“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

My Photo
Location: United States

A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Law vs. the Law of God

Please, let’s make a distinction. Try to bear with me here. There is…The Law. And there is…the Law of God. Can we make that distinction or is that just splitting hairs? Is it all simply semantics? I don’t think so.

The Law is bad and ugly. The Law of God is good and trustworthy. One is bad because it has no Person attached to it. Do you see the difference between the two? The other comes from a God of infinite love and tenderness. The Law (without God) is used by Satan, to “beat My people to pieces and grind the faces of the poor,” and who “smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger.” Is. 3:15;14:6.

We have nothing to fear from The Law of God, because His special person is attached to it. It’s His, it is of His person. It’s from Him and He is friendly, and spiritual, and just and good. It’s fair, all who will come under it will find equal protection. The righteousness of His Law is the halos of His glory that we look through to see Him, but it’s Him that we ultimately see, our Father, the one great Author of love. It’s His will, the breaking of which brings Him torture of soul incomprehensible to us. Only Christ can bear up under the suffering that our heavenly Father goes through moment by moment. When on earth Christ recoiled from all the sin He met day by day, yet His love kept Him bearing up under it, dealing with it and fighting it. If we’ve seen the Son, we’ve seen the Father. The Father bears up under the burden of the sin in His kingdom because He loves His human children. It was to reconcile the world to the Father Himself that He sent and sustained His Son Christ during His life on earth, and then it was in love for us that He took His Son to the cross. His commingling of mercy and justice will be our wonder and study for endless ages.

Moses definitely loved the Law of God. “What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?” Deut. 4:8. Moses had real faith. (Heb. 11:27). Any arguments there? David, the man after God’s own heart, definitely loved the Law of God! (Ps. 119:97). David had real faith. (Heb. 11:32). No arguments? Paul definitely loved the Law of God and made it out that it was obviously self-evidently the truth. “For we know,” he wrote, “that the Law is spiritual.” “The Law is holy and the commandment holy, and just and good.” Rom 7:14, 12. “We know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” 1Tim. 1:8. Should I say it? Yes, I will. Paul had real faith!!! And if you asked any other great servant of God in all the Old and New Testaments they would all tell you the same thing, they all loved the Law of God!

“For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh...” Rom 8:3. “For we know the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Rom. 8:14. Here we see that the problem is not in the Law of God, at all! The problem is in us. Any arguments here?! “Is the Law then against the promises? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law.” Gal. 3:21. The problem is not with God’s Law. This Law essentially is Him. For us to downplay His Law is to downplay His character and thus His very Self. The devil knows all of this. So he deploys his own gospel devoid of God’s Law, His commandments, statutes, His judgments, et cetera, so that in the void he may insert his own spirit. All he needs is a counterfeit, a shell of the true, to fix his spell upon us. God will always retain and utilize only the true, and this alone will break the devil’s spell that keeps us infatuated with the supplanter’s artfully woven falsehoods.

Does this make me a legalist? Do I really sound like a Pharisee and a hypocrite? I hope not. I’d like to say what Paul said, “God forbid!” So, what we have to give to the world is something they have never conceived of─the Everlasting Gospel. The same message from the beginning to the end of the Bible. The Lord Jesus of the New Testament and the Lord God of the Old is one and the same Person. (1Cor. 10:1-9). His will has never changed. The devil’s ways have never improved. Our human nature is no different from fallen Adam. The problem and solution of sin are the same as they have always been.

Then why a Gospel of the New Testament? Why the need of a New testament or new covenant? Because when Christ came man saw for the first time mercy that was always there, but not so evident. Why was it not evident? Because at a distance Christ could not bring man to see their God like He could in person. At a distance Christ was reliant on other men who, though learning holiness, were faulty, men, who were themselves somewhat blind to the full expression of mercy that Christ could express with His own words and looks and actions, especially on the cross, in the state of suffering and at the point of an apparent everlasting death. In the four gospels and the epistles even we have only the tip of the iceberg of the experience the disciples had with Him for those 3 ½ years. The world couldn’t contain the books it would take to fully describe His life, but through the Spirit we can continue learning where the written word was limited, just as they could in the Old Testament.

Its both His death and His life that saves us. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Rom. 5:10. Yes, the Law of God, which is the Law of the life of Christ, may be hard to look into. Only by a knowledge of the Lawgiver’s life and death will we ever desire to look at our Lifegiver's Law and Commandments. But if we do so, and continue therein, we will be blessed by Christ. (Jas. 1:25). In the words of Jesus, “He that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light.” Jn. 3:20, 21.

So the Law of God is our friend, even as God is our Friend, and not our foe. The personless Law is the real enemy. It’s only a list of ethics and morals and traditions of men who require much but who do none of what they require. It is derived from no person or example of love. It is devised by Satan himself, not used to teach us righteousness, but hopeless and mindless submission to a standard that the Devil might be able to keep because he is still an angel of light (if he can hold his breath long enough), but one that he knows we can’t keep, and he uses it to get us to give up on God’s Law, which Law the devil teaches us to associate with the loveless law of his government, the counterfeit he thought he could use to improve upon the divine Law of God’s Government of love.

Let’s not be afraid of God’s Law, nor make it our enemy or the enemy of the Gospel.

I will close with an EGW quote from the book, The 1888 Message for the Year 2000, by Steve Wohlberg,(p. 17, 18) “I see the beauty of the truth in the presentation of the righteousness of Christ in relation to the Law as Doctor [E.J. Waggoner] has placed it before us.... If our ministering brethren would accept the doctrine which has been presented so clearly─the righteousness of Christ in connection with the Law─and I know that they need to accept this, their prejudices would not have a controlling power, and the people would be fed with their portion of meat in due season.” (1888 Materials, p. 164) “…The great subject of the righteousness of Christ in relation to the Law. This was no new light but it was old light placed where it should be…which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation.” (p. 211, 212)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The God who Can Melt Stone

(This is a follow on to the 1/26 post, entitled, “Fall on the Stone and be broken.”)

“Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence! When Thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountins flowed down at Thy presence.” Is. 64:1-3.

If God can melt stone before writing into it His Ten Commandments, then He can melt my stubborn, hard heart too and write in it the principles of His Law. I’ve heard the illustration, that there are two types of people represented by clay and wax. The same sun that melts the wax, hardens the clay.

But if God can melt stone, can’t He melt hardened clay too? Here’s hoping He can do something with my hard heart.

I can see that He melted the stone, wrote into it, and then let it cool again, thus forever containing the words. So with sufficient intense heat and pressure, He softens us enough and gives us a lesson and forever that lesson abides in our heart. Once we are removed from the heat and then we harden again, this time we do so thinking differently, from that day onward.

Our forehead becomes as hard as an adamant stone─harder than flint. (Ez. 3:7.) We are qualified as His witnesses, commissioned to stand fearlessly against falsehood. His seal is branded on our character.

The memory of that event will never be effaced. The letters might one day fill with dust and ashes, but God doesn’t forget that He put them there. And one day when He comes to receive His own, that heart with His inscribed words will be brought up and dusted off, and that lesson and the hope in it, will be the ticket that makes our redemption happen. And in heaven we will all receive a new stone, an appreciation for God’s great love, that no one will understand but the one who received its precursor in this life.

“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. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” 2Pet. 3:10, 11.

“Who among us shall dwell in the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” Is. 33:14-17.

“And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” Rev. 22:4.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Be Perfect

Right after directing us to love our enemies, Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

By this I don’t believe He meant for us to be sinless or having attained perfect behavior. Its more like being without pretense or hypocrisy. It is to be whole, to be loving from the inside out─integrity. That is, to love naturally. To love everyone, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done to anyone, or to us. Even if they’ve abused us or persecuted us.

Christ makes His standard so high, that it can only be done with His help. We get into heaven on only one credential, Jesus our Lord. Without that credential, as will be seen in our life, heaven is still only a theory. Love is the evidence God’s people can hang on to when they feel doomed because their behavior doesn’t match up to others, and the lack of love is how He exposes those who are talented or have the good behavior, but who’ve never known the power of His grace. And He knows them that are His and who they are who hear His voice.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fall on the Stone and be broken

“He that falls on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall it shall grind him to powder.” Matt. 21:44.

That stone represents Christ. “You are Peter, and upon This Rock I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matt. 16:18. Peter was not the rock. “Peter” means a movable stone, an unsteady stone. Peter was very faulty and far from infallible, even after his final conversion. The rock Christ was referring to was Himself. In the same context as falling on the stone, He referred to the corner stone of Solomon’s temple as Himself. Only upon Christ can the foundation of the church be laid, as Paul later wrote, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1Cor 3:11. He was the Stone He was referring to.

But what else do we know was represented as a stone? The Ten Commandments. Why were they written on stone? Was it out of convenience─all God had in the Sinai wilderness was stones everywhere? Or was it providential that those stones were out there for Him to use?

Writing His law in stone has very great significance. It says His commandments are the great final authority. They were the perfect representation of the audible words that thundered down with lightning upon the people at the foot of Sinai and put them on the ground in pitiful little heaps. He spoke with power to leave His will indelibly traced on their memory. And so He would write those very same overpowering words indelibly in stone, to be the standard forever. Later it would be explained that if He could inscribe the transcript of His character in stone, He can impress His matchless charms in our hard hearts as well. Ex. 24:10 and Isaiah 64:1-3 hint that God melted the stone before writing in it. That does sound like God’s method, doesn’t it!

What’s the connection between Christ and the feared and authoritative Ten Commandments? It is that the merciful Son of God is just as immovable when it comes to righteousness. If a sinner tries to fight Him, he will lose. If he thinks his genius can outsmart or outmaneuver Christ, he is very much fooling only himself. Our Creator knows us inside and out. He sees our motives coming a mile away. Only the sinner and a fool would believe he is god enough and smart enough to outdo his Creator.

No, if we break the law, we will pay the price. Sooner or later, the punishment comes. We can run, but we can’t hide. The long arm of God’s law is unrelenting and firm as flint.

“I am the Lord; I change not: therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed!” Mal. 3:6. Doesn’t that sound authoritative?! It sounds down-right scary! Why would a God of love intimate that He might consume us? Isn’t He afraid we may never come to trust in Him? Doesn’t He care about my feelings? I have wrestled over this for many years. How about the instance in the wilderness, when the people listened to the ten scardey-cat spies to not go up into the land flowing with warrior giants and milk and honey, instead of trusting in God, the Lord of hosts? So, the Lord God of the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus in the New, told them, “As truly as I live, as you have spoken in My ears, so will I do to you. Your carcasses will fall in this wilderness, all who have murmured and complained against Me.” And the ten spies who turned the people against God, died immediately by a plague.

How is this a God of love? I mean, really, how can I trust that kind of God? What I want more than anything is to be able to trust in God. But when I read the Bible, all I see is one example after another of stern justice, from beginning to end. Trusting God is all I have to bring me the peace I’ve been looking for all my life. No doubt the same is true for everyone today. So why then does God paint for me such a grim, vengeful picture of Himself when what I need is a friend?

I have been a member of the church for decades, and, while I tried not to, I eventually thought of Christ as an obnoxious, overbearing, cruel monster. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is in this same predicament. I believe many millions of Christians think of Him badly also, they just won’t admit to it. This is why they talk of everything else but Him. This is why so many deep-down are unhappy, lonely, unstable, and dysfunctional.

Everyone out in the world is looking for a friend, and many of them also see God as a monster, and they hate Him for it. Its true that big business or powerful positions or materialism has had the effect of eclipsing their need for trust and love, but all of that will be swept away, and then they too will have to come face to face with the worldwide misunderstanding of God in the Bible. Surely God knows all this. Then why so much harshness and toughness, rather than love and trust, in the Bible? “Shall not the Judge of all the earth shall do right?” Gen. 18:25.

The truth is that God does know all about trust and love. Isn't it His invitation, found in no other Book than His own, Matt. 11:28─ “Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jn. 6:37─ “All that the Father gives Me come to Me; and them that come to Me I will never reject.” Rev. 3:20─ “Hello! I stand at the door and knock: if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” Rev. 22:17─“The Spirit and the bride say come. And let him that hears come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will, let him take of the Water of Life freely.”

It’s a loving God who sends us the scary things of His word. Ananias and Sapphire fall dead because they lied about their promise of donating money to the early church. Judas goes out and hangs himself because he knows it was the Son of God whom he had betrayed to be shamefully beaten and crucified, and all he could see was the final judgment and hell. The Lord Jesus couldn’t talk to King Saul anymore so the king eventually, in the heat of a battle and abandoned by God and Samuel and David, falls on his sword and dies. Like David’s command, “Fall on him,” against his enemy (2 Sam. 1:15), the Stone had fallen on them all, and ground them to powder.

When you read these things, you are forced to do something. What are you going to do? Either serve Him with fear and trembling, or rationalize it all away and pretend it never happened or never could happen to us. Either the Bible’s stern accounts of God’s treatment of sin helps us appreciate Him or it leaves a bad taste in our mouth. So what effect will it have for you?

He intends that we take Him or leave Him. Not that He is non-chalant about our relationship with Him. But He is not slack; He demands a decision be made for Him or against Him. He knows our perverse heart and doesn’t leave room for any lackadaisical third option, a non-chalance on our part. Whenever He came to town there was either a revival or a riot. He either got into their hearts and souls, or He got on their nerves really bad. No one was the same afterward. John proclaimed, “I indeed baptize with water, but One mightier than I comes after me; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire! Whose fan is in His hand and He will perfectly sift His floor. The wheat He will gather into His garner, and the chaff will He burn with fire unquenchable.” Lk. 3:16, 17. ─Indeed, strong language, definitely given in no uncertain terms.

So, when we read the strong language the Bible uses, what are we going to do? Turn away, let self rise up in rebellion, and say “I don’t want that kind of God,” and lose out on the kingdom to come which He will set up in spite of our decision not to be there? Or fear Him enough to wrestle with His words and sentiments that seem unloving, and keep wrestling with them, even if it takes decades, until we fall humbly at Christ’s feet and then trust Him and His word, and see love, the great love of God come shining through it all?

In the dark and for the first time praying with all his heart, “Jacob was left alone. And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Gen. 32:24. That Man was the Lord Jesus. And Jacob wrestled with God until he fell on the breast of his supposed Enemy and, with a dislocated hip and broken spirit, begged for the forgiveness he had longed for all his life. It was the chastening he got that woke him up to realizing the goodness of the Lord God, and then the goodness of God brought him to repentance and surrender. Aren’t you glad Jesus is willing to take the time to wrestle with us and chasten us? And aren’t you glad He spanks us when He does? Aren’t you glad He followed Jacob all those years? If He did it for Jacob the deceiver, the cheat, the liar, the thief, then He will follow you and me too! He will follow until the great day of our final wrestling match, when we too will learn to trust in His love for us individually, and to trust Him forever.

He is wrestling with us today. That is why He left us all those apparently hard, harsh, seemingly callous sayings in His word. We are forced to do something with them. When we finally fall on His breast, it is because we have begun to see that all those threats are really warnings. The threats aren't final, if─if they have lodged in our minds. If they really bother us, His grace continues working with our hard hearts until He softens them. The day comes when we view that His threats are warnings─warnings being good; warnings meaning love. His callousness will be seen as toughness─and unrelenting, tough love is beautiful. It’s got to be tough to be enduring. And it’s only as we read the Bible, over and over, as it with life’s experiences washes our minds, that all which at first appeared to be rude and careless, begins to take the form of goodness and love in it all, through and through. This can only be the work of the Spirit of God.

Then it becomes apparent that the Lord God of the Old and New Testaments is so confident in His love for us, that He speaks His commands and His promises like a roaring lion. So He has the utmost confidence we will trust in Him. Only in full light of His continued justice can we truly trust and love Him, and only then do we fall before His great love and truly worship Him for His graciousness and kindness toward us.

I can never expect to talk anyone into the conviction of God’s love. Only He can do that as that person investigates God’s word for himself. But I can say that God can’t convince of His love if we will not go to the Bible and wrestle with God and with the rock-hard, tough-as-nails things He has said. What will it be, O searcher for truth? “We will not have this Man reign over us?” (Lk. 19:14). Or “I will not let You go until You bless me?” (Gen. 32:26). Eternity teeters for everyone on this very point.

If we will wrestle as long as it takes, the promise is that the daylight will one day break upon the heart and the night will give way to dawn, and we will be given a new name, “Israel” which means “he who struggles with God.” The victory is only for those who will wrestle, and the indolent are slowly ground to powder by the heavy weight of the law.

Fall on the Stone and be broken, or the Stone will fall on you and grind you to powder.
The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Remembering Religious Liberty

“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matt. 20:25-28.

Today we remember Religious Liberty and we will look at some current issues concerning freedom of religion. I want to familiarize everyone with the issues of church and state and why they are important to us. Now maybe somebody’s wondering what does that have to do with talking about God? Didn’t we come here to talk about Jesus? And, anyway, don’t we live in a country that guarantees religious freedom already? So what’s the issue?

I will begin by asking a question that is growing louder which many people are talking about lately and it’s in the newspapers and magazines. That is the subject of America as a Christian nation. Do we have a Christian government? Are the principles of our Constitution Bible-based, and have deep Christian cultural roots?

On the surface its appears that we do live in a Christian country. But in reality, we live in a mixing bowl of many religions, as well as many cultures, skin colors, and have many roots. Our Constitution doesn’t allow itself to be called Christian. This is what has made America the powerful nation it is today. Where else in the world can people dwell together in relative peace, without ethnic or religious cleansing, without religious bigotry, suspicion and prejudice, internal strife and civil wars, crippling the unity and solidarity.

Most of the wars fought throughout history have been caused by differences of religion. But our civil Constitution has helped us have a stable society which also created a healthy and vibrant economy. America is not perfect, we all know that. But our Constitution has done much to glue us together and put us on top of the world, as well as lead other nations to follow our example. This has been in a large part due to our Constitution’s guaranteed freedom of religion. Liberty of conscience has been found to hold the key to peace and prosperity. Freedom has proven to fight the war on dictatorship, tyranny, and corruption.

But some people want to believe we have a Christian nation. If you think we live in a Christian nation, then it becomes necessary to define Christian?

Is your definition of Christian the same as the Pentacostal or Episcopalian man down the street? I believe it isn't Christ-like for a preacher to scream from the pulpit. I believe Christ gently but forcefully spoke the Word, and that had power to convict and put the devils on the run. One religion might believe screaming at the congregation is necessary to get through to believers or sinners. I believe it is possible to undo the force of the Word just by this wrong presentation of it. Yet, I believe differently than the Episcopalian man in that worship to God must be more than liturgical readings, or else the Spirit of Truth becomes bound down and unable to convert the soul.

I believe a christian God is just but merciful in punishing the lost in the end and then being done with it. Much of Christendom in America believes God will burn the lost forever and ever. Thus they will never really die, but have eternal life, an eternal life of torture in the grip of an offended and vengeful God.

So these are a few differences in the definition of “Christian” and there are many, many more.

Isn’t the definition of Christian to take up the cross and follow Christ, to be Christ-like? How good have we been at doing that throughout American history, if we call ourselves Christian? Christ spent His days ministering and serving others, laying down His life for His neighbors, loving His neighbors as Himself. The apostolic church did the same. Is that what we see around us or in our American history books? We do see religion and churches. We see some good influence from the Spirit of God, but mostly we also see oppression and intolerance, prejudice and discrimination, slavery and neglect, from non-believers and believers alike.

We see Sabbath-breaking─even when the truth has been plainly set before the nation’s religious leadership. One great evangelist who has been considered America’s voice of conscience has said that the 7th day is the true Bible Sabbath but he would lose his following if he admitted to it.

(And by the way, one day we will be asked to explain why we keep the 7th day Sabbath holy. Are we keeping the Sabbath according to the scriptures? What will be our witness? The Bible Sabbath, according to Isaiah 58, is a day to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo (somebody else’s) heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke─in short, we find rest by helping someone else experience rest from their burdens. Will our profession condemn us? Will the world see us keeping the Sabbath holy? Or will they see us keep it worse than those that keep Sunday: a day for us to just come and sit in church and then go home again, eat lunch, and kick back? When that leading evangelist looks at our Sabbath-keeping, is it any wonder he finds it difficult to join with us?

Folks, Sabbath-keeping and obedience to all God’s commandments is soon to become a real big issue. Just being religious is not going to be the testing issue─because soon everybody will be religious. They may not really believe in God, but they will be brought under duress to act the part; they will go through the “Christian” motions in order to keep their businesses or jobs or houses or friends. The real test will be the righteousness of faith, loving to obey the truth, obedience which comes out of a relationship with Jesus.)

Do we see Christ’s example among religious America? No, our history even to present day is littered with a less than stellar obedience to God and is full of hypocrisy.

Many church leaders and congregations look at the moral landscape of our country and see atheism and materialism deeply entrenched. Televangelists don’t seem to be making much progress. People aren’t coming to church to hear a good sermon. The moral fabric of America just seems to be getting worse and worse and there is nothing they can do to stop it. The churches are powerless to hold back the tide of evil taking over this nation. They want to take back America for God. They want to remove all the anti-God influences tearing at our families.

But there are groups out there who must be confident enough about their Christian track record that they feel their way of life should be the standard for all Americans. I spoke to my agnostic, atheist, anti-religion sister about this. She said, “I’m all for it, if that’s what it takes to clean things up!” That says to me that there are many “moral” people outside the churches as well as inside that agree with the churches dominating civil laws.

The Religious Right believe that this society is going down hill due to our disobedience to their brand of religion or their understanding of the Bible. And they would like the United States government to make its citizens obey God as the religious extremists understand Him.

At this very moment they are scheming of a way to keep the government structure in tact─the Presidency, and Congress, and the Supreme Court─but make the Ten Commandments a part of the law of the land and require everyone to go to church on the Sabbath day. Does that sound OK?

Which day will be the Sabbath of their choosing? The 7th day or the Sun-day? Can you say, “Good-bye, 7th day Sabbath” and, “Hello, Venerable day of the Sun?” The Lord knows that we are better off letting everyone choose their day. Since His enemy owns the affairs of this world, the Lord knows His 7th day Sabbath would be completely banished from the earth if a day of worship were enacted into a law of the land.

Are you so sure you want to live in a Christian country with a Christian government?

What if the denominations become influential to our government, and push Congress and the President and the Supreme Court into forcing everyone in America to worship on their day of worship, Sunday? Should you obey? The only reason this didn’t happened a long time ago is because the United States Constitution forbade it, even though every state that has ever organized has always included a law in its statutes requiring Sunday sabbath-keeping. Only rarely have these Sunday laws been enforced, but they are on the books of every state.

To be concerned about this may seem trifling, but it wouldn’t take nearly as much effort to bring life into an existing statute as it would to get a new one brought through all the standard procedures for law-making and have a national Sunday law ratified. And especially these days, with the President having the Home Land Security power of the Decree during a national emergency. In light of Revelation 13 and the soon coming reinstatement of the Papacy, this time in America, these state Sunday laws are very menacing.

Does a national Sunday law seem too far-fetched in today’s modern atheistic technological world? Remember how quickly 9/11 got everyone praying, at least for a couple of weeks? We still see “God Bless America” signs everywhere because of 9/11. And all it would take to really motivate people to push to clean up America’s religio-social ills using Sunday laws, is a major crisis─terrorism, nuclear threat or incident, a series of natural disasters in the United States, economic collapse, et cetera, and people would start shuddering and praying and singing “God Bless America” again. A federally mandated Sunday law will be devised.

The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution states (and follow carefully because, if you love religious liberty, you might have to repeat this one day in some courtroom of our fair land):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This amendment has kept peace for all these 200+ years, and if it were removed, altered, revised, or amended again in any way, we could expect all of America’s peace and freedoms to be removed also. The 1st amendment says that our secular government is neither antagonistic toward religion, nor friendly. The government is to be completely benign and non-interfering with the church and its affairs. But this also assumes that the church will be non-interfering in governmental affairs.

Self-government is at the core of the 1st amendment. You are free to worship as you choose or to not worship at all. I can’t make you think differently than you choose for yourself. The church has no power to make you believe differently than you desire based on your study of God’s Word; you may join together with like-minded folk (as God inspires you). Neither can the government of America, a state law, or the local city statutes of your home town. Isn’t that a nice freedom? No one is harassing you for coming together to fellowship on such an odd day as Saturday or whatever day you choose.

You may be labeled weird or your religion may be accosted as a cult, but no one is stopping you from coming together to thank the only true God and to learn of Him! Adventists in many countries don’t have this freedom.

Our God has granted us the protection to worship freely according to the dictates of our conscience! And how has the Lord done this? He has providentially given us a civil government and civil laws, rather than a Christian government with Christian laws. We have a civil constitution made by God’s providence which is the wonder and envy of the world.

Another wonderful thing is that all those people who misunderstand the 4th commandment can worship on Sunday and we don’t have to harass them! And the Wickans and Occultists and Spiritualists and members of the Church of Satan can do their ceremonies as they please and we don’t have to harass them either!

Is it a civil right for the Wickans to practice their pagan “religion” in your neighborhood? Yes! Does God like Wickans to practice their so-called “good” spells and “white” magic? Does He like them to worship nature and disregard Him as the Creator of all nature?

No, no of course He does not! So why can’t we run them out of town?! Why can’t we make a law to prevent them from infecting our children with Harry Potter-like sorcery that has become so popular these days?

Because we live in a civil society with civil laws and a civil government. Those civil laws only protect us against physical harm or physical loss of property or civil rights. Civil laws can’t protect against spiritual harm or loss or spiritual rights. How can the police or judges control or protect anyone’s conscience against spiritual enemies? They can’t.

We don’t even have moral laws to make our society moral. Because once again, morality issues from a heart converted to God and to His moral Law through the work of the Holy Spirit. No magistrate can read the heart. Therefore the heart and conscience is off limits to man who has no ability to discern its intents and desires and thoughts. Morality and spirituality are the jurisdiction of God alone. When it comes to the service of the heart, no man can interfere. If someone tries, our motto should be, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” ( Acts 5:29).

But then how can we stop the spread of Wicka, this extremely popular form of spiritualism? “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Jn. 1:17, 12 ─If the church were half as spiritual as she claims to be, Wicka and immorality of all brands would be on the run! Truth and love will always win the war on error and deception. There is nothing better than the truth as it is in Jesus. Laws will never remove Wicka. Are we ready to give truth and love? That puts the onus on us, doesn’t it? But its a burden that is light, if Jesus is there with us.

Love and faith are not for the state to legislate, to judge, or to enforce. In the Bible, the priesthood was always separate from the government of kings and leaders.

After a wonderful career of serving God, King Uzziah tried to do the work of the High Priest by offering incense to the Lord. Was that so bad? The Lord likes incense! But the Lord immediately struck the king with leprosy. Uzziah ran from the temple and lost his throne also. Being king wasn’t enough power and privilege. He wanted to have it all─he wanted the priesthood also. This wasn’t unique for a king in those days. All the surrounding nations had kings who were also the supreme religious leader, Pontifex Maximus (in the Roman Empire). He wanted to be just like them. He looked at them and felt limited and confined and discriminated against. He wasn’t content with and thankful for the blessings God had given him. Does this sound like the same irritating position Lucifer found himself, in charge of the armies of the angelic hosts, but forbidden from the councils of the Godhead?

In like manner but from the opposite direction, Gehazi, the prophet-in-training to replace Elisha, decided to partake of the goodies of this world’s powerful leaders. He was struck with worse leprosy than King Uzziah.

“Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zech 6:13. Christ alone, and no mere man, not even His so-called Vicar, can be trusted to hold the keys to both church and state.

So no nation or government can unite religion and secular power and do so without using it for personal gain. The moment religion, no matter how pure its roots, no matter how sincere its intentions, is united with the state, it becomes corrupted beyond all recognition by contact with secular power, and any government daring to touch anything holy will be under God’s frown. The union of church and state provides absolute power over body and soul, and like the Papacy of the Dark Ages, absolute power corrupts and controls absolutely.

Pure religion doesn’t need political power. Its helper is God and God alone. And Christ likes to work alone, apart from man’s efforts, because He is jealous for His Father’s name, to declare His Father’s righteousness, “to declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness.” (Rom. 3:26.) He doesn’t need our help. “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you.” It’s all Him. He announces to all flesh in all their self-appointed greatness, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?” “Cursed is the man that trusteth in man; whose heart departeth from the Lord.” Is.43:11, 12; 2:22; Jer. 17:6.

How will God fix up the wickedness in this and every other country? “Not by force, nor by [political] power; but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6. The power of love and righteousness can turn this world upside-down and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (Acts 17:6; Matt. 16:18). But here is where the church has failed. We, not the government, are to blame for the condition of society. Faith could have moved many mountains.

When will we heed the counsel of God? “Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil...Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, and the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them....Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people.” Joel 2:12-18.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, and intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1Tim. 2: 1-4.

We should pray for our President, our Congress, and our Supreme Court, that they will devise just laws, to give us a little more time to get right with God, and then help others get right with Him. But we need to pray mostly for ourselves and the church’s horrible track record of disobedience and unfaithful to her commisson. And the pushing of the government by the churches to unite their influences is a big sign that His coming is sooner than most people think. “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up our heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” Lk. 21:28.

One day all our freedoms will go away. Are you making good use of the little remaining time and getting hooked up with Jesus, the Friend of publicans and sinners, from the highest to the lowest?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To Be or Not to Be Alone

Do you ever feel you are left to fight alone? Does it seem like God stands off at a distance, watching us struggle but with a hands off policy? Like Jesus said to Mary, “Don’t touch Me because I haven’t ascended to My Father?” If God isn’t helping me fight the good fight of faith, it’s not a “good” fight. It’s just another bad fight.

Many have come to conclude that strife is not necessary. They have grown exhausted with striving with their sin and some have all but given up the fight, many completely. They haven’t left the fold, but have moved back into the dark shadows of doubt and disillusionment. “Where was God when I needed Him?” I hear them say, and I’ve said it myself. They have been fighting the wrong fight. Rather than admit to failure and then fall at His feet in helplessness, they have insisted on fighting the fight of sin, which Jesus has promised to fight for us. In our helplessness is where we pick up the fight of faith, the effort of getting and staying with Jesus, which gives Him the green light to fight the fight of sin in us. Just for that purpose, He left His written Word for our study and meditation, to get to know Him. It is His authorized method for winning the fight.

But back to fighting alone…

Even though the work of getting to know Jesus is the “good” fight of faith, if I believe I’m fighting alone, if I don’t know Christ is pulling for me, it’s a bad fight. The mother looks into the face of her helpless babe and loves her little one. There are many lessons for it to learn, and she is ready to take on the challenge. Love makes her more that up to the task at hand. The gift of love from God prepares her to be the preeminent child psychologist, the best that ever was for that child. She deals with the immerging personality, a bundle of curiosity combined with stubborn self-will, as she patiently and lovingly gives of hers and takes of the infant’s persistence. She chooses her battles so that she can win the war.

Unbeknown to the infant’s blob of a brain, mother is its intercessor; nothing but love will be in all the training. Justice, at times? Yes! Mercy at times? Showered! If ever it’s a toss-up between justice and mercy, her agape love always sides with mercy. And so goes the home school. That mother knows she has only a limited period of time to prepare her baby’s trust and love and intellectual faculties so that she may one day hesitatingly hand the child over to life with all its scary unknowns. As long as life lasts, it will always be her baby. Till death parts them, she would die for her young. Even in the prime of its life, the child is always one generation behind her in the lessons passed on through her from the great Master Teacher. The mother knows there is no end of training until she finally says, “I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. We will meet again at His appearing.” And by faith she looks for her lessons to continue to mold, even after death.

So she trains the little person up in the way it should go. The smile on her face becomes impressed deeply on the memory banks, so that ever afterward it discerns her joy on every face and tree and flower, even in troubles and distresses. The person of that mother is branded on the personality of her little munchken.

Unbeknown to our natural senses our heavenly Intercessor broods over us; He has promised to, He has made an oath. “Can the mother forget her nursing child that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget you.” With utmost intensity of interest He is bent at His work, maneuvering events and timing arrows of conviction, all within the pale of the rules of freedom of conscience. Our freedom to choose He will never trespass, even if that leaves Him powerless to save us. But if we are willing and looking to Him for help, we have an ever-present Companion. He dispatches His messengers and with a flash of lightning they do His orders for our sake, to help bring us into a closer union with Christ than they can even know. All we need do is ask, and help is immediately on the way. It may not be the help we asked for, but it is the help we need. He sends the Comforter to meet our deepest need for fellowship when heaven seems so far away. The Spirit strives with self, and self strives with the Spirit. Wonderful thought─that we do not strive alone! And in the end, Christ will have us safely in His arms, surrendered to Him, with all the attendant joy and peace.

The fight is over, He has won the war, we never again to doubt or fear. We are fully His and His forevermore. He brought us all the way. And rightly so, He gets all the praise.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Lord Our Righteousness

I had to punish Pingo. He growled and snapped at me, and so he needed to learn that I am the master. So I kept him outside last night until 9:30 p.m., instead of letting him inside as soon as he scratches the back door to come in, like we usually do. He whimpered and scratched, whimpered and scratched, but I couldn’t give in. Then I finally let him inside and he was all up tight. I took him straight in to get a bath, even though he hates baths. He didn’t want to sleep right next to me. He didn’t like me anymore, at least that was the look on his face. I beckoned and called for him to take his place next to me, but he refused and stayed on the bed at my feet. But I woke up this morning, and there he was again, curled up at my back. So I guess I didn’t overdo the punishment. We went out for a run and my thoughts led me to remembering a book called, The Man Who Listens to Horses.

It’s a fascinating story about how Monty Roberts learned to train horses by using the horses’ own tactics of discipline. He had watched his father train horses by breaking their spirit. That included all kinds of abuse. Monty didn’t want to do it that way, partly because his father was abusive to him and to his mother also. So Monty would bring an unbroken horse into a 50 foot diameter corral, and get the horse running. He would only scare it enough to make it try to run away, which it couldn’t do because of the corral. He would keep the horse nervous just by looking it in the eye, a message in horses’ minds that they are under threat. After forcing the horse in opposite directions of travel around the ring several times, and once he saw that the horse begin to slow down a little, he would bring his stare back to the horse’s shoulder, then to its back, then its tail, then to the ground. By then the horse would stop running. Then Monty would turn away and wait. The horse would see this as a sign of trust and superiority, and the horse would come up from behind and put it’s chin on his shoulder. This method had 100% success. There was not a horse too wild or strong-willed to break this kind of training. And instead of days of fury, hatred, torture and enslavement, Monty could break a horse in 45 minutes to an hour and the horses would love him afterwards.

In our training for adoption into God’s kingdom to come, the earnest of which we have now in this life, does Jesus use the methods Monty’s father used; tying the horse to a post for days, beating the animal, yelling and cursing it, starving it into submission? Is that the God of heaven or the god of hell? For of Lucifer, as beautiful as his name sounds, he is accused that he “smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger,” (Is. 14:6) and takes his captives against their will (2Tim. 2:26), and is the “accuser of our brethren.” (Rev. 12:10).

Jesus, on the other hand, is trying to teach us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jer. 31:3. “I drew them with the cords of a man, with the bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.” Hos. 11:4. David sang that it was God’s gentleness that made him great. (Ps. 18:35) And submission to His strength and gentleness taught Jacob to say, “I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure.” Gen. 33:14.

In Jesus’ discipline, will He torture us, chain us to His desires, force us to confess Him as Lord and Master? Does He punish unremittingly until His revenge is satiated? And when this experiment of sin is all over, will He doom the lost to an eternity of flaming lava? Or, today just in order to approach Him for acceptance, does He require a self-generated repentance before we can even come to Him? Are these the characteristics of a God of love? No, they are not. Do we need to be broken? Yes, sin needs to be removed from us. But God will do it in a way that leaves us loving Him for it. For He was able to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He delivered us from ourselves.

But what about all the strong language of the Bible? “Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness... all that were numbered of you,… which have murmured against Me.” “‘I the Lord have said, I will surely do unto this evil generation, that are gathered against Me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’ ...And the men… which did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord.” Num. 14:29, 35-37. Jesus told His listeners on the very Mount of Blessing, “If ye then being evil...!” Matt. 7:11. Was He being careless with them? What kept them from getting offended? When the people murmured at Christ because He wouldn’t be their Israeli king, He asked, “Doth this offend you?” And then He used even stronger language that purposely tested their loyalty to Him and was the very cause that led them to reject Him. As they ratcheted up their reasons to gripe and complain, He ratcheted up stronger and stronger language. (John 6) Did He hate them? God forbid.

But, why must He test them so strongly, if He is the God of love? And if He put them to such a difficult test which they faile, why advertise it, why write it down in perpetual historical documents, all through His Book? Isn’t He afraid we may never learn to trust Him? Doesn’t He know how our thinkers and our tickers work? Does He even know what love is? (Like Paul would say, I am speaking like a foolish man.)

Love isn’t love unless it simultaneously stands for two things─mercy and justice. And trust isn’t trust unless it accepts all that God has to offer. If mercy is all we allowed Him to show, we would quickly trample all over it and Him. If justice is only what He is allowed, no one would ever trust in Him. The devil loves to separate these two pillars that God has joined together. Satan loves to lead people to view God as only judgmental, especially when tragedy or disaster strike. Then when they ask themselves what they did wrong the devils lead them to fantasize of a God who will only be nice and easy on us. In these wild swings from one erroneous extreme to the other, we eventually get so worn down that we either throw the whole business of faith and religion out the window, or a bipolar religion grinds on us until the end of our three score years and ten, when we finally collapse into the grave, never having known peace and rest and true joy.
The beautiful veil at the entrance to the earthly tabernacle and also that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy where God’s visible presence dwelt, were made of fine twined purple linen. (Ex.36:35, 37). The vertical threads were of blue, and the horizontal threads were of scarlet, or vice versa. Blue is the color for royalty, justice, and law. Scarlet is the color for mercy, tenderness, kindness. The two colors were blended perfectly into one homogeneous purple fabric. No better example gives us the character of God’s love, not just to this sin-filled world, but to all His unfallen creation. We, however, are the only ones that have a problem with the justice and mercy blend. We can’t trust Him to administer the justice properly. So we invent a god who doesn’t have high expectations of us or will go easy on us, Mr. Nice Guy or Mrs. Nice Guy. He or she will overlook and pardon everything we do, however self-sufficient and proud, however without contrition we are.

But the only true God describes Himself, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me: and shewing mercy unto thousands of [generations of] them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Ex.34:6, 7; 20:5, 6; Jn. 14:15. He blends mercy and justice together so infinitely without flaw, that we can truly trust in Him, in fact, accepting Him with His justice is the only way we can really trust in Him.

When we know the extent of His unchangeable mercy, we will trust Him in His justice. His justice is never executed without kindness woven through and through. And His mercy will never be dispensed without righteousness woven through and through it too. True love is not a sentiment or emotion, it’s a principle, a statute. It’s not effected by whim or mood or the depth of our sin; it is constant, and has the immutability and perpetuity of law! Nothing else can so bring soundness to the mind, and settle the rebellious heart into His truth. Thus, when He gave us the Ten Commandments, the “perfect Law of liberty,” “the Law of Love” ( Ja. 1:25; Rom. 13:10), He taught us that love is such an unchangeable principle in His character that He put it in stone.

So when we’ve been bad, we never have to wait for Jesus to “cool off.” Don’t we know? He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever! “I am the Lord, I change not.” Mal. 3:6. His mercy endureth forever. And so do His formidable and precious spankings! (Heb. 12:5-9) His acceptance will be ready and waiting, and so will consequences of our faults and failures! But we can trust Him never to give us more than we can take. Those consequences will be filtered through Jesus’ protection of us. If we were to receive all the justice that we deserve, we would cease to exist. Instead, God lays on His Son the real punishment. To us Jesus says, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.” Rom. 15:3. Jesus bears the real horror, pain, and offense that His Father has gone through since sin began. We have an Intercessor, God has found in His Son a ransom.

But when we are as hard-core as the Israelite slaves in the wilderness or the self-proclaimed people of God in Christ’s day, He doesn’t give up on us, but He will be hard-core too; all in the effort to save us. If we will be stubbornly self-willed, He will make sure we know that His stubborn determination will always outdo ours. Christ must maintain His Father’s kingdom. He must communicate His Father’s tortured soul. It’s only right. We’re not the only ones suffering from the results of sin. It’s only fair that we suffer too in order to know about what the Father has gone through. Christ’s determination to uphold His Father’s honor in a world Satan claims as his own, is demonstrated by His declaration, “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Num. 14:21. The zeal for His Father’s kingdom hath eaten Him up. (Jn. 2:17) He will bring this world out of sin, even if Satan leads insulent and ignorant people to tempt Him to overthrow them. Jesus said it right, we don’t know what we are doing. (Lk. 23:34) So He safeguards His mercy for us, but executes justice as long as we ask for it. He concludes us all in ignorant unbelief, that He might have mercy on all. (Rom. 11:32) But, no sooner do we back off, that He does the same. When bent over with guilt and sorrow, He bends over us and tenderly lifts us up. Christ’s law, His government, our suffering from consequences of sin, is our schoolmaster, to gather us to Himself to be reconciled again to Him and sanctified.

When kicking against the pricks has brought us enough pain, when we’ve wrestled long enough with God and we have come to appreciate Him for dispensing the spanking from heaven, then we will, with Jacob, fall on His breast and beg for His blessing. And that’s when we will be heard, and the transformation will begin.

So if we want to be an overcomer, if we want a new name that no one knows but the person who was willing to wrestle the Son, then Jesus will give us more than we think to ask for. He will give us plenteous mercy that has no end, but also give counsel and correction and needed warning after warning, the combination all of which are the real source of the peace and rest that  mankind has searched for in all their illusive fountains of youth. The fullness of the invitation of Christ’s “everlasting gospel” comes to us today, “Whosoever shall fall on This Stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever It shall fall, It will grind him to powder.”