People of The Living God

Psalms 23

 

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January 2017



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

FIVE WERE WISE

Matt. 25:2

Harry R. Miller

      The essential difference between the foolish and the wise virgins was the fact that the wise had provided themselves with “OIL” for their lamps.  Since the possession of this commodity makes the difference between being rejected or accepted of the Lord, it is most imperative that we know the nature of this most important item.  It has been said by many Bible students that this particular essential represented by the OIL symbol is the Holy Spirit.  Many people have made a fetish of the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; they say that without it there is no hope of entering in with Christ, and they tell us that the Spirit Baptism is the “oil.”

      According to many poor souls, an emotional experience constitutes the possession of the oil required by a wise virgin, but a careful examination of Scripture will disprove such a position.  When the foolish virgins asked the wise to share their “oil,” they were told, “Go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”  It is not Scriptural to say that the Holy Spirit can be BOUGHT with money, or any other way: “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20).  This was the apostle Peter’s statement to Simon who was willing and ready to pay for “the gift of God.” To state glibly and dogmatically that this “oil” is the Holy Spirit is to miss completely the divine purpose of the three parables of Matthew twenty-five.  The central teaching of all three of these parables is this: that selfless devotion to Christ and His work is essential to salvation.

      We turn back to Moses to learn the nature of the “oil” here used as a symbol: “Thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always” (Ex. 27:20).  The Septuagint says: “refined pure olive-oil.”  This oil is not a product brought up out of the ground; it is produced by refining the fruit of the olive tree.  Christ is the “root” and trunk of THE “GOOD OLIVE TREE;” we who believe Him are “the branches” (Rom. 11:24).  Branches are under obligation to bear fruit: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).  The teaching in these texts is very plain: BRANCHES are living things and they MUST BEAR FRUIT.

      The nature of the tree is spiritual, so also must be the nature of the “branches” – and the fruit will bear the same identification: it will be of the Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:22-24).

      Olive fruit is not the material that is burned in the “lamp,” but is from the fruit that the oil is made.  Olive oil “beaten for the light.”  Those who bear fruit for God are thorns in the flesh of worldlings, and the result is that the world actually hates a true child of God: “I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:19).  “I have given them thy Word: and the world have hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14).  “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33).  It is in the midst of this earthly opposition that the “divine nature” is developed.

      Nothing can be found in the Scriptures to contradict the fact that God demands that His people grow, develop, and progress.  Christ plainly taught that the “seed” (His Word) was sown in the heart with the intent that it increase by growth and bear fruit.  “The husbandman” (our heavenly Father) works with men with this one object in view: “that they might bring forth much fruit” (John 15:1,5).

      Here are the steps necessary for filling your vessels with Oil: a) Bear much fruit for Christ.  b) Suffer opposition from the world – which will automatically follow a fruit-bearing life for the Lord.  c) Your carnal nature must die, and the divine nature must be implanted within you – this is the oil that makes the virgins’ lamps burn.

      Jesus taught that the “good seed” falls upon all manner of “ground.”  Christ and the “seed” are one.  It is not the letter of the Word that enters the heart, for “the letter killeth.”  The Spirit of Christ was received by all of the virgins.  They all had lamps that burned for a season.  The divine nature was imparted to them in the “seed,” but because they failed to go on and grow, they gradually dried up and the oil supply failed.

      Brethren, let us not forget nor neglect our calling: “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14) is that we might be “like Him” (I John 3:2) and stand before God “a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  The apostle Peter describes our call thus: “Him that hath called us to glory (the end of all His labor with us is that He may bring “many sons unto glory”) (Heb. 2:10) and virtue (moral excellence): Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these (conformity to this “means”) ye might be partakers of the divine nature” (II Peter 1:3,4).

      “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14).  “Put on the new man” (Col. 3:10).  This requires effort.  It also takes TIME.  “Put on the new man (this, and the above passages, are all spoken to saints – not to sinners!), which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).  When we are converted, the righteousness of God is attributed to us, but after we have known the way of righteousness, justice demands that we acquire “the righteousness of saints” (Rev.19:8).  Holiness is that state of separation from the world, and dedication unto God, which is attained by the great leading of the Word and the Spirit of God.

      “Above all…things (a top priority) put on charity” (Col. 3:14).  It is well to take cognizance of the fact that “the new man,” and “The Lord Jesus Christ,” and “charity” are one and the same person.  With this in mind it is a very simple matter to understand the identity of the one who is called “charity” in I Corinthians thirteen, without whom tongues-speaking men become “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal,” and prophets and miracle workers are “nothing.”  Without Him, Christ, the philanthropists’ gifts profit nothing and even “though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (have not the abiding of Christ within) it profiteth me nothing” (I Cor. 13:3).

      The inner, abiding presence of Christ leads us farther and farther away from the world life, and as this takes place we gradually become an offence to the world.

      The fruit of a genuine Christian is a stigma before the world.  It is this “fruit” which appears to the world as a stigma that crucifies us to the world, and it also crucifies the world to us.  Paul calls this stigma the cross of our Lord: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

      The cross in the life of the Christian is not the thing upon which the Saviour died – the “rugged cross” is the reaction that the saint suffers from the flesh, the world, and the devil, when he implicitly obeys the commands of the Lord.  It is the preaching of this kind of a cross that is foolishness “to them that perish” (I Cor. 1: 18).

      The wise virgin soon learns the value of opposition, tribulation, and suffering for the Lord’s sake: “Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings…If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, for the Spirit of Glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified…If any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (I Peter 4:13,15).

      Depth of character is wrought in the storms of life, and in the furnace of affliction our metal is purified.  “I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir” (Isa. 13:12).  This promise is given to men who live in the day when the Lord shall “shake the heavens and the earth” (13th verse).  “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi (the priesthood) and purge them as gold and silver” (Mal. 3:3).  This sort of work cannot be done to a “shallow ground hearer;” neither can it be applied to those whose hearts are full of thorns.

      Being “conformed to the image” of God’s Son is not an instantaneous work.  There are many factors in the process of the change: “But we all…beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory…by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Cor. 3:18).  God has so constituted us that this transformation of character is done by the pressures of the world: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).  The shallow-pated religionist, who lives by his physical senses, “enjoys” salvation only when he is having a high-altitude, mountain-top experience.  He is under the delusion that the Lord is near him when he is riding the highest and shouting the loudest, but the Psalmist found the Lord nearest when he was passing through his greatest trials: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).  Take particular notice of what it was that the Psalmist said comforted him: “Thy rod and thy staff.”  The “rod” is for chastening: those who are true sons learn the value of the Father’s rod.  Such an instrument is for correction: only a saint values correction.  (The “staff” is for men to lean upon while the rod is being applied!)

 

 

 

 

CONDITIONAL OR UNCONDITIONAL

James Sanderson, Jr.

        A mighty conflict is now raging in the realm of the spirit.  This conflict does not involve such carnal implements of war as tanks or guns.  On the contrary, this is an ideological warfare that promises to intensify as the end of all things approaches.  The antagonists are Satan and his cohorts.  The stakes are the souls of men.

        Although our Lord Jesus Christ wrought a complete victory over Satan at the cross, he did not totally annihilate this archenemy.  The scriptures demonstrate quite clearly that Jesus Christ bound the strong man and plundered his house.  A chain now secures this infamous rebel and severely limits his activities.  The heavens have been thoroughly cleansed of his evil designs.  Moreover, to the saint who is walking in the Spirit the Lord has given spiritual weapons that he might gain the victory over the wiles of the devil.  On the other hand, the Word also declares that “the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8).  Although the enemy has been bound, he has not been gagged.  He still has a voice.

        Satan has one weapon at his disposal that he has learned to use quite effectively.  That weapon is the LIE.  To anyone who will voluntarily lend an ear the devil will gladly impart his distorted message.  Jesus Christ Himself declared that Satan was a liar from the beginning.  It was THE LIE that fomented rebellion in the heavens.  It was THE LIE that caused Adam and Eve to fall from that blessed state of paradise.  Even today the enemy has begun to infiltrate the ranks of Christians in order to wreak havoc by means of his deceptive techniques.

        What is the issue in this great struggle between the forces of good and evil?  The issue is God’s law and authority.  The very integrity of God’s throne and His right as the supreme ruler in the affairs of man have been brought into question.  Satan recognizes that if he can undermine all respects for God’s law in the hearts of men then he has scored a tremendous victory in his own behalf.  It makes little difference to him if people attend church or fulfill certain religious obligations.  Satan’s plan has been accomplished if men merely neglect or pay lip service to the law of God.

        The powers of darkness are not alone in this great struggle.  Satan has his own emissaries who claim to be ministers of righteousness.  “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (II Cor. 11:14-15).  In this day of permissiveness and deception, it seems that these ministers have become quite popular and have proliferated.  It behooves every Christian to have a strong foundation in the Word of God and discern the forces that are at work.

        One book that has probably fostered the greatest disrespect for God’s law among Christians in this century is the Schofield Reference Bible.  This book has been so widely accepted by many denominations and church leaders that to question its integrity is almost tantamount to questioning the Word of God itself.  Let it be understood that Scofield’s notes are nothing more than the oracular teachings of a man who evidently had little regard for divine law and government.  The vast majority of his notes would not stand under the severe scrutiny of the Holy Scriptures.

        One contemporary teaching that has its foundation in Scofield’s notes is the doctrine of unconditional salvation.  According to this theory, the New Covenant establishes no obligation for the Christian.  Man’s only responsibility is to believe the gospel and accept the free gift of salvation.  Furthermore, once the sinner has been saved, he is guaranteed a through ticket to glory.  Such clichés as “trust Christ” and “accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior” are widely used by those who adhere to these teachings.

        Scofield declares: “The Christian is not under the conditional Mosaic Covenant of works, the law, but under the unconditional New Covenant of grace” (page 95).  “The New Covenant rests upon the sacrifice of Christ, and secures the eternal blessedness, under the Abrahamic Covenant, of all who believe.  It is absolutely unconditional, and, since no responsibility is by it committed to man, it is final and irreversible” (page 1298).

        At this point it might be well to quote from other contemporary evangelicals who espouse this same teaching: “The requirements which were placed against Israel were most demanding.  For the believer in our time, there is but one requirement, namely ‘faith in His blood.’” (Dave Breese).  “What does this mean to us in a practical way?  First of all, it means that there is nothing we have to do to earn favor with God.  Under grace, our acceptance with God is based on the fact that we are in Christ and God accepts Him completely.  Therefore He accepts us the same way.  Our acceptance is based on Christ’s performance for us” (Hal Lindsey).

        “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).  Now fables can be quite entertaining; however, they have little value to the saint who hungers after truth.  One begins to understand the true character of these doctrinal inventions as he examines them in the light of Holy Scripture.  “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).

The New Covenant Is Conditional

        Dr. George Richer Berry in his Greek interlinear defines the word covenant as “a compact or covenant between God and man.”  Dr. Strong calls it a “contract.”  A covenant is a formal agreement entered into by two or more parties.  It is considered a legal contract that sets forth the conditions, rights, and responsibilities of all parties involved.  Only those who agree to meet all the requirements expressed by that contract would be considered in covenant relationship.

        The Lord has never once made an unconditional covenant with man.  In the Garden of Eden, the Lord stipulated to Adam and Eve, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).  Even the covenant with Abraham, which Scofield claims was unconditional, was definitely conditional.  “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant” (Gen. 17:9,14).  “For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment: that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19).  To ancient Israel in the wilderness Moses declared, “Wherefore, it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers” (Deut. 7:12).

        Even today, there are conditions attached to the New Covenant as well.  “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).  For one to be in covenant relationship with the Father and Jesus Christ, he must love God and obey the words of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul declared, “If we (Christians) suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we (Christians) deny him, he also will deny us” (II Tim. 2:12).  The Apostle Peter said, “If ye (Christians) do these things, ye shall never fall” (II Peter 1:10).  Finally, the book of Hebrews, addressing Christians, states, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6).

        All of the foregoing references are quite plain and speak for themselves.  In order to enter into covenant relationship with God and remain in covenant relationship, one must meet the conditions or obligations of that covenant.

        Much to the chagrin of Scofield and the antinomians, the New Covenant is a covenant based not merely upon grace but also upon law.  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Heb. 8:10).  If God’s covenant with His people is “absolutely unconditional,” why would He make divine law an integral part of the New Covenant?  Law speaks of obligation, duty and responsibility.  The answer is quite simple: God expects obedience to His commandments and precepts if one is to remain in covenant relationship with Him.

        A covenant without conditions is not really a covenant but a promise.  Moreover, a covenant that is unconditional cannot be broken by either party.  The Scriptures, however, demonstrate quite clearly that the New Covenant will be broken, not by God, but by a certain class of individuals who will fail to meet their divine obligation.  In his vivid description of God’s judgment upon the earth in the very end of time, the prophet Isaiah declared, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant” (Isa. 24:5).  In addressing Christians, the book of Hebrews states, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing” (Heb. 10:29).

        A sinner who has never been born again into the kingdom of God cannot break a covenant that he has never made with God.  Only born again Christians truly enjoy a covenant relationship with God.  “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise…But now in Christ Jesus ye…are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12-13).  Only Christians can break their covenant with God.

Salvation Is Conditional

        The Bible is so full of Scripture references that show that salvation is conditional that it is difficult to understand how anyone can believe otherwise.  “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).  “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live?  All his righteousness that he had done shall not be mentioned; in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:24).  “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 17:17).  “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).  “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life” (Rev. 22:14).

        Some may argue that to place any conditions upon salvation would invalidate the biblical truth of justification by faith.  Conditional salvation does not contradict or do away with justification by faith.  “Justification by faith does not mean that faith is accepted as a substitute for personal holiness, or that by an arbitrary constitution, faith is imputed to us instead of personal obedience to the law.  Some suppose that justification is this, that the necessity of personal holiness is set aside, and that God arbitrarily dispenses with the requirement of the law, and imputes faith as a substitute.  But this is not the way.  Faith is accounted for just what it is, and not something else that it is not.  Abraham’s faith was imputed unto him for righteousness, because it was itself an act of righteousness, and because it worked by love, and thus produced holiness.  Justifying faith is holiness, so far as it goes, and produces holiness of heart and life, and is imputed to the believer as holiness, not instead of holiness” (Charles Finney, True and False Repentance, page 60).

        No man who stands before the judgment seat of God will ever be able to claim that he earned salvation on any merit other than the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  On the other hand, no man will ever be able to declare that he reached that heavenly realm apart from obedience to divine law.  The blood of Jesus Christ is only efficacious as the individual walks in the light and obeys the Word.

        Salvation is not merely an experience.  One does not receive an inoculation with salvation so that he forever has a guarantee of heaven.  Salvation is first of all a state that, once entered, must be maintained.  Then it is a process that one must experience daily.  “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (II Cor. 1:10)

Divine Favor Is Conditional

        The foregoing discussion concerning salvation and the New Covenant should be sufficient to demonstrate that God’s favor or approval is bestowed conditionally.  Nevertheless, it might be well to consider a few Scripture references that deal primarily with this aspect of the subject.

        No man deserves God’s favor.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  It was God’s benevolent love that motivated Him to provide the means whereby man could be delivered from that state of disobedience called sin.  On the other hand, God’s favor or approval is not promiscuously nor arbitrarily dispensed to man.  Nor is God’s favor automatically bestowed apart from man’s effort.  There are definite requirements that must be met before God will bestow divine favor.

        “But without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 6).  “But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).  “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).  “We labour, that…we may be accepted of him” (II Cor. 5:9).  These verses of Scripture clearly demonstrate that God grants divine favor as one meets the requirements.

        Another group of Scriptures presents a certain class of people upon whom God does not bestow divine favor.  “So they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).  “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37-38).  The implication is that only he who walks in the Spirit, puts God first, and takes up his cross will receive the approval of Heaven.

        The Greek word for “divine favor” is exactly the same word that means grace.  Grace is widely defined as “unmerited favor.”  A careful examination of the Scriptures reveals that this definition is not completely sufficient to explain the full significance of grace.  Peter’s admonition to “grow in grace” shows that grace is more than a free gift.  Dr. Strong defines the word grace as “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.”

        There are those who believe that since Christians are now under grace, they are not obligated to obey God’s moral law as recorded in the Ten Commandments and the words of Jesus.  Because of this erroneous notion the antinomians have been guilty of “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness” (Jude 4).  “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption” (II Peter 2:19).

        “To be under grace is to be so united to Christ, by faith, as to receive a continual life and influence from Him.  He represents himself as a vine, and His children as the branches.  And to be under grace is to be united to Him as a branch is united to the vine, so as to receive our continual support and strength and nourishment and life from Him” (Charles Finney, The Promise of the Holy Spirit, page 119).

        In short, one might define grace as the power or ability that God gives the Christian to conform to divine obligation.  Obedience to God’s law cannot be accomplished by one’s own efforts alone.  Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Christian now has the power and strength to comply with God’s holy standards.  One must meet each infusion of divine grace with conformity to the corresponding light that has been shed across his path before more grace is bestowed.  This process the Apostle Peter terms, “growing in grace” (II Peter 3:18).

The Doctrine Of Imputed Righteousness Is False

        By another deceptive doctrine, many antinomians attempt to make void any conditions to salvation and all obligation to moral law.  This unscriptural teaching is called “imputed righteousness.”  According to this doctrine, the obedience of Christ is accounted to the Christian who supposedly is unable to obey the “harsh” demands of God’s law.  Christ obeyed in his behalf.

        If Christ’s obedience to the moral law were sufficient to make atonement for the Christian, why did he have to suffer?  The Scriptures declare that Jesus Christ “died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

        “Under the gospel, sinners are not justified by having the obedience of Jesus Christ set down to their account, as if he had obeyed the law for them, or in their stead.  It is not an uncommon mistake to suppose that when sinners are justified under the gospel, they are accounted righteous in the eyes of the law, by having the obedience…of Christ imputed to them…this idea is absurd and impossible, for this reason, that Jesus Christ was bound to obey the law for himself, and could no more…obey on our account, than anybody else.  Was it not his duty to love the Lord his God, with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself?  Certainly; and if he had not done so, it would have been sin.  The only work of supererogation he could perform was to submit to sufferings that were not deserved.  This is called His obedience unto death, and this is set down to our account.  But if His obedience of the law is set down to our account, why are we called on to repent and obey the law ourselves” (Charles Finney, True and False Repentance, page 59)?

        One of the greatest tragedies of this latter day is the wholesale disregard of God’s law that one finds throughout society.  What is even more tragic is that this same spirit of disobedience is presently operating in the church among those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.  The modern-day grace gospel is nothing more than a false invention of the powers of darkness designed to soothe the consciences of those who want to walk according to their own will while claiming to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

        There are only two possible roads upon which one may travel in life: the strait and narrow way of obedience and surrender that leads to life or the broad and easy way of lawlessness that leads to destruction.  Those who claim to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ but fail to meet the conditions incumbent upon them are only fooling themselves and are traveling down the broad and easy way of destruction.

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL VERSES SPIRITUAL ISRAEL?

Alfred King

        Today there are many who wonder what the importance is of the discussion of national Israel verses the Israel which is considered “spiritual Israel”.  Is this a topic worth a Christian’s time to understand or is it merely another issue to derail the Gospel, or just another device of Satan to divide God’s people?  Unfortunately, it has caused both of these and therefore it makes the issue even more important.  All sincere Christians desire truth and, therefore, must earnestly seek God so that he will discern the witness of the Holy Spirit as he considers and studies this subject.  The fact that I am writing on this topic reveals that I believe this to be of grave importance, not so much from the position of those who understand spiritual Israel, the Israel of the New Testament, but for those who would be persuaded to return to the Old Covenant and lose the vision of the power and glory of the New.  Jesus was the fulfillment of all animal sacrifice as clearly taught in Hebrews  10:1-4, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  The Mosaic laws and statutes were designed to point to The Lamb of God, Who could and would take away sin.  The book of Hebrews clearly teaches that the ministry of the tabernacle and the temple, with its various washings and sacrifices were “a shadow of good things to come” and were fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  But the question then is asked.  How can all the scriptures which refer to national Israel be understood if not directly applied to that Israel located in the land of Palestine?

The Promise To Abraham

        It is important to begin with those promises given to Abraham since the nation of Israel proceeded from his bowels.  All through Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, and 22, God promises Abraham that his seed would multiply as the stars in the heavens and as the sand which is on the sea shore.  He promises also that Abraham’s seed would possess the land of Canaan for an “everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8).  God clearly identifies this seed for future generations telling Abraham that his seed would be slaves in a land that was not theirs (Egypt) for four hundred years.  One very important verse relative to our subject is Genesis 22:18.  “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

        There are a couple of things we need to consider in this covenant made with Abraham.

        One: a covenant is an agreement between two or more parties, in this case God and Abraham.  While it was made officially between these two, it also involved Abraham’s seed.  Genesis 17:7-10, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”  It is clear that this covenant made by God with Abraham was also made with Abraham’s seed.  While Abraham did not break the covenant with God, his seed did, therefore those covenant promises to the seed were not fully obtained.  They were experienced only when Israel walked with God in obedience to His laws.  The promises were possessed when God was their God, but when they turned to idols, they lost the blessings and the promises contained in the covenant.

        Two: If this covenant was not broken by Abraham’s seed, then God broke His part of the covenant (which we know is impossible), for it is obvious that Israel did not “possess” the land promised them continuously; they were sold into bondage in the days of Jeremiah and for seventy years they did not possess the land.  After God mercifully allowed them to return to the land in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, they again fell back into idolatry.  Finally, God said there was no remedy (II Chron. 36:16).  For about 300 years before Jesus came, Israel was relatively barren and God’s blessings were withheld from that nation.  When God sent Jesus Christ to be the Lamb whose blood was truly sufficient to “take away sin,” Israel was in a desperate state of apostasy and under the control of the Roman government.  Jesus came to Israel when darkness abounded and He brought to them His light.  That light shined in the darkness but Israel comprehended it not.  Not only did they hate Christ’s teachings, they hated His miracles, His love for the poor and outcast, His power and His truth.  The more He taught the more it exposed them and their religious but evil practices, and the more they hated Him.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem in His lamentations, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37)  Notice who broke the covenant here.  Israel!  Christ then pronounces judgment upon this physical seed of Abraham, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38).  Twice now we see God’s judgment upon Israel: “there was no remedy” and “Behold, your house is left unto you (Israel) desolate.”

Concerning The Fig Tree

        If the fig tree represents Israel, as many Zionists espouse, then the event recorded in Matthew 21:18-20 is worthy of discussion.  “Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.  And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.  And presently the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!”  This scripture begs the question: Is this a prediction of Israel (the fig tree) receiving God’s curses and being no longer viable to the covenant?  Let me again say, Israel as a nation is judged by God, but that does not mean that Jews cannot be saved.  Many have and many more will before Christ returns.  However, they will come through “The Way” Jesus Christ and not by returning to the Old Covenant order.  There is only one way to heaven and that way is Christ.

        About forty years later after Jesus’ compassionate words, Titus surrounded the city of Jerusalem, bringing about conditions within the city that are beyond what can be imagined as gangs roamed the city threatening and stealing just to have something to eat.  Women cooked and ate their own children as hunger pains overpowered reason and morals.  And history only knows all that happened to the natural seed of Abraham.  Who broke this covenant, God or Israel?  How clear this is, yet there are those who take the promises contained in the Old Testament over these historical facts and words of Jesus.

        If Israel’s house (or Jerusalem in this case which represents Israel) is desolate, what can be done?  At this point Israel had killed God’s prophets and messengers and finally managed to kill Jesus Christ Himself.  Read Matt. 21:33-41: This, very obviously is a parable referring to Israel rejecting and killing Jesus.  Matt 21:41 says: “They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.”

        Scripture does not indicate here that God is going to give them another chance as a nation.  This does not mean that Jews cannot be saved, but they will be saved just as any sinner will be, through Christ.

        Three: As has already been mentioned, Israel rejected the God of Abraham throughout their history.  They reached their climax when they condemned the very Son of God and had Him nailed to a cross.  The God of Abraham was rejected and crucified, for their religion with its rights and ceremonies was their hope and their god.  They crucified the Lord of glory.  Jesus pronounced great judgment upon that nation when He said to Pilate, “he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin” (John 19:11).  Israel, as a nation, had committed the unpardonable sin.

A New Israel

        But wasn’t the covenant made with Abraham an everlasting covenant as recorded in Genesis 17:7, 13, and 19?  True!  The covenant was everlasting because it is made to those who will walk in the faith that Abraham walked in.  Abraham obeyed God even when it meant offering his only son as a burnt offering to God.  Obedience is the evidence of faith; it is not merely positive thinking.  Let’s consider what makes a person a true Israelite beginning with the promise to Abraham that in his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 22:18).

        Paul in writing to the church in Galatia unveils which seed is being referred to in the words to Abraham in chapter 3, verse 18.  “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.”  Jesus is the Seed through Whom all nations would be blessed.  It was in the rejection of national Israel that salvation was offered to the Gentiles, and all nations are Gentiles.  Although Israel is the promised seed to Abraham, Jesus Christ was The Seed through Whom all nations would be blessed, not Israel.  This is a very important point when examining this subject.  Everything in the Jewish and Christian religion centers around Jesus Christ.  The prophecies contained in the Old Testament were foretelling the coming of Jesus.  The order of the tabernacle with its warning to Moses, “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount” (Heb. 8:5 quoting from Ex. 25:40).  Exactitude was critical because these symbolized, represented and pictured the ministry of Jesus Christ.  Everything had to be exact just as Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection were all essential for the salvation of mankind.  Israel with her tabernacle, temple and other duties were all a shadow of heavenly things which all were fulfilled in Jesus.  To go back and attempt to reestablish Israel as the seed of Abraham and to teach that Israel is a special people chosen by God is to miss and distort the divine purpose and plan of God revealed in Jesus Christ.  It is attempting to come up another way.

        Again Paul, in his letter to the Galatian church writes, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)  Paul is saying that Judaism is a fleshly work in contrast and opposed to the work of the Spirit who now lives in the heart of believers.  The New Covenant is the covenant in which a person is to be born again and receive the Holy Spirit as a constant companion.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s laws are written in the heart and not merely on tables of stone.  This New Covenant is sufficient to take away sin through the blood of Christ.  Paul continuing in Galatians 3 verses 7-9 writes, “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”

        The works of Judaism can never save a soul.  Rather it takes away from the finished and perfect work of the cross.  The Old Covenant was done away and the New Covenant instituted as a better covenant established upon better promises (Heb. 8:6).  Why do Christians desire to go back to “the weak and beggarly elements” (Gal. 4:9) which existed under the Old?

Circumcision Of The Heart

        As circumcision in the flesh was a sign or token of the covenant to the nation of Israel, likewise circumcision of the heart is essential for those who will enter into the New Covenant.  Consider Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

        Today, as in the days of old, God is looking at men’s hearts.  God desired a man after His own heart when He chose David to be king over His people.  How can a man’s heart, which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9) be changed?  It is much like the leopard’s spots or the Ethiopian’s skin.  Only God can change one’s heart and He does that through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus came to save sinners (I Tim. 1:15).  Jesus died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6).  Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life and no man comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).

        The promises to national Israel recorded in the Old Testament were attainable if Israel had remained faithful to God.  However, those covenant promises, whether attained by Israel or not were shadows, along with the tabernacle and its related services, of the heavenly and spiritual.  God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.  The shadow is not the fullness but portrays to us spiritual and heavenly things through physical things.  National Israel failed and broke the covenant, but there will be a holy nation, a peculiar people who will possess the promises of the New Covenant.

 

 

 

 

ANXIOUS ABOUT NOTHING

Kenneth Fountain

        In today’s world, we all have much to be worried and stressed about.  Many (or most) worry about a multitude of concerns that confront us in life, as well as real and imagined threatening scenarios on the horizon.  There are some who harbor anxiety over the most minute situations.  Others worry even when they admit they have nothing to be worried about; they are anxious because they may have overlooked something they should be troubled about!  In stark contrast to these groups, Jesus told His followers, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the word giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

        As followers of Christ, we are to have abiding faith in His loving care and ability to provide for all our needs, thereby resting peacefully in His capable hands.  When we opt to worry, we take our needs and concerns unto ourselves, and out of His hands.  In so doing, we limit or dismiss His working in our behalf.  “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6), and “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).  James said that we are to “ask in faith, nothing wavering” or else, “let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6,7).  It is when we recognize our total dependence upon the mercy and faithfulness of our Lord and our complete inability to meet our needs outside of His help that we unreservedly cast our cares upon Him and receive of His bounty.  “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  It is not a matter of hiding our eyes from the very real violence, turmoil, hardships and distress plastered over every form of media.  It is purely a matter of exercising faith and trust in God.  “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers” (I Peter 3:12).  “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

        The author of Hebrews admonishes, “Let us therefore come boldly (draw near with liberty and assurance) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain (get hold of, attain) mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16, also Eph. 3:12).  All of these verses have far-reaching application to our spiritual walk with God, of course, but they are not limited to the spiritual – they also apply to a multitude of other areas in daily living.

        Paul addresses this broad application with these words: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6,7).  A clearer understanding is achieved through examining the Greek definitions of some of these ordinary words.  The word careful actually means worried, tormented, uneasy or apprehensive.  Supplication has to do with entreaty or petition, but also to request a right or benefit.  We as Christians have rights and benefits through Christ!

        Satan is a tormentor who is not waiting on the sidelines for those who are delivered into hell, but he attacks believers with doubts and fears.  We are to resist him (I Peter 5:7-9) and rest in the love and peace of God because perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18). Besides, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (I Tim. 1:7).

        Also, God serves notice that “the fearful, and unbelieving…shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire” (Rev. 21:8).

        We have all experienced apprehension and worry, but to petition because we have rights is something generally left for lawyers.  God spoke to Isaiah telling him to plead before the throne (Isa. 43:26).  Analyzing this verse shows that God is instructing us to litigate, contend and reason with Him, exercising our rights based upon the promises of His eternal Word by enumerating them to Him.  While this is not to say that we make demands of God, it is a much deeper form of prayer than asking that He please do something we request.  Actually, when we enumerate the promises of His Word, we are reminding ourselves, and strengthening our faith; thereby pleasing God and drawing His response.  Before God, the exercise of true, confident faith is a priceless treasure in the heart of the believer.  God’s love for us, His power for us, and His authority over evil is limitless when we trust in Him and do not limit His response by our unbelief.  Unbelief is an affront to God’s character!  Not trusting God to take care of us and our needs or concerns is unbelief.

        Jesus warned us in Matt. 24:4-31 about worldwide trouble prior to His second coming.  We are warned that rain and floods will come, and foundations will be tried (Matt. 7:24-27).  Jesus also asked if He would find faith on the earth when He returns (Luke 18:8).  King David spoke from experience when he expressed his confidence in God’s care.  The ninety-first chapter of Psalms lists several dreadful situations, with the assurance that the servants of the Lord are completely sheltered.  God is in total control, working to bring forth a body of faithful, loving, obedient believers who will honor Him and His Word.  We need only to have childlike faith and keep our hand in His.  Bible record throughout the history of mankind shows that God can and will literally move heaven and earth for the sake of His people.  This same Almighty God is our God!  So the choice lies before us: we can live in worry and stress, or we can live by faith in God who is worthy of our complete confidence and trust.  “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (I Peter 5:7).

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS MAN?

David Warriner, Jr., Ph.D.

        Note: The following are excerpts from Dr. Warriner’s excellent book about evolution, which has been written from the perspective of a Christian.  Dr. Warriner is a former Assistant Professor of Natural Science at Michigan State University and Professor of Physical Science at Eastern Kentucky University.  His complete book, What is Man?, is available at many Christian book stores.   Ed.

        In contemplating the question, “What is life?,” men have produced a diversity of conceptual schemes, which, because of the very nature of the problem, have far-reaching significance in their impact upon our culture, society, education, thinking, and behavior.  Let us address ourselves to a consideration of some of the religious and biological aspects of this question.  My encyclopedia comments that, “Most biologists believe that life is the result of natural physical and chemical reactions and processes, and believe that organisms recognized as living today evolved from nonliving matter as the result of such processes.”  You will note the use of the word “believe,” which expresses the very same idea as when the Christian says, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”  When it comes, then, to questions such as the nature of life, belief is exercised by both the mechanists and the theists.  The question is not, “Do you believe?” but rather, “What kind of beliefs do you hold as reasonable and valid?”

        I propose to you that what we believe about the ultimate nature of life, especially at the human level, whether it be simply a mechanistic, albeit marvelous, expression of properties of matter, or a personal and purposeful expression or extension of Divine existence and control, has very important implications for our view of social organization, moral and ethical values, and educational and political philosophy.  For, if man is not specially created in the image of God, then I believe that there is no absolute basis for a doctrine of the worth and dignity of the individual human being, on which, whether we realize and admit it or not, our historical, constitutional, republican American way of life was founded and has prospered.  If man be but a highly organized assembly of complicated molecules, then it is but a step to reason further that man himself is but a unit comprising a larger organism, namely, society or “the state.”  Hence, we find that one of the basic tenets of Communism is atheism.  As Christian people, we believe that one of the principle reasons for governments existing is to provide and preserve opportunities and freedoms for individuals; we do not believe that one of the principle reasons for people existing is to support governments.

        In I Tim. 2:3-5, the apostle Paul wrote that God would have all men to come unto the knowledge of the truth, which truth is expressly stated as the fact that there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  It is elsewhere stated in the Bible that God is not the author of confusion, and that Jesus Christ, who is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life,” is the creator of all things.  From this, as well as from other consideration, we can infer that there is no truth, whatever the area under consideration may be, that is not God’s truth.  It is exactly at this point that we Christians part company with our atheistic and mechanistic friends, for they, too, hold that one of the basic goals of education and of science is to lead men to knowledge of the truth.  The basic assumptions, or premises, with which we choose to start any reasoning process predetermine the kinds of conclusions at which we can arrive.  One of my basic assumptions is that the divinely revealed testimony of the Bible, while often difficult of interpretation, constitutes valid data when considering any problem to which such testimony is relevant.  I accord others the privilege of not making this assumption; conversely, I expect them to accord me the reciprocal privilege of making it.

        Not all the dogmatism and categorical statements in those areas where science and religion overlap, such as the question of the nature of life, come from the “well-intentioned but naïve religionists.”  It alarms me to read and hear very learned men of science waxing eloquent and, I might say, evangelistic, in their presentation of hypotheses and theories as though they were reporting indisputably-observed empirical facts.  For instance, on November 26, 1959, at the University of Chicago, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the world’s most prominent biologists, said, “In the evolutionary pattern of thought there is no longer need or room for the supernatural.  The earth was not created; it evolved.  So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it including our human selves, mind and soul, as well as brain and body.  So did religion.”  This statement, to say the least, does not reflect the dispassionate objectivity that is supposed to be characteristic of science.

        This totally mechanistic, atheistic form of evolutionary thinking, which is, indeed, held by many contemporary scientists, was not held by the originator of modern evolutionary thinking, Charles Darwin himself.  Again and again in his writings we read words to the effect that he would often feel compelled to look to a first Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man.  In fact, at the very end of the final chapter, “Recapitulation and Conclusion,” of his The Origin of Species, Darwin has stated, “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.”  Thus, it would appear that Darwin was something of what we call today a “theistic evolutionist.”  His followers have successively out-Darwined Darwin, and so we must recognize that there are many theories of evolution, not just one such theory.  Likewise, there are many theories of special creationism.

        It should be a matter of grave concern to Christian people that their children are being indoctrinated by countless biology texts and teachers who dogmatically assert that nowadays no informed and intelligent person doubts the theory of evolution.  These people are either pitifully ignorant or blatantly dishonest as regards the facts of who believes what.  The indoctrination is subtle, often through the power of suggestion of “loaded phraseology.”

        According to the Bible, I Cor. 2:14 and II Cor. 4:4, “natural man,” i.e., the non-Christian, is “blinded” by Satan, so that, regardless of how intellectual he may be, he is quite incapable of understanding, or of believing, even the simplest of spiritual truths.  Under the widespread and impressive influence of probably well-intentioned, but nonetheless spiritually blinded leaders, who are frequently to be found in the pulpits of our churches, at our legislative desks, on our judiciary benches, and in our university chairs, young people, especially those involved in the higher educative process, come to take peculiar delight in challenging authority.  Those of them who are really discerning should see that it is fair play to challenge the authority of those who challenge the authority of the Word of God.  Odious and insidious do I consider those pussyfooters who profess Christianity and are active in churches, singing in the choir or even teaching a Sunday School class, yet who talk and teach blandly about evolution and the ascent of man from lower forms of life.  They are surely those about whom Paul wrote to Timothy as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof,” and admonished, “from such turn away.”  They are undermining the intellectual and the moral fiber of our society, albeit they may well be doing so quite unwittingly.

        Even those Christians whose faith is well founded usually find it expedient to keep quiet on such matters, lest they come under the opprobrium of the popular epithets of bigotry, intolerance, or narrow-mindedness.  In this day when “tolerance” is the shibboleth, most Christians have seemed tacitly to relinquish their right to have their studied religious convictions tolerated.  A pretty paradox!  Professor Henry Morris, wrote a few years ago in BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, said, “Present trends, even in the last strongholds of evangelical Christianity, indicate a real danger that modern intellectual uniformitarianism and evolutionism, with all the ills that follow in their train, may soon dilute and dissipate the last vestiges of truly Biblical faith on earth.”

        Organisms are composed of cells, cells are composed of protoplasm, protoplasm is composed of molecules of specific substances, and molecules are composed of atoms (which are composed of unit electrical “particles”: electrons, protons and neutrons).  The atoms are united “chemically” into specific spatial configurations within the molecules which they make up.  The strict mechanist is forced to say, to believe, that all the characteristics of life, even those characteristics of the higher forms of life, such as morality, virtue, compassion, aesthetic sensitivity, creativity, conscience, instinctual behavior, etc. are all expressions of nothing more than organizations and tendencies of atoms and of the unit electrical particles of which the atoms are composed.  Aside from the fact that such an idea does not account for the origin and modus operandi of the atoms and electrons, it leads to the inference that such observables as heroism and mother love, the composing and performance of a Beethoven symphony, are but the expression of inherent properties, culminating aeons of interaction, of submicroscopic electrical particles.  Such an exercise of belief or faith should stagger the imagination of, to my way of thinking, any honest and intelligent person.

        One mechanistic biology textbook author has written, “But eventually chlorophyll appeared, endowing life with the ability to maintain itself wherever there was sunlight.”  Now chlorophyll – at least one form of it – has been reasonably well demonstrated to have the molecular formula C55H72O5N4MG.  If any chemist appeared before a meeting of a professional society and reported a “synthesis” of an organic substance in which 55 atoms of carbon, 72 atoms of hydrogen, 5 atoms of oxygen, 4 atoms of nitrogen, and 1 atom of magnesium just happened to come together under the right conditions of temperature and pressure so as to combine chemically, and this in a sufficient number of occurrences at the same time and place so as to exist in sufficient amounts to be able to function as part of some cellular unit, I am willing to wager that his scientific integrity would be questioned.

        It is a fundamental principle of biology that all life comes from life.  It has been demonstrated that it is a particular constituent of protoplasm, called “chromatin,” which is found within a particular part of the living cell, called the “nucleus,” which determines whether the fertilized egg will develop into a man, a guppy, a rhinoceros, a pine tree, or a petunia.  If a man, it determines his sex, eye color, body build, and countless thousands of other inherited traits.  A long series of studies of different and difficult chemical analyses has indicated that four major molecules comprise this chromatin, of which one called “DNA” is the key molecule, whose structure or organization confers hereditary uniqueness on the cell containing it and, hence, upon the individual composed, if an adult male human being, of some sixty thousand billion such cells.  What is DNA?  It is an enormous molecule made up of a number of smaller molecules linked together in a configuration resembling a sort of “double spiral staircase,” with possibly thousands of turns.  The smaller component molecules are like the “steps” and “banisters” to the staircase and can be arranged in any order, giving almost infinite variety to such molecules.  It is currently believed by many geneticists that whatever arrangement prevails in the DNA of the nucleus of a cell constitutes “coded information” much as did the pits in a DVD, which has meaning to the cell and tells it what to do and when to do it.  The crucial question is, “How can all the information necessary for the heredity, growth, development, and functioning of an organism be determined by the geometrical arrangement of elemental units of matter – atoms?”  As in the previously cited example of chlorophyll, the answer to this question must necessarily be either pantheistic or theistic; there is no other possibility.

        “Evolution” as an idea had its origin with philosophers, not with biologists.  Today, in its content, outreach, and implications, “evolution” qualifies much better as “religion” than as true “science.”  Indeed, for the atheist there can be no alternative to evolution.  Material bearing on these ideas follows.

        Evolution is the idea, philosophy, or doctrine that all forms of life, both living and extinct, have proceeded from some one, or few, original form(s) by sequences of cumulative changes involving mechanisms of specialization, differentiation, and adaptation to environment, of structure and function.  Some theories propose that the original life forms spontaneously originated; others suppose that they were “created” by some unspecified external force. The postulated changes may be conceived as purely mechanical, statistically unavoidable outworkings over conveniently vast amounts of time, of properties somehow inherent in the atoms of matter, or as a necessary means exercised by some unknown and unknowable deity.

        If nothing else has evolved, certainly evolutionary theories have: there has been considerable diversity in the assembling of postulates, and in the degrees of acceptability attached to them.  It is certainly true that evolutionary thinking is a task to which some of our finest minds have seriously addressed themselves.

        While much as been said about the fitness of the individual for the environment, only recently has much come to be said about the fitness of the environment for life.  Relatively simple life forms seem better able to survive under adverse environmental conditions than do higher life forms.  That being the case, what incentive is there to evolve?  Life forms that have become extinct because of their alleged inability to cope with their environment might have done better if they had remained in an ancestral form, operating upon the philosophy of St. Paul, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

        The fact that some life forms living today seem to have survived unchanged for millions of years seems odd to the dispassionate observer.  Numerous citations of seeming evolutionary disadvantages exist, such as birds not having teeth: a gizzard full of sand and grit is hardly a boon to flying.  Obligate or symbiotic relationships such as that between the yucca plant and the yucca moth, neither of which could survive without the other, make utterly fantastic demands upon the concept of co-evolution.  For organisms that reproduce sexually, for them to be able to copulate successfully and thus perpetuate themselves, evolution of male and female forms would consistently have had to occur at the same rate and in the same geographical location.

        Christians believe that man’s life on earth is no accident; it is not the product of chance, of blind, impersonal forces operating in their own power.  Man’s life is the planned and purposeful work of God the Father through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Man was placed on earth to worship and glorify God, to learn about God and His manifestations, to grow in moral and spiritual stature, to have dominion over the earth (science being one means to that end), and to be a steward of the material possessions which God entrusts to him.  Living by faith, we are to be the instruments by which the Holy Spirit of God works in the world.  Life is a priceless gift that should never be wasted.  This kind of life depends upon each individual’s becoming rightly related to God by exercise of personal faith in the life and work of Jesus Christ: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (I John 5:12).

 

 

 

 

THE HARVEST

Curtis Dickinson

        God works at all times toward the accomplishment of His purposes, none of which will fail, and all of which are by Jesus Christ.  Of these, the greatest one revealed to us is His eternal purpose in the Gospel that “now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10-11).

        History is not a mere tracing of happenstance, nor will man simply drift on forever.  God’s purpose will ultimately be fulfilled, and every person will finally reach a distinct destiny at God’s great harvest.

        The seed is God’s truth, and it has been sown ever since He first gave instructions to Adam and Eve.  It is sown everywhere, often rejected out of hand, sometimes given lip service even though unheeded, many times received with enthusiasm but later rejected when its real impact is realized.  Sometimes it takes root and grows to produce the kind of fruit God is looking for in the day of harvest.

        We live in the impatient age.  No one wants to wait until harvest time.  We are accustomed to fast food, speedy service, immediate results, and nothing seems to be worth waiting for.

        Young people want to enjoy everything they see their parents enjoying, but they don’t want to wait 30 years and spend that much time in sacrifice and sowing in order to reap the kind of harvest they visualize they deserve.  Believers often fall for the quick fix, seeking some means by which they may attain full Christian maturity and godliness without having to go through the intermediate steps of learning, suffering, and growing.

        It is the law of the harvest that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.  For he that sows unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Gal. 6:7,8).  The application is seen everywhere: minds crippled, bodies impaired, children neglected and abused, nations reeling in chaos, crime and hopelessness!

        “But he that sows unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.”  To reap a good harvest you must sow, water and cultivate.  Jesus said we must work, strive, learn, grow, sacrifice and obey.  The reward will be great.

        God’s harvest doesn’t come until the last day.  It is then that He will gather the wheat into the garner.  It is not until then that the righteous shall shine as the stars when they are transformed into the very likeness of Jesus Christ with bodies that are powerful, glorious, eternal, and spiritual (I Cor. 15:43-44).  It is after the harvest that we shall all know who the sons of God are, “for the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:18).  Already we know this; the harvest is worth waiting for.

        With the harvest comes house cleaning.  “And He will thoroughly cleanse His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the garner, but the chaff He will burn up with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).  While the chaff serves its purpose during the production of the wheat, once the grain is harvested the chaff is to be destroyed.  Not recycled – but eliminated.  The chaff are all those who have refused to repent and believe the Gospel of Christ (Mark 1:15).  Hence, they stand in rebellion against God, serve no continuing purpose according to God’s revelation, and therefore are to be put to death.  Not tortured forever, but dead forever.  The Apostle Peter addressed those of his day – and of ours – who insist there will be no such thing as a harvest day.  He described them as “walking after their own lust” and saying, “where is the promise of His coming?  For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Peter 3:3-4).  This is the fundamental creed of the evolutionists, that “things continue” not having any definite beginning and with no end in sight.  With such a view, there is no purpose for the creation, for the world, nor for life.  But they forget, says Peter, that the world was once destroyed by water.  And by the same word of God, it will be destroyed again by fire, “the earth being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:7,10).

        In the meantime there is sowing to be done.  Only we must be sure that it is God’s seed, the word of God, the truth which makes men free.  We are to sow everywhere.  Let it fall on all kinds of ground, not sparingly; there is no shortage of seed.

        When the harvest comes the results will be decisive and final: the wheat into the garner and the chaff into the fire.

        Ours is to work toward a good harvest.

 

 

 

 

SISTER HELEN WALTON

(August 19, 1923 – December 13, 2016)

Picture of Sister Helen Walton

        We at People of the Living God are sad to announce the passing of Sister Helen Lillian Walton. Sister Helen died on December 13, 2016, at N.H.C. Health Care Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. Sister Helen was 93 years old and served the Lord all of her life. She was converted in her early teens and dedicated her life to the service of God. She was the wife of former Pastor Randall Rex Walton who preceded her in death by three years. Sister Helen served the Lord as a pastor’s wife, homemaker and school teacher. Sister Helen lived alone after the passing of her husband in January 2014 until the middle of August 2016, at which time she developed some health problems that sent her to the hospital. She remained hospitalized for three weeks and then transferred to N.H.C. Health Care Center where she received therapy. However, she did not respond to the therapy and grew weaker as the weeks passed. She will be missed by her family, the church, and all those who knew her. The passing of those who know Jesus Christ is always a comfort for the family and, therefore, we rejoice with her that she has run her course and gained her place in God’s kingdom.