“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, May 17, 2019

The third angel’s message

“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” (Isa. 66:2).

Jehovah, are You a God of only stern justice? Or, do You truly go to the uttermost to save the chiefest of sinners?

God, what is Your judgment against me? Why do you remain so silent when I need guidance the most? Why does it seem that Your word condemns me of sin, but the measures I take from Your word don’t seem to remove my condemnation? And then when I reach out to others for their guidance they condemn my measures as fanatical, but I understood them from Your word? Are my measures wrong, or are my peers wrong? Are they joined unto idols and to this world and this life, or am I? Certainly I must be the guilty party. Why do I so often suffer grievous condemnation, while others seem never to suffer any?

“I will say unto God my Rock, Why hast Thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps. 42:9). Is Christianity nothing but a religion of condemnation? Is my Jesus only a Jesus of condemnation?

These are questions that have plagued people in all ages. And Jesus has given us the answer. The disconcerting sense of Jesus’ absence is His expected response to the high standard, and a foretaste of greater condemnation to come.

“    I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances; large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God’s approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look would settle upon them….
      I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth.…  
     …This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified.”  Early Writings, p. 269.1, 270.2, 270.3.

“The straight truth”, “…pour forth the straight truth….” Does this sound strangely like the phrase “the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture” of the third angel’s message?

“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation….” (Rev. 14:10)?

And what is the result of pouring forth the straight truth? In some it causes humility and self-recrimination, poverty of soul and contrition, “strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God”, “countenances … pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle”, “firmness and great earnestness … expressed in their countenances”, “large drops of perspiration [falling] from their foreheads”. And this results in “God’s approbation”. In others it causes a rising up against it, and a rejection by God. Therefore, for some it gives the seal of God and His eternal peace. But, in others it gives the mark of the beast and no rest day nor night.

“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 [the demonic 5th and 6th trumpet plagues from the bottomless pit (Revelation 9:1-18)] ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night.” (Rev. 14:10,11).

What this all boils down to is that the condemnation and humbling that the people in the vision experience is coming due to the affects of “the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans,. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard.… This testimony must work deep repentance; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified.” Early Writings, p. 270.2.

One thing we read in the above paragraph is that the “counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans” comes from the seventh letter to the seven churches Revelation 3:14-22. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.” (Rev. 3:14).

The seventh letter continues:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev. 3:15-18).

Finally, the rebuke ends with beautiful promises:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. 3:19-22).

But, Revelation 3:14-22 being the “counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans”, what then is “the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans”? What is “the straight testimony” that the seventh letter calls for? Isn’t it the Spirit of Prophecy, the Testimony of Jesus, “the solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs”, and the third angel’s message of Revelation 14:9-11? Is it not the counsels of Ellen White “called forth” by Christ’s solemn message to the Laodiceans, Laodikeus, “the people of judgment”, God’s last holy movement in human history—the Seventh-Day Adventist church. And how have we done with her little read books? What has been our disposition toward the voice of Jesus? Do we hear His great and precious voice, or only her voice?

“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; all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified.” Early Writings, p. 270.3.
“The destiny of the church hangs” on all who will receive the Spirit of Prophecy counsels with deep repentance, who will obey it, and be purified by it. They have been shaken by the stern voice from the Spirit of Prophecy books by Ellen White. All of their Ashtoreth mirth is shaken out of them and replaced by a solemn reality of soon-coming judgment upon the earth. They own deep repentance and humility. Then they will be constrained to pour forth the straight—un-watered down, unvarnished—truth, truth with grace unadulterated with smooth sayings and deceitful prophecies. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isa. 58:1). They will pour forth the straight truth, but their testimony will not be cold-hearted. It will be like their Lord’s.

“As a child, Jesus manifested a peculiar loveliness of disposition.… He manifested a patience that nothing could disturb, and a truthfulness that would never sacrifice integrity. In principle firm as a rock, His life revealed the grace of unselfish courtesy.” Desire of Ages, p. 68.
“Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness. His life was one of self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the tenderest regard to every member of the family of God. In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His mission to save.” Steps to Christ, p. 12.

They have wrestled, and have been mightily shaken by reading and heeding the solemn message to the last church era, the Laodicean church. To those humbled servants that last message that they must give to people will be bitter in their bellies. They will know their own failings, but will find the high standard sweet when they first received it with repentance. Therefore, only they will be qualified by God to pour forth the straight truth with mercy and understanding. And their pure testimony will cause a shaking in the larger church and later in the world.

“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people.” Early Writings, p. 270.2.
We should expect condemnation from God, as our Schoolmaster-Principal. It’s that “solemn testimony”, which “will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver”. It alone can lead us to Christ and Him crucified for His repentance, then for His justification of life, and then His preparation for the Latter Rain, and His later personal, visible, audible, physical return.

We cannot manufacture repentance. Therefore, we must have God’s condemnation. We must have the powerful, wonderful, solemn testimony from God through Christ, through His designated representative, Ellen White. Will we receive Christ’s serious corrections into our heart? Will we wrestle with His denunciations of our darling sins through her, and receive His resolution toward it? Will we obtain “the victory”, which will call forth “from [us] the deepest gratitude and holy, sacred joy” Early Writings, p. 270.4? Will we be purified by the truth, and thus be chosen by God to pour forth the straight truth in the power of the fourth angel of Revelation 18? Will we receive “‘the latter rain, the refreshing from the presence of the Lord, the loud cry of the third angel’” Early Writings, p. 271.2?

Or will we be among the group that “had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who would not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it”, who “did not obtain it, and…were left behind in darkness, and their places…immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks” Early Writings, p. 271.1?

“For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” (Isa. 10:22,23).

Will we be among the world that will reject the powerful testimony of the 144,000 who will give the “witness unto all nations” (Matt. 24:14)? Will we be the unsettled, unresting, wicked for whom there is no peace with God? Will we be foolish virgins? Will we receive the third angel’s message wrath of God and the sense of being lost that it gives sinners, after there is no more opportunity to learn to trust in His Son’s mercy so that it is too late to resolve its lostness with His loving kindness?

“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 8:12).

“The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (Rev. 11:18). “They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side.”  Early Writings, p. 272.1?

“For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto Him.” (Ps. 32:6).

“And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.
For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.
Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.
Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.” (Isa. 28:18-23).

We know this will happen to somebody because prophecy says so. But will it be me?

God forbid.

If we haven’t already, let us begin now to struggle with the straight truth from the true last days prophet, and receive the “strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God.” Let us receive countenances that are “pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle”, “firmness and great earnestness” expressed in our countenances, with “large drops of perspiration [falling from our] foreheads” because the “testimony [worked into us] deep repentance”, we “truly [received] it [obeyed] it and [were] purified”.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

The revelation of God

The book of Revelation is frequently introduced as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1).

But, this isn’t a true representation of the last book of the Bible, neither is that opening phrase a true representation of that opening verse, as its context plainly attests.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him…” (Rev. 1:1).

By this last clause we must begin to see, not a showcase of Christ, but a delegation of truth, a dissemination of truth beginning at the Source of all truth, and passed down through a second in Deity power in a chain of command linked all the way down to the prophet. “…and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John.” (Rev. 1:1).

And the chain of command doesn’t end with John, because he then disseminates it to the church, who give it to the world. Not for a showcase of Christ is Revelation given, but a showcase of God. The Father originated the Revelation, so He gets the glory. And that indeed is what we see.

In the beginning, God.
“Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.” (Rev. 4:2,3).

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:8-11).

In the beginning no word of sadness tainted their praises. All was happiness and loving service “to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever”—God, the Father. We have done a great disservice to this first scene by changing the original lyrics of Hymn 73, “Holy, Holy, Holy”, in our first hymnal, which we used while our prophet lived among us, when we disdained the Trinity heirloom from the papal Dark Ages. We have robbed God of His original glory by substituting a Trinity of Gods for “the only true God” (John 17:3). God, the Father alone was the focus of Revelation 4’s wonder-filled scene of the eternal kingdom of heaven.

This opening scene of Revelation revealed the eternal kingdom before the sin problem began. All was perfect order and obedience. Everything was right. All was light and joyful. All was life and song.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” (Ps. 48:1,2).

From the beginning of our specially created planet God has used it and its inhabitants to represent Himself to His heavenly hosts and His unfallen worlds. Through our sin-racked world He has revealed His throne, His kingdom, and His difficult history.

“   ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. ‘The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,’ whose ‘ways are everlasting,’ changeth not. With Him ‘is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’ Isaiah 57:15; Habakkuk 3:6; James 1:17.  
     Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings. The psalmist says:

       ‘Strong is Thy hand, and high is Thy right hand.
        Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of Thy throne:
        Mercy and truth go before Thy face.
        Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound:
        They walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.
        In Thy name do they rejoice all the day:
        And in Thy righteousness are they exalted.
        For Thou art the glory of their strength: . . .
        For our shield belongeth unto Jehovah,
        And our king to the Holy One.’

     The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love.
     The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.’ John 1:1, 2. Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. ‘His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6. His ‘goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’ Micah 5:2. And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: ‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting.... When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.’ Proverbs 8:22-30.” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33,34.

The Father was not alone in the governance of His kingdom. All of His will was channeled through His associate, His Lieutenant, His only begotten Son, Him to whom “all power is given” (Matt. 28:18), the everywhere present, all-powerful, all-knowing Seven Spirits of God.

“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” (Rev. 4:5).

“‘The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him’ Proverbs 8:22-30.”

“The only true God, and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3), “the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God”, sat on the throne of the everlasting kingdom.

Revelation 12:7-9 gives us a clear description of the great controversy in heaven. But, likewise as clearly do Revelation chapters 4 and 5. After the beautifully peaceful picture of heaven in Revelation chapter 4, Revelation chapter 5 shows us a dark and dreary picture of heaven.

“And I saw in the right hand of Him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.” (Rev. 5:1-4).

What caused John to weep so abundantly, with all heaven? The Father imprisoned infinitely and eternally. Although He never abdicated His throne, the Father could not have the perfect atmosphere of love and trust from His hosts of heaven that had ever reigned there. Therefore He was essentially in a courtroom where Lucifer reigned as both plaintiff and judge. Thus, all of the heaven mourned sorely.

But the terrible situation of God turns brighter. The problem gets finally resolved. What problem? The problem of sin and Satan that had infected the throne of God, and afterward spread to our planet. God was locked up in house arrest. Why? How? Lucifer’s accusations of Jehovah and his aspirations to be the King, all brought the peace of heaven to an end. Nevertheless, the crucifixion of the Son saved His Father and Their family in heaven and earth.

“One of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.…
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:5,9,10).

Having represented His Father perfectly, His inerrant, immaculate, infallible example of righteousness, while in sin-weakened human flesh, He exemplified His Father’s character. No mortal could ever accomplish what Jesus did and come close to the mark of either Father and Son. “For all [Jews and Gentiles] have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23).

This is a fantastic revelation of the great war against God and His throne. But the Bible shows this war by other events in Earth’s sacred history.

Absalom, David, and Solomon also reveal the great controversy drama. We see the king have to rebuke his eldest son, Absalom. Absalom had done evil and deserved punishment. But he skirted his punishment by whispering in the ears of a multitude that his father King David was not running the government right by not showing pity to every dissatisfaction raised against his throne. Absalom promised the people of his city that if he were elected king then he would fix all of his father’s faulty laws and wrong governance. All of this mirrors the original usurpation of the heavenly throne by Satan.

We again see the great controversy with Jesus Himself allowing Judas into His inner ring of twelve disciples. We see Him seeking every opportunity to gently woo to unselfish service the heart of His most influential disciple who was so naturally bent to self-aggrandizement. And we finally hear Christ’s first rebuke to this proud and increasingly brazen destroyer when he murmured at Mary Magdalene’s gift of love to Jesus and then He had to defend her.

“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me.
For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always.
She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying.” (Mark 14:6-8).

“Much people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead.
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death.” (John 12:9,10).

“Mary’s act was in marked contrast with that which Judas was about to do. What a sharp lesson Christ might have given him who had dropped the seed of criticism and evil thinking into the minds of the disciples! How justly the accuser might have been accused! He who reads the motives of every heart, and understands every action, might have opened before those at the feast dark chapters in the experience of Judas. The hollow pretense on which the traitor based his words might have been laid bare; for, instead of sympathizing with the poor, he was robbing them of the money intended for their relief. Indignation might have been excited against him for his oppression of the widow, the orphan, and the hireling. But had Christ unmasked Judas, this would have been urged as a reason for the betrayal. And though charged with being a thief, Judas would have gained sympathy, even among the disciples. The Saviour reproached him not, and thus avoided giving him an excuse for his treachery.  
     But the look which Jesus cast upon Judas convinced him that the Saviour penetrated his hypocrisy, and read his base, contemptible character. And in commending Mary’s action, which had been so severely condemned, Christ had rebuked Judas. Prior to this, the Saviour had never given him a direct rebuke. Now the reproof rankled in his heart. He determined to be revenged. From the supper he went directly to the palace of the high priest, where he found the council assembled, and he offered to betray Jesus into their hands.” Desire of Ages, p. 563, 564.
“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” (Matt. 26:14-16).

“The priests were greatly rejoiced. These leaders of Israel had been given the privilege of receiving Christ as their Saviour, without money and without price. But they refused the precious gift offered them in the most tender spirit of constraining love. They refused to accept that salvation which is of more value than gold, and bought their Lord for thirty pieces of silver.  
     Judas had indulged avarice until it overpowered every good trait of his character. He grudged the offering made to Jesus. His heart burned with envy that the Saviour should be the recipient of a gift suitable for the monarchs of the earth. For a sum far less than the box of ointment cost, he betrayed his Lord.” Desire of Ages, p. 564.

Unquestionably Jesus represented God the Father and Judas represented Satan. All throughout the Saviour’s 3½ year ministry to the multitudes of Israel, and His teaching the heavenly realities of godliness and unselfishness to His twelve closest followers, Judas constantly worked behind Him to undo all His efforts and lessons. All of this reveals what Satan labored to remodel in the long ago in heaven before the first human was created.

But, there is another object lesson of the great controversy between God and Satan. It involved Cain and Abel, Adam and Enos.

After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit at the temptation of Satan speaking through the serpent, “the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:14,15).

This warning threat of infinite punishment to the serpent did not phase the brazen Satan, but the warning gave hope to the humbled man and his wife who heard it. They knew they had greatly destroyed their communion with the Creator and His wonderful hosts of heavenly visitants; they knew that the light of God that had clothed them with joy and righteousness had been replaced with animal skins, and its joy had been displaced with their constant struggle to keep back self-preservation, hatefulness, anger, and bitterness. But they had no conception of how deeply they had imbibed the laws of Satan’s kingdom and how widely they had opened their hearts to his spirit. Therefore they believed themselves ready for full redemption, and that their first son would be the means to open the gates of paradise again to them.

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” (Gen. 4:1). Their fondest hopes were focused on this newborn babe. To the best of their ability they would train him up to be the messiah of their dreams. But their faithful upbringing could never stem the nature born in him that urged him into a character of murmuring and envy. He verbalized his discontent against the prohibition to live in the Garden of the Lord. They must live outside Eden and worship the Creator at the its gate, witness its beauty and peace, but never enter inside. A powerful angel bore not his sword in vain against any attempt to trespass that most holy sanctuary where the Lord God’s Spirit still resided.

The complaining and discontent in the heart of Cain led him to hate God. Cain interpreted the Creator’s rebuke as rejection, and the bold heir to king of Earth decided that if God rejected him, he would reject God. He would despise God and His sacrificial system that He had given to his parents. Cain would offer a different sacrifice, one that pleased his hardened heart.

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.” (Gen. 4:3).

Little did the arrogant son of Adam realize that he was becoming the puppet of Satan. He was doing the will of another for his total and life-long apostasy and overthrow of God’s earthly kingdom through His Son, through Adam. The rebellion of Cain began long before he made an inanimate, expressionless offering for sin that Jesus had not prescribed. But each offering of hay and chaff and stubble that Cain made, which did nothing to break his self-sufficient heart, strengthened his resistance to the Lord’s Spirit. Without a dying and suffering lamb to crack his stony heart, Cain opened himself wider and wider to the demons’ spirit of bitterness and madness, until a legion of evil cherubim heavily trafficked Cain’s soul. The idea of God’s rejection grew increasingly apparent to Cain as the presence of Christ went silent to his violent conscience and He would not send fire to receive His child’s offering. Insolence and contempt of God became a permanent fixture in Cain’s heart. He would not repent of his wrong course despite Jesus’ final remonstrance and audible visit with a personal warning to him.

“The LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his [Abel’s] desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Gen. 4:6,7).

But Cain’s offerings, empty of all power to lead him to repentance and conversion, stubbornly continued until the faithful reproof and instruction of the Lord God was fulfilled in the unpardonable sin, and murder.

“Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee.” (Eze. 28:18).

The hardened heart of Cain could not bear his brother repeat a similar remonstration that he had already heard from Jesus, who spoke through Abel’s earnest, yet kind, heart and his loving spirit. The legion of angels that excel in strength broke the last fiber of Cain’s morality in a sudden inspiration of rage that could not be restrained until his brother lay lifeless before him. With zero remorse his bold speech to the Spirit of Christ resulted in the mark of the beast in his conscience.

At the death of Abel Adam and Eve were suddenly thrust back to the first day of their fall when their hearts were crushed by the death of the first lambs for their clothing and the wilting flowers that would forever plague their memories. The murder of their precious, holy Abel by the hand of their equally precious but aggressive first-born, their wistfully prospective messiah, was more than they could accept. Adam and Eve remained unsurrendered to the resurrected rebuke of God during five generations of Cain’s rebellious lineage. Over a period of probably 190 years the new world saw an unrestrained rebellion in Cain’s progeny. And the spacious camp at the eastern gate of Eden was heard unrestrained agony in Adam and Eve similar to the grief of mind felt by Rebekah in the Hittite wives of Esau, Beeri and Bashemath, when Rebekah mourned to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?” (Gen. 27:46).

A similar anguish must have been experience by Noah and Shem at the apostasy led by Ham’s grandson, Nimrod. But Esau’s, and even Nimrod’s, examples of ungodliness were exponentially milder than the strength of lust known to Cain’s descendants, as his offspring’s closer proximity to Adam’s original perfect creation gave their lust much greater strength. The double pain of Adam’s and Eve’s responsibility for sin bequeathed to all their progeny, and the murder of Abel left them in a spiritual tailspin that they could not pull out of. But, this was meant to be because of their grievous heart stab that they gave their God and His only birthed Son, their immediate Begetter, the divine Mother of all living.

Their regrets were so indomitable and dogged that having no more children must be their only recourse. They would fast in celibacy until death. Life was not worth living anymore. Their hearts fainted of every hope for escape from the world of sin that they had created. For 144+ years (my best guess of time frames and Adam’s ages are explained in the table below) they bore the punishment of their great infidelity. Being cursed above all the animal kingdom plagued their days and nights. The never-ending message kept preaching in their ears that they were never to enter their old home and again be worthy to eat of the tree of life. “Thou shalt surely die” sounded long and hard, and eternal life no longer possible. For 144 years all joy fled their hearts, and only judgment from God was their portion. The rebuke of God weighed heavily upon them.

“In the morning [their thoughts were], Would God it were even! and at even [their thoughts were], Would God it were morning!” (Deut. 28:67). There was no escaping the acknowledgment of God’s displeasure and their doom. His promise that they would surely die for their disobedience would, all during their lifetime, be truly an on-going, present reality.

Finally, the stormy darkness broke, and surrender and deep repentance flooded their hearts, and soiled their sheepskins. They fell on the Stone broken, and the relentless grinding to powder ceased. Surrender and agonized sorrow for sin swept away their deep roots of Satan’s proud spirit, and their former resolve to remain celibate dissolved. They could praise their Creator with all their hearts.

“And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” (Gen. 4:25,26).

Age of Earth

Adam’s agony
Holy lineage
Cain’s lineage
30 years

Fall into sin, Adam 30 years old?

Birth of Cain

Adam 31 years old?
Birth of Abel

Adam  61 years old?
Cain’s Offering Cain 30 years old?

Adam 61+ years old?
Cain slew Abel

Adam 71 y.o.?

Birth of Enoch

Adam 101 y.o.?

Birth of Irad

Adam 131 y.o.?

Birth of Mehujael

99 years after Cain’s birth
Adam 130 y.o.
Birth of Seth

Adam 161+ y.o.?

Birth of Methusael

Adam 191+ y.o.?

Birth of Lamech
Adam 235 years old
Adam 205 y.o. after the fall.

Adam 174 y.o. after death of Abel? Adam’s double agony is finished. “Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” (Gen. 4:26). Isaiah 40:1,2 applies to the first parents' pummeled souls: “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”
Birth of Enos, Seth 105

Adam 221+ years old?

Birth of Jabal, Jubal
Adam 325 years old
Adam 295 y.o. after the fall
Birth of Cainan

The father of our world, his first joys, and his eternal pains and harsh work environment because of sin, have manifested the Father in almost every detail. All was peace and prosperity while sin remained unknown to His universal abode, as it had to Adam in glorious Eden. In the Father’s kingdom righteousness resulted only in the purest love. He made self-sacrifice the guarantee of eternal longevity, individually and corporately. He commanded that the Law of service given freely to others would constrain others to freely serve in return. Happiness untold, thankfulness expressed repeatedly and abundantly, could never fully reveal the almighty Spirit from God imbuing and exuding every soul in His house of love.

But, something went awry. Brotherly love and filial kinship began to supersede the healthier love toward the greatest object of love—He, who through His only Begotten daily revealed a love to all of His creatures in a depth incomprehensible to them, no longer held the center of every heart’s thankfulness. Another’s “love” intruded into that most holy place, not only among the energetic, Jehovah-perfection exacting angels. The intruder embedded himself deeper in a more precious place than the most holy place of the angelic hearts—that of the beautiful, unassuming Christ-deference built into the human heart.

These great losses created an anguishing circumstance that must harass the God of almighty love days without number. The murders of His prophets broke Him over and over, as Abel’s fatal witness had done Adam. God’s Co-worker, His Help-meet Michael, also knew the breaking as His Father had.

But, as the birth of Seth began the restoration of hope to Adam, in the great controversy hope came again to the Father from a “seed” of the lineage of Adam built into his genetics by the Son, whose Spirit would continue the first pair’s earnest agony and repentance. The still suffering Father saw that Spirit of the Seed, not “seeds, as of many; but as of one, …which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16), who gave second birth to many of Adam’s seeds—as in bushel bags of humbled and penitent seed!—“the seed [that] should come to whom the promise was made…all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (vs. 19, 26). Those seeds: righteous Noah and his holy wife, godly Abraham and jealous for God’s honor Sarah, joyful Isaac and other-centered Rebekah, patient Jacob and enduring Leah, honest Judah and persistent Tamar, loving Salmon and brave Rahab, mature Boaz and believing Ruth, merciful David and innocent Bath-sheba, just Joseph and victorious Miriam, and many other children of Adam, all poked their heads above the many more seeds of sacred history, all orchestrated by “the Seed”, as a wide-spreading plant runner pops its many sprouts above the moistened dirt clods. All of these seeds came from and ended in the one Seed, “which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

As Seth signified the coming of Enos because of whom “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 4:26), likewise the incarnation of the Spirit brought an end of the harassment to the Father.

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2).

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6,7).

“The Seed” became “a Branch” (Isa. 11:1).

“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of His roots:
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears:
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” (Isa. 11:1-6).

After a full, busy life of perfect exemplification of the Law of the kingdom which He would be given authority to bring about, “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth”. (Mat 28:18).

“So then after the Lord had spoken unto them” “it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them,” “and carried up into heaven” “He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51).

There the Son of God stood before His Father, both of Them in infinite victory not yet to be fully realized until They had sealed Their partially unsettled angelic guard, and Their precious fallen race.

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne.
And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:5-10).

As the restored angelic hosts cooperate with Christ to bring again Adam’s remnant to its first dominion, ultimately a redeemed race will walk in the light of the King’s love. His grief finished, joy restored to His kingdom of righteousness, His Son safely in His bosom and all of His Son’s children gathered safely into Their bosom, then the eternal kingdom can resume its original course before its seven millennium interruption. Only this time it is more secure than before it was tested, that is, before the King tested it and before His almighty Help-meet cooperated with Him in this grande finale of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” (Rev. 5:11-14).

From, “‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love” at the beginning, until the end when “the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love”, our race weakened by sin have somehow been used by the almighty and all-knowing Self-existent One to open to us the mystery of the great controversy. Revelation is the revelation of God, “the UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts 17:23), His captivity with hardly any visitation from His Earth-bound children. Revelation is the revelation of His torments and His tormenters, “Yea, Mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of My bread, hath lifted up his heel against Me” (Ps. 41:9). “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matt. 6:6), “the Ancient of days” (Dan. 7:9), the Admiral of the universe, returned to His most ancient throne.

“The revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began.” (Rom. 16:25).

“To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:9).

“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.” (Col. 1:26).

“There the redeemed shall know, even as also they are known. The loves and sympathies which God Himself has planted in the soul shall there find truest and sweetest exercise. The pure communion with holy beings, the harmonious social life with the blessed angels and with the faithful ones of all ages who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, the sacred ties that bind together ‘the whole family in heaven and earth’ (Ephesians 3:15)—these help to constitute the happiness of the redeemed. 
     There, immortal minds will contemplate with never-failing delight the wonders of creative power, the mysteries of redeeming love. There will be no cruel, deceiving foe to tempt to forgetfulness of God. Every faculty will be developed, every capacity increased. The acquirement of knowledge will not weary the mind or exhaust the energies. There the grandest enterprises may be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations reached, the highest ambitions realized; and still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of mind and soul and body.
     All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar—worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. With unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through ages upon ages in contemplation of God’s handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed. 
     And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character. As Jesus opens before them the riches of redemption and the amazing achievements in the great controversy with Satan, the hearts of the ransomed thrill with more fervent devotion, and with more rapturous joy they sweep the harps of gold; and ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of voices unite to swell the mighty chorus of praise….
     The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.” Great Controversy, p. 677,678.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

A Serpent On The Pole or The Snakes In The Grass?

“Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.” (Jer. 33:16).

Why spend our emotional energy on worries instead of on prayer and faith in the written word of God? 

We have the following experience to teach us where worrying leads and from what our worrying is derived.

“And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that He take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” (Num. 21:5-8).

If the Lord spent 40 years, while under His protection, teaching the nation how to abide in Him, and His grace couldn’t motivate them to learn, then it was time to let consequences motivate them to learn. Looking at Christ is not optional for freedom from worrying, and obtaining peace of mind. We’ve been in this wilderness for a long time. Have we learned that Christ is our only hope from anxiety? Have we learned how to abide in Him?

The lesson for us to learn is, What do we look at to solve the problems that are killing us, especially our problematic worrying? Do we look at the Serpent on the pole, or do we look at the snakes in the grass? There are lots of self-help resources and psychologies, quips and quotations, which give pointers on what “I can do myself” in order to overcome worrying. Believe it or not, the self-help resources and psychologies teach us to rely on self to fix self’s problems. What doctor relies on his diagnoses for his own diseases? Doctors go to other doctors. Therefore, self-help resources and psychologies cannot help self. They are only gimmicks. They all have “I” problems. What we need is the Great Physician, but the self-help resources and psychologies do not teach us how to rely on Christ. They teach us to hope in #1 (self), (which is what sin is all about,) when what we need is hope in God and the healing touch of the Master.

Self-help psychologies cannot teach us faith because they have zero experience in trusting the unknown, unseen God. They have never hoped in “God’s” solutions. Neither can they teach us how to trust in Christ’s beautiful merits because they can’t teach us to look at Christ and His righteousness, or to His great cloud of witnesses who all testify of Him. Therefore, the self-help resources and humanistic psychologies don’t teach what He can do for us through resting in His powerful justification and presence.

For instance…
“Don’t let worries kill you, let the church help.”
“Why worry when you can pray?”
“Worrying is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere.”
“We each choose how to spend our emotional energy, just like we each choose how to spend our money…. You can’t get it back once it’s spent.”
(All quotes taken from It Is Written, “Worrywarts under the microscope”

Humanistic quips and quotes keep us fixated on this broken world and the things of this world instead of looking away to heaven and to our great High Priest who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities.

This is what Jesus has to say to these Babylonian authorities who only perpetuate the misery of millions:

“But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare My statutes, or that thou shouldest take My covenant in thy mouth?
Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest My words behind thee.” (Ps. 50:16,17).

“Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice….
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
And call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.” (Ps. 50:5,14,15).

Although this world’s helpful hints undeniably provide some help, look at them closely and you will see that they lack faith; they all lack faith Jesus. They are essentially atheistic, and in the end they only manage problems, they not remove them. Here are more…

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.”
“We spend our days thinking about things that will never happen, but the things we think will happen.”
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Mark Twain
“How much pain they have cost us, the evils which have never happened.” Thomas Jefferson
“As a rule, what is out of sight disturbs men’s minds more seriously than what they see”. Julius Caesar
A study done on people’s worries:
“50% never happen
25% the past
10% [unconfirmed] criticism
10% about health
5% real problems.”

In a way, all of those “helpful things to do” are only looking at the snakes that are coming to bite you. This is because we aren’t looking at Jesus. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23). It’s a law that if we aren’t looking at the Serpent on the pole, then we are automatically looking at and worrying about the serpents in the grass. These are the only two options.

But, faith looks away from the fiery snakes and looks to the bronze Serpent who was made to be sin in our place. Faith distrusts the self-help measures and the psychologists’ suggestions to ignore worrying. Faith pays no attention to positive thinking and to New Year’s resolutions to stop worrying. The atheistic, self-help mind stares worrisome things in the face and arrogantly proclaims, “I will never look at you again!” But it does not look away from the causes of worry and anxiety because it cannot. No matter the boasts, the atheistic mind has no willpower to look away from earth, neither does it deep-down desire to do so. It is a self-satisfied captive to Satan’s delusions. And heaven keeps itself far enough away in order to challenge the god of proud, atheistic self-help.

Faith has a different object to which to look, instead of trying hard to ignore the object that creates worry. Faith looks to Jesus, what He had to say as well as what He did from Genesis 1:1 (“…the beginning...”) to Revelation 22:22 (“The end”). Faith talks with His Spirit and rejoices in His presence. Faith says, I will ignore everything else for victory over fears and worries. I will draw close to Jesus through His actions throughout Old and New Testaments, and His words during the same.

“Sinful man can find hope and righteousness only in God, and no human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him. A flower of the field must have its root in the soil; it must have air, dew, showers, and sunshine. It will flourish only as it receives these advantages, and all are from God. So with men. We receive from God that which ministers to the life of the soul. We are warned not to trust in man, nor to make flesh our arm. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this.” Testimonies to Ministers, p. 366.

Faith is not manufactured from within. Faith is beyond our control. Without the presence of Jesus by His personal Spirit, we are completely dead of faith. It is completely a gift of God. But we do have a part to act in its cause. We can look at the warnings and promises from Jesus. And that is all we can do. Then trust in Jesus happens. It just happens. And when it does our worries vanish, and peace comes.

“All that man can possibly do toward his own salvation is to accept the invitation, ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22:17). No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary. Thus the cross, in earnest appeals, continually proffers to the sinner a thorough expiation.” Selected Messages, bk.1, p. 343.

“ human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God and maintains a vital connection with Him” is the formula for justification that gives us victory over the past. But, it is also the same formula for our sanctification, as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Do we have “faith in God” and maintain “a vital connection with Him”? Are we accepting “the invitation, ‘Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22:17)”? If so then we have peace. If not, then we have anxiety biting us, and the traps of the devil ensnaring us. Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1).

 If we don’t trust in Christ’s justification, then we have no peace—a peace that passes all comprehension.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7).

That’s a lot of faith! Or, that’s the right kind of faith. Do we have faith that remains through all our current tribulations? Will we end up with the faith that will remain through the great tribulation? Or, will we fall for cunningly devised fables that tell us we will be raptured away before the tribulation hits?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8).

We are justified by faith and saved by faith. But Paul also said that we are saved by hope.

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Rom. 8:24).

So how do justification and salvation happen, by faith or by hope? What is the connection between hope and faith? We have the famous definition for this question in Hebrews 11.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.” (Heb. 11:1,2).

Would you like to receive a good report card from the righteous Judge? Wouldn’t we all!

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is based on evidence. No one can see God and say, “Now I know God.” God has purposely separated Himself from us for our own good. We need to relearn the wonderful faith that we lost in the Garden of Eden. And that relearning necessarily requires harsh situations under His Law’s hot reproofs. Or relearning Edenic trust comes through slushing around in the muck of this sinful world, so that we will need God sufficiently so that our cries to to Him break through the atheism-faith barrier.

Every sinner must look at His workmanship in order to say, “Now I know God.” But too many “seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him”. (John 14:17). They say that because they can’t see Him then He must not exist. But He has left tons of evidence, and they won’t look at the evidence. Deep down inside, it’s an offense to them that He won’t appear before them.

“Believe Me that [I say] I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.” (John 14:11).

Their faculty of faith is lazy or titillated by temptation. They won’t go to the evidence of Himself that He has left strewn all around. They won’t let the evidence speak to them.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Ps. 19:1-3).

“Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. Our Father in heaven is the source of life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful and beautiful things of nature. Think of their marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures. In the beautiful words of the psalmist--

     ‘The eyes of all wait upon Thee;
     And Thou givest them their meat in due season.
     Thou openest Thine hand,
     And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.’
                                    Psalm 145:15, 16.” Steps to Christ, p. 9.

But faith is more than evidence. It is also the fruit of hope. Faith is the substance of hope. Both faith and hope are abstracts that need something concrete to help describe them.

“NowG1161 faithG4102 isG2076 the substanceG5287 of things hoped for,G1679 the evidenceG1650 of thingsG4229 notG3756 seen.G991” Heb 11:1 

The word, “substance” is the Greek hupostasis, which Strong’s concordance attaches the number,

From a compound of G5259 and G2476; a setting under (support), that is, (figuratively) concretely essence, or abstractly assurance (objectively or subjectively): - confidence, confident, person, substance.

A primary preposition; under, that is, (with the genitive) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative) of place (whither [underneath] or where [below]) or time (when [at]): - among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In compounds it retains the same genitive applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specifically covertly or moderately.

A prolonged form of a primary word στάω staō (of the same meaning, and used for it in certain tenses); to stand (transitively or intransitively), used in various applications (literally or figuratively): - abide, appoint, bring, continue, covenant, establish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up). Compare G5087.

So, the Greek hupostasis equates “substance” with “understand”? The first word, “substance”, has a concrete meaning and the second, “understand”, an abstract meaning. As we “understand” the promises our hope takes on substance until faith becomes hard as a bicep.

How about another approach. Think of the word, “gel”. “Gel” brings hupostasis together for us. “Gel” is something that we often squirt from a tube. The makers took some chemicals and when mixed those chemicals together until they solidified into a liquidy-pasty, semi-solid substance for haircuts and hair-dos.

But we also often use the word, “gel”, to mean an idea that came together for us after we brought together other ideas. So there’s old Ben Franklin looking at lightning and thinking, “Lightning has a lot of power. And I would like to harness that power. But I need to get up there where the lightning is. Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. I know what to do, I’ll tie a key to a kite and the kite will fly the key up to the lightning.” The idea of harnessing lightning gelled for old Ben Franklin. So the abstract thought of old Ben is similar to the concrete product of hair gel. It applies to hope and faith also.

How does this apply to hope and faith? Hope gels into faith. Evidence for the possibility of things not seen, such as the words and expressions that make up a future promise, mixes with hope. The promise gets read and understood. It gets mulled upon and mulled upon some more until suddenly faith and confidence appear. And the mulling naturally takes time. Later, after more experience with the outcome of that promise, comes greater confidence and faith. After playing with electricity, electric generators were invented. Likewise, the more we work our faith, the more we trust in God’s hand to work in our behalf, and the more He can put us through tests, which incrementally grow in difficulty, the stronger our faith becomes.

We see this in Abraham after years of walking and talking with God.

“Who against hope [against all odds] believed in hope [his faith struggling to hope], that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
And being not weak in faith [in God’s promise], he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:18-22).

What was the evidence not seen but believed? “The promise of God”, a promise from Someone who had previously proven Himself to be faithful. It was the word of Jesus, Abraham “being fully persuaded that, what [Jesus] had promised, He was able also to perform.” (Rom. 4:21). Does the word of God fully persuade you? Does the word persuade me?

Have we yet proven the Bible to be true? Has it been reasonable? Has its evidences grown on us, so that at some point faith in it happened? Just out of the blue? One day we were still wrestling in doubt with it after many weeks or months or years, and the next day we didn’t feel the need to wrestle with the Word of God any more, because we could see Him as trustworthy? What was that? It was the gift of faith. One day vacillating between doubt and faith; the next day solid confidence, substantial faith, hope with substance.

Another way to look at hope becoming the real substance of faith is in the states of matter, as in water that, given or taken away enough energy, will become vaporous or solid. After giving boiling water another 539 calories of heat it remains liquid. Not until giving it one more calorie does it flash into steam. The molecular bond with other water molecules breaks and a molecule wafts its way heavenward. Likewise, after removing 179 calories of heat from boiling water, upon removing one more calorie, suddenly it crystallizes into ice. Substance!

Likewise, does the mind when it is given enough evidence and effort and time before the word of God and His promises. As the Spirit from God descends to our ascending faith that imperceptibly reaches upward and closer to the Spirit that moves upon the face of the faithful, suddenly an arc connects heaven and earth. And our dead soul is jolted into life. Yes! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise Him in the highest! His mercy endureth forever! And Thy faithfulness unto all generations!
When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious [promises], shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his [fruit] with him. (Ps. 126).