“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, November 30, 2007

I am not come to destroy the Law

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-19).

“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law…. The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the Law, and make it honourable.” (Is. 42:1-4,21).

Maybe it sounds a bit legalistic to exalt the Law of God. But it is what Jesus did, and in reality, the Law of God is essential to our conversion to Christ. Without God’s Law, without His authority and judgments, the sinner would have no need for God and His mercy. And to the extent that many Protestants have thrown God’s Law out of the equation of conversion, whether doctrinally for some, or in spite of good doctrine, for others who support the perpetuity of God’s law only in theory but not in experience, they are walking deeper and deeper into the dim paths of lawlessness.

Do we seek the love of God? His love is bound up in righteousness, in duty, in action. Love is not a feeling; it is a principle, a responsibility. Not that it is cold and unfeeling; but feeling cannot be the basis of love.

Love finds it’s foundation in law. Feeling is fleeting and flighty. Real love is as permanent as a rock. My God’s love comes to us firm and constant. “Faithful is He that calleth you.” “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” (1Thess. 5:24;Rev. 19:11). True love finds its enduring, abiding nature in the medium with which God has given it, in the bosom of immutable Law.

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.

No one knows love like those who have submitted to the righteousness of God. A parent’s love, though fraught with discipline, is the deepest kind of love. A peer’s love may be very special, but the love flowing from a parent has a depth and promise that a peer can’t touch.

The fun-loving devil will come to us with a bundle of false promises. He will offer a life of irresponsible pleasure, and friendships built upon that lifestyle. But the love of God, His comfort and peace, founded upon law and responsibility, patience and tolerance, immitating the same grace which He continually showers upon us, always outshines the foolish actions, excited nervous system, and empty laughter that the joy-rides of life give.

Jesus came not to destroy God’s Law; not one dot of an “i” or crossing of a “t” would He authorize to be altered. Typical of His most emphatic way (“Verily I say unto you”) and referring to the cataclysmic events of the great day of His second coming, He proclaimed that heaven and earth would have to pass away before His Father’s Law would change in the slightest way. (Matt. 24:35).

“O how love I Thy Law!” was Jesus’ song, and it was His meditation all day, every day. (Ps. 119:97). “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy Law is within My heart.” (Ps. 40:8).

In His inaugural address on the mount of blessing, Christ assured the multitudes, from the careless rabble-rousers to the stern and proud religionists, that His kingdom would be one founded on law and righteousness. The angry Pharisees and priests might misrepresent Him when He accepted the repentant and humbled prostitutes and tax-collectors. The power-hungry zealots might be dreaming of the day when Jesus would help them overturn Roman law and order. He set everyone straight on what He deemed the proper foundation for government, even heavenly government—the holy Law of God.

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:4,5). Many read in this a temporary subjection of Christ under the Law. They interpret the statement that He redeemed those who were under the Law to mean that, at His death, He liberated them from reverent obedience to it. Thus they suppose they are free from the claims of the Law.

Yet, Paul also wrote, “Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law.” (Rom. 3:31). Far from setting aside God’s Law, the truly converted heart will yearn to obey Him, which is to keep His Law. Way beyond dead Pharisaical religion, true reconciliation to God and conversion result in the soul establishing God’s Law in the life. Repentance and God’s grace lead to obedience to not just the letter, but to the letter and the spirit of the Law.

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19,20).

The light of the world

“Ye are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14).

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (1Thess. 5:5).

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1Jn. 1:7).

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20).

“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt. 6:22,23).

Light. What is it? I mean in terms of spiritual things. And contrariwise, darkness, what is it?

“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Ps. 119:130).

Light in the mind is understanding. But what kind of understanding? Science? Grammar? Mathematics? Psychology? History? Any of the classical subjects? Today, they fill the mind of many people who are considered smart. Anyone who has studied these is thought to be a highly educated person.

Certainly, is it good to learn and study—if the subjects of interest glorify the God who created them all. Otherwise, we are ever learning, yet never able to come to the truth.

Truly, the greatest study is the works of God. In nature, in history throughout this great controversy between Christ and Satan, and in every other subject that exists, if righteousness and love are brought into the study we will find truth, and truth will lead us to God, the originator of knowledge and truth. True education is to study God as He has revealed Himself in everything around us. Only the true science will study creation in light of God. Every discipline must be in the context of Him. Otherwise, His adversary, the devil, quickly turns knowledge around and eclipses the eternal One. Thinking themselves to be wise, those who study knowledge apart from God become fools. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 53:1).

“In [Christ] was life; and the life was the light of men.” (Jn. 1:4).

More than simply intellectualism, real understanding is experiential. Mental ascent only goes so far. As far and broad as intellectual research can go, it is still very shallow. True greatness and wisdom come from knowing “the only true God, and Jesus Christ” whom He has sent. (Jn. 17:3). In God is the true sunken treasure.

Real light comes through life in the soul, and that life comes from learning of Him who has loved us from the days of eternity. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3).

Love is life. Trust is life. Jesus, our conqueror and confidant, will be our Master Teacher. There is no greater. All His lessons are packed with love and righteousness. As we stick with Christ, abiding in Him, our minds gradually accustom to His ways, and righteousness becomes more and more beautiful to us. As that happens, the world opens up to our prevue and understanding. We are reconciled to Jesus, and through Him to His Father, and then to His Father’s Law, our Father’s Law.

No more worry, no more bound up by preoccupations—God has accepted this sinner, He loves me. Being justified through faith, we have peace with God. Faith is the victory. In the calm that follows reconciliation to heaven, the mind is free from the bonds of Satan—free to discover, free to experience and to understand this world, free to see even beyond the veil of earthly things.

The Spirit of God brings efficiency to the new creature in Christ. The observation skills sharpen. The judgment develops. In the light of God’s presence, we grow as calves in a stall. Everything makes so much sense now, where before was only so much sorrow and confusion.

“If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:31,32,36).

And if our body is full of light, physically and mentally and spiritually, and runneth over, then that light will have to come out of us. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid, and neither can a Christian be. (Matt. 5:14).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Salt of the earth

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matt. 5:13).

Salt preserves. On the old ships of past centuries, the men often suffered from scurvy because their food at sea was often mostly meat, meat marinated in salt so that is would not decompose during their long, sea-going journeys.

Since salt has that preserving property, it accurately represents the influence that God’s people will have on everyone around them, friends and enemies alike. Grace, the love that seeketh not her own, will perfume the atmosphere surrounding those who know the grace of Christ. It’s a love that turns heads and hearts. It makes people amazed and glorify God, saying, “We never saw it on this fashion.” (Mk. 2:12).

But there are those who profess to represent Jesus, but do not have that love perfuming their presence. Even the simplest child can discern the reason. They don’t have that peace that passes all understanding. Maybe they had it once, but it has either quickly fled or slowly ebbed away. And with its passing, spiritual decay has come and persisted, to some for many decades.

So they trudge on in a round of church functions. Poor people! Many suffer greatly by their supposed godliness—decades of Christless, loveless religion! Many do no better in the fruits of the Spirit that are the natural outgrowth of that precious relationship with Jesus than the Pharisees of old. Many walk in darkness as did Mother Teresa for 50 years of “faithful” humanistic service. She died without a personal knowledge of heaven’s approval of her, not for all her work for the poor of India, but just because God loved her. She didn’t have the Bible; how could she know Jesus’ thoughts toward her, thoughts of peace and not of evil? Her organization will pay a heavy price in judgment for the pain they caused His precious daughter.

But that same organization is in many other places beside Roman Catholicism. It finds its way into every known religion and denomination, including my own. It is religion without Jesus and His love and grace and His law. Particularly evil is religion that professes His name, but conspicuously leaves Him out of the picture.

Thus those who don’t know Jesus and trust in Him are like salt that has lost its savor—its preserving power and its ability to give flavor. Is your personal religion tasteless? Does it make others spit at you or use some other more civil method to make you go away?

Maybe your salt has lost its savor.

Jesus told three parables in sequence: of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. The coin didn’t know enough to realize that it was lost. The sheep knew it was lost, but was dumbfounded as to how to get back to the shepherd. The lost son knew both that it was lost and how to go home. Yet they were all sought after and eventually found.

If we have lost what knowledge we had of God’s love, we can be assured that God is already working to restore that knowledge of bygone days. He anxiously waits for just the right moment when our guard is down to reveal Himself to us again, commissioning angels, working His providences, with His Holy Spirit doing It’s ever continuous work of reconciliation.

Yet there remains one thing upon which all the work of heaven hinges. We must act. We must admit to our irresponsibility toward such a precious pearl of great price, the loss of a grace we once owned, so generously given. We must muster all the energy of our soul and cast out that despised and cursed old imitation of personal religion. We must vomit that abominable and filthy self-sufficiency, and with perfect hatred hate that good-for-nothing religious pride, openly trampelling it under foot.

And that’s not all. Then we must go back to Him who gave the command to cast out the old, and find the thing that is better in Him in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and grace. If we search, we will find Him, if we do so with all our energy. It won’t be easy, but the rediscovery of His grace will be well worth the effort.

Out with the old! In with the new!

“And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’” (Lk. 5:39). Christ’s word, immediately, stands out. We may not experience immediate blessing from Jesus, but that is not because He doesn’t send the blessing. It’s our inability to comprehend His love that keeps us from trusting Him immediately and from receiving the grace He has sent through His chosen means. And, of course, without trusting Him we cannot have the peace we so much desire.

Nevertheless, let us throw out the old, tasteless, dead salt. Let us spew it out of our mouths! And go to Jesus for the fresh and brand new. And everyone around us will thank us for it, and they will thank the Lord also.

“He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 40:3).

“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” (Is. 60:3).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Blessed are they which are persecuted

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matt. 5:10-12).

When Jesus, the Prince of peace, said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,” what did He mean? (Matt. 10:34). He meant that there is a kind of peace which is a counterfeit for peace, and that He was determined to destroy it. “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jer. 6:14).

There never will be a true blessing to uplift this fallen world for which Satan doesn’t have his fraudulent copy. The devil’s emissaries artfully appear as peacemakers, but in reality they are subtle peace destroyers. Christ is not ignorant of His adversary’s devices and He unsheathes His sword of truth. Thus this world is often thrown into strife and bloodshed as the Author of peace battles to expose the imposture and as His self-imposed vicar works furiously to destroy those whom Christ sends, in the battle for the freedom of our consciences.

The Son of God will not rest until His Father and the truth are cleared of all confusion and misrepresentation, and are correctly understood. When all enemies are put under Christ’s feet, then peace can reign again. This battle wages over every individual who seeks after God. As everyone who comes to God becomes His emissaries for righteousness, so the devil commands his own vast army. Many obey Satan’s dictates out of partial ignorance, being his unsuspecting dupes to harass God’s people. But there are others who have given themselves into his service who act as his agents to inspire hatred and contention in others.

“My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.” (Ps. 120:6,7). And so it has been through the millennia.

Being under Satan’s control, their bitterness inspires the worst passions toward Christ’s workers. It’s been that way from the very beginning. Directed to the serpent in the garden, the Son of God said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” (Gen. 3:15). There would ever be an animosity between the two camps, the one loving their enemies, the other hating and destroying theirs.

It was this issue of implacability that drew so hotly the wrath of the Son of God toward the children of Israel after they had left Egypt. “All the congregation bade stone them [Joshua and Caleb] with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke Me? and how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.” And after Moses had changed Christ’s mind toward the people, “The Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. …

“Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness…” (Num. 22:10-37). One of the things God hates the most is the stubborn rebellion expressed in hatefulness, which demeans and discredits others. Lack of faith in Christ inevitably results in bitter dissatisfaction and in destroying the reputation and influence of those who are appreciating the abundant love and blessing with which the Lord surrounds His creatures.

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Prov. 6:16-19).

It’s the spirit of the accuser that infects these soldiers of Satan. “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.... But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.” (2Pet. 2:10-13).

They pose as ministers of light and peace when they join the work of the Lord. But they are really ministers of sin which they have not repented of and renounced. Thus, whether they know it or not, they do Satan’s bidding.

Under the deceiver’s delusion that their cause is of God, “the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor Me.” (Jn. 16:2,3).

“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Tim. 3:12).

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb. 12:2,3).

Blessed are the peacemakers

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matt. 5:9).

All who have become acquainted with the Prince of peace will reflect His peace. It will become their united overture to bring to others the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding.” (Phil. 4:7).

The long struggle with God is over. God has won and we are finally at rest. No more fear, no more temper tantrums. Only trust in Him and confidence that He will never leave again. This spiritual blessing makes us a debtor to Him forever. We happily say with the apostle Paul, “I, ...the prisoner of Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 3:1).

Looking unto Jesus, there is no more strife with anyone. Like Jesus, we increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” as we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Lk. 2:52;2Pet. 3:18). Man is no longer the enemy; the real enemies are the rulers of darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” and we can now “live peaceably with all men,” “without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Rom. 5:1;12:18;Heb. 12: 14).

“For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:16-18).

Those who have known repentance and peace with God, honestly and truly, work endlessly and untiringly for the advancement of God’s kingdom of peace on earth. They are His agents for good in the world, not seeking any reward in this life from those whom they serve. Their reward from God is enough, the gift of grace and His love brightly shining in their hearts. They are children of the heavenly King and many will see it and fear, recognizing peacemakers to be the true children of God.