People of The Living God

Matthew 5-7

 

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August 2017



 

 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

THE FALLING AWAY

James Sanderson

            Over the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in man’s interest in the realm of the supernatural.  Witness the fantasy games such as Dungeons and Dragons, hard rock music, Satanism, the new age movement, seances, astrology, yoga, the influx of eastern religions, witchcraft, occult movies, and children’s cartoons that portray violence and satanic themes.  Even certain Christians, who should know better, are participating in some of these forbidden practices.  This flood of evil spirit activity has been accompanied by an epidemic of drug use and a tremendous decline in morality.  As evil and vile as these conditions appear to the follower of Christ, the Scriptures reveal that this is only the beginning of a revival of demonic religion that promises to sweep the globe.

            “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood…and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:15-16).  “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world” (Rev. 16:13-14).

            Not many years ago, the majority of people would not have tolerated this cavorting with demonic powers.  People have become conditioned little by little to accept the moral climate that is prevalent today.  The enemy has labored tirelessly to secularize our schools, government, and society in general.  With all godly influences removed, Satan has proceeded to instill his own values.  Men have gradually compromised their consciences, laid aside their inner restraints, and yielded their wills to the powers of darkness.  The forces of evil have been patiently laying the groundwork for this final hour.  The expressed goal of Satan and his cohorts is to undermine the authority of God and, thereby, thwart God’s plan among men.  These evil forces must possess human vehicles in order to accomplish their nefarious plans.

            Where has the church been during this time?  Sad to say, most Christians have been asleep and oblivious to much of what has been transpiring.

            The Scriptures declare plainly that God’s people will not be immune to this onslaught of demonic forces, for Satan’s prime target is the church of Jesus Christ.  The Lord explicitly warned his disciples that deception would be so widespread that even the very elect could be deceived.  Only those who are walking in obedience to Jesus Christ and are in tune with heaven will be able to discern what is of God and what is not.

            “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2).  This is no ordinary work of Satan among the heathen.  Individuals who once had a genuine experience with the Lord (for they were in the faith) will turn their backs on the living God and surrender to the forces of hell.

            The Bible declares that there must occur “a falling away first” before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  This “falling away” is not merely a backslidden condition.  That men have forsaken the way of the Lord is nothing new.  The original Greek really says, “The falling away” or “The apostasy.”  The article the indicates that this movement is exceptionally peculiar to the end of time.  This falling away will be so unusual that Paul indicated that it would be a major signpost of the soon appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In His Mount Olive discourse, the Lord referred to this same event as the abomination of desolation.

            The word apostasy means a “defection,” a “revolt,” or “falling away.”  In certain ancient manuscripts this term was used in reference to political rebels.  One cannot defect or fall from something that he does not possess.

            The sixth chapter of Hebrews presents more information about these apostate rebels.  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-6).  The “heavenly gift” refers to the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.  “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:45-46).

            These Scriptures reveal that those who “fall away” will have experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  Instead of continuing in obedience to God, they will choose to abuse this precious gift and rebel against the Lord.  The Holy Spirit will depart, allowing evil spirits to gain control of their lives.  Note that the revelation of the “man of sin” is closely connected with the falling away.  “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (II Thess. 2:11).

            What is this strong delusion?  Jesus gives a clue when He declares, “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 iniquity.”  These people falsely assumed that miracles accomplished in the name of Jesus were proof of divine favor.

            The ultimate deception is for one to believe that he is functioning and operating according to the Spirit of God when, in reality, he is being motivated by evil powers.  Note that “lying wonders” are associated with this falling away (II Thess. 2:9).  The wonders are real. They are “lying” wonders because men will assume that these miracles are from God.  It is quite possible that these false prophets will use the name of Jesus in an attempt to bolster their claims to divine authority.  Those who fall away will be so deceived that until the very end they will believe that they have the endorsement of the Holy Spirit.

            How is it possible that such individuals could be so ensnared by the powers of darkness?  “They received not the love of the truth” (II Thess. 2:10).  These words of Paul agree with what Jesus declared concerning this day, “The love of many shall wax cold.”  Love for what?  A love for truth.  The issue is TRUTH.  A love for truth is the vital link between God and man that makes it possible for God to reach down and work within the heart to accomplish what He desires.  To seek Holy Ghost power and refuse to walk in truth is an affront to the Most High God.  The individual who pursues such a course does “despite (insult) unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29).

            Truth is both a Person and a message.  Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  Jesus was indeed truth personified; however, His message was also truth.  In His prayer to the Father Jesus said, “I have given them Thy word.  Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John 17:14,17).

            The Person, the Message, and the Life of Jesus all agree.  If one is unclear concerning the meaning of what Jesus said, look at His life.  His way of living is the interpretation of the meaning of His words.  His life testifies that He meant what He said.  God expects man to walk as He walked and to live as He lived.  In order to fulfill these expectations, man must obey the divine instructions of our Lord.

            The words of Jesus are so important that men will be judged by them.  “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my word, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).  The Lord will not ask, “How many wonderful works did you perform or how many miracles did you accomplish in My name?”  The simple question will be, “What did you do with My words?”

            The message of Jesus Christ has never been popular.  Even when He walked the earth, multitudes came to be healed, but few actually became dedicated followers.  The cost was too great.  Most people were not interested in a life of self-denial, daily cross-bearing, and total surrender of all.  Human nature has not changed over the centuries.

            Those who fall away love to invoke the name of Jesus.  They covet His gifts.  They delight in supernatural signs and wonders.  They enjoy the power and prestige that they receive from having a “word from the Lord.”  On the other hand, they do not want His message.  They have no intention of conforming their lives to His example.

            The Holy Spirit is also called the Spirit of truth.  His responsibility is to lead men into all truth.  He will not usurp man’s will or force Himself upon anyone.  The message of the Holy Spirit is the same message that Jesus gave.  Anyone who will not obey what Jesus said will not obey the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will not continue to abide with people who pay no attention to what He has to say.

            This walk with the Lord is a very serious matter.  Whoever has been baptized in the Holy Ghost has a greater responsibility to maintain a proper walk before the Almighty.  His spirit has been made accessible to the unseen realm.  There are many supernatural beings, both good and bad, from which inspiration can originate.  As long as a person strives earnestly to obey the words of the Master, the Holy Spirit will faithfully lead that individual.  On the other hand, anyone who merely wants to dabble in the supernatural and yet demands God’s stamp of approval on his own program will find too late that the Holy Spirit has departed from him.  Evil spirits will then take control and inspire many of his activities.  “The last state of that man” will be “worse than the first.”

            This falling away is on God’s schedule.  The discerning eye can observe even now the groundwork being laid for Satan’s last major insidious scheme.  One need not look far to find that this work of deception has already begun.

            The stigma that was once associated with the Pentecostal churches has largely disappeared.  This movement has swept through virtually every denominational structure.

            It might be well to scrutinize this religious movement in the light of the teachings of the Master.  Could it be that the falling away is much closer at hand than one would expect?  Remember that no one who is deceived carries a placard declaring, “I am being deceived.”  Satan is perfectly capable of disguising himself as an angel of light.  He also has his own ministers who are also disguised as ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:15).  Often, Satan’s ministers are more visible than a true, humble servant of God.

            Jesus gave a wonderful basis for determining the real from the counterfeit.  “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16).  One can have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, have all faith, feed the poor, and even give his body to be burned and still be totally out of the will of God.  Our Lord is talking about the fruits resulting from absolute obedience to the words that He spoke.

            What sets the Charismatic-Pentecostal movement apart from all other movements is the emphasis upon one experience, the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with speaking in tongues.  Most Charismatics excitedly turn to the book of Acts to support their new-found experiences in God.  Except for the Baptism in the Holy Ghost, the present-day Charismatic movement bears little resemblance to the early church.

            The hallmark of the early church was not its supernatural experiences but its way of life.  It was a church sold out to God and one another.  After the infusion of divine power, “they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Acts 2:42).  The doctrine of the apostles was the commands and precepts of Jesus Christ.  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20).

            “Fellowship” was a life of sharing.  Love so filled their hearts that they “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. All that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:45,44).

            Many supernatural manifestations in charismatic circles are very questionable.  Nowhere in the Scriptures does one find reference to long lines of people falling down one by one like dominoes, supposedly slain in the Spirit.  In some of these gatherings people have been known to return at the end of the line to fall over again.  Furthermore, Paul’s instructions concerning tongues are completely ignored in many Pentecostal assemblies (I Cor. 14:28).

            Personality cults are widespread throughout the Charismatic movement.  These masters of the art of showmanship often live rather sumptuous lifestyles as ministers of the gospels making merchandise of their followers (II Peter 2:3).  The top Pentecostal T.V. evangelists garner almost $2 billion a year (C.T.).  They frequently resort to every type of subterfuge or gimmick to gain a dollar.  These “clouds without water” have little spiritual nutrition to offer a child of God.  Their message is peace and prosperity rather than separation from the world.  One is reminded of the words of Jesus, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory” (John 7:18).  Where is the reproach associated with following Jesus?  Where is the life of self-denial?  Who is really running the show?

            Many Charismatic gatherings would have little life if it were not for the ear-piercing, driving beat of “Christian” rock music.  One Charismatic convention even had a Jesus jazz band.  What has happened to songs like “Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe,” or “Is your all on the altar?”  “There is no doubt in my mind now – rock music, as used and performed in Christian circles, is of the same satanic seed as that which is called punk, heavy metal, and is performed in devilish rock concerts worldwide.  There is a tendency today to bless and embrace anything as long as there is sincerity and the name of Jesus is prominent.  How dangerous!” (David Wilkerson)

            The Charismatic-Pentecostal movement is a house divided.  “Perhaps more than any other segment of Christendom, the boundaries of this movement seem hopelessly tangled in a confusing maze of criss-crossing beliefs and practices” (C.T.).  How is this condition possible among Holy Spirit baptized people who have received such a mighty unction from above and are supposedly being led into all truth?

            Jesus is coming for a church without spot, wrinkle, or blemish – a church whose banner is “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” (Zech. 14:20).  The prayer of Jesus will be fulfilled in His church (John 17).  God’s people will become one.  That oneness will be the same as the relationship between the Father and the Son.  There will be no sectarian walls and no differences in religious practices.  That church will possess not only the unity of the Spirit but also the unity of the faith.  This unity will not be achieved by huge Charismatic extravaganzas nor through any type of ecumenical legislation.  It will be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit as God’s people humbly return in obedience to the original teachings and practices of our Lord Jesus.

            Some well-known popular Charismatic leaders are now propagating certain doctrines that could only have been contrived by Satan himself.  One of these perverse teachings is the blasphemous “Jesus died spiritually” heresy.  This doctrine states that “Jesus died spiritually and had to be born again in hell by subjecting Himself to torment by Satan and his demons.”  One of these leaders even declares that “we are not saved spiritually by Jesus’ death on the cross; otherwise any righteous man could have died for our sins” (Media Spotlight).

            It is certain segments of the Charismatic movement that have fostered the so-called prosperity doctrine.  This ungodly doctrine teaches that faith is the road to financial success.  Some have toned down this message to condone individual financial prosperity in order to evangelize.  Both of these teachings are completely opposed to the doctrine of Christ.  Paul condemned those who taught that gain is godliness (I Tim. 6:5).  Our Lord Himself set forth a life of personal poverty as a requisite of discipleship (Luke 14:33).  “for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (in the things of God) (II Cor. 8:9).  “There are 13 New Testament warnings against riches and none against being poor” (C.T.).

            Charismatics and Pentecostals emphasize the importance of prophecy.  Many of their services would not be complete without a number of so-called prophetic utterances.  Unfortunately, most of these expressions are “vain visions” or “flattering divination” (Ezek. 12:24).  It is very doubtful that a true prophet of God would last long in many Charismatic gatherings.  The Spirit of the Lord commanded the prophet Isaiah, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isa. 58:1).  “The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying…Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings” (Jer. 7:1,3).  A true prophet of God will reveal hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.  “And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth” (I Cor. 14:25).  Prophecy is 100% supernatural.  The Holy Spirit does not deal in flattery or self-exaltation.  He does not pat people on the back to make them feel good.  The Holy Spirit through the gift of prophecy labors to keep the body cleansed of sin and ungodliness.

            Most of those in Charismatic-Pentecostal circles quote the prophet Joel, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28).  However, there is another passage of Scripture that every Holy Spirit baptized individual should examine very carefully and weigh very seriously.  That portion is chapter 28 of Isaiah.  This passage of Scripture, like the account in Joel, is also a prophecy concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last days.  God calls this “his strange work” and “his strange act.”  “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear” (Isa. 28:11-12).

            When anyone speaks in a heavenly language by the power of the Holy Spirit, he edifies himself (I Cor. 14:4).  God is actually addressing the heart of that individual who is speaking in tongues.  What is the message given by the Holy Spirit?  “He shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13).  “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

            Sad to say, as the prophet Isaiah has declared, the majority of tongues-speakers will not hear.  “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).  These are the ones who will fall away in this end time.

            “The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Peter 4:7).  Most of the modern-day tongues movement is a house built on sand.  As the rain, floods, and winds of God’s fury come forth, that house will not stand.  God places the highest premium upon obedience.  “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:22-23).  Only he who builds his house on the Rock by diligently practicing “these sayings of Mine” will be able to weather the storms of satanic deception and God’s judgments that are even now being manifested in the earth (Matt. 7:24-27).

 

 

 

 

THE CAGE

Randall Walton

            “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a CAGE of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2).

            We generally think of a cage as a device for insuring safety for our little feathered friends, canaries, parakeets, mynas, etc.  Actually, however, a cage is intended to prevent the bird’s escape from its “prison.”  It is our means of maintaining the fowl in captivity, to ensure that we don’t lose our precious pets.  While it’s true that we afford them protection from their natural enemies, it’s also true that we hold them in confinement to our will, our desire, and under our control.  They are totally dependent upon their owners.

            Thus, while a cage may afford security and safety, it does so at the expense of freedom of will, of mobility, and of experience.  From our view-point, the bird (or other animal) is better off under our control and domination, but we’ve never had the opportunity to question the desire of the creature.  Since incarceration is the only existence the tiny animal has ever known, it’s quite likely that it is satisfied, and if given a choice, it would probably remain in its present state.

            That the Lord would use this symbolism to teach us about a condition called Babylon is rather startling, especially in the light of the occupants who are imprisoned therein.

            “Every unclean and hateful bird” have their place along with the people of God who are found there, for notice in verse four that John heard a voice from heaven calling, “Come out of her, MY PEOPLE”!

            God’s people, the church, are held within the confines of the Babylonian cage, captive, captured, captivated, and satisfied!  They enjoy the feeling of security which they are given by the cage.  Babylon affords a sense of safety and assurance so that the bars of the cage appear to be a means of protection rather than a means of confinement.  Little do they realize that so long as they remain within the boundary of the prison house, they are subject to the ruthless rule of the jailer; not only that, but since the cage is destined for destruction, all who are confined within the structure are subject to the same judgment.

            It is very significant that the Lord used a cage as a type to portray the Babylonian system, a system which holds its victims in great bondage.  Babylon is described as a city of great wealth and affluence, an entity with power and influence over governmental affairs, and as a woman of the streets who commits fornication with the rulers of the earth.  She is successful in anesthetizing her prisoners with the “wine of her fornication.”  The nations of the earth are in a drunken stupor as a result of feasting at the tables of her abominations.

            She is a woman of religion, a queen of hearts, an evil temptress who delights in the merchandising of the souls of men.  In her house of worship are devils, foul spirits, unclean and hateful birds.  Her pews are filled with false prophets, lying spirits, and promoters of “doctrines of devils.”  She has become the very epitome of abomination, bondage, corruption, and violence.  With open arms she welcomes the reprobate, the vile, the incorrigible.  She is the master of confusion – Babylon, the great.

            Her influence is evident in every realm of man’s existence today.  The nations are in terrible turmoil as she works behind the scenes to keep confusion boiling.  Nations are not sure of their alleged allies, they don’t know whom they can trust and rely upon.  The constant struggle over arms control, disarmament, commercial predominance, trade imbalances, indebtedness, deficits, socialization, bureaucracy, high finance in low places, coups, scandals, rip-offs in religious circles, etc., are all a part of her cunning and scheming.  Her queendom is the highest example of confusion, intrigue, double-dealing and chicanery.

            Tyranny is her means of control.  Hatred is the basis of her social order.  Violence is the way of life she espouses.  Greed is the message of her gospel.  She is not only anti-Christ, she offers a way which is instead-of-Christ.  All who embrace her are brought under her dominion, control, and bondage.

            The question that baffles the mind is “Why are ‘my people’ is Babylon?”  How did the people of God manage to get into the cage of bondage called Babylon?

            It is doubtful that God’s people realize the morass into which they have fallen.  Ancient Israel literally went into captivity to Babylonia, and they knew positively that they were in great bondage: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea we wept, when we remembered Zion.  We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.  For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.  How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:1-4)

            Daniel and the other men of God suffered greatly under the heel of their oppressors.  While it is true that God blessed them because of His own faithfulness, it is also true that they were among the few whose hearts were still turned toward Zion, toward the living God and His holy way.

            But there was grief and lamentation because of their bondage and the condition of Zion.  The City of David was sacked, the walls and gates were destroyed, and it had become the habitation of the enemies of the Lord.  Only the intervention of the mighty One of Israel turned their captivity into joy by restoring the City to its former state and delivering the captives from Babylon.

            It is less obvious to modern Israel (spiritual sons of Abraham) that Babylonian bondage has once again befallen them.  They have taken the harps from the willows and are attempting to sing the songs of Zion with joy and mirth, but, where is it?  Where is the glory, where is the power of the Apostolic assembly, where is the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3)?  The church (Zion) is filled with hypocrisy, the walls of salvation are broken down, the gates of praise are off their hinges (much noise, little praise), merchandising has made the house of God a den of thieves, false prophecy is allowed to fill the air; corruption, hatred, jealousy, violence, filth, abominations of the flesh, counterfeit miracles, signs and lying wonders, intrigue, and money-mongering are part and parcel of the religion which calls itself of Christ!

            Isaiah sums it up succinctly with this: “For all tables are full of vomit, and filthiness, so that there is no place clean” (Isa. 28:8).  Why?  Because the church sits in bondage in the cage of Babylon!

            The same God who delivered the captives of Zion by the hands of Ezra and Nehemiah will, by His own power and might, deliver His people once again.  There must be a restoration of the glory that was lost when the church went into captivity, but it will not happen in Babylon.  Only when God’s people heed the voice of the Lord and “Come Out of Her” will the joy and mirth overflow and the real songs of Zion fill the atmosphere.  Then will the gates of praise and the walls of salvation resound to the glorious praises of the liberated sons of Israel, and then will the church be the city set on a hill as the light of the world.

            But first there must be an awakening.  The people of God must become aware that they are encaged in Babylon, and they must then seek God for deliverance.  Coming out of her is part the work of God, and part the work of the people.  There is no question about God’s part!  As faithful as He has always been, He will continue to be.  But the real problem is on our part.  Will we respond?  Will we follow Him as He leads us out of the cage where we have rubbed elbows with every unclean and hateful bird, becoming accustomed to it, and feeling that such a state is normal?

            Are we willing to lay aside every trace of carnal desire and worldly ambition and pride?  Are we willing to forsake all that we have and are, to lose our personal identity, to accept and carry our cross and follow Jesus Christ step by step out of Babylon?  Are we ready to do anything He asks of us, to go anywhere He sends us, to say whatever He directs us to, to be the kind of example that He requires us to be?

            The issue is clear and plain.  Those who remain in Babylon will surely become “partakers of her sins” and will “receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:14).  To suffer persecution for the cause of Jesus is one thing, but to suffer from plagues as a result of collaboration in iniquity is quite another.  God’s warning is that those who stay in the cage will compromise, will negotiate with the enemy, will set aside standards of morality, truth, and righteousness, and since the wages of sin is death, they will be partakers of the consequences.

            “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Cor. 6:17).

            Separation is not easy, but it is necessary.  May we lovingly admonish you to seek the Lord with all your hearts, and ask Him what you should do in order to separate yourself from the clutches of Babylon.

 

 

 

 

SUPERFICIAL RELIGION

Paul Woods

            There are literally millions of people on each continent of the earth today.  The latest figure reported for the United States of America was over 300 million.  Of that figure, 80% claim to be Christian, according to an earlier report.  Now, I know that it is no problem for our heavenly Father to make room in His kingdom for a few more million, or even a few billion more people.  Space may be a problem for us at times, but never for the Creator who designed the vastness of the universe!

            The thing that concerns me most with the high percentage of Christians reported is, why do we see the problems in our land that we do?  I’ve been seeing headlines on the front page of the daily newspaper such as: Violent crimes up in major cities – Couple Shot to Death by Grandson – Rape on the Increase – John Doe (a prominent citizen) Committed Suicide – Drugs Raging Through the Lower Grades of Schools – Pastor of X Church Found Guilty of Homosexual Acts – and on goes the list.

            If we are the Christian nation we proclaim to be, why aren’t we seeing these headlines changed to:  Crimes Reduced over the past few years – Vile Grandson Changed When Grandparents Led Him to Jesus, in Spirit-Filled Meeting – the U.S.A.: A Safe Place for Women – Pastor Leads Congregation to Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – etc.

            Our nation seems to have a multitude of people who have made it only part way through John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God.”  The word power here has the meaning “right or privilege.”  These people have learned about Christ and His saving power, and they have the “right to it.”  But, there is another qualification to the verse.  “even to them that believe on His name.”  It is possible to receive someone and not believe in him.  I have received people into my home that I did not believe in because of the fruit they bore in their lives.  If we say we have received Jesus, and believed on His name, let us live our lives accordingly.  One brother said it so aptly, “We want the Lord to be sovereign of our lives, but we don’t really want to be His subjects.”  Think about that.  We’ve heard much preaching, especially in the last few years, about what God can do for us.  We want Him to prosper us financially, heal our bodies, and the list goes on and on.  God is well able to do these things and could do these things for us in an instant.  However, we are in a time when God is calling a people unto Himself.  He desires subjects that will submit to the Master in every area of their lives.

            When Jesus came to earth to dwell among men, He didn’t come in pomp and glory.  He came very humbly as a baby.  He grew up (in the flesh), among the people, and dwelt among them as another man, one of the people.  He dealt with some of the same problems that plague our nation and churches today.  Remember, He knew how the Scribes and Pharisees worshipped, and He also knew what they demanded of the people.  Oh, they honored Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.  Some of the things that the Scribes and Pharisees believed in were: 1. Church membership; 2. Baptism; 3. The Passover Service; 4. Almsgiving; 5. Speaking prayers to be heard of men; 6. Keeping the commandments (letter only); 7. Self-righteousness.  These people had a form of godliness, but they denied the power of God (II Tim. 3:5).  Jesus said they worshipped Him in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Yes, it is possible to know about Christ, be guilty of the above mentioned list, and still not be subject to Him!

            When we, as individuals, receive Christ we must change “our” life styles.  Then our actions will portray that we believe in Him.  We consider our nation a Christian one, but we are not really willing to “clean up our act” and change our life-styles to be conformed to the ways of Christ.  It is evident by observing the average American “Christian” that we’re self-satisfied.  Oh yes, we want the blessings of God, but we certainly don’t want to yield ourselves as instruments of righteousness.  If we’re yielding ourselves as servants to sin, death becomes the final destiny.  We are, indeed, a servant to the one we obey.  When you truly believe in someone, you will fully trust that person, even with your life!  We all know well the scriptures about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

            It’s high time to get on our knees and repent of the “lip service” we have been giving.  It’s time for each Bible believing person in America (and around the world) to live a “called out” life.  It’s time to cry out against sin.  Passiveness only allows ourselves and our neighbors a ticket to hell.

            Beloved, things are waxing worse and worse just as the Bible predicted.  We need to know today as never before who we totally and unreservedly serve.  If we have made Jesus Christ the Lord (Master) of our lives, we will not serve the things of the world.  If tobacco, alcohol, T.V., ungodly dress, sports, money, or any other god of this world involves you to the place that it rules your spiritual life, then Satan is gaining a strong hold on you.  If you have accepted Jesus and believed on Him, then you are the temple of God.  The apostle Paul said, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”

            So, the question arises, “How do we not defile the temple?”  The answer is quite simple!  DO NOT ADULTERATE YOURSELF WITH THE SINFUL THINGS OF THIS WORLD!

            Remember the Pharisees.  They wore long robes, spent much time in study and made long prayers in public places.  They only had a “form” of Godliness.  They had denied the power of Jesus Christ.  Thus, our Lord told them that they were of their father, the devil.

            But what about those who have received and believed?  “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (I Cor. 2:12).

            Beloved, God is longing and searching for those today who will walk upright before Him.  The world has seen too much compromise out of professing Christians.  We are going to be held accountable for the lives we have lived.  We’ve played church for too long.  We no longer can just call Him Lord and Master, we must do the works that He has set forth.

            America, and the Church, is being destroyed because of sin and lawlessness.  God is looking today, even as in Ezekiel’s time, for someone to make up the hedge and stand in the gap, that the land might not be destroyed.  Will you be the one to stand in the gap?

 

 

 

 

PRAYER GRASPS ETERNITY

Leonard Ravenhill

            No man is greater than his prayer life.  Prayer grasps eternity.  The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying.  The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows of no showing off.

            Poverty stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer.  We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers but few fighters.  Failing here we fail everywhere.

            The two prerequisites to successful Christian living are vision and passion both of which are born in and maintained by prayer.  The ministry of preaching is open to few; the ministry of prayer – the highest ministry of all human offices – is open to all.  Spiritual adolescents say, “I’ll not go tonight, it’s only the prayer meeting.”  It may be that Satan has little cause to fear most preaching.  Past experiences sting him to rally all his infernal army to fight against God’s people praying.  Modern Christians know little of “binding and loosing.”  The onus is on us – “Whatsoever ye shall bind.”  Have you done any of this lately?  God is not prodigal with His power and to be much for God, we must be much with God.

            This world hits the trail for hell with a speed that makes our fastest plane look like a tortoise; yet, alas, few of us can remember the last time we missed our bed for a night of waiting upon God for a world-shaking revival.  Our compassions are not moved.  We mistake the scaffolding for the building.  Present-day preaching, with its pale interpretation of divine truths, causes us to mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revivals.

            The secret of praying is praying in secret.  A sinning man will stop praying and a praying man will stop sinning.  We are beggared and bankrupt but not broken, nor even bent.

            Prayer is profoundly simple and simply profound.  “Prayer is the simplest form of speech that infant lips can try,” and yet so sublime that it outranges all speech and exhausts man’s vocabulary.  A burning Niagara of words does not mean that God is either impressed or moved.  One of the most profound of intercessors had no language – “Her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.”  There are groanings which cannot be uttered.  Not many linguists here.

            Are we so substandard to New Testament Christianity that we know not the historical faith of our fathers (with its implications and operations), but only the hysterical faith of our fellows?  Prayer is to the believer what capital is to the business man.

            Can any deny that in the modern church set up, the main cause of anxiety is money?  Yet that which tries the modern churches the most troubled the New Testament Church the least.  Our accent is on paying; theirs was on praying.  When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed the place was shaken.

            In the manner of New Testament, Spirit-inspired, hell-shaking world-breaking prayer, never has so much been left by so many to so few.

            For this kind of prayer there is no substitute.  We do it – or die!

 

 

 

 

POWER THROUGH SUBMISSION

Curtis Dickinson

            It is not a question of whether or not we believers will be able to compel all the world to bow down to King Jesus, but whether or not we ourselves will bow down to Him and not be distracted by all the controversy and cares of the world.

            In the days of the prophet Samuel the people became greatly concerned with worldly power.  With God alone as their ruler they had accomplished all that they had set out to do, yet they saw themselves as missing out on some very spectacular things.  They were impressed by the romance of kings, court, parades, pomp and ceremony – it all looked so powerful and glorious.  They were distracted from their mission and demanded a king on the order of the other nations.  After they went that route they were continually plagued with all the sins of the other nations until their final downfall.

            Modern Christians often suffer from the same illusion.  Just give us the glamour and glory seen in popular and famous people; give us power and money to make a really big splash before the world; then we will capture the attention of sinners and turn them to the Saviour; then we will have influence in legislation, in education, in economics and make the proper impact upon the world.

            But it doesn't happen.  Those who attain the power or the money or the influence sought after almost always are corrupted and become an embarrassment to the Christian community.

            Six months ago, as I was thinking along these lines, I made this note.  “Just take a look at the electronic church and its stars.  Their bizarre money-raising schemes, their ridiculous claims to special revelations from God, their high pressure tactics through TV appeals and letters, which are designed to extract funds from sincere but unknowing people and from the guilt ridden and emotionally unstable, all are a disgrace.”  Little did I think that within a few months the secular media would be taking up the same criticism.  But I needed no crystal ball for such a statement.  The church which attains a place of worldly power invariably is captured by the world so that the truth and simplicity of Christ are buried in the competition for leadership and struggle for more power.

            This is not to say that we should not exert influence in and upon the world or that Christians are powerless in a hostile world.  On the contrary, the power of Christ is transmitted in and to the world through His saints, but not in the way the worldly-wise use power.  Note some of the differences.

            1.  Redemptive power belongs to God and is not ours.  “All power is given unto me.” (Matt. 28:18).  To listen to some church-growth leaders one would think that all power is in the hands of men and that Christ is helpless to work His will without man's expertise in planning, organizing, administering and ultimately manipulating through twenty-first century psychology and technology.  We are continually flooded with literature urging us to attend this conference, that workshop, and to read this or that book in order to gain the skills necessary to implement the power of Christ in making the church grow.  One wonders how in the world the church survived for nineteen hundred years without having this highly refined professionalism in the office and in the pulpit.  The power, at least in the minds of many men, has passed from Christ to the preacher, primarily to the “senior minister.”

            Men may build organizations and wield authority over the members, but the power to save people from sin and death and transform them into His image belongs only to the Master.

            2.  Christ's power is not exercised through the channels of organization as is done by the world.  Power flows through the believer who is immersed in the word and submissive to Christ through the Holy Spirit.  Each individual Christian is a light to the world to the extent that he is under the guiding power of Christ through His word and His spirit.  The disciple becomes an extension of His power through actions and words, through life and witness.  “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  Christ is the vine and every believer is a living branch.

            The power of Christ changes individuals and this transforming power cannot be hidden from others, but radiates like a light to all who see it.  We must quit thinking that the success of the church and the salvation of society rest in the ability of the preachers and a few famous leaders.  Every Christian is a branch of the vine, and by Christ's power is enabled to bear the fruit that He wants.

            3.  Results do not depend on getting everything in perfect order – all the right legislation enacted, all the right officials in position, a prosperous economy, and all the churches in full agreement on all the details.  Such ideal conditions have never existed, and scripture indicates they never will, at least in the present age.  But this is no obstacle to Christ's purpose.  Jesus lived in a society governed by some of the worst leaders the world ever knew.  Slavery, injustice, economic disorder, depression and political corruption abounded everywhere.  Jesus did not teach His disciples to wait until all these things were in better order before they were to begin following Him and observing His commandments.  Rather, they were to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in spite of the general chaos of the world, and in so doing they would be seen “as lights of the world,” “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation” (Phil. 2:15).

            According to Scripture the world is broken: it “groans and travails in pain” and it is not going to be fixed until God fixes it in the day of glorification of His children (Rom. 8:19-23).  The task given His sons is to make disciples, baptizing them, teaching them to observe all things Christ has commanded.  Power for the task is in Christ, not in the bank or in the halls of congress.  We are not to let the world determine our agenda, but rather to demonstrate to the world the meaning of life according to God's purpose.

            4.  The power of Christ and His gospel is not to be “used” for the protection of our affluent lifestyles or material wealth.  Too often we have put the cart before the horse in pouring all efforts into saving the political system in order to guarantee the safety of the spiritual!  Christians and patriots have been trying this for over seventy-five years and haven't succeeded.

            Freedom is the result of a right relationship with God, not the cause of it.  The loss of freedom is due to man's loss of his devotion and submission to God.  To try to “use” God to save our nation, our economy and our possessions is hypocrisy and will only succeed in greater losses.  The gospel is the power of God unto redemption, and a redeemed people will produce a just and free nation.

            Christ is Sovereign.  His power is being exercised today either in redemption of those who repent and commit themselves to Him, or in judgment upon those who are in rebellion against His rule.

            The world needs to hear the message of Christ and then see it incarnated in the Christian, wherever he is – in business, in social activities, in school, in the family and in every phase of life.

            Christ did not promise us power to control economics and politics in the world.  He did not say, “In the world you have great power,” but “In the world you have tribulation.”  It is in the midst of tribulation and opposition that He calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

            Before we can solve problems, national or individual, we must bow in repentance and humble submission to Jesus.  It is in surrender to Him that we have power to overcome the world, “And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

 

 

 

 

“WHY ARE YE SO FEARFUL”

Alfred King

            In the three synoptic Gospels, we have the account of a storm that threatened Jesus and the disciples while they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.  There are several lessons to be learned in this passage of scripture.  Jesus had been ministering for a considerable length of time and no doubt was very weary.  In Luke’s account, Jesus said, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.”  As we read on in the Gospels we find that Jesus went over into the land of the Gaderenes to deliver one who was possessed of many devils.  We know him as “Legion” because there were so many evil spirits which drove him.

            This crossing set the stage for the events that followed.  These disciples were obeying Jesus’ instructions; they were sailing across the sea when a tremendous storm arose.  The raging of the storm threatened the ship and all those within.  Several of the disciples were experienced fishermen and understood how serious the situation was.  The waves were crashing over the ship and the wind was furiously driving the ship so that rowing was futile.  Everyone aboard was in a panic situation as the ship began filling with water.  Bailing as rapidly as possible was not sufficient to keep the ship buoyant in such adverse conditions.

            It seems astonishing that Jesus could sleep through a storm such as this, but during this storm He was asleep on a pillow in the stern of the ship.  Jesus must have been extremely worn out in order to have slept through all the noise and the tossing of the ship by the winds and waves.  This shows very clearly that Jesus, although God in the flesh, was subject to the same conditions we humans face in these human bodies; He was extremely worn out.

            The fact that these disciples were in this situation was because they were following Jesus.  He is the One who said, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake”.  Following Jesus put them in extreme danger.  It is so different from what so many prosperity teachers are telling us today.  Following Jesus will solve all your problems and you will live a pain-free life.  To the contrary, following Jesus will bring every believer into a situation where there seems to be no hope.  We may, like the disciples, feel that God doesn’t care.  Note their words to Jesus when they woke Him.  “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)  The disciples felt their lives were about to end in a watery grave.  They were in a life-threatening situation and their strength to fight was waning.  They apparently had some questions as to whether Jesus even cared.  The dire situation they were in struck fear in their hearts and their panic caused them to lose sight of Who Jesus was.

            There are times when we, like the disciples, are obedient, and being obedient we find ourselves in a situation in which we see no hope.  It appears the enemy is about to gain the victory over us.  There seems to be no solution and we may question whether we heard the Lord aright.  It is at these times that we must learn to trust God fully.  When Jesus arose, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace, be still” and there was immediately a great calm (Mark 4:39).

            We might wonder why this storm arose when Jesus was in control.  Was Satan involved in bringing about this storm?  Since Satan is the god of this world, did he have the power to influence the storm?  It seems to me that he did have his hand in causing this storm to threaten Jesus and His disciples.  Do you realize that if Satan could have destroyed Jesus and His disciples, he would have successfully stopped the Gospel?  Consider how many times Jesus’ life was threatened by the religious rulers and other fanatics.  We read in Matthew the second chapter of Herod’s endeavors to kill Jesus when He was just a babe.  So great was Herod’s fear and hatred for Jesus that he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem and had all the babies from two years old and under killed.  If you are familiar with the life of Herod the great, he was a very evil man, possessed and driven of evil spirits.  No doubt Satan inspired Herod to seek to kill Jesus.

            We read in Luke four of another attempt on the life of Christ when He returned to His hometown of Nazareth.  He was given the scroll to read the scripture in the synagogue and He read from Isaiah sixty-one.  At the conclusion of His reading, He made a statement, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (verse 21).  Jesus said a few other things and all those in the synagogue were “filled with wrath.”  They then rose up and attempted to throw Him over a cliff.  At another time, after Jesus had healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, the Pharisees went out and took council how they might destroy Him (Matt. 12:9-14).  We have an account in John five of the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda.  When the Pharisees heard about it and found that He had healed on the Sabbath, scripture says they “sought to slay Him” and when they confronted Jesus, and in the confrontation Jesus referred to God as His Father, they “sought the more to kill Him.”

            There were many other times when the Jews attempted to have Jesus killed, but it was not His time.  When the chief priests, the captains of the temple, and elders came to apprehend Him in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told them, “this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).  The powers of darkness were given their hour but they had no power until that hour came.  All the attempts on Jesus’ life were inspired by evil so it seems plausible that Satan was the mastermind behind this storm at sea, with the intention to kill Jesus and those disciples whom He had chosen.

            There were very important lessons the disciples needed to learn, and Jesus used Satan’s attack against them to teach them.  They had seen many miracles of healings before this day, but they had not seen the specific power required to calm this storm.  If Jesus was in the ship, neither Satan nor any other force could destroy it.  When He spoke to them asking them, “Why are ye so fearful?  How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mk. 4:37), He was revealing a problem and a weakness in their spiritual lives.  Did this storm blind them or cause them to forget Who was with them?  No storm could destroy them while Jesus was with them.  This truth is the same today, if Jesus is with us, no storm of life can destroy us.  Consider a few scriptures along this line.  Roman 8:31-35: “What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  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.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  Even the perils of the sea cannot separate us from the love of God.  In the Great Commission, Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”  In John 14:23 Jesus informs us, “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.”  What great consolation we as believers have, even in our greatest trials and deepest pains.  He has promised to abide with us till the end of time.  He will never leave nor forsake.  Whatever we face in life, Jesus is there and therefore, our enemies can never gain the victory over us.

            One other important lesson these men learned that day was that Jesus was truly God in the flesh.  “But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matt. 8:27)  It is very likely that these men were familiar with a couple of scriptures in the Psalms, and maybe those verses came to their minds.  Psalm 89:9: “Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.”  Psalm 93:3-4: “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.  The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

            Those who have been washed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ have no reason to fear things which are coming upon the world.  If Jesus Christ abides within, no storm can destroy, no demon can defeat, no man or government can conquer.  We serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords and our citizenship is in heaven and not on this earth.  Let us learn the lesson taught to the disciples that day in the Sea of Galilee, to have faith in Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 

HEAR YE – AND DO

Eda Sanderson

            Throughout His ministry on earth, Jesus gave many commandments.  They are recorded for us in the four Gospels.  Why were they written?  As something to read for entertainment?  Not really.  Jesus gave the commands not just as mere suggestions for people to do if they want to do them.  According to Thayer's Greek-Lexicon of the New Testament, a commandment is “an order, command, charge, precept.”  Orders and commands are meant to be obeyed.  Therefore, Jesus' commands are meant to be obeyed.  Since man was created with a will of his own, he can choose for himself what he will do with Christ's words.  He can become either a hearer only of the Word, or he can become a hearer and doer of God's Words.  A study of these two types of Christians, called in this article the “hearer” and the “doer,” may help each person make the right choice as to which type of Christian he wants to be.  Jesus speaks expressly about these two types of Christians:

            “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:23-24).  A man got up in the morning, half asleep, and stood in front of a mirror while he washed his face, brushed his teeth, and combed his hair.  Later, he could not remember what his reflection looked like.  He did not really look at himself while he was in front of the mirror.  James says that is the way a hearer is.  He hears the Word and immediately forgets what it says.  Verse 21 says that a hearer deceives himself.  A nominal Christian is a hearer only.  He sits in church week after week and hears the WORD; then, goes home, forgets what he heard, and goes his own way.  He has deceived himself into thinking he is a real Christian because he has heard the WORD.  How surprised he will be some day!

            James goes on to say, “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” (verse 25).  “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).  “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.” (Rev. 22:14a).  Do you want to be blessed?

            In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told about these “hearers” and “doers.”  The account in Matt. 7:24-27 is more commonly known as the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Men.  The wise man is the one who hears the words of Jesus and does them; the foolish man hears and does not.  Both men built a house.  The wise man dug deep into the Word and found solid ground to build on.  The foolish man did not bother to dig; he just built on the sand.  Jesus says that when the storms and rains come, only those with a firm foundation will stand.  How firm is your foundation?  Can you stand strong when the storms and winds come?  If you are a “doer,” Jesus and His words are your foundation, and you can withstand any storm that comes at you.

            In this day and age, it is not popular to be a “doer.”  People are taught that it is all right to disregard the words of Jesus.  “Just believe and you'll be saved.”  However, “the devils also believe and tremble” (James 2:19).  This does not mean they will get into heaven.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven.  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 iniquity” (Matt. 7:21-23).  What was wrong with them?  John 12:48 says, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”  On the day of judgment, each person will be judged according to what he or she has done with God's words.  On that day, being a hearer only will not be enough.  On that day, mighty works and great deeds will not be enough either.

            Being a “doer” is not always easy.  Loving one's neighbor as one self is not always easy; turning the other cheek is not easy; going the extra mile is not always easy; but these are some of the things a “doer” must do.  It is not all just hard work though.  There are compensations and rewards.  As has been seen, the “doer” will be blessed; he will have a firm foundation that will withstand the storms, winds, and rains that come against him.  The “doer” belongs in Christ's family.  “For whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt. 12:50).  The “doer” is a son and an heir of God (Read Gal. 4:7; Rom. 8:14-17).

            I John 3:22 says, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”  The only qualification to this statement is that one asks “according to his will” (I John 5:14).  If a person is truly striving to do God's will, he will only want what God wants Him to have.

            “He that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (I John 2:17).  The Greek word for abideth, according to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, means “live.”  Therefore, the person who does the will of God will live forever.  Live where?  Jesus said that He was preparing a place for His people in His Father's house (John 14:2-4).  “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).  Is your desire to live with God forever?

            When Jesus comes, He will take “vengeance on them...that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (II Thess. 1:8).  The gospel of Christ is His words.  For those who obey not (do not) they are death, but to those who obey (do) they are life (John 6:63).  Does this seem too tough to swallow?  Just remember – it IS a matter of life and death – YOURS!  Which will you choose?

 

 

 

 

“HE'LL WALK WITH ME ALL THE WAY”

Maxine Coleman

            The follower of Christ, who has walked with Him any length of time, knows that a walk in the spirit is not always a “bed of roses;” but it is comforting to know that the Lord will walk with him all the way.  In the very last verse of Matthew, Jesus said to His disciples: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

            The song-writer, L.J. Williams, looks at a walk with God from the positive point of view.  He says: “I know that my Saviour will never forsake; I know that my faith in Him never will shake.”

            This positive attitude reminds us of what the scripture says about our father, Abraham: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

            As far back as the fifth chapter of Genesis, men have walked with God: “and Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:24).  This means that he believed God and obeyed His voice.  In the same verse, we find that “God took him.”  The writer of Hebrews tells us that “By faith, Enoch was translated,” because “he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).

            A walk in the spirit is by faith.  The apostle Paul says: “for we walk by faith, Enoch was translated,” because “he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5).

            A walk in the spirit is by faith.  The apostle Paul says: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7).  That is the only way we can please God: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

            Another important spiritual truth to remember is that “faith worketh by love” (Gal. 6:6).  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).  If we are trying to walk with God because we have fear of losing our souls if we don't; then, we are attempting to serve Him for the wrong reason.  “Fear hath torment.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear” (I John 4:18).  We serve Him because we love Him, and want to please Him.

            The song-writer says: “My journey a pathway of gladness He'll make; He'll walk with me all the way.”

            In Genesis 6:9, we read: “and Noah walked with God.”  Noah also believed God, and obeyed His voice: “By faith, Noah being warned of God of things not seen as yet; moved with fear (reverence), prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7).

            In Genesis 12:1, God spoke to Abraham, and told him to leave his country, and go unto a land that He would show him.  God promised to make of him a great nation.  “So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him” (Gen. 12:4).  He left his country and answered the call of God; and that is what a walk in the spirit is: obedience to the voice of God.

            The scripture tells us that “Abraham believed God” (James 2:23).  That is why he obeyed His voice.  Those of us who walk with God today are the descendants of Abraham.  “Know ye therefore, that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7).

            We find that Abraham came into the land of Canaan.  The Lord appeared unto him there, and promised the land of Canaan to his seed.  There he built an altar unto the Lord (Gen. 12:7).

            “He'll lead me in paths that are pleasant and green; and show me new glories so long since unseen.”

            Abraham was called “the Friend of God” because he believed God and obeyed His voice (James 2:23).  We today, who believe Him and obey His voice, are also His Friends.  Jesus said: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

            “His hand will I hold, all secure and serene; He'll walk with me all the way.”

            What a privilege we have to walk with Him in this life, to know Him, to have fellowship with Him, and to be called “His Friends.”

            “My eyes will new beauty and glory perceive; as daily, His blessings life's tangles unweave.”

            It was the aspiration of the great apostle to know Christ: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10).

            Do you want to go on a “venturesome” journey, more thrilling and rewarding than anything you have ever experienced?  Would you like to get to know the Guide and have an intimate relationship with Him?  Here is the secret: “Walk in love,” as Brother Paul has said in Eph. 5:2.  In Eph. 3:1, he says, “I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ” and again in Eph. 4:1, he speaks of himself as “the prisoner of the Lord.”  Do you want to be a “love slave?”  Think about it.

            It will cost you everything you have to get to know Him.  In order to know Him, you must become like Him.  Before you can become like Him, you will have to lose your identity.  It will mean giving up yourself.  Jesus said: “He that loseth His life, for my sake, shall find it” (Matt. 10:39).  Are you willing to pay the price?

            It will be a love affair between you and the Creator.  In Col. 3:14, we are told to “put on charity,” and again in Rom. 13:14, we are told to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Col. 3:10 tells us to “put on the new man.”  When we put on charity, we will have the nature of God (Read I Cor. 13).  When we have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will have His personality, the Spirit of Christ.  To put on the new man means “to walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), all three of these are the same.  Then, we will know Him, for “we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (I John 3:2).

            “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17).

            Dangers lie along the way.  There are snares and pitfalls; but the Saviour is there to hold your hand and lead you in a path of safety.  He has been there before; He knows the way.  He will provide a way of escape (I Cor. 10:13)!

            He will reassure you.  He will tell you that He has loved you with an everlasting love.  He will whisper His love to you.  He will say to you: “I am with you;” Be not afraid; “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

            “I'll hold to His hand, and no more let Him leave; He'll walk with me all the way.”

 

 

 

 

 

IS THERE PURPOSE IN SUFFERING?

Charles Woodard

            “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor. 12:9).

            This verse tells us:

      1. His grace is sufficient.
      2. His strength is perfected in weakness.
      3. We can accept infirmities knowing that the power of Christ rests upon us.

            The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is shown in the miracle of physical healing.  It is equally shown in His power to sustain the believer in the infirmity.

            Is affliction accidental, or is it purposeful?  Some attribute affliction to Satan, but the first chapter of Job reveals that his affliction was allowed by God.  Therefore, it is proper to say that healing or adversity can come from God!  He has a purpose in all things.  In all He is seeking to further a closer relationship and a closer walk with Him.

            We can benefit whether it be healing or adversity!  Sometimes God must allow suffering, sickness, or adversity to get us to put our faith in Him.  Everything that happens to a child of God can be beneficial.  We want to escape affliction and pain, but God's love sees beyond the immediate for our good.

            Faith must stand the test!  God's Will must be done!  God is sovereign.  Our faith must stand in trial, tribulation, and trouble as well as in victory.  It's easy to rejoice in healing, but can we glory in infirmity as Paul did?

            We like to see ourselves walking as close to the Lord as possible, but there is always room to move closer.  Sometimes, we must be given the opportunity to confess our faults (James 5:16).  Let us acknowledge physical affliction as His means to draw us unto Himself.  In affliction we will either turn to the Lord or away from Him.  This freedom of choice is our opportunity to prove our love and faith.  Children would eat nothing but sweets if given the chance, but loving parents feed them a balanced diet.  All Christians want smooth sailing, complete health, and no affliction, but a loving heavenly Father draws us to Himself and develops our spiritual character by a balance of victory and trial.

            Let it be understood that suffering and affliction are never punishment.  They are always remedial and a vehicle to be used for the glory of God and our advancement.

            God's will is paramount.  O, to see His will in our lives, be it darkness or light, height or depression, sickness or health!  We learn to accept His will.  We do not trust in luck or chance.

            Jesus suffered upon the cross.  The heroes of faith suffered (Heb. 11).  Can we do less?  Paul besought the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh, but learned that His grace was sufficient.

            In all things may we praise and trust our loving Lord.