People of The Living God

Psalms 8

 

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May 2017



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

The Rejected Bough

Alfred King

        In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, we have a very important teaching which Jesus gave to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion.  It is commonly called, “The parable of the Vine and the Branches.”  The heart of the message is that everyone who is a true follower of Jesus Christ must bear good fruit.  Some of the fruit to which Jesus refers are the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 4:22-23.  The only possible way to bear the desired fruit is for the believer to abide in the Vine, and that vine is Jesus Christ.  According to Jesus’ teaching, the branch which does not bear good fruit is cut off from the Vine, it withers and is cast into the fire and burned.  While the lesson presented in this parable is very easy to understand, it is not so simple in application to one’s life. Abiding in Jesus is something that takes diligence, perseverance and consistency.  It is very easy for things of this world, the cares and responsibilities of life to crowd out the time necessary to maintain one’s personal relationship with Christ.  We live in a world where so many activities and obligations press us and demand our time, our resources and our energies and create an atmosphere where abiding in Christ is much more difficult than when life was simpler in past ages.  It’s not that their life was trouble-free or undemanding, for it was not.  Those who lived a hundred years ago worked long hours under difficult conditions in order to provide the necessities for their families.  But while their life was tough, they were not encumbered with so many demands to “keep up with the Jones.”  They had no home entertainment to keep them from going to church.  They had no air conditioning to keep them inside, so they went out and fellowshipped with others. Neighbors knew each other well and visited, but today, wherever you go, people are talking on their cell phones rather than communicating with others.  Yet in today’s world cell phones have become a necessity.  If you break down in your vehicle, you can’t find a pay phone to make an emergency call.  Pay phones are no longer available.  But once one spends his hard-earned money for a cell phone, then he has to add all the extras which costs even more.  Cell phones, internet connections, xfinity TV, Netflex, gaming computers, etc. not only require us to labor to provide these things for ourselves and our families, but they are the very things that rob us of our time necessary for abiding in the Vine.  In the past, none of these things existed to destroy our relationship with Christ.  So, today men labor long hours, not just for necessities, but for luxuries, the very luxuries that tend to lead them away from the Vine in which they must abide if they are to produce good fruit.  While it is true that some of the means of communication have become an asset to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, at the same time, Christians using them in a productive manner must be careful, for they can very easily fall into the trap of wasting hours on foolishness and deprive themselves of the time required to bear fruit by abiding in the Vine.

        One very important point in Jesus’ words to His disciples in John 15 is that unless one abides (dwells, lives) in Christ Jesus, he cannot bear good fruit.  Many men and women today think that because they go to church regularly, pay their tithe and don’t commit gross sins, everything is okay between them and the Lord.  Such is not the case.  Abiding in Christ is to dwell in Christ every day, not just a couple times a week or when it is convenient.  In the fourth verse of John fifteen, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  Can it be stated any more clearly?  To bear the fruit God requires cannot be produced apart from dwelling daily in Christ Jesus.

        To abide in Christ one must first be born again.  This is when he becomes a child of God and is grafted into the Vine, Christ Jesus.  Abiding involves spending time in God’s word and in prayer, which then works in the heart to bring about total commitment to God.  The branch must submit his will to the will of God; it is the only way he can produce good fruit.  As the Holy Spirit enlightens the scriptures to his mind, he conforms his life to what the Holy Spirit is teaching him in God’s word.  When he reads in the Sermon on the Mount that one must go the extra mile, he applies that command to his life.  When he reads in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven,” he realizes that to be an accepted and pleasing child of God, he must apply this lesson to his life.  This is bearing “good fruit.”  Any Christian who does not abide in Christ by conforming his life to the will of God will be cut off and cast into hell fire.  The lesson is that simple.

The Rejected Bough

        A bough is defined as “a main branch of a tree.”  From a spiritual perspective, a bough might be considered a church or a nation which was specifically blessed by God because they were living according to God’s word.  Israel of old would be considered a bough, for they were God’s chosen people and His blessing rested upon them when they followed His commands.  It seems obvious to me that a more modern bough was the United States of America.  Many of those who came to this country came because they wanted to serve God according to the dictates of their own hearts.  They wanted to be free to live their lives according to how they understood scripture commanded rather than having the state or some rich and fat religious organization forcing their ideals and theologies upon them.  They were tired of the money hungry institutions demanding more and more while at the same time violating the very word of the God Whom they claimed to be serving.  Like the Pharisees of old, they had instituted their own rigid legalistic creeds, their man-made, man-concocted and man-instituted form of religion, which served to make themselves lords over the common people.  America became a refuge from such dictatorial organizations and their leaders.

        However, not all those who came to the new world came for religion freedom, for there were also those who came for the wealth they perceived to be available.  In spite of those who came for selfish reasons, God blessed this nation because of those who came for the purpose of serving Him according to His word.  Most Americans have heard of a famous quote by the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, “America is great because she is good.  If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  He wrote this after having traveled to America, and he saw the morality and general goodness that existed among most of the people coupled with the freedom offered by the American government.  This government was based upon Judeo-Christian principles.  God showered His blessings upon this nation because there was a reverence for God and His word and many lived accordingly.

        But we must always remember that God also brings judgment upon a nation which violates His word.  He brought judgment upon His chosen people Israel many times when they sinned.  God’s judgment has also been upon America when she has not followed God’s teachings.  One of the greatest transgressions in American history is the slavery imposed upon the black race.  The sin did not exist only in America, for black men kidnapped and imprisoned their black brothers and sold them to slave traders.  Many of those men and women captured and sold never made it to their destination because of diseases and sickness.  When one became sick on the trek to America, they were tossed overboard like unwanted refuse in order to keep the sickness from spreading to other slaves.  Many boats packed tight with slaves were only half filled by the time they reached America’s shores.  Was this according to God’s word?  Absolutely not!  How could these actions demonstrate God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself?  Yet even “Christians” purchased slaves and used them for their menial tasks.  It is true that many slaves grew to love their owners because they were treated humanely, but many others were abused and mistreated, and some even died at the hands of their masters.  Did God judge America because of slavery?  Look at history.  God’s judgment fell upon this nation as this country was divided, with the result being the Civil War.  Of course, we understand that the Civil War was not directly over slavery, rather it was over states’ rights.  Yet slavery was one of the main platforms that Abraham Lincoln ran on and, once elected, he began to form an army for the purpose to force the issue.  The south immediately responded by seceding from the union and raising their own military to protect their land and freedoms.  However, this was the judgment of God upon a nation who claimed to be Christian, and God’s judgment brought about the death of more American men than any other American war.  The estimates range anywhere from 490,000 to 700,000 men.  God judged this nation severely and still today, over 150 years later, America is still reaping the consequences of that great transgression, for the strife between the races still exists in America.

        Today we live in a generation which has rejected God’s word.  We live among a people who can kill over a million babies a year through abortion, sanctioned by our government, and think that God does not see.  But be assured, just as Abel’s blood cried out from the ground and God heard, so God hears the cry of the unborn, slain in their mother’s womb.  (God does forgive those who have had abortions, and there are many women who have come to Jesus Christ in repentance and have received of God’s glorious grace in forgiveness.  So if there are those who bear the guilt of this transgression, remember, there is a God in heaven Who forgives, for He paid our sin debt on the cross.  Praise God!)  Many, if not most, Americans do not even believe in God anymore, so they go about their business serving the gods of this world, pleasing their own carnal appetites and are ignorant of the pending judgment of God that hangs over this nation.  They can shove God out of the classrooms leaving our children exposed to humanism and atheism so that this generation is void of any concept of God or His word.  They are taught “situation ethics” leaving them with no standards upon which to base good and evil.  America refuses to have God’s law in her courts so that His word is no longer the standard for right and wrong.  In entertainment, God is used only as one to be mocked and laughed at.

        Consider a few portions of scripture which confirm God’s judgment on America is close at hand.  I Sam. 15:23, “Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”  This scripture is in reference to King Saul who refused to obey God’s commands.  Therefore, God rejected him from being king.  Because America has rejected God and His word, God will reject this nation from being a world power.

        Jer. 6:19, “I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words nor to my law but rejected it.”  Jeremiah is warning Judah that as God rejected Saul for disregarding His word, so God will reject Judah as a nation for the same reason.  Consider seriously Jeremiah’s warnings in chapters six and seven.

        “Reprobate silver shall men call them, (Judah) because the Lord hath rejected them” (Jer. 6:30).  “for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath” (Jer. 7:29).

        In the New Testament, we have a similar warning in Hebrews 6:7-8, “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

        When God pours out His blessings, He expects good fruit, whether the blessings fall upon a person or a nation.  When thorns and briars are the product, that branch or bough will be cast into the fire and burned.  Jesus warned in Luke 17 that things would go on as normal up to the time that judgment falls.  Luke 17:26-29, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.”

        For those who have been taught that Christians will escape the judgment of God, do not be deceived.  Judgment begins at the house of God.  Those who think they will be raptured out have been deceived.  There will be a way in which God will keep and protect His people but it will not be a rapture.  Every Christian must begin to seek the Lord and have his ears tuned to hear when God speaks, for He will lead those who are seeking Him and will make a way for them through the times of judgment.  Abide in the Vine.  Dwell in His presence.  Read and study His word daily and remain in a constant state of prayer, and you will be able to bear good fruit and God will go before you.  God bless.

 

 

 

 

“THE TIME OF THE HARVEST”

Harold Scullin

        “Now all these things happened unto Israel for our ensamples; and they are written for our admonition: upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor. 10:1-11).

        Let us consider Israel at the time of their crossing the Jordan River: they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years, Moses had passed away, Joshua was now in command.  This large multitude of people with their livestock was ready to cross the Jordan River “into a land that flowed with milk and honey” (Joshua 5:6).

        The Lord instructed Joshua “to be strong and courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses, my servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:7).  “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous and thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8).  “Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, prepare your victuals: for within three days ye shall pass over Jordan” (Joshua 1:11).

        In chapter 3:6,13,14,15, Joshua commanded “the priests to take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people.  As soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above: and they shall stand upon an heap.  And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bear the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, for Jordan overflowed all the banks all the time of the harvest.”  The Hebrew translates the time of the harvest as “The Time of the Wheat Harvest.”  This was in the early spring season, for in Joshua 4:19 “the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month.”  In chapter 5:10, “the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, in the plains of Jericho.”

        Take note of the supernatural intervention in the crossing of Jordan.  “The waters were parted and the people went over on dry ground.”  The parting of the waters and the dry ground were supernatural events that resulted from the obedient response of the priests to the instruction given them by the Lord.  This act of obedience on the part of the priests permitted the Lord God to perform this miracle and bring honor and glory to His Name: also, this great event was an outstanding testimony to the enemies that surrounded these people (Joshua 5:1) that the Living God was in the midst of His people.

        These priests were human, with a carnal nature that was subject to doubt, unbelief, questions, as all individuals who walk with the Lord Jesus.  Fortunately, they did not listen to the reasonings of the carnal mind which could have suggested “how foolish to walk out into those flood waters; they could be drowned!”  Instead, they put down the carnal fleshly thoughts and obeyed the instructions given them.  Not only did the Great and Mighty God “part the waters for them” but also “they STOOD FIRM ON DRY GROUND” (Joshua 3:17).

        This test of their faith was very similar to the conflict the servants of God have today – “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).  “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that YE CANNOT DO THE THINGS YE WOULD” (Gal. 5:17).

        In all periods of time individuals have honored the Most High God by obeying His Word and commands.

        Joshua instructed the people “to take twelve men, out of every tribe” and instructed them, “Take you hence out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night” (Joshua 4:2,3).  These stones were to be A MEMORIAL of the waters of Jordan parting for Israel to pass over.

        The number twelve refers to the government of God – Divine Government; there were twelve tribes in Israel and there were twelve apostles in the New Testament church through which the government, and the laws of His Kingdom were dispensed.

        If Israel needed Divine counsels and instruction to cross over the flood waters of Jordan, HOW MUCH MORE do the saints of God need Divine counsel and instruction to lead us and guide us that we make the right choice and not become contaminated with the filthiness of the flesh and spirit and the lust of the flesh in these evil and dark days.

        Our “ENSAMPLE” has some encouraging words for us.  It is the ministry and work of the priests.  Remember, it was because of the faithfulness and obedience of the priests to the instructions of Joshua that the waters separated and the dry land appeared.  God’s blessing was upon the people because of the obedience of these priests.

Where Are The Priests Today?

        “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father: to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (Rev. 1:6); “and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10).

        Why are not these kings and priests ministering today?  For one thing, they have not bee instructed.  Intercessory prayer has never been a very glamorous ministry.  Only a few souls have stood in the breach and filled in the gap when the judgment of God was threatening.  ABRAHAM – a man of God – made intercession for the Lord to delay judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, because of Lot and his family.  The Lord heard Abraham’s cry and held back judgment.

        Consider the following Scriptures in the light of the present needs of this hour.  “I sought for a man to make up the hedge and stand in the gap, but I found none” (Ezek. 22:30).  “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now and know, and seek in the broad places, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it” (Jer. 5:1).  “saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor” (Isa. 59:16).

        HOW MANY of God’s servants measure up to these standards?  Many have never been instructed concerning prayer and intercession.  The Word of God does not speak very highly of such ministers.  Isaiah 56:10,11 identifies such shepherds, “His watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yea, they are all greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his quarters.”

        The sheep that are hungry and who desire a closer and deeper walk with the Lord, those who want to please the Lord Jesus in their every day life, our counsel to you is to seek the Lord God in the privacy of your own closet, seek Him alone, pour out your heart to Him; He understands, He will hear your cry and will give you the answers to your problems.

        To safely cross Jordan on dry land requires complete death to the carnal man, the fleshly mind.  Not death as we think of it when some loved one passes away: a funeral is held, the body is placed in a coffin and buried in the earth – not this type of death.  Paul said in I Corinthians 15:30, “I DIE DAILY.”  There is a price to be paid when we make our decision to obey the word of God and do His will.  We have to put down our own desires, plans and wishes, “we crucify the flesh.”  Paul writes about this conflict in II Corinthians 10:3-5, “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  That is surrender!

        This is very painful and sometimes very hard and takes time to work it all out so that the Lord is honored.

        The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of those individuals who will completely surrender their wills to the will of Jesus, and crucify the flesh and the lust thereof.  The Lord Jesus desires that you “love Him with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  The Lord Jesus desires to restore the kingdom of God in all of its glory and majesty and power and authority.  This could be the promised land.

        A man of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit several years ago, wrote the following paragraph concerning “complete death to self.”

        “Death must be experienced.  It is not an abstract idea.  To present one’s body ‘a living sacrifice’ is a degree along the way to perfection.  But this surrender goes far beyond that of bodily surrender.  One’s human spirit is brought to the altar of sacrifice where death to every thought, every human ambition and plan is finally consummated.  Every thought must be brought into captivity to the spirit of God.  Unless one has a revelation of the extent of such complete submission, it is humanly impossible to conceive its meaning.”

 

 

 

 

A CALL TO OBEDIENCE

James Sanderson

        A spirit of lawlessness pervades modern society on a scale unprecedented in history.  Drugs and violence now inundate many of the cities of America.  The sexual revolution with its if-it-feels-good-do-it mentality has spawned an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancies, broken homes, and ruined lives.  Every 13 seconds a new case of a sexually transmitted disease is reported among the youth of this land.  Between 50% and 60% of all new marriages will end in divorce court.  Our crime rate is by far the worst in the world.  Organized crime alone reaps ten times the profit of the largest corporation in America.  The recent scandals in the banking industry and certain governmental agencies will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.  In short, basic moral standards and ethics have been sacrificed on the altar of expediency and self-interest.

        In the midst of the alarming moral and social disintegration that has begun to shake the very foundations of Western civilization, what has been the testimony of the church?  Sad to say, instead of being a city set on a hill, most of Christendom has sought to embrace the materialistic standards and values of the world.  The lifestyle of most Christians today is not much different than that of their worldly counterparts.  Consider all the time, energy, and money wasted in pursuit of the material benefits that this world has to offer.  Observe also the prominence placed upon financial success, social status, and popularity even among Christians.  Christian parents are concerned more that their offspring receive a proper education in order to enter into a successful career or occupation than that they gain a foundation in Jesus Christ that will carry them through the dark days ahead.

        Leonard Ravenhill in his book Revival God’s Way poses a question that is apropos to the subject at hand.

        “I am puzzled, and I get no answer to a question which I have presented to some of the topline Pentecostals and charismatics.  Here is the question: There were 120 men and women in the Upper Room, and (without our electronic media, our gospel printing houses, 100,000 preachers, Bible schools, etc.) they ‘turned the world upside down.’ Now, with the five million Spirit-filled people mentioned above, plus all the millions in the main-line denominations, and with some cities boasting ‘We have more than 120 churches now with Spirit-filled people,’ why do we have the greatest mass of sin within the nation (and the churches) that we have ever known?  Where is the ‘salt’?” (page 58)

        This provocative statement deserves careful consideration.  A verse from the prophet Isaiah may have an answer to this dilemma.  “In that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach” (Isa. 4:1).  These seven women (religious institutions) had no desire to partake of the bread that the one man (Jesus Christ) had to offer.  Their only desire was to be called Christian so that they would display a certain respectability before the world.

        Most present-day Christian churches have little desire to partake of the bread that our Lord Jesus Christ has to offer.  Nor are they interested in being clothed with His righteousness.  What are the grounds that support such a serious charge?  The evidence is twofold.  One has only to make an unbiased comparison of the teachings and practices of the modern Christian church with those of the early church.  Moreover, the very words of present-day Bible expositors and teachers also present strong evidence in support of this charge.

        The 120 in that Upper Room not only experienced a wonderful outpouring of the Holy Spirit but also manifested a testimony that was unadulterated by the moral decadence of their day.  The pressures of mammon did not legislate the way of life of those early believers.  Nor did the church attempt to amalgamate the values of the social system around them with the Christian message.

The Apostles’ Doctrine

        “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:42,44).  This portion of Scripture embodies the very heart and soul of the early church.  These religious practices stamped this company of believers as being different from the world.  Remove these divine expressions of service to our Lord, then one has nothing more than a religious façade without life or purpose.  If the millions of Spirit-filled Christians today seriously undertook to live and practice literally the way of life of the early church, they would most certainly begin to turn the world upside down.

        What was the apostles’ doctrine?  It was definitely not some new wind of doctrine or a fresh revelation designed to tickle the ears of the masses.  These men had walked with the Lord of Glory for three and a half years.  They had sat under His divine instructions.  They had viewed and experienced first hand His way of life.  Finally, they had been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit that they might be His witnesses.  Just prior to His ascension into heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ gave specific orders to His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).  The apostle John states, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” (I John 1:3).  The apostles’ doctrine included the teachings and sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

        The early church did not publish a set of by-laws or articles of faith decided upon by an elected board of elders.  Nor did they appoint a committee to draft a doctrinal statement acceptable to the believers.  The very same commandments that our Lord Jesus Christ taught became the constitution of that early assembly.

And Fellowship

        Another testimony of the early church was fellowship.  This word fellowship encompasses far more than attending a church function with other members of an ecclesiastical organization.  The early church practiced fellowship twenty-four hours of the day.  Their whole way of life was fellowship.  The word fellowship, or koinonia in the Greek, means “sharing in common.”  The early church lived a life of sharing.  “neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (Acts 4:32).  “as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:34-35).  This way of life was a direct result of following the teachings of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Love constrained them to share all that they had with one another.  Such a way of life helped to curtail the drive to accumulate material goods.

        Those early believers were motivated by one supreme desire: to obey every word that fell from the lips of the Master.  Under the unction of the Holy Spirit, the apostles brought to their attention the commandments of our Lord.  “Sell your possessions, and give alms; make to yourselves purses not growing old, a treasure unfailing n the heavens” (Luke 12:33 Berry’s Interlinear).  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth” (Matt. 6:19).  “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not (not consecrateth) all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).  As they put into practice these teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, their whole way of life was altered.

        The bread that the seven women did not want to eat represents Jesus Christ and His words.  Jesus made this statement, “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed” (Luke 9:26).  One cannot separate Jesus from His words.  Unlike present-day institutional Christianity, the early church esteemed the words of Jesus more than their necessary food (Job 23:32).

Scofieldism

        Another evidence that the present-day Christian church does not want to partake of the bread that Jesus Christ has to offer comes directly from the lips of the much-esteemed theologians themselves.  Many of these Bible Expositors have so confused the basic truths of the Scriptures that most Christians today have little regard for the commands of Jesus Christ.

        One book that has probably had the greatest influence in this direction is the Scofield Reference Bible.  Scofield’s method of notation places his ideas and doctrines on the same level as the Scriptures themselves.  The teachings of Scofield are required study in many Bible schools and colleges.  Religious broadcasters spend millions of dollars in order to disseminate the teachings of this one man.  Major Bible colleges offer correspondence courses based on the notes contained in the Scofield Reference Bible.  There are church organizations and denominations that require pastors, workers, and members to adhere to Scofield’s teachings.  Recently Scofield’s notes have even become available in the modern translations of the Bible, not merely in the King James Version.

        It might be well to allow Mr. Scofield to speak for himself in order to reveal his feelings concerning the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The first quote is extracted from an article written by Scofield: “The Sermon on the Mount is law, and that raised to its highest, most dreadful, and destructive potency.”  Three other quotes that follow the same train of thought are found in Scofield’s notes.  “The Sermon on the Mount is pure law…For these reasons the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the Church” (page 1000).  “It is evident that the really dangerous sect in Corinth was that which said, ‘and I of Christ’ (I Cor. 1:12).  They rejected the new revelation through Paul of the doctrines of grace; grounding themselves, probably, on the kingdom teachings of our Lord as ‘a minister of the circumcision’ (Rom. 15:8); seemingly oblivious that a new dispensation had been introduced by Christ’s death” (page 1230).

        If it were not for the popularity of this man’s writings and the seriousness of the subject, one could disregard these oracular statements as mere prattle.  What conclusion does one draw from these quotations?  First, the message of Jesus Christ as contained in the Sermon on the Mount is no longer in effect.  Nor should it be considered doctrine for the Church.  Secondly, Paul proclaimed a different message from our Lord.  Finally, it is very dangerous for one to consider seriously obeying the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Every one of these conclusions has absolutely no basis in Scripture.

        It is actually very dangerous not to ground oneself in the kingdom teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As has been mentioned above, Jesus divinely instructed His followers to teach all nations “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).  When every man stands before the judgment bar of God, he will be judged on the basis of his response to the words of Jesus Christ.  “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

        As to the implication that Paul had a different message from our Lord Jesus Christ, it might be well to allow Paul himself to answer that charge.  “If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words” (I Tim. 6:3).  “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:8-9).  It sounds as though Paul was aware of Christ’s message in John 12:48.

The Law Under Attack

        Mr. Scofield is not the only one that has placed a stumbling block in the path of those who would seek to follow the words of the Master.  Here is a quote from a very popular author:

        “The law is through with us, but we won’t let go of it.  Let’s look at what we’ve done with the law in our Christian lives today.  Many say, ‘Sure, we’re free from the law of Moses, but we’re under the higher Law of Christ, which means that we have to keep the Sermon on the Mount and all the laws of the New Testament.’  If the law of Moses was impossible to keep, and it was, how on earth do we suppose that we can keep the laws of the New Testament which are a thousand times tougher?”

        And another quote from the same author:

        “If you seek to be made righteous as a believer by obedience to the law, any kind of law, you have cut off the power of Christ in your life.  That’s what Paul says in Galatians 5:1-5.  The law just doesn’t speak to us anymore as a basis of operation in the Christian life.  When Christ died, was buried, rose, and ascended, we died with Him to the law and its power over us.  A friend of mine tells a story to illustrate this.  You’re in a car going twenty in a twenty-five-mile zone.  A cop is following you, and you’re really watching yourself.  Overhead, there’s a bird doing forty.  You glance at the policeman, but he doesn’t move.  Why?  Because the law of twenty-five-miles-an-hour just doesn’t have jurisdiction over that bird” (Hal Lindsey, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, pages 176,178,179).

        What are the implications of this preposterous reasoning?  First, the reader begins to sense that the law, especially the words of Jesus and the Ten Commandments, are some type of bondage and a tremendous burden to the Christian.  Secondly, the commands of our Lord are impossible to keep, so why try?  Thirdly, the death of Jesus on the cross delivered the Christian from all obligation to God’s law.  Finally, there is an insinuation by way of illustration that God made a way whereby man could be saved and still disobey the law or at least circumvent the law.

        Much misunderstanding regarding the law of God and man’s relationship to it has resulted primarily from a gross misinterpretation of the words of Paul.  This situation did not occur by accident.  The Almighty designed His word in such a way that it would be a snare to the mere trifler.  “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded…And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient” (I Peter 2:6,8).  Peter also declared that Paul’s epistles contained “some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Peter 3:16).

        God’s moral law as contained in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount is not a burden to the believer.  “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  When Paul was speaking about the “yoke of bondage” in Galatians five, he was not talking about the moral law.  If he were, then there would be a distinct contradiction between John and Paul.  The “yoke of bondage” was the “Jews religion” with all its added laws (Gal. 1:13).  The law of circumcision was the distinguishing mark of that whole system of belief that Paul was castigating throughout the book of Galatians.  Jesus Himself drove this point home quite clearly, “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be born and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matt. 23:4).  The laws of the Jews were grievous, but the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ were not.

        One can search the Bible from cover to cover, and he will never find a verse that declares that man lacks the ability to observe any law that God has commanded man to keep.  What kind of God do we serve Who would issue impossible directives?  When God gave ancient Israel His commandments through His servant Moses, he meant for the people to keep every one of them.  “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God” (Deut. 11:26-28).  Furthermore, only commandment-keepers will find entrance into heaven.  “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

Charles Finney Speaks

        Jesus Christ did not die on the cross so that man can live above the law as is implied by the illustration.  The good news of the gospel is that man can be restored to a proper relationship with God and become a law-abiding citizen of the kingdom of God.  “Not only does the gospel not cancel the obligations of the moral law, but it does in no degree abate them.  Some people talk about gospel liberty as though they had received a new rule of life, less strict, and allowing more liberty than the law.  I admit that it has provided a new method of justification, but it everywhere insists that the rule of life is the same with the law.  The very first sentence of the gospel, the command to repent, is in effect a re-enactment of the law, for it is a command to return to obedience.  The idea that the liberty of the gospel differs from the liberty of the law is erroneous” (Charles Finney).

        The writer above claims that the law doesn’t speak to the Christian “anymore as a basis of operation in the Christian life.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Sanctification and the development of divine character are dependent upon the application of divine law to the life through the help of the Holy Spirit.  “The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7).  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).  “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).  God’s Word and His Will and His Law are all synonymous.  “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).  “We have repeatedly seen that the will is the executive or controlling faculty of the mind.  Sanctification consists in the will’s devoting or consecrating itself and the whole being, all we are and have, so far as powers, susceptibilities, possessions are under the control of the will, to the service of God, or, which is the same thing, to the highest interests of God and of being.  Sanctification, then, is nothing more nor less than entire obedience, for the time being, to the moral law” (Charles Finney, Systematic Theology, page 341).

License to Sin?

        Another doctrine that has added to the lawlessness and permissiveness so prevalent in the church is the doctrine of eternal security.  According to this unscriptural teaching there is nothing that a truly born again Christian can do to lose his salvation.  From a book designed for group study, we quote: “When a Christian woman sets aside God’s instruction and either through ignorance or deliberate disobedience gets involved with a man to whom she is not married, she is welcoming many problems.  Some take effect immediately.  Others surface later.  For a Christian who dabbles with sin, an appetite is stimulated that grows.  Salvation isn’t lost but the joy of salvation disappears.  The relationship with God isn’t broken; He never leaves us” (Miriam Neff, Discover Your Worth, page 148).

        The implications of such a doctrine are quite plain.  Man can live in sin and still be saved.  He may feel a little uncomfortable, but he is still saved.  There is nothing to fear since the wages of sin are no longer death.

        “Does the Bible anywhere recognize a justification in sin?  Where is such a passage to be found?  Does not the law condemn the sinner in whose heart the vile abomination is found?  What! a sinner justified while indulging in rebellion against God!” (Charles Finney, Systematic Theology, page 56)

        One doctrine basic to New Testament theology states that salvation is available only to those who forsake all known sin in their lives.  The Holy Spirit cannot dwell in an unclean vessel, and the blood of Christ will not be effective in the life of the individual who is practicing known sin.  “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).  “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:6-7).  Fellowship with God and the cleansing blood of Christ are only available to those who walk in the light.

        How long will God tolerate those who blatantly disregard the words of our Lord Jesus Christ?  How long will the Lord continue to be longsuffering toward a church that has compromised its standards in order to become accepted by the world?  The signs of the times indicate that a day of reckoning is fast approaching.  The Apostle Peter declared, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:17).  “By the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,” the Lord will accomplish a complete separation of the tares from the wheat.  “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire” (Matt. 13:41-42).  In that day the church will shine as a mighty beacon of light and truth before all men.  Only those who are willing to surrender their lives in complete obedience to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ will be counted among that company of people.

 

 

 

 

SABBATH OBSERVANCE

Al Van Dyk

        “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Ex. 20:8-11).

        God set aside the seventh day (Saturday) as a day of rest from the very beginning, even before He made man (Gen. 2:2,3).

        The Sabbath is a special day for God and His people forever.  It is a blessed and holy day set aside for rest and worship.

        Sabbath observance is an important part of the 10 Commandments (Ex. 20:8-11). This fourth commandment is one of the most significant of all commandments, explained in greater detail than most of the other commandments.

        The commandment to observe the Sabbath day is still in effect just as the other commandments of God are (Matt. 5:17-19).

        The Bible says the command to observe the Sabbath day is “a perpetual covenant” (Ex. 31:16).  Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines perpetual as “continuing forever; everlasting unceasing, eternal.”  The requirement to observe the Sabbath did not end with the Old Testament as some people say.  The requirement to observe the Sabbath as a holy day of rest and worship is still in effect.

        God promises a special blessing for His people if they observe the Sabbath.

        “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from dong thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isa. 58:13,14).

        We are missing God’s blessing if we are not observing His holy Sabbath.  Return to God’s Sabbath and you will experience His favor and success in His ways.

        The Bible very emphatically states in several places that the Sabbath is a day of rest.  It is a time for God’s people to cease from their labor; to take a break; to be still before God; to rest and wait on Him in a special way (Ex. 20:9,10; Ex. 31:15; Lev. 16:31; Jer. 17:21-24).

        The Sabbath should not be a day of worldly pleasure.  It is a day to worship God; to “take delight in Jehovah” (Isa. 58:13,14).

        Sabbath observance is a distinguishing mark of God’s people.  It is a sign between God and His people indicating our special relationship to Him.

        “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:17).

        Those who observe the Sabbath show they are a special, holy and sanctified people, set aside for God.

        God clearly and definitely tells us in His Word to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day – Saturday (not on Sunday).  “but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:10).

        The practice of observing the Sabbath on Sunday has no scriptural basis.  It is not from God.  Religious Sunday observance is a pagan practice which had its beginning in Babylon.  Sunday was called “The day of the Sun” – Dies Solis.  The worship of God on Sunday was incorporated into the Roman Church by Constantine on March 7, 321, through the “Edict of Constantine.”  This was done to appease the pagan element in the official Roman State Church.  It is a pagan practice from heathen Babylon implemented by man and not by God.  Apostate Christianity has distorted God’s ways by changing the Sabbath from the seventh day to Sunday.

        Some people say we should rest and worship God on Sunday instead of Saturday because Christ was resurrected on Sunday.  But this reveals another error.  The Bible tells us Jesus was resurrected on the Sabbath (seventh day), not on Sunday (Matt. 28:1-8).

        Jesus kept the Sabbath (Luke 17:2).  Jesus disregarded and even purposely broke the superficial, religious and legalistic observance of man-made rules regarding the Sabbath as practiced by the phony scribes and Pharisees, but He observed God’s holy day of rest and worship in spirit and truth.  Jesus and His disciples observed the Sabbath day on the seventh day (Matt. 24:20; Luke 23:56).

        The women who followed Jesus in His ministry, obeying Jesus’ instructions and example, observed the seventh day as a Sabbath day of rest.  They had learned the correct day of rest from Jesus Himself.  They rested and waited until after the Sabbath to anoint the body of Jesus (Luke 23:56).

        Some might say that the Sabbath law and practice has been cancelled in the New Testament because we are now living under grace instead of law.  However, as pointed out earlier, the moral laws of God are still in effect (Matt. 5:17-20).  Jesus and His disciples, including the Apostle Paul, observed the Sabbath.  No place in all the New Testament is there one word to indicate the command to observe the Sabbath has been nullified.  It has not been revoked.  The Sabbath should continue to be an important part of our Christian life and testimony.

        This talk about Sabbath observance and especially observing the Sabbath on Saturday may sound strange to you as it did at first to me; which is an indication how far our thinking has drifted from God’s truth.  Look up for yourself all the Bible references on the Sabbath using a complete Bible concordance.  Read what the Bible says on this important subject and follow its clear and unchanging instructions instead of the distortions of man-made religion with its substitution of Sunday worship.  The Sabbath is still a requirement for true worshippers of God.

        Some Christians believe that during this New Testament dispensation it no longer matters which day we rest and worship God – that we are free to do as we please in this regard.  They refer to the following scriptures: Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:9,10; Col. 2:16; Mark 2:27.  However, these verses merely show that we are not bound by a legalistic approach to the Sabbath.  While we are not required to keep the Sabbath by the letter of the law, we should still observe it.  We should observe God’s holy day and all of God’s commandments in the liberty of the Spirit (II Cor. 3:6, 16-18).  We need a day of rest for the physical well being of our bodies and to recharge our spiritual batteries – to keep our minds and hearts focused on God.  More importantly, we should observe the Sabbath to honor and worship God.  While we should rest and worship God daily, the Sabbath is necessary as a special time.  Observing God’s holy day of rest and worship on the seventh day is His perpetual and unchanged commandment.  Keeping the Sabbath day holy is an important mark of our Christian distinction – an indication that we are God’s special and distinct people, separate from Babylon and the world.

Note: It is interesting that until recently Al Van Dyk was a Sunday observer.  However, the Lord opened his eyes and helped him to see the truth.

        He is the head of the Christian Action League, Box 6216, Santa Barbara, California, 93160.  In addition to several tracts, he publishes a monthly newsletter which is available to those who write for it.

 

 

 

 

HOW DO WE PERCEIVE GOD?

Alfred King

        Most of us have at sometime in our driving experience, seen the blue lights behind us alerting us that we have violated some law and have been caught.  When this happens, people have different reactions.  Some become angry and begin to spout off at the officer, which generally makes the officer more determined to issue the deserved ticket.  Others respond by attempting to convince the officer that he had a legitimate reason for violating the law.  Others may merely sit there accepting that they had broken the law and accept the consequences of their actions.  But in every case, each person has a particular opinion of the police in general.  We either respect their authority knowing they are doing what they are paid to do, or we see them as oppressors of the poor, racists, or those who like to throw their weight around because they wear a badge.  I have heard people say things like, “Why don’t they go out and catch the real criminals rather than sitting on the side of the road with their radars trying to catch people who are just trying to get to work?”  Such remarks show the ignorance of people who don’t understand that our laws are in place for our protection and, if not enforced, then everyone is in danger.  The law officer monitors our highways to keep us safe from those who would drive carelessly, recklessly and endanger the lives of others.  While none of us like to be caught and have to pay a fine, we should be thankful that the police are patrolling our roads.

        While we all have opinions of our police departments, we also have varying opinions of God.  Some think of God as an austere judge sitting in heaven and looking down upon the earth to see who is being disobedient to His commands so He can punish them in some way.  They look at Him much like some perceive the police.  Honestly, they consider Him a tyrant who determines to have His own way and is ready to punish any who do not live up to His standards.  Sadly, this is not only how many sinners perceive God, but many Christians see God this way also.

Men Who Saw God

        Consider the record of men of God who have encountered God is some supernatural way.  Isaiah tells of the time when he saw the Lord, in the first 8 verses of Isaiah six.  “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.  Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

        Let’s consider a few of the glories of God that appeared to Isaiah and the affect this revelation had upon him.  First, Isaiah saw God “Sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.”  He beheld God as King of kings and Lord of lords and, in that revelation, he witnessed God’s glory, power, majesty and wonder.  This encounter changed Isaiah forever.  He would never be the same afterwards.  The seraphims could not withhold worship to so great a being and sang out, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”  God’s glory so filled the temple as to captivate the heart of all who were present in divine love and submission.  Isaiah’s first response was to draw back, knowing that he was a man of unclean lips, a sinner who had no right to stand before or to look upon holy God.  But God sent one of the seraphims with a live coal from the altar and when it touched Isaiah’s lips, his iniquities were taken away and his sin purged.  Once pardoned, Isaiah immediately answered to the call and burden of God.  This revelation of God created within him such a love, a faith, and a commitment that stayed with him the remainder of his life.  There was nothing from this moment forward that could separate him from the love of Christ so clearly and vividly revealed to him in his encounter with God.

        The great apostle John on the isle of Patmos also had an encounter with God.  Reading from Revelation 1:9-19, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.  And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”

        Note the effect this divine presence had upon this great man of God.  When John saw Christ in His glorified state, he fell at His feet as if he were dead.  John had walked with Jesus when Jesus was in the flesh, but now he was given a special revelation of Jesus in His high and majestic state.  God placed His right hand upon John, lifted him up and he was shown many things which were to come to pass in the future, things which were and are very important to the church.  Jesus spoke some very encouraging words to John.  “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”  These words given to John from the very mouth of Jesus Christ from heaven have been an encouragement to saints throughout the ages.  How often have these words been read and quoted when Christians have been faced with various trials in life.

        Moses was another man who communed with God, and on the mount God spoke to him face to face (Ex. 33:11).  When Moses had been in the presence of God for forty days and forty nights, he returned to the camp of Israel but the glory that radiated from his face from being in the shekinah company of God was so great that the people could not look upon him.  Therefore, Moses had to cover his face with a veil so he could speak to the people.  So glorious and life-changing is the presence of the Lord that every believer should desire to see God.  It’s not that everyone may see God as these men did, for God has many ways of revealing Himself to those who believe and we cannot limit God in the way He designs to work.  He may reveal Himself to some in a still small voice.  To others as a voice from heaven that most men will not hear.  Yet, in each way it will be unique as He removes the vail that separates the divine from the earthly.  That darkened glass through which we can only faintly see is suddenly removed and His glory and power flood into one’s heart and life.  In an encounter such as these, one is never the same, but changed forever.

        As believers we are called upon to worship God is spirit and in truth.  How can one truly worship God when he considers God a tyrant?  How can he be devoted to one whom he perceives a cruel judge waiting to swoop down and punish men for their slightest fault?  Some feel God is like the hawk which sits upon a tree branch waiting for the unsuspecting mouse to creep out into the open so he can sweep down and devour him.  How can one worship a God such as this?  In order to truly worship God in spirit and in truth, one must behold God’s beauty, His benevolence and love, His mercy and grace, His patience and longsuffering.  He must see God in truth.  He must see Him as He is and not as the devil would portray Him or ignorant men convey Him to be.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  This is the God we serve and the truths of God’s love, mercy and grace are the things that cause worship to spring up within our hearts.  God would that none should perish but that all would come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9).  God also reveals Himself through His word, and we find that He is a God that has defeated every enemy.  He is a man of war and, in the life of Jesus Christ, He defeated every dart Satan sent against Him.  He gave Himself into Satan’ hands to be crucified, but He did so, not to be defeated but to rise again triumphant over death and procuring salvation and eternal life for every soul who would believe in Him.  Not only has He overthrown Satan and his kingdom, He has given His children power over every enemy, also.  John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”  To become fully mature sons of God is to be overcomers.  It is to overcome Satan, the world, and the self-nature just as He overcame.  It is, then, that we will sit with Him in His throne and execute the power He executed when He was in the world.  To be completely and totally surrendered to God requires that we gain a vision of Christ in all His power and glory.  God is no respecter of persons and if He revealed Himself to others, He will reveal Himself to you, also.  The Father desires to give good things to them that love Him.  May God kindle within every Christian’s heart a greater desire to truly know Him and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

 

 

 

 

FOUNDATION & FUTURE

Curtis Dickinson

        Modern man has rejected both his origin and destiny, which leaves him in a state of confusion and anxiety.  Through the false system of education, our generation has accepted the theory of evolution and thus cut itself off from its root: creation in God’s image.  “And God formed man of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).  This is the foundation that gives man understanding of what he is.  If man is not a soul, with life inbreathed by God, then who knows what he is?

        It is this not knowing that opens up new and dangerous paths which lead farther and farther into the fearful labyrinth of darkness and frustration.

        There can be no right reason which is not based upon solid foundation.  Secular humanism, as followed in government schools and universities, offers a foundation of material accomplishment, political correctness and sensual satisfaction.  To try to establish a meaningful and secure life where there is nothing but deep questions and wild guesses is like trying to build a house on quicksand.

        The true and lasting foundation is that which is revealed in Christ.  “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11).  Christ confirms our origin in God and the ultimate goal of life: to be conformed to God’s image as immortal persons.

        Thus, in Christ we know our roots and have a clear vision of the future: “for when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him” (I John 3:2).  This gives purpose to life, “Every one having this hope set on him, purifies himself as He is pure” (I John 3:3).  Every difficulty, every harrowing and bitter experience, and every insurmountable problem can be a purifying experience which takes us another step along the way to His likeness.

        The foundation insures the future.  What is in between – that is, the present time – is in a state of flux and subject to many influences.  The earth has already been devastated once in the flood, and will be devastated again in the final fire.  Convulsions of government and the economy are the result of the lack of direction and purpose of man that has rejected his roots and Godly purpose.  We must expect these things in a world of temporariness, change, and sin.  But our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and through Christ our King, we are anchored to the eternal which changes not.  We are pilgrims and sojourners here on earth (Heb. 11:13), but our permanent home is that spoken of by Peter, a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:13).  This is that better and heavenly country to which Abraham aspired and is as sure as the resurrection of Christ is history (Heb. 11:16).

        This overall plan – which we accept with our faith in Christ – leaves no place for insecurity and anxiety.  Only the day-to-day changes, obstacles and questions can cause us head-scratching frustrations and sometimes tearful sorrows.  It is no good to pretend that they do not bother us, that we do not weep over them, that we do not wonder how to cope with them.  Almost everyone daily faces a multiplicity of problems: domestic problems, financial decisions, physical disorders, etc.  It is senseless to tell a person who is facing great problems, “Don’t worry about it.”  Some are convinced that if they had “true faith” they would not worry.  Then they go searching for a religion that will solve their problems, and often get involved in a cult or religious system that destroys faith n Christ.

        Because Scripture says, “In nothing be anxious,” many think that to be deeply concerned to the point of worry is a sin.  But the apostle Paul, who penned these words, also wrote of his own concern and tears over the condition of the church and his distress over false doctrines.  While he spoke of being troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down, he was never confused and never despaired, because he understood God’s purpose.  He had a foundation and a future and, therefore, could not be defeated or sidetracked by what lay in between.

        God’s people have always lived under tension.  Moses, David and Jesus all lived under great tension.  Christ wept on various occasions and was called a man of sorrows.  If a person had no potential for anxiety he would be emotionally defective.

        Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).  A Christian mourns over sin and evil conditions, but looks forward to all this being rectified at Judgment Day.  He said, “Blessed are you that hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6).  This is not the worldly hunger for things that do not satisfy, but the ambition to live nobly before God, to know God’s word and live accordingly.

        Jesus said, “Blessed are you that are persecuted for righteousness sake” (Matt. 5:10).  The happy-go-lucky person who never takes anything seriously is not likely to suffer persecution.  It is the Christians who are persecuted because they refuse to worship the gods of humanism, but remain faithful to the Christian lifestyle.  This may cause tension, loneliness and sorrow, but it need not cause the anxiety which Jesus excluded.

Other Foundations

        Destructive anxiety exists where man tries to lay his own personal foundation.  When one foundation after another gives way, he becomes frustrated and desperate.  The search mounts tension upon tension, with the result that each foundation is less stable, until the mind gives way to nihilism and hopelessness.  Drugs, violence, wrecked homes, and broken lives show the power of such destructive anxiety.

        Without the foundation and future revealed by God, all religion is vain.  Religious experiences, sensational feelings, signs and manifestations of spiritual power, healings and expressions of love – all of these are only fleeting sensations if not in harmony with the foundation and destiny given by God.

        Lacking a foundation and future, churches resort to sensational and exciting activities to hold members.  Members drift from one group to another, never advancing in faith and purpose, and missing entirely the peace and joy Christ has promised.

Going For The Prize

        The foundation is not laid again by each new generation.  It is already there, based on the facts of Christ’s death and resurrection, which is “the power of God unto salvation.”  Whatever anxiety the believer feels is to be channeled toward building on this foundation.  It is a constructive anxiety which prompts us to examine ourselves and carefully consider how we can build the best superstructure.

        In doing so there is calmness and joy, because one is building for eternity.  There is a program written by the Creator and we are in it.  It may bring pain, but will not poison.  It may call for sacrifice, but not for loss of the good.  It may cause tears, but never regret.  The life may be hard, but never hollow.  It is founded upon Jesus, is going where Jesus is, and is being gradually conformed to His image.  Stability can be found only upon this truth, and it ends guesses, speculation and destructive anxiety.

        Christians who are aware of the antichrist conspiracy in the kingdoms of the world have a great responsibility to bear witness to the foundation God has laid, and the future which He reveals for all His people.  One either follows the god of the kingdoms of this world, with the evil, the fear and doom that awaits, or one seeks the Kingdom of God which is not of the world, with the victory that He offers.

        We who are anchored to the foundation of Christ are on the way to a glorious future.  This foundation and future gives meaning and purpose to the “now” in which we live.

        “I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).