People of The Living God

Isaiah 53

 

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December 2016



 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

SATAN’S LIES

Alfred King

        In referring to Satan, Jesus made several critical statements concerning this great enemy.  He stated emphatically that Satan is the father of lies and that there is no truth in him (John 8:44).  Over the centuries it seems Satan has perfected his skill of lying to perfection, even to the point that many Christians are deceived through his finely tuned techniques and think that what he says is right.  So much so that “Christian” churches are not only accepting his lies, but are believing them to be the gospel Christ taught.  Take, for instance, the overused, abused, and unbiblical use of Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:1: “Judge not that ye be not judged.”  How often have genuine disciples of Christ been accused of judging when, in fact, they are merely stating truth in defense of God’s word.  It is strange that those who hate the word of God will use it when convenient and advantageous for their cause but dogmatically reject it when it points out sin in their personal lives or refutes their immoral or licentious lifestyle.  Little do they realize they are merely using the same methods and words Satan uses to deceive mankind and pave the road for the multitudes who are on the broad way that leads to destruction.  Let’s just consider a few of the common lies Satan uses in his masterpieces of deception.

“Man has a sinful nature and he cannot cease from sin”

        Is there truth in these words?  Sure.  But it is not the complete truth.  While all men are sinners and they cannot cease from sin in themselves, God has made a way by which men can cease from sin.  Realizing this assertion may shock some, let’s consider an analogy to better understand and clarify this statement.  If a ruler of a nation or providence came to you and commanded you to build a palace for him and you had no means to do what he had ordered you to do, he would be a tyrant and would be requiring of you what would be impossible.  However, if he sent you to school to learn the trades necessary to do the required job and then provided the material, tools and the help needed, then you would be able to accomplish the task at hand.  Our God did not command us to do something impossible without providing the necessary elements to accomplish the task.  When Jesus came and died for our sins, He provided everything necessary to observe all things that He had taught His disciples to observe.  He has provided the Bible, which is His instruction manual.  He removed our sins from our account by paying the price Himself, thereby cleansing us, which made it possible for the Holy Spirit to come in.  The Holy Spirit is the teacher and is He who will remain with the believer until the required job is finished.

        Through these means God has made the way that any person who truly desires to walk in holiness and righteousness can do so.  It does not mean it will happen all at once any more than a ruler providing the materials for his palace means the palace will be erected tomorrow.  It takes time.  Once one is saved, has his sins washed away, has the Holy Spirit abiding within and gets into the Word of God, God will provide the material for the creating of a sinless temple.  The believer may discover he has a bad temper.  God will first provide the means by which his anger is seen and from there will bring situations into his life that will give him the opportunity to apply God’s word to the condition, he will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and at the same time strengthened by the same Spirit to overcome his ungodly disposition.  This is true “anger management.”  The same principle applies to every stronghold in a believer’s life.  It is through the power of the cross, the power of the blood of Christ that we overcome.  Just a few scriptures that will greatly aid us in our battle against sin are:

        James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

        II Cor. 10:3-5: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

        Rev. 12:11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

        Rom. 8:37: Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

        I Cor. 15:57: But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

        I Peter 5:8-9: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

“You don’t need the infilling of the Holy Spirit”

        This lie from the pit has been accepted by most Christians today, and the results are prevalent in our churches and among the Christian community at large around the world.  While God’s word is powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword (Heb. 4:12), without the Holy Spirit to open our understanding of it, we are no better off than the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus’ day.  Although man’s intellect is certainly a part of God’s creation of man in His own image, man’s intellect has been corrupted by sin and is not sufficient in itself to gain an understanding of things divine or supernatural.  This comes only through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.  The greater influence the Holy Spirit has on one’s life the greater revelation of the truths of scripture will be given.  The enemy knows this full well and therefore resists this knowledge being realized by the followers of Jesus Christ.  Even many lovers of the word unknowingly or ignorantly resist the work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39-40, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”  The Word of God is indispensable to the followers of Jesus Christ and yet it alone cannot accomplish everything required for the child of God.  Consider the following scriptures from John 16:13-15: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.  He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”  It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ and God’s truth to those who have ears to hear.  The Apostle Paul wrote the church at Ephesus encouraging them to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

“You don’t need to repent”

        While all Christians understand the need for repentance at the time of initial salvation, many see no need to remain in a constant state of repentance.  It is not that one should live under condemnation, for that is not the lot for believers, but we must always be conscious of sin creeping into our lives or of falling short from time to time.  When Christians never see their need to repent, claiming Jesus just forgives, they fall into the trap of the enemy.  There are times when we may have had a sorely trying day and when we arrive home we may act in a manner incompatible with Biblical Christianity towards our family or others who cross our path.  Repentance is the path to being reconciled to those whom we have injured but also the path of restoration to God.  Some of the most godly men I know remain in a constant state of repentance, knowing that they do not live up one hundred percent to Christlikeness.  Repentance keeps one humble and keeps pride and haughtiness at bay.

“They treated you wrongly, you don’t have to forgive.”

          “After all, they were the ones who sinned against me!  They should come to me and ask for forgiveness.”  And that could very well be the case.  But this lie certainly does not agree with scripture.  Forgiveness, in many cases, is very difficult to handle, and in some extreme cases may be possible only through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.  But to be conformed to the nature of Christ, one must become like Him by forgiving those who have transgressed against him.  I remember reading of a woman in New York years ago who was raped.  The man was caught and imprisoned.  This lady, being a genuine lover of Jesus Christ, fought anger, hatred and especially struggled with trying to forgive him.  But in her desire to be more like Jesus Christ, she sought God, listened to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, and read in the Bible, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt 6:14-15).  This man never asked her to forgive him.  However, scripture did not require her to be asked to be forgiven, it only required her to forgive.  She felt led to visit the man in prison and began taking him homemade cookies and other things when she would visit.  The work of forgiveness brought this rapist to repentance and he became a disciple of Christ.  Such is the power of forgiveness.  Yet, equally powerful is unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness harbors hatred, anger and destroys the life of those who refuse to forgive.  How many souls will find themselves in hell because they would not forgive.

        These are just a few of the lies of the enemy of our souls.  Too many in the church today have embraced that lie that we must not judge sin.  We are told that it is not love to judge.  Let’s understand this correctly and not from the perspective of the carnal minds of the politically correct crowd who think that it is not love to state truth.  To allow sin to go unaddressed is not love, rather it is the antithesis of love.  While love suffers long and is kind and love thinks no evil (of others), it does not rejoice in iniquity, rather it rejoices in the truth (I Cor. 13:4-6).  If I love someone, I will try to warn them when danger is near.  If I am walking through the woods with my children I will warn them of possible dangers and I will always be watching for those dangers myself.  I could say, “I want them to enjoy their day so I won’t warn them of the dangers present lest it spoil their fun.  I will just let them be ignorant.”  If that is my position, I have done them a terrible disservice.  I want them to be safe so I warn them.  This is the proper Christian reason to warn sinners of their sin.  Do we want gay people to go to hell?  No!  Do we want prostitutes to?  No!  Our political leaders don’t care if they go, but Christians want to see them set free.  We want them to receive eternal life from the only Source, Jesus Christ.  If we want to spew out hate toward those in sin, we are no better than they.  However, if our reason to point out sin is because we also have been on the road to destruction (maybe a different road but one that leads to the same place) and Jesus showed us our sin and it just may have been because someone pointed those sins out to us.  So, let us present the truths of God’s word in love and let us expose the lies of the enemy and live a life that portrays Christ-likeness.

 

 

 

 

FAITH AND OBEDIENCE

Bro. Tom Kidd

        There is a great paradox when it comes to the Words of Jesus, spoken in John 14:14-15, “If ye shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.  IF ye love Me, keep My Commandments.”  Herein is the great divider.  We are promised that whatsoever we ask of Him, we shall receive!  But it seems that most professing Christians either do not believe this, or we have not enough faith to bring it to pass.  Anyway we look at it something is definitely wrong.  Here in the 21st century people who actually and truly have and practice true believing faith are few and far between.  These blessed and Holy Words of the Creator are, as He said, “They are Spirit and they are life.”  These are some of the most powerful Words in all the universe.  The One that spoke these is the same One that in the beginning of creation, said, "Let there be light," the One who with His own hands, took the clay of this earth and fashioned a creature that is us.  He then breathed into Adam's nostrils breath (spirit) and man became a living soul (person).  It seems to me that people have trouble actually believing that Christ is who He is, who He says that He is.  Jesus Christ is God and His coming is a historical fact, not as many others in man's many religions.  The Most High and Almighty Eternal God has left mankind a sure and eternally true record of Himself.  Satan and rebellious men have, and continue to try with all that's within them, to refute this Record of the Triune God, the only True God!  But try as they will, the Record stands.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork, day unto day uttereth speech and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (Psalm 19:1-2).

        Creation still confounds the minds of men.  Men have made it their life time vocation to search out what they refer to as science!  But the foolish things of God (though there is no such thing in Him) are greater than all of man's wisdom.  “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him?” (I Cor. 2:16)  Of course the answer is none!  There is none like unto The Holy One of Israel, our King, our Redeemer!  Many are the men who have by their own finite minds attempted to change the Word of the Most High, but all they have done is to bring about confusion to those who are searching for Truth, bringing upon themselves perdition (destruction).  Many are awaiting their fate, as the "rich man," who died, was buried, and in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment and seeing afar off Lazarus, the very one that he refused to help while alive.  That, perhaps, is the TORMENT, or at least part of it, seeing the one who could have been the very thing that would have led him to the knowledge of God and His mercy!

        But back to the subject I began with, our lack of faith to receive the needful things in this life.  Hear what James says to us today.  “From whence cometh wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lust that war in your members?  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lust.  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?  Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?  But He giveth more grace.  Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.  Submit yourselves therefore to God.  RESIST the Devil, and he will FLEE from you.  Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye SINNERS; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:1-10).  This message is not for sinners out in the world, but is pointed directly at you and me!  Here is the answer to that paradox.  All that is needed is for us to set about to correct the things that so easily beset us.  And we must meet God's standard which is set for us His Children.  Then again when we ask "anything" in His name, He will do it!  People, it is so simple, even a child can understand!  The Church is, for the most part, sound asleep and absolutely must awake!  Let's pray that many of those who awake are those who will be able to teach and lead, as we who are ready, having our LAMPS trimmed and burning as well, set out for that door to the MARRIAGE SUPPER!

        Friends, now that we know how to receive, let us make it a reality!  Total obedience is the only thing that will do as we go forth to meet the BRIDEGROOM!  He has promised to restore the power and the glory to His Body near the end (Acts 3:18-26).  Friends, let’s not fool ourselves.  With all the signs about us of the nearness of the "Antichrist" (The man of sin, the son of perdition) spoken of by Paul in II Thessalonians 2:1-12, we know time is short.  No matter what the enemy may say and teach, the Lord will not come until all these things take place.  The fables of the "rapture" and the "thousand year material kingdom" have led millions away from the Truth, and most cannot recover themselves from this horrible mess.  Mr. Scofield has done great damage with his unscriptural lies.  The plain Words of Jesus and the Apostles are the only sure foundation for all who sincerely desire eternal life.  That old dragon is roaring, but his roaring is in the subtle half-truths of his false teachers.  Jesus went to great lengths to warn us of his tactics in these last days (Matt. 24).  People, it is up to us to lay aside all our preconceived notions about what others have said and ask God to guide us into His Word.  Every moment that is not spent in searching for His true ways makes it more dangerous!  The tribulation is upon us and the time of playing is over.  The troubles of these days can and will sneak up on many who have neglected the things of God.  I pray daily that there is still time for preparation and that God’s mercy be upon those who are truly seeking for the Truth.  Watch and pray and fear God.  He that promised is faithful!  In His everlasting Kingdom, in His service and yours!

 

 

 

 

SEARCHING FOR GOD

An essay by A.J. Alderman

        “She began to see there truly was something more to being a Christian; it was a walk with God.”  This statement from the obituary of one, Linda Jean Hoyle, published in The Testimony of Truth, October 2016, emerges as one of the great needs of the church today.

        Disclaimer: For many years I have received the monthly publication of People of the Living God, a religious group with headquarters in McMinnville, Tennessee.  My reading of The Testimony of Truth began when I became principal of Burrville Elementary School in Morgan County in 1974.  The booklet was, for whatever reason, coming to the school library.  I liked what I saw and subscribed to it.  That was 42 years ago, and the “testimony” is still being distributed.  And I still like much of what I read in those pages.  My “disclaimer” is that I do not necessarily agree with all the doctrines put forth by the group.  So, even while I use material and cite statements for sermons and personal edification, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I subscribe to every whit of their beliefs.  For example, they adamantly oppose Sunday worship, sticking to the “seventh day” as the proper day for public worship.  They also oppose religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas.  Other than that, they seem to be “right on” in their call for genuine repentance and total commitment to the Lord.

        Back to the obituary, which beautifully describes a woman who was obviously a genuine believer.  She is described as “a prayer warrior, [who] loved to pray and serve others.”  I found the story of her search for spiritual reality very similar to my own, and I share it here…

        “Sister Linda was raised in a Methodist church and, being told she was saved, joined the church.  However, she felt there should be more to being a Christian than she was experiencing in her life.  Her husband was given a magazine from an Amish man entitled ‘The Testimony of Truth,’ and after reading it, she signed up to receive it each month.  Being somewhat busy with her job, she set them aside at first.  However, her job changed, and she was scheduled to work at night.  She decided to take the magazines to work with her so she could read them on her breaks.  She began to see that there was something more to being a Christian; it was a walk with God.  As she read, her eyes were open to truths she had not seen before as the Holy Spirit gave witness to the truth.”  Rest of the story included the fact that she, her husband and the family ended up at the compound (maybe not a correct term) in McMinnville, where she served as a cook till her death on her seventy-second birthday (Sept. 2, 2016).

        Another “disclaimer” – this one not concerning that religious organization, but the Methodist Church, for which I have a great deal of respect and in which I am presently serving as a pastor.  One might get the idea that there is something inherently wrong with the Methodist Church, since this woman chose to leave the denomination and join another group.  Well, one might also draw that conclusion as my own story unfolds, seeing that I grew up in the Methodist Church and answered my call to Christian ministry while a Methodist.  I would want no one to think that my transfer of membership to the Church of the Nazarene meant that I was leaving a “bad” church and joining a “good” one.  In fact, I have found that there is almost no significant difference in the United Methodist Book of Discipline and the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene.  I just want that to be clear to anyone who might read this item and jump to conclusions too early in the game!

        Like Linda Jean Hoyle, I grew up in the Methodist Church; in my case I was even the son of a Methodist preacher.  I knew nothing other than the Methodist Church.  There was one other church in the community – a “Church of God” with headquarters [I think] in Hagerstown, Maryland.  (I now know that there are hundreds of Protestant denominations and several groups who identify themselves as “Church of God.”)  I remember that the Cummings Creek Church of God was fiercely opposed to all other churches, teaching that anyone adhering to any church other than “theirs” would be lost.  The congregation was very small; almost everyone in the area was Methodist – or nothing at all.

        I had been to the altar (called a “mourner’s bench” in the early days of the Methodist Church) and had prayed for salvation.  I was a child and didn’t understand all that was involved in becoming a Christian; however, I remember quite well kneeling there with my Uncle Clive’s arm around me, as he helped me pray.  I actually have no doubt that I was saved on that occasion, but as I reached the “age of accountability” I began to seek satisfaction in my own pursuits and failed to experience a true commitment to the Lord.  (Need I explain the term “age of accountability”?  Some set a specific age – as twelve, but that is an error.  The “age of accountability” is whatever time a person understands that he/she is a sinner in need of salvation.  At such a time in one’s life, the person must seek the Lord Jesus Christ as the only source of salvation, trust His shed blood as the only basis for atonement, and repent of sin, accepting Him as Lord and Savior.)

        Even while I was not in a committed relationship with Jesus, I continued to hold to a profession of faith, attend church regularly, and try to live a righteous life.  After graduation from high school, I attended a vocational conference at West Virginia Wesleyan College, an official Methodist college, and while at that conference I felt definitely “called to preach.”  That conviction came as we were led in a study of Isaiah 6 – the story of Isaiah’s call.  God asked, “Who shall I send, and who will go for us?”  And Isaiah responded, “Here am I; send me!”  That clinched it.  I had, as long as I can remember, wanted to be a preacher; but I was taught that one could be a preacher only if God called him. I have never, to this day, doubted that I have a specific call to preach the Word of God.  What an honor; what a privilege!

        I enrolled at WVWC with plans to pursue studies leading to ordination as a Methodist minister.  During that first semester, I became confused and frustrated by some things I observed – it just didn’t seem to be the true Christian atmosphere I had hoped to see on a Christian college campus.  Also, I found some disturbing material in a “required reading” book – a statement by a theologian suggesting that Jesus may have been the son of a Roman soldier.  Perhaps I was just too naïve to understand that institutions of higher learning were supposed to question one’s preconceived ideas.  At any rate, I found myself wondering if there might be another college where I would be better satisfied.  And I ended up at Trevecca Nazarene College in Nashville, Tennessee.  Now, how all that happened is an incredible story in itself, and I will not go into detail here.

        During the summer following that semester at WVWC, I was making plans to transfer to Nashville, while the whole time attending an old-fashioned Gospel tent meeting conducted by an evangelist by the name of Leslie Rogers (one who was licensed in the Free Methodist Church).  Under the anointed and true-to-the-Word preaching of this humble minister, I entered into a new and vital relationship with Jesus Christ.  I became a joyful believer and committed Christian.

        The next three years, while studying at Trevecca, I “got my feet down” in Christian experience, learning about entire sanctification and Christian living in a way I had never before known.  After a year or so at TNC, I left the Methodist Church and joined the Church of the Nazarene.  Reason: I simply felt that I could better serve the Lord in the Nazarene Church.  I knew that, although there were indeed holiness pastors, there was a measure of opposition to “holiness preaching” in the Methodist Church.

        After three years, I left Trevecca to accept my first pastorate in the Church of the Nazarene and have enjoyed a rather long career as a Nazarene preacher.  After retiring from the pastorate due to my wife’s poor health and my inability to function effectively in the pastorate, I spent a few years “holding revivals” and “filling pulpits” wherever the call afforded.  My wife’s health improved, and…

        The call to pastor in the United Methodist Church came.  I interviewed with the district superintendent and have been thoroughly enjoying more than seven years ministering to a couple beautiful Methodist congregations in Monroe County, Tennessee.  Could we say that things have come “full circle”?  My first sermons were in the Methodist Church, and my last 360 or so have been in the Methodist Church.  I retain my credentials as an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, but find great satisfaction in serving my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wherever God chooses to place me.

        My search for God has been fulfilled – and yet the search continues.  As the Psalmist says, “As the hart panteth after the water brook, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…”  It may sound like a paradox – filled with God, yet longing for more.  Satisfied, yet seeking for more!  But it is a marvelous thing to have been led from a nominal Christian life to a “searching for God,” which brought sweet peace to my soul!

        Having shared my own testimony, and a bit of the testimony of another one “felt that there should be more to being a Christian than what she was experiencing in her life,” I encourage anyone who may read this essay to know that there is a wonderful reality in walking with God.  So many (far too many) people are going through this life as professing Christians, who simply don’t know what it is to have a vital, living relationship with the Savior.  Come, let us walk in the garden with Him.

        He walks with me, and He talks with me;

           And He tells me that I am His own;

        And the joy we share as we tarry there,

           None other has ever known.

 

 

 

 

40 MORE DAYS

Dennis Davis

        The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, Christ, heaven, is the very essence of the New Testament – and yet most Christians don’t know what, where or when it is.  Honestly, they do not care.

        Jesus spent the majority of His time expounding on the Kingdom and in addition, for 40 more days after the cross, spoke of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.  Apostle Paul continued disputing and teaching this most important subject until his death.

        The only spark of interest in the Kingdom by Christians seems to be in the cunningly devised lie about a secret rapture and a 1000 year reign on earth with Christ.  By entering Revelation 20 with the Jews’ belief in a future Messiah, John Nelson Darby (around 1830) started this heresy.  The reference Bibles of Finis Dake and Cyrus Scofield have done great harm by continuing the hoax.

        It is interesting to note that at the end of the Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis told George Washington that within 200 years Christian churches would teach the Jews’ religion and not even realize it (The Legends of Satan by Jonathan Williams 1781).

        By approaching Revelation 20 with the plain words of Jesus and Apostle Paul – that the Kingdom is not of this world, is not physical and cannot be observed (John 18:36; Rom. 14:17; Luke 17:20) and understanding the parenthetic character of the writing, we have the following interpretations:

        1.  Satan has been restricted since the cross and will be “loosed” for a short time – probably the last three and one half years before Christ’s return.

        2.  1000 just means a large number – like God owning the cattle on 1000 hills.  Here: it is the time from the cross until the return of Christ Jesus.

        3.  The 1000 years has actually now been over 2000 years that believers have been a royal Priesthood and ruled and reigned with Christ in them (as the Holy Ghost).

        4.  Christians will be killed and beheaded from the time of the cross until Christ’s return.  Toward the end, not taking the “mark of the beast” can be deadly.

        5.  The rest of the dead are those that came before Jesus and will be present for the judgment.

        It is evidently exciting for people to think they will rule and reign over others, whereas, the real meaning of a Royal Priesthood ruling and reigning with Christ is service to others.

        The ruling includes power over Satan, healing, and amazingly the forgiving of sins.  Take a look at John 20:23.  We have no concept of the actual power of God behind us.  A God that even controls every grain of sand, ordaining the movement of atoms in the grain to form and maintain its identity.

        Our Royal Priesthood is described by Jesus as He walked with the Apostles and said the Holy Ghost (the Ghost of Jesus) is with you (as Jesus live) and shall be in you (John 14:17).

        Paul states that this is a long hidden mystery – Christ in you, the Hope of Glory (Col. 1:27).  Furthermore, you have been delivered (by the Father) from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of His Dear Son (Col. 1:13).

        With this baptism in the Holy Ghost (as a result of the blood of Jesus), we are able to pass through a split veil into the presence of the Father and worship Him in tongues (the Spirit speaking through us).

        What did Jesus say to do first?  He said seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).  By righteousness we absolutely must do what Jesus has said to do – like be humble, treat others as you would be treated and seek the treasure of the Kingdom of God (it is the Father’s pleasure to give it).

        What then is the Kingdom of God?  It is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17).  The Kingdom is in you.  Jesus said don’t look for Him as a King on a throne somewhere on earth (Matt. 24:23,26; Mark 13:21).

        People seem to have no interest in being filled with the Spirit of God after they believe.  The infilling can happen at first, but it is not a general rule (Act 8:16,17).  We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit and be led by Him (sometimes a still small voice) otherwise don’t think for a minute that you are a son or daughter of God (Rom. 8:14).  In the end, Jesus will deliver up those that have the earnest of the Holy Spirit as members of the Kingdom to the Father (I Cor. 15:24).

        The Kingdom of God then: is in you, now, and is having the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  You must follow the words of Jesus to maintain and build on your position.

        What does it all mean to us?  Well consider this, if you qualify and are chosen you will be greater than even John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11).

        Again, to be one of the overcomers and become a pillar in the temple of God and to “Go no more out,” we must pass through a very narrow gate.  It is the Father’s pleasure to have us pass, but it requires doing what Jesus has said and being filled and led by the Holy Ghost.

 

 

 

 

FORSAKE THE FLESH

Barbara Martin

To walk through this life:

        With eyes that could not see the beauty of my neighbor;

        With a tongue that could not taste the pleasures of my food;

        With nostrils that could not smell the sweet aroma of my feast;

        With lips that could not feel the warm kisses of my lover;

        With a mouth that could not speak the words of my pride;

        With ears that could not hear the flatteries of my friends.

Then would my senses be onto life eternal and I would:

        See the stature of the heart;

        Taste the hunger of the poor;

        Smell the stench of the wicked;

        Feel the pain of the suffering;

        Speak the wisdom of the Word;

        Hear the cries of the oppressed.

        Our Holy Father and Lord Jesus Christ, please help your disciples to walk by the wisdom of your Holy Spirit and to forsake the flesh, that we would bring forth fruit unto God our Father.  Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

FROM THE MAILBAG

 

Dear Editor,

        “[I]n issue 634, I noted the passing of one of your devout associates, and you showed her picture.  I noted the picture reflected short hair, or hair that was cut fairly short.  I have no doubt she was devout, and I ask this respectfully…  Why, when the Bible extols long hair on women, is that teaching in Corinthians overlooked?  I was surprised since Testimony of Truth promotes exactness on what is taught in the Bible.

“Other questions: Do women in your group(s) wear a head covering when praying?  Do you practice the holy kiss, men with men, and women with women?”

Respectfully, P.K.

 

Dear P.K.

        We, at “The Testimony of Truth” appreciate your letter and the concerns you have expressed regarding women and long hair.  This is a question that, no doubt, others also have, for it has been raised to us several times through the years.

        To answer the question as simply as possible, I would quote Paul’s own words in the same chapter of I Corinthians 11 verse 16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”  The Apostle brings up an issue to the Corinthian church, which he seems to support, only to state afterwards that it is not required by the churches of God.  So the question then is: Why does he bring this topic to the table in the first place?

        The custom in Corinth as well as throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East was that women wear a veil over their face when in public.  It was a custom that portrayed one’s modesty and purity and their subjection to their husbands.  However, there were some women in those days who were in rebellion against their husbands who refused to wear the veil.  There were also prostitutes who went about open-faced.  The issue the Apostle is addressing is propriety and decency.  Paul also wrote to the church in Thessalonians instructing them to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22).  Just as today, the way “Christians” fix themselves up and dress speaks volumes.  Many women in society today wear clothing publically that only prostitutes would be seen in fifty years ago.  Does the fact that styles have changed or that everyone is wearing them make them suitable for those who claim to walk with God?  Of course not.  In the days of the Apostle Paul, short hair was a sign of either prostitution, divorced, widowed or they refused to be in subjection to their husbands; it was a token of rebellion.  So, in order not to offend or place a stigma on the church, Paul encourages them to abide by the custom, although it might not be necessary or required for churches in other areas.

        I am reminded of a dental hygienist I met years ago while having some periodontal work done.  Every time I had an appointment we talked about the Lord, and I was impressed with her seeming “love for the Lord.”  I asked her where she attended church and decided to visit one Sunday morning.  When I got there I was shocked by how she was dressed, as well as many other women attending that morning.  No matter how loud the amplifier was turned up, the words the Pastor spoke that morning were insufficient and unable to squelch, soften, or dampen the voice that resounded in the immodesty of the women’s attire.  Jesus calls His people to come out of the world, to be separate, in every area of our lives.  We are not to live by the dictates, fashions, fads, or immodesty of the world.

        The Corinthian church had many problems and Paul’s letter to this church is one in which he rebukes them for their un-Christian behavior, endeavoring to bring them back again into the strait path.  Paul was addressing certain issues that plagued this church and, in doing so, he brings to their attention the disrespect they had concerning divine things.  The issue recorded in I Cor. 11 was not their hair length or whether they covered their hair in itself but the testimony they were giving.  God looks at our hearts and not on the outward appearance.  It’s true that we are known by our fruits, and outward appearance reflects to some degree what is going on in the heart.  However, the main point is to dress modestly and in a way that differentiates from those who are worldly.  If a person feels they should have long hair, dress extremely modestly, they should certainly follow their conscience and the leading of the Holy Spirit.  God will convict us of those things which are displeasing to Him as we seek Him and draw closer to Him.

        Short hair does not represent rebellion nor prostitution and does not hinder one’s testimony in our society today and, therefore, we at People of the Living God do not require long hair on women.

        Concerning the issue of “holy kiss:” We do not practice this custom.  It was a custom practiced during the time of the Apostles but one that is not customary today.  Manners vary in different societies and we practice the custom that is understood and acceptable in our time.  Kissing today would be a terrible way to promote genuine Christianity, for that is what the world does.  We generally shake hands or sometimes hug a brother or sister if it’s been awhile since we have seen them.  Even this must be done with discretion and in a modest manner when the opposite gender is involved.  It must be done with respect, dignity and honor.

 

 

 

 

LETTER FROM A READER

 

Dear Testimony of Truth,

        “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?”

Sincerely, D.D.

Dear D.D.,

        We at “The Testimony of Truth” appreciate your letter and the concerns which you posed.  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?  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 one cannot tell from whence it comes or 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 later on the day of Pentecost and they were all filled with the Spirit as the Holy Ghost came with coven 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 and 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 not allowing the Holy Spirit to have full control.  Many people do not experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit when He moves upon them because they hold back and will not surrender to His moving.  Just as the Spirit moves upon prophets is subject to the prophet, so is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and so is tongues.  One can allow tongues to come or he can stay the flow.

        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.  Speaking about immersion reminds me of a time when we were going to baptize a new believer.  I requested another minister to go with me to baptize the member.  The water was cold and the baptizee struggled a little when he started under and was not completely submerged.   As he started up my minister friend put his hand on his chest and pushed him completely under.  He wanted to be certain he was completely immersed.  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.  It has been said, “it is an immersion into God’s love.”  Some describe it as being plunged 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 result of the genuine baptism is that your life is transformed tremendously.  You love everyone.  Your attitude towards people radically changes, and it is easy to love those who you once hated and even those who were your enemies.  Love is the greatest proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

        But 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 the necessity of absolute surrender to God nor have any intentions of seriously walking with 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 in the same way salvation is freely given, 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 rather 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 are 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

        I hope this clarifies to some degree our position on this topic.  God bless you as you continue to search for more of Him.

Sincerely, The Editor

 

 

 

 

DID PAUL PREACH A DIFFERENT GOSPEL?

James Sanderson

        “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).  One cannot help but observe the accuracy of this prophetic utterance.  With the departure of the early apostolic ministry both of Paul and also of all the other apostles, a host of “strange doctrines” has infiltrated the church producing division, strive, and even apostasy.

        One such doctrine is the postponement theory.  According to this idea many of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, particularly those contained in the Sermon on the Mount, were really for the Jews.  Since the Jews rejected Jesus Christ as king of a supposed material kingdom, His teachings have been postponed to a future millennial age when He shall reign on the earth.  During this present so-called church age, Christians must follow instead the teachings of Paul as contained in the epistles.  Furthermore, those who espouse this idea claim that Paul was given a “new revelation” that somehow superseded the message of Jesus Christ.

        One would think that such outlandish conclusions would have arisen from an obscure corner of Christendom among those who have had little knowledge of the Scriptures.  Such is not the case.  These views are found in a very popular work called The Scofield Reverence Bible.

        On page 990 Scofield states, “Much in the Gospels…belongs in strictness of interpretation to the Jew or the kingdom…(Here Scofield means a material, political kingdom).  Again on page 1000 Scofield declares, “For these reasons 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.”  Another bold statement is made on page 1230 introducing Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians: “It is evident that the really dangerous sect in Corinth was that which said, ‘and I of Christ.’  They rejected the new revelation through Paul of the doctrines of grace; grounding themselves, probably, on the kingdom teachings of our Lord as ‘a minister of the circumcision’.”

        Those who adhere to the dispensational doctrine of C.I. Scofield make a sharp distinction between the words of Jesus and the teachings of Paul.  As one can readily see, they strongly imply that the Apostle Paul bore a different message than the gospel that Jesus declared.  One contemporary writer makes these statements:

        “The obvious absence of ‘Paul’s Gospel’ in the Christian curricular, down through the ages since the days of Paul, presents the clue to the present day fully demonstrated, religious dilemma…Paul’s gospel is the antidote for all the ills and isms in the world.”

        “The great majority of believers, in the world today, are quite familiar with the three synoptic gospels and especially John’s gospel…But comparatively few have ever heard of the ‘fifth gospel’ despite the fact that Paul himself, three times employs the term ‘My Gospel’.”

        “So, under the dispensation of the Grace of God, the believer is to follow Christ, not with Moses and the Prophets, not with John the Baptist, nor with the Twelve Apostles including Peter, James, and John, but with the Apostle Paul – the Christian’s pattern” (quotes from “the 5th Gospel”).

        These quotes from dispensational literature illustrate the exalted position that the Apostle Paul holds.  As one can see, some dispensationalists virtually reject the instructions of all the other apostles and New Testament writers.

        The question remains, “Did Paul declare a different message from that of Jesus Christ?”  Moreover, did Paul receive a “new revelation” that somehow superseded the message and ministry of Jesus Christ?  The claims of the dispensationalists are serious.  If Paul actually declared a new gospel, then man is no longer obligated to follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ nor those of the other New Testament writers.

“The Gospel Of Christ”

        Paul declared in his letter to the Romans, “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God…I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 15:19).  What was the “gospel of Christ” that the Apostle Paul so faithfully proclaimed?

        “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” (Matt. 4:17, 23a).  “And he said unto them, I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43).

        The “gospel of Christ” was the good news that men can enter into and embrace the kingdom of God in this life.  According to Jesus Christ this kingdom is not a future material kingdom but a state of being in God.  “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! for behold the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).  “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

        Jesus commissioned His apostles to declare this very same gospel.  “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matt. 24:14).  “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  The message that Jesus intended to be declared throughout the world was no different from the message that He Himself declared.  That message is the gospel of the kingdom of God.

Paul’s Gospel

        The gospel that Paul declared was the same gospel that Jesus declared.  Paul’s use of the term “My Gospel” in no way implies that he had a different message.  Paul’s gospel was the gospel of the kingdom of God.  “I have gone preaching the kingdom of God.” (Acts 20:25).  “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:31).  See also Acts 14:22 and Acts 28:23.

        The kingdom that Paul declared was the same type of kingdom that Jesus declared: a state of being in God.  To Brother Paul this kingdom was a present reality not a future material kingdom.  “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath (right now!) translated us into the kingdom of his dear son” (Col. 1:13).  “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).

Paul And The Mystery

        The dispensationalists claim that after the resurrection of Christ, God chose the Apostle Paul first above all the other apostles to receive a special revelation concerning the church. This new revelation they call a mystery.  Furthermore, only the writings of Paul contain divine instruction to the church for this age because of this new revelation.

        “The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold but not explained by Christ (Matt. 16:18), was committed to Paul.  In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church” (Scofield Ref. Bible page 1252).

“The believer who recognizes and understands ‘Paul’s Gospel,’ will also understand that: the ‘Body of Christ’ was a mystery (sacred secret) hid in God (not hid in scripture) during all past dispensations…and was first revealed, by the Risen Christ, to and through the Apostle Paul” (“The 5th Gospel”).

        There is no disputing the fact that Brother Paul was given a wonderful revelation concerning God’s purpose for the church.  On the other hand, one cannot find a single verse of Scripture to prove that this apostle was the prime recipient of this revelation.  Paul himself never claims exclusive rights to a new revelation.  He even states quite clearly that this mystery “is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph. 3:5).  Furthermore, the Apostle John was definitely aware of this mystery because he refers to it in the book of Revelation (Rev. 10:7).

Paul And The Church

        The assertion that Paul’s epistles alone contain doctrine for the church has absolutely no foundation in the Word of God.  If the claims of the dispensationalists were carried to their logical conclusion, Christians today could safely ignore the four gospels, the book of Acts, and all the writings of the other apostles.  Paul himself declared, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine.” (II Tim. 3:16).

        If the epistles of Paul are the only available source of doctrine for the church, how did the church grow and prosper in the years before Paul’s conversion?  “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:27).  Was this church without a firm doctrinal foundation?

        “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.”  What was this doctrine that the apostles taught?  Before His ascension Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20).  The apostles were faithful to this divine commission.  The words of Jesus Christ became the doctrinal foundation of the early church.

        Did this doctrinal foundation change with the conversion of Paul?  Did Paul establish a new set of teachings for the church?  Absolutely not!  It is the dispensationalists who have distorted the teachings of Paul.  The Apostle Paul was faithful to the same divine commission that Christ gave to His immediate followers.  The “apostles’ doctrine” was also Paul’s doctrine for the church.  Paul upheld the words of Jesus Christ.  The gospel of Jesus Christ was his gospel for the church.  “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words.” (I Tim. 6:3).  “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:8-9).

The Christian’s Pattern

        One of the writers previously quoted called the Apostle Paul “the Christian’s pattern.”  Now, Brother Paul was certainly a wonderful man of God who demonstrated a life truly devoted to Jesus Christ.  The same could be said of all the other apostles.  Every one of these men was a true “example of the believers” (I Tim. 4:12).  Nevertheless, none of them is worthy of the title “The Christian’s Pattern.”

There is only one pattern: the Lord Jesus Christ.  The goal of every Christian is to become like Jesus not like Peter, Paul, James, or John.  Every one of these apostles exalted Jesus Christ as the Supreme Example.

        “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14).

        “Till we all come…unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

        “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin” (I Peter 2:21-22).

        “When he shall appear, we shall be like him” (I John 3:2).

The Real Issue

        The real issue behind all of this doctrinal confusion is the lordship and kingship of Jesus Christ.  Is Jesus Christ Lord and King now?  Or must we wait until some future millennial reign for Jesus Christ to demonstrate His authority?  Are His words presently binding upon every Christian?  Or have they been postponed for a future mythical generation?

        Satan’s chief goal is to turn the hearts of men away from a life of obedience to Jesus Christ.  He will resort to any type of deception to accomplish his purpose.  The postponement theory is one of his devices.

        Jesus Christ is still King and presently holds all power in heaven and in earth.  Furthermore, none of His words have been postponed to another age.  In that final judgment day, every individual will answer for his own personal response to the words of Jesus Christ.  “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).

 

 

 

 

THE POWER OF UNBELIEF

Randall Walton

        “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58).

        This amazing statement follows close on the heels of the message to John the Baptist that, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:5).  Why, then, do we find this apparent contradictory condition existing in Jesus’ “own country” (Matt. 13:54)?

        Are we to conclude that somewhere along the journey Jesus lost some of the power which He demonstrated in the many towns and villages through which He passed?  Of course not!  His supernatural ability never waned nor declined.

        It is a fact of record that in many instances where healings and other miracles were wrought, the results were in direct response to the recipients’ faith:

        “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Matt. 9:22)

        “According to thy faith be it unto you.” (Matt. 9:29)

        “And when he saw their faith, he said” (Luke5:20)

        “Thy faith hath saved thee.” (Luke 7:50)

        “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”(Mark 10:52)

        “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19)

        “Perceiving that he had faith to be healed.” (Acts 14:9)

        “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

        In all of these cases it is plainly evident that faith was the motivating factor which produced the desired results.  It is also true, however, that the works Jesus did were by the mighty power of God which was upon Him.

        Yet it remains that in His own country unbelief prevented His working of great miracles.  Just as faith aids and abets the performing of supernatural manifestations, unbelief is the great preventer of works of power.

        Faith has its origin in the divine; it is both a gift of the Spirit and a fruit of the Spirit (I Cor. 12:9; Gal. 5:22).  It is both given and produced; since it is a fruit of the Spirit, it can be made to increase and become a powerful, dynamic force.  Conversely, it can be allowed to atrophy to the point where it exists no longer, or until the direct opposite (unbelief) takes its place.  It then becomes a potential source of negative force or influence.  Too often we think of negativism as being neutral or as nothingness, therefore being without substance or power, but this view is without substantiation.

        Any mathematician knows that there are minus values which are equally quantitative and qualitative to their corresponding opposites on the plus scale.  Thus, unbelief is a negative force which can be, and is, exercised to oppose that which would glorify God.

        These two qualities, faith and unfaith, have a few things in common, i.e., they can both be made to increase or decrease; they both originate from a source apart from man.  While faith and its close relatives (faithful, faithfulness, faithfully) spring from the living God, unfaith (along with unfaithful, unfaithfulness, unfaithfully) receives its impetus and inspiration from the father of lies.

        The more a person exposes himself to the influence of either of these forces, the greater his growth will be in that respective direction.  If he listens to God and heeds the word of the Lord (for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of the Lord), his faith is nurtured and it grows.  He finds himself consistently exercising more faith in God, trusting Him more, having more confidence in the surety of His promises.

        On the other hand, neglecting the word of God, and listening to the voice of secularism, humanism and Satanism, produces more and more un-faith, disbelief, unbelief, doubts, skepticism, agnosticism, and atheism.  While the one leads to complete dependence upon the great Creator, the other leads to a complete contempt of all things divine or godly, and declares that man is self sufficient and fully capable of shifting for himself, for he depends upon the tangible substance of things he can see, touch and handle.

        It matters little to Satan whether anyone swears allegiance to him.  Of greater importance to him is that they reject and disregard and disbelieve God and His word, for he knows full well that without faith it is impossible to please God, for they who come to Him “must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

        Since “no man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18), the archenemy of God seeks to obscure all and any evidences which testify of His existence and power.  He resorts to the basest of schemes in his efforts to hide God from mankind.  When necessary, he will attempt to duplicate signs, miracles and wonders in order to confuse man and distort his perspective.

        But his trump seems to be in the promulgation of his gospel of unbelief.  Not only does he promote the doctrine, he inspires it and gives power to those who believe his lies – thus, un-faith is underwritten by Satan himself and is proclaimed as the rational approach to things religious and supernatural.

        So entrenched in this hegemony of hell had the citizenry of “his own country” become, that their unbelief prevented Jesus from doing many mighty works before them.  As Mark states it: “he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.”  No dead were raised, no eyes restored with sight, no deaf ears unstopped.  He “marveled because of their unbelief” (Mark 6:5,6).  Their unbelief was unbelievable!

        Un-faith (or faithlessness) is still at work today preventing healing, miracles and deliverance from bondage.  While God is omnipotent, the manifestation of His power among and upon mankind is tempered by the degree of faith in that omnipotence.  God’s ability to do the impossible has never slackened, but faith in God’s ability is a rare jewel.

        Matthew gives us a fine example of how real faith works: “And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and AS MANY AS TOUCHED WERE MADE PERFECTLY WHOLE” (Matt. 14:35,36).  This is FAITH, for their belief in Him (they had knowledge of him) propelled them into action: 1. they gathered the diseased together; 2. they requested help from Him (they besought him).  Not only did they believe in Him, they believed He was a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.

        It is for us who know God to cast off the power of darkness and unbelief and to believe with all our hearts that our God will do those things which we ask of Him, for “all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matt. 21:22).

        The great call or mandate which rests upon the church of Jesus Christ (which is the same as that which was upon the early church, Mark 16:15-20) will only be fulfilled when the church has shaken off from itself the shackles of unbelief, and in faith steps out upon the truths of the word of God and demonstrates that faith by obedience to the word, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).