TruthInvestigate

“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.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jesus is coming

When I speak to people of the Lord’s promise to destroy this Earth, they think I am trying to stir up trouble. I’m just a dooms-dayer. I have a dysfunction. I am depressed or have some kind of psychological issue.

Why can’t I talk only about love or peace? Why not only deal with present issues, like poverty and disease and generally making people’s life better? Why try to depress them with my crazy notions? Why be so negative?

But is it really being negative to say that this old worn-out world needs to go away, and a better one needs to replace it? Is it a chip on my shoulder that makes me looks forward to something better than this world, still as beautiful as it is, a world which has been corrupted and polluted by man’s sinfulness? Isn’t it love that desires something better for everyone living on this planet?

Yes, everyone can live on the new Earth! There’s going to be plenty of room for everyone! And I want everybody to be there! But, sadly, not everyone will want to live on an Earth made new. They will not be able to smoke, drink, and experience all the pollutants that intoxicate their minds and bodies and help them forget their miseries, but cause them so much disease and greater suffering. They won’t be able to sit around idly being entertained all the time. There won’t be any more slavery, no more luxurious lifestyles built upon the servitude and ownership of other humans who are made in the image of God. There will be no more, “I have my rights!” “I am entitled to this or that!” “I deserve the good life!” “I deserve the best!” We won’t have access to temptations that form such a comfort and confidence to Earth’s teeming multitudes. So, many billions won’t want the new Earth; it would be perfect torture to them. They would long to be free of its pure atmosphere. The very depths of their soul would crave to get away from the presence of a God of law and love and perfect order.

Self-sacrificing love would be a continual torment. Satanic hosts would be no more, and sinners would have no one to whisper into their consciences the sentiments with which they had so long been in agreement. Their tastes and thoughts ran in the groove that the devil had helped them cultivate. They had never struggled to overcome self and sin and the tempter. Rebellion and pride were never up-rooted by divinely inspired human effort. They had never known co-operation with heaven’s agencies. To them Jesus will say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

So just as is indicated in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, a rough, craggy stone, as if broken off the side of a mountain, and which came tumbling from space and hit the apparently strong statue of metals, but which was really very fragile; as the heavenly meteor shattered the totem pole of world empires into, as it were, billions of tiny shards of glass, so Jesus will return with His Father’s rugged but simple kingdom, and condescend to set up His throne on this tiny dot of a planet.

And when the tremendous energy of the God’s throne, where suns and galaxies are made, approaches and draws within light-hours of Earth, the magnetic and cosmic wind influences of the divine presence will begin to upset our planet’s balanced nature. And as the great power of the King of kings and Lord of lords breaks our atmosphere, unfathomable destruction will wreck this place. I’m not speaking as a terrorist, I’m speaking of the well-foretold Judgment Day. The elements melt with fervent heat; tectonic plates on the verge of slipping let loose their potential energy, creating worldwide earthquakes. Volcanoes blow their tops; hurricanes and intense tornadoes whip up; gigantic tsunamis decimate the population centers far inland of all the coasts; mighty rivers and waterways flow backward. Satan and his hosts tremble for their existence. The destitute human rebels flee in complete witless and stark terror. Satellites and jets and ballistic missiles fall from the sky like dead gnats, joining with the billions of asteroids that preceded the approach of God’s kingdom, and adding to the overall destruction on the ground. All the reinforced concrete structures and bunkers man has made crumble like powder and blow away. The kingdom of the world that man thought to be so permanent is instantly dashed to the ground.

Mercy and grace will have been poured upon a race wretched in all respects, a race boastfully wicked. But they have spurned the love of God. They cared not for His government or His law of righteousness and love. They have disqualified themselves from its glories. They have vindicated the judgment of God against them.

He collects all those, both the dead and the living, who faithfully served and suffered for His sake, and then leaves Satan’s kingdom in utter confusion. “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger.” (Jer. 4: 23-26).

If you are a Christian and believe the Bible, then you can believe this: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Pet. 3:9-12).

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Jesus’ Butter and Honey Diet

“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” (Is. 7: 14,15).
Verse 14 is familiar to most Christians; but they are not so familiar with verse fifteen.

Prophesying of Jesus, Isaiah said, “Butter and honey shall He eat.” Prophetic language is often figurative. But what is it speaking of? The context gives us clues. This butter and honey diet stands opposed to another diet of “briers and thorns.” (vs. 24). And His fabulous diet is also for those who follow Him. “For butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land,” who peacefully plow the ground; but the men “with arrows and with bows” only, would unhappily find that, for them, “all the land shall become briers and thorns.”

This is better understood when laid next to another reference from Isaiah. “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first He lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” (Is. 9:1-6).

The above text was later given by Matthew as a prophetic reference to Jesus the Messiah. “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” (Matt. 4:14-16).

But Isaiah says more than Matthew quoted. He speaks of the joy that the followers of Christ would experience. All around would be anger and violence, but not for Jesus’ disciples. “They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest” because the love of Christ had “broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.”

This the disciples of Christ experienced so much so that when the complaint arose that they didn’t fast like everyone else, Christ defended them by saying that the popular act of fasting would be impossible for them. A true fast is a God-given method for putting self-indulgence on hold, paving the way for the Holy Spirit to gain the advantage over Satan; but it had turned into a human endeavor to overcome the power of Satan alone without God’s help. Christ knew the futility of this and steered His disciples away it to a better and successful method of overcoming the devil—a friendship with the Anointed One, a union with Him who had the communion of the Holy Spirit without measure. Once their hearts were fully linked up with Him, Jesus re-introduced fasting to His little family of disciples, but fasting for the right purpose.

To fast according to the accepted method of a corrupted Hebrew religion, utilized by the Pharisees, was to separate from Christ, which was Satan’s goal in incensing the religious leaders against Jesus’ disciples. The ascetic life Satan has so often used for his advantage, grinding the hatefulness and vengefulness of Rome into everyone trying to free themselves of the grip he has on their heart. Fasting is only good if we use it to get back to Jesus, so that He can fight the battles with the arch-adversary for us.

Isaiah spoke of the Assyrian. “…Butter and honey shall He [Christ] eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest [the holy land] shall be forsaken of both her kings. The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.” (Is. 7:15-19).

This king represented more than just the rising power of Assyria. The prophecy spoke of Satan, “the prince of the power of the air,” “the god of this world,” and of his strategy of moving the world toward great, organized governments and the resultant centralization of power, wealth, and corruption—a whole series of empires that would dominate Israel until Christ would be born: Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome—which the prophet lumped all together into one long time period of overall world dominion. This was to indicate the dark bitterness, the vanity and vexation of spirit, that the Spirit of Prophecy told Isaiah would overtake this world because of sin. And Israel’s refusal to come under God’s sanctifying power would be the prime cause of the demise for the rest of humanity, because God could only bless the world with peace through sanctification, and that through Israel’s beautiful laws of love and righteousness.

So by the time Messiah, the Holy One, would arrive to consummate the plan of redemption, the effect of pagan empires would leave a bitter hell-hold on humanity. Violence would be the only way of life, even in religion, pagan and Jewish. There would be no escaping the painful fruits of disobedience to the Holy Spirit of God’s love. “And they [the Jews] shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.” (Is. 8: 22). Israel thought they could partake of the spirit of the surrounding nations with impunity; but that was only day-dreaming. The long, inescapable nightmare would soon be upon them.

Thorns and thistles would run rampant, which are so painful to kick against (Acts 9:5); that “root of bitterness springing up” due to losing “the grace of God” (Heb. 12:15), the painful fruits of rebellion which cause the knowledge of grace and love to dry up and blow away.

But such was not the case with Jesus. Rather than thorns and thistles, “butter and honey” would be His constant diet—the oil of God’s acceptance and the knowledge of the love imbedded in all of His Father’s Law and His judgments and statutes. “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps. 19:7-10).

“Enlightened” from the dawning of His child-like intelligence, and “having tasted of the heavenly gift,” “being made partaker of the Holy Ghost,” and having “tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,” Jesus blossomed beneath the sunshine of His Father’s love. (Heb. 6:4,5). Never once did rebellion rise in His heart at any of His Father’s requirements; never once did He fall under temptation and lose the perfect peace of His Father’s approbation; never did He imbibe the grinding influence of the devil, and receive of the wrath of God.

We see the faithfulness of so many Bible heroes: Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Paul, etc. But none of them, even Abraham and Paul who launched the first and second dispensations of God’s grace, knew the deep surrender Christ had to God. None of them, even Samuel in his early age of three, knew the communion that, even as a child, Jesus the Son of God, had with His Father—that “butter and honey”—from the day a virgin gave birth to Him, who as a zygote in Miriam was called “holy” (Lk. 1:35).

Jesus, the Holy One, stands infinitely taller than everyone crowding around Him, like Mt. Rainier, humbling all the mountains surrounding it. Abraham and Paul might look glorious compared to other great men, but not before God. Of Jesus it was prophesied, “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. 42:3,4,21).

Only of Jesus did the Father proclaim from heaven, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

God’s love

A letter to an acquaintance:

I know we don’t really know each other very well, but during the week of prayer someone asked prayer for you and I felt the need to encourage you if I could.

The last few times I’ve seen you, you seemed burdened down. I’ve been there, many times, too many times to count. So, I feel I am qualified to try to help. The whole world has been there, so in a spiritual sense everyone is made of one blood, we are all in this life of vanity and vexation of spirit together.

What the world needs to learn, and what we need to be reminded of constantly, is God’s love—His never-ending love. “Let these sayings sink down into your ears.” (Luke 9:44 ). More than any other attribute of God, He is love. And He can never change that disposition, never waver from that frame of mind toward all His human children and creation. God is love is written behind every promise and every warning. Even His threats come from a love that sees all the ramifications and causes of our world-wide ignorance of His love.

Sin is the transgression of the Law, is one definition in the Bible. The other is, Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The two are in perfect agreement, and both center around love. The second definition says, Love is what we all need. It’s what we all want, and what we all deserve. I deserve to be loved, you deserve to be loved. Similarly, the first definition says, I deserve to love you, it’s my obligation to love you, because I am loved. The definitions intimate that it’s my duty to love you and that it’s also my privilege.

Love is at the center of God and His government in heaven and earth. He has left no base uncovered. In every aspect of our thinking, He has made provision to guide us back to love.

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” (Isaiah 42:3). This isn’t just historic fact of a Messiah. It is an ever living promise of One who lives to make intercession for us. Interceding, protecting, loving us is His only purpose to exist. It’s the way He is and always will be. It’s the way He always treat us.

He delicately deals with our situation; He sees behind the symptoms and knows the cause. Sin has robbed us of the natural faculty to love and to appreciate love. We may comprehend His love, and it may break upon us like the sun in the sky; yet, we still may lose its force and evidence, and come up short again. It’s a routine that we must accept. And God lovingly accepts it also, and works with us. That’s why He prepared the plan of salvation before sin ever existed.

This lack of abiding in love is precisely why the world is such a rough place to live in. Love alone soothes the savage beast in all of us, a savageness which happens when love and acceptance are lacking. Without a knowledge of God’s love we all come up abused and bruised. No one can last long without love, and we live in a whole world that is trying to exist without the infinite love of their Creator. Satan constantly bombards us with sidetracks and substitutions for the peace that being loved brings—snappy music, exciting adventures, intoxicating food, diversions, and distractions. The popular hope is that if we can just forget about our misery, maybe it will permanently go away. All this diagnosis without ever an ounce of cure.

Satan is trying to run this world successfully, yet he rejects God’s love and cannot allow it to be part of the constitution for his big operation. The greatest evidence that God and Satan exist is found in that all aspects of the human being and this world have been built perfectly, like only an infinite Being could do it—yet unending love, the most basic fuel we need to function properly, is absent; and that absence has made us all dysfunctional and is destroying each human being. Yet God promises that He will so carefully deal with our situations, that He will not let us break, after all the bruising of the master whom we have chosen; and He vows that He will nurture us with such concern and consideration that He doesn’t put out our smoldering hope for His love.

If we have a problem with Him or the way He is running things, He has an open-door policy, and we can go straight to Him and unload on Him, even to tell Him like it is. He won’t be offended in the least. There is no disrespect toward Him by His child that He won’t overlook and forgive. In fact, going to the Son with our grievances is one of His favorite times to commune with us, because then it is that all of our self-sufficiency and politeness are set aside, and we are truly serious. No names, no titles; no going in and worshipping Him (Matt. 20:20). Just us and God. We close the door and get down to business. “Do You really love me, or not?”

And out of the tears and the wrestling, we get what we’ve wanted all our lives: His confirmation that He does love us and always has. A confirmation that lasts a lifetime.

Monday, January 22, 2007

An email to a friend in Uganda

Brother David,

I have had to sound a big amen when I read your mail, especially when I read that the Lord will cover me! its too good a news to think may be its not true, yet its true.Have a good time mine brother.

Daniel

David Burdick wrote:

Dear Daniel,

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning. In fact, as I understand the Bible, joy never comes without the weeping. That may sound like a paradox to the non-Christian, but to us it fits perfectly into God’s plan to choose us, justify us, and then prepare us for His service. Its the same scenario repeated so many times in the word of God.

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” “To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.” “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.” “Behold, the Lord will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy Lord’s house.” “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 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.” “One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill. And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence. Then shall He give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures. The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan. And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” (Is. 30:15;28:12;28:21;22:17-19;28:17-19 ;30:17-26).

Brother Daniel, the reward the Lord plans for us, even in this life, is worth all the grief He puts us through. He has a wonderful way of getting us back by His side. His mercy and justice, perfectly woven together in all His work for us, is the power of God unto salvation. I had to pass through a long period of trouble too. It wasn’t easy, but after coming out the other end I realized it was well worth it all, and I was very appreciative for it. The Lord doesn’t scold us for our ignorance; but He doesn’t hold back the necessary discipline, either. Whatever it takes to get us back into His fold, He will do. And I’m glad for that. His threatenings are enablings, because He does nothing without our best interest in mind. (“For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.”) Even His threats are promises.

And I understand your English perfectly. Take care, brother.

David

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

To be kept from falling

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24)

Is this possible? To be kept from falling from grace and into sin, is this really possible? Unfortunately, it is the most recurring scenario known to man. How many earnest folks, even giants of faith and leadership, have fallen from grace and immediately into the deepest depths of sin! Moses between the Rock and the hard-hearted people; David before the bathing beauty Bathsheba; Elijah before vengeful and fuming Jezebel; modern popular pastors in the face of all their successes.

I’ve heard some reasons (or rationalizations) for this. “Nobody’s perfect!” –not that I’m perfect, but I think this statement is the biggest excuse for sin. “The devil made him do it!” A half-truth that ultimately turns into a whole lie. “He took his eyes off Jesus.” Now this one sounds closer to the truth; yet, so very often it is just left as that statement, with no further research into how the eyes came off Jesus and how ours eyes can come off Him, and the cliché inherits an aura of theory and fantasy. Way too much gimmick passes for true spirituality, and it all ends up as just religious talk, with no power to keep anyone from falling. And the devil has a hay day with it.

What exactly does it mean to take the eyes off Jesus? What are the nuts and bolts of it all? It was here that got the Wesleys into so much trouble. They dared to expose the pathway to sin and thus to reveal the opposite way back to holiness, the steps to Christ, the science, the method of salvation. Hence the despiteful brand, “Methodist!”

Is it possible to fall from grace? Yes, the Bible says it is very possible. “Ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4). “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall....” (Ps. 37:23,24). “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor. 9:27).

But just how is it that we fall? Because if we knew that, we would know the return route from backsliding; or if we feel we’ve really never surrendered to Jesus, we can pick out the clues to the pathway to conversion.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb. 12:15). “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14,15).

We leave God when we first loose sight of His grace and the awe-filled grandeur of His righteousness. His grace and power are our keeping power, “the power of God to everyone who believes.”

But having let go of God, our free-fall isn’t always immediately apparent, though nonetheless real. Sometimes we detect it, sometimes we don’t. Hezekiah, who had seen the near destruction of his people and the mighty miracle that saved them, later came to such a backslidden state that the sacred record says that he “rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem…. In the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” (2Chron. 32:25,31). But then when confronted, he humbled himself again, and was rescued from the fallout of his personal rebellion, but not the consequences to his sin. He regained his title to eternal life, but his eldest son, the next to sit on the throne, imbibed the same spirit of rebellion in an intensified form, reigned longer than any other king, and led the people very deeply into sin

When we leave God, our old nature begins to raise again its ugly head, the one God saved us from, as we travel along getting more distant from grace and feeling less of the need for it. The sad fact is that we never lose our fallen natures when we come to Christ; they are only anesthetized by the better and more potent force of Jesus’ love and holiness. No sooner do we lose our need of grace, than we lose our hold onto His righteousness, and we slip under the raging billows of our inherent tendency to pride and self-indulgence. And yes, the devil moves right in to facilitate and celebrate the welcome home again.

At any time that we detect our mistake and turn to God for help, like Peter calling out as he quickly sunk into the black and stormy depths of the sea, Jesus just as quickly reaches out His hand to us also, and pulls us back up above the gale and thunder.

Otherwise, if we don’t cry out, but continue our willful way, we continue to sink out of sight. No one can expect anything different. God is no respecter of persons; no one is exempt from the consequences of sin. God’s hands are tied by the law of free choice; we chose a new master who fearlessly dares God to trespass on his domain. Thus the deeper we go, the stronger the enticements of the old nature. Finally when completely overcome by sin, we are dead to all things holy, and in a very sad state of affairs.

The slide into sin can be quick or slow. Often we don’t see it happening. Our vision is obscured; for we have one thing in mind: the pleasing of self. It may be through a chemical-laden drug, it may be something as innocent-looking as gluttony. That ice-cream, that soda, that vegan-lovers’ sprouted whole-wheat raisin bread—if it takes the first place service away from God and communion with Him, if we don’t need him because this substance now fills our every need—it is sin. Through that innocent looking dependency we have chosen the tutelage of another master, as the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, determined the loyalties of Adam and Eve.

Other tests come to judge our state of spirituality. Work, as much a blessing as it is, can be a form of the sleight of hand that often takes away our faith. Great achievements and busyness can quickly leave God completely in the dust. Another slick maneuver comes from the gain of great wealth. How quickly does prosperity change our allegiance to God! It was the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, in Christ’s parable, that choked the seed of truth and caused it to lose its ability to make us fruitful to God.

Praise and recognition, even in the church setting, often subtly lead to self-exaltation and disconnection from the source of our strength. This was Hezekiah’s dilemma. “And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth.” (2Chron. 32:23).

Solomon found the same point of weakness. So exalted by men for his amazing wisdom and great achievements that he grew dizzy with the heights of this world’s glory and toppled down from his high perch. And after living many years in the mire of his own making, he finally “came to himself.” (Lk. 15:17) He came to the end of his rope; he gave up on himself.

Very late in life, turning from the “the weak and beggarly elements” of the world, (Gal. 4:9) to which the king desired to be in bondage, he once again determined to drink of the pure water of life. Step by step, he retraced his way back to God’s acceptance and to repentance for all that he had done against heaven.

Finally back and safe in the arms of Jesus, the wreck of his life Jesus began again to remake. Doing all that he could to reverse the effects of years of rebellion on his children and citizens, Solomon found he could not undo it all. He was safe, but the people and his family were not. His kingdom had fallen from its crest as a wonder of the world and would never again regain the same stature among the nations that it had during Solomon’s early years. In 200 years the ten northern tribes would cease to exist, and in 300, Judah and Benjamin would be in captivity for their continued idolatry, and in 900 even they would be cut off as the honored people of God.

Let us steadily speed our way to heaven. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 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.” (Heb. 12:1,2).

Because it is there

Many look in wonder and amazement at some who love to be unselfish, or holy, or good. Unselfishness seems to be as impossible to attain as the snow cap of Mt. Everest is to reach. Yet the secret is really very simple. By beholding, we become changed. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Others see a certain debilitating habit that has conquered them. With fear and trepidation they look upon conquering it as if it is doing the impossible. But again, the secret of success is by beholding we become changed.

Sin is self-indulgence. It is the love of pleasure and self-pleasing, self-gratification. It is self-congratulation and self-exaltation. If self is the object, we can know sin is behind it all.

But selfishness is the center of our natures; self-centeredness is at the very core of our being. How can that most primate center of all our reactions, that most deeply rooted urge, ever be dissolved?

By a transformation far beyond the auspices of any human. It can only be found under the control of someone other than us. Not a single hypnotist nor world renowned psychologist or guru—no human can accomplish the uprooting of a solitary root of sin.

We are all infected with the disease. Who can accomplish the healing? What leper has ever healed another leper? Not one. What depressed person ever resolved the depression in another patient? We must have Someone who is free and clear of this race’s pandemic problem.

Perfect righteousness is the key. By beholding it—if fully engrossed in it— we will come to imitate it. A learned educator once declared, “A child will learn that to which he attends.” I believe by that he meant that only when the teacher, through the head and the heart, brings the child to truly appreciate knowledge and thus crave it, will he then focus on it enough to obtain it.

We need to focus on righteousness, but we cannot get to that focus by ourselves. We need a Mediator, a Teacher, a Guide. Of ourselves, we hate righteousness. We don’t like the infinitude of failures it reveals in us. We bristle at its innocence and goody-goody-ness. We brand it naïveté and then ignorantly discount it.

We need Someone to help us see its possibilities, Someone anxiously ready to paint for us a beautiful picture with its colors. We need to get over our prejudices and be moved away from group-think. “The crowd isn’t doing it,” is always a determining factor for everyone who will choose life over death. We need a guide, confident and inspiring, loving and patient, inspirational and supernatural. We need Jesus, the Master Teacher. We need His grace to infuse us with the power to overcome sin.

When asked, “Why climb Everest?” George Mallory responded, “Because it is there.” Mr. Mallory had looked upon the wispy summit of Everest for so long that it pulled him to the top. The Matterhorn has done the same to many daring men. It was there, it was there! It stood before them for so long that it became branded on the memory. It was there when they studied schoolwork. It was there when they stared into their bowl of breakfast. There is was as they went about their daily duties. The longer they lived, the more they thought about that one object which symbolized the impossible. It remained in the forefront of their thinking and in the subconscious, until it consumed them.

Suddenly, one day, it all looks possible. Upon the nascent conscience creeps in the resolution, “Yes! It can be done! And I choose to bend every effort to go where I’ve never gone before! I choose to do what men label impossible! I will overcome every obstacle standing in the way of this great venture! I must get there!”

This is the very same attitude and thought process of all who have conquered self. At some point, the Spirit of God, through the word of truth, was able to get in to hearts of people and awaken a desire for liberty. They saw the beauty of freedom from their sin which was destroying them and everyone within their sphere of influence. Then a need arose, and the Holy Spirit nurtured that little smoking ember. Growing possibilities fed the flame of interest and hope. Thus holiness became a consuming fire in them and they rose up to conquer.

“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord.” (Ps. 36:6) When we behold the mountain of Christ’s righteousness, and keep staring at it; when it has consumed us with its charm and awe, and we see self-sacrificing love from it’s very foundation to it’s cloud-obscured heights; then we gravitate to it’s feet and cry out for assistance to begin our climb. And that cry is always heard.

“For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:). But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb. 12:18-24).

We are come to Him who was from the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our eyes, whom we have looked at and our hands have touched—the Word of life.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Why?

Solomon asked this question until it drove him mad. “I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness….” (Eccl. 7:25).

But the question forces itself onto me again. Why? Why are some saved and some lost? Why did Jesus represent some by hard-packed ground, shallow ground, unkempt ground, and good fertile soil? Why am I lost and my neighbor is saved? Why are some converted by the very same convicting words that don’t even faze another? What is the law at work here; what is the overriding principle?

Why did Paul and Moses prove faithful, but Adam and Solomon prove unfaithful? Why does the majority follow the wide path, and only a very small few ever find the true, narrow gate to life? As we search out the “reason of things,” may God keep us honest and close to Him, lest we chase a false path to truth and become convinced of a counterfeit, refusing to let it go until it destroys us.

Where does choice come into play? Is it all my choice that will ultimately save me? Or is there another power at work in all this? We say that that power is Divinity, a supernatural Being, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph. 1:11).

We say it is the Deity, the One who declares, “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Is. 55:11). “For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Rom. 9:15-21).

Now, that sounds like control! But is He arbitrary in His universal freedom? No, He is not. The reality is that when detailing His work with Pharoah, “God, …to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” (Rom. 9:22). God wasn’t arbitrary at all, but just and merciful in all His treatment of His son, Pharoah.

Is His control as absolute as Paul makes it sound? No, it’s not absolute. I dare to limit God and His sovereignty because of what He has shown us in His word—He limits Himself. The principle Paul espoused works on a grand scale as well, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.” (1Cor. 6:12 ). God can do anything He pleases, yet He mercifully and justly restrains Himself. Yet He still declares Himself in complete control. Take for example, the situation of Job.

Let’s look behind the scenes and see what men couldn’t know at the time. Satan comes the second time into the presence of the Son of God, after ravaging His most faithful servant. What’s the first thing out of Christ’s mouth? “Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause.”(Job 2:3). Did the Lord God actually lift His hand to destroy His most trusted child of His love? No, Satan did the chastening. But because Christ allowed it to happen, He assumes the full responsibility and feels the full force of His children’s pain.

From this we can gather that God rightfully takes the credit for everything that ever happens, good or bad. Does that mean He is the only one involved? Not from what we see revealed in Job. Thus we can say, that God takes all the credit for the salvation or the eternal loss of all His creation, “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). Yet He isn’t the only one involved.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deut. 30:19). “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15 ).

Thus, we can see that choice still remains, our choice. No one else guards our freedom of choice as does God. Not Satan, who immediately tramples it into the ground as soon as we choose him. But in serving God alone can we find perfect freedom. And if we choose His adversary, He lets the devil go only so far and as quickly as is right because of our wrong choices, in order to provide us a fair probationary period of this one life, and all the opportunities that justice demands and that mercy yearns for.

God can take all the credit because He fiercely protects our power of choice and still works all things according to the purpose of His own will. We can trust Him to do this. He has never proved Himself untrustworthy. “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.” (Rev. 19:11).

Why will some surrender to God, while others refuse to rest in His love? Infinite power is available to us to overcome this fallen nature of ours and to escape the doom that will come to Satan and sin; yet all of that incomprehensible power hinges on our choice. So, we can say that our choice is all of half of how we are saved. The other half belongs to God, who orchestrates events and the presentation of His truth and grace in such a way to lose nothing. Is He always 100% successful? No. He failed with Lucifer; He failed with Adam. He has failed with billions of angelic and human hosts. But through all time He has ever had His faithful seed who have responded to Him perfectly, much to the chagrin of the devil. So, we see that God can boast of 100% success in His creatures arriving at the quality His will demands, even if He has failed in the quantity of those He willed to be saved.

In terms of numbers, He has failed miserably—for He has a formidable foe. Not that Satan, a creation of God, in all his wiliness can match God’s wisdom, but that he can hurt God where he knows it hurts the most, in His defenseless children. Satan has made the most of God’s failure, shaking his fist at God every chance he could. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” (Rev. 13:6) “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10).

No one can know the despair the Father of creation knows. But His inexpressible hurt is shown to us in the Bible. “Yet it pleased the Lord [the Father] to bruise Him [His Son]; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is. 53:10-12).

At the cross, we see the rage of our Father’s failure and sorrow, taken out on Himself. When Jesus cried with a loud voice, “It is finished!” He spoke of an infinite relief felt by His Father. Satan had lost the Great War; he was seen as the enemy to righteousness and freedom, and God was shown to be their only true protector. “Oh the height and depth of mercy! Oh the length and breadth of love! Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above.”

The Father presides over the universal freedom of choice, and sin, and the Great Controversy. And throughout eternity, when the past has long been blotted from our memories, when every tear He has dried from our eyes, and sorrow and sighing have fled away at the presence of our Father’s amazing love and His glorious new creation, He will remain the only one who harbors the weight of lost loved ones. All those who responded to His work, who accepted His terms and bowed in repentance for His goodness and love, will surround Him forever. He will be satisfied that His kingdom is safe and sound, and to Him will all praise be given.

“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.” (Rev. 5:13).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit

“That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.” (Deut. 11:14).

“Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” (Jer. 5:24).

“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month….And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” (Joel 2:23,27-32).

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7 ).

The Latter Rain, which played an important part in the sustenance of God’s people in Canaan, by the prophets became likened to a supernatural spiritual event. As God gave the big rains at the end of the agricultural year, so He would finish the history of sin on earth with an abundant outpour of His Spirit. Following the rains came the harvest; likewise, God would inundate His special world with a knowledge of Himself and fill us full of His Spirit, and then would come the harvest. “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” (Rev. 14:15)

And here we are, down at the end of human history. Signs abound all around us. For the past 160 years, the message of Christ coming has been sounded. As we continue down the corridor of time, we see the state of humanity becoming restless. The message of God’s grace has not come through clearly, and many of His people have turned to the world for relief of an aching heart. Many have turned to some drug to help relieve a painful mind. Wars between nations and interpersonal battles within families, work places, even churches have become rife. Major changes in the once stable weather patterns become more and more apparent.

The Protestants have lost their fervor to maintain the truth. The Bible has been given a back seat to spiritual manifestations. But the manifestations are of another spirit than the Spirit of God. These manifestations work to undermine the truth found in the Scriptures, therefore they can’t be of the same Spirit that inspired the holy Writ. They are the fulfillment of the strong delusion God promised to send before His return, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:8-12 ).

This has also been described in more prophetic language from Revelation. “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the Kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:12-16).

So we see a big showdown on the way. We see an outpouring of God’s Spirit on His children, and the outpouring of Satan’s power on those who have turned away from truth. As Paul put it, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Tim. 4:3,4).

The intensity of the showdown will grow into a worldwide crescendo. How can we be ready? How can we watch and keep our robe of righteousness from being stolen away by Satan? “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13).

Thankfully, we are given some help on this most important matter. In the parable of the seed sower (Matt. 13:3-8,18-23), Christ shows four types of people, all of whom hear the very same message of truth. But three groups out of the four fall by the wayside, either soon after hearing the truth or over a long period of time. The first group, represented by the hardened path of the field, do not allow the seed to enter into the earth, and the birds come and immediately eat it up. Jesus said this was those who don’t want to hear the truth and reject what they hear and Satan immediately gains control of them. The second group, a stony part of the field, which receives the seed, which immediately sprouts, but the shallowness of earth causes the shallow roots to be burned the next day by the heat of the sun. This second group represents many who hear truth, even with gladness, but have a very shallow knowledge of their own weakness and faultiness. As soon as trouble comes their way because this world is at odds with the truth, the second group throws out the Bible and faith and God. The third ground receives the seed and makes it almost to the harvest, but does not have the weeds removed, and eventually the weeds take over and smother the crops that had given such a promising start. This represents a group that hears and begins to obey the gospel for their salvation. But they let the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches displace the vastly greater importance of the eternal world and the infinitely greater wealth of a character like Christ, a character with love and humility.

The fourth group is likened to good ground that is constantly cultivated and weeded, and keeps receiving of the bounty of heaven, rain, sunshine, and the nutrients from the earth. It brings forth abundantly and beautifully. The gospel work is richly multiplied in them because they allow truth to dig at their pride and weed out their defects, and they work to bring others to Jesus as they were brought.

Which group do I fall into? The warnings are all there; the pitfalls are spread out before me. There is still time for me to make the choices to avoid the things that will prevent me from eternal life with Jesus. Will the stress and cares of this world distract me and leave me unprepared for the Latter Rain when it comes? Will the desire for wealth and ease be my eternal undoing?

The growing cycle of the Middle East happens like this: first comes the early rains on the seeds that have already been sown. Then comes a long hot dry spell during which the germinated and sprouted crop come up due to the earth’s moisture and nutrients drawn up by roots searching more and more deeply into the plowed field. Finally, at the end of the season, the latter rains thunder down upon the harvest almost ready for the harvest. The great quantity of moisture and heat bring the plants’ burden of food quickly to full fruition, and shortly thereafter come the harvesters to joyfully reap.

From this we may gather that once the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit begins to fall, it will fall only on those who will be ready for Christ at His coming. All the other seeds that became unfruitful will not be around for the heavy rains before His second advent. If we are not moving forward in heaven’s direction, we will come up unprepared when the Holy Spirit begins His great work at the end of the gospel dispensation. We can also see that the closing events will be rapid ones.

See the surfers out on the sea. They watch intently for the wave that will give them the thrill of a lifetime. Is that the one? No. Maybe this one will be it. No, not that one, either. Ah, this could be it! Yes, here it comes! They are already prepared and facing their destination inland, and immediately hop up on their board and start rowing with all strength they’ve got. They must not miss this wave! They have only one opportunity and the sooner they begin rowing, the greater the chance of not missing the ride. Harder and harder they row to come up to speed with the quickly approaching wave. Yes, its not going to pass them by! Then they feel the familiar uplift, much bigger than they have ever felt before. Off their belly and onto their feet, quickly they stabilize for the run. Velocity increases as the wave carries them and whips them from its crest, as they slide down into the trough of the towering mass of water. All the powers of brain and body they enlist to stay on their board and in the wave, making full use of their faculties the whole way, every second. With amazing agility they avoid every source for wreckage, which would find them buried under the watery tonnage that is pushing them forward.

As we look out on the eschatological landscape, let us carefully spy for the finale of the Gospel Dispensation of the Spirit. Many have said, “Look! This is the last revival! This is the Latter Rain!” But sadly, they were wrong and time continued to march on. Many false alarms have led the world to look with skepticism on any end of this world. Why, with so many authoritative voices against such a catastrophic fantasy (as they call the end of the world), does the Christian keep looking? Because he has been promised a world “wherein dwelleth righteousness,” and that promise of a new Earth without sin keeps him hoping. So we keep watching for the final events and don’t want to miss out on anything.

And one day the last revival will come; the tide will begin to rise; the “big one” will be here and the last, rapid events will begin to take shape with increasing velocity. Only those who have been watching for it, and have the spiritual muscle to come up to speed, will not miss out. Only those, whose greatest desire to be part of that great movement when the gospel is preached to the whole world, will take part in it. Everyone who ended up distracted by the cares of this world and the futile chase after possessions or financial security, will wake up and find themselves unprepared to come up to speed. It will require a trust in God that they haven’t exercised and their atrophied faith will fail in all their efforts to join in. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord , and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.” (Amos 8:11-13) That will be a scary day of terror for the person who knew all this would happen, but didn’t get ready and now finds it taking place.

While we still have opportunity, let us everyone dig into the Bible to find that faith in Christ that overcomes sin. Let us stay pointed to our heavenly destination, and already involve ourselves in the work of the Latter Rain, even if gospel work seems to be slow going in this agnostic age; let it be the training we need for the greater work ahead. Let’s strive with all our might to find God and to enter into a relationship with Him, and thus avoid all the pitfalls of the first three types of ground in Christ’s parable and be ready for the greatest event this world has ever known, the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit and the great preaching of the gospel to all the world.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14).