People of The Living God

Isaiah 4

 

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November 2016



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

AUTHORITY OVER GOVERNMENTS

Alfred King

        As we observe the political scene and realize there is no honest, much less godly, person running for the most important office in America, it becomes obvious that God has weighed America in the balance and found her wanting.  Knowing that this is the month which will determine who will fill this most important seat, we can rest assured that God sets up whomsoever He will and He can also remove them when He sees fit (Dan. 4:17).  Christians can take comfort in the fact that God is sovereign and rules in the kingdoms of men.  While men may think they have the wisdom and abilities to rule nations, they are deceived, for unless God is in control, their human wisdom only generates more confusion.  For no matter who sits in the oval office for the next four years, those who follow Jesus Christ can be encouraged, for God has given them the power to overrule and overturn those leaders who walk in rebellion against God.

        When Jesus died on the cross, He gave His followers power and authority.  It is time for those who believe to begin to exercise themselves in that authority.  Consider a few promises given to the servants of Jesus Christ that reveal this authority.  Psalms 149:2: “Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.”  Notice here that Zion was to be joyful in their king.  Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords and Jesus rules over those men elected, for He is the One Who ordains and places them in their offices.  But the psalmist continues, proclaiming the authority God gives to His servants.  “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints.  Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 149:6-9).  While God’s people are called to have high praises in their mouths, they are also called upon to have a two-edged sword in their hands.  The sword, which is the Word of God, is not just something to read, but something to hold onto and to be used as a weapon against enemies.  Continuing, we are told the purpose of the two-edged sword.  It is to bind kings and nobles and to execute the written judgment of God upon the ungodly.  What we are being instructed to do here is to take the God-given authority and bind those in government who would write evil laws and enact legislation, whether it be in taxes or those directed squarely at Christians.  Jesus is able and willing to overturn even those laws already in the books if God’s people will begin to exercise themselves in their God-given authority.

        Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, shows plainly that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces, those in the unseen realm of the spirit.  Read Ephesians 6:10-13.  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  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.”  Paul clearly reveals that Christians are not merely warring against men in politics but there are spiritual forces at work, motivating and inspiring these evil men to bring destruction, chaos and strife upon the earth.  However, in the end, Satan and his evil minions can only do what God allows.

        There are spiritual laws that operate in our world.  As evil men pass laws in direct opposition to God’s divine will and plan for man, God begins to remove His protecting hand from that people or that nation.  As His protecting hand is removed, they are vulnerable to inspiration from hell itself.  It is not necessarily that all of these evil persons are possessed, but they are inspired and influenced by evil spirits.  They then in turn propose laws which come from evil.  As Christians understand this, we can begin to unite together in prayer and begin to resist these evil forces.

        The battle in which we are to engage is not fought with men’s weapons but through intercessory prayer before God, for it is through those prayers God’s hand will move.  So many foolish “Christians” seem to think that they can stop abortion if they kill the doctor that performs abortions.  They know nothing of the power of God or of His ways.  God’s ways are not our ways and man’s ideas will fall short to accomplish their intended purpose.  It’s not to say that we do nothing but pray, yet prayer is the power behind any successful opposition to evil and it is through prayer that one finds how he should resist it.  God is the One Who can make the darkness light, make the crooked places straight and bring every high place down (Isa. 45:2).  Jesus Christ is our King and the power of the church rests in Him.  As His people unite together in sincere prayer and lay hold of the arm of God, we will see that truly “our God reigns.”  The people of God have the power to stop evil legislation, whether it come from the President, Congress or the Supreme Court.  These evil laws that are being passed are inspired by wicked spirits.  One proof of this is the total irrationality of many of the recent laws imposed upon America’s populous.  Christians who fear for our children and grandchildren, because of the stupidity of these laws, sometimes feel hopeless to do much about them.  However, we have a God in heaven Who is greater than men and more powerful than Satan and the spirits of his domain.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

        The greatest victories I have seen in my lifetime came after much intercessory prayer and waiting upon God.  God is still the same today as He was in the days of old.  He is still as powerful as He was when He delivered Israel from Egypt.  He is still as able to part the seas as He did for Israel.  He still has the authority to calm the storms or to walk on the water and He is still big enough to fight our battles against evil men in government no matter how many evil spirits they have behind them.  He can even change those men’s hearts as He did Saul of Tarsus.  Our God still reigns and He also hears the prayers of the righteous and He will fight for us.  Let the church rise up to meet the challenges of this hour.  Let the church equip herself and prepare herself for the battles we face today and let us lean heavily upon the strong arm of Him Who is able to deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, no matter how impossible it may seem to human understanding.  Jesus has given to His church power, and that power is for today and is essential for the days which are ahead.

        Jesus spoke of these days in Luke’s gospel chapter 21, verse 28: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”  While we are living in perilous times, we are also living in the day when God will arise and bring forth a harvest to His glory.  If we read and study God’s word, we know that God always has a remnant that remains faithful to Him, for they will not bow their knee to Baal.  Let those who have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church today cry and sigh for the abominations which are in our land.  Let us be relentless in resisting the devil, for scripture assures us that if we resist the devil, he will flee (James 4:7).  God delivered Israel many times from armies that were larger and greater than they and He is the same today.  May every Christian be encouraged to stand upon God’s promises and begin to engage in the battle against the evil that exists in our country and in our world.

 

 

 

 

THINGS I’VE LEARNED FROM EPHESIANS

Eda Sanderson

        Recently, I was encouraged to read the book of Ephesians again.  It is interesting how you can read something over and over and still learn from it.  Here are some things I learned this time in my reading.

Predestination

        If anyone asked me if I believed in predestination, I would say no.  I can’t believe that a just God would just pick people to be saved and the rest are lost, no matter what they do or don’t do.  And that is what I have always heard that predestination was.  Then I read Ephesians 1:4-5: “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”  Here, it clearly says that He predestinated us, but we can’t just take these two scriptures alone.  The rest of the chapter speaks of redemption, forgiveness of sins, to be in Christ, and obtain an inheritance.  Then, verse 13 says: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”  If one has not fulfilled verse 13, then they are not saved, no matter how they feel about predestination.

        Yes, God did predestinate us from the beginning of the world.  It is His will that none “should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).  However, our free will comes into play.  God is not a tyrant, so even though He desires us to be His, He does not force us.  He will do all He can to bring us to Him; but, ultimately, it is our wills that determine if we will be His or not.

        Look at Adam and Eve.  God predestinated them to be His children.  He gave them everything they needed to prosper, be happy, and be able to live forever.  But God wanted, and still wants, His children to love Him, not for the things He could do for them or give them.  He wanted them to love Him for who He is, so He gave them a free will.  He gave them so much and only made one restriction – don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  It is amazing that God made the tree so readily available to them.  He could have made it totally inaccessible.  But, there it was, in plain sight, for them to partake of if they so desired.  Did God know they would partake?  Yes.  Just because God predestinated them to be His didn’t mean they would be.  And the beauty of it all is that God still did everything He could to make them His.  He still called them to be His; He still worked with them and communed with them.

        Because God knows all things, and knows who will ultimately be His and who will not, He already has His plans in place.  Because He knew what Adam and Eve were going to do, He had this old earth ready for them with whatever they needed to survive.  And He knew what mankind would do all through the ages, so He planned for events to occur throughout man’s history – the flood, the captivities of Israel, and, yes, Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice.  Peter said in Acts 2:23-24: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”  Christ’s death was no surprise to God.  It was worked into God’s plans before Jesus even came to earth.  In fact, He knows what you and I will do with His call to us and has already made provision for us.  So, if we want God’s best for us, we, of our own free will, will allow God to work in us and become the child He desires.

Grace

        Now, this is another doctrine that is so easily misunderstood.  Many people believe that this gives them an easy out.  They can do anything they want and God will still forgive them.  Ephesians 2:5 says, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).”  My margin says, “by whose grace ye are saved.”  Now, I’ve known that it was by God’s grace.  That can bring us back to predestination.  God predestinated me to be His, and it was His grace that brought me to salvation.  But why?  Verse 10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  God’s grace brought us to salvation so we can walk in good works.  That doesn’t sound like we can do just anything that we want.  There is a condition to our salvation – that we walk in good works.

        God’s grace is not just for salvation.  No, it goes beyond that.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:7-8, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”  And the next few verses tell what his preachings consisted of.  So, God’s grace has a purpose beyond just salvation.  It is to empower us to fulfill that calling that God gives each one of us, whether it is preaching, teaching, helping, etc.  It is not a license to do our own thing outside of His will.

        Lest anyone should think that grace is not for him, Ephesians 4:7 says, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.  Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”  That included grace.

        Just as grace was given to you, you can give grace to others.  How?  One way is by your conversation.  Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  When you speak, “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (verse 32).  This is in conversation as well as action.  There are ways of saying things that can hurt or heal.  Be careful of your words.  Let them always be to edify, encourage, and build up.  Even correction should be given to edify, encourage, and build up.

Our Walk

        So, since we have been predestinated to become sons of God and God’s grace has been shed abroad in our hearts and we are now saved (by His grace), how should we walk?

        Ephesians 5:15-18: “See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time…understanding what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit.”  Verse 21: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  It goes on to tell how we are to love God as we love our husband or wife.  Then chapter 6 talks about how we are to act with our family (Remember, we not only have a physical family but, also, a spiritual family.  We are to treat our spiritual family as if they were our biological family).  It also speaks about putting on the whole armor of God, how to stand strong in the Lord, and ends with “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (verse 18).

        Eph. 4:17 admonishes us: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.”  Paul goes on to say that we should put off the “old man” and put on the “new man.”  When we become children of God, we should start acting and speaking like children of God.  “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God” (II Cor. 5:17-18).  In the rest of chapter 4, Paul tells of ways of putting off the “old man.”  These include: “speak every man truth with his neighbour,” “Be ye angry, and sin not,” “Neither give place to the devil,” “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,” and “grieve not the holy Spirit of God.”  Chapter six continues: “Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children: And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (verses 1,2).

        Going back to chapter 5, verse 19-20, gives one secret to a successful walk with God.  “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Satan cannot find a foothold in one who does those things, for a mind wholly given to God cannot even hear Satan’s “railing accusations.”  Praise God for that!

        As I have read Ephesians again, I can see the thread throughout of the truth about predestination.  Not only does Paul explain predestination, but then he explains how we can take our free will and conform it to God’s will.  Yes, we are predestinated to be sons of God; now let us ensure our place by bringing our will into God’s will and letting God have His perfect work in us.

 

 

 

 

ARE ALL EVANGELISTS?

Harold and Donna Kupp

        Today, many Bible teachers paint a strange picture of the body of Christ.  It has a big mouth but the rest of the parts can hardly be seen.

        These teachers say that everyone is called to be an evangelist but that is not true. God gave evangelists to the church, but not all are evangelists.  If your job is to “lodge strangers and wash the feet of the saints” you had better do it.  To over-emphasize any of the gifts and ministries to the extent that the others seem unneeded or unimportant is to neglect the true purpose of God.  In the gospel of John, Jesus clearly tells us what the true ministry of each believer is: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you”(John 15:12-14).

        Here, Jesus shows us that we are to lay down our lives for those who obey Him.  Our command is to comfort and strengthen God’s own people; yet repeatedly, the resources of the church are siphoned off to strengthen the hands of the wicked.  All too often, “the children’s bread is given to the dogs” and used to comfort the disobedient.  What a terrible thing it would be to help those whom God is trying to punish.

        In II Chronicles 19:2, we are given an example of God’s displeasure towards those who help the wicked: “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord and so bring wrath on yourself from the Lord?” (NAS)

        The answer, of course, is “NO!”

        It is true that we are to “Do good to all men,” but we are commanded to lay down our lives for our brethren.  Our first obligation is to fill the needs of Christ’s brethren, and this is a lifetime commitment.  There are no options; it is compulsory.  If we fail in that duty, we will be rejected on judgment day.

        Friends, if you think that is not true, then listen to these words of Jesus to those believers who called Him “Lord,” but did not serve His brethren – (Mathew 25:40-46)

        :40  And the King shall answer and say unto them (the obedient ones on His right hand), Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.

        :41  Then He shall say also unto them on the left hand (the disobedient Christians), Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

        :42  For I was hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

        :43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

        :44  Then they shall also answer Him, saying, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

        :45  Then he shall answer them (the disobedient Christians), saying, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these* (my brethren), ye did it not unto me.

        *”these” refers to: “the least of these my brethren.”  (See underlined verse 40 above)

        :46  And these (the disobedient Christians) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Who Is My Brother?

        It is imperative that we have a clear Biblical definition of who Christ’s brethren really are, because they are the ones whom we are commanded to serve.  It is a serious error to call the whole world our brother when Jesus makes such a plain distinction between His brethren and the world.  In Luke 8:21 Jesus said: “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.”

        Only those who hear the word of God and do it are the true brethren of Christ.  It is they whom we are to serve, not those who refuse to do the word of God.

        Each of us has been given a measure of faith and at least one talent to serve Christ’s brethren.  Whether we have one talent or ten, on judgment day we will have to give an account for what we have been given.  Jesus is looking for those who are trustworthy.  Only those who are obedient to The Ten Commandments of God and have devoted their lives to the service of the brethren will receive His approval.

        To those faithful sheep at His right hand, Jesus will say: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34)

        But the goats at His left hand (the unfaithful servants) will be sent to everlasting punishment.  The question we must all ask ourselves is: “Will Jesus send me to the left or to the right?

ADDENDUM:

        It should be noted that fulfilling the words of Jesus (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick, minister to the prisoners) is done both physically and spiritually.  People are in great need in both these areas and require help from those who are able to help.

        You may not be able to go to the hungry or the sick personally, but you can pray for them and for those who do and can support them with your prayers and finances.  You can pray for those in prison, whether they are in a literal jail or are spiritually imprisoned.  It is possible for every Christian to become involved in doing “unto the least of his brethren” thereby doing it unto Jesus Himself.

        Too many Christians are hearers of the word only, but are not doers.  Jesus made it very plain that those who do not minister to those in need will receive everlasting punishment.  The needy are all round about us, hungry for God, thirsty for the river of living waters, alienated from God, unclothed, sick with sin’s burdens, in bondage to evil and the power of darkness.  You can help them, if only by praying for them, and by so doing you will be making sure that you will be on the right side on that judgment day!

                                                        R.W.

 

 

 

 

THE INCOMPARABLE NAME OF JESUS

Selected, Author Unknown

        More than 1900 years ago, there was a man born contrary to the laws of life.  This man was born in poverty and reared in obscurity.  He did not travel extensively, only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived and that was during His exile in childhood.  He possessed neither wealth nor influence.  His relatives were inconspicuous and uninfluential and had neither training nor education.

        In childhood He puzzled the doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature: walked upon the sea as if pavement, and hushed the tempest to sleep.  He healed the multitude without medicine and made no charge for His services.  He never had a home; He never went to college; He never traveled 200 miles from the place where He was born.  He never wrote a book, and yet all the libraries of the world put together could not hold the books that have been written about Him.  He never wrote a song, and yet He furnished the theme of more songs than all the songs combined.

        He never founded a college, and yet all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students.  He never practiced medicine, and yet He has healed more hearts and sick bodies than all the doctors of the world put together; He never marshaled an army or drafted a soldier, or fired a gun, and yet no leader has had more volunteers who have, under His orders, made rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot being fired.

        Every seven days, the wheels of commerce cease and multitudes wend their ways to places of worship to pay homage and respect to Him.  The names of proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone, but the name of this man abounds more and more.  Though time has spread more than 1900 years between the people of this generation and the scene of His crucifixion, yet He still lives.  Herod could not kill Him; Satan could not seduce Him; death could not destroy Him; and the grave could not hold Him.  He stands forth today on the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory; proclaimed by God; acknowledged by angels; and feared by devils as the living, personal Christ; our Lord and Saviour – The Incomparable Christ – Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!

        There never was another that caused all creation to be ransacked to find similitudes and symbols to convey to human hearts and minds the glory and preeminence of this Man.  There never was another who was a human child and also a divine Son – who was wounded by Satan and yet at the same time crushed Satan.  There never was another who was appointed the Saviour of men and yet He was crucified by men.  There never was another who was a judge of men and yet He was led as a felon from one tribunal to another.

        There never was another who died and was buried and yet He still lives today – who had no sin in Him and yet the sin of the whole world was upon Him.  There never was another who saved others and yet himself He would not save; who was incarnate wisdom yet He was derided as a fool.  There never was another who was the King of glory yet He wore no crown but a crown of thorns; who was the Prince of Peace, yet He was accused of being a disturber of public peace.  There never was another who was the Lord of the Sabbath, and yet He was accused of being a Sabbath-breaker; who was the truth, and yet He was accused of being a liar, a hypocrite and an imposter.  There never was another who, in His glory, had the angelic halos of heaven and yet on earth gave Himself to the murderous nails of men.

        There never ever was another who was the Prince of life, yet He died on Calvary – death’s conqueror transfixed by a spear.  There never was another who was a victim of a Roman cross and victor of a Jewish grave.  There never was another that spake as man never spake and yet as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth; never answering railing with railing.  There never was another who was the Lion of the tribe of Judah with power to crush kingdoms under foot and yet He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.  There never was another who poured all rivers, all seas, all lakes out of the crystal chalices of eternity and yet on the cross, with a mouth that was dry as a parched pearl that cries out for rain, He said, “I thirst.”  There never was another that put on humanity that we might put on divinity – who became the son of man that we might become the sons of God – who became mortal, that we might become immortal.  There never was another who came from the regions where rivers never freeze and the frost never bites and the wind never blows and the roses never fade and death never haunts and people never die to come to a sin-blasted planet and save man from his own sin and shame.

        THERE NEVER EVER was another who laid aside the purple robe of regal royalty for a peasant’s gown.  THERE NEVER EVER was another who had and has a Name far above every name that is named not only in this world but also in the world to come.  With joy unparalleled, I tell you today, His name is Jesus, HIS NAME IS JESUS…HIS NAME IS JESUS!!!

        He was Emmanuel – God with us – God’s eternal purposes consummated.  He was love’s eternal dream dramatized.  He was Creator wedded to His creation.  He was justice and mercy in fond embrace.  He was, my friend, eternal beauty adorning appalling deformity.  He was divine sinews woven in a lace with mortal woof.

        Yes, my friend, nowhere, but in Jesus Christ and in Him alone, can you find an acceptance that can never be questioned; an access that can never be discontinued; an assurance that can never be disappointed; an attraction that can never be superseded.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find a bank that will never be closed, beauty that will never be marred, comfort that will never be lessened, deliverance that will never be thwarted, forgiveness that can never be rescinded.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find glory that can never be clouded, grace that can never be arrested, happiness that will never be interrupted, hope that will never be disappointed.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find an inheritance that can never be alienated, joy that can never be suppressed, judgment that can never be repeated, and justification that can never be reversed.

        Nowhere, I declare, but in Jesus, can you find knowledge that can never be baffled, life that can never die, love that can never be fathomed, light that can never be darkened.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find a nature that can never be changed, peace that can never be understood, portion that can never be measured, righteousness that can never be tarnished, rest that can never be disturbed and a resurrection that can never be denied and a revelation that can never be destroyed.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find salvation that can never be invalidated.

        HALLELUJAH!  HALLELUJAH!  A standing that can never be disputed, a service that can never go unrewarded, a seal that can never be violated.  Nowhere, but in Jesus, can you find a title that can never be clouded, a victor that can never be vanquished.

        You can find in Jesus, wealth that can never be depleted, wisdom that can never be baffled.  In Jesus Christ, and in Him alone, rest all the virtues and glory of a shekinah, for He is God, manifested in flesh!

        Oh, the universality of this Christ is a wonder to behold.  No wonder that it was a Frenchman that wrote, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.”  It was an American that wrote, “Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me.”  A Canadian wrote, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” then across the seas in Ireland, an Irishman wrote, “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” a German wrote “Away In the Manger,” a Scotchman wrote, “Under the Hill Around,” etc.

        Oh, my friend, note the universality of this Christ that appeals to all races, creeds and colors.  He is the same everywhere – this wonderful, incomparable Christ.  If you have a problem, He can solve it.  If you have sin, He can remit it.  If you have a disease, He can heal it!

JESUS HAS THE ANSWER!

        The world has had its men of magnificence, but you notice in the study of history, that it wasn’t very long that another man would come along that was equally as great and equally as good.  In other words, you can match every man this world has ever known with another man who was equally as great and equally as good.  Homer of the Greeks was great, but you can match him with Virgil who was just as great.  Demosthenes, the silver tongued orator of Greece finds his equal with Cicero, the Roman.

        And the Bible had its great men.  You could match up Abraham and Noah, Enoch and Isaac, Jacob and Jephthah, Joseph and Moses, Aaron and Joshua, Gideon and Sampson, Eli and Samuel, David and Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Job and the three Hebrew children, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, Hosea and Joel, Amos and Obadiah.  You could match Jonah and Nathan.  You could match side by side, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, Haggai with Zechariah and Malachi.  You could match Paul with Peter, James and John, Matthew and Mark, Philip and Bartholomew, John the Baptist with Stephen, Timothy and Titus, Appollos with Silas: these were all great men, but you could match them one for one.

        BUT, WHEN WE MENTION JESUS, THE CHRIST – HE STANDS ALONE!  THERE IS NONE!  THERE IS NONE AMONG THE SONS OF MEN THAT CAN COMPARE WITH HIS GREATNESS!  HE STANDS ALONE!  AUGUST!  SUPREME!  UNIQUE!  PEERLESS!  INIMITABLE!  UNPARALLELED!  UNRIVALED among the sons of men!

There Is None That Can Match Jesus!

        If all the illustrious men of all ages should enter into the presence of this MAN, JESUS, they all would have to fall down in adoration and worship before Him!

        Napoleon said, “I know men, but I tell you Jesus Christ was not a man.”  And I tell you today, that is the way I feel about Him!  Jesus Christ stands alone – there is no one that can match Him!  There is no one that can stand beside Him!

        The name of Jesus is honey to the mouth, music to the ear and gladness to the heart.

        I declare unto you: you can search the long annals of proud Rome and Greece, the tombs of yore, and the chronicles of bygone empires, ransack the old and modern rolls of fame to find the greatest name; but you will find it only in the name of Jesus.  That name is JESUS!  That name is JESUS!  Let’s say that name together.  JESUS!

        DID YOU KNOW THAT THE GREATEST WORD IS GOD!  The longest word is ETERNITY, the swiftest word is TIME, the nearest word is NOW, the darkest word is SIN, the meanest word is HYPOCRICY, the broadest word is TRUTH, the strongest word is RIGHT, the sweetest word is HEAVEN, but the best word of them all is JESUS!  JESUS!

When I’ve Said Jesus I’ve Said It All!

        The greatest word in all the languages of the world is JESUS CHRIST.  I declare to you that you cannot find a greater word in the English language than the word JESUS!

        And we could mention every language under the sun and in that language the greatest word is still the same.  It is JESUS, however they pronounce it.

        In Luke 17 we read that the disciples said, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy Name.”  Jesus said Himself in John 14:13, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye ask anything in my Name I will do it.”  In John 16:23, Jesus said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name, He will give it you.”  John 20:31 says, “ But these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name.”  Acts 15:14 says, “Simon has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name.”  I Cor. 6:9, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, in the Name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  Ephesians 1:20 says, “Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principalities and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come.”

        If we could push back the stars and roll past the milky white way, and beyond the constellations, and the unchartered vastness of space that man has never covered; if we could reach heaven, there will be a Name there that is above every name that is named, not only in this world, but in the world that is to come.

        I declare to the artist, He’s the One Altogether Lovely.  To the architect, He’s the Chief Corner Stone.  To the banker, He’s the Hidden Treasure.  To the biologist, He’s the Life.  To the builder, the sure Foundation.  To the baker, the Living Bread.  To the educated, the Great Teacher.  To the doctors, the Great Physician.  To the farmer, the Lord of Harvest.  To the florist, the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.  To the jeweler, the Pearl of Great Price.  To the jurist, the Righteous Judge of all men.  To the lawyer the Counselor and Advocate.

        Ah, to the geologist, He’s the Rock of all ages.  To the optometrist, He’s the Light of the world.  To the paper man, He’s the Tiding of Great Joy to all people.  Ah, to the traveler, He’s the New and Living Way.  To the toiler, He’s the Giver of Rest.  To the philanthropist, He’s the Unspeakable Gift.  The philosopher, the Wisdom of God; the preacher, the Word of God.

        Now, hear me out – to the sinner, He’s the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world – Oh, Praise His Name!

        I exclaim with Matthew Bridges: “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.  Hark how the heavenly anthems drown all music but its own.  Awake my soul and sing of Him who died for thee and hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity!

        “Crown Him the Lord of Lords!  Behold His hands and side with wounds in beauty glorified.  No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, but downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.  Crown Him the Lord of peace whose power the scepter sways from pole to pole that wars may cease.  Absorbed in praise and peace His sway shall know no end.  And round His pierced feet there flowers of paradise extend, the fragrance ever sweet…CROWN HIM!  CROWN HIM!  The Lord of years!  The Potentate of Time!  Creator, Of the rolling spheres, in effulge sublime.  ALL HAIL!  REDEEMER HAIL!  For thou hast died for me, Thy praise shall never never end through all eternity!”

          “ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS NAME!”

 

 

 

 

(A condensation)

MIRACLES OF GOD IN THE TRAVELS OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL

Harry Miller

(Study Number 9)

        On the night of the Last Supper, the Lord told His disciples: “I go to prepare a PLACE for you …that where I am, there ye may be also, and whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:3,4).  Peter had asked: “Lord, whither goest thou?”  And Jesus had answered him, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards” (John 13:36).

        We know that the High Priest now appears alone before the throne of God in the Most Holy Place, so it seems plausible to conclude that there must be a realm where the saints of God wait for Him.  This realm is prefigured by the first compartment of the tabernacle.  In this place it was that other men, besides the High Priest, served the great God of Glory.  On a golden table rested the twelve loaves of bread which were a constant memorial of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.  Here, also, was the altar of incense from which must ascend the sweet odors which prefigured heart adoration.  No strange fire could be used in any ministry before God.  Alien fire would indicate a mixture of fleshly desires with pure worship from the heart.  The coals of fire must come from the place where sacrifice had been made.  “He that loveth much has been forgiven much.”  Such a man knows the cost of surrender, and of sacrifice.  His love is made pure by the “loss of all things,” which the fire hath wrought in his life.

        During his time of testing, you remember, Job sat down in the ashes AFTER he had burned up a lot of stuff.

        The Lord has promised “beauty for ashes,” but not many people want to be burned out.  Those who cast their all at the feet of the Saviour know what it is to die to all things.  Such people, when they come to the altar, can make sweet incense to their Lord, for He is their Lord in fact as well as in name.  Then it is that the true fire of the Holy Ghost burns within them and they offer something acceptable to the King of Glory.

        The third piece of furniture in the Holy Place of the tabernacle was the golden lampstand with its seven individual lamps.  The first chapter of the book of Revelation tells us that the lamps signify the church, seven being the number of divine completeness.  Oil was taken from the fruit of the olive tree.  The olive tree signified Israel.  Her fruit was “beaten” (much tribulation) and then from this fruit of consecration came forth the oil which was illuminated by the Holy Ghost – thus making fire and light in the house.  Within this chamber the light of day never entered.  Divine light, only, was provided for the illumination of this holy place.  Here, human reasonings were not man's leading.  In this place, he must minister in the light of the Holy Ghost flame.

        This was a picture of the great leading which came to the church through the Holy Spirit.  He was definitely sent to us to lead us and guide us into all truth.  Numbers of times, we are told in the New Testament account, He contradicted the human leading and thoughts of the apostles.  The VOICE of the Lord gave them the true light.  This should have been in the church down through the ages.  But, sad to say, the church wandered astray and soon left its “first love.”  Then it was that the Lord removed the candlestick (lamp).  After “the light” went out, men walked in darkness of their own confusing ways.

        There are many New Testament teachings that direct man to lay aside his earthly ways, and labor to enter into the true “REST” of God.  Since none have entered, it remains that “some must enter therein” in order to fulfill scripture (Heb. 3:6).  What other place, or realm, could redeemed men enter, if not the Paradise that was lost to man so many centuries ago?  And if we are to see the fulfillment of Acts 3:21, Paradise must be restored before Jesus' return to this world again.

        Turning again to the tabernacle, we find that within the walls of the “Most Holy” place, there was but one piece of furniture: a casket-like box completely covered with gold.  This was called the Ark of the Covenant.  On the golden lid of this ark were two images of cherubims whose faces were turned inward toward what was known as the “mercy seat.”  Inside the ark was kept a pot of manna, and the Ten Commandments on the two tables of stone.

        The pot of manna spoke of Jesus, the true bread which was to come down from heaven.  The earthen pot, or clay vessel, spoke of His humanity.  The two stones are a witness, or testimony, of the justice of the Most High.  Upon these things all the laws of heaven have their foundation.  These Ten Commandments abide forever; they were never “done away,” as many people today tell us that they were.

        Here, before the mercy seat, the high priest appeared once a year: a most solemn occasion.

        The vestments of the priest were designed by the Creator, and much detail is given concerning each unique piece. Linen “breeches” covered the legs of the priest.  A robe of blue, with skirts that reached to the feet, was the third garment.  The bottom of the skirt had pomegranates and bells attached to it.  The pomegranate spoke of “fruit;” the bell was a voice.  The bells were to ring at each movement of the priest, “that he die not.”  The voice of our High Priest is ever heard in intercession for us, for it is written, “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.”

        Over the robe, a vest-like garment called an ephod was worn.  This was a sleeveless affair, somewhat like a man's vest, except that it was made in two pieces, front and back being tied together at the sides and coupled at the top.  The ephod was made of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and fine-twined linen, with “cunning work.”  This must have been a most elaborate garment.

        Over the ephod was placed a “curious girdle,” which was made of the same materials as those used in the ephod.

        Two flat stones rested upon the shoulders of the priest.  Written upon these stones were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

        Isaiah, in speaking of Jesus, said that the government was to rest upon His shoulders (Isa. 9:6).  We know that He is the head of the church, and so all church government should come from Him.  Too many people have forgotten that Christ should rule the church.  The government of the church should not be left to a body of presbyters, or to a general conference.  Christ, who is our living High Priest, should be recognized as the “spirit of prophecy” who speaks today through those living prophets who are His mouth pieces.

        Under the folds of the priest's ephod was the “breast plate”: a vestment in which were set twelve different stones.  These stones placed upon the breast of the high priest symbolized the twelve tribes and the loving care the priest bore for them in his heart.  This was called “the breastplate of judgment.”  Two folds of cloth, about a “handbreadth” square, were also carried under the ephod; fastened to these were the “Urim and Thummim.”  There has been much speculation as to just what the Urim and Thummim actually were.

        The word Urim comes from two Hebrew words which are not proper names, but are plurals which denote modes by which truth was given.  Urim denotes Light.  Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in the days of the apostles, wrote that the Urim and Thummim were two stones that glowed when victory was imminent or were dark when defeat was near (Ant. 3:7,5). At any rate, we find that when kings would learn from the Lord, they came to the priest who had the Ephod, and here they inquired of the Lord.  It was then, through the Urim and Thummim, that the answer was given (Judges 1:1; 20:18; I Sam. 14:3, 18; 23:2, 12; 30:7, 8; II Sam. 21:1).

        The fact that the priest who inquired of the Lord through the Urim and Thummim did not enter into the Most Holy Place to make his inquiry, indicated that the way to the knowledge of heaven was ever open to men when they came to God in the right way.

        Later, in Israel, a substitute for the Urim and Thummim was made by bringing in the “ephod and teraphim,” as the instrument of divine communication.  This was done first by the idolater Micah, and then later taken up by the whole tribe of Dan.  Thus, the counterfeit oracles were ushered into Israel, and for many centuries, this instrument of divination was palmed off on the people as real communication with God.

        The interpretations and prophecy of many self-styled prophets of this latter day are like unto these works of divination in Israel.

        Most men today have lost faith in divine communication.  People are afraid to seek unto Him that speaketh, for they fear that the answer might be “from the devil” rather than from the Lord.  This is a sad departure from the “faith once delivered unto the saints.”

        It might be well for Christian men and women to study the faith of the ancient people who knew and feared the Lord, and then adjust their present-day living according to the findings.

 

 

 

 

GOD’S GRACE

Alfred King

        Grace is most often defined as “unmerited favor”.  This is a good definition but certainly doesn’t present grace’s full meaning or the various characteristics of God’s grace.  It is because of this shallow definition that many Christians don’t actually understand, appreciate or experience the full meaning of Biblical grace.  James Strong defines grace as “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.”  Certainly, God’s divine influence in man’s life is undeserved and in this definition we see that God, in love and mercy, reaches out to sinful man.  The divine influence is the work of the Holy Spirit as He moves upon one’s heart.  The fact that God would reach out to a sinner, an enemy of the cross of Christ, is grace.  But the work of the Holy Spirit in any manner in which He would influence a man’s life is also grace.  In other words, grace is not only something that one experiences by the Holy Spirit convicting him and bringing him salvation, grace is a continuing work throughout his life; it is a daily gift given to those who are saved.  God’s influence upon the Christian’s life is daily experienced.  The Holy Spirit has been given with the promise to never leave nor forsake.  He daily leads, guides, comforts, encourages, strengthens, teaches and reveals Christ to the believer so that his love for God grows and his devotion becomes deeper.  The work of the Holy Spirit is to produce Christian maturity.  All this is unmerited or underserved.

        Henry Thayer defines grace as "the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues".  Thayer enlarges upon James Strong’s definition by presenting various areas in which God’s divine influence (grace) operates in one’s life.  Let us consider the different parts of grace contained in Thayer’s definition.

Grace in Initial Salvation

        Thayer starts out with the beginning work of grace in a sinner’s life.  Grace labors to bring the sinner to Christ and to receive forgiveness for his sins.  He presents this as “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ.”  This is grace, God’s divine influence convicting the soul and turning him to the One Who can forgive him, which is Christ.  Grace shows the sinner his state and works in a way that only God can work to bring the soul to see his need of the Savior.  Grace then leads the sinner to Calvary where He finds salvation at the foot of the cross.

        The Apostle Paul writes more about God’s grace than any other writer of scripture.  Paul understood God’s grace because he had persecuted the church and certainly didn’t deserve any of the blessings he received from God.  However, God looked down upon this man and saw his blindness, his distorted, legalistic devotedness to the law of Moses and saw a man who would be just as devoted to God once his eyes were opened.  The blindness that fell upon Saul on the way to Damascus was a physical picture of his spiritual blindness.  Once the scales fell from his eyes, he saw clearly the scriptures prophesied of the Messiah, the One whom Saul was persecuting.  Paul experienced God’s grace and so appreciated it that he wrote of it often.  Consider his words to the Ephesian church, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6).  Paul experienced God’s grace when God took him while an enemy of Christ, not only saving him and giving him eternal life but also made him to sit in heavenly places through Christ.  He found power and strength through Christ and he rejoiced in God’s provisions.  Paul writes of this grace also when writing to the Romans, chapter 5, verses 1 & 2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  Paul experienced God’s peace in being reconciled to God.  Sin had separated him from God, but God’s grace through Jesus Christ brought him into fellowship with God.  No longer an enemy of Christ but a friend.  God’s grace is vividly seen in Paul’s life.

God’s Grace in Every Day Living

        Thayer’s definition does not stop here leaving the rest of the man’s life void of God’s grace.  Continuing with Thayer’s definition we read, God “keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection.”  This part of the definition goes beyond initial salvation.  It shows that God’s grace continues with the saved soul.  It is again the work of the Holy Spirit to keep the newly saved soul through the remainder of his life.  He will keep him during difficult situations which he will inevitably face from time to time.  He promises to keep him when he would fall in his own strength, and he finds that in his weakness God’s “divine influence” gives him strength to endure and brings him through victorious.  Paul writes, “when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Cor. 12:10).  Paul understood and experienced his own weakness and, also, God’s power within.  In every circumstance of a Christian’s life, in both the good times and the bad, he increases in faith and knowledge.  His faith is built up as he sees how God is with him to sustain and encourage.  He gains greater knowledge of God and His ways through God’s wonderful influence upon his life.  This is grace.  This “divine influence” creates affection and love for God and others.  It is not something produced by one’s own personality or innate characteristics but fruit produced by the Holy Spirit and is certainly not a work of which the believer can boast, for it is God’s grace working within the heart that changes the believer to be more like Christ Jesus.  This is a most glorious work of grace.

Grace Produces Obedience

        Thayer concludes his definition thus, “and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues."  Grace does not force, rather it “kindles”.  It fans any coals or sparks to bring about a fire.  It strokes the chord strings of the heart to produce beauty.  Grace inspires, ignites, awakens, and stimulates the heart to produce good works.  Grace encourages and promotes obedience to God.  It does all this without force.  Grace labors tirelessly, even on those who may have departed from the faith, to bring them back again.  Grace may allow the prodigals to stoop to eat slop with swine, but it is grace that permits it so he may come to himself and return to his Father’s house.

        It is sometimes said that Jesus never spoke of grace.  It is true that there is no record in the Gospels of Jesus using the word “grace.”  While Jesus may have never used this specific word, He taught it and demonstrated it over and over.  In fact, Jesus’ condescension from heaven to earth to make man’s salvation possible is the greatest portrayal of grace that can be told.  Let’s consider a few events in Christ’s life that teaches and unveils God’s grace.  In John 8 we read the account of a woman taken in the very act of adultery who was brought to Jesus to see how He would respond to this great transgression.  Jesus first deals with those who had brought her to Him by responding to their accusations, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  After the accusers all left, being convicted of their own sin, Jesus speaks to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee.”  However, He does not stop there but tells the woman, “go, and sin no more.”  Here is Jesus demonstrating grace while He never mentioned the word, “grace.”  He upholds the law by telling her to “sin no more” but shows undeserved mercy in forgiving her.

          Consider briefly just a few accounts of God’s grace bestowed upon those with whom Jesus came in contact.  Did any of those whom Christ healed deserve their healing?  Did any of those of whom Jesus cast out devils merit their deliverance?  Did those whom Jesus raised from the dead warrant their miracle?  Did those thousands whom He fed earn that meal?  Did any of those whom Christ reached out to deserve His mercy?  He spent His entire life reaching out to the undeserving.  Jesus taught God’s grace, not by speaking it but by demonstrating it.  God, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever is still reaching out in grace to the undeserving; He is reaching out to sinners to reveal to them His marvelous grace.

Grace Is Empowerment

        Grace is the power of God working in the believer’s heart.  It is the power to overcome the flesh, the world and the devil.  When Jesus stated in Luke 10:19, “I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you,” He gave His followers authority and power to walk above these adversaries in complete victory.  In this also is revealed the grace of God.  The authority Jesus gives to His followers is not something deserved or earned but is provided to the believer as soon as he is born again.  As he grows in faith and knowledge of God and His word, he learns how to stand against the enemies that would destroy him or take him back into his old sins.  He is strengthened and built up in the power of Christ.  He learns to walk in the victory provided by Jesus Christ.  All of this is grace.

        Consider a few portions of holy writ that reveal the power of God working in the lives of His people. (emphasis mine)  I Cor. 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”  Note, Paul does not take credit for his successful ministry or for his strength to stand in adverse situations but attributes it to God’s grace or His empowerment.

        II Cor. 12:7-10: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  Grace is the power of God that rests upon those who believe and truly desire to know Him and walk in obedience to His will.  God grants His power and that is grace.

        II Cor. 4:6-7: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”  Wonderful, marvelous grace of God is so necessary for victorious Christian living.  Without God’s grace, we live in constant condemnation and walk a “roller coaster” path.  Is that your experience?  Study these scriptures and the many others that speak of God’s grace.

Grace Is God’s Protection

        Henry Thayer also adds another element to his definition which states, “to be committed or commended to the protecting and helping favor of God.”  How many times have we seen this marvelous protecting and helping hand of God in our lives?  I personally cannot count the times God has protected me from accident and even death.  He has kept me many times when I didn’t even realize I was in danger.  Because God loves us, He protects us and spares us in times when the enemy would try to ensnare us.  God does not allow any of His children to be tempted above which they are able to endure.  Read God’s promises given to the church at Corinth, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).  God will not allow the enemy to overtake us; rather He will fight for us.  What we see here is that God gives His strength to endure those temptations that are allowed to come our way.  God’s love for His people is grace and is shown daily in so many ways.  As we endure temptations we grow in the Lord and learn to trust Him more.  The wonderful grace of God becomes clearer through these temptations.

Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness

        Another area of grace is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to those who believe.  Not only did Jesus die for the sins of the world bearing the penalty of them by nailing them to His cross, but in that transaction He imputed His righteousness to His children.  When a sinner comes to Christ and finds salvation, his sins are placed upon Jesus Christ and, at the same time, he is accounted righteous because the righteousness of Christ is given him.  In other words, God sees us through Christ and He sees us as righteous.  In Romans 4, Paul teaches this aspect of grace by referring to Abraham’s faith.  Romans 4:20-25 (emphasis mine): “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.  And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”  Abraham’s faith in God’s promises was imputed to him for righteousness, just as those who believe in Christ, that faith in Him credits His righteousness to our account.  Notice Paul’s words in the previously mentioned scripture, “it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”  The imputation of the righteousness of Jesus to those who trust in Him is purely grace and clearly not merited.

        So great is this imputation given to God’s people that most Christians find it difficult to believe.  Consider a couple of scriptures from the Old Testament when Israel offered lamb sacrifice for remission of their sins.  Jer. 1:20: "In those days, and in that time, with the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.”  Can we believe that there was no sin in Israel or Judah?  Of course there was sin, but God saw them through the sacrifice.  The sacrifice pointed to the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.  If the blood of bulls and goats, which only pointed to the cross of Christ, was sufficient to cause God to see no iniquity, how much more shall the actual blood of Christ clear the believer’s sins from his account?  Consider Micah 7:19: "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."

        In the book of Numbers we find the account of Balaam when he was hired by Balak to curse Israel.  Each time Balaam set out to curse Israel, the Lord would not allow him to do so.  Each time, Balaam blessed Israel which angered Balak.  But notice what is written in Numbers 23:21: “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.”  This was the same people who had rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  This was the same people who wanted to return to Egypt and built an idol of gold.  Yet so sufficient was the blood to cleanse that God saw no iniquity or perverseness in Israel.  Can we not see the importance of grace in our walk with God?  Is not grace one marvelous and indispensable gift of God?  Were it not for God’s grace no one could be saved.

Words of Caution

        While God’s grace is so important and essential, Jude warns us to be careful that we not turn God’s grace into lasciviousness (Jude 4).  Paul tells us that lasciviousness is a work of the flesh.  How does one turn the grace of God into loose living?  He believes he can live anyway he wants and will still be saved in the end.  This is a lie.  One who is to receive God’s grace and have that grace always working in his life must listen to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading.  The Holy Spirit will not condone careless living nor will the blood of Jesus cover deliberate, unconfessed or unrepentant sin.  James tells us that Abraham’s faith, which Paul informs us was counted to him for righteousness, also produced good works so that Abraham was justified by works (James 2:18-24).  Genuine faith will produce good works.  If obedience is not a part of one’s walk, he does not have biblical faith.  His proclamation of his faith is merely profession and not possession.  One who lives a carnal life has fallen from grace.  Jesus warns of those who profess godliness, claiming to be prophets but are false and tells us to judge them by their fruits.  These fruits are listed in Galatians 5:22 and are called the fruits of the Spirit.

        God’s grace includes every act of God working in behalf of His people.  Grace is something that makes Christianity real and, at the same time, supernatural.  Without grace no soul would be saved.  Without grace no man or woman could endure unto the end.  Without grace sin would overcome us and would be the victor.  But there is this wonderful grace of God which manifests itself every day in the believer’s life.

        It is also important to realize that one can have a clear intellectual understanding of grace and not experience it or does not comprehend how it operates in the believer’s life.  The only way grace can be fully realized is through experiencing it.  It is not something that can be perfectly defined because it is so broad and it is a characteristic of God; and who can understand God?  One cannot fully understand salvation until he experiences salvation.  He cannot fully describe it to another so they grasp it.  They must experience it.  So it is with grace.  This article is written in hope that some who are under the tyranny of legalism might get a glimpse of God’s grace and would begin to break free from the bondage of a works mentality.  No one can earn their way to heaven.  Good works, as necessary as they are for every believer, cannot save.  Good works are the fruit of a changed heart.  Good works that are acceptable to God are the works that spring from a heart which loves God and desires to please him in every area of his life.  Good works that are acceptable to God are the result of grace working within the believer’s heart, creating love and bearing fruit for God’s glory.  Words cannot describe, the pen cannot write, nor the tongue tell the wonderful, matchless and marvelous grace of God.  May God’s grace be with each one who reads this article and grant a better understanding of God’s grace.

 

 

 

 

LET US WALK THE TALK

Armando Montes

        There are many, too many, voices claiming to be from God in the religious world today.  Hundreds of articles, booklets, books, cds, and dvds are published every year in the religious market.  There are uncountable Christian ministries, TV programs, and radio programs.  In the midst of so much religious activity, how can we know what IS from God and what IS NOT from God?  Our Lord Jesus plainly said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).  This light of life is the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God in the heart of the believer.  “For ye are the temple of the Living God; as God hath said, I will DWELL in them; and WALK in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (II Cor. 6:16, emphasis mine).

        As children of God we have His leading so desperately needed in these troublesome times.  “For as many are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).  “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).  What a wonderful truth!  This heart knowledge is based on a personal and intimate relationship that has been nurtured at the feet of Jesus.  The good Shepherd knows His sheep and they know him.

        A safe way to recognize the things of God is to search if they agree with the written Word of the Lord.  God has given us His Word and His Spirit to guide us.  They – the Word and the Spirit – never contradict themselves.  Every new revelation, every new leading or move of the Spirit should agree completely with His written Word.  People should not disregard the Word and follow anybody or any group that reject His words of life.  “The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10).  “For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49)  The Lord Jesus brought us a message from the very heart of our Heavenly Father.  He taught man wonderful lessons pertaining to our relationship to Him and one to another.

        He not only spoke the message, but He was the personification of the message.  He lived according to every word that proceeds of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).  Before He went to the Cross He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34, emphasis mine).  The four gospels bear witness of this truth.  Jesus loved His disciples (even Judas) unto the very end.  He prayed for them.  He comforted, fed and gave them the words of eternal life.  And, finally, He gave His life for them and for us.

        In the beginning of the book of Acts, Bro. Luke wrote, “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1, emphasis mine).  He wrote the doing first.  On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that whosoever shall do and teach His commandments, “the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).  Here again we find that the doing is first.

        Brother Peter warned the church of false teachers in the last days.  “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Pet. 2:1-2).  We are living in these days.  It would be beneficial to read the whole chapter of second Peter.  It gives a clear picture of some things taking place in the religious circle today.  Many people do not want anything to do with Christianity.  They speak and write against the way of truth.  They see the great disparity between what is preached or taught and the real lives of the so-called representatives of the faith of Jesus Christ.  “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20).  Satan can counterfeit almost everything and anything.  But he cannot counterfeit the love of God.

        True Christians bear fruits of righteousness “meet for repentance.”  Their lives are a living testimony of the transforming power of God.  They present daily their lives “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” according to His will.  The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16 that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation.  The good news is that Jesus brought power to man to be transformed into the image of Christ.  “The kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (I Cor. 4:20), not only power to confirm the Word with signs and wonders, but to change, to revolutionize the life of the believer.

        The Church of Jesus Christ owe to the world a testimony in truth and righteousness.  It is high time for the world to see the love of God in action in His followers.  “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).  It is time to measure up to the standards of holy living set in the Scriptures.  It is time to walk the talk.  So, let us walk the talk!  May the Lord help us!

 

 

 

 

THANKSGIVING

Editor

        It’s that time of year again when we are all encouraged to remember the many blessings we have.  While we should always be thankful, we tend to either forget or become so busy that we don’t take the time to count our blessings.  Having a day each year is a tradition that is good if we use it to evaluate the many ways we are blessed as a nation, as a church, in our communities and in our families.  The freedoms we still have are a tremendous blessing and, while things are not perfect, we still are blessed above many nations and people in the world.

        The greatest blessing a person can have is to have his sins nailed to the cross of Christ and to be set free from its bondage.  Those who know Jesus Christ and have been washed in His precious blood are surely blessed far above what we deserve.  The most popular verse in scripture is that spoken by Jesus Christ to Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Those words never get old or repetitious to those who have entered into that saving grace of God and found the freedom from the old life of sin.  We never grow tired of singing songs of God’s love, mercy and grace bestowed so benevolently upon us.

        There are many other things for which to be thankful, for God’s blessings do not stop when He saves us, rather He “daily loadeth us with benefits” (Psalm 68:19).  If we don’t find those benefits every day, we need to ask God to reveal them unto us.  How many times I think of the times God has delivered me from danger, accident and even death.  I’m sure there were many other times that I didn’t even realize I was in danger, yet God’s angels protected and kept.  I also think of times when I could have easily fallen by the way because of difficulties that overwhelmed me, yet God did not allow those things to pluck me from my Father’s hand.  What wonderful mercy and grace and love God bestows upon those who love Him.  Daily God provides us with the provisions we need to sustain life and live for Him.  The old hymn entitled, “Count Your Blessings” is very appropriate this time of year and I would encourage everyone to count them and give glory and praise to God as we think upon God’s goodness and blessings.