People of The Living God

Matthew 28:1

 

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February 2017



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

WORLD EVENTS REVEALING SPIRITUAL CONDITIONS

Alfred King

        I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t speak about spiritual things and give warnings through natural events that transpire all around us.  This is certainly true in scripture, for we understand that God’s deliverance for the children of Israel from Egypt is a physical picture of one’s conversion to Christ.  It is common to hear ministers or authors refer to salvation where man has been enslaved to sin and reaping the consequences of sin until they cry out to God for deliverance just as Israel did when under the slavery of the Egyptians.  God hears and responds to the cry of the sincere and miraculously delivers them, setting them on a different path.  It is at that time that a sinner who is saved is delivered from the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  All through scripture there are spiritual lessons to be learned from the events recorded and they are specifically for those who would follow after (particularly for those under the New Covenant).  Paul confirms this very truth in I Cor. 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  The Lord Jesus referred to the record of Noah and Lot in His teaching, as physical examples of spiritual conditions which will exist prior to His return.  Every time one reads through the Bible, new lessons are learned as the Holy Spirit opens the word afresh.  It appears then, that events which occur today in our nation and in the world also speak to those who have ears to hear.  May God give us understanding of what is transpiring in the spiritual world by events that are happening in our physical world.

        Listening to the many news stories and laboring to bring some rationale to the chaos which is ever growing in our dysfunctional world, brings me to the place where I have to ask God what He is saying through it all.  In contemplating the irrationality of so many of our political leaders’ positions in which they leave America vulnerable to her enemies, all for the sake of political expediency and political correctness, is baffling to say the least.  But while this unreasonableness is easy to see and even to be expected in a world where sin abounds, it still comes as a surprise when the same types of foolishness shows up in our churches.  Should not these events occurring in our secular world speak to the church, warning us to beware lest the same absurd mentality find entrance into our doors?  Do they not cry out that we, who call ourselves “Christians”, must beware lest these illogical ideologies, this distorted mindset creep into our midst?  Should they not be warning signs, red flags making us aware of their deceits as well as their evil propensities, alerting Christians to guard lest the same humanistic philosophies slip into our churches?  Are they not a warning from God that the church is facing some similar dangers in her ranks?  We must recognize that the foolishness so prevalent in our society receives its inspiration from hell.  As our political leaders continue to open the door for those who hate America to enter her borders, the question we must ask ourselves is: Do we find the same thing in our churches?  Is the church likewise opening her doors, not only for sin to enter but for sin to sit comfortably in her pews?  Sin is an enemy of God and of the church.  Allowing sin to sit unchecked and to germinate in the midst of the church with the cry of “repent” void from many of our pulpits is to allow God’s enemy and the church’s to systematically destroy her.  The church will become as the Laodicean Church of Revelation three.  Many pastors no longer cry out against sin and the need for repentance.  Rather, they seem to cater to the politically correct crowd, afraid of hurting someone’s feelings.  The abuse of the command “judge not” has shoved “repentance” out of the church’s vocabulary.  Jesus’ warning, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3) seems no longer to be relevant in modern Christendom.  Just as America’s populace is blind to the threat of Islamic radicalism and Sharia Law to their very culture and their national security, so the church is blind to the fact that the enemy of their souls is subtly and deceptively slipping into what once was the house of God.  And just like America, so many in the church are blind to it and to the final destruction it will bring.

God Spoke On September 11, 2001

        When the two World Trade Centers were destroyed along with the partial destruction of the Pentagon and the foiled plan for United Airlines, Flight 93, Americans became serious for a few weeks afterwards.  Church attendance was up and people began to turn toward God.  Unfortunately, it was short lived.  God was speaking to America and warning her not only of her national vulnerability but, more importantly, of her departure from her Christian roots and God’s judgment which rests upon her.  God’s word will not return unto Him void (Isa. 55:11).  The short-termed “return to God” does not in any way make void God’s word.  If God was speaking through the events of 9/11, then certain repercussions will follow.  Sadly and disappointingly the conditions in America and in the world have grown worse over the past 15 years, and a new American president will not be able to solve the myriad of problems she now faces.  Scripture says in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  This is a wonderful promise!  However, if we consider the flip side of this divine promise, “if God be (not) for us” it infers that God removes His protecting hand from us and we are open and vulnerable to our enemies.  This is true as a nation and as the church.  God spoke to America on 9/11 and, according to scripture, it has accomplished something.  In America’s case, it seems to have hardened her and she remains determined to travel the road that leads to destruction.  And yet, the real questions are: How will the church respond?  How will you and I respond?

Will The Church Make The Proper Response?

        According to scripture, Jesus lived, died and was resurrected to save man from sin, give him power over all evil, and provide him with eternal life.  In regard to a Christian’s warfare, consider the following verses: Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give unto you (believers, the church) power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Matt. 18:18-19, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye (believers, the church) shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, That if two of you (believers) shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”  John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”  John 16:11, “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”

        These are just a few verses that show the power Jesus Christ provided for His church.  This power is given so that each individual who has been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ can live a victorious life.  It does not mean that he lives a life free of problems or even free from persecutions but he can live a life in communion with God and have peace and joy within no matter how trying a situation in which he may find himself.  The power and authority Jesus gave to His church also involves power over men in government and leaders of nations.  Consider Psalm 149:6-9, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints.  Praise ye the Lord.”  How many in the church today believe this scripture?  Probably many will say they believe it to be true, so the real question is: Where are those who believed it and practiced it when our Supreme Court decided to do away with the Biblical definition of marriage?  Where are the believers who understand this power experientially when political leaders openly and flagrantly condemn Christians and the laws of God written in the book we treasure as God’s word?  Where are the prayer warriors who realize that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12)?  The battle we face as Christians is not a battle against who is to be the next president or even who will be appointed to the Supreme Court, the battle we face is a spiritual battle and must be fought with spiritual weapons by those who understand spiritual things.  “For to be carnally minded is death, but to spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).  The political leaders we have today are too often influenced by evil spirits and, therefore, must be wrestled against in the spirit realm.

Spiritual Warfare

        As we are seeing more and more evil spirit activity in our society let’s consider some of the signs that expose this activity.  An individual becomes a candidate or a target for evil spirits when he begins violating basic laws of right and wrong, which are instilled within his heart.  Read what Paul wrote in Romans 2:14-15a, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts.”  Paul clearly asserts that even sinners have a certain understanding of right and wrong.  As a person continually rejects this inner law, the inner knowledge, by repeatedly violating what we call his “conscience”, he opens himself up to inspiration from evil spirits.  He begins to receive motivation and encouragement to violate this inner law more and more and to do things he would not normally do.  His conscience becomes seared or calloused to evil.  The more he submits to the evil influence, the more he surrenders himself to the control of the evil spirit attempting to possess him.  Over time the evil spirit gains more and more control of his actions.  How many Muslims who grew up being indoctrinated with the evil of hatred and murder so that their goal in life was to kill a group of people, have confessed that they knew intuitively that what they were planning on doing was wrong?  But because of their evil teaching and mindset, they violated that inner voice and committed the crime.  Many, after hearing the Gospel, confessed that they knew what they had planned to do was wrong.  As one rejects that inner voice, he will be encouraged by spirits of hell to go deeper into sin and eventually to commit some heinous act.  These acts are not only influenced by evil but the person over time comes to the place where he is manipulated and eventually he will be possessed.

        However, we don’t need to look just at terrorists to see this working, for we can look into our own neighborhoods.  We have the recent case in Chicago where four young people kidnapped a man with “schizophrenia and attention-deficit disorder”, beating and torturing him in various ways.  Cook County Circuit Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil, speaking to the four young criminals asked, “where was your sense of decency?”  Once one starts down the road in rejecting the voice of their conscience, they lose all “sense of decency.”  One of the obvious signs that evil spirits were involved in this crime is its senselessness.  Evil spirits cause men to behave stupidly.  Not only did these four youths behave irrationally in their crime, they posted some of their devilish acts on social media.  This is stupidity on top of stupidity.

        The hatred toward our law officers and the actions produced from that hatred by so many people in our land today is another sign of evil spirit activity.  Evil spirits always resist authorities.  Scripture commands us to “Submit to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates.”  As long as those in leadership do not attempt to force us as Christians to violate God’s word, we are to honor and obey them.  Evil spirits encourage just the opposite.  Those, who allow hatred toward law and the officers who uphold law, begin to open themselves up to great evil.  That is why they can destroy businesses, property, loot, vandalize, burn vehicles, murder and all the other atrocities that accompany these riots against police.  The hatred which is in their hearts is inspired by the forces of hell.  (This is not to say that all law officials are exempt from evil themselves, but the majority are patrolling our streets and neighborhoods to keep us safe.)

        The influence of evil spirits is not limited to those who are open in their actions, for many hide their evil by committing their crime behind closed doors.  There are those in high places who, like the Pharisees, look “clean on the outside but inwardly are full of ravening and wickedness” (Luke 11:39).  How can a man with any conscience at all take a young child and molest them?  This is abnormal, wicked beyond imagination, and totally void of any decency or honor.  When things of this nature (sexual transgressions) are indulged in, the person involved has lost control of his moral faculties.  Sins of fornication and adultery with the opposite sex are sins which can be inspired of hell but can also be a work of the flesh, for we are naturally attracted to the opposite sex.  However, sexual sins that are abnormal, such as homosexuality, bestiality, pornography, pedophilia, and the list could go on, are inspired by evil spirits.  These activities are a sign of evil influence for they are abnormal and irrational.  One has to go outside the realm of what is morally decent, logical and rational in order to involve himself in such activities.  However, once one branches out into this vast land of iniquity, he is certain to receive inspiration from evil spirits.  Those spirits will cause him to do things that he never thought he could ever do.  Why?  Because he is either being manipulated or becoming possessed and driven by an evil spirit which has gained the power to control him.  How can he escape?  There is one way and that is through Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”  He then instructed His disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, the good news, proclaiming deliverance through Jesus Christ from every sin, every evil force, and every spirit of hell.  There is freedom in Jesus Christ and this freedom means that those in bondage can be liberated and given the ability and strength through Christ to walk in holiness and righteousness all their days of their lives.

        God has promised to come for a glorious church.  He is coming for a victorious church.  Many who will be a part of this glorious church will be those who, through Jesus Christ, have overcome the evil spirits that once controlled them.  This church will be His bride and His bride will be clothed in spotless garments, clean and white.  God will have a church in the days just prior to His return which have overcome all enemies just as Jesus did, for this church will be like Him.  In the book of Revelation, we are told eight times of the blessings which are reserved for those who overcome.  The overcomers inherit the Kingdom of God.  It is time for the church to shake herself from sleep, arise and sit down in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  It is time for her to step out upon God’s promises and walk in the authority, power and victory to which she has been called.  It is time for the church to “hear what the Spirit is saying.”  May God awaken His church and cause her to shake herself from the dust and take her place as the true bride of Christ.

 

 

 

 

SAVED…REALLY?!

Dennis Davis

        God made the physical earth with its wonders and powerful works and He added to His creation obstacles, dangers such as germs, lions, tigers, storms, earthquakes, etc.  To the world (people) He has added evil* (Isa. 45:7) while, at the same time, the spoken word.

        The Father’s purpose for the creation is to bring a number of souls to Himself.  He has made this system (the present world) for many, but the world to come for a few.  Therefore, we are not in some kind of game in life but in a deadly serious situation, for how we respond in this life affects what happens to us eternally.

        A widely-known scripture that sums up the final test results for immortality is found in Matt. 22:14 – “Many are called but few are chosen.”  There are a number of corroborating scriptures, including some found in the 1611 King James Apocrypha portion of the Bible in Second Esdras (Ezra).  For example: Many are created but few shall be saved – the saved can be compared to the amount of gold on the earth, and the lost, to the amount of mold (dirt).  The saved are compared to the seed and the lost to the whole field, and God will keep only one grape of the cluster for Himself.

        This kind of knowledge should be extremely sobering to us.  Look!  We are warned of a very narrow gate to salvation – we can be spewed out, we can be told to depart, therefore, we had better work out our soul’s salvation in fear and trembling.  There will be condemnation, gnashing of the teeth, burning as hell has enlarged itself (Isa. 5:14).

        Some may ask, “What then about Jesus saying His yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matt. 11:30)?  One finds this is perfectly true as long as a person goes in the same direction as Jesus (His words and leading).  You cannot pull against the yoke.

        But in response, another question could be asked, “what about the free easy grace salvation?”  The answer lies in the definition of grace.  Strong’s concordance defines grace as, “The Divine (Holy Ghost’s) influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life”, or grace of speech.  That is – God working in us ultimately brings salvation.

        What then would be sound advice to a Christian?  We can look to a success story related by James (James 2:23,24) that Abraham was a friend of God.  Here is where God’s creation of the spoken word comes into play.  How do we become a friend of God?  Besides being filled and led by the Holy Ghost, it is being “sold out” to Christ, Christians doing what Jesus has said and commanded as evidenced by their works.  There is a secret given in Proverbs 22:11, “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the King (Jesus) shall be his friend.”

        It cannot be emphasized enough as to the importance of what we do and even by what we say (helped by grace).  A little known, or at least an unpopular, scripture found in Matt. 12:36,37 says, “But I (Jesus) say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

        Think of this: Would you choose to live in eternity with a complainer, a false witness, a gossiper, etc.?  Or with those exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22 and Eph. 5:9)?

        Therefore, let us concentrate on valuable and fitly spoken words so that we can say, “The Lord is my God.”

*Editor’s note: God did not, nor does He create evil in the same sense as He created the universe, the earth and man.  When Isaiah records God’s words in chapter 45 and verse 7,

        “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,” He is referring to His divine and everlasting law.  God cannot sin nor do evil.  Sin entered first into heaven through Lucifer.  Lucifer broke God’s law and thereby allowed evil to be created.  Read carefully the following scriptures. 

        Isa 14:12-15 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

        Ezek 28:12-17 “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.  Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.  By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.”

        Most Bible scholars and teachers agree that these two portions of scripture are prophetically speaking of Satan.  It was Lucifer (Satan) who was once in heaven and it was when he broke God’s law by determining to set his throne above God’s, that sin (evil) was created.  Jesus stated in John 8:44 that the devil was “a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth”.  It is clear, then, that the devil, Satan, or Lucifer is the father of evil and of sin.  He did not abide in truth (walking in the divine order) and therefore allowed himself to be inflated with pride, which then brought about sin and his own demise.

        It is important that, as Christians, we understand this point, for if God created evil, it would make Him an accomplice to sin, which is absolutely impossible.  God is holy and righteous and never would contribute to or compromise with evil.

 

 

 

 

THE REAL MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH

Mary Woodard

        While we can heartily agree that it is needful, we wonder if it is the real ministry of the Church (the born-again body of believers) to fight against the social ills of the day.  Is this not TREATING SYMPTOMS rather than curing ills?

        A search of the Scriptures would indicate that the real mission of the Church is to expound the Scriptures and preach the life-changing gospel.  It is said of Jesus that He “went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23).  His message was “repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

        Jesus told the disciples to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and it is said that “they went forth, and preached every where” (vs. 20).

        It is also said of the apostle Paul that “he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18).  He said, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (I Cor. 9:16)  He told Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim. 4:2).

        Is this not the Great Commission that has come down to the Church through the ages?  Jesus and the apostles recognized well the sins and the needs of the society in which they lived.  Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), and Paul was stirred in his spirit over the idolatry of the city of Athens (Acts 17:16).  Yet, they did not fight against these sins of society.  They knew there was only one way to change society, and that is to change the members of society by the preaching of the gospel.  “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Cor. 1:21).

        Abortion is not the issue.  Neither are drugs, alcohol, immorality, pornography, sexual perversion, and the rest.  The real issue is the depravity of the human heart.  Only a change in the nature of man will effect a change in his character and a corresponding change in his actions.  We have to have our desires changed so that we will not want to do these things, but rather will want to do the will of God.

        Of course, we, as Christians, hate sin and its consequences, but let us not be sidetracked from our real mission.  Let us get on with the business for which Christ died, and that is the salvation of the lost.  We may not be able to change society as a whole, but we can make a difference in our generation and in future generations by reaching as many as possible, individually and collectively, through the spreading of the Word of God.

 

 

 

 

A CURE FOR FEAR

Curtis Dickinson

        Every newscast and every morning newspaper reminds us of the tragedies and potential catastrophes which could spell disaster to the nation and horror to one’s life. It would take pages just to list all the problems and calamities that are mounting up to create a paralyzing aura of fear throughout the world.

        There are plenty of people evil enough to use these fears to manipulate us, if we let them.  In World War II the politicians used the fear technique to get a president elected for three and four terms, saying, “Don’t change horses in the middle of the stream.”  It is constantly used for the purpose of trying to pass repressive legislation such as gun control.  Humanists use the fear of AIDS to get so-called sex-education and sex clinics in public schools.

        Some evangelists and writers build upon these fears to sell books on fantastic and absurd interpretations of prophecy.  Financial advisors use it to sell their newsletters and investment deals.

        But one of the worst results is the effect fear has on those who profess faith in Christ.  James G. Knox asks, “Are we now peopled by the impotent and fearful, the faithless and the benign, wimps living out meaningless lives, waiting in fear for the next turn of the planet and the next directive from ‘the system’?” (Pamphlet: “Christian Disunity”)

        While the propaganda on TV, in the movies and in print blasphemes the name of Christ, while the antichrists ADL and ACLU keep up the pressure to silence the Christian witness, and while the moral climate of our nation is deliberately lowered for the sake of “equality” and “equal rights,” many Christians cower in silence or compromise the faith.

        To live in fear of men is to be a slave to men.  To live in fear of the future is to be an unbeliever.  The future is in God’s hands, and so are His people.

        “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

        Jesus said that we are not to worry and be anxious because He will see that our true needs are met and that we will be recompensed for every sacrifice (Matt. 6:33,4,18).  To continue in fear reveals a degree of unbelief, therefore God declares, “He that overcometh shall inherit these things (the New Creation); and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.  But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:7-8).  Note that the fearful and unbelieving head the list of those to suffer the second death.  One is fearful because he doesn’t actually trust God to keep His word in giving only good gifts or because in his heart he doesn’t actually love God and is aware that God knows it.  Either case precludes a genuine fellowship with God.

        The common method of tackling fear is to build walls of earthly security by accumulating wealth or investing in insurance and retirement programs.  But the bankers and Wall Street brokers probably are among the most worried people in the world.  Jesus warned against relying on earthly treasures which, He said, thieves can steal.

        The cure for fear is found in putting our trust in that which cannot be taken from us against our will.  Riches can be lost or stolen.  Locks can be broken and secrets discovered.  Positions can be undermined, and even one’s good name can be wrongfully destroyed.  As long as we rely on any temporal power, including our own, or any human device for security or happiness, we will be subject to fear.  It is only when we set our goal on that which is eternal and rest our hope and joy in that which cannot be taken from us against our will that we can honestly say, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Psalm 23).

        I am not suggesting that one abandon earthly concerns and financial responsibility.  Godliness generates godly concern for all God’s creation, and a commitment to Christ means commitment to responsible citizenship, to righteousness and justice everywhere.  But, after one has acted in good faith in keeping with Christ’s commands, there is no place for worry and fear about the outcome.  It is a matter of trust.  If we trust Christ to save us from sin and death as the gospel proclaims, if we trust Him to raise us from death to immortality as He promised, then we also trust Him in all daily affairs, remembering His words, “All power is given unto me in heaven and earth” (Matt. 28:18).

        Anxious and fearful about food and clothing?  “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto thee.”  Can we believe that?  It is the promise of Jesus.  Trust Him.

        World events are scary.  Evil is everywhere and getting worse.  But the media leaves out the most important fact, that ultimate control is in God’s hands, and the outcome of events will be far different from that planned by rebellious man.  The most stabilizing factor is the knowledge that God’s eternal purpose will be accomplished, no matter how the world opposes Him, or God is not God.  This is not something which requires profound and sophisticated research; what it does require is faith.  The Bible is filled with examples of such faith.  Life was every bit as dangerous in Abraham’s time as it is today.  Because he “believed God,” he acted in diametric opposition to the world’s ways and proved that God is faithful.  Paul is one who willingly gave up everything – his grand position, his wealth, even his promising career – in order to serve Christ.  In prison, and in chains, not knowing whether or not the dawn would bring his execution, he sang God’s praises.  Even when the Jews declared their determination to kill him, he continued his preaching, the very thing for which they threatened him.  When it appeared that his circumstances could not be worse, he admonished the disciples to have no anxiety but to rejoice.  He declared, “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline” (II Tim. 1:7).  He said, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).  He placed little value on that which could be taken from him against his will, therefore he did not fear its loss.

        It is a highly significant commentary on our present religious society that, while all admire Abraham and Paul, anyone who seriously seeks to live by their kind of faith is considered a fanatic or even a fool.

        What people want is to have the benefits of “faith” – forgiveness, eternal life and God’s daily support – while hanging on to the apparent support and benefits offered by man.  It is like the fellow, in the early days of the airplane, who said he would be glad to fly if he could just keep one foot on the ground.  It is the proven insecurity of the world and its offerings that provides a million reasons to fear, and only when we recognize such security as false will we be able to rest fully in the hands of God where fear cannot abide.

        To be free of fear does not mean we can be free of problems, obstacles and suffering.  These are promised to the faithful disciple.  The more we do the Lord’s will the more we are at odds with the world and those who are enemies of Christ.  The warfare is always there, but we know who will win the victory, therefore we need not fear.  Tribulation and affliction are the means by which we are purified, molded and tempered to be what God desires.  To reject the pain is also to reject the growth and the joy of coming into harmony with the Creator.

        Contrary to what many believe, Christ does not offer a life of what the world calls happiness and success.  His kind of happiness is almost unrecognizable to the world.  “Happy are the poor in spirit…Happy are those who mourn…Happy are they who have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake.”  His happiness goes deeper, far below the surface, down below the pain, a happiness few seek.  Nevertheless, it is the real joy and peace that enables one to live without anxiety and fear and fills one with a deep sense of Thanksgiving and praise.  God gives only good things.

 

 

 

 

A PREACHER WITHOUT A BIBLE

Vance Havner

        I started out back in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I did not know much. I have not learned a lot since, but I knew precious little in those days.  However, I believed the Bible.  I just took it and read it as it came.  I started in Genesis and was having a great time, taking promises right and left, just like a boy picking apples off a tree in an orchard.  One day I was met by one of these Bible scholars and was told that those promises were not for me, that they were for the Jew.  Well, that discouraged me a little bit, but I said, “I believe I will give it another try.”

        So I moved over into the New Testament and started down through Matthew, claiming promises right and left.  Again I was interrupted and duly notified that those promises were all for the Kingdom age, not for me.  I had never heard of the Kingdom age before, but since those things were not for me, I did not want to take them.

        So I moved over into the Acts of the Apostles and was daring to claim some, not all the blessings that flowed from Pentecost.  Once again I was interrupted and told that it was a transitional period, that we were not to press those promises too literally.

        Well, that left me, by and by, with nothing but the Epistles and Revelation, and most of the Revelation was for the future.  By the time I had made allowances between groups and marginal references, and tried to look at the Bible through the spectacles of a dozen disagreeing expositors, bless your heart, I was afraid to put down my foot on any verse for fear some scholar would come along like a policeman and order me off private property and tell me, “This verse is not for you.  Get going, Brother, somewhere else.”

        Finally, I said, “Lord, I have heard of a man without a country.  If this keeps up, I am going to be a preacher without a Bible.  If you will give me a verse I can stand on, I will have to have it in a hurry, because they are just about to take it away from me.”  I got down to that one, “Let God be true, but every man a liar,” and I have been standing on that one ever since!

        All the promises of God are “yea” and “Amen” in Christ.  Brother, I tell you I believe it is all for me, and I enjoy it.  We need just the child-like enjoyment of the Word of God.  Today, we have gotten to the place where people are taking the Bible apart and then are trying to put it back together, analyzing it, dissecting it – not enjoying it.  There needs to be a childlike enjoyment of God’s Word and a sweetheart love for Jesus.

                                                        From The Researcher

 

 

 

 

THE REFINER’S FIRE

Harold Scullin

        “Behold, I send my messenger, and He shall prepare the way before me…but who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness” (Mal. 3:1-3)

        “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and I will try them (prove them, test them) as gold is tried: and they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:9).

        Let us analyze what we have read: “I will send my messenger and He shall prepare the way before me.”  In Matt. 11:7-11, Mark 1:2-8, and Luke 7:24-29, Jesus refers to John the Baptist as the messenger.

        The Holy Spirit is seeking and searching to find a people who will accept the message that Jesus preached.  “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.  And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy, and He healed them” (Matt. 4:23,24).  He came to Nazareth and went into the synagogue and He read from the book of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:16-18).

        The Gospel of the kingdom is that the Kingdom of God is present, that it is among men, they can enter into it, they can partake of its supernatural blessings.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”  To be born into the Kingdom is an experience that is supernatural, a work of the Holy Spirit.  It is not joining a church or becoming a member of some denomination.  It is entirely a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  We ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and to wash and cleanse us in His precious blood that was shed on Calvary, and to come into our hearts.  As a result “we are delivered from the powers of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear son” (Col. 1:13).  Down through the centuries of time, men have compromised the Word of God, the teachings of Jesus.  In so doing, they have actually “shut up” the Kingdom of God.  They will not enter in themselves, neither will they suffer, or permit, others who desire to enter or go in (Matt. 23:13).

        As a result, there is little or no knowledge concerning the Kingdom of God today.  There is much religion and profession of God in our time, but the Holy Spirit of God is not in it.  Isaiah stated “that the truth is fallen into the street and equity cannot enter” (Isa. 59:19). The precious Word of God, the glorious truths of the Kingdom which He desires to share with men, has been cast down to the level of the gutter; men trample on them, refuse the teachings of the Kingdom and also refuse to obey its precepts.

        How different it was in the days of Samuel the prophet, “he did not let one of His (the Word of God) fall to the ground” (I Sam. 3:19).  May the Holy Spirit raise up some Samuels in our time.

        We not only read that He would send messengers and prepare the way, but the question was asked, “Who may abide the day of his coming and who shall stand when He appeareth?  The answer to that question will be determined by those who will permit themselves to be refined, tried, tested, and purified as silver and gold.  Recall He is “like fuller’s soap.”  This is a very special cleansing agent.  It has to do with washing by stomping with your feet and with the use of lye as the cleansing agent.  Who will permit the Holy Spirit to refine and cleanse them?

        Tremendous heat is required to refine gold and silver.  According to a science book, a temperature of approximately 629 degrees is required to melt silver and approximately 974 degrees to melt gold; that is hot!  The analogy between the refining of the sons of Levi and the silver and gold, implies enormous pressure; terrific heat will be necessary to cleanse, purify, purge, sanctify, and refine the sons of Levi.

        The prophet Malachi asked the question, “Who will be able to stand when He appeareth?”  Who can abide (endure) such drastic measures as will be necessary to complete the process of refining the sons of Levi.

        Isaiah, the prophet of God, must have understood about this divine unusual process of purging and refining, for he wrote in Isaiah 24:5,6, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.  Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and FEW MEN LEFT.”

        This process of refinement and cleansing will include the complete subjection of the human will to the will of Jesus Christ.  Jesus stated in Matt. 16:24 and in Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, daily and follow me.”  John the Baptist said in John 3:30, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  That is the Scriptural pattern for each one of us.  Paul testified that “I die daily.”  “If a man love me, he will keep (obey) my words: and my father will love him and we will come and make our abode in him” (John 12:21).  “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

        Complete submission to the Lord Jesus is an absolute requisite to attain to the state of the loss of the “I” identity.  Your flesh will want to rebel, give up, run from the call of God – anything but surrender the “I”.  You will make mistakes, you will fail at times, you will come short, but always remember, provision has been made for our failures. “In that day there shall be a fountain open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1).  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (I John 1:7).  Don’t give up!  Seek the Lord, be honest with Him in your requests.  “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).  When your mind is surrendered to Jesus, you understand His great heart of Love for you; you remember that He promised that “He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” (I Cor. 10:13).  When Jesus is this close and this intimate, it is not hard to say, yes, and surrender to Him.

        The Lord Jesus has given unto His servants “power and authority over all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19).  He has supplied us with the keys to the Kingdom of God, that “whatsoever we bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever we loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19).  Declare, shout, testify to the victory we have in the Lord.  “And they overcame him (the devil) by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:10).

        In Rev. 3:20, there is a promise that every child of God can claim for themselves.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come unto Him and will sup with him and he with me.”  A Greek translation reads, “I will make him to share in my most intimate relationship.”  The close presence of the Lord will be a very great strength to you in your conflict.

        One other thought in connection with this subject.

        In Zechariah 13:9 we quoted, “And I will bring the third part through the fire.”  Jesus did not expect the multitudes to accept the message of the Kingdom…It is so costly…death to self.  In Matt. 22:14, Jesus stated, “Many are called but few are chosen.”  “Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.”  “while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (I Peter 3:20).

        It would seem that the one third part that He would bring through the fire, and the few mentioned in the above Scriptures, are synonymous, that is, they are alike in meaning the many, the multitudes, the two-thirds are alike in meaning.  They do not want to walk the way of the cross, the way of self denial.  “They profess to know Jesus, but in works deny him” (Titus 1:16).

        The Lord told Jeremiah that “Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them” (Jer. 5:14).  “For the Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

        The Lord Jesus has very definite purposes and designs in the refining process of the sons of Levi.

        In the following Scriptures, please take special note of the close, intimate relationship the Lord Jesus desires to have with His servants.

        In Revelation 21, we are given a description of “The Bride, adorned for her husband” (21:2).  In verse 11 of this same chapter, John writes of “her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a Jasper stone, clear as crystal.”  Notice, this stone was precious (costly) and it was clear as crystal.  This speaks of the character of the Bride.  Then in verse 18, John writes of the city, “And the building of the wall of it was of Jasper, and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.”

        From this description of the Bride, it appears that she was so devoted, so in love with the Lord Jesus, that her daily life was above reproach.  Her conversation and her conduct were all in the open; she had nothing to hide or cover up, nothing to be ashamed of; she was transparent!  Her daily life was an open testimony of what was taking place within her being – an internal expression of the beauty and glory of Jesus.  She desired to walk perfect (Matt. 3:48), and to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:6).  Her life was clear; it was open to inspection.

        The motivating force that impelled her to walk as she walked was to please Jesus in everything she said and did.

        Jude writes in verse 24, “Now unto Him that is able to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”  It is true the Lord is able, but the Bride found that she had to be willing to surrender and submit her will to the will of Jesus so that He could present her faultless.

        Revelation 19:7, “for (the time of) the marriage of the lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready.”  She had submitted daily “to taking up her cross and following Jesus.”  Daily she had put down her own desires and the appetites of the flesh, daily she mortified the “deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).

        She labored, struggled and contended to “bring every thought into captivity unto the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).

        It was the desire of her heart to be “one with Jesus and the members of the body of Jesus” (John 17:21-23).

        In the above scriptures, we have evidence that some of God’s servants will permit the refining of the Sons of Levi to take place in their lives.  The expression of the glory and the majesty of Jesus through the lives of His servants stand as an eternal testimony that they are partakers of His divine nature.

 

 

 

 

THE WEDDING GARMENT

Armando Montes

        Earth minded man does not understand the things of God.  He is limited and bound by material things.  He lacks spiritual perception to comprehend eternal values.  Only when the Holy Spirit touches the human mind can man have a glimpse of spiritual things.  Our Heavenly Father, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, has revealed to mankind some things that He has prepared from the foundation of the world for those who have set their love upon Him.  “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (I Cor. 2:9).

        It is true that “beyond the sunset” the ransomed of the Lord shall obtain FULNESS of joy for evermore.  God has prepared glories and gifts to be enjoyed by His people in their eternal home.  It is also true that some wonderful things are kept in store for God’s people to be partaken of on this earth in this end time.  Bear in mind that these are the last days.  It is a time of judgment, destruction, great tribulation for the lost, but it is also a time of “joy unspeakable and full of glory” for the saints of God.

        Hundreds of years ago, before facing the Cross of Calvary, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the unity of the believers: “That they ALL may be ONE; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be ONE in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).  His prayer is going to be answered in this end time.  The redeemed of God are going to reach this state of ONENESS.  A great feast is going to be celebrated to commemorate the unity among the children of God.

        In Matt. 22:1-14 and in Luke 14:15-24 the Lord gave a graphic picture of a great supper that is going to be held in the kingdom of heaven.  The Word of God is the only reliable foundation for our beliefs and practices.  The Word states that “the wedding was furnished with guests” (Matt. 22:10).  Although the Lord’s house was filled with guests, not all of them partook of the marriage supper, because the Word says that a man was cast out into outer darkness.

        “And when the king came to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?  And he was speechless” (Matt. 22:11,12).  From these verses and the rest of the account, we gather, by implication, that the wedding garment was the only requirement of the guests to partake of the feast.  Observe that the man did not have on any wedding garment.  Besides this, when the Lord talked to him he did not have any excuse.  He did not have anything to say.  He was SPEECHLESS.  This wedding garment is of so vast importance that it really pays to carefully examine its nature and characteristics.

        First of all, let’s consider some things from the Old Testament.  The Lord gave Moses much divine and precise instruction concerning the Levitical priesthood.  Before a man could minister to the Lord as an ordained priest he was (1) to be washed with water, (2) to put on THE HOLY GARMENTS, (3) to be anointed with oil and (4) to be sanctified.  This is a type of our conversion.  Bear in mind that the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ was preached to Israel. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them” (Heb. 4:2).  The holy garments were designed by the Lord “for glory and beauty” (Ex. 28;2).  The Lord gave many details for the making of these vestments.  These details have a special meaning for the children of God.

        The Levitical priesthood was done away at the Cross.  Today every saint of God is a priest: “And hath made (our Lord Jesus Christ, verse 5) us kings and PRIESTS unto God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen” (Rev. 1:6).  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  Peter said that we “are a chosen generation, a royal PRIESTHOOD, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (I Peter 2:9).  The Scriptures plainly teach that every child of God in the service of the king (1) has been washed in the precious Blood of the Lamb of God: Rev. 1:5; I Cor. 6:9-11, (2) has been clothed with THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION: Isa 61:10; Psa. 132:9,16, (3) has been anointed with the Holy Spirit: I John 2:20,27; II Cor. 1:21; John 14:16,17; (4) has been sanctified, set apart for the Master’s use: II Thess. 2:13; I Cor. 6:9-11.

        Man without God is spiritually naked.  He needs to be clothed with “the robe of righteousness” if he is to minister to the Lord.  He needs the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ imputed to him to come before the holy Presence of God.  For this reason the Levitical priests wore the holy garments to be able to minister in the holy place.  The New Testament priests wear the righteousness of Christ.

        Linen was used in the making of the holy garments of the Aaronic priests (Ex. 39:27-29); Lev. 6:10).  The child Samuel was girded with a linen ephod when he ministered before the Lord (I Sam. 2:18).  Angels are described as dressed in linen (Dan. 10:5; Rev. 15:6).  The wife of the Lamb, will be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white (Rev. 19:8).

        Linen was very costly, delicate, soft, white.  Fine linen was of a finer, better quality.  Remember that the marriage supper of the Lamb will be a spiritual feast, a feast in the Spirit.  Clean and white linen is used figuratively in Rev. 19:8 and speaks of the moral purity of the true saints of God.  The wedding garment will be a garment of distinction worn by royal personages, by the kings and priests of the Living God.

        Salvation is free, “Ho, EVERY ONE that thirsteth come ye to the waters” (Isa. 55:1).  The garments of salvation are a gift from heaven, BUT the requirements of the guests who partake in the marriage supper of the Lamb are so demanding, so precise, so strict that it will take more than salvation to make it through.  There is a price attached to the wedding garment that every guest should pay.

        “I counsel thee to BUY of Me…WHITE RAIMENT, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Rev. 3:18).  These words addressed to the church in Laodicea are also applicable to the last day believers.  The Lord is the supplier, the owner of the storehouse that provides this commodity.  The Lord spoke about spiritual matters.  He did not talk about a material dress.  The white raiment, the wedding garment has to do with the moral purity, the divine nature of Christ.

        AGORADZO is the Greek verb translated to “buy” in Rev. 3:18.  The same word is used in Rev. 5:9, “and hast REDEEMED us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.”  AGORADZO really means “to buy, to purchase.”  Christ purchased His disciples.  The price that He paid to redeem them was His own Blood, His own Life (Acts 20:28; I Peter 1:18-20).  Which price, then, do the guests pay to BUY the wedding garment?

        “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye should follow His steps” (I Peter 2:21).  “The servant is not greater than his Lord” (John 13:16).  The Lord was subject to like passions as we do.  He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him THE FORM OF A SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7).  He emptied Himself of his heavenly state of being and left the glories in heaven to come to this earth to show us the way of God.  “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).

        We’re to BUY the WHITE RAIMENT with our own lives.  As Christ died for us, we also die for Him.  Our plans, ambitions and desires are to be laid on the altar of sacrifice.  We are to present our bodies “a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1).  The wedding garment is very costly.  The price is tremendous, but the glory of the marriage supper will be wonderful.  The glory is worthwhile!

        “And to her (the wife of the Lamb) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:8).  This fine linen was pure, free from sin, and bright, brilliant, magnificent.  The righteousness of saints is not something that they had in themselves.  These are the righteous deeds or acts of the saints through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  The righteous acts are performed through the grace of God.  This is grace, “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life” of the true saints of God.

 

 

 

 

UTOPIA DEFLATED

Randall Walton

        The word “Utopia,” as all Bible scholars know, is not found in the Bible.  It is found in the dictionary in which it is described as an imaginary place, or a visionary scheme or system for an ideally perfect society.  This idea is also found in many modern religious periodicals and is used to describe the hypothetical future, material kingdom of God on earth, which is referred to by some as Theocracy (another unbiblical term), and which is supposed to last exactly one thousand years, no more, no less.

        Since this theory has no real Bible foundation we could easily chuck it off as just another passing fad which would wear away with time, but this idea is believed by millions of professing Christians (as well as much of Judaism) and it has very serious implications as well as damaging and disastrous consequences.

        One of the most amazing facts of this teaching is the glaring absence of New Testament writ to support it.  The reason for this, of course, is that the New Testament writers had nothing to say about it.  They simply did not write about it because it was not taught to them by Jesus nor the Holy Spirit.  Surely, if Utopia were a genuine promise, one of the New Testament writers would have at least alluded to it in some manner, but they were unanimous in their silence on the subject!

        It is a habit of many people to claim that this doctrine is not all so important.  If there is to be a millennium, fine, and if not, so what?  Why make an issue out of it?  True, there are some doctrines which have no great import on people one way or another, but the doctrine of a materialistic kingdom of God of 1,000 years duration is of utmost importance because of the profound errors inherent in its teachings.

The Rejection Of Jesus The King

        By far the most insulting facet in Millennialism is directed toward Jesus Himself.  At no time in His life or ministry did He claim Kingship over a material kingdom, either then or for a future time.  He literally refused to be made a king by the throngs who surrounded Him.  He bluntly proclaimed to Pilate that His kingdom was “not of this world.”  His own testimony refuted the accusations of the Jews that He intended to make Himself a king to supplant the Roman authority.  The Kingdom He stated was “at hand” was not a material or earthly kingdom.

        Jesus preached against materialism, against riches, against laying up treasures on earth.  If the earth is to be turned into a grand utopia called the kingdom of God, where prosperity abounds and Christians live off the “fat of the land,” then Jesus preached a false message and His words cannot be relied upon.

        I have before me a “Christian” magazine which makes such erroneous statements as the following: “God predicts vast reforms everywhere in the wonderful utopian era he says will soon break out on this earth.”  It would be enlightening to know when and where God made such a statement as this.  It certainly isn’t contained in the Bible, and it is opposite to the teachings of our Savior and King, Jesus.  He consistently upheld spiritual values, spiritual qualities, spiritual goals while He warned men of the fickleness of riches and material gain.  Was He confused?  Was He misinformed?  Was He serious?

        His message was this: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching and the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of diseases among the people” (Matt. 4:23).

        “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.  And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick…And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:1,2,6).

        This same theme is repeated again and again throughout the four gospels.  Jesus equated the gospel of the kingdom with the demonstration of authority over devils, sickness and disease, and He empowered His disciples to do the same works as He did.  Paul backs this up with his statement that “the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Cor. 4:20).

        Can we be so presumptuous as to suppose that Jesus, in preaching the gospel of the kingdom, was telling people that some 2,000 years in the future the kingdom of God would be established on the earth?  What utter nonsense!  No, He taught that the kingdom was within the reach of man – at hand – that it was available.  Indeed, in His instructions to the seventy disciples which He sent forth, He directed them to “heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you” (Luke 10:9).

        As for government, He laid down the laws for the governing of His Kingdom, all of which are based upon divine principles of justice, righteousness and love, and those laws deal not only with deeds and actions, but also with the motives and intentions of the heart.  This is government of the highest order, directed and enforced by the authority of the Holy Spirit who indwells the hearts of God’s people, and who uses the power of conviction and conscience in the administration of His office.  The Standard by which the Holy Spirit directs His work is found in the commands of Jesus Christ.  Those who reject the words of Jesus also reject Him (John 12:48)!

        To postpone the kingdom is to postpone the applicability of Jesus’ words as well as to postpone the kingship and authority of the King – Jesus.  What an affront to Him, His words, His authority and power (Matt. 28:18)!

The Rejection Of The Kingdom

        It is a sad commentary on the “Christian” religious teachings that when one mentions the kingdom of God being spiritual, people think this refers to something ethereal, nebulous, vague, unreal, unsubstantive, but such is not the case at all.  God is spirit, yet He is very, very real.  Angels are spirits, but they have been seen by many people.  The fact of their spirituality in no way detracts from their existence as moral beings who are able to function: move about, converse, minister, etc.  “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb. 1:14)

        Jesus made it very plain that the kingdom of God is to be sought after – NOW – (Matt. 6:33), and He punctuated this order with a terse explanation that the kingdom and materialism are totally divergent from each other.  The above verse is square in the middle of a context in which He thoroughly condemns material values and pursuits!

        Since Jesus drew the line between earthy objects and the kingdom of God, what mortal among us can dare open his mouth to the contrary?  Who has the gall to declare that the earth will be a glorious utopian kingdom of God?

        There are a number of points which should here be made in order to let truth shine forth.

        1.  Nowhere in the Old Testament is a millennium ever mentioned.  Every verse of Scripture which is used for “proof” is silent about a thousand years of time.  Search diligently for it from Genesis through Malachi, it simply is not there!  All of the glorious blessings promised to Israel, to Abraham and the prophets do not once mention a thousand years.  Think of it!  All of the evidence to support the idea of utopia is based upon nothing more than an assumption, that’s all.

        Such illogic as this would never hold up in a court of law.  No one could ever be convicted of any crime with so little evidence, yet we hear hundreds of preachers loudly proclaiming that the Old Testament gives ample proof of a thousand years of bliss here upon this earth.

        2.  There is no mention of a thousand year kingdom in the four gospels, nor in Acts, nor in Paul’s 13 epistles, nor the books of Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude or John.

        Even the twentieth chapter of Revelation does not mention a thousand year kingdom.  What is stated is that certain people reign with Jesus one thousand years, and that is much different than stating that the kingdom lasts for exactly one thousand years.

        In addition, this statement is contained in the very heart of some of the most symbolic, metaphoric and picturesque language of the entire Bible.  The only possible way to understand the message of Revelation is in the light of the plain words of Jesus and the apostles, those clear passages which need no interpretation in order for us to understand their meaning.

        Since Jesus and the apostles said nothing in support of a thousand year earthly kingdom of God, we can only honestly conclude that all those who interpret Revelation 20 to indicate a one thousand year earthly kingdom of God are sadly mistaken.  That simply is not the message contained here.  All of the juggling, manipulating, twisting, bending, and wresting will not produce nor uphold the utopian dream of earthly grandeur.  As a matter of fact, such a conclusion is slanderous in nature, and belittles the eternal, heavenly, spiritual kingdom of the loving, living God!

        3.  All references to the kingdom of God speak of eternity, not a mere thousand years.  Such words as “forever,” “everlasting,” “eternal” are used to describe the kingdom.  The scriptures are quite plain that this globe is destined for complete extermination and annihilation (II Peter 3:10-12; Isa. 24:18-20).  There is a most positive ring of finality to the term “the last day,” “the last enemy,” “the last trump.”

        If the kingdom of God were an earthly thing, it would end in concert with the “end of the world.”

        4.  The incongruity of using a literal interpretation of prophetic Scripture is clearly seen by the confusion and contradiction of the many conclusions which are drawn through that method.  Revelation 20:1-7 has received the greatest abuse of perhaps any passage in the Bible due to the many attempts to force it to a literal meaning.  The only portion of this reference which can be taken literally or at face value is “the dragon, that old serpent,” and that is because we are given the correct interpretation, “which is the Devil, and Satan.”  The rest of it is dark speech and must be interpreted in harmony with those parts of the Scripture which are not dark speech.  If we want to know the truth about the Devil and Satan, we need only to see what Jesus and the apostles had to say about him, and what they said will give the proper understanding of that character.

        MOST of the book of Revelation is symbolic or sign language and cannot logically be taken literally.  For example, a woman is described in Revelation 12:1,2 as being clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown with twelve stars!  Is this an actual fact, or is the Lord using figurative language to portray a certain message to us?

        Many Bible expositors say that Jerusalem, the holy city in heaven, is going to literally come down to the earth and be established here so Jesus can reign there.  But is that the true picture which is shown in chapter 21 verse 2?  In verse 16 we are given the dimensions of the city: 12,000 furlongs long, 12,000 furlongs wide, and 12,000 furlongs high!

        Twelve thousand furlongs equal about 1,333 miles.  Now that would be quite a city, wouldn’t it, 1,333 miles high?  Obviously, there is a message hidden in this account.

        There are many more of just such examples we could cite, but this should suffice to show that, while Revelation is a beautiful (and true) pictorial of God’s message to the church, it must be interpreted to be understood.  It is plain that modern scholars have grossly misinterpreted this book of mysteries, and in so doing have blinded people’s eyes to the plain words of Jesus Christ and His apostles.

        On this premise, it is our contention that the “one thousand years” is an expression of magnitude, rather than exactitude, and indicates an indefinite period of time.  It is used to portray a message in the same way that the “key of the bottomless pit” and the “great chain” in the hand of an angel are used.  Certainly no one would argue that Satan could be bound with a “literal chain,” or that he could be confined in a literal “bottomless pit.”  Why should we then insist that the thousand years should be literal, and especially since there is not one iota of corroborating evidence anywhere in the entire Bible for such?

        5.  The millennial teaching offers nothing to the saints which is not attainable at the present time!  Futurism has succeeded in building people’s hopes of grandeur, glory, and anointed carnality(?) while rejecting the blessings which have been granted to us through Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.  Let us review some of the matchless provisions which have been made for God’s people during this so-called church age.

        a.  Salvation.  How wonderful to know that we are now saved!  Paul declared that this is the day of salvation (II Cor. 6:2).  In speaking of His own ministry Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18,19).

        Salvation, redemption, justification, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are facts of life for every child of God, NOW.  We have been raised from the dead (John 5:24,25; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1; Eph. 5:14; Col. 2:13; I John 3:14); we are now saved (Mark 16:16; Eph. 2:5; Acts 16:30,31; Rom. 10:9; II Tim. 1:9); we are now “born again” (John 3:3,5; John 1:13; I Peter 1:23); we are now children (sons) of God (I John 3:1,2; Rom. 8:12-16; Gal. 4:6); we now have the Holy Spirit living within us (I Cor. 3:16; I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9; I John 3:24).

        b.  Citizenship in the kingdom of God (Col. 1:13; Matt. 5:3; Matt. 5:10; Luke 6:20).

        c.  Peace (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7; II Cor. 13:11; Col. 3:15; Rom. 5:1; Rom. 12:18).

        This is universal peace, available to all mankind.  It is the kind of peace which enables a child of God to endure affliction, persecution, and hardship and know stability and serenity at the same time.  This peace is the kind which Jesus had and which He left for us.

        d.  Joy (John 15:11; John 16:24; John 17:13; I John 1:4; Rom. 14:17; I Peter 1:8).

        e.  Overcoming victory (I Cor. 15:57; I John5:4,5; I John 4:4; Gal. 5:24; Gal. 2:20).

        f.  Spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3; II Peter 1:3; Acts 5:32; II Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13,14; II Cor. 5:5; John 14:23).

        g.  Physical blessings (I Peter 2:24; Mark 16:18; James 5:14,15; Rom. 8:11; Acts 5:15,16).

        h.  Material blessings (Mark 10:29,30).

        i.  Righteousness (Rom. 14:27; I John 3:7; Titus 2:11,12; Phil. 2:15; Heb. 12:14).

        j.  Right government (Heb. 1:8; Acts 3:22; John 12:48; John 6:63; Heb. 8:10-12; Rom. 2:13; I John 2:3-5; Matt. 28:20).

        k.  Victory over Satan (John 12:31; John 16:11; James 4:8; I Peter 5:8,9; Luke 10:12-19; I John 2:14; I Peter 5:18; Eph. 6:10-12; Col. 2:15; Eph. 4:27).

He Will Return

        All of the above mentioned references should be read and studied.  There are glorious truths contained there, truths which every servant of God should know and understand for spiritual enrichment, and fulfillment of joy in their lives.  These are Now promises and blessings.

        Jesus is coming again, but not to set up an earthly kingdom!  He is coming to judge the earth in righteousness, the last great act of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords before He presents the kingdom to the Father.  He will not return until the church, His body, is ready to receive Him.  It should be plain to all of us that the church is in no condition today to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, but as soon as she is, He will come and receive to Himself a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26,27).

        The rest of the world will be judged “according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10; Rom. 2:16; Matt. 16:27; John 5:26-29; Heb. 9:27).

        It is high time for God’s people to throw off the bondage of false hopes and materialistic mirages and believe the word of God.  It is time that we all examine our foundation and our doctrinal beliefs and discard the vain philosophies that befog the spiritual eyesight.  It is time for us to recognize the Kingship and supreme authority of Jesus Christ who is “Far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and give him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:21-23).