“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A voice in the midnight

“At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” (Matt. 25:6).
“As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 405, 406.
The unnamed cry in the midnight will be the same as John’s anonymous cry in the wilderness.
“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not [that is, he was not Elijah literally, but he was prophetically, anti-typically]. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No [‘that prophet’ being prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:18, who was Christ].
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.” (John 1:19-24).
A question has plagued me for some time. What or who does Matthew 25:6 represent? What or who will wake up the sleeping saints by a cry in the darkest of nightfall? Christ is not specific. “There was a cry made…” A cry comes out of nowhere. Would it be an angel? Will it be the 144,000 waking up start the Latter Rain? Will it come by Christ’s roar in the Most Holy Place, as we see in Revelation 10:1-3 after the darkness of the 6th trumpet has ruined Protestant America in Revelation 9?
Maybe through studying the Spirit of Prophecy or reading of others’ study many already see the meaning of the midnight crier. What I see is that the solitary cry will be the Elijah message to bring the sleeping Adventists back to their original mandates given from 1844 to 1915.
“In the closing work of God in the earth, the standard of His law will be again exalted. False religion may prevail, iniquity may abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world; the whole force of the popular current may be turned against the truth; plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril, the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced. In the populous cities of the land, and in the places where men have gone to the greatest lengths in speaking against the Most High, the voice of stern rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God’s appointment denounce the union of the church with the world. Earnestly will they call upon men and women to turn from the observance of a man-made institution to the observance of the true Sabbath.” Prophets and Kings, p. 186, 187.
“Among the mountains of Gilead, east of the Jordan, there dwelt in the days of Ahab a man of faith and prayer whose fearless ministry was destined to check the rapid spread of apostasy in Israel. Far removed from any city of renown, and occupying no high station in life, Elijah the Tishbite nevertheless entered upon his mission confident in God’s purpose to prepare the way before him and to give him abundant success. The word of faith and power was upon his lips, and his whole life was devoted to the work of reform. His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. And while he came to the people as a reprover of sin, his message offered the balm of Gilead to the sin-sick souls of all who desired to be healed....” Conflict and Courage, p. 205.
“God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.” Ibid., p. 208.
“John separated himself from friends and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel’s hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed. The prophet Malachi declares: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.’ Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things. The self-denial, humility, and temperance required of the righteous, whom God especially leads and blesses, is to be presented to the people in contrast to the extravagant, health-destroying habits of those who live in this degenerate age.” Testimonies for the church, vol. 3 p. 62.
“It was believed also that before the Messiah’s advent, Elijah would personally appear. This expectation John met in his denial; but his words had a deeper meaning. Jesus afterward said, referring to John, “If ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come.” Matthew 11:14, R. V. John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, to do such a work as Elijah did. If the Jews had received him, it would have been accomplished for them. But they did not receive his message. To them he was not Elijah. He could not fulfill for them the mission he came to accomplish.” Desire of Ages, p. 135.
“As John the Baptist...called their attention to the Ten Commandments, so we are to give, with no uncertain sound, the message: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’ With the earnestness that characterized Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist, we are to strive to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Advent.” Maranatha, p. 22.
In other words, the midnight cry of Matthew 25:6 will be another Elijah and another similar John the Baptist cry in the wilderness. It will be another Ellen White, this time in the darkest moral night our world has ever seen. The people of the Lord will be completely asleep to their task of warning the world of the gross darkness plaguing the earth, and completely unready to receive their Lord when He leaves the Most Holy without the sin of His people and ready to award full salvation from sin. But there will be a remnant among the remnant whose eyes will be locked onto Jesus through His precepts and promises. “Unto them that look for [Christ] shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:28). They will hear the voice of a John or a Paul crying out in the midnight, and they will shake out all the cobwebs from their heads and will jump to follow his lead.
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan 7:13,14).
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head, and His face was as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire:…
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when He had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.…
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up His hand to heaven,
And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.” (Rev. 10:1-7).
Those words will be passed throughout heaven that will make its way to the hearts of those who have remained faithful in the dark immorality and impiety. Their sighs and cries have gone up at the abominations sweeping the earth. And their sighs and cries have been heard. “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7,8).
How did Elijah come out of nowhere? A Tishbite from an insignificant spot in Israel suddenly showed up to the king to rebuke him for allowing his pagan wife to lead the people of God into spiritualistic worship. Out of Elijah’s work Elisha was made ready to complete the work of Elijah. After his elderly parents died, John lived in the wilderness outside of everyone’s purview. Suddenly he stood up and began a preaching that took ears by surprise, and gave a stern message that shook the nation.
But, “the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church. When he had fulfilled his mission, another work was to be done, which his testimony could not accomplish.” Desire of Ages, p. 181. Therefore, out of John’s revival Messiah was baptized and presented to the people who were earnestly seeking the Lord. Anointed by His Father, Christ quickly took the reins of the revival and brought the revival of godliness to heights that John could never take it.
Out of nowhere once more a voice will be raised, a voice in the midnight, to call the people to reform.
“Christ ... told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 406.
Will the midnight cry come from those who have left the cities before the darkness swept the earth? Will it come from those who have already come out of Babylon before the freedom to leave was curbed? Will the point when the night has gotten the darkest cause the breaking point in their souls, giving them cause to act and speak God’s bidding? Or, will the breaking point be a recognizable event that shakes the world, such as an economic collapse? Or, will both be the cause, as God sends the collapse due to the midnight darkness in the hearts of men? Will that collapse come from God’s punishment on the worldwide wickedness blanketing the globe? Or will the economic collapse begin the dark night, growing so dark that the sighers and criers can’t take any more, and God recognizes genuineness in their cries?
Then they will receive the power of Christ’s Spirit to give a loud cry that the whole world hears. The last great work will begin inside the church before it goes to the great world outside the church.
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen. I was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the true Witness to the Laodiceans. It will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver of the testimony, and it will lead to him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. This straight testimony some will not bear. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God’s people.
     I saw that the testimony of the true Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs, has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance, and all that truly receive it, will obey it, and be purified. 
     Said the angel, List ye! Soon I heard a voice that sounded like many musical instruments, all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard. It seemed to be so full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, Look ye! My attention was then turned to the company I had seen before, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping, and praying with agony of spirit. I saw that the company of guardian angels around them had doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, firm like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, shone now with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude, and holy, sacred joy.
     The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out, and left by the way. The careless and indifferent who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to agonize, persevere, and plead for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their numbers were immediately made up by others taking hold of the truth, and coming into the ranks. Still the evil angels pressed around them, but they could have no power over them.
     I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth in great power. It had effect. I saw those who had been bound; some wives had been bound by their husbands, and some children had been bound by their parents. The honest who had been held or prevented from hearing the truth, now eagerly laid hold of the truth spoken. All fear of their relatives was gone. The truth alone was exalted to them. It was dearer and more precious than life. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, It is the latter rain; the refreshing from the presence of the Lord; the loud cry of the third angel.
     Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, Look ye! My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against this company, who were having the power and light of God. Darkness thickened around them, yet there they stood, approved of God, and trusting in him. I saw them perplexed. Next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Through the day and night their cry ceased not. I heard these words, Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify thy name, make a way of escape for thy people! Deliver us from the heathen round about us! They have appointed us unto death; but thine arm can bring salvation. These are all the words I can bring to mind. They seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness, and manifested entire submission to the will of God. Yet every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading, and wrestling like Jacob for deliverance.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 184-186.

[Who is the “true Witness to the Laodiceans” who will call forth the straight testimony which will cause the shaking that Ellen White saw? The faithful and “true Witness to the Laodiceans” is none other than Jesus Himself, divested of humanity and independent thereof. See Revelation 3:14. Jesus will send the Latter Rain of His Spirit, and will prompt it by those who will first receive His straight testimony. If they are sanctified by His straight testimony then He will strengthen them to give it.]

“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.—Selected Messages, bk.2, p. 380 (1886).  
     As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition.—Great Controversy, p. 608 (1911).” Last Day Events, p. 180.
“The Lord has faithful servants who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed. In the daytime we look toward heaven but do not see the stars. They are there, fixed in the firmament, but the eye cannot distinguish them. In the night we behold their genuine luster. —Testimonies for the church, vol. 5, p. 80, 81 (1882).” Last Day Events, p. 181.
“This message will close with power and strength far exceeding the midnight cry. Servants of God, endowed with power from on high, with their faces lighted up, and shining with holy consecration, went forth to proclaim the message from heaven.
     Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the Word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence.” My Life Today, p. 63.
“The whole force of the popular current [are being] turned against the truth; plot after plot [are being] formed to overthrow the people of God.” The mysterious cry in this world’s moral midnight will come by a lone voice or by voices who have been studying Jesus in the Law of God, the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy. By that unique spirit and power of John and Elijah among the multitudes of the church indulgent in the prevailing false religion with spiritualism’s Spiritual Formation and “do as you please” practices, its celebration and free-lovism, individuals will speak out as did Elder William Miller, Dr. Joseph Wolfe, and priest Lucunza.
One star and then two in the dusky heavens, then three stars and more will foretell the approaching plethora of the galaxy that will appear in the midnight sky. May ours be one of those few John the Baptist stars calling for glory to God, men and women who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Resting in death, the gift of God

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet. 2:24).
Death to sin is not something we can make happen. It is way beyond us and our resources. We are alive to sin.
“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:11,12).
Righteousness can only exist in a heart that is completely separate from the great adversary and his power to cause sin. Therefore, righteousness belongs only to God.
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces.” (Dan. 9:7). Righteousness belongs only to God, but He wants to give it to us. Death to sin is the gift of God. We can only be dead to sin if we receive that death from God. Death to sin is easy if by faith we have appropriated what we see in Jesus. Hidden with Christ in God, we may freely eat of every fruit imaginable which He brings, and He fills us with His Spirit. Hidden in Christ and sustained by His Spirit, we are dead to sin.
We also know that God considers literal death to be like sleep.
“These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” (John 11:11-15).
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1Thess. 4:13-15).

The dead are really dead, and the sleeping are really sleeping.
“For ... the dead know not any thing,... the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:5,6). To everyone with a nagging heart and mind, this can be a powerful promise from God.
Do you wake up each morning refreshed from all the harassment and anxiety from the previous day? Do you wake up with peace of mind? Have you ever said this prayer?
“Dear Lord,
So far I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped,
haven’t lost my temper,
haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I’m really glad about that.
But in a few minutes, God,
I’m going to get out of bed….”
If we get our 2 hours of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and if we get our 2-3 hours of deep sleep―the healing sleep―and finally our last 2 hours of REM sleep, then morning by morning God resurrects us from our nightly burial well rested and able to conquer the new day’s harassment. Rest is heavenly. When we come back to life from a good night’s sleep we are dead to sin.
But even better, what if you could sleep all day? No more harassment ever! No more anxiety that leads to gossiping, loss of temper, greed, grumpiness, selfishness, self-indulgence. Wouldn’t that be a good life? A spirit calm and trusting, patient and wise. Many look forward to a quiet lifestyle when they can retire, but then they find that they don’t want to cut back their old lifestyle when they were employed to fit their smaller retirement income. So they go back to employment with all its pressures. The eternal peace seems evasive to the multitudes.
Yet, they find that even physical sleep isn’t enough to tackle a day of harassment. Often the anxiety leaves them so wound up that they can’t sleep at night. And to compound the problem, before they go to bed they comfort eat. All night their stomach is working on the heavy meal and they wake up exhausted because all that they got was REM sleep. A sleeping pill does the same thing. The pill cannot remove the anxiety which is what causes unrest, and therefore cannot cause deep sleep, which is where rest and healing come from. Sound sleep can only come by the removal of anxiety. Removal from the present harassments and physical removal from a world of sinners by slumbering, isn’t enough. Their Creator must put anxiety to bed before the person puts himself to bed.
True, the person who does some aerobic exercise before bedtime, or refrains from a supper, or skips the late-night television junk, and goes to bed early, does give their body and mind opportunity to get the 2-3 hours of deep sleep. This isn’t always guaranteed, but it does often happen. And if they don’t do the exercise or skip the third meal, and if they don’t go to bed early, it is almost guaranteed that they won’t get the long sought deep sleep.
“Yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1Cor. 12:31). “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1Tim. 4:8).
It’s rest that we need; and God wants us to have it all day long. A spiritual and mental death every day, all day. Rest and relaxation. Sleep. Heaven’s deep sleep. Working and exerting ourselves from a full internal reservoir as His Spirit abides with our spirit (see Rom. 8:16; Phil. 1:16; 1Jn. 2:27,28; 4:13; 2Tim. 4:22). We can and should have this daily, hourly.
“For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15).
If we can surrender to the spiritual death that God gives us to produce our new life, then our problem of harassment and anxiety, and living in a world of sin, is resolved. All we need is to “sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3). All we need is have God put our self-focus to death, and He can kill the nagging anxiety that never quits. Anything we attempt for fixing our anxiety can only end in failure and greater disillusionment. Often suicide is used by people trying to fix their painful anxiety problem themselves. But this terrible act does not lead to enjoying a life without anxiety. It ends in nothing because there is no life after death. “The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not any thing ... neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:5,6). “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” (Job 14:21).
God has a better solution for putting our flesh to death. He doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. He surgically strikes our anxiety. He supplies His Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and kills the emptiness, the hopeless failures, and the grinding of the conscience; but He spares the soul and heals the soul. Detached and washed away is the tumor of guilt and shame. We can face life again, even our past life, and with confidence and self-worth seek forgiveness and restitution for all that we’ve done wrong. Crowned with the honor from “Him who loved us and washed us from our sins with His own blood” (Rev. 1:5), we seek restoration of past relationships and obtain it. Providence gave the Prince of peace an excruciating crown of thorns, so that by His Son’s horrific crown of thorns our horrific crown of thorny anger and anxiety could be healed. Beholding Him wear our crown of thorns will give His Spirit orpportunity to remove our hopeless torment so that we no longer desire to kill ourselves. He suffered in our place, “by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet. 2:24). That’s good news. It’s certainly worth looking into. It’s certainly worth seeking the Son for it.
Paul put the death of self this way:
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Rom. 7:1-3).
Paul used the analogy of a woman and an abusive, cantankerous husband. As long as he is alive, she must receive his abuse and a life not worth living. She has bound herself to this old man, and the law of marriage stands until death do they part. Divorce, and especially suicide and murder, are out of the question. But, for sure, one of the two persons must go.
Yet, we are not in control of life or death; God alone can bring death. And He will end a life when He deems sufficient time has passed. The old man will reach his eternal demise in God’s wise time. God, the Life-giver, is the only one who should end existence for anyone, even our old man. When someone else involves himself with ending life, taking things into his own hands, he ends up much, much worse than before. Death by suicide and murder are unthinkable. Even if a co-worker, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or our old man, constantly does things that are designed to make us leave the relationship, trying to save oneself from the one’s pain only exacerbates the disease.
Paul then shifts the adversary from being an abusive and undesirable husband to man’s relation to the Law of God. And it may sound like introducing the Law of God ends the relevance of Paul’s solution for modern man. But, the Law is relevant to healing our anxiety because all the sources of our human woe, whether in our day or in the days of the Roman Empire, have always had for a root cause the painful disconnect between the creature and the Life-giver. And that disconnect comes from sin. Therefore, continuing with Paul’s explanation:
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Rom. 7:4-8).
Sin, or our disconnection from the Creator, is a really big problem. Sin is why we are harassed. Our separation from the Comforter and the resulting consequences for our sinfulness are the root cause of anxiety. Sin and separation from God are the cause of all our other problems. Sin is the enemy. And our God has always been the deliverer.
But, sin is difficult to nail down or define. What is it that plagues us so? Sin is an abstract beyond all abstractions. It is evasive like nothing else. Other people can see it in us, but we can’t see it in ourselves; self can’t see its sinfulness. Other people give our exceeding sinfulness the antidote that they prescribe, often without our permission and as often without even a hint that they are giving it. Often they don’t even realize they are giving it, it is just a knee-jerk reaction against our despicable trespassing against them. They hate what they see in us and they react. But, the problem with their remedy for our sin is that they are sinners too and unsanctified. So their self-centered remedy, their slanted judgments only make us worse. “The strength of sin is the law” (1Cor. 15:56) in the hands of the uncircumcised in heart.
But, good news! This their abuse is in God’s plan! (Or is that really good news?) It may not feel like good news, but God is in control! Oh, Yay! (*sarcasm*). But, let me explain.
What we need is peace of mind. That is rest, healing rest, just like deep sleep. In deep peace like a river, there are no flare-ups of anxiety, and we have health, physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is only one way to the peace like a river, which makes it simple; but there are two methods to get there, which make it complicated.
The first way to peace. Our Creator knows how mischievous sin is and how mischievous the sinner is because of sin. So, He doesn’t initially approach us bearing the gift of grace and peace. The first thing He brings us is His Law. This is why Paul dove into the issue of Law when he explained the answer to peace.
There is no peace apart from peace with God. Peace from any other source is not real peace; it’s cheap and shallow, and doesn’t last long. In spiritual things as much as in everything, you get what you pay for. If you don’t invest much, you don’t get much. Therefore, legal or illegal substances, indulgent yet socially acceptable foods, all sorts of hobbies, time-consuming games, toys, work, relationships, education, culture—every kind of earthly source for peace must fail. Cursed is every man, woman, and child who trusts in anything this world offers to remove his chastisement of peace. Their chastisement of peace will endure forever. But, blessed are all they who trust in God to remove their chastisement of peace. His mercy will endure forever.
The world being of no help to give peace leaves only one option—God. And He plays hard to get—at least it seems that way. He isn’t really playing hard to get, but He must do it right if we are to be truly fixed. That correct way to fix us is to help us realize our pride and arrogance. He must baptize us in the humiliating truth about ourselves. “What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.” Testimonies to Ministers, p. 456.

Once pride is dealt with and humbled, then we are teachable. Our eyes and ears and brain open up to recognizing our problem, which is us. Satan has become very bold toward our ME generation. When you boil it all down, ME is the cause of all our problems, harassments, and anxieties. And ME is self-protective. Self is all-preserving.
The two methods God uses to help us see our mischief:
1) As we have said, God must bring us to face our enemy—who is the blind and deaf person in the mirror. So He puts that mirror in front of us—His brilliant Law. The blinding truth from His Law pierces the ignorance of our sinfulness, and the truth is overwhelming. We are hit by a lightning bolt. ZOWIE!! OWIE!! Anxiety sets in, as we wrestle against acknowledging the truth. After we are grinded upon, the honest soul admits to the truth. We are busted.
2) The other method is the consequence to disregarding the brilliant Law. We don’t have the grace that is inherent to God and His Law; and we find it very painful to see ourselves as we really are. Instead, we dodge the bullet thinking we got away scott free. But, due to our choice of evading the Law’s helpful convictions, we must face Satan’s helping hands: the unconverted, abrasive, thorny, uncircumcised Gentiles. Their crudeness, heartless, harsh ways will be brutally honest in their judgment upon us. “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” (Deut. 32:31). “Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation.... They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” (Hab. 1:6,7). No mercy or love mix into their righteous judgments. Shape up or ship out!
“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Jer. 2:19).
“All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.” (Jer. 50:7).
Either method will God use in order to bring His people to the ultimate requirement of trusting Christ so that they can be justified by their faith, and have the rest in deep sleep, that lays their old man in the dust. From that point onward their spirit is allied with the Spirit of Christ and sin is dead in them. Their rest of spirit gives them strength to say “no” to all their sins. And their victory over sin is so natural that sin is expelled by the act of their soul.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:1-4).

Friday, September 09, 2016

The cup and the baptism

“And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.” (Matt. 20:23).
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matt. 26:36-44).
“And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:43,44).
“And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:27-29).
Jesus’ baptism by fire caused our baptism by water.
“From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” (Rev. 1:5).
“But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11).
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22).
But, later there is more to the baptism.
“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14).
The tribulation becomes part of the washing. This is our baptism by fire.
“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:1-3).
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Luke 12:49-53).
Two responses when the Son of God exalts His Father’s will—those against Him and those for Him.
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:31,32).
Jesus will save His people. But, Satan never lets the King deliver his captives without putting up a fight, a huge fight. The devil will never suffer the humiliation of losing a battle or losing his hostages. He will never surrender; he will never concede a battle. He must go down fighting. That is what he has always done and it is all that he will ever do. He will never surrender. During the mayhem, his hostages are put to the worst as they become pawns in the war between the superpowers of Christ and Satan and their own desires.
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Rev. 12:10-12).
Nevertheless the day of reckoning will come. It will require preparation on the part of those who seek deliverance from the adversary, and it will develop them further as the day of reckoning passes over them.
“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isa. 13:6-12).
While Jesus is preparing His saints, Satan will be preparing the wicked also.
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:2-4).
The fifth and sixth trumpets explain a lot about the 3rd angel’s message, which develops all who give glory to God by keeping all “the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12). While those two trumpets are silent concerning the phrase “mark of the Beast”, they do allude to the mark by eliminating all who do not receive the seal of God in their forehead. By the process of elimination the locusts pick out all who receive the mark. And the baptism by fire comes to them.
“And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” (Rev. 9:5).
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:9-11).
The torment of the scorpion stings fills their hearts with fire and smoke and brimstone, and later kills their heart and soul and conscience and spirituality. “…having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth [smoke], and brimstone: …and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.” (Rev. 9:17).
All of these locusts’ burning souls are the fruits of Satan’s hellish influence. And he drives them to corrupt everyone on earth, “the earth…the sea…the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 7:3).
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” (Rev. 9:2).
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36).
“This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.” (1Jn. 5:6).
Water and blood were the two baptisms of Christ. The blood symbolized the death of the body, even though what killed Jesus was the wrath of God—the baptism of fire. He was already deceased after 9 hours of crucifixion, rather than after several days, which the others would have experienced if the high Sabbath hadn’t fallen on their execution day. But, while Jesus hung on the cross 9 hours “the wrath of God abideth on him.” The damnation that we all should have to face fell on Jesus, “as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3).
Jesus’ baptism of blood was also a baptism of fire. The fire of damnation came upon Him to the 10 billionth degree, as He tasted the second death for every man. Christ’s baptism by fire and blood caused our baptism of brokenness and tears, “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5), washing “His feet with tears.” (Luke 7:38).
This was our second birth and our first baptism. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
But, if we keep growing in grace and in a knowledge of God and His Son, then there will inevitably come our own baptism by fire. We will not suffer damnation, such as Jesus did, but it will take all the eternal Spirit we’ve appropriated to remain faithful during that fiery baptism. Persecution, calumny, libel, being ostracized, verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, harassment, all these Jesus suffered in His baptism by fire.
But it is in our own baptism by fire that we draw closest to our Saviour.
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads…. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:1,3,4).
They are sealed after following the Lamb wherever He went—even through their own Gethsemane. All of their baptisms by fire will prepare for the final cleansing in preparation for His return in glory and great heat. In that day of wrathful visitation, He will make them more precious than fine gold.
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.” (Isa. 13:9-13).
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” (2Thess. 1:7-10).
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2Pet. 3:10).
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:12-17).
“The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thess. 4:16,17).
“I will…receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Infinity + 1

We are born with certain gifts, but having a talent doesn’t count for anything unless we use it.
What do we do with a strong body and health if we have them? What do we do with a strong memory skill or a strong mind if we have it? What do we do with a healthy conscience or strong spirituality if we have it?  We may have inherited these, but is it enough just to own them? What will we do with them? Inheriting them is just the beginning. Our inheritance is not something to show off; it’s to be invested.
Jesus inherited every trait we have; He had more than all of us put together. But He didn’t just sit on a throne, waiting for His every whim to be pleased and served. Even though His Father gave Him a perfect body, He continually stretched its powers to the limit. He never rested on His inheritance. He never relaxed from working until His Father told Him that the last second of the work day was over. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28). “For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3).
Infinity + 1 is the great God’s great program.
Infinity + 1, doing a little more than before, works in every pursuit. If we are overweight, we can cut out a meal one day this week. Then next week do the same for two days. When every day of the week has two meals, then we can leave out a meal on one day each week. If we want to fast, we can go the decided time without eating and then go a little more. If we wanted to fast a day, continue the fast until mid-day, and let that meal carry us over to the next day before resuming the regular eating schedule. “Fear not, nor be dismayed.” (2Chron. 20:17).
For those who are anorexic, take an extra bite of food. Then, next meal after eating all that you can, take two extra bites. Stretch yourself to the limit, “and see the salvation of the LORD.” (2Chron. 20:17)
If you see that you are selfish, “give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:42). Not only “spend” for others, but “be spent” (2Cor. 12:15) sometimes. Jesus has proven that Infinity + 1 makes the happiest life.
Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last
While godliness benefits in everything, physical exercise does have its sure benefits. But, remember the principle of Infinity + 1. For sit-ups do all according to the strength that your body inherited. Wrestle to do as many sit-ups as you can do, go to your body’s infinity, then eek out one more sit-up. Do the same for push-ups and pull-ups, or whatever exercise you like. When walking do the same, “whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matt. 5:41). Then we will have some fellowship with Jesus’ sufferings.
Go for the burn, as coaches say. This Jesus did every day of His life. “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened [afflicted] till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:49,50).
Jesus went for the burn. He was the great sin offering, the great burnt sacrifice. Better than all of us Jesus knew His father’s Infinity +1 program. He submitted to His Father’s program, trusting in His Father’s wise oversight. Christ’s tests of stamina came not from His own estimation and His own decision on how much He could take, but from His Father’s estimation of His capability. His Father wouldn’t give Him more than He could take, but He would certainly give Him as much as was needed to be our example; and Jesus hungered for more. His Father put Him through an infinite test throughout His life. Everything Jesus taught us to be He was. He was the truth. He was Infinity + 1 for our salvation and for His Father’s exoneration. And His children will accept the Father’s same program.
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:44-48).
Even in His death Christ patiently bore all of His Father’s exercise program. He stretched every power that He had exercised all His life in order to remain in the infinite fire long enough to satisfy His Father and the angelic court. For us He struggled to remain under the wrath of God due for a whole world of sin. The Lord spent all that He had for His Father to expend all His justice against us.
Now Christ is our exercise coach. His program is the same as His Father’s Infinity +1 program.
“I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth.” (Jer. 9:24). We don’t decide our exercise program; we must submit to our Coach to exercise us. But, who will keep with His Infinity+1 program to the very end?
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:14). Many are called but few are chosen. Who will be the chosen few?
“Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6).
“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:1).
“Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13,14).
“But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Mal. 3:2-4).
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isa. 13:11,12).
The going will be exciting and joyful, but also horrendous and horrific. Who shall be able to stand? Only those who Jesus has already exercised under His Father’s Infinity + 1 program. On the whole, everything will work together for good, to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose.
“Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” (Matt. 20:23).
Let’s begin today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Detrimental influences from those who love us

Everyone who has surrendered to God and His Law, and to His Son and His cross, have received the Spirit of the Son (see Galatians 4:6) and have cried out to the Father. The reconciliation to God has brought His peace to their heart, establishing a new nature that provides the environment to obey the will of God. It is the duty to every privileged soul who receives the rare gift of surrender to preserve that power to obey God, and not let it slip away (see Hebrews 2:1).
The new pleasure to do righteousness is what such an individual sought for many years, and he will not easily lose the new power providing him the means for obedience to the Law. If he does begin to lose it many red flags and sirens will be sensed in his soul. The chastisement of peace that had tormented him will return as the blessed Spirit of the Son is pushed away. It is still possible to be eternally lost, but difficult for the one who possesses the genuine gift of surrender to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Because it is possible to lose surrender to Jehovah, it is our duty to ever watch for influences that win our hearts from Jesus and His Father, our Father. Friends, family, extended and immediate, co-workers and employers, the civil authorities and society’s elites, all compete with the God of heaven for our hearts. Even if they don’t know it, our love for fellow sinners can cause us to lose our love for Them who died to save us from sin—that is, both the Son of God who died among us and the Father on the throne who also experienced eternal death when He died with His only begotten, most beloved Son.
While we must love and serve our neighbor as ourselves, our highest love and service cannot be toward our neighbors. No human authority, however close to us, can ever surpass the authority God has over us. Therefore, no one should ever influence us to lose our faith in God. Many family members, whether unchurched or even churched, live for this world and care nothing for the faith in the heart of those who love God. The ungodly often have much love to give us. And we have a great desire to be loved and to see others loved.

The Lord has taken our heart of stone out of our flesh and given us a heart of flesh. The simplicity of the gospel is captured in the one great necessity of life—love. To love and to be loved is really what makes life what it is, and the newly converted one sees a new paradigm for this world, that is, that God’s love—not money—is what makes the world go around. Every aspect and doctrine of the gospel is about the simple effects of love. And love and service work outside of the church, too. There is no law against love, whether in the great moral Law of God’s kingdom, or in the laws of national, state, and local governments, or in the bylaws of organizations and civic groups.
We must jealously protect God’s gift of salvation to us. The new heart never comes easy. All our hearts are barely saved from sin and from this sinful world. “The righteous scarcely be saved.” (1Pet. 4:18). The gift of God does not easily find a home as He would love to see, especially at the end when the world so closely imitates the antediluvian world. Many, many sidetracks abound. Idols and parties and festivities and carnivals surround us. “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

In conclusion, the following quotation from Ellen White is very pointed, but on point as usual. In the place of the “false shepherds” who were standing in the way of present truth in the early days of the Advent movement, substitute your spouses, parents, siblings, children, and friends, who ignorantly or knowingly drive a wedge between your soul and your Saviour.
I have been shown that the false shepherds were drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. The truth of God is sealed up to them; they cannot read it. When they are interrogated as to what the seventh-day Sabbath is, whether or not it is the true Sabbath of the Bible, they lead the mind to fables. I saw that these prophets were like the foxes of the desert. They have not gone up into the gaps, they have not made up the hedge that the people of God may stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. When the minds of any get stirred up, and they begin to inquire of these false shepherds about the truth, they take the easiest and best manner to effect their object and quiet the minds of the inquiring ones, even changing their own position to do it. Light has shone on many of these shepherds, but they would not acknowledge it and have changed their position a number of times to evade the truth and get away from the conclusions that they must come to if they continued in their former position. The power of truth tore up their foundation, but instead of yielding to it they would get up another platform that they were not satisfied with themselves.
I saw that many of these shepherds had denied the past teachings of God; they had denied and rejected the glorious truths which they once zealously advocated and had covered themselves with mesmerism and all kinds of delusions. I saw that they were drunken with error and were leading on their flock to death. Many of the opposers of God’s truth devise mischief in their heads upon their beds, and in the day they carry out their wicked devices to put down the truth and to get something new to interest the people and divert their minds from the precious, all-important truth.
I saw that the priests who are leading on their flock to death are soon to be arrested in their dreadful career. The plagues of God are coming, but it will not be sufficient for the false shepherds to be tormented with one or two of these plagues. God’s hand at that time will be stretched out still in wrath and justice and will not be brought to Himself again until His purposes are fully accomplished, and the hireling priests are led to worship at the feet of the saints, and to acknowledge that God has loved them because they held fast the truth and kept God’s commandments, and until all the unrighteous ones are destroyed from the earth.
The different parties of professed Advent believers have each a little truth, but God has given all these truths to His children who are being prepared for the day of God. He has also given them truths that none of these parties know, neither will they understand. Things which are sealed up to them, the Lord has opened to those who will see and are ready to understand. If God has any new light to communicate, He will let His chosen and beloved understand it, without their going to have their minds enlightened by hearing those who are in darkness and error.
I was shown the necessity of those who believe that we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily imbibing new errors. I saw that neither young nor old should attend their meetings; for it is wrong to thus encourage them while they teach error that is a deadly poison to the soul and teach for doctrines the commandments of men. The influence of such gatherings is not good. If God has delivered us from such darkness and error, we should stand fast in the liberty wherewith He has set us free and rejoice in the truth. God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness.
I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. Our minds should not be thus diverted, but should be occupied with the present truth, and seeking wisdom that we may obtain a more thorough knowledge of our position, that with meekness we may be able to give a reason of our hope from the Scriptures. While false doctrines and dangerous errors are pressed upon the mind, it cannot be dwelling upon the truth which is to fit and prepare the house of Israel to stand in the day of the Lord.
We must cling jealously to the One who has brought usinto His marvelous light, yet also remember that everyone who divides us from our Lord, ignorantly or even knowingly, still does not know what they do. The Lord’s prayer can be ours, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ever learning the mysteries

Babylon was the great mother of deep mysteries. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT.” (Rev. 17:5). Deeply did the sorcerers search for new knowledge. And she trained the whole world to do the same.

“All the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.” (Acts 17:21). To them truth was an ocean that we sit before like a child playing at the beach. And it is true that the knowledge of God is like an ocean. But the library of error is also like an ocean.

If the fallen mind doesn’t love the truth of God and His ten commandments; if it doesn’t love Him, but wants to flee from His presence; if it hates to see Him in His world which is full of His glory, then the mind can ingeniously manipulate the glory from creation’s Creator that floods its soul and apply the glory to some blind force, such as the theory of Evolution. Or the mind can make creation’s beginning an imaginary event, such as the Big Bang (or the Big Boing) theory, which allegedly took place in the past, infinitely beyond the remotest possibility of human conceptualizing, or true scientific investigation. With Satan’s help, the mind can take the natural evidences of the truth and create its own theory of origins that excludes the God that it hates. Under the influence of the devil, the mind can lead itself to change “the truth of God into a lie, and [worship] and [serve] the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Rom. 1:25).

The rebelling mind can recreate the truth and call it truth. It can remodel the truth, and then drum up many arguments to prove its new truth. The unregenerate mind will study and study and study nature and revelation to hopefully stumble upon some evidence until it finds the missing link. Does not the Bible call us to “light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till [we] find it?” (Luke 15:8). Yes, but from the context of only true God.

This is nothing new. It is what the Gnostics were about—the search for hidden knowledge. The church had lost their simple “first love” (Rev. 2:4) for the presence of their Friend Jesus, the love for Jesus that David had, a man after God’s own heart. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). Therefore, the Christians who imbibed Gnosticism continued in a vain search for something intellectual to fill up the deep chasm of the soul caused by the lack of submission to God’s Law and by the loss of the presence of Jesus’ Spirit. What is better to the heart and soul, and healthier for the body and the mind than the simple pleasures of studying and knowing Jesus?

The flight from health of body, mind, and soul is exactly what happened at the beginning of the post-flood world, which spawned the apostasy of Ham, Cush, and Nimrod. It didn’t take much time. For any of us to leave the One who embodied the truth and the life of God, and access to God, and dive headlong into ignorance and spiritualism never takes much time; likewise the rejection of the Truth in person was a quick response by the Jews.

“Jesus had now given three years of public labor to the world. His example of self-denial and disinterested benevolence was before them. His life of purity, of suffering and devotion, was known to all. Yet this short period of three years was as long as the world could endure the presence of its Redeemer.” Desire of Ages, p. 541.

Divine truth is seen in the fruits of the Spirit as much as in the mechanics of the physical world. Spirituality, the character of God, reveals the natural world as much as science does. But, a glimpse of God’s holy character automatically implies condemnation on a sinful character. The image of God in the human conscience always recognizes its obligation to copy the beauty of holiness that it sees in its Creator. But, the soul in rebellion seeks to avoid God at all cost.

And the disdain of obedience to God and His holy Law, yet the continued drawing of the mysterious law of cause and effect seen throughout nature, leads the unregenerate soul to search nature for truth that excludes the laws of holiness and the purposes of God for making creation—that is, to always and forever keep Adam and his family learning of Him and loving Him.

That new mindset of searching nature without a yearning for divine acceptance creates an unholy curiosity which Satan encourages and develops. Hence, the godless scientific world of today in the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. and similar organizations in other countries’ governments. They look for the “missing link”  of evolution, and have never found it. Many scientists have admitted the falsehood of evolution, but are still busy looking for another “truth” of origins while they dispense with all evidence that favors the biblical account. The unregenerate theologian can even search for an understanding of the Bible or of God. But having a mind of curiosity or an ambition to receive recognition for his scholarship or for applause from the Christian community leaves the church with a skewed truth.

“The wisdom of the divine purpose has shrouded in mystery the history of the early period of the life of Christ. Of the humble home at Nazareth, God has withheld all knowledge that would merely gratify a profitless curiosity. During the years of childhood, youth, and manhood, Jesus shared the common lot of humanity in all things except sin. For thirty years before he began his public ministry, he was unknown to the world. All this time he kept within his own heart the secret of his work and the character of his mission. His life was that of a servant, a toiler at the common duties of life; he was the least among the sons of men.  
     Jesus did not become a student in the schools of the rabbis; for this channel was corrupted with error, with false doctrines, with the maxims and traditions of men. This cost the Son of God much pain and sorrow; but by this very means he was learning the hard lessons of silence and patient waiting. His life was not one of indolence; these early years were spent in preparation for the life upon which he was to enter.
     Words cannot express the greatness of the love of God for man; but Christ has revealed it in his life in humanity. Only by himself assuming human nature, and reaching down to the very depths of human misery, could he lift the race from its darkness and despair. The cross of Calvary, the offering of himself upon the altar of sacrifice, reveals the humiliation to which the Son of God submitted.” Youth Instructor, August 5, 1897 par. 7-9.

Only the truth that springs from faith in the Creator and the self-sacrificing Redeemer will end with the truth. The unregenerate heart and mind will filter out all that convicts its conscience, and will end with a “truth” which is falsehood, a lifeless falsehood which brings a living death, a bewitching “light” which in reality is darkness.

This corrupted truth and light and life is the knowledge of good and evil. And it never arrives at pure truth and light from heaven. Neither does it possess life and strength to overcome sin. Such scholars are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Tim. 3:7). Examples af this are the doctrines of Transubstantiation and the Trinity. These were invented not to arrive at truth, but to only appear to do so. The real intent was to involve the intellect or soul in feeble pursuits that would only burn up mental or emotional vitality while trudging on to imaginary heights of wisdom and spiritual bliss.

The Lord, speaking to this sin and its wages of death coming to Babylon and her votives, said,

“Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” (Isa. 47:12,13).

Ever learning error simply used intellectual stimulation by doctrines of devils to fill the gaping hole in the heart made by the loss of the whole-being stimulation—body, mind, and spirit—by the Spirit of truth. It was a diversion from their Creator’s whole person redemption to self-stimulating one of the three components that make up a human being. But it never ended in life, but rather unending work and exhaustion.

It is so much easier to arrive at truth when we start with truth. The only sure way to find a solution to a problem or to find the truth of a mystery is to study a resource that is proven true. When Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was approached by his contemporaries about his almost 100% success rate for his health inventions as opposed to their utter failures, he answered that he read what Ellen White had to say about the body and health and then he worked in the direction that she pointed.

Contrariwise, to attempt to remake the laws of reality will end in failure. It may give a person a long career of never-ending work, but it will never arrive at a solution. It will not create his proposed new reality, except maybe in the perverted imagination of the bender of reality, maybe in the bender’s crooked financiers, and most probably in the populace who are bewitched by listening to the financiers’ multimedia monopoly.

Babylon’s ancient alchemy of warping reality, which was later brought into the church during the Dark Ages, can no more change pagan concepts into Christianity, or error into truth, than the alchemists could change lead into gold, their rods into serpents, or coal into diamonds. Yet, they tried over and over again. But, never arriving at a conclusive answer while eluding the evidences God has provided in the natural and biblical world. But, this is all right with Babylon’s scholars and scientists, so long as it doesn’t affect their careers, or end their nice incomes and comfortable standard of living. The enslavement of the masses has always existed in order to fund the mountainous financial burden of highly paid ever-learners at the fountain of less than nothingness. Then the highly learned establishment can keep the masses ignorant of truth. This is Satan’s plan perfected over many millennia.

The unconverted mind’s conclusions never square with all that the Bible teaches or the whole evidence that nature presents. The scientific community casts out all the evidences that dispute and overthrow their erroneous deductions. If an honest scientist cries out against the Big Bang and Evolution, he loses his job. The true theologian is called a heretic and disfellowshiped. Even though a child can see the fraudulent conclusions; even though the new Christian who has set his love on Jesus recognizes the overstepping of biblical evidences; nevertheless, the miscarriage of justice continues forever in the inadequate theories that men concoct.

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1Cor. 2:6-10).

Whether or not individual hearts respond to the love of God is the criteria that Jesus has always used to separate honest souls from the dishonest, worthy candidates of His coming kingdom from the unworthy. Though nobodies, they are lively stones with lively hearts and minds. They are anointed by Jesus and can discern the rejection of total evidence available. The Spirit of Christ will make it known to these nobodies.

“The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:25-31).

Jesus inspired the Bible, and He created the world as it is. His voice comes through loud and clear to the soul from these means of truth. Through nature and revelation alike He would make the children of light distinct from the children of darkness. “For the Father…hath committed all judgment unto the Son…. And hath given Him authority to execute judgment.” (John 5:22,27).

“And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice.
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers….
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” (John 10:4,5,27,28).

“My kingdom is not of this world…. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.” (John 18:36).

Are we following the voice of Jesus? Have we set our love on Him?

“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16).

Do we love the truth of the Bible as the natural world reveals it? Do we love the truth of the natural world as the Bible reveals it? Do we love the principles of self-sacrifice and obedience to law that they both teach?

Or do we secretly love the pleasures of this life and trust in the teachings of men?

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause 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.” (2Thess. 2:7-12).

All who cling to sin and war against the voice of Christ until the Spirit of conviction grows silent will ever be searching for meaning and purpose, and never be able to find it. They will never have Jesus’ Spirit of consolation or hear a word of grace from above; they will never have certainty of salvation. They will ever search for it, and never find it.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11,12).

The Lord God of the Old Testament is Jesus; and through His everlasting words, He is pleading to us today, “Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it. Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.” (Isa. 47:14,15).

Bewitching, intoxicating, mysteries of Babylon are alive a well today. But soon Babylon’s high walls of confusion and captivity will fall before the simple, clear cutting truth of our Creator and Redeemer.

“Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the LORD.
A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans:
Because the LORD hath spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice; when her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered:
Because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompences shall surely requite.
And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:53-58). 

“Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:7-11).

While the Babylonians have opportunity to have rest by entering the school of Christ to learn the heavy subjects of Edenic simplicity and heart righteousness, and leaving their unending search for imaginary truth, most remain in Babylon. But, it is there that the mark of the Beast is given because they do not stop working enough to allow the still, small voice of the Good Shepherd to make His way into the center of their thoughts. They will ever be learning until the high schoolhouse of the mysteries ends their temporal life and they are unprepared for the eternal life that is based on simplicity and love and faith—the essence of truth, as it had been in the Garden of Eden.