People of The Living God

John 3:16

 

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June 2017



 

 

 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS

James Sanderson

        In His Mt. Olive Discourse, Jesus responded to two very relevant questions that His disciples posed to Him in private: “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3)  Our Lord’s answer contains information vital to the preparation and deliverance of God’s people who live in these last days.  It seems that Jesus was more concerned with alerting His disciples to the dreadful conditions that would prevail in the earth than with presenting a detailed chronological account of the Second Coming.  “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matt. 24:42).

        What is the saint to watch?  “If the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.”  “Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments” (Rev. 16:15).  The house, the temple of the Holy Ghost, can be broken up.  Contrary to popular opinion, the garments (of salvation) can be lost.  “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34).

        Jesus warned that the days preceding His appearance would be characterized by great deception and an abundance of iniquity.  These two forces, working hand in hand, will be so intense and widespread that even the very elect would be swept away by the tide of evil if they were not thoroughly prepared and vigilant.  Both of these forces are presently arrayed against the church of Jesus Christ.  Only those who have a firm foundation in the Lord will be able to endure the tremendous test of their faith that is on the program.

        The devil doesn’t simply appear with two horns and a pitchfork openly declaring his presence.  Very few would be moved by such blatant candor.  Remember that Satan is capable of manifesting himself as an angel of light.  He knows the Bible and is quite adept at the art of deception.  His powers of persuasion and ability to manipulate were used rather successfully in the very realms of glory when he drew one third of the angels.  His great wisdom and cunning craftiness are two formidable forces that can easily lead astray anyone who has not a love for truth and an anchor in Christ.

        The enemy’s goal is to destroy the souls of God’s people.  Jesus declared that many shall be deceived and “the love of (the) many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:11-12).  The NIV says, “the love of most.”  Who are the many?  (Note that He didn’t say the few.)  The many are not the heathen or those who never knew God.  The ungodly have never had a love that could grow cold.  These are people who had a genuine born-again experience.  Some of them have even tasted “the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:5).  These conditions, foretold by our Lord, are a part of that great “falling away” that will occur before His return (II Thess. 2:3).

        What would persuade such a large number of those who knew God to depart from the living God?  Jesus gives the reason, “Because iniquity shall abound.”  The word “iniquity” is quite significant.  The Greek word is anomia which means “lawlessness” or “a condition of being without law.”  The many have been instructed in lawlessness.  They have embraced a doctrine of lawlessness.

        The false-prophets and false-teachers have perpetrated this state of lawlessness.  “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isa. 9:16).  They wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.  Their message can be stated very simply.  “You can receive the salvation of God and enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom without having to meet the responsibilities imposed upon you by the law of God because you are no longer under the law.  You are free!  Since you weren’t able to keep the law anyway, Jesus kept it for you.  All you have to do now is rest in Him and have faith.”  Some even add that one can never lose his salvation.  He can only lose his reward.  Seminaries, Bible colleges, and religious leaders throughout Christendom propagate this antinomian gospel.  There are a number of variations to this message depending upon who the false-teacher happens to be.  Nevertheless, the end is the same.  The commandment of God is made of none effect in the life of the believer (Matt. 15:6).  The word bears no fruit unto perfection.  The law of the Lord is no longer able to work from within to convert the soul (Psalm 19:7).

        One well-known contemporary author whose books have sold in the millions has made this appalling statement: “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 of 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?”  This same writer also made the following unscriptural remark: “The Holy Spirit will faithfully convict a believer of sin, not so he can confess in order to get forgiven, but so that he can claim forgiveness and believe Him again…When you finally understand what Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross, you realize that God never stops forgiving you, even while you’re in the process of sinning, although you yourself cannot appreciate the comfort of the forgiveness while you’re sinning” (Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, pp. 176,197).

        Imagine God issuing a command or law that a Christian cannot keep.  Such is the height of absurdity.  Why did God send judgment without mercy upon those “that despised Moses’ law” if they were unable to obey it (Heb. 10:28)?  It would be quite interesting to find out what command given by our Lord Jesus Christ is considered impossible to keep.  Moreover, God does not forgive anyone while he is practicing or walking in known sin.  In His great mercy, God has made provision for reconciliation of the disobedient.  Through the blood of Jesus Christ, God has provided an atonement for sin. “If we CONFESS our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).  Nothing is said about claiming forgiveness.  Known sin in the life of the believer must be confessed and renounced.  Incidentally, the Apostle John is addressing Christians.

        Peter exposes these pseudo-teachers quite well.  “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Peter 2:1).  These individuals deny the very Lord who bought them with His own blood.  How do they deny Him?  They most certainly want to continue to be called “Christian;” otherwise, they would soon lose the respect of society or the supporters of their sumptuous lifestyles (see II Peter 2:3).  They continue to “profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

        God’s people must discern the deception that is presently taking place.  These blind leaders preach salvation by Jesus Christ.  Many of them even claim supernatural signs and wonders in the name of Christ.  Obviously, there is nothing wrong with receiving salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Moreover, Jesus still heals and accomplishes miracles today.  However, there is something definitely wrong with the so-called shepherds who deny the necessity of living the way Jesus lived, walking the strait and narrow way of self-denial as Jesus walked, and obeying the commandments that Jesus gave.  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).  Furthermore, signs and wonders are no guarantee of God’s endorsement of a particular ministry.  “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work LAWLESSNESS” (Matt. 7:22-23).  These wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15) had the audacity to call Him, “Lord, Lord,” while they refused to do what He said.

        Every truly born-again Christian has entered into a covenant relationship with God (Eph. 2:12-13).  That covenant, or agreement, is based upon law.  “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Heb. 10:16).  This internalization of God’s law is accomplished by the divine agency of the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:3).  The Holy Spirit will faithfully take of the commands of the Great Lawgiver Jesus Christ and show them unto the believer (John 14:26; 16:14).  It then becomes the responsibility of that individual to obey.

        Jesus equates love with obedience.  An excellent gauge of one’s love for God is the degree of one’s obedience to the teachings of Jesus.  “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).  “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me” (John 14:21).  “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).  “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

        In order to maintain a proper relationship with God, one must also continue in obedience to what Jesus said to do.  “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).  God’s blessing is on the one who “looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein” (James 1:25).  “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).  Those whose love grew cold failed to walk in obedience to the “doctrine of Christ.”  They wanted Him as a saviour, but they did not want Him to rule over them (Luke 19:14).

        It is difficult to convince people of the deception of these blind leaders.  The excuse is often given that they are bringing so many people to Christ.  “Look at the great work they are doing for the Lord!”  “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1).  One would think that the end justifies the means.  As soon as the many are converted (only God knows how many are really converted) the false-prophet instructs them in his own antinomian doctrine (Matt. 23:15).  Great numbers are no proof of the authenticity of a ministry.  Peter declares that “many will follow their pernicious ways” (II Peter 2:2).

        Modern-day theologians have so watered down and polluted the gospel of Jesus Christ that twenty-first century Christianity bears little resemblance to the “faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).  These false-teachers make it as easy as possible for one to become a Christian.  They rarely mention the cost of discipleship.  A licentious, freedom-loving society would not flock to hear sermons on self-denial, one’s personal daily cross, total 100% surrender to God, absolute obedience and separation from the world.  A salvation experience divorced from the cost will not endure.

        Another difficulty in convincing people concerning these false-leaders is that people don’t want to face issues.  One of the arguments is “let’s put aside our differences and just show love to each other.”  The saint should show love even to his enemy; however, there is to be no compromise in one’s stand concerning God’s Law.  Jesus raised a number of issues that will have eternal consequences in the day of judgment. To face these issues is to expose the true condition of one’s heart before the Almighty.  One who has a genuine love for God will lay pride and self on the altar of sacrifice and face the truth no matter what the cost.

        Jesus issued a dire warning to His followers, “Beware of false prophets!” (Matt. 7:15)  The false prophet can counterfeit almost anything.  The one thing he can never counterfeit is a life of total surrender and absolute obedience to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Anyone who claims to be a mouthpiece for God will “do and teach” the commandments of Christ.

        God will not continue to be associated with the religious escapades that are being carried on in His name. nor will He continue to allow His sheep to be subject to the lawless whims of the false shepherds.  “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 (PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS: in Greek)” (Matt. 13:41).

        The day of the Lord will come as a great “snare…on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:35).  A snare is a trap.  It means something that “holds fast.”  The false-prophets and “the many” will be taken in the snare.  “Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap” (Psalm 69:22).  “But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken” (Isa. 28:13).  Once the house is “broken up” and the soul is ensnared there will be no escape.  “For God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2:11-12).

 

 

 

 

THROUGH FAITH

Kenneth Fountain

        Heb 11:33-34  “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

        A dissection of these verses may be too detailed to interest some, but there is more to be garnered from these words than a simple reading provides.  Remembering that “all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (I Cor 10:11), it seems plausible that these events, even as other OT records of ancient Israel, probably have spiritual applications to us who may not encounter these situations in the physical realm as they did.  (Definitions given are from Strong’s Concordance andthe American Heritage Dictionary)

        Who through faith: Those exercising, and thereby augmenting the channel which God has provided us by His gift of faith, who because of and by reason of this God-based attribute, achieve supernatural success which is limited only by man’s acceptance of the spiritual truth that God’s omnipotence is working on our frail behalf.  As Paul expressed in Romans 8:32-34, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?  It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.”

        Subdued kingdoms: This means to conquer, subjugate or overcome those realms where Christ should rule; this could specifically include those domains in our hearts wherein the carnal man still exerts ruling influence in our thoughts, words and actions.  As servants of God, we are to overcome these giants in our hearts that would destroy our relationship and growth with God (Rev. 2:7).

        Wrought righteousness: This expression has to do with bringing forth the attributes of Christ in one’s heart and life.  It depicts laboring toward a goal in an occupation, to be actively engaged in a pursuit of something.  We are to produce (by the power of God working within our hearts) the fruits of the Spirit – the qualities of right living before our holy God.  As Paul stated, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).  “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (II Tim. 2:3,4).  “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).  This righteousness of Christ is not something we inherently possess!  The Holy Spirit is laboring in our hearts after initial salvation to generate this product by guiding our lives into abiding in the vine.  As we reside in Him and cooperate with His leading, He produces His qualities within this willing vessel, thereby glorifying God and providing testimony before the world and Satan, showing what God can accomplish as He daily moulds our clay (Jer. 18:6), conforming us to His heavenly image.  Clay does not have a will, or mind of its own that it would rebel or resist the one shaping it, but we do have these contrary qualities that we must willingly present unto God (Rom. 12:1,2) that He may bring forth that which He desires.  God’s righteousness is wrought much the same way a tool is hammered into shape of molten steel, or gold is refined through heat and removing dross, or pure olive oil is refined by squeezing and pressing.  We undergo a process of development by allowing God, the Master Craftsman, to work within and upon us so that it is no longer I, but Christ that lives within.  All praise, glory and honor will be His, and no flesh shall glory in His presence.

        Obtained promises: The American Heritage Dictionary defines obtained as follows: to succeed in gaining possession as the result of planning or endeavor.  We find that ancient Israel finally – after years of rebellion against God, receiving His chastisement, repenting of their evil ways, and eventually stepping out in faith upon His promises for them – obtained the Promise Land of Canaan.  How many of us doggedly travel the same path in our spiritual lives before the Lord?  And He is still waiting for us to believe Him to the extent that we obtain all He has promised us in His Word!  We seem almost afraid to read the promises found in Holy Writ because it is so blatantly embarrassing how little we receive of those countless blessings He offers to us.  Who among us can honestly profess before the Lord that we actively plan and endeavor to achieve the goals He has set before us?  Thankfully, our God is merciful, loving, patient, and longsuffering while He continues to faithfully prod us in the right direction.

        Stopped the mouths of lions: The word stopped used here means to block up or silence (Strong’s).  This seems to refer to when Daniel escaped the mouths of the lions in King Darius’s lion’s den “because he believed” (Dan. 6:23), but reference is also made to when David, as a boy, killed a lion and saved a lamb out of its mouth (I Sam. 17:34)!  We also know that Samson, by the power of the Spirit upon him, killed a lion with his bare hands (Judges 14:5,6).  In the NT, Satan is described “as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).  Could it not also apply as James said, “He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (5:20)?  Satan is a lion, and a liar who seeks to destroy saints as well as sinners.  Many saints do not realize that Satan aggressively works to deceive, mislead, confuse, divide, criticize, condemn and oppress them.  Those walking close to God are commanded in Gal 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”  Is this not also delivering one from the roaring lion?  Regarding vocal confrontation with wickedness, Jesus said, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Lk. 21:15).  Remember that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).

        Quenched the violence of fire and escaped the edge of the sword: Marginal reference is again made to Daniel’s record in Daniel 3:25, when the three Hebrew men were cast into the fiery furnace where Jesus delivered them.  The margin also refers to when David escaped death by King Saul, Elijah by King Ahab, and Elisha at his home in Dothan by the king of Syria.  God is still able to deliver those who trust and believe Him – regardless of the circumstances.

        Out of weakness were made strong: By definition, weakness has to do with feebleness of mind or body: physical infirmity, or moral frailty.  Made strong means to empower, to enable, made powerful or capable.  References are given about King Hezekiah’s healing of deadly boils, Job’s restored material blessings, and King David’s answered prayers regarding a spiritual shortcoming.  The apostle John stated in chapter 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.”  Paul said that the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9).  We, the heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17), have been given the ability through the power of the cross of Christ to overcome all enemies within, without, and all about us!  Paul instructs with these words, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:3-5).  Jesus said, “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).  John offers encouragement with these words, “ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:14).  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

        Waxed valiant in fight: As a spiritual application, this phrase is quite provoking. We understand that waxed means to grow, as the moon or the tide waxes and wanes, but it also means to arise, be made, or to become.  Valiant means brave or powerful, but it also has a meaning of forcible (effective against resistance), and boisterous (rude, rough, or violent).  Now, how is a person seeking the “peaceable fruits of righteousness” (I Tim. 2:2; Heb. 12:11; James 3:17) supposed to also be forcible and boisterous while still honoring God?  Well, we cannot overcome a roaring lion (Satan) or his demonic cohorts or his human followers by simply saying “please.”  We have to take the whole armor of God and engage in the spiritual warfare all around us (Eph. 6:10-18).  Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18 that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (the church).”  However, until the church puts the weapons of the Spirit to work, Satan can overpower the church simply because they (we) do not do as James said, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).  No doubt this fighting in the spirit realm requires some training, and some practice to be consistently victorious – thereby waxing valiant.  Our faith and spiritually boisterous forcefulness (defined above) grows in boldness and assertiveness as we experience the victory Christ has provided for us through Him who bound the strong man and plundered his house (Mark 3:27).  We must meet the challenge evil forces throw against us, and stand up and fight in the spirit.  Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:18-19, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.  Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  How many of us utilize this authority?  What would happen if all Christians put this into practice as a faithful body of believers?  Certainly, Satan would then have no chance against this group.  This church will “turn to flight the armies of the aliens (hostiles, or foreigners of the faith)” (Heb. 11:34).

        Both the call of the Spirit, and the darkness of the hour is upon us as portrayed by the prophet Isaiah, “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:2).  “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.  For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1,2).  Let us please and honor our King of glory.

 

 

 

 

THE JOY OF THE LORD

Mary Woodard

        I believe that the Lord would have me share with you on the subject of joy.  Of course, you know that I am not speaking of what the world calls “joy,” but I am speaking of that inner joy – THE JOY OF THE LORD.  The Cruden’s Bible Concordance defines it like this: “…joy is the delight and satisfaction of the soul in its union with God in Christ.”

        According to Galatians 5:16, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  The words joy, joyfully, joyfulness, joyous, rejoicing, and similar words are recorded many times in the Bible.  In the book of Philippians with its four chapters, I counted the word “joy” five times, “rejoice or rejoicing” eleven times.

        We often repeat Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” but do we really comprehend what a powerful message that contains?  THE JOY OF THE LORD IS INDEED OUR STRENGTH!  I believe the devil works overtime trying to rob Christians of their joy.  He knows if he can take away our joy he can rob us in other areas also.  I won’t go into the various methods he uses because you are probably very well acquainted with some of them.  We have to be on guard against him in this area.

        When I was eighteen years of age I joined a church and got baptized in water, but I received no joy.  I received no feelings whatsoever.  I became a more dedicated church member, but I continued to try to draw joy from the world.

        How does one get REAL JOY?  When my husband and I realized our need of a Saviour and were born again, we received an abundance of joy.  We now had the JOY OF THE LORD!  We were overflowing with joy.  But after a while we burned it up.  We spent it, so to speak, trying to do the work of the Lord in our own strength.  We began to feel dry in our souls.  We, like David, cried out to the Lord, “restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:2).  David was crying out to God out of a repentant heart; we were crying out because of a need of a refilling of joy.  It was at this point that revelation came to us from the Word about the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and Jesus gave us this baptism and LASTING JOY.  We received salvation and the baptism with the Holy Sprit when we came to recognize our need and called upon the Lord.

        The Bible tells us that when we hunger and thirst after righteousness, WE SHALL BE FILLED.  This promise is given unto us in Matthew 5:6.  When we get hungry for natural food, we feed ourselves.  When we get hungry for spiritual food, GOD FEEDS US.  And He will continue to feed us as long as we continue to hunger!

        People attend church year after year and don’t get saved.  I was one of them.  People also attend what we call “Pentecostal” or “full gospel” churches for years and never get filled with the Holy Spirit.  Why?  No spiritual hunger – contented to feed on the crumbs which fall from the Master’s table when all the time He has a feast waiting for them!

        The first time I heard the chorus, “Set my spirit free that I may worship Thee, set my spirit free that I may praise Thy Name, let all bondage go and let deliverance flow, set my spirit free to worship Thee,” I said, “Lord, why are these people singing this chorus?  I thought they were all born-again Spirit-filled believers.  Aren’t their spirits free and hasn’t the bondage gone?”  The Bible says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).  Is your spirit free?  Is your bondage gone?  Are you free to praise His Name and worship Him?  You can be.

        Now, you don’t have to go around with a silly grin on your face if you have joy.  You may, but you may not.  The joy of the Lord manifests itself in many ways.  It is like a well springing up inside that bubbles and bubbles until it overflows.  At times one will overflow in praise and worship, in testimony, in witnessing, in singing, speaking in tongues, manifesting a gift.  You who have experienced this joy know what I’m saying.  I find myself saying “praise the Lord” at the most unlikely times and places!

        I would like to mention a few characteristics of joy:

        JOY IS CONTAGIOUS.  Have you ever been around someone who was letting their joy overflow?  Your spirit begins to feel lighter and some of those burdens and weights you have been carrying begin to lift and you begin to worship, also.

        JOY ATTRACTS.  My husband was speaking at a convention in Fresno, California, several years ago.  As he began to preach, his joy began to flow.  There was an unsaved man there who had come with a friend.  Some time later we ran into the friend who had brought him and he told us that this man gave his heart to the Lord that morning.  He said that if the Lord gives that much joy, HE WANTED HIM!  Praise God!  I’m talking about JOY – REAL JOY – WONDERFUL JOY – JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY!

        JOY OVERCOMES.  The more joy you have, the more overcoming power you will have.  Do you have a problem overcoming in some area?  Most of us do.  Is it loneliness, fear, frustration, anxiety, depression, persecution, afflictions?  You can overcome through the joy of the Lord.  Your problem may or may not disappear immediately, but you will find that you are able to cope with it a lot better as you allow the joy of the Lord to permeate your whole being.

        JOY REFRESHES.  Just as natural food or a cool drink of water refreshes the body, the joy of the Lord refreshes body, mind, soul, and spirit.  “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).  He also said, “…ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).  He says He will give “the oil of joy for mourning” (Isa. 61:3).  LET HIM REFRESH YOU BY POURING IN THE OIL OF JOY.

        JOY OFFENDS.  We may as well be frank about it – there may be some who will be offended by your joy. My husband says we didn’t lose our denominational church and friends for any other reason – IT WAS OUR JOY!  Those who do not have it and do not want it may be offended.  But the Word says, “…grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” (Eph. 4:30).  It also says, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thess. 5:19).  Better to offend some than offend the Holy Spirit of God.

        When one has the joy, how does one keep it?  Stay in the Word, in an attitude of prayer and praise, seek to walk in the Spirit and do the will of God, cultivate a thankful heart, keep the flesh under subjection.

        Be careful of those who pray for you or lay hands on you and tell you, “you’ve got it.”  Maybe you have, but maybe you haven’t.  The Lord has His own time and way of meeting our needs.  Don’t get discouraged and lose your joy.  Just keep on praising Him.  King David said, “…neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing…” (II Sam. 24:24).  “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).

        Do you feel the need of more joy?  Cruden’s Concordance defines praise as “a confession and acknowledgment of the great and wonderful excellences and perfections that are in God.”  Let us begin to praise and worship HIM.

 

 

 

 

DELIVERANCE FROM SELF-PITY

Donald Pugh

        “And if children, then heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:17-18).

        “Charity suffereth long and is kind, charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not  (doesn’t brag or boast), is not puffed up.  Charity…Never Fails” (I Cor. 13:4).

        Those who have been born again are a blood-bought, blood-washed, chosen with no merit of their own, child of God.  I mirror this as well.  We have been given the task to exhort each other daily.  Everyday, I am instructed to pray for you, to invite you to be of good courage, to do my best to comfort you.  However, there are many Christians who insist on indulging in self-pity.  They feel the trials they face in life are more difficult than others, and that is the reason they cannot have the joy of the Lord that others have.  I earnestly plead with you to reconsider that suffering does have a positive and beneficial purpose for the Christian’s life.

        There will be times in our lives when we will face trials, temptations, adversity, and negativity along with dealing with the ramifications of, sometimes, multiple bad decisions that we have made.

        Jesus, as our example, came to do the will of His Father.  He spoke the words His Father gave Him to speak and, like us, He possessed a free will.  Yet it is said of Him, “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered”

        (Heb 5:8).  He was perfected through His sufferings and becoming one with His Father through His obedience; He is our example.

        This oneness in Christ is the prize for which we press, the race which we are instructed to patiently run.

        Woe, misery, negativity, disappointment and pain are essential components that make up the warp and woof of the Christian life.   Sometimes the Word of God reverberates with accounts of our enemy’s (satan) failed attempts to set up God’s chosen for a calamitous downfall.  It is not that he has never succeeded in causing Christians to fall into sin, nor does the Word of God recoil from recording the frailties and failures of humankind.  What is more important is that one rise up from his fall, repent and continue to press towards the mark for the prize of God.  The truth of God is a solid rock upon which one can stand and claim promises such as that found in Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”

        And in Psalms 91, the word tells us that we do not have to fear any evil when we make Christ our Rock, our Fortress, our Refuge, our Shield, our God, the One in whom we trust.  I do have a cautious respect for the trickery of my enemy, but I am no longer disheartened when I succumb to the snare of the fowler.  Far from it, because I am commissioned to give thanks in everything, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning me (I Thess. 5:18).

        Yes, even the body slam that blindsides us, that comes suddenly it seems from nowhere.  Is this truly the will of God for me?  Really??  God can and does speak through these trials so if any man have an ear to hear, let him hear (Rev. 13:9).  These scriptures are written, not to those who would have the audacity to mock a Sovereign and Omnipotent God, but for the spiritual growth and enlightenment of the child of that Sovereign God.  Trials and tests enlighten the believer so that his spiritual senses are exercised and sharpened.  God is an awesome God and the Holy Spirit is so gentle!!!  Gentle, even when He is chastising and correcting a wayward, errant child.  It is an important lesson for all of us to learn and exercise in our own lives.

        God, mine and yours, desires nothing but good for you and me.  Luke chapter 12 records that it is the Father’s pleasure to give us the good things of His kingdom.  I Cor. 14:35 tells us that this same God is not the author of confusion but is the author of peace.

        The first chapter of St. John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God…In Him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-2,4).  It is this light from whom comes spiritual illumination.

        When God created the universe, He had a purpose and a design for our lives, yours and mine.  He absolutely did not create nor design the confusion you and I encounter and, at times, painfully experience.  There is no virtue in pity parties and God has neither time nor interest when we indulge self-pity.  And yet, because we are human, we do dare ask the creator of our universe, “Why?  Why??  Why???”  As written earlier in this article I repeat, “God is Awesome.”  He knows our heart, the questions it holds and He lovingly opens the door to His presence.  God, in my case, knew that I had put my set of kingdom keys in the wrong garments, garments of self-pity.  One cannot wear garments of praise and thanksgiving to a pity party; they don’t go together.  It’s that simple.

        Not only did He ever so gently answer me, but gave me a depth of understanding I did not have before.  I neither felt nor sensed any reproach in His demeanor as He lovingly attended to my misdirection and confusion.  I found direction in James, chapter 1, verse 5.  I asked, He gave.

        I have gone down wrong paths, made really bad decisions, taken Him through doors, the threshold of which He would never have darkened, much less opened.  Yet because of His promises recorded in Psalm 138:3, “In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”  God has done exactly as He promised in Hebrews 13:5b-6, “… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

        Because of the testimony of Joseph millenniums ago, my enemy and yours (satan) can only cower and watch as his best efforts to kill, steal and destroy, flicker and are extinguished by the winds of grace and fanned by the wings of love as God prospers an imprisoned child (Gen. 39:19-23).

        He is the potter, we are the clay, and you and I are the work of His hands (Isa. 64:8).  He is taking these broken, mixed up, useless pieces of my life and with authoritatively firm but gentle hands, is artfully blending them for one more and final molding on the turning wheel that is my life.  I cannot see and am not even sure that I want to see, the final purpose for this vessel, for after the final turn of the wheel, comes the furnace.

        Paul said it this way: “… for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

        “Rejoice evermore.

        “Pray without ceasing.

        “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:16,17,18).

 

 

 

 

WHY THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION FAILED

By Frank M. Walker
From a tract by
Raymond Clark; DD

        “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Rev. 22:14)

        “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

        “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

        “…here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Yeshua.”  (Rev. 14:12)

        It seems that most mainstream Christians cannot fully grasp the tremendously important role God’s Holy Sabbath has played in church history.  For instance, what part did the Sabbath play in the Reformation?  The reformers paid a terrible price for their rejection of the seventh day Sabbath and for their refusal to accept it as an article of revolt against the Catholic Church.  They flatly rejected the Sabbath rest of the Scriptures.  They claimed to follow the written word only (the Bible as we now call it), and to refuse the traditions of the Church.  (Sunday is a tradition of the Roman Church that has not one text word of divine authority.)

        Martin Luther was not the staunch advocate of truth that many suppose.  He is highly praised for claiming to follow the Scriptures only.  He stated that he was discarding all tradition.  He and the reformers (so-called) were challenged at the termination of the Council of Trent by the Archbishop of Reggio.  He said all their claims of discarding tradition were false as long as they retained Sunday.  This rejection of the Seventh day Sabbath was also a tradition instituted by the Catholic Church.  This change in the day of worship is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures.

Sabbath Truth Presented, But Rejected By Luther

        Almost unknown to most Christian literature is the name of Andreas Rudolph B. Carlstadt, the great apostle of the seventh day Sabbath.  He was born in Carlstadt, Bavaria, in 1480 and died in Basel, Switzerland, on December 25, 1541, at the age of 61 years. Carlstadt was a personal friend and co-worker with Martin Luther but strenuously opposed him on the Sabbath issue.  Carlstadt observed the seventh day Sabbath and taught its observance.  D’Aubigne says that Luther himself admitted that Carlstadt was his superior in learning (Fiefield’s History, Reference book ten, page 315).

        The rejection of the Sabbath at the Council of Trent at once crippled the advance of the Reformation.  Protestants and Protestant reformers will be held responsible on Judgment Day for their unfaithfulness at a time when the entire Roman Church pivoted toward discarding all tradition.

        At this point let us refer to the eminent Doctor Dowling.  In his History of Romanism, book two, chapter one, he says: “The Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.”  It is, further, of no “…account in the estimation of a genuine Protestant how early a doctrine originated if it is not found in the Bible…”  Hence if a doctrine be pro-pounded for his acceptance, he asks, “Is it found in the inspired word?  Was it taught by the Lord Jesus Christ or His apostles?”  It did not matter to him whether it had been discovered in the musty folio of some ancient visionary of the third or fourth century or whether it emerged from the fertile brain of some modern visionary of the nineteenth.  If it was not found in the sacred Scriptures it presented no valid claim to be received as an article of his religious creed.  He who receives a single doctrine from the mere authority of tradition, by so doing steps down from the Protestant Rock, passes over the line that separates Protestantism from Popery and give no reason why he should not receive all the earlier doctrines and ceremonies of Romanism.

        Again, the Italian historian Gavassi says, “A pagan flood flowing into the church, carried with it its customs, practices and idols” (Gavazzi’s Lectures, Page 290).

        To quote another authority, Dr. White, Bishop of Ely: “The observance of the seventh day was being revived in Luther’s time by Carlstadt” (Treatise of the Sabbath, page 8). And from Sear’s Life of Luther, page 402: “Carlstadt held to the Divine authority of the Sabbath from the Old Testament.”

        Indeed Luther says (in his book Against the Celestial Prophets): “Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath – that is to say, Saturday – must be kept holy.”

        Carlstadt said: “In regard to the ceremonies of the Church, all are to be rejected which have not a warrant in the Bible.”

        Luther asserted on the contrary, Whatever is not against the Scripture is for it.”

        “Not so,” said Carlstadt.  “We are bound to the Bible, and no one may decide after the thoughts of his own heart” (Sear’s Life of Luther, pages 401, 402).

        “It cannot be denied that in many respects Carlstadt was in advance of Luther, and doubtless the Reformation owes him much good for which he has not the credit” (McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, Volume 2, page 123).  References in the following paragraph are taken from History of the Sabbath by Andrews.  See third edition, 1887:

        “From the Catholic (Roman) teaching of justification by works of penance, etc., Luther went to the opposite extreme of justification without works.  This idea caused him to deny that the Epistle of James was inspired, because James said, ‘Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.’  This attitude made Luther spurn the true Christian Sabbath.”

        Read what Draper says: “Toward the close of Luther’s life it seemed as if there were no other prospects for papal power than total ruin.  Yet at this day, 1930, out of three hundred millions of Christians, more than half owe allegiance to Rome (1967: Moslems 500 million, Roman Catholics 550 million, at least).  Almost as by enchantment the Reformation ceased to advance.  Rome was not only able to check its spread but even to gain back a portion of what she had lost” (Intellectual Development, Volume 2, page 216).

Protestant Victory Almost Won, But Lost, Why?

        Now in dealing with the Council of Trent (held in northeast Italy, and lasting from 1545 to 1563 A.D.), we must quote another well-versed writer, G.E. Fifield, DD, in his incomparable tract, Origin of Sunday as a Christian (?) Festival (Published by American Sabbath Tract Society, Seventh Day Baptist Church).  To quote Dr. Fifield: “At the council of Trent, called by the Roman Church to deal with questions arising out of the Reformation, it was at first an apparent possibility that the Council would declare in favor of the reformed doctrines instead of against them, so profound was the impression made thus far by the teachings of Luther and other reformers.”

        The Pope’s legate actually wrote to him that there was “strong tendency to set aside tradition altogether, and to make the Scriptures the sole standard of appeal.”  The question was debated day by day, until it was fairly brought to a standstill.  Finally the Archbishop of Reggio turned the Council against the Reformation by the following argument:  “The Protestants claim to stand upon the written word only; they profess to hold the Scriptures alone as the standard of faith.  They justify their revolt by the plea that the Church has apostatized from the written word and follows tradition.  Now the Protestant’s claim that they stand upon the written word alone is not true.”

Why Lutheran Claim Was Not True

        “Their profession of holding the Scriptures alone as the standard of faith is false.  Proof: The written word explicitly enjoins the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath.  They do not observe the seventh day, but reject it.  If they truly hold the Scriptures alone as the standard, they would be observing the seventh day as it is enjoined in the Scripture throughout.  Yet they not only reject the observance of the Sabbath as enjoined in the written word, but they have adopted, and do practice, observance of Sunday, for which they have only the tradition of the (Catholic) Church.”

        “Consequently, the claim of Scripture alone as the standard fails and the doctrine of ‘Scripture and tradition as essential’ is fully established, the Protestants themselves being Judges.”  See The Proceedings of the Council of Trent, Augsburg confession and Encyclopedia Britannica, article “Trent, Council of.”  At this argument, the party that had stood for the Scriptures alone surrendered, and the Council at once unanimously condemnedProtestantism, and the whole Reformation.  It at once proceeded to enact stringent decrees to arrest its progress.

Results Of The Reformation

        Now what were the results of the Reformation?  Let us hear what Myers says: “The outcome of the revolt, very broadly stated, was the separation from the Roman Catholic Church of the Northern, or Teutonic nations, that is to say, of Northern Germany, parts of Switzerland and the Netherlands, and of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England and Scotland.  The Romance Nations, namely, Italy, France and Spain, together with Celtic Ireland, adhered to the old Church.”  Of the spiritual results of the revolt the same writer says: “In a spiritual or religious point of view, this severance of the Northern nations of the bonds that formerly united them to the ecclesiastic empire of Rome meant a transfer of their allegiance.”  And he finally sums up, “Thus one half of Western Christendom was lost to the Roman Church.”

        From this we see that the Roman Church, attacked by the Reformers, had at one time faced utter defeat.  But she recovered!  The reformers had dealt a death blow to the Papacy.  Unfortunately, the reformers themselves bound up the wound by clinging to Sunday, Rome’s day, and to other Papal traditions.  They rejected the Sabbath of the Scriptures.

Conclusion: “come out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4-8)

        God is giving a last solemn warning today to come out of those same traditions that most early Protestant leaders carried over from the Roman Catholic Church.  The attempted change of the Sabbath command (Exodus 20:8-11) is only part of the list.  Tradition is vain worship.  See Mark 7:6-13.  Our eternal destiny is at stake in our decisions, friends.

                                                                Missouri Watchman

        May the Lord Through His Written Word and His Spirit, be our Heavenly Guide.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

IN GOD WE TRUST

Curtis Dickinson

        The basic issue in any organized effort, and certainly in any civilized country, is: Who is in charge?  Who has the authority?

        In the beginning God established authority over His creation and exercised it with the power of death.  We don’t have to recite the story of Adam and Eve to remember that God’s authority was very real.

        The privileges given to ancient Israel were conditioned upon respect for God’s law, and when that law was violated, the privileges were removed.

        Our own nation illustrates this biblical truth that a people who honor God’s commandments will prosper.  No other nation in the world has been so blessed with material and spiritual privileges as has the United States of America.

        The founders of our country, recognizing that God is the Supreme Authority over His world, framed a constitution based upon God’s law – principles through which the nation was to be governed.  From state to state the laws reflected that authority:

1.  Laws upholding the institution of marriage and the sanctity of the family.

2.  Capital crimes received capital punishment.

3.  Murder by abortion was not allowed.

4.  Private ownership and control of property was protected.

5.  Free enterprise, including the freedom of parents to educate their own children, was upheld.

6.  Voluntary charity was encouraged by the absence of compulsory charity through taxation and welfare programs.

        Over the past several decades these great biblical principles – along with the Bible itself – have come under vicious and sustained attack.  The results are obvious:

        The family has suffered, and children often have been denied the right to a secure home or to receive an education in the basic truths and principles of authority.

        Freedom has suffered.  When God’s truth is rejected, as it is by evolutionism, humanism and all antichristism, then freedom has no foundation.

        Life itself has been cheapened.  The nation’s worries seem to be nuclear war, economic collapse and crime.  But there is a bigger problem.  When 1,500,000 unborn children are murdered each year, and only a small number of the people ever raise their voices, and even the leading churches do not cry out against it, it becomes clear that the nation is rejecting God’s authority.

        We are interested in discovering why this has happened and why there is such deterioration of respect for God’s authority.  Where is it coming from?  The common answer is to blame TV and the public schools where textbooks and humanist educators suppress Christian truth.  I do not deny the great harm that is done to our society through such influences, but we must look closer to home.

        The church itself must shoulder much of the blame, which means that you and I must closely examine our own churches and our own contribution to the retreat from God’s authority.

        A Christian businessman from Australia speaking in a church in Lubbock, TX, said that he marveled at the Christian influence in the United States.  He said, “Wherever I go, I see signs like ‘Jesus is Lord’ on buildings and on bumpers.  You even have Christian Radio stations.”  He said, “You have athletes who appear on TV and talk of their faith – then go on strike against their owners.”  Then he asked the audience, “Why is there so much said about Jesus, and so little actually following Him?”

        Let me suggest a few things in answer to his question.

        For one thing, we (the churches) are giving the wrong message to the youth.  When a junior high school teacher asked students about their goals in life, seven out of ten said they wanted to be rich.  In church bulletins announcing activities, the kids are told to bring tidy sums of cash for fun and games – $10.00 for the pizza party; $50.00 for the ski trip, or beach bash or for whatever entertainment is planned as a bribe to get young people to attend church.  Young people cannot feel at home in such a church unless they have plenty of money.  Instead of challenging them to commitment and sacrifice, this only encourages young people to seek the “good life” of pleasure and indulgence.

        You seldom see children in the worship assembly.  They are separated into their own children’s church, where they sing shallow one-line choruses, are entertained and given devotional pep-talks and never required to think deeply.  Faith becomes a matter of how they feel, not what they believe.  This leads them to make decisions on the basis of what they desire, not on the basis of what God requires.  Such programs may build church crowds, but do not build Christian character nor provide a basis from which a person may confront the problems of modern life.

        Next, we have submitted the church to a world-orientated leadership, in both the liberal and conservative groups.

        We don’t hear much about opposition to the National Council of Churches, but it is more active than ever in undermining true Christian objectives.

        The World Council of Churches continues to use money, collected from Christians, to assist communist revolution in Third World countries.

        But a world-orientated leadership is also found in the so-called conservative and fundamental churches.  Many churches are led by clergymen who are out to build their own little kingdoms where they can become celebrities.  Their members would rather have a religious celebrity in the pulpit than to have a humble servant of the Lord who is more concerned about God’s commands than he is about football, baseball, or the latest Johnny Carson monologue.

        Pulpits across the land are filled with religious actors, who use every gimmick of show business rather than the gospel, to appeal to their audiences.  What we see on “Christian” television is a parade of worldly religiosity, theatrical productions orchestrated to appeal to the baser instincts – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life – the very opposite of discipleship taught by Jesus.

        We ought to refuse support for the smooth-tongued evangelists who cleverly use every trick of psychology to coax their listeners to pour out their money, which is not used for the gospel nor for true benevolence, but to promote the antichrists in their bid for world power.

        We must stop support of those who claim that Christ accepts the unrepentant sexual deviates and that He wants nothing more than to spread a syrupy sentimentality called “love” as a veneer over the whole mass of fallen society.

        We need to stop being manipulated by the skilled religious hucksters who have programmed their sheep to say “Hallelujah” and “Amen” on cue like Pavlov’s dog.

        If anyone thinks this is an attack against the church, he is mistaken.  What I am attacking is the merchandise being made of the church, the human theology and debasement of the truth of God, and the attempt to bring God down to man’s own level.  I love Christ’s church and have given most of my life to serving it.  But the present shape of the church under the conditions mentioned is helping to destroy our Christian faith and national heritage.  We must return to the simplicity of the Christian precepts upon which the church was established.

        As long as preachers or evangelists see themselves as stars performing on the pulpit stage and the church as competing in the world’s entertainment market, God’s authority will continue to be mocked.  What we must do is get back to the Divine Authority in our homes, in our churches and in our nation.

        Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  We must cease listening to the pseudo-evangelists and their sensational interpretations of prophecy, which, somehow, never seem to work out the way they are supposed to, but which always give support to the antichrist designs of Zionism.

        And we need to insist that our elected politicians look out for the interests of America first, and when the lobbyist calls, let him know that in our nation it is God who is in authority, through His law-principles, and not the agents of a foreign power.

        Our salvation – individually and nationally – comes from God.  We must once again affirm with a loud and clear voice – for every alien, every atheist and every foreign power to hear – these words inscribed on our coin: “In God We Trust.”

        Authority belongs to Him.

NOTE: The Testimony of People of The Living God is apolitical in view and scope.  The above article may be construed to have political undertones.  Such is neither intended nor implied.  We do not endorse nor condemn any political party nor candidate.  Our mission is to declare the good news of the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Son of the Living God.

                                                                Editor

 

 

 

 

A GREAT DISPARITY

A. W. Tozer

        There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and which, in its effect upon the Christian religion, is more destructive than Communism and Liberalism combined.  It is the glaring disparity between theology and practice among professing Christians.

        So wide is the gulf that separates theory from practice in the church that an inquiring stranger who chanced upon both would scarcely dream that there was any relation between them.  An intelligent observer of our human scene who heard the Sunday morning sermon and later watched the Sunday afternoon conduct of those who had heard it would conclude that he had been examining two separate and contrary religions.  (NOTE: this same condition can be observed among the Sabbath keeping groups, as well. - Ed.)

        It is not uncommon for conferences of Christian leaders to listen to and approve a spiritual message in the morning and at the afternoon session of the same day vote for measures that are flat contradictions to the truth they heard a few hours before.  Neither is it unusual to see Christians weep tenderly over beautiful religious sentiments, only to balk flatly when it comes to putting them in practice.

        This can be explained only by assuming a lack of integration in the religious personality.  There seems to be no vital connection between the emotional and volitional departments of the life.  The mind can approve and the emotions enjoy while the will drags it feet and refuses to go along.  And since Christ makes His appeal direct to the will, are we not justified in wondering whether or not these divided souls have ever made a true committal to the Lord?  Or whether they have been inwardly renewed?

        To follow Christ costs heavily.  Truth will not accept service that costs us nothing.  The cross is still a weighty and unpleasant burden and not many care to take it on their back.  “Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom,” says Thomas A Kempis, “but few bearers of His cross.  Many He hath that are desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation.  Many He findeth that share His table, but few His fasting.  All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to endure anything for Him.  Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion.”

        It appears that too many Christians want to enjoy the thrill of feeling right but are not willing to endure the inconvenience of living right.  So the divorce between theory and practice becomes permanent in fact, though in word the union is declared to be eternal.  Truth sits forsaken and grieves till her professed lovers come home for a brief visit, but she sees them depart again when bills become due.  They protest great and undying affection, but they will not let their love cost them anything.

        The average church today simply does not dare to check its practice against Biblical precepts.  It tolerates things that are diametrically opposed to the will of God, and if the matter pointed out to its leaders they will defend its unscriptural practices with a smooth casuistry equal to the verbal dodging of a politician.

        Could this be the condition our Lord had in mind when He said, “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”?  What can the effect be upon the spectators who live day after day among professed Christians who habitually ignore the commandments of Christ and live after their own private notions of Christianity?  Will they not be forced to believe that the faith of Christ is an unreal and visionary thing which they are fully justified in rejecting?

        Well, we are free to live as we will, and no man can lay any moral necessity upon us.  But the disparity between our theology and our lives remains an offense to men and a scandal to the kingdom of God.  Sterility and blight hover over the church as vultures over a sick flock to feed on the sheep as they drop one by one.  It does not take a sharp eye these days to detect the shadows of their wings on the roofs of our churches.

        In that great and terrible day when the deeds of men are searched into by the penetrating eyes of the Judge of all the earth, what will we answer when we are charged with inconsistency and moral fraud?  And at whose door will lie the blame for the millions of lost men who, while they lived on earth, were sickened and revolted by the religious travesty carried on in the name of Christianity?

 

 

 

 

A FALLNG AWAY FIRST

Charles F.Woodard

        “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the Son of Perdition” (II Thess. 2:3).

        A FALLING AWAY FIRST is Apostasy!  It does not usually take place all at once, but is a process of spiritual deterioration.

        The world and modern society do not fall away; they are already lost and separated from God and Christ.  It is the Church, believers, that will fall away!

        What is causing believers to fall away?  Primarily it is compromise.  Christianity has made a partial surrender to the principles of the world by concession; worship has been replaced with frivolity, fun and games, carnality, materialism and religious fraud!

        This is the program of the Anti-Christ and the false prophet.  Compromise of the Ecclesia (called out ones) is the sign of the Laodicean Church (Rev. 3:7-13).

        In the sequence of a false gospel both congregation and pastor are to blame: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers (Pastors who believe like they do), having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3-4).

        This is a picture of A FALLING AWAY FIRST!  Rev. 13:7 is here!  The antichrists are already making war with the saints and overcoming them!  This dispensation of Grace is polluted with compromise.

        Those who do not see this great falling away are lacking in spiritual discernment.  They see the warning as being critical and think all Christians should be positive and sweet.  Again, to ignore the FALLING AWAY FIRST is to compromise and close one’s eyes to TRUTH.

        Compromise has caused many churches and Christian Fellowships to accept people with an unsure or even a false experience of regeneration.  People who “live after the flesh” (Rom. 8:13) have learned the Christian terminology and present themselves as “born-again.”  All states have a strict driver’s test before a driver’s license is given, but pastors and leaders accept an indefinite testimony in the name of John 3:16.  I had one pastor tell me, “I know one-half of my people are unsaved, but at least I’ve got them here to hear the gospel.”  A materialistic, carnal church is the result of such compromise and the aftermath is A FALLING AWAY!  The harvest of compromise is a spawn of error.

        What can be done to delay this FALLING AWAY?  It will not be stopped, for II Thess. 2:3 above states it must precede the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  THE FALLING AWAY may be arrested by elimination of compromise and a return to a preaching of the Word of God: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

        Not entertainment, swelling words of prosperity, or charismatic chatter will suffice.  There must be a return to righteousness, holiness, and true faith.  Compromise must go and a fervent spirit come:

        “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11).

 

 

 

 

NEW LABEL FOR AN OLD SIN

A. Wayne Wilhelm

        Within the human nature of everyone, there is rebellion against the will of God.  Human instinct places emphasis on secular concerns and self.  Consequently, the Word of God is ignored when it is contrary to self-interest.

        The natural attitude of the average man revolts against the supernatural because his own interests, emotions and desires have ignited in him a consuming passion for worshiping himself.  He is but a short step from assuming the role of God.  When this happens, he is out of God’s will, for his desire to magnify self contradicts the fact that God alone should be glorified.  The tendency to promote man and his interests to the exclusion of God is called humanism.

        Many church groups unwittingly are defaulting on their moral and spiritual outreach before the onslaught of the humanistic concept.  And sadly, church members are often unaware of – or indifferent to – the infiltration of humanism into the church program.  They are being led to accept the humanistic philosophy which claims man’s physical welfare, man’s desires and man’s environment as the chief goals to be attained both in and out of the church.

        In the church, humanism surfaces as liberalism, deceiving the unwary into blind acceptance of social action programs.  The effect is to sidetrack the church from any real involvement in its top priority, the responsibility of its members to proclaim Christ’s Gospel to a lost world.  Defense and support of the social revolution worldwide have been substituted.

        In fact, humanism often runs a parallel course with atheistic Communism.  Both elevate man to a position of supreme power, arrogantly boasting, “Man can do it all.”  The omnipotent God is not needed.  Man is his own saviour.

        Humanism gains acceptance by deceptively catering to man’s pride, raising him up as the one to be honored instead of God.  The truth expressed in Psalm 112:1, “Blessed is the man that fears the Lord, that delights greatly in His commandments,” is not meaningful to the humanist.  He sees no need to be directed by God’s command.  What God reveals as true wisdom he casts aside as of no importance.  By his attitude and actions he proves that humanism is only a new label for the sin of atheism.

        Non-negotiable to the philosophy of humanism is the premise that nothing is absolute.  Nor is there a future, such as heaven, promised for those who love and obey God.  This world is all there is.  NOW is it!  When life on earth ceases, the curtain marked Finis falls forever.  At the end of life the stark reality of nothingness is all that humanism has to offer.

        It is not surprising that the follower of this philosophy may suffer utter despair and seek to bolster a fading hope through drugs or alcohol.  Never having had Christ as Lord, he has little to satisfy the longing of the soul.

        Man has a soul that must be nurtured by the only power which can satisfy that essential – God Himself.  The humanistic philosophy errs because it does not recognize this need.  Mere man cannot cut himself off from God, for he then becomes alienated from the one sure source that would satisfy this requirement.

        In rebelling against God, man disobeys Christ’s great commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37).  By making self god, the humanist is attempting to live his life in opposition to that vitally important command.  If he is determined, he will likely succeed.  But by his rebellion he will forfeit the joy of eternal life.

 

 

 

 

INVITATION TO SERVICES IN LADOGA, INDIANA

 

        Brother Dan Crosby has been led of the Lord to start a new fellowship in Ladoga, Indiana.  They assemble every Sabbath day at 3:00 pm.  The name of the fellowship is, “Covenant Servants Fellowship”.  They want to invite all who live close to this city to fellowship with them.  The Lord has miraculously provided a very nice place for their gathering.  For further information, you can write to: Brother Dan Crosby, 100 West Main Street, Ladoga, Indiana  47954, or you can call 765-522-4850.