression are the fruits of human dominion.  Greed, selfishness, and pride walk hand in hand when man rules man.  Even the best of men are subject to the weakness of the flesh, and it is so easy for them to fall prey to Satan’s inviting temptations.

        Apostate Israel of Christ’s day rejected the King of Glory because of the kind of kingdom He offered: the kind He has been offering to man since the days of John the Baptist.  His kingdom in that day was a heavenly kingdom: it was NOT of this world.  His kingdom today has not changed; and it is still offered to those who will seek it and receive it.

 

 

 

 

PM DEVOTION FOR NOVEMBER 30, 2015

CHARLES sPURGEON

"Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels."

Revelation 12:7


        War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon's foe, and that not in a quiet sense, but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil. All His servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors—at the cross they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defense and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength, to fight against the dragon. The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts, sparing no weapon, fair or foul. We are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition: the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful, but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never suffers the war to pause; he hates the woman's seed, and would fain devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon's energy, and are usually an active race. War rages all around, and to dream of peace is dangerous and futile.

        Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and forever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with Him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!