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, July 27, 2008

Truth can afford to be fair

The prophetic gift given to the Advent movement has kept it safe from many a sidetrack that has plagued Protestantism over the past 160 years. Jesus in the Most Holy Place has steered His last bark through many hidden dangers on the right and the left. And He continues to steer it.

Having said that, though, we, as a denomination, need to take on what Paul said, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.” Let us beware of the pitfall of thinking that all our expositions of scripture are without flaw or in need of refinement, as EGW warned.

Maintaining Truth Not to Preclude New Light.-- It is a fact that we have the truth, and we must hold with tenacity to the positions that cannot be shaken; but we must not look with suspicion upon any new light which God may send, and say, Really, we cannot see that we need any more light than the old truth which we have hitherto received, and in which we are settled. While we hold to this position, the testimony of the True Witness applies to our cases its rebuke, “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Those who feel rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, are in a condition of blindness as to their true condition before God, and they know it not.--Review and Herald, August 7, 1894.

Led of God, but Not Infallible.--We must not think, “Well, we have all the truth, we understand the main pillars of our faith, and we may rest on this knowledge.” The truth is an advancing truth, and we must walk in the increasing light.
A brother asked, “Sister White, do you think we must understand the truth for ourselves? Why can we not take the truths that others have gathered together, and believe them because they have investigated the subjects, and then we shall be free to go on without the taxing of the powers of the mind in the investigation of all these subjects? Do you not think that these men who have brought out the truth in the past were inspired of God?”
I dare not say they were not led of God, for Christ leads into all truth; but when it comes to inspiration in the fullest sense of the word, I answer, No. I believe that God has given them a work to do, but if they are not fully consecrated to God at all times, they will weave self and their peculiar traits of character into what they are doing, and will put their mold upon the work, and fashion men in religious experience after their own pattern. It is dangerous for us to make flesh our arm. We should lean upon the arm of Infinite Power. God has been revealing this to us for years. We must have living faith in our hearts and reach out for larger knowledge and more advanced light.--Review and Herald, March 25, 1890. {CW 34.1}

Increased Light to Shine.--A spirit of pharisaism has been coming in upon the people who claim to believe the truth for these last days. They are self-satisfied. They have said, “We have the truth. There is no more light for the people of God.” But we are not safe when we take a position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth. We should take the Bible, and investigate it closely for ourselves. We should dig in the mine of God’s word for truth. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Some have asked me if I thought there was any more light for the people of God. Our minds have become so narrow that we do not seem to understand that the Lord has a mighty work to do for us. Increasing light is to shine upon us; for “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”--Review and Herald, June 18, 1889. {CW 34.2}

Many Gems Yet to Be Discovered.--New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God.--Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34. (1892.) {CW 35.1}

We are living in perilous times, and it does not become us to accept everything claimed to be truth without examining it thoroughly; neither can we afford to reject anything that bears the fruits of the Spirit of God; but we should be teachable, meek and lowly of heart. There are those who oppose everything that is not in accordance with their own ideas, and by so doing they endanger their eternal interest as verily as did the Jewish nation in their rejection of Christ. {CW 35.3}

The Lord designs that our opinions shall be put to the test, that we may see the necessity of closely examining the living oracles to see whether or not we are in the faith. Many who claim to believe the truth have settled down at their ease, saying, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” --Review and Herald, December 20, 1892. {CW 36.1}


Right Spirit Essential.--Brethren, we must sink the shaft deep in the mine of truth. You may question matters with yourselves and with one another, if you only do it in the right spirit; but too often self is large, and as soon as investigation begins, an unchristian spirit is manifested. This is just what Satan delights in, but we should come with a humble heart to know for ourselves what is truth.
The time is coming when we shall be separated and scattered, and each one of us will have to stand without the privilege of communion with those of like precious faith; and how can you stand unless God is by your side, and you know that He is leading and guiding you? Whenever we come to investigate Bible truth, the Master of assemblies is with us. The Lord does not leave the ship one moment to be steered by ignorant pilots. We may receive our orders from the Captain of our salvation.--Review and Herald, March 25, 1890. {CW 42.1}


Let none think that there is no more knowledge for them to gain. The depth of human intellect may be measured; the works of human authors may be mastered; but the highest, deepest, broadest flight of the imagination cannot find out God. There is infinity beyond all that we can comprehend. We have seen only the glimmering of divine glory and of the infinitude of knowledge and wisdom; we have, as it were, been working on the surface of the mine, when rich, golden ore is beneath the surface, to reward the one who will dig for it. The shaft must be sunk deeper and yet deeper in the mine, and the result will be glorious treasure. Through a correct faith divine knowledge will become human knowledge. {ML 108.2}


You will notice the beautiful balance in those differing statements. Finally, the most well-known:

Investigation of Doctrine.--There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation. {CW 35.2}


And we need to really take a good look at what we believe, or the devil will come in and do his famous bait and switch routine. “Hey, look over there!” (switch). Or “Hey, look at yourself!” (switch). Or “Hey, looky at all the mountain of truth you have!” (switch). Or, “It is written! He shall give His...” (switch).

We must keep our nose in the Book and let it bring us into the Most Holy experience or we will lose out in the end.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Draw me nearer

The words of the hymn we sang today stood out for me.

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But…

What’s amazing to me is the “But.” The love of God! What could be greater than the assurance of His love? Billions are looking for such a thing; billions are without hope in this world because they don’t have a knowledge of the Love of God.

Isn’t it enough to hear the Lord’s voice that told of His love for us? Can such a privileged person be so bold as to ask for something greater? A little daring, wouldn’t you say? Like looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Yet, when we are drawn into a relationship with God, we can be daring and bold without repercussions. We can do like many a son and grandson of Presidents have done throughout American history—walk into the President’s oval office, and even cabinet meetings, uninvited. And they were not thrown out, as anyone else would have been. Rather, they were warmly received, given the answer to whatever questioned bothered them, and then sent out by the hand of their mother or some kind helper.

It was the covenant relationship that allowed the 70 elders of Israel to see God without any harm coming to them. “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” (Ex. 24:10,11).

Likewise, we can receive all that God can give us today, and still go in to ask for more tomorrow. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Trinity

This concept of “three Gods in one” conflicts with Judaism with their monotheism. As it did with Sunday and Easter, this was the church’s attack on Judaism and cutting the people’s ties to them and to the Old Testament. It raised the Church and the New Testament in supremacy in the minds of the people. This is why the bishops fought so hard to hold on to the trinity idea.

Constantine, whose only interest in the Nicaean Council was the unification of the empire, voted for the trinity, giving the final word on the subject.

Thus, using theology, the Church discomfited their competitor in Judaism. But there were other competitors. The Arians were also a force of contention. Though Christian, they were not catholic, i.e. confederate with the most idolatrous sector of Christianity.

Again, to unify his kingdom, Constantine in connection with a politically maneuvering church leadership, denounced Arius and anathematized his books.

Another reason the church desired the trinity doctrine was because they had lost the love of God to the extent that their souls were black with Satan’s presence. Spiritual formation or “channeling” had taken the place of prayer.

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9). The control of Satan drove those in the church to seek stronger measures to have peace of mind than simple trusting in a God who hears them. Their minds were prevented from communion with God; the Holy Spirit of God had left them.

Thus the common practice from Egypt of visualizing peace through transcendental meditation moved into the church. The trinity gave an object to visualize in their mystical meditation, and that ancient heathen practice became accepted as heaven ordained. Yet it was simply mental idolatry with the trinity as a mental icon. Meditation on God through His word vanished from the Church and they never regained their high position the apostles gave it. Deeper and deeper the Church traversed the path to hell.

The trinity also satisfied the curiosity of the unconverted church. They had “figured out” the mysteries of the Holy Spirit. They knew what it was, even though they were unconverted and separated from God when they arrived at their understanding. The intellect was the only thing brought to the study.

Yet the Bible clearly states that that is not the way to understand God. “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor. 2:10-14). “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 29:29).

Another point against the trinity doctrine is the atmosphere of hatred and debate that surrounded its approval in the council. Such animosity rained upon all present that pagan Constantine had to act as arbitrator. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (Jas. 3:14-16). “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1Tim. 6:3-6).

The “fathers’” attitudes alone should leave us highly suspicious of the trinity doctrine. I believe in the Holy Spirit and its work of calling, conversion, cleansing, and commissioning us. But beyond that we should leave the mysteries of the Godhead to their proper sphere. Let’s not trample on holy ground with our unholy theological feet.

And let’s not allow our deep feelings for ancient traditions of an apostatized Christianity to cause us to be pulled into the rising and ominous power of the neo-Papacy now coalescing into the final beast power. Soon it will be back to its old self of the Dark Ages. Soon it will unleash the Inquisition and force the whole world to serve Mary and the Trinity, on pain of confiscation of property and of death.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Whosoever will, let him drink freely

Water, water everywhere.

Isn’t water amazing? It has properties unlike any other liquid. God took oxygen, an explosive gas, and hydrogen, an extremely explosive gas; He brought them together and made the universal coolant, solvent, and extinguisher of fire.

Water is the home of millions of fresh water fish, not to mention the abundant salt water varieties. But, to keep them all alive in the cold, the Lord gave frozen water the ability to float on the surface of rivers and lakes and oceans, a property no other molecule has.

A miracle takes place daily at the polar caps and other cold places of our planet. Every time the air temperature reaches 32 degrees and enough heat is lost, instead of acting like every other kind of liquid when condensing—getting denser and heavier and settling at the bottom of its container—water expands for the first 4 degrees below 32, as it turns into ice. A miracle! Then once it is in its solid form, at 28 degrees, it begins to condense, like every other solid. But by then, it has created a hard shell above the rest of the unfrozen water.

The wonder of this is that it has kept the fish population alive. If water hadn’t the unique property of expansion during those first 4 degrees below freezing, ice would be formed during the winter, it would have settled to the bottom of rivers, lakes and oceans, and, slowly but surely, every channel and body of water would have become solid blocks of ice and the fish would have all perished eons ago.

Another amazing thing about water is its tastelessness. Pure water tastes like nothing. It has been called the water of life because it is the most important necessity to life and health of every living plant and animal on earth, second only to air. Yet, its taste is transparent.

Humans can live without food for 2 weeks or more. They can live without water for 4 days, air for 4 minutes. The most important essentials for life give us no sensual pleasure. Many people don’t like to drink water. They prefer drinks that are full of poison: sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fat, because those fluids offer some kind of gratification.

Not that all sensory gratification is evil. But, if the Creator, infinite in wisdom, made empty of pleasure the second most important element on this big world, He must be saying that not everything we experience has to feel good. We need it, even if it does nothing for the flesh.

Jesus likened Himself to the water of life. “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn. 4:14).

“If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (Jn. 7:37,38). The Savior not only spoke the truth, He was the truth. But the words He spoke were empty of anything that would gratify self. “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63).

The Bible is unique in that it is empty of proof. Faith must rest on evidence, alone. There is nothing in His word that pleases our desire to satisfy curiosity or demonstration, as if God must fulfill a human’s demands for divine entertainment. When it comes to the line of commuication that God has opened for us in His Bible, the flesh profits nothing. We must walk by faith alone, if we want the benefits of the deeper wisdom only God can supply. His water is life, but it is also tasteless.

Christ’s words, which did not profit the flesh, show that His heart and nature were empty of self. We cannot expect that receiving Him will lead to pleasing self. Rather, accepting Him and His self-sacrificing love will lead to washing ourselves of self-pleasing, like Jesus was. We will live as He lived.

Yet, self-denial will bring life. Self-renunciation will bring joy, and peace, and perfect freedom. We will gain a mental, spiritual, and physical health that no other method can match. No other god or religion or lifestyle can compete with Jesus and His way, as we daily drink in the pure, cleansing, unexciting truth, vacant of self-indulgence.

“Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.” (Ex. 17:6). This instance gives us an inside view of why our Creator and Redeemer gave no taste to life-giving water.

In order to provide for us, He must suffer. It is His joy to give life, yet that gift to others brings with it loss to Him. In order to heal, His own vitality must be spent. (Lk. 6:19). Giving health to others means a slow drain on His personal account. Providing joy leaves Him happier, yet weaker and quiet and rejuvenating. “He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because He hath borne it upon Him.” (Lam. 3:28). Thus, His continual reliance of His Father for renewed strength. No one reveals the Father like the Son.

Obedience to His will gives us power (Deut. 8:18). Obedience to Him gives us energy (Ex. 1:19). His laws give us strength (Is. 40:31). He gives health. (Gen. 15:26). He gives us safety. (Ps. 103:4). He gives us beauty. (Ps. 103:4).

He has paid with His life in order to provide for us. He can give us beauty due to His ashes. He gives us the oil of joy because of His mourning. He expends all to give us all. “For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.” (1Cor. 3:21,22).

When we have accepted all that He offers, then we will be proper witnesses, armed with Christ’s righteousness, our souls empty of self.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

God loved the world so much

“Shall I give my firstborn?” (Mic. 6:7).

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16).

We love our children in spite of their imperfections. Why? Because they love us and are so dependent on us.

God not only dwelt among us because we followed Him, but He stayed with us when we got stirred up and killed Him.
He not only loved us in our imperfections, but in our rebellion.

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet” “enemies,” “Christ died for us….” “We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” (Rom. 5:8,10).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Suddenly, like a thief in the night



“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:1-3).

The Lord came to His temple suddenly, even after sending someone to prepare the people and forewarn them. Suddenly, there He was, casting out the thieves from the temple court. Was this really allowed by the Sanhedrin? How, when they knew the Messiah was coming?

Yet they were surprised to see the Anointed One when He appeared.

But did He simply pop out of thin air? No, actually, He “grew up” among them. Is. 53:2. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (Jn. 1:10,11).

He had spent 30 years with them. The residents of Nazareth knew of Him intimately. “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” (Matt. 13:55,56).

Nazareth was a small village and everybody knew everybody, and everybody’s business. They watched everyone, even the Son of Joseph. He came and went under their purview without ever raising a suspicion that He was special. The people busied themselves in righteousness. They were so busy in the work of the Lord, they had no time for the Lord of the work.

For their good, everyone was sized up and their future predicted. “Poor Mary and her struggling brood! It’s too bad their all just a root out of dry ground! So stricken, afflicted by God, and afflicted! It was in the cards, I guess! Someone 3 or 4 generations ago must have made God really mad! Oh, well! Tisk, tisk!”

Their community was named after the Nazarite vow. They took special pride in their obedience to God. If all the other towns’ synagogues got caught up in Greek and Roman ways and no one else would look for the Messiah, they would. They made a fair show of rejoicing in expectation of seeing Him. You couldn’t blame them for not trying to raise the children up in the right tradition. If the kids went awry and had no interest in spiritual things, it wasn’t the leaders’ faults.

Yet they missed Him, “the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in.” When He began painting a picture heaven for them, the paradigm shift was too traumatic. “All bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” “And they were offended in Him.” (Lk. 4:22;Matt. 13:57).

Thus they received another warning. “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” (Lk. 19:43,44).

Suddenly. For 120 years Noah, a fiery “preacher of righteousness” warned the world of the coming desolation. 2Pet. 2:5. But the record is clear. “He condemned the world,” with “the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” (Heb. 11:7;2Pet. 2:5).

Suddenly, in one day, catastrophe worldwide. It took a whole antediluvian generation by surprise. “What! All our wise philosophers and scientists were wrong?! God would destroy us and this beautiful world?!”

The gracious Lord gave them an extra week for the stragglers to make their final, last minute decisions for holiness or for the folly of copying the faulty wisdom of men. Then, in one day, devastation hit.

“And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” (Gen. 7:10,11).

After a protracted probation, even going into overtime, without further notice, Noah was vindicated against all the ridicule and wisdom of that amazing pre-flood race. “He condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is. 33:14).

Recently, a few weeks ago on June 16th, a phenomenon of nature, a high gust of wind, passed through Northern Virginia. An 80 mph burst continued for approximately 15 seconds, and then lesser winds, accompanied by rain and hail, broke large, heavy branches, and toppled trees. The photo above was outside my brother’s home. He told me it was the most beautiful tree with the densest verdure and best shade; and how he could hardly believe it, when it blew over, that it was completely hollow in its core!

Rotten to the core, except for an inch of wood around its surface! It had been only a shell of a tree, and apparently in perfect health. Without a storm it would have stood for many more years, boasting a great profession of health and life, brandishing a lie. Then one day, it would have fallen over and killed an innocent passer-by, maybe a child. In God’s mercy, He brought the storm to prune the forests, as He has done for eons.

Soon we will see another kind of a storm coming, a storm beyond all human conception, a storm “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” (Dan. 12:2).


The Sunday movement is now making its way in darkness. The leaders are concealing the true issue, and many who unite in the movement do not themselves see whither the undercurrent is tending. Its professions are mild and apparently Christian, but when it shall speak it will reveal the spirit of the dragon. –Counsel for the Church, p. 335

As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.
In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord’s servants will be tried. –Great Controversy, p.608

Our Duty in the Moment of Respite.--Angels are now restraining the winds of strife, until the world shall be warned of its coming doom; but a storm is gathering, ready to burst upon the earth, and when God shall bid His angels loose the winds, there will be such a scene of strife as no pen can picture. . . . –Evangelism, p. 704

A moment of respite has been graciously given us of God. Every power lent us of heaven is to be used in doing the work assigned us by the Lord for those who are perishing in ignorance. . . . –Evangelism, p. 704

The storm of God’s wrath is gathering; and those only will stand who respond to the invitations of mercy, as did the inhabitants of Nineveh under the preaching of Jonah, and become sanctified through obedience to the laws of the divine Ruler. The righteous alone shall be hid with Christ in God till the desolation be overpast. –Conflict and Courage, 231

The storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? Are we one with Christ as He is one with the Father? Are we heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ? Are we working in copartnership with Christ?--Manuscript 32a, 1896. – Evangelism, p. 199

The storm is coming, the storm that will try every faith, of what sort it is. Believers must now be firmly rooted in Christ, or else they will be led astray by some phase of error. Let your faith be substantiated by the Word of God. Grasp firmly the living testimony of truth. Have faith in Christ as a personal Saviour. He has been and ever will be our Rock of Ages. The testimony of the Spirit of God is true. Change not your faith for any phase of doctrine, however pleasing it may appear, that will seduce the soul. – Evangelism, p. 361

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2Pet. 3:3-10).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Justification

An easy way to understand the justification the Bible speaks of is the phrase, “Just as if I’d never sinned.” In other words, God will look at Jesus’ perfect sacrifice of self, perfect surrender to His Father’s will, perfect happiness to spend and be spent for others, driven to give and give, even His own life. Then God looks at us whom Jesus cannot live without, and God says to His Son, “They are truly sorry because of My Spirit. For Your sake, I will accept them back again. I will see them as I see You, perfect in every respect. I will love them freely, perfectly.”

And the infinite One does nothing half-way. There is no middle ground for Him. In His sight, every creature is either all His or none of His. He demands either 100% loyalty or He judges it 100% disloyalty. Everything He does is with infinite intensity; His whispers come to us as peals of deafening thunders. He does not waffle; no hemming or hawing; no beating around the bush. When He sees us as perfect in every respect, that means perfect in every respect. The Infinite can operate in no other way. Thus it is, that He will see us with our attachment and dependence on His perfect Son, as if we had never sinned.

We are brilliant blue-white dwarf stars, burning with power and glory, just as His only Son, having been adopted into the beloved union of our Father and our Mediator.

I would like to be to others just the same way God is. To treat those who have offended me as if they never once had caused me pain. Full and free forgiveness. Isn’t that the best thing I could ever give them? Better than a $Million!

Really I owe it to them. Why? Because they smile at me, or they shake my hand, or show themselves to me in some loving way. And everyone has done me good, even those who ignore me. The least they did was to not shoot me on sight. So I owe it to everybody to love them perfectly, and I’m wrong if I don’t love them.

But no one has done for me what God does and has done in creating me, in sustaining me, and in redeeming me. I can offend no one like I can offend God, simply due to the far superior debt I owe Him for all that He does for me. Being my infinite Benefactor, how infinitely rapidly do I fall short of the service I owe to Him.

Therefore I am a sinner immediately and ever without His grace, His full forgiveness. It is infinite mutiny, infinite sedition, the grossest sin, that I must be forgiven of. I have robbed from Him what I can never repay Him. What I have done in the past and still do, make me despair of ever again having His full trust, and His love. After my long history of unceasing failures and sins, how can I hope for His acceptance?

This is why, if God will forgive me, He has chosen to forgive me completely. What other option does He have in forgiveness? There can be none. He forgives all my sin and treats me as if I was never once transgressed against His eternal government.

Will God really look at me as if I’d never rebelled? Is He really able? The better question is, Are we able? Are we able to believe that He can? Like Abraham, “being fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him [Abraham] for righteousness.” (Rom. 4:21,22).

God places the onus back on us. He knows He can forgive everyone completely. Can we accept it completely? Like Jesus staring down the man whose son was foaming and flopping on the ground in devil possession. The father said, “If Thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us.” (Mk. 9:22). And Christ, with great authority, threw all the responsibility back on the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Jesus spoke with such authority because He needed to shake the man from his inborn superiority. He needed to know that it wasn’t right to play God to Jesus, nor was his morality better than Christ’s. The unbelief had to be shaken to shivers, it must go.

And Jesus wasn’t being overbearing. He was giving firepower to every repentant sinner ever afterward who is trembling under the delusions of Satan as to whether God can be compassionate and forgive.

Can God keep His promises? Does He bespeak Himself? Does He foreswear? Does He make promises that He can’t pay? Can God lie? David said, “My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear Him.” (Ps. 22:25). Is David more righteous than God? “Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his Maker?” (Job 4:17). Never, ever. God was David’s great example, not vice versa. God will always perform His vows, and always has. If He says He will forgive and cast our sins into the depths of the sea, He will do it. In His sight we will be as if we had never sinned.

And He will declare it with a voice of greatest authority, affirmation, joy, and accomplishment “as when a lion roareth.” (Rev. 10:3).

"In His Law doth he meditate day and night."

My best times of meditation are in the quietude of the early morning darkness, in semi-consciousness as my mind arouses from its nightly interment. The silence beckons peace; sleep has provided rest to the mind. The Spirit of God moves like the morning mist. His doctrine drops like the rain and distills “as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” (Deut. 32:6). “For God speaketh once, yea twice…. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then He openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.” (Job. 33:14-17).

The day is so crowded with activity that I find it often impossible to think on heavenly things, although the Lord graciously works hard and blesses me with wonderful, encouraging thoughts of Him when He can get a word in edge-wise. But until He can do that, grief is my lot, while I continually say, Where is my God?

Why must I be limited to early mornings, quiet times, or the Spirit’s breakthroughs to commune with Jesus? Why must my walk be less than continuous? Why can’t I walk in holy, life-giving, communion like Enoch walked so continuously?

Why can’t I pass the busiest of days like Jesus, with “persistent, earnest, untiring effort for the salvation of lost mankind,” while deep in contemplation of the Law and the works of His Father? Steps to Christ, p. 78.

The smoke of my torment ascends up forever and ever and I have no rest when my Savior is not near. How true it is, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36).

Yet it is our privilege to sup with Jesus. His table is made continually ready for guests; the flour of His showbread is freshly beaten and baked, double-piled six deep. It contains no leaven, nothing to appeal to our self-indulgent nature; we will not find in it anything that puffs us up. But His bread are spiritual and it is life, sprinkled with salt. It may seem dry, but His cups are full of freshly pressed blood of the grapes, and his bowls are filled with butter and milk and honey.

So let’s accept His invitation, as oft as we can hear it, to come to the study of His word, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, here a little, there a little, line upon line, line upon line.

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. Education, p. 14.

And the promise is that here at the time of the end, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Dan. 12:4;Matt. 24:14).

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Most Holy Place of God's throne

I’m looking at the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary, not for the first time, but closely for the first time.

Hebrews chapter 8 begins by describing the heavenly sanctuary which was the “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” This word, “sanctuary” used the Greek ta hagia, or “the holies.” And the priests mentioned here served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” Vs. 5. “For, See, saith He [God], that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”

The pattern given Moses, according to what Paul is telling the Hebrews, was a heavenly sanctuary and a heavenly service. The fact that the service was after the pattern in heaven is as important as that the layout of the earthly tabernacle mimicked that of the heavenly sanctuary. This is because we need to know that God’s throne, once the center of only peace and worship, became an active center of damage control. The celestial church in God’s presence had become a bloody emergency room because of sin.

We move into chapter 9. Chapter 9 gives a nice overview of the Mosaic temple economy with the New Testament view point on it all.

A more in-depth description is made of the Mosaic tabernacle, the “worldly sanctuary.” (vs. 1). “The first,” (speaking of the first part of the Mosaic tent that could be entered) was called “the sanctuary,” in which was “the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread.” (vs. 2).

This word, “sanctuary” is the same Greek hagia as used in verse 2 (ta hagia ); in both chapters, speaking of both the heavenly and the earthly sanctuaries using the same word in the Greek. Similarly, in both chapters the word, “tabernacle” was in the Greek skene, meaning “a tent,” speaking of both heavenly and Mosaic tabernacles. So thus far we see, by the use of general terms, that the writer makes no effort here to divide the heavenly sanctuary into two compartments.

Next, we move into the second apartment. “And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat.” (vs. 3-5).

“Holiest of all” comes from the Greek hagia hagion , translated “holy tent of holy places” or “holy places of holy places.” Or as we know it, the “Most Holy Place.”

The writer of Hebrews then explains the priestly ministry. “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people.” (vs. 6,7).

Concluding this explanation of the Day of Atonement service of the High Priest, Paul states, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” (Heb. 9:8).

But here the King James translators unwittingly introduced a switch. Undoubtedly trying to help the readers to understand the Bible, but being biased in an error common in that day, they used the phrase, “holiest of all” in translating verse 8, when the Greek ta hagia , “the holies” or “the holy places,” is in the original, not hagia hagion , “holy places of holy places,” and was again generally describing heaven, the whole heavenly sanctuary, as opposed to the Mosaic tabernacle.

In other words, from a simple reading of the King James translation, the impression is given that the heavenly ministry of Christ began after the earthly tabernacle ended, and that it began in the Most Holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. This conclusion the writer of Hebrews never intended to communicate. By using ta hagia, He was simply saying that the heavenly ministry began after the earthly ministry came to an end. To translate it correctly, the King James translators should have written, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the heavenlies was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.”

And we know when the end of that first tabernacle occurred. “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 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,and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Dan. 9:26,27).

In the middle of the 69th week of the 70 week prophesy, Jesus expended His life for the provision of the plan of salvation. At Christ’s loud cry, “It is finished!” and His last helpless thought of love and surrender to God and service to rebellious sinners, the Father was perfectly satisfied with His precious Son, the veil dividing the Holy Place from the Most Holy was ripped in two pieces from top to bottom. This testified that the earthly Hebrew service had ended in A.D. 30.

But to say that Christ entered directly into the Most Holy Place in heaven contradicts what Paul had said of the “priests that offer gifts according to the law,” that they “serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” (Heb. 8:4,5). They represented the ministry of Christ for the redemption of repentant sinners. In their service, the Levitical priests never entered directly into the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle with the blood of the sacrificed animal. That was impossible since the Holy Place was located between the altar of sacrifice and the Most Holy Place.

Again in verses 11 and 12, “But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Here, “the holy place” is translated from the original ta hagia, meaning, “the holies,” speaking of the heavenly sanctuary, generally. Again, nothing to say that Christ entered the Most Holy Place of the heavenly tabernacle upon His ascension.

Finally, a third witness to Christ entering the Holy Place in heaven, at the end of the chapter, verse 24. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Here, “holy places” comes from the Greek hagia, translated, “holies.” And we hear Paul again reminding us that the earthly was a figure of the “true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” (Heb. 8:2).

Throughout the whole chapter, as the precious Lamb of God, we see that Christ fulfilled the typical sacrifices of “bulls and goats” and “heifers” (vs. 13) and “calves” (vs. 19). This is undeniable.

It then follows, after He accomplishes the sacrifice of Himself, that Jesus should enter the next phase portrayed in the Mosaic tabernacle, which priestly portrayal was “the example and shadow of heavenly things.” The Son of Man must make efficacious the sacrifice He had just made. He must do a mysterious heavenly work before the Father. He must satisfy the great King; for two thousand years more, He must bear up under the Father’s sorrow and hatred for sin; He must placate the Father by His own perfect righteousness of love and obtain the sinner’s acceptance; and immediately send His Holy Comforter to inform the sinner that he is accepted by heaven, in spite of the blackness of his sins and the hopelessness of his guilt and shame.

This was represented by the Levitical priest taking the blood of the slain animal into the Holy Place throughout the year. Day in and day out, this took place, accumulating sin in the sanctuary. Finally, at the end of the year it was necessary for God to cleanse the sanctuary with a special sacrifice and a special ceremony.

This time the minister was the exalted High Priest. He passed into the Holy Place and then into the Most Holy Place, sprinkling the special blood right on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, face to face with God. With a cloud of smoke and incense, making himself acceptable before the infinitely pure One, the High Priest bravely and prayerfully performed his service of atoning for his people, under the intense inspecting eye of God.

Likewise, a special ministry awaited Christ, after His long waiting period of effecting His sacrifice. That long period corresponded to the daily work of the priests throughout the year. But at the end of the Christian age, Christ would move to another ministry, a special ministry. He must atone for His people with a special atonement, not individually as before, but as a corporate body. He would be glorified with a greater glory that came from His Father’s greater glory. That glory of His Father would come from His soon-coming expectation of the end of sin and the gathering in of His beloved children, permanently redeemed from the strong hold of His adversary.

Thus we see in Daniel’s dream, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire…. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:9,13,14).

Once that kingdom is fully received, then it will be fulfilled as Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn. 14:2,3).

Yes, Christ ascended to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. Yet, Daniel sees Him being brought even closer than He had been before the Most Holy phase of His ministry began. In the Most Holy phase in heaven They share an even closer union than ever in the anticipation of an end of sin and a resumption of the Father’s kingdom of peace and salvation that has been so long suspended. And this time, it will be a fortified kingdom of peace that will never be destroyed again.

In the Most Holy phase of Christ’s work, the crucifixion will fix in His people all the prevention of another apostasy. The righteous justice at the cross poured upon the great Mediator between God and man cements all the redeemed in perfect loyalty and loving obedience.

And when He comes again, to receive us to Himself to take us to His home, He has said, “Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:12). For Him to have His rewards for His faithful ones there must have been judgment made on them. Thus the need for the Day of Atonement, the Most Holy phase of His ministry and the most holy surrender and consecration in His people as they finally straighten up and fly right.

Darkness is covering the earth, and gross darkness the people. They are seeing more clearly the dead-end street that sin has caused for them. They have come desperately to Christ. He has taken them to His cross, and they have been humbled and changed for ever. They have become settled into the truth, willingly accepting the hardest of requirements. Daily His precious life and death are inspiring them to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14).

Paul’s desire inspires theirs. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death.” (vs. 10). Their greatest eagerness comes from the thought that heaven is real and soon Jesus will come and unite them with Him. They finally have faith; after so much confusion and struggle, they can finally trust and love God.

They watch intently for the signs that their great High Priest has left the Most Holy Place in heaven, His work finished. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:28).


In conclusion, I have seen:

1) that numerous times, both the earthly and heavenly tabernacles were given the same Greek word ta hagia or hagia, meaning “holies” or “holy places” without distinction of compartments.

2) I see that the one use of hagia hagion, or “holies of holies,” was only in reference to the earthly Most Holy Place, and that a misuse of the English phrase “holiest of all” was not translated from hagia hagion, but from ta hagia, when referring to what was open to us at the ending of the earthly tabernacle service and economy, thus leaving the impression that Christ entered directly into the heavenly Most Holy Place.

3) I see that never was it specifically written that Jesus entered directly into the Most Holy place of the heavenly sanctuary at His ascension.

4) But I do see that numerous times was it written that the earthly was a copy of the heavenly, and that the services of the earthly priests played out a divinely inspired example of “good things to come” (Heb. 9:11) in the future work Christ would do at His Father’s right hand.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mercy rejoiceth against judgment

A mercy seat. The word thus translated is from a root meaning “to cover,” that is, “to pardon” sin. It represented divine mercy. Significantly, it was of “pure gold,” implying that mercy is the most precious of God’s attributes. It was placed over the law, inasmuch as mercy transcends justice (Ps. 85:10:89:14). The ark with its justice and its mercy seat with its mercy were both needed to reveal the full character of God’s dealings with men. Mercy without justice is weak sentimentality, subversive of all moral order. On the other hand, justice without mercy is moral severity, theoretically without a flaw, but revolting to both God and man.

The ark and the mercy seat constituted the very heart of the sanctuary. Above the mercy seat was the Shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence. The tables of the law within the ark testified to the fact that God’s kingdom is founded on an immutable standard of righteousness (Ps. 97:2), which even divine grace must respect. Grace cannot be dispensed on terms which “make void the law: (Rom. 3:31). When sin is pardoned, the law’s claim against the sinner must also be satisfied. The very purpose of the gospel is to secure for the sinner the forgiveness of his sins, by faith in a means that does not “make void the law,” but “establishes” it. While the tables within the ark testified against the people, the mercy seat pointed to a way in which the claims of the law could be met and the sinner saved from death, the penalty of the law. On the basis of law alone there can be no reunion between God and man, since sin separates us from Him (Isa. 59:1,2). The blood-sprinkled mercy seat must intervene, for it is only on the ground of Christ’s mediation on our behalf that we can draw near to God (Heb. 7:25). SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 1 p. 637.

The above statements come from the SDA Bible Commentary and articulate the beauty of the relation of God’s mercy through Christ and God’s Law given by Christ. From the beginning of heaven’s work to uplift man from the ruin sin caused, the Son of God has been the medium to man of all the fullness from God. It has been Christ’s infinite wisdom that has provided and provides all the revelation of God to creation, fallen and unfallen. The plan of redemption, a precious alteration of the divine revelation in disclosing the individual, yet beautifully together, principles of the character of the the mysterious King’s mercy and justice, Unknown God of love.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mercy and justice living together

“He shall have judgment without mercy, who hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (James 2:13).

Mercy is not contrary to justice. It works with justice; they cooperate. Both principles form the basis of God’s character. They both work together to balance each other; together, they demonstrate what love does and is.

The simplest pastime children love is for two kids to hold each other’s hands and then, with feet together, lean back and spin around in circles. They do this with shrieks of glee until they usually fall down, laughing. This is the way mercy and justice work. They hold hands and spin around each other; and unfallen creation rejoices.

We also see this in the heavens. Our sun is a star, a single star. But in the universe there exist dual star combinations where two stars are bound together by gravity, yet spinning at such a rate that centrifugal force keeps them from colliding into each other. In the perfect balance of gravity and centrifugal force the two stars remain together but separate. And though two, at a distance, they look like one throbbing star.

Is mercy superior to judgment? Is this why the above statement was written? Was James unbalanced, or the Holy Spirit who inspired him to write it? The answer is an obvious No when one reads the whole book of James. Much of what he wrote concerned the Ten Commandment Law of God, and works of righteousness, truth, and justice.

If the reader looks at what James wrote, he sees that James was writing to balance misunderstandings concerning what Paul had written of the gospel. Some Christians were in danger of taking mercy out of context with justice and going to the extreme with it. So the Spirit of God commissioned James to counteract that unbalanced view before it became fanatical. Looking closely at the churches to which James wrote we can see how destructive such an idea was to them. A gospel of only mercy didn’t prevent dead half-heartedness (Ja. 1:6,7;4:8), or favoritism (2:3,4), bitterness and strife (3:5-18), making self-indulgent requests to God (4:3), or the wealthy taking advantage of the poor (5:4).

Mercy is not mercy without the authority of law against it; neither is it love. The principle of justice works against irresponsible mercy.

Justice is not justice without the authority of grace against it; and neither is justice alone love. The principle of mercy works against abusive justice.

True and just mercy rejoices in forgiveness. And true, merciful justice rejoices in judgment. Just mercy produces revival. Merciful justice produces reformation.

Dispensing with justice and leaving only mercy has always been Satan’s cheap antinomian substitute for love. Self-sacrificing love cannot exist without either of these two counterbalances, mercy and justice working together. Mercy alone is not true love, even if it appears to be. Downplaying justice leads to presumption and laziness. The tonic of truth is gone, the salt has lost its savor, and soon there is no law and order. Justice’s protection for the weak is dismissed and then mercy ceases to exist.

Thus if justice is taken away, mercy soon leaves in its wake. And Satan succeeds in the lawlessness and misery he so much desires to breathe on us. Lawlessness through mercy—how ingenious of the devil! The extinction of justice through mercy ends in the extinction of both! By Satan abolishing God’s Law and removing His authority to correct, he destroys the knowledge of God’s grace.

Its not that God wants to control us or play cat and mouse with our emotions by His ordaining justice to keep us balanced. He doesn’t want to use the fear of judgment to destroy our freedom of choice. In reality, our freedom of choice is preserved through retaining both mercy and justice, Law and grace. It is in loving obedience to His commanding government that we are safe from Satan, and that our freedom of choice is protected from the evil one who would devour us if he could.

Sin and the tempter have misguided us from seeing justice and mercy properly. We interpret justice as punishment and mercy as reward. Satan inspires us to view mercy as good and justice as bad. Thus, he leads almost the whole world to believe that God’s grace is good and His Law is bad.

But it is love that operates them. With love, they are both good; and love unites them together, always and for ever. The absence of love causes their union to dissolve; without love, they are both used for evil, always and ever. And because Satan knows no love, he uses them both—his loveless mercy and his loveless justice—to his advantage.

He abuses us with his loveless justice by accusing us unmercifully in our conscience and before God. It is he who “ruled the nations in anger,” who “smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke.” (Is. 14:6). “And He shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” (Zech. 3:1). As the moon appears to be the same size as the sun only because it is closer, and because of this is able to eclipse the sun, so does our adversaries, the devil and his helpers, work to come between man and God by appearing as God and through speaking as the Spirit of God to our conscience.

Heaven’s mercy is good enough for the blackest sin. Our heavenly Father reaches down to uplift every suffering soul and bring it to repentance and forgiveness. If we could only know the heaviness sin has caused Him, His pain from seeing sin play out in the destruction of His beloved children. Where sin abounds, His grace much more abounds.

But if we have become victorious over the Lord’s adversary there, and have gotten past the dense cloud of confusion he made to prevent us from seeing the cross of Christ and obtaining justification with God, then the wily one resorts to leading us into presumption upon God’s mercy.

The arch rebel knows very well the power of God’s grace to irresistibly draw the sinner home, and so the blasphemous beast twists the promises of God’s mercy to undermine His Law. He tempts us to believe that under a government of grace, we can never do wrong. In our still weakened character and corruptible nature, and our not fully trained understanding of righteousness he subtly appeals to us with false notions of a God who loves so much that He would never correct nor punish us. And then, as with David, after the Lord has created such a beautiful salvation of a soul that was lost in sin, that same soul throws it all away for a worthless counterfeit spit out of the printing presses of hell.

If we really understood God’s love, we would see the wisdom in His arrangement of justice and mercy, and would never come to resent correction and law, or fear justice and judgment. We would be OK with all His demands. If He is our Friend and Lord, we will do whatever He asks; if we love Him, we will keep all of His commandments. If we knew the love of God, we would be satisfied with anything He required of us, because, as creatures, being loved by the Creator is all that matters.

And loving is always the natural by-product of being loved.

What God lost

In God’s original kingdom, love reigned supreme. Never was there a doubt, never a fear. Peace pervaded the vast universe of beauty. From the mote that danced in the sunbeam to the sun that gladdened a thousand worlds, happiness caused the sons of God to sing songs of gratitude, completely vulnerable yet unafraid.

The angelic armies served notice to the unnumbered inhabited planets throughout immensity, bringing the good news of the Creator’s approbation and personal messages for them, “Grace and peace from God our Father, and from His Son.” The leading messenger would say, “The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.” (Ruth 2:4).

The cherubim would fill their sky with thanksgiving and glittering flashes of glory like the colorful birds that fill our skies with song and beauty. Then after blessing the race that populated that planet, the company of angels would depart with their blessings and be sent away with many requests for a soon return. The visits of the angels were always their greatest pleasure.

Then after departing with much loving fanfare, that happy band of heaven’s couriers would travel to another distant world to dispatch another message from the God they all loved. Finally, their commissioned deployment ended, they would return as quickly as possible to the capital of the cosmos, and report to Gabriel who would report to Lucifer, who would report to the Commander-in-Chief, the Son Himself.

At home for a while, they would daily join with the multitudes of cherubim and seraphim surrounding the throne, and thrill in the God who inhabited the praises of the heavenly Israel. At that time no thought of disaffection ever occurred. Among the billions of brilliant messenger hosts and innumerable inhabitants of billions of worlds, distrust never dawned on any mind, suspicion never appeared in any thought. The Creator’s wisdom was never questioned; His integrity always revered. No one ever had a reason to doubt His love.

The Law of God was unknown, though it existed from eternity. The Law was transparent to all, being part of their nature, but never externally demanded. The Law was kept perfectly from within by one and all without any one ever having knowledge of compliance to some external constitution. Love was life; love was the only motivation known.

Yet, as lovely as it was, a potential weakness existed in the kingdom of God. And that weakness was revealed in the sedition of Lucifer. Freedom of choice, even in the most perfect environment of love, allows anyone to go one way or the other, to follow self-sacrifice or self-interest. The risk had always been present, and forever will always exist. In God’s eternal government, freedom of choice will never cease, never to be curbed or monitored. Sin will never rise up the second time because of knowledge, a knowledge of the infinite depth of God’s self-sacrificing love that they didn’t know of before the controversy began.

And God, knowing the fragility of a government depending on loyalty to love, had ever known of a coming conflict that would surface sooner or later. This He shared with His Son, with the Spirit of peace between them both. From eternity They knew of this potential, and from eternity the Son determined to give up Himself for the sake of the kingdom.

At some point, the most exalted one of all God’s creation began to change. The slightest intimation of self awakened unnoticed, deep within him, and the total forgetfulness of self and the being filled with all the fullness of God, was subconsciously pushed back. Imperceptibly he permitted this condition, and God had watched over the evolution of self-centeredness from the start. Once Lucifer’s intelligence was able to be aware of it and when he could be reasoned with, the Holy Spirit brought conviction to Lucifer’s conscience.

He had lived in great acceptance by his subordinates. They had showered him with their innocent praises and ready approval. But that trust which they naively rained upon him led him to eclipse the trust they owed to God alone. He began to indulge himself in their love and trust, rather than faithfully turn them away from himself to their Creator. Thus, more and more, he was proving himself to be an unfaithful servant, and those who were involved were entering an experience unknown by any of them.

Before those angels who played no part in this strange behavior understood the disastrous effects of its end, it had taken deep roots. To manifest this new conduct the decision to create Earth was announced. As terrible an ordeal as it would be, this test must expose the true character of Lucifer. It was a just and merciful act of the Godhead—merciful to the uninfected angels who against their will would unconsciously be taken in by the pretentious overtures of Lucifer if the true character of his friendliness were not made naked and open.

The eyes of the innocent seraphim and cherubim, blinded by love and trust for their leader, needed to be educated concerning the real purposes growing rapidly within the chief angel. Thus it became, that when the Godhead met in council to decide upon the details a new special world and a singular life form revealing the mystery of God more than any other previous creation, Lucifer was not permitted to participate.

The pride and rebellion that had been smoldering for so long, suddenly flashed forth, much to the shock of the kingdom. The unwelcome of the Holy Council was too much for Lucifer. This he called injustice and lack of wisdom, which he declared provided the conditions for disrespect toward his office as the commander of the angelic forces. All those angels in whom Lucifer had cultivated the smallest ties of selfish affection chose to side with him. , They believed, in their blindness, that their cause was a righteous one.

The great controversy was now underway, and the inevitable pain and suffering of the Father began in earnest. “There was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Rev. 12:7,8). While the battle cemented the greater majority of angels in truth and righteousness, the Ancient of Days lost a huge minority.

This disaffected party had previously surrounded Him and adored Him as loving children. They were His children, His beloved. Their loss took a heavy toll on the Giver of all life. But for the sake of an eternal kingdom, one built on righteousness and selflessness and love, and for the safety of the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds, justice must unsheathe its unforeknown sword.

Genuine rebellion is never curable. God had created the angels with immense power and boldness. The outcome of the battle in heaven was a complete and unchangeable separation of the lost hosts from the only Source of love. Now that holy boldness in the mutinous angels became an unholy daring for God to destroy them. Now their pride was forged into indomitable hatred for the government of God. At every opportunity they would seek to overthrow His dominion, if not destroy His reputation and the trust the loyal creation retained toward Him.

Because the Son of God, the Word, had ever been the spokesperson for the Father, the Father's thoughts made audible, the Son had been the focus of truth and grace from God to His creation and their focus of thanksgiving and glory in return to the Father. The royal Son of God was the Mediator between God and His creation.

Now He became the focus of hatred from the expelled hosts. Christ had won the battle, but the war had only begun. The true rebel can never be forced. Pride refuses to surrender to control. It will fight to the death. If squelched, it will wriggle and contrive and plot and scheme until the day it can devise its revenge. Never surrender! Never submit! No one controls me! I control! I overcome!

Satan invented every insidious argument to forge his followers into pure abhorrence of God. Together with them, “he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” (Rev. 13:6).

The cross that Jesus bore and the derision He received show in a small scale the burden borne by the great Ancient of Days. Not only did He lose the angelic children of His heart and soul, but He gained a host of defiantly vile and intolerable devils.

After the great confrontation is past and sin is vanquished, after every tear is dried and the kingdom is once again full of joy, after the only marks of sin can be seen in the scars on the Son of God, and the kingdom of God is safe once again, the Father will forever feel the weight of the controversy and the heavy losses it sustained, the loss of billions in heaven and Earth.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Crucified with God in Christ

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it.” (Lk. 9:23,24).

Being crucified had become the most feared style of execution. The Romans had adopted this form of death because humanity had come to its lowest point in morality. In the prophecy of Daniel, “In the latter time…when the transgressors are come to the full” was fulfilled in the base idolatry of Rome. Those with wealth and power cared nothing for the multitudes which God had ordained the ruling class to protect and care for. And the idolatrous multitudes’ hatred toward the elite made the proletariat bristle under the abuses of government and law enforcement.

Idolatry had long held sway on earth; self-indulgence had run its course, and the transgression to God’s Law had almost completely come to the full. The only method to quell the rebellious society was a torture that only ended in certain death. The process of crucifixion began with a flogging that left the back parts of the criminal open and oozing, raw and bloody. The word “excruciating” originates from the Latin word for “crucifixion.”

Typical of Roman brutality, the crucifixion pole or cross were designed to send the message to all those dreaming of sedition, that nobody messes with Rome without reaping the most grievous suffering. Over the centuries, loyalty to the ruler had grown bankrupt, and the Caesars’ empire was built upon subjugated peoples ripe for revolt, like a chain of volcanoes ready to blow.

Christ looked forward to His crucifixion; beginning from age twelve He realized His role in the salvation of His fallen human race. “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (Lk. 12:50). “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified…And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (Jn. 12:23,32). He had walked in the shadow of His cross throughout His life. His every act was a preparation for that climactic event. Every self-denial, every unselfish service, every gift of His miracle working virtue, every burden He bore, every sorrow He shared, every fast and prayer, every scripture He memorized, were but the heaven-ordained school that would not graduate until it ended at Golgotha.

Only the worst criminals and most detested slaves were nailed to crosses. The rest were tied only. Christ was nailed; this we know. From the prophetic statements of Psalm 22 (“they pierced my hands and my feet”), and His confirmation to doubting Thomas, it is seen that spikes were used for Jesus. He did not escape the bitterest misery and woe.

He had given the Jews sixty-nine and one-half prophetic weeks of years for their final probation, to make an end of their history of unfaithfulness and to bring in everlasting righteousness by faith. But they failed the big test, even as the Holy Spirit cooperated with the providences of God to save them. They were found without any faith, and completely disconnected from heaven. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” was the sentence of their own condemnation. “We have no king but Caesar!”

Jesus felt every nerve, as the spikes mangled His hands and crushed the bones of His feet. Then, the 300 pound cross was lifted up and dropped into its hole with a sudden jarring and abrupt stop. Jesus had earlier in the week unburdened His heart for Jerusalem because of its rejection of His constant love for them. He even sought to comfort the Jewish women who wept for Him on His way to Calvary.


Now on the cross, in excruciating pains, His thoughts are still of His people. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” He seeks to gain their justification with His Father, and they are granted 3 ½ more years. But His utmost concern is secreted in words forced from His dark soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Nowhere can He turn for comfort but He finds Satan has totally surrounded Him with hatred and arrogance and evil. His Father’s ever-present relationship which has been His constant stay is completely gone, the assaults of the enemy tear at His sensitive conscience and soul until the unnatural darkness descends on the crosses and their victims that noon.

“A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.” (Is. 42:3). Yet, now He has nowhere to lay His sorrowing head; no consolement for His empty soul. All we like sheep know what it is to have a God-sized hole in our heart. But the Father laid on Him the emptiness of us all.

While He had ever born Himself with divine dignity, and had never given needless pain to the sensitive soul; though He was never rude but treated people with the utmost kindness, all He heard from His creation was the course, brazen touts against His manhood, slights against His Sonship with His Father, and the wildness of His claim to be the One who would come to save them.

“He trusted in God!” was their self-congratulating retort. Yes, He was trusting in God. “He saved others; Himself He cannot save!” Never was a shorter, clearer sermon ever preached about the self-sacrificing love of God!

He did not view this all as needless pain for His sensitive soul, but rather needed pain. Every torture He had ever suffered up to this pint, He saw as needful; for now He was suffering His Father’s torture. He must experience an affliction that tries His trust, a pain that relieves the Father and allows a complete restoration from the infinite anguish and lostness of the great King since the first presence of rebellion and sin.

This was the baptism that the Son of God was looking forward to from the first days in Eden. In His baptism the whole creation, in heaven and earth, are baptized together with Him, baptized in His sorrow, baptized in the Father’s incomprehensible grief. Crucified with God and Christ, the Father can reconcile the world unto Himself.

Spiritually minded

My best times of meditation are in the quietude of the early mornings. The silence beckons peace; sleep has provided rest to the mind. The Spirit of God moves like the morning mists upon the mountain valleys. His doctrine drops as the rain, His speech distills as the dew, “as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” (Deut. 32:2). He publishes the name of the Lord to me and ascribes greatness to my God.

“For the Lord speaketh once, yea twice…when deep sleep falleth upon men, in the slumberings upon the bed; then He openeth the ears of man, and sealeth their instruction.” (Job 33:14-16).

The day is so crowded with activity that I find it often impossible to think on heavenly things, although the Lord graciously perseveres to bless me with wonderful, encouraging thoughts of Him. Never were truer words written, “To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6). Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside! Great is His faithfulness!

But when the day crowds out Jesus, I walk through a dry and thirsty land. I feel like Mary in the garden, “They have taken away my Lord; and I know not where they have laid Him.” (Jn. 20:13). And until I have Him back, grief is my lot, while I continually say, “Where is my God?”

Why must I be limited to early mornings, quiet times, or breakthroughs to commune with Jesus? Why must my walk be less than continuous? Why can’t I walk in holy, life-giving communication like Enoch walked so continuously? Why can’t I pass the busiest of days like Jesus, steeped in activity, yet contemplative of the Law and the works of His Father?

The smoke of my torment ascendeth up forever and ever and I have no rest day nor night when my Savior is not near. How true it is, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36).

Yet it is our privilege to sup with Jesus. His table is made ever ready for guests; His showbread is piled six deep. We will not find in it anything that causes us to puff ourselves up—it is emptied of self. But His words are spiritual and they are life, sprinkled with salt. His unleavened bread may seem dry, but His cups are full with freshly pressed red wine and His bowls are filled with butter and honey.

So let’s accept His invitation, as oft as we hear it offered, to come to the study of His words and to meditate on what we studied, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, “precept upon precept...line upon line...here a little, and there a little.” (Is. 28:10).

And at the time of the end “many shall run to and fro; and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan. 12:4). Maybe we’re almost there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Have you phoned Heaven lately?

This story came in an email. It speaks to two groups of people. One, the aging community who have lost the last of the Protestant movement's grasp on a knowledge of God, in whom they never personally believed, but their parent's barely did. The second group to whom this speaks are those who have never known God because their parents never knew Him. Their generation is about to give birth to a third generation who will have never known the sanctifying influence of His holy presence.

I say it speaks to them because the troubled hearts of this generation are beginning to tremble at the long separation from God, and thus many are ready to turn to Him.

So, on with the story...

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy.

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the parlor and dragged it to the landing climbing up; I unhooked the receiver in the parlor and held it to my ear.

“Information, please,” I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.

“Information.”

“I hurt my finger,” I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough now that I had an audience.

“Isn’t your mother home?” came the question.

“Nobody’s home but me,” I blubbered.

“Are you bleeding?” the voice asked.

“No,” I replied. “I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.”
“Can you open the icebox?” she asked.

I said I could.

“Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,” said the voice.

After that, I called “Information Please” for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called, “Information Please,” and told her the sad story. She listened, and then said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I asked her, “Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring Joy to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a cage?”

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, “Wayne, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.”

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, “Information Please.”
“Information,” said in the now familiar voice.
“How do I spell fix?” I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. “Information Please” belonged in that old wooden box back home and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me.

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what I was doing, I dialed my hometown Operator and said, “Information Please.”

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. “Information.”

I hadn’t planned this, but I heard myself saying, “Could you please tell me how to spell fix?”

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, “I guess your finger must have healed by now.”

I laughed, “So it’s really you,” I said. “I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time?”

“I wonder,” she said, “if you know how much your call meant to me. I never had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.”

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

“Please do,” she said. “Just ask for Sally.”

Three months later I was back in Seattle a different voice answered: Information.” I asked for Sally.

“Are you a friend?” she said.

“Yes, a very old friend,” I answered.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said. “Sally had been working part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago.”

Before I could hang up she said, “Wait a minute, did you say your name was Wayne?”
“Yes.” I answered.

“Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you.” The note said, “Tell him there are other worlds to sing in. He’ll know what I mean.”

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.



God has been waiting to talk with us since American shores were sought for religious liberty. Here, the truth of God has been safeguarded, though we have led the world in the way of hedonism. It’s the Lord who has been answering the heart’s longing desire for something better than the cheap thrills this world has had to offer.

Today, if your heart throbs with terrific pain and it seems there is no point in crying because no one cares, then call out to a listening Friend, “Information, please!” You can wail and blubber and tell Him how much your heart hurts so terribly, and then wait for the answer. A warm, loving voice will be heard answering back to your lonely ears, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3).

Enveloped in that love will come practical advice of self-forgetfulness and forgiveness for others, wisdom and answers such as you’ve never known. Perplexities will vanish and a plain path will appear before your feet. And if you ever feel overwhelmed by sorrow, just remember that One who was acquainted with grief and was a Man of sorrows (Is. 53:3), has gone ahead of you in the very same path. That road is well-trodden, and, though difficult, has a really good destination.

“For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17).

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cain's bloodless, lifeless offering

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” (Gen. 4:3,4).

The showbread in the sanctuary represented the abundant goodness of God for His whole vast creation. Due to His infinite store of goodness, His blessings flow out to His boundless universe through His Son. And from all over the universe, even the deepest inhabited space, come the praises redounding to the great, loving Father, through the Son.

We can sit in on one such occasion, which represent multiplied millions of other similar occasions. “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:8-11).

But sin marred that wondrous scene of love and thanksgiving. Sin spread its foul influence far throughout the universe. And its effect have been focused and amplified here on earth.

Because of sin’s powerful altering ability, the heart of man and its ability to thank God and to trust Him. Even for all His continued blessings since we rebelled against His government, the human heart is not able of its own to give God His due praises. Or hearts are naturally self-centered and cannot return loving gratitude in exchange for His blessings of love.

Since sin was adopted and has become deeply rooted and eagerly perpetuated in the human race, the goodness of God in creation cannot lead us to humility as it could the sinless pair in the garden. Even throughout illimitable space, a new reserve toward the Creator was felt. This is seen in the first three verses of the next chapter in Revelation. The openness of the Father was shut up because of the controversy raging between Lucifer and the divine King. That conflict provided Lucifer the medium to cast charges against the Creator which the hosts of heaven had never dreamed of. Strongly voiced allegations against God were made by the highest angel that sounded irrefutable. God’s character was on trial; the truth of His righteousness was sealed shut, apparently forever. Those who remained loyal wept and wept at the loss of the perfect peace that had pervaded heaven. (vs. 4).

“Who is able to open the book of God’s character that I have shut up?” bellowed the covering cherub. No angel could vindicate God, and the angelic hosts could not longer worship Him as before, because trust is of such fine fabric that when false allegations are made they are not easily repaired.

But nowhere has the dissolution of sin been known like its full effects on earth. Here is revealed in blazing illustration the much more subtle influence it had in heaven. Thus, here God has made His classroom for the entire unfallen universe to learn from. “We are made a spectacle unto ….angels,” “which things the angels desire to look into.” (1Cor. 4:9;1Pet. 1:12).

Since sin has wasted the core of man’s ability to love God, His blessings don’t call forth our innermost joy toward Him. Regardless of nature’s beauty, its genius and wonder, its amazing qualities, it’s peacefulness and calm, or it’s demonstrations of power, none of it can bring us to God. Our hearts must be changed first. Repentance must precede thanksgiving.

All the world look to nature to satisfy an inmost need, an emptiness, an anxiety which they can’t put their finger on. Yet nature has only been a tantalizing disappointment to so many. It has drawn untold millions to the brink of salvation from an unbearable existence, but has been unable to deliver the needed secret for perfect peace. The most nature can provide in its most appealing panoramas, the most exquisite sounds or tastes, the most pleasant feelings or thoughts fail of healing the human woe.

“The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4). This must speak of His goodness expressed beyond that which meets our sensory needs. A full belly or a rested body is not enough to deliver us from the heart’s unrest. But God has offered even more than His provisions for our existence. Within the fullness of that goodness of God exists the only remedy for mankind’s insatiable longings. Grace; God’s goodness toward us expressed in grace.

It’s only through bowing before the Creator’s mercy that His creation can be fully appreciated by fallen man. As the vitamin functions to open the door of each cell so that the life-giving Glucose can enter and feed the cell, even so, it is only through the acceptance of God’s grace through repentance that the glories and provision of the natural world can be the benefit to man that God originally intended for them. Grace, grace, wonderful grace; grace that can pardon and heal my sin.

Thus the showbread was not enough, even though it sat within a holy sanctuary of God’s presence. The only way sinners could benefit from the abundant blessings of God, typified in the bread, was for the blood of a dying victim to be sprinkled on it. Every day, at each searching of scripture, at each spiritual supper, even at each meal around the family table, only by visiting the cross of Calvary and viewing the surrender and love of its dying Victim, can those holy experiences be accepted by God.

Grace must attend our feeding on God’s provisions. Without a continual remembrance of the gracious mercy of God in Christ, our gratitude and prayers and praises to God are nothing less than Cain’s proud offering. And that will lead us, as it has millions in the past, to further separation from God and ultimately to the depths of the grossest sin and depravity.

This world passeth away, and the lusts thereof.

It can be difficult to persuade of a corrupt and self-centered world going away and a newly recreated world taking its place. I would say the biggest obstacle to convincing others is that they look around with perverted eyesight and everything doesn’t seem so bad that it needs replacing.

Connected with this obstacle is that they are able to put their trust in this world which they can see and touch and know that it is real, but they can’t see the coming kingdom of God. And humanly speaking, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” They trust their senses—and why shouldn’t they? Isn’t that why God created the senses?

Yes, God created the senses for survival and for regular maintenance of our normal every day existence. But those senses are to serve the intellect; they are to feed the intelligence. They are not an end in themselves. They cannot make the final judgment calls. The brain is to take all the inputs it receives; and it receives more than just what the senses give it.

For example, the eyes are designed to receive light reflected from objects and turn that data into electric signals for the use by the brain. But in doing this, they invert those images up-side-down. The brain, however, is programmed to take that confusing data and turn the images from the eyes right-side-up again. The brain also takes the slightest differences in angle of the object due to parallax, and interpolate a distance to the object.

The ears might detect a noise, but the brain must measure the volume entering each eardrum, and then localize the sound source to be coming from in front, from behind, or off the right or left. Then the brain can classify the sound to its source. Is it danger? Is it of interest?

The tongue can taste a liquid, but the brain begins the classification process of that liquid long before the taste buds ever contact the substance to confirm the brain’s classification. One time I was getting a drink of what I thought was milk, but was really from a container of good orange juice. My brain had already classified the liquid as milk and sent my tongue the message to anticipate something sweet and fatty. When my tongue tasted something sweet and sour. Before I could consciously make a decision, I quickly spit out the fresh orange juice, my brain automatically concluding for me that it must be sour milk and a poison if swallowed. But this only illustrates how intricately connected the senses are to the brain in interpreting the outside world.

Likewise, the tongue alone doesn’t know whether a substance is food or poison. The tongue has no power to discriminate between cyanide-laced Kool-Aid and plain Kool-Aid. It takes the brain to distinguish the reality of that liquid.

Many do not want to hear of a coming Judgment and an end of sin because it doesn’t seem real to them. They can’t get beyond the here and now; they can’t get past all the sensory input that daily bombards their brains. Their ability to judge properly has been sold to the enslavement of self-indulgence. Self taints the discernment of the mind and biases its analysis of the total input from the world around it.

Another obstacle to excepting the prospects of a coming kingdom of God is “herd mentality.” Everybody else believes one way; I listen to them, I see them, and I get caught up in them all going in this direction. How can so many intelligent people be wrong?

The western indigenous Americans had a technique for killing their food. They would construct two fences of stones and logs that slowly converged from a large open area to a smaller area that ended at a cliff. Then they would scare a herd of beasts into a stampede, guiding them toward the fences which led the animals over the cliff to their death. Pretty clever of the Indians—good for the natives; bad for the buffaloes. The first of the herd led the way to the cliff, and the others simply followed. How could the leaders be wrong?

Yet, what made the leading bison any different from the following group of bison? What qualified them to lead? Were they any smarter than the rest? Even if they were more intelligent, every single animal was overcome with fear. It wasn’t intelligence that was driving them, it was terror.

So following the crowd has always been a bad idea. Every person in the end of life will answer for himself alone and everybody else will be miles away. On the death bed, no one can say, I’m not guilty of wrong doing because I was only following the example of Joe Shmoe.” Neither can anyone take responsibility for my life’s decisions and stand in my place when it comes time for me to pass on. God has made sure of that.

In the final Judgment Day, everyone will stand alone for his own life, and every Joe Shmoe will be standing for his life alone. If he were a friend, a brother, or even a religious leader, he could not tell God to excuse anyone for following his bad ideas.

We need to think for ourselves and always keep on our thinking caps. If we really want to be wise, there is only one place to go for wisdom. We find pure wisdom in unselfishness and righteousness and love. Let the world send people in a thousand different other directions—curiosity, amazement, deep philosophical reasoning, amusement, the mysterious, etc.. But the real wisdom is found in love, and in its myriad aspects of self-sacrifice.

When the mind is trained on self-sacrificing love and service to God and to others, it will develop quickly and healthfully. And it will also gain a foresight that looks beyond the choicest items and places this world has to offer. It will see vanity for the curse it really is, and the need for it to be vanquished. The self-sacrificing mind will see that there must be something better than this old world. It will see that world events are leading it to its own demise, but faith that comes out of this wisdom takes assurance that whoever made this amazing planet must be merciful enough to start it over again, this time a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Only the Spirit of God can give the true reality, the eternal reality. All who are following self-sacrificing love will stumble upon the true reality, “and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:5).

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25).