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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What God does teaches us who He is

Another email to a friend:

We can never understand God. His eternal nature, His omnipresence, are beyond human comprehension. Yet He gave us the marvelous tool of an intelligent mind. It was Adam’s role in Eden to study flora and fauna, and name them according to their unique characteristics. As a type of the great Creator, Adam, through intellectual powers, was to dominate and comprehend and rule his small sphere. He glorified God through being a miniature replica of God, yet he in no way could take God’s place and fully comprehend God or His universe in its immensity.

Content to look upon the wonders and beauty of creation, Adam was growing in knowledge of God, for who He was. As Christ came daily to walk and talk with the holy pair, they were continually better able to appreciate and understand the gifts in the big, amazing world they had been given. Not through scientific research and syllogism, microscopes and chemical labs did the holy pair learn of their new world; but through communion with Him who made it all were their eyes opened to the mysteries of the physics, the chemistry, and biology.

When Satan came to tempt them, his work was: one) to turn their focus toward God the Father, whom they had never personally met and could never understand without Christ revealing Him (“Yea, hath not God said…?”) and leading their thoughts away from the Lord God who had been a very personal Friend to them, and was the one who actually had warned them away from the tree); and two) to dive into a realm of intellectualism and mystery and curiosity (“Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”) By leading Eve away from simplicity and trust, and into a higher critical frame of mind devoid of the elements of righteousness, the tempter successfully separated her loyalty from God and placed it in herself, allowing him full sway over her from then on.

God has always provided us with a knowledge of Himself through His works, in creation and now in redemption. Our only view of Him is, as it were, His hand. And through His hand He can paint for us an accurate self-portrait. We must trust in what He has done and study that in order to comprehend who He is. Why has He chosen this method of revealing Himself over an intellectual, purely logical approach? Because His works declare Himself so faithfully. Satan can warp our logic and academician skills, but it’s too tall an order for the devil to warp all of God’s infinite works.

“Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.” (Jn. 10:25). “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (vs. 37,38).

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

“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both Me and My Father.” (Jn. 15:24).

“When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained…” (Ps. 8:3).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” (Ps. 19:1-4).


God has also revealed Himself to us through His laws, His holy Bible. Satan and all today’s atheistic community of intellectuals have cast distain on God and His word. The Bible is too simple for them. It isn’t intellectual enough. Yet it is the very means whereby we must be uplifted from sin. It speaks of what God has done, which strokes out for us an extensive mural of His character. The Bible uses such a simple approach to knowing God for who He is. We cannot use the world’s approach to comprehend God—pure logic. But as children, we must accept His method for our understanding Him. We can accept clues of His character and person in the form with which He has provided us. We must study His word, desperate to know that He loves us. The poor in spirit are the only ones to ultimately get acquainted with Him.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” (vs. 7,8).

If we will come to Him as little children we will know Him. You mentioned needing the Trinity doctrine in order to objectify the Holy Spirit. But without a constant study and meditation on the word of God in all His works, we will be forever trying to objectify, quantify, yet never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

God speaks to man and all his great logic, objectification, and theologies. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7).

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

Jesus said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matt. 11:25).

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (1Pet. 2:2).

“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1Cor. 1:19-24).


The grand finale of God’s revelation of Himself is, of course, in Christ. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor. 4:6).

“Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1Cor. 1:30).

“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Is. 29:14).

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Cor. 4:3). Blindness came because man brought only his great genius to the search for God instead of trusting in Him to bring them to Himself through His word and works.


_____, my dear brother and friend, beware of the great delusion. Many pagan theories made their way into the church cloaked in Christian nuances. Satan makes his error so close to the truth that only the heart touched by the grace of God can navigate safely through the minefield.

Although I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, something seems wrong to me about the Trinity doctrine. Somehow it seems like a substitute for the Bible, though coming from the Biblical model. It’s like popping a supposed comprehensive vitamin into your mouth at each meal, instead of eating a plateful of food, a variety of delicious whole foods and whole grains. The Trinity doctrine seems to be an intellectual’s attempt to find God. It’s an intellectual icon, if you please. It is another product of Catholicism, a method of intellectualizing God, which never led nor will ever lead to a contrite and humble spirit, a new creature.

While the Triune Godhead is a Biblical reality, I believe the Trinity concept cannot lead us to a knowledge of God or the Godhead. Any attempt to use pure intellect and logic, focusing on a single aspect of truth in order to comprehend God, will only lead to frustration in the search and to the final conclusion of pagan Rome, that there is no truth. (John 18:38). It is trusting, hoping in, looking to, and worshipping a concept; a twin of Mariolatry.

Instead, take what means God has prescribed and offered us to understand Him, through reading the whole Bible, observing His creation and our experiences of life, and thus receive a love of the truth that will lead to obtaining the peace and freedom which you, the creature of God, so earnestly expects and waits for. Our only safeguard against the wiles and wrath of the devil is the whole Bible, understanding the works of God in dealing with man from the beginning to the end. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, …if we believe.” (Rom. 4:22-24).

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.” (Is. 30:8). Once written into the sacred record, it’s good for everyone who ever afterwards reads it until the end of time. It’s the everlasting gospel, (Rev. 14:6) from the opening pages of Genesis to the closing scenes of Revelation, it all works together, law, prophets, gospels, epistles.

There is no rite or ceremony or special condition required to comprehend and be changed by the power of the word, except to be in great need. Not even repentance is made an obstacle. Simply let the mind dwell on the messages from the Bible. “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them,” (1Tim. 4:15) until faith appropriates them for itself through the operation of the Spirit of God working in you. Repentance will come later as the gift of God.

“Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works.
Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually.
Remember His marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;
O ye seed of Israel His servant, ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones.
He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth.
Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded to a thousand generations;
Even of the covenant which He made with Abraham, and of His oath unto Isaac;
And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance;
When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it.
And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people;
He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, He reproved kings for their sakes,
Saying, Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.
Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; shew forth from day to day His salvation.
Declare His glory among the heathen; His marvellous works among all nations.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: He also is to be feared above all gods.” (1Chron. 16:9-25).

“Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up.” (Ps. 28:5).

“And the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands.” (Is. 5:12).

“Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.” (Col. 2: 12).

“Say unto God, How terrible art Thou in Thy works! Through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee.” (Ps. 66:3).

“They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in His law; and forgat His works, and His wonders that He had shewed them.” (Ps. 78:10,11).

“For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work: I will triumph in the works of Thy hands. O Lord, how great are Thy works! And Thy thoughts are very deep.” (Ps. 92:4,5).

“Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:8).

“O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew Thy servant Thy greatness, and Thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to Thy works, and according to Thy might?” (Deut. 3: 24).

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (Is. 53:1).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Meditation

“Silent and absorbed, He seemed to be studying out a great problem. The mystery of His mission was opening to the Saviour. Rapt in the contemplation of these scenes, He did not remain beside His parents.” DA p. 78.

“‘Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.’

“…. Jesus was again at Jerusalem. Walking alone, in apparent meditation and prayer, He came to the pool.” DA p. 201.

“‘Now is the judgment of this world,’ Christ continued; ‘now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me.’…. Satan’s hold upon the souls of men will be broken. The defaced image of God will be restored in humanity, and a family of believing saints will finally inherit the heavenly home. This is the result of Christ’s death. The Saviour is lost in contemplation of the scene of triumph called up before Him. He sees the cross, the cruel, ignominious cross, with all its attending horrors, blazing with glory.” DA p. 625.

“John pressed into still closer intimacy with Jesus, so that he is distinguished as the one whom Jesus loved. The Saviour loved them all, but John’s was the most receptive spirit. He was younger than the others, and with more of the child’s confiding trust he opened his heart to Jesus. Thus he came more into sympathy with Christ, and through him the Saviour’s deepest spiritual teaching was communicated to His people.” DA p. 292.

“The disciple John was a man of earnest and deep affection, ardent, yet contemplative. He had begun to discern the glory of Christ,--not the worldly pomp and power for which he had been taught to hope, but “the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. He was absorbed in contemplation of the wondrous theme.” DA p.139.

“Such love is without a parallel. Children of the heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the most profound meditation! The matchless love of God for a world that did not love Him! The thought has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the mind into captivity to the will of God. The more we study the divine character in the light of the cross, the more we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly we discern innumerable evidences of a love that is infinite and a tender pity surpassing a mother’s yearning sympathy for her wayward child.” SC p. 15.

“The leper is guided to the Saviour. Jesus is teaching beside the lake, and the people are gathered about Him. Standing afar off, the leper catches a few words from the Saviour’s lips. He sees Him laying His hands upon the sick. He sees the lame, the blind, the paralytic, and those dying of various maladies rise up in health, praising God for their deliverance. Faith strengthens in his heart. He draws nearer and yet nearer to the gathered throng. The restrictions laid upon him, the safety of the people, and the fear with which all men regard him are forgotten. He thinks only of the blessed hope of healing.

“He is a loathsome spectacle. The disease has made frightful inroads, and his decaying body is horrible to look upon. At sight of him the people fall back in terror. They crowd upon one another in their eagerness to escape from contact with him. Some try to prevent him from approaching Jesus, but in vain. He neither sees nor hears them. Their expressions of loathing are lost upon him. He sees only the Son of God. He hears only the voice that speaks life to the dying. Pressing to Jesus, he casts himself at His feet with the cry, ‘Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.’

“Jesus replied, ‘I will; be thou made clean,’ and laid His hand upon him. Matthew 8:3, R. V.” DA 263.

“It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.

“As we associate together, we may be a blessing to one another. If we are Christ’s, our sweetest thoughts will be of Him. We shall love to talk of Him; and as we speak to one another of His love, our hearts will be softened by divine influences. Beholding the beauty of His character, we shall be ‘changed into the same image from glory to glory.’ 2 Corinthians 3:18.” DA p. 83.

“It is the gospel of the grace of God alone that can uplift the soul. The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can.” DA p. 478.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Josh. 1:8.

“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1Tim 4:14-16.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Ps. 1:1-3.

“My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches. Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.” Ps 63:5-7.

“The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous.” ps 146:8.

Do we see why the Lord loves the righteous? Its because they have sought Him out and He has guided their search. He has opened their eyes to His character and they meditate on Him and His righteousness. In the end we are judged by our works, and rightly so. But the saved will only be righteous because, through meditation of the self-sacrificing love of Christ, they received such a love of the truth that it became all absorbing to them. Filled with His goodness, they are lost in His love.

And they are only following their Master who was lost in His Father’s love. “Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but My Servant? or deaf, as My Messenger that I sent? who is blind as He that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s Servant? Seeing many things, but Thou observest not; opening the ears, but He heareth not. The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” Is 42:18-21.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jesus, our all in all

At Minneapolis in 1888 we received these messages, as printed in Selected Messages:

“Truths Ellen White Had Presented Since 1844. —At this meeting I bore testimony that the most precious light had been shining forth from the Scriptures in the presentation of the great subject of the righteousness of Christ connected with the law, which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation. This was not new light to me, for it had come to me from higher authority for the last forty-four years, and I had presented it to our people by pen and voice in the testimonies of His Spirit. But very few had responded except by assent to the testimonies borne upon this subject. There was altogether too little spoken and written upon this great question. The discourses of some might be correctly represented as like the offering of Cain—Christless.

The Mystery of Godliness. —The standard by which to measure character is the royal law. The law is the sin detector. By the law is the knowledge of sin. But the sinner is constantly being drawn to Jesus by the wonderful manifestation of His love in that He humiliated Himself to die a shameful death upon the cross. What a study is this! Angels have striven, earnestly longed, to look into the wonderful mystery. It is a study that can tax the highest human intelligence, that man, fallen, deceived by Satan, taking Satan’s side of the question, can be conformed to the image of the Son of the infinite God. That man shall be like Him, that, because of the righteousness of Christ given to man, God will love man—fallen but redeemed—even as He loved His Son. Read it right out of the living oracles.

This is the mystery of godliness. This picture is of the highest value to be placed in every discourse, to be hung in memory’s hall, to be uttered by human lips, to be traced by human beings who have tasted and known that the Lord is good, to be meditated upon, to be the groundwork of every discourse. There have been dry theories presented and precious souls are starving for the bread of life. This is not the preaching that is required or that the God of heaven will accept, for it is Christless. The divine picture of Christ must be kept before the people. He is that Angel standing in the sun of heaven. He reflects no shadows. Clothed in the attributes of deity, shrouded in the glories of deity, and in the likeness of the infinite God, He is to be lifted up before men. When this is kept before the people, creature merit sinks into insignificance. The more the eye looks upon Him, the more His life, His lessons, His perfection of character are studied, the more sinful and abhorrent will sin appear.

By beholding, man can but admire and become more attracted to Him, more charmed, and more desirous to be like Jesus until he assimilates to His image and has the mind of Christ. Like Enoch he walks with God. His mind is full of thoughts of Jesus. He is his best Friend. . . .

Study Jesus Our Pattern. —‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus’ (Hebrews 3:1). Study Christ. Study His character, feature by feature. He is our Pattern that we are required to copy in our lives and our characters, else we fail to represent Jesus, but present to the world a spurious copy. Do not imitate any man, for men are defective in habits, in speech, in manners, in character. I present before you the Man Christ Jesus. You must individually know Him as your Saviour before you can study Him as your pattern and your example.

Said Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith . . . . Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.’ (Romans 1:16-19).” (3SM, p. 169,170).

What torture must our sin bring to our Father, that in order for Jesus to redeem us He must first suffer unsurpassable torment on the cross. The grace and righteousness of Jesus must be our first study, in His life and also in His death. This alone will uplift fallen man from his ruin.

“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.” (Rom5: 10). “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him.” (Col. 2:9,10).



Saturday, September 15, 2007

What a rest that will be!

The earth made new, what a rest that will be! “I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” (Ez. 34:25). No more devil, no more temptation, no more unbelief, no tree of the knowledge that mingles good with evil, a country wherein dwelleth righteousness, a city which hath foundations, a place which Jesus is preparing, things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor entered into the imagination of any man.

A blessed hope it is. “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” (Dan. 7:21-27).

“Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:34-35). “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44).

We aren’t out of the woods yet, and there is still trouble to pass through. But on the other side is glory, and all through the trouble we are promised the Lord’s presence and peace.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Planted together in the likeness of His death

“The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted.” (Ps. 104:16). “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5). The sap is what makes the fruits come out. When we become full of the Spirit of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be manifested in us. We will be beautified and adorned by their loveliness.

“And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.” (Mk. 8:24). Even the common people have always compared people to trees. In this case, the blind man couldn’t see quite clearly enough.

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet. 2:24). Here the cross is also called a tree. Jesus was nailed to me. He was nailed to you. Thus, for anyone who feels the lacerations and blood from Christ’s back pressed up against their chest, anyone who sees the sacrifice of Jesus and the sight reaches down into the innermost soul and he comprehends and believes it is for him, a rough-hewn, rugged, easily corruptible, filthy person that has already killed so many people, that gross sinner is covered by Jesus, who fits perfectly over the form of that “tree”. To that person He is nailed. And for that person who believed, the almighty God has driven those spikes permanently.

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” (Rev. 8:7). If trees represent those who stand tall for God, then the grass must be those who don’t have faith. “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.” (Is. 40:7). Its easy to understand why God would cut off those who don’t have faith. But why some of the trees? The Bible speaks of three groups: those in heaven, those in the earth and, the third group, those under the earth. (Phil. 2:10;Rev. 5:3). I believe those under the earth represent the satanic hosts. And to me, it fits that if a third of the trees were burnt up, they must have looked good on the outside, but were rotten on the inside. “Then came His disciples, and said unto Him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But He answered and said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Matt. 15:12,13). They were professing to serve God, but really were Satan’s agents. Much like it appeared that a holy, entire family rode the ark over the flood. But one of the three sons was really a devil. Ham rode into the new world on his father’s coattails and reintroduced the practices of the antedeluvians.

It is fitting that we combine the good news of salvation with the bad news of warnings toward half-hearted vows of service to God. He knows them that are His. And everyone else He burns with unquenchable fire. He thoroughly purges His floor and gathers His wheat into His garner. Its the mercy and justice of God that gives patience to the saints. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:9-12).

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (Jn. 15:1-3). Early in my walk with God, those words of Jesus were always scary and depressing to me. Why keep talking about the judgment when I needed to hear good news of fellowship and comfort? How does bad news make anybody clean? Yet Jesus uses bad news in combination with good news to make us spiritually healthy. Its God’s science of salvation. The bad-good news combination is what gives us balance and patience and poise under fire. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke.... He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.” (Lam. 3:27-28). Jesus continued, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.”

But how will we be properly trained if we never face the difficult picture of His bad news? How can He comfort us in the light of bad news without ever introducing us to it? When we can be trained to retain the good news of His invitation to abide in His love, even in light of His judgment, then we will see the love of God even in the “bad news” part of His dealing with sin. That is true spiritual maturity. To be happy, not because we missed hard things or we only got to listen to good things, but because God was able to vindicate His honor, even if it tends to rattle our immature trust in Him (and strengthen it in the process.) Why should God suffer alone when He knows our greatest need is to suffer with Him, to be crucified together with Christ? “It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2Tim. 2:11-12).

He has only our best interest in mind when He speaks His bad news. He knows how deeply sin is imbedded in us and is confident in His grace to exceed our sinfulness and hopelessness. He has faith in us. It is because God so loves the world that He speaks freely of judgment to come.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Bible, the voice of God

“Stablish Thy word unto Thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear.” (Ps. 119: 38).

“Let, I pray thee, Thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Thy word unto Thy servant.” (Ps. 119: 76).

We spoke of the power of God to communicate with fallen humanity through His word, the Holy Scriptures. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Is. 1:18). The Bible is not unreasonable, because God is reasonable. Some things don’t sound unreasonable, such as the rest of that last verse, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” But He makes provision for it through His own propitiation, therefore His promise to forgive stands.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). If the hearing or reading of the Bible doesn’t cause faith, there’s a problem.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). If the Bible doesn’t lift us up in a flood of conviction and carry us to overcoming of sin and doubt, we’re in trouble. We aren’t approaching it right. We aren’t approaching God. To us it isn’t “Thy word unto Thy servant,” the voice of God to the soul. (Ps. 119: 76).

Here is where the Jews went wrong. They religiously read the scriptures. They even searched the scriptures. But they came to the search in the wrong relation. Not as a sinner in need of the voice of assurance from God or His voice of conviction, they came to the study of it as a way to prove to themselves and others (especially others) that they were in a right standing with God.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” (Jn. 5:39). They missed the whole reason for digging and plying the holy writ. And they never came away impenetrably bonded to a Savior and a Father-Friend. As Jesus said, “They are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” (vs. 39, 40) And thus they could have no abiding presence of God through His word. (vs. 38).

This is still being done today. Our fallen human natures have not improved one iota. Multitudes are following one Bible teacher after another, searching for answers that satisfy their curiosity. But the honest in heart, those humbled by life will have the need that brings them all the way to faith and to salvation.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The long dark night of a beautiful soul

Wikipedia wrote:

Mother Teresa wrote numerous letters to her confessors and superiors over a 66-year period. She had asked that her letters be destroyed, concerned that “people will think more of me -- less of Jesus.”[59] However, despite this request, the correspondences have been compiled in “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light” (Doubleday).[45] In one publicly released letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, she wrote, “Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.” Many news outlets have referred to Mother Teresa’s writings as an indication of a “crisis of faith.” [60] However, others have drawn comparisons to the 16th century mystic St. John of the Cross who coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a particular stage in the growth of some spiritual masters.

A Time/CNN article came out with this concerning Mother Teresa: (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1655415-3,00.html)

Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”

That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’”

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

Every time I read this, it saddens me more. I sorrow, not because there was no remedy for this dear servant of God, but because there was a remedy and a ready, very available remedy. And I love to dream of what it could have done for this poor benighted one.

That remedy is the Holy Bible. A book that “the church” does not hold supreme, a book ultimately denied by the church. It “the church” files in their vast library, full of ancient apocryphal and volumous church encyclicals. Lost in the crowd, and by nature more pointed against sin than the watered down man-made versions of moral teachings, the Bible is subtly denigrated, given last instead of first place. But, in fulfillment of its own self-prediction, the first is last and the last first. The Bible is due Christianity’s, and so much more “the church’s”, true primacy.

The Bible is a book which provides promises—huge promises—promises of a never-ending love, a love that the soul yearns for. It’s a book which contains commandments—authoritative, yes, but a law that only an infinitely loving and fiercely protective Father would require. It’s a book of a God of wisdom, whose prophecies have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled. It’s a book we can trust. From a God we can trust.

And when the fulfillment of the Book’s promises and obedience to it’s commandments don’t seem forthcoming, then those who have been drawn to it’s trustworthiness have only one option: Go straight to the Author. The Book teaches us to do this through the examples of many regular, real people from the past inscribed in its pages. It teaches us about faith and elicits the same from us. It takes those lacking confidence and makes them bold to take God at His word.

No other book drives us to God like the Holy Bible. No other book gives us faith in Him like the Scriptures. No other book brokers an iron sinew of trust in Jesus. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” (Is. 26:3).

Unfortunately, Mother Teresa, being part of an organization which does not hold the Bible supreme, did not have the tool she needed to have her dark soul lightened. All she ever received was a human thank you and human encouragement to keep trudging along in her long, cave-black night. She never received divine encouragement nor could she ever appropriate for herself the divine word from heaven, “This is My beloved child, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 4:17). Or “I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art My [child]; this day have I begotten thee.” (Ps. 2:7), promises that would have sent her soul to heaven on the wings of a dove and evoked the deepest praise to her Redeemer. Her organization is culpable for this travesty and for billions of others who have gone to the grave without the Bible or its God. And her religion is not the only one culpable for the billions that are in darkness.

If only Teresa had had the Bible. If only she had had Jesus who “ever liveth to make intercession for” us. (Heb. 7:25)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

How much mercy am I allowed?

When, in my need for correction, does Jesus finally say enough is enough?

“I’ve given him enough mercy, I believe its time to start being rougher on him until he comes around. Obviously, mercy isn’t working for him. Father, we need to come to a consensus in David’s case. Don’t You agree We should start punishing him more and ignoring him more now like he is doing to Us? Don’t You think We should start withdrawing the Holy Spirit from him?”

Is this a true scenario? No, but it feels like it sometimes. But if we are seeking a relationship with Jesus, why do we feel distant from Him at times? Maybe He does turn His back on us? “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:13). If we fear Him, enough to heed His warnings and His invitation to come to Him, His word is that He pities us. Forever it is written as if carved in stone, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13: 5). An often quoted promise by God and by His people.

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deut. 31:6,8,16).

“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Josh. 1:5) “May the Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers; may He never leave us nor forsake us.” (1Kings 8:57).

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” (Is. 41:17).

“I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” (Is. 42:16).

But we do see a separation happen in the ancient people of God that parallels our own experience today?

“The children of Israel cried unto the Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee, both because we have forsaken our God, and also served Baalim.” (Jud. 10:10).

“According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.” (1Sam. 8:8).

“They have forsaken Me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways, to do that which is right in Mine eyes, and to keep My statutes and My judgments, as did David his father.” (1Kings 11:33).

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” (Is. 59:2). But what we see is not Jesus separating Himself from people; we see them separating from Him. They leave the covenant relationship with Him in search for something more satisfying. They insult Him and then break His heart. They stand Him up. He waits a long time in the hope that they will show up. But after a while, He sadly walks away. He isn’t going to stand on the corner forever. That is when He leaves the covenant relationship.

He never leaves us because of our weaknesses to sin. “Jesus... did not censure human weakness.... He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness.” Steps to Christ, p. 12.

He stays with those who humbly need Him, in spite of our gross sinfulness. He only leaves and forsakes when pride and self-sufficiency divide the relationship, because pride and self-sufficiency need no relationship. This is why David warns, “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” (Ps. 2:12).

It’s when pride comes in and we walk farther and farther away in darkness that He finally abandons the relationship. But isn’t that reasonable? We would do the same with someone we dearly love, who has spurned us and denied all the good times we had together ever happened. No matter what we try, that person refuses to respond. That is when we must resort to desperate measures and we cut them off, but only in the hopes that they are shocked back into reality and a need of the old friendship.

Thus, with the loss of Christ’s favor also goes His protection and His blessings. But all this discipline comes from a God of love, who is only looking and hoping for the day when proud people are humbled and empty of real love, and then carefully seek Him again.

Even if He does leave, His promise is, “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.” (Is. 54:7).

“For His mercy endureth for ever... His mercy endureth for ever… His mercy endureth for ever… For His mercy endureth for ever... for ever… for ever… for ever… for ever…” (Ps. 136:1-26).

The praise to God stands unchangeable and will never dim its luster, “Thy gentleness,” as a quality of the divine character, “hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:35).

His mercy endures all sin. His gentleness is everlasting. His love never fades. He cares for His erring children. Blessed are all they who put their trust in Him.