“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"What new doctrine is this?"

“Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him.
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And He spake this parable unto them, saying,
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Lk. 15:1-7).

Jesus, the champion of the sinner, had a quick reply for the grumbling religious folks. Did He think up that parable on the spot? Or was it a theme of thought that had gone through His mind often? I choose the latter. But He spun it off and put the real sinners on the run, while the apparent sinners moved in closer to Him.

Did Jesus construct that parable from scratch (whenever He first thought of it), or did it come from His reading of scripture, scripture that He had inspired while still in His divine form? Yes, He had read Ezekiel’s inspired parable which we find in the 34th chapter of his book.

Much better than any of us could ever know the fullness of all the ramifications of that parable of Ezekiel’s, Jesus had a complete understanding of it and handled truth found there like a deftly trained swordsman.

Jesus in every respect answered to the prophecy of Isaiah.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;
And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears:
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.
And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. (Is. 11:1-10).

Is this fullness of comprehension only for Jesus? Did He not pass some of it on to His representatives while He was gone to the heavenly sanctuary? Did He not breathe on them the Holy Ghost? What about us today? Shouldn’t we be able to look into the treasure house of God’s word and bring a fullness to them in the context of 21st century modern civilization?

Must we rely solely on the stories of the Bible? Why shouldn’t we be breathing new life into truth? The likening of the kingdom of God in all those parables of Jesus are beautiful and provide a pathway to the God of grace and truth. And for 2,000 years now, we’ve been using them for innumerable sermons and Bible stories for children.

“Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matt. 13:52).

Our Master Teacher informs us that His true followers will receive such an infilling of the Holy Spirit that their comprehension of truth will expand beyond simple mouthing of scripture. Divine inspiration never ended at the death of John. We may not have what Daniel and John had, but new things should be continually springing out of the storehouse of truth. New truth that never destroys old truth.

Otherwise, old truth becomes cliché and lifeless. It becomes threadbare and hoary with age (DA p. 326). We should not only not be afraid of this subject, but we should fear our future if no new thought and constructions arise from among us, the remnant church.

We are safe in the pursuit of new light so long as we follow a few principles.

One, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, … He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.” (Jn. 16:13,14). “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (Jn. 12:32). “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” (1Jn. 4:3). “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20). Jesus will be exalted in all new truth. New light comes for the purpose of giving new and living definition to His work in saving us. And Christ will be seen in all His princely obedience to God’s Law.

Two, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (1Pet. 1:20). “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” (Jn. 7:17). New understanding of God’s will will never be provided to advance a personal agenda. New light is always contingent on surrender to light already given. New light thrills and revels in old light and breathes new vigor into it.

Three, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1Cor. 14:32). New light from heaven never destroys old light. The same Spirit guides the minds of both modern and ancient vessels of His. Truth builds on itself, is advancing.

Four, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” (2Cor. 13:1). “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. And … all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.” (Neh. 8:8,9). Let all truth be supported by two or more interconnecting scriptures. Let there be a following of a line of truth like a vein of gold through a mountain.

Five, “I withstood him to the face.” (Gal. 2:11). “The contention was … sharp between them.” (Acts 15:39). “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Prov. 27:17). Let there be discussion, even sharp contention if necessary, over the proposed new understanding. No inspection should be shirked in defense of purity of truth. Humility will allow such an environment to reign over those who meet to hammer out truth from error. “No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
And this will we do, if God permit.
...But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Heb. 5:12-6:9).

“Covet earnestly the best gifts.” (1Cor. 12:31). “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (1Cor. 14:1).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A most horrific thing

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted His raiment, and cast lots.” (Lk. 23:34).

There she sat in perfect satisfaction, slouched back on the sofa with ankles crossed, in complete ignorance of what she had just done. Mrs. Calliopia had just made the most awful mess. Her goodness was turned into corruption! Surely, she had made the most horrendous mess. And she only sat there perfectly happy in indifference to this fact and that others were, even at that moment, trying to clean up after her. Yet, she just sat there, doing what comes natural, making a nonsensical noise with her tongue, “Tick, tick.” “Tick, tick.”

What had she done? She had had a very large bowel movement in the toilet; and when the toilet was flushed, the solid waste clogged it. Now the brown ooze mixed with urine was filling the bowl to the brim and threatening to overflow. Yet madame Calliopia was quite undisturbed by all that and just sat out in the living room going on endlessly like usual, “Tick, tick.” “Tick, tick.” “Tick, tick.” And, to add insult to shame, it didn’t even break across her mind that her ticking might be like Chinese water torture to those around her. All she could produce through that empty stare were her loud tick-ticks, sometimes broken by a “Tick, tock” or a “Tuck, tuck.”

Poor, old Calliopia is 82 years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She has a very vague concept of what she does and the impact it has on everyone around her. She has no will to do differently than what comes natural to her. If it feels good, she does it. All comeliness and propriety are gone from her thought processes.

What a perfect lesson the infinite wisdom of God has left us in this dear, elderly living parable! What a perfect picture of our sinful condition! All our righteousnesses are as, well—as the brown scum filling Calliopia’s toilet. Moment by moment, we daily let it all out, we let self go free and untrammeled, unmindful of its effects on a God who can’t ignore any part of His domain, and unaware of its impact on everyone around us.

A long trail of misery and woe follow our path. “Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3: 13-18). “A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.” (Joel 2:3).

Last night at a church meeting, we were trying to focus on Jesus and His mighty act on the cross. Yet, a beloved brother, without realizing it, kept derailing our focus on Jesus. How did he do this? His burden was on how we can be a better witness in the workplace; how we can sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others with whom we associate.

A very good subject. A very Christian idea. And yet, it was derailing the group-think on the cross. How can anyone ever accuse our righteousnesses of being unrighteous? How can righteous living ever come under condemnation? Certainly, good living is safe from the judgment of God! No? Please say, No!

But Jesus said, “Ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always.” (Matt. 26:11). In other words, without purposely keeping Jesus as our sole primary focus, and keeping our radar locked on His work, our religion becomes only social gospel; and the state does that much. Such was the religion which Judas put forward, which prompted these words of Christ. “If we must do good, let us do it when the focus is on Jesus! By any and all means, divert the attention from Him and His grace and truth and put it on good works!” It is the unacceptable offering of Cain. “Ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always.”

Unless Jesus, and what He has done, is the center of focus, then how can we say we obey Him? Faith only comes in associating with Him, studying Him, fellowshipping with Him. Unless all fullness dwells in Him, we can never arrive at true faith. Then if we believe our righteousnesses come from “Righteousness By Faith,” and yet a knowledge of Jesus is not the object and purpose of our righteous acts, then how can our righteousnesses come by faith? Or is so, faith in whom? Because Jesus is absent if He isn’t the focus, as He has been in most of Christendom’s sorry history of “obedience” since it’s falling away.

If Christ has not become our complete focus, so that we are complete in Him, all our Christian endeavor is actually antichristian endeavor. It’s truly amazing how self so quietly weaves itself into the work of God! It made John admire the cunning work of the mystery of iniquity. “And when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman.” (Rev. 17:6,7).

“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes.” (Dan. 8:24,25).

“He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. He shall enter peaceably. …And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” (Dan. 11:21-24,36,37).

We are the remnant church; yet if Jesus is not the focus and if focusing on Him is not our highest, continual effort, how can God trust us with the greatest message of His love to a world gone awry, yet one that is trying its best to look moral? “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” For in Christ Jesus a circumspect life avails nothing, as well an uncircumspect; but rather, a new creature avails everything. (Gal. 6:14,15).

Look once more into that thick blackness surrounding Golgotha, the place of the skull. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: … Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin.” (Is. 53:10). “For He hath made Him to be sin for us.” (2Cor. 5:21).

No sign of goodness and joy must He be able to see, hear, or feel. His beloved disciple and the scattered other ten, His faithful mother, dear Mary Magdalene who had just recently so poured out her love for Him,—all must be blotted from His sight. Perfect sensory deprivation and total focus on the horrendous nature and effects of sin must drown His sensitive soul in a death-like sorrow. A knowledge of rebellion must block out everything else until He is filled of its abhorrent toxicity. He was made to be sin; dead while He yet lived (1Tim. 5:6), until His life ebbed away.

Yet His love and subjection to His Father kept Him faithful to this great controversy-sized task. As the Father’s one true representative of heaven’s administration, Jesus accepted His part in this greatest ever revelation of divine justice and mercy.

“He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (2Cor. 5:21).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The very dying form of One

Do we really comprehend the cross of Christ? I think not. If we did, we would all be converted and stay converted. We say we understand the science of salvation. Yet we don’t talk about the cross. And even Jesus is left out of much of our conversation, even during church fellowship.

But He is the center of the science! Elijah poured out his complaint to the Lord. “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars....” (1Ki. 19:10). Forsaken the covenant and thrown down the altars. Let’s translate that to new dispensation language—The people of God have forsaken the gospel and ignored and obscured Christ’s crucifixion.

Sound familiar? When is the Lord going to raise up another Elijah to bring us back to the cross and all its grace-filled ramifications? Any other kind of religion is nothing more than the offering of Cain without the cross of Christ as the central object of attention. Grace is missing. Agape love is scarce. Yet the people seem joyous and satisfied with the condition of the church and its focus.

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so.” (Jer. 5:30,31). “I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.” (Hos. 8:12).

Without the cross of grace as our focus, we scurry about seeking a suitable substitute. One finds prophecy and end time events, and exalts them to the center. Another finds the health message; another evangelism, and another studying Paul. Even Righteousness by Faith and 1888 have taken center stage and become the suitable substitute for very many. But Jesus is missing and people are angrily fighting for their RBF agenda!

Because Christ and His mighty grace are not the center of attention the church is thrown into confusion with so many other centers of focus. “What we need is to fast and pray!” says one well-meaning church elder. “What we need is corporate repentance!” says another elderly well-known author. “What we need is to stop telling people to stop eating cheese!” says the church’s foremost RBF expert who doesn’t know how to preach Jesus.

Question is: Do we know how to preach Jesus? Do any of our preachers know how? Because if they did, surely in the past 10 years I would have heard a sermon on Jesus, full of grace and truth. We deserve the brand of cult. If Jesus isn’t our center we are a cult! (Of, course we have plenty of company in all the other Protestant denominations. They can’t preach Jesus, either. So they are cults, too!)

Look with me into the dense blackness surrounding that cross on yonder hill. What do we see? The very dying form of One. Wonder of wonders! He is taking our blows and bolts from the throne of heaven. He is suffering our withdrawal of life from God. Our chastised peace is His who has ever only known perfect rest and peace in His Father’s acceptance. The blackness of soul is upon Him. The absence of hope depressing His tongue deep into His throat so that He can hardly utter a word.

Not the spikes in His hands and feet are killing Him. No, in the blackness He does not even remember the insults or notice the spittle on His battered and swollen face kept moist by the pangs of anxiety and a ton of psychological pressure forcing blood from His pores. Without a mediator for Himself to protect and deflect the condemnation, His stare through blaring eyes belies His guilty stance before a holy God. Surely the Sun was turned into darkness, and the Moon into blood, according to the prophecy. (Acts 2:20).

He is made to be sin, the most hated thing in His universe. He is an outcast and foresaken by His most Beloved Father. He stubbornly refuses to give up the notion of clinging to His attachment to the rebellious race. Then He must suffer divine wrath. It’s only right. It’s the Law. He is an aider and abettor to an insurrection of the kingdom of God. He is an accessory to the crime of high treason against the holy government. You love a world full of Barabas’s so much, then You must pay the price. And pay He did; He would not let go of them, even as He descended into oblivion. His love for them retained the human race for Himself and saved them from extinction. Nothing but love would pass God’s austere judgment.

“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. 53:11,12).

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
O trysting place where Heaven’s love and Heaven’s justice meet!
As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A song to Jesus

Psalm 110
1The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.
2The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.
3Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.
4The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
5The Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath.
6He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries.
7He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head.

What fascinates me in this is the use of “my Lord.” “My” distinguishes between “my Lord” and “The Lord.” Here, 1000 years before the incarnation of the Son of God, David knew of the two Persons of the Godhead, “The Lord” and “my Lord.” Did all the prophets know this? Possibly, yes they did. We also see in the usage of “my” a relational intimacy David had with the Son of God. As intercessor, Christ was truly David’s greatest friend and confidant. And He can, should, and must be as intimate to us, as well.

“The Lord” is here described as greater than “my Lord,” in that He sets “my Lord” on His right hand, language that speaks of favor and delegated authority, and then gives Him the will of the faithful people and the dew of youth. “The Lord” ordains “my Lord” as a special priest-king, “The Lord” gives Him the power to strike down kings in wrath and to judge and wound. And finally gives refreshing all along His way in His crusade against Satan.

This song holds very significant theology within it. It not only indicates two distinct Personalities within the Godhead, but it also shows a hierarchy. And of course, Jesus used this psalm to befuddle the so-called “learned” masters of the law as recorded in Matthew 22.

It gives the picture of an almost fairy-tale like scene of victory and vanquishing of enemies, so much a perfect victory that they never again raise their heads. It also reveals an irreversible oath to bless “my Lord” with a role and position unique in all history. He becomes a high priest, sanctified and holy, higher than the highest priest on earth; greater than Abraham, the holiest man since the flood, the progenitor of a plan to redeem humanity.

Yet, I would say that more significant than its theology is its prophetic nature. Why does its prophetic aspect hold more significance? Because it says what Christ did in the fulfillment of prophecy, more than what He was in theology. God is a person of action; He doesn’t just sit there, the icon of dead worship. He is always on the move, and we have to continuously work to keep up with Him.

This does not play down theology, the study of God and His character. But it exalts prophecy as a foundation for faith. What good is a knowledge of God if we don’t have grounds to believe it? The fulfillment of prophecy provides that foundation.

Why am I going here? What is the hidden motive? Why make such a to-do and slice hairs? Because, we are called to exalt Christ. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (Jn. 12:32). We are called to study Jesus and all that pertains to Him throughout both Old and New Testaments, in nature and in day-to-day providences. But isn’t exalting His every word and deed doing the same as all the worshipers of false gods since the beginning of the fall of man? I use the word “embellish” because it has such a connotation of deceit, adding characteristics to a person that really aren’t there. Didn’t those devotees also embellish their pagan deities with great powers? And after hundreds or thousands of years of adding to the list of powers of a certain imaginary god in order to appease and please it, that deity looked pretty invincible and worthy of perfect faith and the highest worship.

Are we “embellishing” Jesus with similar imaginary characteristics when we magnify and exalt Him? Is all the praise in the Bible simply repeating what the neighboring heathen did for their gods? This question could become a central point of doubt, one that could be very damaging especially in the time of trouble, and very especially so in the time of Jacob’s trouble when the intercession of Christ isn’t creating a barrier of grace between us and the infinitely just Father.

Why can we say, without any doubt, that we are not embellishing Jesus when we say He was born of a virgin, fought and was victorious over the devil, healed, walked on water, was transfigured, had a special death, resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father, that a world of libraries could not contain all the books that could be written of Jesus, and on and on? How is this any different from what all the other religions have done to their heroes? Because of prophecy. Long before Jesus came as a man, the way was prepared and a strong foundation laid by prophecies, some old, some from the dimmest antiquity.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” (Gen. 3:15).

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49: 10).

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken.” (Deut. 18:15).

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

“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles…. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law. … 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.40:1-4, 19-21).

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.” (Is. 49:16).

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant…. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.” (Is. 53:2,7-9).

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people … and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks…And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself…And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease….” (Dan. 9:24-27).

“Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord: Even He shall build the temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zech. 6:12,13).

“And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends. Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the Man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn Mine hand upon the little ones.” (Zech 13:6,7).

Is this prophetic exalting of Jesus the same as what the papal Hierarchy did, who, through the ages, truly embellished the biblical accounts with a mountain of lies? Did they do in their canonical writings as the Holy Spirit led the inspired writers of the Bible, thus ranking the Church’s traditions on a par with the sacred scriptures? Was their pagan spirit like that of the holy men of old?

No, the chief difference being that their exaltation was not based on the previous Bible writers. Their embellishment came from the methods of classical Greek philosophy and mythology. No only were the principles of righteousness uncommunicated in the still-life images and icons of the Church, but the faith-creating prophecies of the Messiah/Saviour were conspicuously absent throughout the Dark Ages. We should spurn the Church’s traditions and the apocryphal books they accepted into their Bible. By mixing truth with error they came up with the greatest insult cast upon God’s character, a method calculated by Satan to deceive the whole world, even the very elect.

The sure foundation for serving Christ and worshiping and praising Him can be found in the prophetic writings that sounded out His arrival eons prior to His incarnation and earthly ministry. We can search for and dig and find out the Almighty unto perfect knowledge of Him. We are free to exalt Him and the beauty of His holiness without fear of “embellishing” imaginary qualities of character.

“For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “Search the scriptures; for… they are they which testify of Me.” (Col. 1:19;2:3;Jn. 5:39).

“As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father: so He that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” (Jn. 6:57).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God gave His Son

“He was numbered with the transgressors.” Jesus came here to do more than preach and teach and heal. He came—He was sent—as an enemy into our territory, to become one of us. He threw in His chips in our race. He included Himself in our kind. He was made of no reputation among heaven as He took the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

It can be said He is one of us. Us, the lowest and meanest, the most degraded of all creations. Earth, rebellion central, is His new homeland. He is a citizen of planet Earth. As Paul was a Roman by birth, yet the greatest of apostles, so is Christ human by birth, yet the holy Son of God. Such paradoxes cannot be superseded.

Who numbered Him with transgressors? Himself? No. Someone else counted Him one of us. God did. Yes, the God who cast Adam and Eve from their paradise home, who destroyed the world by flood, who cast down brimstone onto Sodom and Gomorrah, who had King Saul execute every Amalekite man, woman, and child. Yes, this God will do more. He will preside over damnation on Judgment Day.

Yes, it was that God who sent His Son to be numbered with transgressors. He was so inclusive that He couldn’t enjoy heaven without us. To be numbered with transgressors allowed the Father to pour all His anger at sin on His Son, who was considered one of us. In dumping His hot displeasure at sin on His Son, He could then be justified in justifying those who His Son couldn’t live without and who couldn’t live without His Son.

God has more than proven His love for every member of the human family. Everyone may make use of the provision to escape Judgment Day. Certain it is that Christ’s sacrifice was good for all. Oh the waste to not take full advantage of what Jesus has done.

“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. 53:12).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Love like we've never known

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.

And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more; but ye see Me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you. He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, He it is that loveth Me: and He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love Him, and will manifest Myself to him.

If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn. 14:10,11,16-21,23,27).

Jesus was trying to express, to the best of His ability, to His disciples, who were oblivious to divine spirituality, the intimacy and friendship He had with the God of perfect righteousness and love. His Father was the author of loyalty and responsibility to principles of goodness.

As the infant is knit with the soul of its nursing mother, a deeply seated bond develops that can never be broken; so it was with the Son of God to the Ancient of Days.

We can have perfect peace only in the same way Jesus had it—in that union, that perfect knitting of souls, weaving our threads together, resulting in an experience which manifests itself in a character that is woven without seam from top to bottom, our threads criss-crossing Jesus’, regularly moved over and under His, and His in and out of ours.

It is only thus that we can say with Jesus, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (vs. 30).

Friday, August 08, 2008

Character, the most important thing today

“I’m beginning to realize that character is the most important thing,” my friend confided to me. I’ve been remodeling Maria’s house for some time, getting to know her and her family pretty good. It’s given her and I many opportunities to talk and discuss the direction of life America has taken. She has two sons, one in college and the younger just entering there.

Maria is discovering an independence, rather a growing self-dependence, in her boys that is disturbing her and building an anguish that nothing can heal. And worse, their friends and peers exhibit the most outrageous insolence and disrespect and self-indulgence. This has brought her to tears.

“Character is the most important thing.” Maria has told me that she was brought up to be an atheist, but had faith in God as a child. And she wants to have that again. Faith is a gift of God, and I believe He is growing that tender plant in her through this crisis she is having to face.

She, like so many other westerners, has placed all hope in knowledge. She, like the other atheists, has praised education as the ultimate boon to the world. For the past 60 years modern man has trumpeted this panacea of knowledge as our last hope for world peace and progress, and the continued happiness of the race.

Education would raise the poor out of the slums; it would stop every form of abuse and violence; it would end world tyranny, and safely carry man to the heights of development in his search for truth. Yet, nothing has been more elusive to humanity.

A wonderfully inspired woman once wrote:

In these days much is said concerning the nature and importance of “higher education.” The true “higher education” is that imparted by Him with whom “is wisdom and strength” (Job 12:13), out of whose mouth “cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6.

In a knowledge of God all true knowledge and real development have their source. Wherever we turn, in the physical, the mental, or the spiritual realm; in whatever we behold, apart from the blight of sin, this knowledge is revealed. Whatever line of investigation we pursue, with a sincere purpose to arrive at truth, we are brought in touch with the unseen, mighty Intelligence that is working in and through all. The mind of man is brought into communion with the mind of God, the finite with the Infinite. The effect of such communion on body and mind and soul is beyond estimate.

In this communion is found the highest education. It is God’s own method of development. “Acquaint now thyself with Him” (Job 22:21), is His message to mankind. The method outlined in these words was the method followed in the education of the father of our race. When in the glory of sinless manhood Adam stood in holy Eden, it was thus that God instructed him….

When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image--the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe--the “wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16)--invited man’s study. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout eternal ages he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge, to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more and more fully have reflected the Creator’s glory….

Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education. This is made plain in the law that God has given as the guide of life. The first and great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” Luke 10:27. To love Him, the infinite, the omniscient One, with the whole strength, and mind, and heart, means the highest development of every power. It means that in the whole being--the body, the mind, as well as the soul--the image of God is to be restored….

Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator-- individuality, power to think and to do. The men in whom this power is developed are the men who bear responsibilities, who are leaders in enterprise, and who influence character. It is the work of true education to develop this power, to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought. Instead of confining their study to that which men have said or written, let students be directed to the sources of truth, to the vast fields opened for research in nature and revelation. Let them contemplate the great facts of duty and destiny, and the mind will expand and strengthen.

Instead of educated weaklings, institutions of learning may send forth men strong to think and to act, men who are masters and not slaves of circumstances, men who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions.

Such an education provides more than mental discipline; it provides more than physical training. It strengthens the character, so that truth and uprightness are not sacrificed to selfish desire or worldly ambition. It fortifies the mind against evil. Instead of some master passion becoming a power to destroy, every motive and desire are brought into conformity to the great principles of right. As the perfection of His character is dwelt upon, the mind is renewed, and the soul is re-created in the image of God.

What education can be higher than this? What can equal it in value?
“It cannot be gotten for gold,
Neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
With the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it
And the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls:
For the price of wisdom is above rubies.” Job 28:15-18.

Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness--godlikeness--is the goal to be reached. Before the student there is opened a path of continual progress. He has an object to achieve, a standard to attain, that includes everything good, and pure, and noble. He will advance as fast and as far as possible in every branch of true knowledge. But his efforts will be directed to objects as much higher than mere selfish and temporal interests as the heavens are higher than the earth.

He who co-operates with the divine purpose in imparting to the youth a knowledge of God, and molding the character into harmony with His, does a high and noble work. As he awakens a desire to reach God’s ideal, he presents an education that is as high as heaven and as broad as the universe; an education that cannot be completed in this life, but that will be continued in the life to come; an education that secures to the successful student his passport from the preparatory school of earth to the higher grade, the school above.
Education, E.G. White, pp. 14-19.

If true education had taken hold of the world, no dictator would have ever ruined nations and created wars. If a knowledge of the holy God had truly been disseminated, America would never have become the sink of corruption, to which it is fast bending its steps toward its own ruin.

“The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28).

Give me the Bible, star of gladness gleaming,
To cheer the wand’rer lone and tempest tossed;
No storm can hide that radiance peaceful beaming,
Since Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

Give me the Bible, when my heart is broken,
When sin and grief have filled my soul with fear;
Give me the precious words by Jesus spoken,
Hold up faith’s lamp to show my Savior near.

Give me the Bible, all my steps enlighten,
Teach me the danger of these realms below;
That lamp of safety o’er the gloom shall brighten,
That light alone the path of peace can show.

Give me the Bible, lamp of life immortal,
Hold up that splendor by the open grave;
Show me the light from Heaven’s shining portal,
Show me the glory gilding Jordan’s wave.

Give me the Bible, holy message shining;
Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way;
Precept and promise, law and love combining,
Till night shall vanish in eternal day.

The Lord, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, etc., etc., etc...

Betania—“Dad, why do you leave your phone off?”
Me—“My phone died. I need to charge my battery.”
Betania—“I charge my battery every night.”
Me—“I didn’t know I could do that.”

It looked like I was being irresponsible, but, really it isn’t like it seems. I was being responsible (in my ignorance.) But I was misinformed about modern cell phone batteries. Therefore, I had some needless thing running in the back of my mind; and it nagged at me constantly.

I had been trained on electronic gadgets and batteries way, way back in the 80’s when rechargeable batteries had the potential for developing a “memory.” This meant that if you recharged a battery before it was fully discharged, say, one-half discharged of voltage, then from then on the most you could ever charge it was one-half, no matter how much you had discharged it and no matter how long you charged it. So, if a battery had been fully discharged after it had such a memory had developed, it could never hold more than half its full charge, and thus, half its useable length of time before dying and needing a recharge.

So, back then when battery technology was old, it took some extra planning when using battery powered devices. But today batteries can be recharged anytime. It doesn’t hurt a battery that is ½, ¼, or ¾ discharged to put it on the charger.

This relieves me of the extra stress I have of wondering how I can recharge my cell phone if it wants to die during the work day. I will simply plug in the recharger every night before going to bed, and the phone will never die. If only I had known this a long time ago. How much less thought would have been necessary concerning the phone when I needed to focus on the day’s work!

Likewise, many of us immature Christians trip and stumble often because we think we need to be extra careful to not offend God and lose His acceptance. The fear of that weighs on us and causes us to lose sight of His acceptance! The fear of such a loss as His love and care also disturbs the day’s accomplishments, so that we can’t fully focus on the tasks at hand, so that we aren’t able to be as productive as we should be. Shouldn’t the Christian be perfect, like Christ was perfect, even as a common worker?

But is God’s acceptance so tentative and flighty that we can turn Him off to us as quickly as we fear? Isn’t His love infinitely deeper than ours?

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3).

“For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye.” (Zech. 2:8).

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Is. 55:9).

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord : and I will turn away your captivity.” (Jer. 29:13,14).

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Heb. 8:12).

No, if we’ve faced His law in all its fearfulness, and wrestled with Him over it; if our faith has survived an encounter with the infinite God enough to lay hold onto His promise to be merciful; then we are Israel, and may lay claim to God’s promise that He has accepted us. We are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to “the promise.”

This was Christ’s keynote speech when He warned Satan that He was re-claiming a world of sinners and their planet, “And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk. 4:17-19).

So, let’s go on in the path of life, fully unafraid that our Savior and our God might be like us with our quick fuse. Let’s remember that Their mercy and love, Their tender pity and grace are infinitely deeper and fuller and longer suffering than anything a creature could every come up with, much less, self-centered sinners that we all are. The acceptance by God is a hard thing to lose. Even after 300 years of constant departure and determination to lose their heavenly Husband, He unburdens Himself in infinite sorrow and frustration with one last overture to get their attention, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, My repentings are kindled together.” (Heb. 11:8).

If we desire a deepening friendship with God, let’s never think He will ever abandon us because we have done “the worst sin ever.”

“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.” Steps to Christ, p. 64.

“Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10).

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for” “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Ecc. 9:10;Rom. 8:1).

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide. No fears alarm, no foes afright, a shelter in the time of storm. Mighty Rock...

“All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord; and Thy saints shall bless Thee.” (Ps. 145:10).

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Which version of the Bible?

I’ve been hearing about this subject lately, which doesn’t mean it’s a new point of contention. Its probably thousands of years old. It speaks of the idea that the KJV is the only good Bible because it was based on the Textus Receptus (TR) and the newer versions are not. I looked up the TR on the internet and found this site. It seems to say that there were many versions of the TR and that they all differed from each other. I thought the TR came from the days of the apostles or early thereafter.

The book, Truth Triumphant says of the Textus Receptus and Lucian (c. A.D. 250-312):

Lucian's Gift of the Genuine New Testament
The Protestant denominations are built upon that manuscript of the Greek New Testament sometimes called the Textus Receptus, or Received Text. It is that Greek New Testament from which the writings of the apostles in Greek have been translated into English, German, Dutch, and other languages. During the Dark Ages, the Received Text was practically unknown outside the Greek Church. It was restored to Christendom by the labors of that great scholar, Erasmus. It is altogether too little known that the real editor of the received text was Lucian. None of Lucian's enemies fails to credit him with this work. Neither Lucian nor Erasmus, but rather the apostles, wrote the Greek New Testament. However, Lucian's day was an age of apostasy when a flood of depravations was systematically attempting to devastate both the Bible manuscripts and Bible theology. Origen, of the Alexandrian college, made his editions and commentaries of the Bible a secure retreat for all errors, and deformed them with philosophical speculations introducing casuistry and lying.13 Lucian's unrivaled success in verifying, safeguarding, and transmitting those divine writings left a heritage for which all generations should be thankful.
Mutilations of the Sacred Scriptures abounded.14 There were at least eighty heretical sects all striving for supremacy.15 Each took unwarranted license in removing or adding pages to Bible manuscripts.16
Consider how masterly must have been Lucian's collection of the evidences which identified and protected the writings left to the church by the apostles. From that day to this the Received Text and the New Testaments translated from it are far in the lead of any other Bibles in use.

My question: Is there one TR, i.e. the one from Lucian, or did his survive? It sounds like it did not survive and thus many versions of his work are the result of sending his NT down the centuries to us today.

Does this invalidate the KJV? According to the above website on the TR, the KJV wasn’t totally based on the TR, but was a conglomeration of several previous texts. Don’t get me wrong, I have the KJV and it’s the only version I use, except on occasion for verification of old English.

But I do have another problem with the KJV. There seems to be a difficulty in tying it all together. What I mean is, EGW tied it all together in the Conflict series, through special inspiration. Why can’t we do the same with the KJV without special inspiration? Is it because, like the above website alleges, the writers of the KJV didn’t understand the theology of the Bible, some of whom were very secular, ambitious, and ungodly men, so they couldn’t tie it all together correctly? Thus, even the KJV, as a translation, is dysfunctional. It demands a thorough study to eek out the consistent line of truth God gave to the 40 men who wrote His will. They were consistent, but the translation of their writings wasn’t. And maybe having to eek out truth from the KJV writers is in God’s plan. We shouldn’t eat food someone else has chewed up and emulsified with their saliva.

Having said all that, what can we say about the fact that Paul and even Christ used the Septuagint (Heb. 10:5;Matt. 21:16) instead of the origial Hebrew Scriptures? The LXX was a relatively new version of the OT and probably considered, by the Pharisees, to be corrupted and not worthy of reading. Are we doing the same when we get caught up in warring against new editions of the Bible? Are we guilty of worshiping letters and type, instead of depending on God and studying His word for His will, receiving His Spirit through His thoughts and through obedience to His obvious commandments (2Pet. 1:8,9), and thus, gaining a knowledge of Him and His grace? Are we relying on “word” inspiration instead of “thought” inspiration?

Friday, August 01, 2008

Jesus and the Testimonies for the Church

Many of the people in her day called her “Mother White.” I want to do that too, but I think I would be misunderstood. When the Lord brought me back, He led me directly to the Bible again. Then He led me to the Spirit of Prophecy books, which I found delightfully refreshing and convicting.

No other writer pressed us so close to the letter and the spirit of the scriptures. No other worked so hard to exalt the Bible and bring it out of fable and fairy tale status. No other has worked so hard to bring it into practical life and speech, and to lead others to follow the same example. Certainly it was “even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

But I have found some of her books very hard to read. Steps to Christ is the hardest for me. I think that is because there is so much high standard there without Jesus to accompany the principles. That probably sounds real strange, but I am finding that Jesus has to baby-sit me as I read the “high standard” which is the modern form of the law. Otherwise, I can’t handle the truth. My neck stiffens and my will shuts down.

Contrariwise, her book, Desire of Ages is easy to read because Jesus is in it through and through. Do you see the difference? I don’t think I’m an exception in this, either. This was the issue Paul was bringing to the world. I think that books like Steps to Christ and the Testimonies for the Church are essential reading, but the reader better be armed with grace before going there, and lots of it. I’ve seen too many hyper-legalists following the Testimonies to the “T.” They give the evidence that they have never known a gentle, loving Jesus.

I’ve heard people ask, “Why does it seem that Adventism generates such high strung extremists?” I point the SOP. But, I also blame the church’s lack of preaching Jesus and His love and grace. What can we expect from people if they never know the love of God, but have access to the law in the clearest form ever given to mankind?

We say we have the truth. But, is the law the whole truth? No, it is only part of the truth. The grace of God is the other part, and the bigger part. (Shh, don’t let anyone know I said that.)

Paul called the present truth of the gospel, “the truth.” “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal. 3:1).

“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ps. 85:10). Yet how many sermons on Jesus and His grace have you heard lately? Its been a long time since I heard one. In fact, the last time I heard a really convincing sermon on Jesus and the love of God was by Morris Venden. And that was many moons ago. I wonder if our pastors even know how to preach Jesus and God’s love for man.

It makes me think we deserve every bit being called a cult. We should take the branding as a hint from Providence, and reform. We need preaching reform. I’ve been to campmeetings advertised as Christ centered, and never heard about Jesus. All we heard was the law. We need Christ-centered righteousness by faith if we are ever to fulfill the great commission and the 3rd angel’s message.

I point to the SOP for so many Adventist extremists and legalists. Paul would have done the same thing. Not that Moses created the Pharisees and a nation of legalists, but Paul laid some weight against a law that lacked a Person. This is what Paul introduced. Jesus needs to be brought into the Testimonies and church doctrines today. Otherwise, the Testimonies are dry as the hills of Gilboa and dangerous.

When we finally know Jesus and the Testimonies, then there will be faith and obedience, where today there is pervasive insubordination and unbelief.