People of The Living God

Romans 8

 

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March 2017



 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

FROM WHERE CHRIST SITS

Curtis Dickinson

        There is no doubt that we are living in a time of unparalleled crises.  The entire economy of the world is threatened, society is in a state of flux, and the face of the earth is changing rapidly.  Some astute observers say that the New World Order is already in place and gradually being activated.  Some of the most powerful men in the world are also the most evil, who will sacrifice whole nations to maintain their power.

        Add to this the fact that there is an all-out effort being made on every level of society to destroy the Christian faith and culture, and you have a good excuse for the aura of fear and timidity that marks the attitude of many people: fear of the future; fear in business – afraid to apply God’s rules and tell the truth; fear of the world – what others may think; and even fear in the pulpit – afraid to speak on the burning issues and afraid of confrontation.

        Such fear is a direct contradiction of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles and exhibits a failure to understand the meaning of being a Christian.

        Just before His death, Jesus cautioned His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful” (John 14:27).  But after they had witnessed the terror of the crucifixion of the Son of God, they had cause to be fearful.  John writes that when Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection, “the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19).  It wasn’t until after the great miracle of Pentecost that the apostles were able to shake their fears and make the gospel known with boldness and joy.

        What happened?  At Pentecost, Peter announced that the pouring forth of the Spirit was a result of Jesus being exalted to the throne of David, to the right hand of God (Acts 2:30).  Now it was clear what He meant by “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15).  Now they could understand the statement Jesus made just before His ascension: “All authority has been given unto me in Heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:19).  Whatever the power of the Jews who persecuted them, their Master’s power was greater.

        To be a believer is more than just to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  It is to believe that God has “raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:20,21).  It is to believe that He now reigns as King of kings, even though this is denied from thousands of pulpits, books and television sets by those who say that the kingdom is yet to come, that He failed the first time, and we must wait for His second coming so He can rule over an earthly kingdom.  He did not fail nor postpone His work but was crowned King and will reign “until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (I Cor. 15:25).

        That isn’t all.  Paul instructs us that when God saved us, He “raised us up with him and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).  Not that we sit with Him in heaven but that we are established in His presence in the heavenly kingdom here and now.  We can enjoy a spiritual, mind-to-mind relationship with the King of heaven and earth.  It is not as though our King had left us to face the enemies alone, but through His Spirit He brings us into His presence, and under His mercy and love we enjoy this heavenly privilege constantly.  As R.C.H. Lenski says, “All the high and prideful places of the world are dungheaps compared with the heavenly places in the kingdom of grace.”  (Interpretation of Ephesians, Augsburg, p. 419).

        This is exactly what He meant when He promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).  He said, “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).  It is the gist of the gracious invitation in Rev. 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  This verse is widely misused as an invitation to alien sinners, to say that all one has to do to be saved is to “invite Jesus in,” ignoring the requirements of faith, repentance and obedience to the Gospel.  The verse is addressed to the church, to those already in Christ.  It is a reminder of the great privileged position that can be enjoyed by every faithful child of God.

        From Adam’s rebellion against God’s order in the garden to the Pharisees’ rejection of Jesus in Pilate’s court to the present assault on Christ in the arts, literature, and the media, the world seeks to rid itself of the authority of the Creator.  A thousand years before Christ’s birth David wrote, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2,3).  When Christians are the subjects of slander and the objects of persecution, the real target is Jesus, the King.  The denial of moral absolutes and the effort to supplant them with the “new morality,” along with the claim that moral aberrations are only “alternate lifestyles,” are all part of the age-old conspiracy where rulers take counsel together to break the bonds and cast away the cords of God’s laws and unseat His anointed, King Jesus.

        We who are “seated with him in the heavenly places” must also share in bearing the brunt of this attack.  We may pass through the trial of the world’s hatred, as Jesus did.  In view of this, Peter wrote, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you: because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you.  For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as a meddler in other men’s matters: but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (I Peter 4:14-16).

        This is all the more evidence of Christ’s rule, for rebellion only takes place against the one who is in power, as David elsewhere sang, “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalm 110:2).  And although the final reckoning with His enemies will not take place until He comes again, one can easily see the disastrous results of their attempt at breaking asunder the “bonds” of His commandments.  The penalty can be seen everywhere: in the deterioration of freedom, as governments impose regulations to replace God’s laws; in the absence of peace which godliness brings; in the proliferation of diseases, as biblical rules of health are ignored; and in the loss of economic stability because of greed and dishonesty.  The violence and suffering which plagues the world is in proportion to man’s rebellion against the anointed of God and His commandments.

        It is under just such conditions that Christ calls us to follow Him, to trust Him and to sit with Him in the heavenly kingdom.  While most Americans have come to look to government or to worldly corporations for security, we have no confidence in man nor his power.  Our daily bread still comes from God, not from Washington.  In the days of the apostle Paul, men were given a choice of allegiance to Nero or to Christ.  Paul chose Christ, although he knew Nero had the power to kill him and probably would.  But Paul had been raised to sit with Christ, the King of all the earth.  He knew no confusion or fear.  He was not a part of the world’s chaos.  He knew that if the earthly king killed him, the heavenly King would raise him up and give him immortality, and with this faith he said we are “more than conquerors.”

        Nero never knew victory.  His kind will be resurrected only to realize defeat and destruction in the lake of fire.  “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9).  Martin Luther, on trial before the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, wrote, “Why should we then fear a conquered world as if it were the conqueror?”

        Instead of fearing the Neros of the world, we are to rejoice in the position given us by grace in Christ Jesus.  No longer are we slaves to the world, to its goals and its fashion, nor to its destiny.  The world measures success by wealth, health, pleasure and man’s recognition.  But these have nothing to do with gaining the eternal purpose and, more often than not, actually spell defeat as far as our relationship with God is concerned.  Real success is in overcoming the world and pleasing God.  The crown of success will be the resurrection to immortality in God’s image.

        Even now we may enjoy His presence as we are seated in the heavenly places in Christ.

 

 

 

 

OBEY JESUS CHRIST

Harry Miller

        “Brainwashing” is a journalistic term especially coined to describe those impressive processes of indoctrination so frequently employed by despotic powers today in their various all-out “conversion” programs.

        Although the word itself is of comparatively recent vintage, the method of operation is based upon the age-old principles of repetition and drill, profitably utilized by school teachers, by the army, by actors, advertisers, scientists, hucksters, and numerous others down through the years.  Countless youngsters of many generations have been indebted to the old-fashioned “arithmetic drill” for their glib adroitness with the multiplication tables; and a multimillion dollar advertising campaign is responsible for promoting one particular kind of soft drink to the point of virtually being a national beverage, while certain celebrated brands of cell phones vie with one another for top billing in the popularity polls, all because the names of these particular commodities glare out at us from signs and blare at us from radios, wherever we go in this fair land of ours!

        So certain dictators of this present century – successfully adapting these well-known psychological principles to their own nefarious orientation activities – have openly boasted that if almost any big lie is convincingly told over and over again, the people will soon begin to accept it unquestionably as fact.  It has certainly been amply proved and demonstrated that error, no matter how rank, if it is repeated often enough, will be accepted by the masses for truth.

        And this particular method of putting over a point through continual repetition of ideas works just as effectually with regard to religious thought as it does in the range of advertising or political affairs.

        And, of course, in the realm of religion, the minions of hell have not been asleep; neither have they neglected to make use of the “brain-washing” method.  One favorite variation of this is for certain oft-repeated trick phrases to be taken out of context from various portions of the Scriptures, and ingeniously made to voice some message completely contrary and alien to the will and Word of God.

        The corruption of truth (which is the Word of God) is a major calling of the ambassadors of the nether world.  Their success as agents of damnation is made emphatically manifest in the confusing discrepancies of the doctrinal positions found in a large majority of the present-day-professing Christian church.

        Beware of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 16:12).  This warning was given by Jesus, Himself.  These two particular sects that He mentioned were the major denominations of the professing church in Christ’s day.  These great schools of religious thought had the prestige of centuries behind them.  They had the force of numbers.  They were composed of the “better classes” (?) of humanity.  Scholars, doctors, lawyers, and merchants made up a great portion of their membership.  These denominations were highly respected and esteemed of men; and it is on this level that men should especially beware of doctrine; for error must have something to float it.  Respectability is often one of the prime carriers of false doctrine.

        Consider this “appalling fact:” Few if any of the sectarian denominations in the United States are actually teaching obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ, whom they claim as Lord.  There are those who may claim that they teach obedience to Him; but if any attempt is made by the ministry to PRACTICE OBEDIENCE, their teaching is surely nothing less than mockery.  “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (II John 9).  The Word of God condemns the great denominations of our day; and their monstrous sin is the rejection of the Word of God.

        Many of the foundational teachings of the apostate church are like piers, or pilings, which have been sunk into a great morass of error by man’s effort to support his doctrinal atrocities.  As men depart from God and refuse to OBEY HIM, they are given inspiration by the forces of evil: demons come forth and quicken the minds of compromising scholars who thus become open channels to receive and relay the pleasingly compromising messages concocted in hell.

        Surely the message of the love of God has been turned into a license for loose living.  Men have concluded that since God is all love, they can commit any sin, do it as often as they please, and get away with it.  “Grace, grace, God’s grace,” is made to imply THE BIG LIE that sinners need not fear punishment: this particular conclusion is Satan’s “secret weapon.”  Through certain unsanctified, professional clergymen, the devil has presented the various facets of the “grace gospel” which has resulted in the devastation of ethics, morals, and virtually every other standard of decency.

        “If after they have escaped (by conversion, by the new birth, by the new nature) the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (surely only a Christian can claim knowledge of the Lord Jesus), they are again entangled therein, and overcome (sin gets the best of them), the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have KNOWN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (no one but a converted person can actually know the way of righteousness), than, after they have known it, to TURN FROM THE HOLY COMMANDMENT delivered unto them” (II Peter 2:20,21).

        Let no man deceive you, my good friends – true Christianity is that state of BEING IN THE WILL OF GOD.  Conversion to the faith of Christ is only a start: a beginning.  By way of this beginning we are brought into covenant relationship with God the Father: this is known as “the New Covenant.”  God (“the party of the first part,” of the covenant) has already completed His part of the agreement.  This was sealed by the blood of His own Son.  We are “the parties of the second part,” of the agreement, and we remain in relationship with God upon condition: obedience to His Spirit and to His Word.  Why should it seem incredible that the religion of Christ DEMANDS OBEDIENCE to Him?

 

 

 

 

THE COMMANDS OF JESUS CHRIST

Randall Walton

        Quite often in our messages we mention the “commands of Jesus” and we have stated that there are over 70 commands that He set forth in The Sermon On The Mount and His other teachings which apply directly to the church – His people. We have been questioned about our making such a broad and radical statement and have been asked to make a more specific explanation and, if possible, a listing of the things we consider His commands.

        If anyone is in a big hurry to find out what Jesus commanded, we suggest you obtain a “Red letter edition” of the New Testament which places all the words of Jesus in RED so they may be easily and quickly distinguished from the rest of the writings.  Any person who is genuinely concerned about what the Master expects of His followers can certainly find it rapidly in this manner.

        To state that the observance of the commands of Jesus is very important is a gross understatement of fact. It is so important as to be essential to salvation.  While this may sound extreme and opinionated, we believe the Scriptures teach this very viewpoint and we will submit enough evidence to substantiate this claim.  For example, Jesus declared, “Ye MUST be born again!” (John 3:7).

        Of course, there are those who will protest that this is not a command because we can’t do this ourselves.  However, the New Birth comes about by the supernatural work of the Spirit AND the assent of the will of the person, in addition to faith, confession, and repentance.  Therefore, the bottom line is that submission to the words of the Lord is necessary in order to be born again.  No one is ever saved against his own will!

        There are other references which we will use to show that there are commands to be obeyed in order to maintain one’s walk with Christ.

        Jesus placed so much significance upon His own words, that it is difficult to see how anyone could miss how vastly important they are.  He used such terms as: do, hear, follow, keep, observe, receive.  These words show action; in order to fulfill any of these, there must be a willing response of the soul in positive movement or motion.  There is no neutral ground; there are no options offered.  “He that rejecteth me and receive not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

        “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)  It is not logical to call Him “Lord,” and then disregard His words.  Nearly everyone will agree that a citizen of a state or city or a nation is obligated to keep the laws of the respective state, city, or nation, but when it comes to being a citizen of the Church of Jesus Christ, the prevalent idea is that you can do as you please.  If it requires any effort at all, then God doesn’t expect nor demand it!  Such nonsense as this has produced a generation of professing do-nothings!

        Even Brother Paul is accused of going along with the notion of spiritual inertia.  He is said to have warned people of the dangers of becoming legalistic and thereby walking in the flesh rather than the Spirit.  However, Paul soundly rejected and castigated those who “teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Tim. 6:3-5).  He went so far as to tell Timothy to withdraw himself from those who fit the description! (Sounds a little sectarian?)

        Perhaps the greatest enemy of Jesus Christ in modern times was a man named Cyrus I. Scofield, who had the audacity to declare that the “Sermon On The Mount gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the Church.  These are found in the Epistles” (referring to Paul).  This man has deceived hundreds of thousands of people into believing that Jesus preached one gospel and Paul preached a different one.  Jesus’ message, he says, was intended for the Jews, but Paul’s teachings were for the church!  Paul, I’m sure, would rise in profound protest if he were alive today and heard such rot as this, because he most certainly did not believe nor teach it.

        John also affirmed the viability of the words of Jesus (doctrine = teaching, Strong’s).  He said that anyone who does not hold to the teachings of Christ does not have God, and we should not even let them into our house (II John 9-11)!  He was sort of radical, don’t you think?  Well, he understood that Jesus had the words of life, or as He testified Himself: “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

The Nature Of The Commands

        Through our study of the words or sayings of Jesus, it has become apparent that His commands fall into two main categories: 1) direct, 2) implied.  By this we mean that Jesus presented His message by directly stating what He expected of humanity, and also set forth principles based upon divine qualities or qualifications.

        For example, a direct command which Jesus uttered is: “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6:27).  This is plainly stated and directed.  This is a requirement for God’s people to obey.

        In contrast to this, the Beatitudes do not give direct commands or orders.  We are not commanded to be “poor in spirit,” but we are told what the results will be if we meet the condition – theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, we say this is an implied command.  Jesus did not say “thou shalt be merciful,” but He described the outcome for those who meet this divine standard – “they shall obtain mercy.”  We are told what we must do, or be, if we expect to receive the blessing!

        Sad to say, too many want the blessing without producing the means for procuring said blessing, but Jesus has the keys of the blessings and He told us frankly how they may be obtained.  This constitutes law, whether we like the term or not, but it is law which is implied by the stating of the conditions which produce the desired result.

The Classification Of The Commands

        A scrutiny of the words of Jesus reveals that there are at least four areas into which His commands may be classified:

  1. Our Relationship To God
  2. Our Relationship To Others
  3. Our Relationship To Self
  4. Our Relationship To Man’s Government

With this background, we want to consider what Jesus had to say about how we are to respond in each one of these areas, without our forgetting that these words of Jesus set the “metes and bounds” for a Christian’s life.

        A.  Our Relationship To God

     1.  Love Him with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27).  This, obviously, covers every aspect of man’s being.  This means total love for God, a love so intense and deep that every part of the person’s life is caught up and involved in God.  Jesus described this love in Luke 14:26 where He said: “If any man come to me and hate not (lit., love not less) his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”  The words “hate not” are explained in Matt. 10:37 where Jesus says, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

        God will be first or not at all!  And that is the way it ought to be.  He sent His Son to give His life for us; the least we can do for Him is to love Him fiercely!  Not only is it right, it is also the best for us.  He is to be the center of our activity and attention.  He is our reason to live.  If we love Him to the degree which He specifies, we can be spared many heartaches, troubles and griefs, for love has a terrific sustaining power, especially when it is directed to the Living God.  This, Jesus said, is the first and great commandment; there is no greater than this.

     2.  Worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24)

     3.  Trust Him (Matt. 6:25-34; John 14:1,27)
      a.  Don’t worry about the future, not even tomorrow.
      b.  Do not horde up treasures (Matt. 6:19-21)
      c.  Do not covet possessions (Luke 12:15)

     4.  Obey Him (Do His Will) (Matt. 7:21; 7:24-27; 12:50; Luke 12:47;
      John 14:15; 14:21,23; 15:10)

     5.  Pray to Him (Matt. 6:5-13; 7:7-11; John 16:23-26)
      a.  In secret – not to be seen
      b.  Without vain repetitions
      c.  In Jesus’ name

     6.  Abide in Him (or else!) (John 15:4-6)

     7.  Produce fruit (John 15:1,2,5-8,16; Luke 13:6-9; Matt. 13:8,23; 21:43)

     8. Serve Him (Matt. 6:24)

     9.  Be Alert – Watch! (Luke 12:37-40)

     10.  Let your light shine (Matt. 5:16; Luke 12:35)

     11.  Do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10; Matt. 12:31,32)

     12.  Do not be ashamed of Him (Luke 12:8,9; Mark 8:38)

     13.  Do not be ashamed of His words

     14.  Follow Jesus (Matt. 8:22; John 8:12; 10:4,27; 12:26)

     15.  Believe in Jesus (John 3:15-18; 6:29; 12:36)

     16.  Look upon the harvest field – pray for laborers (John 4:35; Matt. 9:37-39)

     17.  Labor for unperishable meat (John 6:27)

     18.  Eat the Living Bread (John 6:48-58)

     19.  Drink the blood of Jesus (John 6:53-56)

     20.  Continue in His word (John 8:31)

     21.  Continue in His love (John 15:9)

     22.  Be poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3; 18:3-4)

     23.  Be meek (Matt. 5:5)

     24.  Hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt. 5:6)

     25.  Be pure in heart (Matt. 5:8)

     26.  Rejoice in persecution (Matt. 5:10-12)

     27.  Swear not at all (Matt. 5:34)

     28.  Speak truthfully (Matt. 5:37)

     29.  Be as complete/mature as the Father (Matt. 5:48).

     30.  Confess Him before men (Matt. 10:32).

     31.  Come to Jesus for rest (Matt. 11:28)

     32.  Take His yoke (Matt. 11:29)

     33.  Be in harmony with Jesus (Matt. 12:30)

     34.  Have faith in God (Matt. 21:21,22)

     35.  Know God (Luke 13:25; John 17:3)

     36.  Make no excuses – answer the call of God (Luke 14:16-24)

     37.  Keep the commandments (Luke 18:20)

     38.  Teach everyone to keep the commands of Jesus  (Matt. 28:19-20)

        “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen” (Matt. 28:19,20.

        We have deliberately omitted the phrase about baptizing, not that we don’t believe in baptizing (we do), but because it is nearly universally practiced in one form or another, while the teaching curriculum is almost totally disregarded.

        Great crusades are conducted for the alleged purpose of “winning souls to Christ,” a term which generally is meant to urge people to “make a decision to become a Christian.”  After that, they are baptized, then left to fend for themselves and to adopt the “church of their choice.”  Little, if anything, is ever taught about observing all the commands of Christ.

        In fact, the opposite is true in the majority of cases.  Dispensationalism has relegated the commands of Jesus to a supposed future era.  The present so-called church age is a mere parenthesis of time in which every believer(?) is free to do his own thing in total disregard to the commands of Jesus Christ.  This explains, in part, why there is so little Christianity in the world today.

        B.  Our Relationship to Others

     1.  Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39).  This, of course, means that we are to have the same concern for others that we do for ourselves; it makes us our “brother’s keeper.”  It leaves no room for selfishness, greed, nor covetousness.  It is a command to share, to give, to provide, to pray for, to be compassionate toward, to defend.

     2.  Love one another as Jesus loved.  His love was so intense He willingly laid down His life for us.  And He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  This is accomplished by either physically dying, or by giving up one’s own pursuits in life in order to serve others (John 13:34,35; 15:14,17).

     3.  Be merciful (Matt. 5:7)

     4.  Make peace (Matt. 5:9)

     5.  Rejoice in persecution (Matt. 5:10-12)

     6.  Be salty.  Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13).  Salt has a number of practical uses: a preservative, a purgative, and flavoring.  Each of these uses is applicable to the life of the Christian, and has a positive effect upon those with whom we come in contact.  As a preservative, we are responsible to see that the way of the Lord is kept up to His standards, that His word is preserved by our living up to it, that the honor and majesty of our King is held high.  This means we must stand up and speak out for that which is right and is truth.  As a purgative, we are to be a cleansing influence wherever we are: at home, in the church, on the job, in society, and in the world-at-large.  We do this by living as examples and by exposing the evil and the wrong.  As flavoring our presence among men should radiate the character of Jesus.  Salt not only tastes “salty,” it helps to add a certain “sweetness” to many foods. Thus, our influence in the world should afford the sweetness of the personality of our Lord Jesus.  We are to be compassionate, tenderhearted, forgiving, while standing uncompromisingly against sin, corruption, and degradation.  It is not easy to be salty!

     7.  Let your lights shine before others.  Jesus specifically described how this is to be done: “that they may see your good works.”  In a day when “good works” are deplored by multitudes of professing Christians, it is refreshing to note that Jesus pointedly commanded us to produce the same (Matt. 5:14-16)!

     8.  Teach men to keep the commandments (Matt. 5:19)

     9.  Exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20)

     10.  Have due respect for others (Matt. 5:22)

     11.  Be reconciled to your brother.  Go to him and straighten out the controversy (Matt. 5:23,24)

     12.  Do not commit adultery, either by act or in the heart (Matt. 5:27,28)

     13.  Do not divorce your spouse (except for marital infidelity) (Matt. 5:31,32)

     14.  Return good for evil (Turn the other cheek) (Matt. 5:39)

     15.  Relinquish more than is demanded in a lawsuit against you (Matt. 5:40)

     16.  Render twice as much as you are compelled to (Go two miles rather than one) (Matt. 5:41)

     17.  Give to him that asks (Matt. 5:42)

     18.  Lend to those who wish to borrow (Matt. 5:42)

     19.  Do not ask for loaned items to be returned (Luke 6:30,34,35)

     20.  Love your enemies (Matt. 5:44)

     21.  Bless those who curse you (same)

     22.  Do good to those who hate you (same)

     23.  Pray for those who abuse you (same)

     24.  Do not participate in religious affairs to be seen or to make an impression
      (Matt. 6:1-4,16-18)

     25.  Do not pray to impress people (Matt. 6:5-8)

     26.  Be forgiving (Matt. 6:14,15; 18:21,22,33,35)

     27.  Do not judge (Matt. 7:1)

     28.  Clean up your own heart before attempting to straighten out others (Matt. 7:5)

     29.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matt. 7:12)

     30.  Beware of false prophets (Matt. 7:15-20)

     31.  Produce good fruit (Matt. 7:17-19)

     32.  Be wise as serpents, harmless as doves (Matt. 10:16)

     33.  Be careful about your conversation (Matt. 12:34-37)

     34.  Beware of false doctrines (Matt. 16:12)

     35.  Be receptive of little children (Matt. 18:5; 19:13-15)

     36.  Do not offend little children (Matt. 18:6)

     37.  Do not despise little children (Matt. 18:10)

     38.  Make every effort to be reconciled to your brother who has offended you (Matt. 18:15-17)

     39.  Beware of deception by false Christs and false prophets (Matt. 24:4,11,24)

     40.  Feed the household of the Lord (Matt. 24:45-46)

     41.  Baptize disciples (Matt. 28:19)

     42.  Teach disciples to obey Jesus’ commands (Matt. 28:20)

     43.  Show honor and deference to other people (Luke 14:7-11)

     44.  Show hospitality toward those who cannot return the favor (Luke14:12-14)

     45.  Rejoice when a lost soul is saved (Luke 15:6,9,11-32)

     46.  Preach repentance and remission of sins (Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15)

     47.  Do good to the poor (Mark 14:7)

        C.  Man’s Relationship to Himself

     1.  He is to hate his life in this world (John 12:25; Matt. 16:25)

     2.  He is to cleanse himself of all offensive habits and desires (Matt. 5:29,30)

     3.  He is to be sincere and singleminded, not hypocritical (Matt. 12:33; Luke 16:9-13)

     4.  He is to let nothing come between himself and the kingdom of God (Matt. 13:44,46)

     5.  He is to deny himself daily (Matt. 16:24)

     6.  He is to take up his cross (Matt. 16:24,26; Luke 14:27)

     7.  He is to humble himself (Matt. 23:12; 20:26-28; Luke 18:9-14)

     8.  He is to prepare himself (Matt. 22:2-13; 24:44; 25:10)

     9.  He is to see that he is a faithful servant (Matt. 25:14-30)

     10.  He is to put forth effort (Luke 13:24)

     11.  He is to forsake all (Luke 14:33)

     12.  He is to make sure he does not follow Mrs. Lot’s example (Luke 17:32)

     13.  He is to refrain from excessiveness, drunkenness, and cares of this life (Luke 21:34-36)

        D.  Man’s Relationship to the World

     1.  Pay your lawful taxes (Matt. 17:24-27)

     2.  Give to man’s government that which rightfully belongs to it (Matt. 22:17-21)

The End

        We realize that this has been a rather cursory account of these Commands.  There is a need for some elaboration on many of these statements of Jesus; for example: to render unto Caesar the things which are his needs to balance against rendering to God those things which belong unto Him.

        We trust that the listing of these 100 commands of the Master will serve to inspire a desire to fulfill all of His words.  We cannot stress too highly the importance of obeying the words of our Lord. “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; HIM SHALL YE HEAR IN ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER he shall say unto you.  And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22,23).

        Jesus Christ was that prophet who was foretold by Moses.  Now that He has come and has spoken, woe unto us if we fail to hear Him – that is – obey Him.  This message is essential for every person who intends to walk with God, for unless we endeavor to apply the sayings of Jesus to our daily lives, we stand in jeopardy of being “destroyed from among the people.”

 

 

 

 

THE REST OF GOD

Alfred King

        It is a sad commentary that the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ, which came supernaturally from the God of the supernatural and spread supernaturally by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit has become a gospel that today can only be understood and comprehended after degrees of theology, psychology, divinity, and studies in counseling, family therapy, leadership, youth ministries, and on and on the degrees go.  No longer, it seems, is there the necessity of the Holy Spirit and certainly not the supernatural.  Modern Christianity has learned how to deal with the issues that trouble mankind, issues that not only destroy lives but that destroy societies and even nations, and that apart from the supernatural.  The supernatural, they say, was given to the early church to “kick off” the gospel, and from there we can handle it through study alone.  Needless to say, we only have to look at the turmoil around us to find that man’s intellectual prowess, even with his academic ability to quote scripture and give some scholarly insight, is insufficient to meet the onslaught of lawlessness that is ever growing in our modern world.  Leonard Ravenhill in his book While Revival Tarries wrote, “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it.  Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.  We have adopted the convenient theory that the Bible is a Book to be explained, whereas first and foremost it is a Book to be believed (and after that to be obeyed).”

        It is obvious that Mr. Ravenhill had read and considered Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:25-26, “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.”  The Apostle Paul also recognized how difficult it is for the wise to believe the simplicity in Christ, for to the church at Corinth he wrote that not many wise men are called, stating that God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise. (I Cor. 1:26-27)  It is not that God intends that His people be ignorant, for we are told to study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed (II Tim. 2:15).  However, in our study we must always listen to the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, for if our learning is apart from the Spirit of God, it is very lacking.

Called to Rest

        Jesus spoke of a rest in Matthew 11.  He proceeds to call those who will simply believe to come unto Him and rest.  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  How few live in the rest to which Christ invites us.  The peaceful and satisfying rest for which every soul longs and which is offered freely to any who will surrender to the call of God is rejected, and man in his pride and self-sufficiency will strive to find satisfaction in the things of this world.

        In writing to the Hebrews, the apostle hits the nail on the head when he exposes the root problem of those who do not find this resting place in Jesus Christ.  He uses the example of Israel and God’s desire to lead them out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan.  This was to be a land of rest, a land flowing with milk and honey where all the necessities of life would be provided by God’s gracious hand.  However, possession of this land required that Israel trust God explicitly.  The giants, which instilled fear in the people, appeared greater in their eyes than the God that had brought them out of Egypt.  Unbelief had limited the Holy One of Israel.  In reflecting upon the true spiritual rest promised to New Testament believers and secured through the work of Jesus Christ, the writer to the Hebrews begins chapter four with these words of warning: “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.”  It is obvious that this rest of man’s soul can be easily missed.  In our modern society with all the luxuries and pleasures, God’s rest often finds itself thrown carelessly in the toy box of worldliness and carnality.  Again let me quote from Leonard Ravenhill.  “Entertainment is the devil's substitute for joy.  The more joy you have in the Lord the less entertainment you need.”  When one finds God’s rest, he also finds he needs nothing of the world’s entertainment or pleasures.

Unbelief

        Continuing in Hebrews four: “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.”  And verse 6, “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.”  Notice the missing ingredient that caused Israel to miss God’s rest.  Unbelief!  In order for God’s word to produce the desired end, there must be a mixture, a combining of the word of God with faith.  God’s word, as great and wonderful and true as it is, is unable in itself to bring man into God’s rest.  It must be mingled with faith.  It is much like an epoxy.  Epoxy is a two part type of product that must be mixed together before the product is usable.  Neither part is of use without the other.  Likewise with God’s word, it will only produce its desired end when it is linked with and amalgamated with faith.  This same writer later in his book states, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)” (Heb. 11:6).  We find then that no matter how powerful God’s word is, void of faith it is limited.  God designed it to be this way, and this statement is certainly not intended to take away any power or authority from the word of God, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).  While God’s word is so powerful that God with His word alone, created the heavens, the earth and all that is within them, in God’s dealings with man, He designed His word to become effective in man’s life through faith.

        We see, then, why faith is so important.  Jesus Christ’s condescension, life, death and resurrection were not only to save man from hell or from sin alone but also to provide a way by which man could return to a special and personal relationship with God, the same relationship given Adam in the beginning.  Adam experienced God’s rest.  This wonderful plan and divine purpose of God is that which Peter says the angels desire to look into.  Paul refers to it as the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).  In order for a person to enter this rest he must first of all have a revelation that this place in God is available for him.  If he has never heard or been exposed to this teaching, no matter how true it may be, he will never head in that direction, for he doesn’t know it exists.  But once he sees this in scripture and the Holy Spirit stamps it upon his heart, then he must believe that it is possible to possess this rest.  While one may be confident scripture teaches a resting place in God, if he does not believe that it is offered to him and that he is “well able” to possess it, he will not apprehend it.  The text from Hebrews 4 likens this rest to the promised land of Canaan offered to Israel, and we can learn from their experience and grasp a clearer understanding of the importance of faith and how it works to bring God’s people into His rest.

A Land To Be Desired

        In Numbers 13, Israel came to the border of Canaan.  Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan to spy out the land.  Upon their return they all spoke of the bounty of the land and it to be a land that was desirable.  But ten of the spies began to speak about the giants in the land and convinced the people that the giants were too big and powerful for Israel to overcome them.  Only two, Caleb and Joshua, were convinced that Israel was able to take the land and overcome the giants, because God had promised it to them and God cannot fail.  The difference in how the spies saw the land was how they saw God.  Caleb and Joshua believed God’s promises that He would give them the land and the others did not believe.  (And by the way, those two who believed did enter the land. but the ten died in the wilderness.)

        Thirty-eight years later as Israel once again stood on the borders of Canaan, God gave Joshua some wonderful promises.  Consider His words to Joshua.

        Josh 1:3: “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.”

        Josh 1:5: “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

        Josh 1:9: “Have not I commanded thee?  Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

        With these promises from God, how could any man not feel fully confident that he was going to possess the land of Canaan?  So when we read in Hebrews that Israel entered not in because of unbelief and those under the New Covenant dispensation are admonished to guard against this same sin of unbelief, lest this plague of unbelief cause them to miss the rest of God, it clearly shows that there is a God-provided place of rest, a place still available for the people of God today.  But the question is: Who will believe the report and enter in?  Or: Who will follow Israel’s steps of unbelief?  As stated above, Jesus Christ provided this wonderful place of rest in God and secured it through His death and resurrection.

        Let’s consider another important event with Israel where God encouraged them to go forward and possess the land.  Joshua 2 records the event where two spies were sent into Jericho.  When they were discovered by the men of Jericho, Rahab the harlot hid them and helped them escape.  However, her words to them were words of encouragement and are recorded in Joshua 2:9-11.  “And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.  For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”  What words of encouragement!  What confidence would be gained from such words!

Obstacles

        Do you think that the powers of darkness do not understand the complete and perfect work of Jesus Christ upon the cross?  Do you think that they do not fear and tremble lest the church of Jesus Christ believe God’s word and possess this resting place in God?  Do you think that they are not working day and night to keep God’s people from believing His promises?  “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  How does the devil keep God’s people from entering in?  He keeps them occupied with other things, things such as the cares of this life, worldly entertainment, burdens and busyness of life.  He holds them through ignorance, condemnation, discouragement and above all keeps them in unbelief.

        How many of us have tasted that rest of God?  We, like the spies of Israel, have spied out the land, we have sampled the goodness of it and returned with a good report, but somehow we are unable to convince others that it is possible to experience a place in God where there is perfect peace, joy unspeakable and glory to the full.  And, sadly, we over time find ourselves drawn back into unbelief.  But let us not be weary or discouraged, for scripture (God) boldly proclaims “some must enter therein” (Heb. 4:6).  Some have in the past and some will presently and some will in the future.  Let us be among those who will not continue in unbelief but will take the promises of God to heart knowing that He will be with us and will fight our battles for us and will deliver the enemies into our hands until all the land be possessed.

 

 

 

 

A CHRISTIAN MUST BE ARMED

Wes Owen

        “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).

        Paul is disclosing how we can appropriate the power that fuels our faith and readies us for battle.  To put on this armor is to appropriate God’s power in a genuinely personal way.  The first requirement compels a change of heart.  We can boast that we have confidence in God, but if we do not truly believe in God in our heart we will never be able to put on this armor that will protect us in time of battle.  When a Christian fails to put on his armor it is as if he is rushing into battle without clothing or weapon.  It is, in a manner of speaking, as if he has signed his own death certificate.

        What is this armor?  Paul says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14).  Yes, we are to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ.  Please note that we are not told to innocently put on temperance in place of drunkenness, or for adultery to put on chastity.  Instead, we are told distinctly to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” implying that, until Christ is put on, man is unarmed or without armor.  Cloth, only in high standards or philosophical virtues, will not repel a full attack of temptations sent from Satan’s cannon.  It is the man who is suited up in Christ, or the armor, that will repel these charges.

        A person who is without Christ is in a state of nakedness and is unarmed.  He is totally unequipped to fight sin and Satan.  God made Adam and Eve with complete armor, but the devil persuaded them to commit the first sin.  Sin robbed them of their armor and left them poor, weak creatures.  This first breach opened the gates to let Satan in, and once in, the devil, without drawing a sword, brought a whole procession of deadly sins.

        What did Adam and Eve do when God came?  Rather than confessing their sin, they tried to hide from God and became evasive in their dealings with Him.  They accused each other, shifting the responsibility for their disobedience rather than pleading for God’s mercy.  How quickly deceit hardened their hearts.  Since that day, man’s nature has not changed: naked before Satan, and slaves unto him until the blood of Jesus Christ reclaims his soul for the service of the Lord.

        It is serious business to be caught without God’s armor.  You are alone in the world without God.  We are “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).  When we are not a child of God we have no more to do with any covenant promise than a citizen of Denmark has to do with the laws in America.  But, when we are citizens of God’s kingdom, Satan dare not come upon God’s ground to touch us.  What a hopeless condition for a soul to be left in his own defense against legions of lusts and devils.  He will be torn apart like a helpless lamb among a pack of wolves.

        Should one attempt to fight without putting on Christ, he must fight in the dark.  As a child of light, we may be in the dark from time to time concerning some truth or promise.  But we always have a spiritual eye which the Christless person lacks.  The worldly man is ignorant in resisting the devil, whereas the Christian’s knowledge of the truth struggles and brings back the soul that may have been taken prisoner by a temptation.  But, don’t be misled, the only way spiritual darkness can be overcome is by union with Christ.

        God is the sole designer of His saints’ armor.  The Christian warrior is bound by similar orders generated by God.  We are wasting our time if we are doing anything that is not by God’s design.  The ark was the means of Israel’s safety, but when the people began to glory in it instead of in God Himself, it hastened their overthrow.  The same is for us; duties and regulations, gifts and grace such as patience, temperance, virtue, etc., are from heaven for our soul’s protection; but it is imperative that they be kept in their proper place.  Should we trust in them more than we do in God, then we are on shaky ground.

        Our prayers, faith, hope and righteousness become armor only if they are of God’s design and by His commission.  They become useless when they are born of self.  Only that which is born of God overcomes the world.  A faith born of God, a hope born of God will survive.

        When this armor is properly worn, it covers the whole saint, both soul and body.  No part is left exposed; otherwise, Satan’s arrow may enter in through a small unprotected area (like the deadly arrow that penetrated the joints of Ahab’s armor I Kings 22:34).  If every part of us is armed except for our eyes, Satan can shoot his fireworks of lust in at that opening and set the whole house aflame.

        Our enemies are on every side, so our armor must be “on the right hand and on the left” (II Cor. 6:7).  Satan divides his temptations into several squadrons.  One squadron will strike here while another will attack there.  While you are repelling the enemy’s temptation to fleshly wickedness, he may be entering through a gate of spiritual wickedness.  Even though we may feel our actions are above reproach, what armor are we employing to defend our mind, our judgment?  Satan waits for the first opportunity to plant a seed of heresy that would take root and choke our faith.

        God designs each part of our armor for a particular function; thus, we must be properly robed.  To cover our heart with a helmet, or to hold a buckler in place of a breastplate will not completely cover us.  There are a series of graces that are provided to bring health and life to our soul, somewhat likened to the network of veins and arteries which carries blood through our bodies.  Should one vein be punctured and not stopped from bleeding, all our blood may pour from this outlet.  Should we neglect one duty, the strength of all the graces could be lost.

        Peter encourages us to embrace the whole body of grace.  Faith is the grace which leads the procession.  “add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (II Peter 1:5-7).  These graces are of mutual benefit to each other.  Martin Luther maintains that good works and gracious actions get their life from faith; faith, in turn, fattens and becomes strong on works.

        Peter tells us that knowledge is not the end of the work of grace.   To it we are to add temperance.  Without self control, both faith and reason may soon yield their valid place to temporal pleasures.  Temperance is an excellent steward.  It frequently inspects the soul and sets the saint’s affections in order so that we do not allow our holy duties to be overtaken with our own enjoyments.  Should we allow our love for our family and loved ones to override our love for the Lord, we cannot be a victorious soldier for Christ.  Accordingly, we need to pray for temperance which will keep our spiritual gauge in line with God’s will, giving us a warning when our heart grows too warm in our worldly affections or too cold toward Christ.

        We have spiritual kin, heirs to the same promise with us; therefore, we must add to godliness, brotherly kindness.  This is one of our Lord’s great commandments.  Our love for one another is another insignia of our allegiance to our King.  When Satan is able to set us at odds with a brother or sister, he is able to give a deep wound to our godliness and the whole cause of Christ.  He is well aware that we will not join hands in duty if we cannot join hearts in love.

        Charity is added to expand our responsibility beyond the family of believers to those who are outside the fold.  This grace empowers us to do good to the worst of men.  The more they curse us, the harder we should pray for them.

        Not only is the whole armor ideal for our perfection, but each piece must be kept perfect.  We are to keep each piece of this marvelous armor shining by not only seeking after each grace, but maturing in each grace.

        “Be ye…perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).  We should strive toward the goal to purify ourselves.  When our patience begins to whimper over a small ordeal, then is the time to apply self discipline to the situation and start forcing ourselves to practice patience rather than allowing circumstances to knock us on our back.  Each whimper that is overcome builds patience so that we will become spiritually strong when the load increases.

 

 

 

 

LITTLE FLOCK

Armando Montes

        We are living in the latter part of the last days.  The Lord gave Daniel some revelations about these days and told him to “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4).  It is amazing what man has invented in the last century.  The discovery and use of electricity has played a mighty role in our lives.  It has brought revolutionary changes in our daily activities.  Man has been able to develop ways and means to make life easier and more comfortable.  We should praise the Lord for this!  Surely knowledge has increased.  Means of communication have made this earth a small world.  Through these modern devices the world is at the tip of our fingers.  This world has undergone so many changes that our forefathers never dreamed of.

        I marvel at the hundreds of Christian books that are published every year.  Our bookstores are filled with books of How to do this, How to achieve that, How to gain success in life, How to have a lasting marriage, How to … and you name it!  Everywhere we find tools and resources at our disposal to help us to live a happy life.  Past generations did not have these aids.  Their modus vivendi did not have all the helps that we find in our lives today.  In spite of so much available help, the lives of many Christians are void of purpose and true joy in life.  Something is lacking!  Something is definitely wrong!

        We are living in a society that demands productivity and efficiency.  Success is measured by the amount of what we produce in our lives and ministries, big numbers, big names, big man-made organizations.  We are told and encouraged to aim high and even hit higher.  This measure of success has infiltrated every area of society.  The Church is not an exemption.  We see the same pattern in our Christian organizations.  Pastors and leaders in the Church have become professional chief executive officers.  As goes the world, so goes the Church.

        But be not fooled by big numbers.  True Christianity is not popular, has not been, and it will never be.  Masses refuse to take the cross and live a pure and holy life in the sight of a holy God.  God is not moved by crowds.  He is still looking for empty earthen vessels He can fill with His glory and power to finish His work.  “God never asks about our ability or our inability — just about our availability” (anonymous).  The Scriptures bear record of how God deals with His people.  Gideon had an army of 32,000 men.  The Lord tested them and reduced them to 300.  But with this small number He delivered Israel from the hands of the Midianites.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

        Our Lord Jesus Christ one time was asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?  And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:23-24).

        The Greek word translated strive in the above passage is agonizomai from which we derive our English agonize.  One of Thayer’s definitions is “to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive, to obtain something” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 10).  After our Lord Jesus was strengthened by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane, before facing the Cross, Brother Luke said, “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”  He was in deep pain when agonized in prayer.  He submitted His will to the will of our Heavenly Father (Thank you, our Lord Jesus, for your great agape love). He gave us an example of submission and commitment to the Father’s will.  We should follow His steps.

        Down through the centuries of human history, God has always had a “little flock.”  He is the good Shepherd.  His sheep know His voice and follow Him.  He has always had a remnant.  “A remnant shall be saved” (Rom. 9:27) in the last days.  Israel had departed from the way of the Lord in the days of the prophet Elijah.  It was a time of great apostasy.  The prophet thought he had been left alone in the service of the King of Glory.  The Lord told him, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel which have not bowed unto Baal” (1 Kings 19:8).  Elijah did not know, but God knew!  Seven thousand is still a small number compared to Israel’s population at that time.

        “And His fame went throughout all Syria…And there followed Him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan” (Matt. 4:23-25).  After reading these words, the reader would think that Jesus was very popular.  Not so!  At the Cross, He died, was reviled and even forsaken by His own disciples.  The masses wanted His healings, His miracles, but when He spoke of doing the will of the Father, numbers began to dwindle.  In John 6:66, we read, “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.”  Why?  They were offended at His words.  “Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it”?  (John 6:60) People want the blessings with no responsibility, no commitment.  Our present society is obsessed with the idea of feeling well, no pain, just having a good time.  It is a pleasure loving society.  It is a hedonistic society.  They are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:4).  Entertainment has taken hold of many churches.  They have succumbed to the bombardment of entertaining hellish forces.  We are witnessing a total change of values.  The religious leaders give their congregations what they want.  And they crave for entertainment.  It is an easy way to forget momentarily their problems.  It is an easy way to soothe their consciences and not deal with the root of their problems.

        God still has a little flock.  They are scattered among the nations.  They love the Lord.  They put effort to “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (Rev. 14:4).  They don’t have big names.  They might be unknown to the world, but their Master knows them.  They are willing to submit everything under His control: spirit, soul and body.

        God knows what is the best for His people.  He also knows how to deal individually with each one of us.  God’s methods are still efficacious today.  The lives of Joseph and Moses are living examples of how God prepared them to do His work.  They subjected themselves to the leading of the Lord in the midst of the furnace of affliction.  Like our Lord Jesus Christ, they learned obedience through suffering.  Moses had to be divested of the wisdom of the Egyptians and trained under “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

        It is high time for God’s people to surrender our wills completely to Him.  It is time to sit down again and count the cost.  The victory is ours if we let Him have His way.  And victories do not come by accident.  They are won in the battlefield, not as spectators, but as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.

        A final word of encouragement: Do not feel dismayed if you feel what you are doing for the Lord is not big or important.  As the songs say, “Little is much when God is in it;” “God is still on the throne, and He remembers His own.”  “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).

 

 

 

 

THE SAVING OF ISRAEL

Curtis Dickinson

        “And so all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26).  From this statement millions of believers are led to think that all the Jews of national Israel will one day be saved.  Such an idea contradicts the teaching of Christ and the explanation given by Paul.

        The name “Israel” is used in two ways in Scripture.  First, it is applied to the fleshly descendants of Jacob, who was surnamed “Israel.”  But Christ and the apostles used this name to designate true believers of whatever race or nation.  Paul wrote, “They are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:6-8).  He said, “And if ye are Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29).  These statements show that Christians qualify as the Israel of God.  (See also Gal. 3:7,8)

        To the church at Ephesus, made up of Gentiles, Paul wrote that they had been “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise,” but now in Christ they were “fellow-citizens” in the household of God.

        In Romans, Chapters 9-11, the apostle discusses the relation of the Jew to the Gospel (Paul uses Israel and Jew interchangeably).  In Chapter 9 he expresses his sorrow over Israel’s failure and consequent rejection.  He then explains that it is not the children of the flesh that are children of God but those who are of faith, and only a remnant of fleshly Israel are to be saved.

        In Chapter 10 Paul argues that God is just in His judgment upon Israel, having offered them three chances: under the prophets (9:30-33), the law (10:1-13) and the gospel (10:14-21), but they repeatedly rejected Him.  Note that “God did not cast off His people which He foreknew” (11:2).  God cast off the unbelieving Jews (11:15), but not His people whom He foreknew.  The people He foreknew are those who believe, who are called the “elect.”  “That which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened” (vs. 7).  This is the remnant mentioned in 9:2-29.  A remnant is a very small portion of the entire body, but it is only a remnant of the descendants of Jacob that truthfully can be called Israel, and they all will be saved, along with all the Gentles (nations) who become the heirs of Abraham by faith in Christ.  “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him; for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (10:12-13).

        God did not “cast off his people which he foreknew” (Rom. 11:2), but cast off those whom He did not foreknow – the unbelievers.  This is described as “the casting away of them” (Rom. 11:15), “their fall” (vs. 11), and being broken off” (vss. 17,20).  It is said that “God spared not the natural branches” (unbelieving Israelites) (vs. 21).  However, Paul also says that those who “continue not in their unbelief” shall be grafted back into the olive tree, which represents the entire body of all the redeemed.  So all believers, the true Israel of God, will be saved.

        The means of the salvation of “all Israel” mentioned in Romans 11:26 is explained in that verse and in verse 17, “And so all Israel shall be saved; even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins” (From Isa. 59:20; 27:9).  The Deliverer of Isaiah’s prophecy was Jesus and involved His first coming and death for sin – “when I shall take away their sins.”  Christ continues to take away the sins of all true believers, so that “all Israel” is saved.

        Paul goes on to explain that as long as they continue in unbelief they are enemies, “but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sake” (vs. 28).  He is arguing that the promises made to the fathers are fulfilled only in the remnant of believing Israel, therefore, he could not mean the conversion of all fleshly Israel.  Rather he says that “by the mercy shown to you (Gentiles) they (Jews) also may now obtain mercy.  For God has shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all” (vs. 31,32).  Jew and Gentile alike are under condemnation because of disobedience, and all can obtain mercy by turning to God through faith in Christ Jesus.  The promises of God still stand, but they are not received on the basis of fleshly or racial ties, but on the basis of faith, because of the mercy and grace of God.

        The word “so” (“And SO all Israel shall be saved.”) is an adverb telling in what manner all will be saved.  It has reference to the previous verses explaining that salvation is by faith in Christ.  And so, by faith in Christ, all the redeemed, the Israel of God, shall be saved.

        Since the establishment of the national state of Israel in 1948, there has been a feverish search in scripture to try to find prophecy relating to the event.  Old Testament prophecies, long ago fulfilled, are wrongly used to give political Zionism the support it has needed to obtain billions of dollars from U.S. taxes in its struggle for power.  Anyone questioning Jewish aims or activities is viciously smeared as “anti-Semitic” for not supporting “God’s chosen people.”

        But are the majority of Jews, whether in Palestine or anywhere else, related to Old Covenant Israel?  Not according to Jewish encyclopedias, the British and American encyclopedias and other authorities.  They agree that the Ashkenazim Jews, which make up over 90% of the world’s Jews, are of Khazar ancestry.  The Khazar kingdom formed part of the western Turkish empire and was located north of the Caucasian Mountains.  About 740 A.D., the Khazar ruler and others of the ruling classes adopted Judaism, which was then based upon the Talmud.  Remember that much of the teaching of the Talmud is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Bible.  Concerning the conversion of the Khazars to Judaism, The Encyclopedia Britannica says, “the fact itself is…undisputed and unparalleled in the history of central Eurasia” and “the story of this conversion of the Khazars had a considerable and lasting impact on the western world” (1973, Vol. 13, p. 329).

        The Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol. 2) says, “ASHKENAZ – a people traced back (Gen. X:3; I Chron. 1:6) through Gomer to Noah’s third son, Japheth.”  Therefore, they are not Semites, as Semites descended from Shem, not Japheth.

        After the destruction of their empire in the Twelfth Century, the Khazars migrated into Eastern Europe, primarily to Russia and Poland and, thence, to the west.

        In addition to their Khazar ancestry, there is the fact that Jews are so intermarried and absorbed into other nationalities that they cannot be identified as a “race.”  The Encyclopedia Britannica (1973, Vol. 12, p. 1054) says, “The findings of physical anthropology show that, contrary to the popular view, there is no Jewish race.”  Dr. Camille Honig, a Jewish authority, said that, “it is sheer nonsense…as well as unscientific to speak of a Jewish race.”

        What is most amazing is that with all the authorities, including Jews themselves, agreeing that modern Jews are NOT in any way related to ancient Israel and the biblical promises, we still have such a great number of evangelists and church leaders who insist that they are God’s chosen people and the heirs of God’s promises to Abraham’s seed.  Some may feel the necessity of this view in order to support the concept of an earthly/political millennial kingdom.  Certainly modern Zionists are capitalizing on this widespread idea, although they do not believe it themselves, to garner support for their political and military exploits.

        National Israel was found in apostasy, having rejected their own God.  In several parables Jesus said that they would be permanently removed from all covenant promises.  He told them, “the kingdom of God shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43).  The priests and Pharisees understood and were furious at Him for such teaching.

        It is an enormous tragedy that so many Christians have been led to focus on the cast-off, imperfect, temporal and replaced Israel at the expense of the glory of Christ in His present reign and the true hope of the eternal.

        To be a part of God’s chosen, the Jew must receive Christ by faith, just as anyone else does (Gal. 3:7,26-29).  When Jesus returns, it will not be as a Jewish Saviour, but to judge all those “who obey not the Gospel” (II Thess. 1:7-10) and to bestow immortality to all whom He has redeemed by His death and atonement.

        “And so all Israel shall be saved.”

 

 

 

 

PASSOVER 2017

 

        The time of the yearly Passover is close and People of the Living God will be observing this feast beginning at sundown on April 10th.  We will have a Passover meal in the evening along with the communion as Jesus ordained on His last evening with His disciples.  People of the Living God do not hold the belief that Passover observance is a salvation issue.  However, we do believe it is a time to give glory, honor and praise to Jesus Christ for offering Himself as the “Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world” and, thereby, freeing those who believe from eternal death brought about by sin.  It is a time to be thankful and to acknowledge the wonderful gift of salvation and that eternal life given us through the blood of Jesus Christ.  People of the Living God observe the feast of Passover, which includes the feast of Unleavened bread for one week.  We keep the first day as a Sabbath and the seventh day as a Sabbath.  So we will not be involved in our daily labors on April 11th or on April 17th.  On those days we will have fellowship together and gather for times of worship and praise.  May God bless all those who observe this feast and may we keep it unto the Lord.