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

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A parable from Jesus

Luke chapter 16 contains an interesting parable that stands to be understood by one and all, especially the church.

“And He said also unto His disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk. 16:1-13).

At first appearance this parable presents some inconsistencies. Is it right to cheat an employer? Then why did Jesus say that the employer commended the “unjust” steward? Why did He say the manager had done wisely through further mismanagement, yet end the parable with the condemnation against greed and the love of money?

Is Jesus a traitor to righteousness? Was He wishy-washy, a pleaser of whatever audience was before Him?

In reality, the Jesus who spoke this parable is the same one who upset so many paradigms of the day. And His words still overturn many apple carts. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8). His discernment was deeper than Solomon’s; He was filled with the Spirit of wisdom without measure. (Is. 11:1-9).

So what was He saying in this parable? I think we need to zero in on a few key verses to catch Jesus’ real thrust.

“The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Who are the “children of light”? The Jews professed to be this. “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” (Rom 2:17-20).

The Jews boasted in their light. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is. 8:20). “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (Jn. 9:41). They were blind to truth but thought they were seeing it. They thought they had great light, and they did in their holy oracles, but that light had not migrated into their hearts. They had a mixture of light and darkness; truth with error were indistinguishable; good was evil and evil was good. They had hot and cold mixed together, their light and dark were both alike, grey.

Here lies the favorite condition into which Satan loves to bring the children of God. Coax them away from pure righteousness. If he can’t persuade them into hedonism, start mixing error into their understanding of God; disconnect them from true loyalty and commitment to His Law and will; break their love to Him and keep them from a breaking of their heart and from simple conversion. Without conversion they will fall deeper and deeper into error, all the while believing they have the fullness of truth.

But without a total choice one way or the other, to purity or toward carnal perversity, a confusion results, so that the children of complete darkness can think clearer in the ways of evil, and thus are wiser than the children of professed light.

So we see that when Jesus was speaking about the unjust steward and compared him to the children of light, He was speaking of the Jews in their duty to serve the world, and in particular, the religious leaders of the nation, whose duty was to exemplify that service to a world in darkness.

Jesus didn’t call the Jews “professed” children of light; nor did He lump them in with the children of darkness. He wasn’t sarcastic by naming them children of light; but rather He was being gracious in His undeserved respect toward them. He was also being discrete in this way; He saw no need to bring on premature persecution upon His disciples and on followers from afar.

He also used the phrase “children of light” metaphorically, in a general sense. They had been the children of light, as a nation, to keep the truth of God in the world. “For salvation is of the Jews.” (Jn. 4:22). For a few more years this was the truth. But the end of their probation was closing in on them quickly.

Another part of the parable gives key light on deciphering its meaning. “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Vs. 9). This refers back to the way the unjust steward connived his way to swing from one position of prestige to another. “I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.” (Vs. 4). When Jesus came preaching the pure, stinging truth, and the religious leaders were exposed in their pretentious falsehoods. Throughout their lives and during His public ministry, they had had multitudinous opportunities to confess their errors and mistakes, to humble themselves before the Lord and fall from the prestige of the people. Their fall would have been only temporary for the humble of the nation, although it would have resulted in perpetual rejection by the proud majority. The high privilege of joining those who “dig” and “beg” was theirs, allowing the Lord to lift them up in due season. But they had not learned to trust God; through their lives they had lived apart from Him and true piety that would have led them to Him. One chance after another they took for granted and treated despitefully the Spirit of grace. Like King Saul, they never cultivated the spiritual life, and now when the big test came, they were wholly unprepared for it.

The religious leaders, the rabbis, priests, Levites, Pharisees, were not serving God; they served man, their only purpose in life was to keep up their reputation before the people. Politics, not spirituality, was the source of their motivation. Thy might as well have been priests of Baal. What was the difference? Baal worship resulted from the same decline in spirituality and rise in rebellion during the days following Noah and Shem. The two religions, Judaism and Baal worship, were identical, only separated by two thousand years. Both were fakes of the true worship of God. Both profess the truth. But neither succeeded in attaining the peace from a knowledge of God’s true character, and the power to become the sons of God.

From the beginning, the problem God has had to deal with in those who desire to be His followers is the human tendency to allow others things to compete with His love. This is basic idolatry. Ancient idolatry is alive and well in the modern world, even in the sophisticated world of the developed nations; even in Protestant America; and even in the evangelical Protestant churches.

Once idolatry has dissolved and weakened the soul of the church toward convicting truth, its relation to God’s love becomes only sentimental. Spurious, empty, and superficial, the church becomes enamored with love, though having lost hold on what true love is. The unwillingness to admit the truth in their hearts keeps them in proud sanctimoniousness, imitating true religion, going through the motions, living an empty, purposeless life without God. Yet, they love to look good; they love to seem moral; they live or die around their reputations.

Their religion of one of show. They walk around, “mincing as they go,” like they are modeling the finest clothing. (Is. 3:16). But the truth is that all their “righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6). They cluster together in their temples, “measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves.” (2Cor. 10:12).

Yet they love to look moral. It gives them some sense of being to link their name with the holy God. “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.” (Is. 58:2). There is no worse apostasy than pharisaical apostasy. There is no more painful slap in God’s face. This is Satan’s ultimate insult to the Father. “And He said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk. 16:15).

They prayed the best prayers. They mouthed the most pious sayings. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the precept of men” (Is. 29:13).

What to do with the religious rebel? God had already sent His prophets to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Is. 58:2). He had already punished them in a Babylonian captivity. Yet He would reason with them and still give them one more chance! He would come personally, in the flesh, and talk to them as He had done with Abraham. Some heard Him gladly; but, the mainstream still would not bow their pride to the truth. They were beyond reason. “For thus saith the LORD, Thy bruise is incurable.” (Jer. 30:12).

God’s solution to the deceived hearts: Hand them over to Satan. “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” (Isa 29:14). Long had they been warned, “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Is. 6:9-12).

The Lord gave them over to a reprobate mind. Yet, He did this only partially, with the caveat that at any time they would return to Him and avoid the weeping in their hearts, the gnashing of teeth, and the pain in the pits of their stomachs, He was more than ready to take them back again, humbled. Like He had done to Nebuchadnezzar for 7years, they could come out from under His wrath—His rejection and His separation from them—and be converted like the Babylonian king had been. That no flesh should glory in God’s presence.

So the rich Man in the parable commended the unfaithful servant. He would rather have the servant showing his true colors, and depart into the blackness of Satan’s oblivion, than continue in superficial service and deception. The Jewish religious leaders made the right choice by throwing their loyalty completely on the devil’s side. Their decision cleared the religious air of the confusion they had been causing. They would make it easier for the less discerning to see their true characters. They would cut themselves off from God and be received into the lost world’s everlasting habitations.

His message to Satan’s wily religious deception was exposed by Christ’s parable; yet, He left His Father’s original Law still in tact. The high and holy principles of honesty are still the great love of His heart. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.…
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” (Lk. 16:10-18).

This parable is for us as much as it was for the Jews.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev 3:14-22).

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The cloud of glory

When we think of clouds, we think of water. As water evaporates from the earth, it clumps together with other water vapor to form clouds. From a distance on the ground, those tiny particles of miniature water droplets look bright and misty, incorporeal. It was to this quality that the Bible writers compared the glory of God.

Glory flows from all things holy, which source is the one true God. That essence of light was seen by Peter and his fellow disciples. “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” “While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him.” (Matt. 17:5;Lk. 9:34,35).

The holiness of God, manifested by the white cloud is what made the “holy mount” holy, “when there came such a voice to Him [Jesus] from the excellent glory,” and when “the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering,” “shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” (2Pet. 1:17,18; Lk.9:29;Mk. 9:3). The cloud of His Father’s glory enshrouded and infused Him, thrilled and comforted His lonely soul, and from His transfigured corporeal body that light shone through and even brightened His clothing.

The glory of Christ’s original form was identical to His Father’s seen on the mount, for His Son was “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” (Heb. 1:3). We see that ethereal essence in the pre-carnate Son of God, “the Lord” of the Old Testament. “The Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (Lev. 16:2). “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” “And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto Him.”

Likewise, a hue-laden aura, resembling a rainbow, crowns His spiritual glory. “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face.” “I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head, and His face was as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire.” (Ez. 1:28;Rev. 10:1).

“On the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.” (Num. 9:15,16;Ex. 25:22;Num. 7:89).

During their escape from Egyptian slavery, the Son of God was called a “pillar” and an “angel” because His divine form was only glory, but He would give no distinguishing features of Himself lest the idolatrous slaves begin to worship His appearance instead of His character of love; so a cylinder of light must do. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.” (Ex. 14:19,20 ). He can choose to be darkness for those who hate His light; and brightness to the ones who love Him.

In the following case, the Lord manifested His person again, not in approval for Israel, but in disapproval; to warn them off from their complaining and self-pity and unbelief. Nonetheless, He wanted to remind them that He was still desirous to be their God, planning to bear with their recalcitrance, though growing more impatient. “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” (Ex. 16:10).

So by the time the tribes of Israel arrived at His mountain, they had really blown it many times and were about to worship the golden calf. So He didn’t come down onto Sinai in pleasant glory, but in darkness and overwhelming power. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” (Ex. 19:9). The people were increasingly needing a mediator with God. And they had one with Moses, who loved them with all his heart because he first loved God with all his heart.

Thus, the nation and the tent tabernacle they built were accepted by Him, as seen by the reappearance of the Lord in His unshadowed brightness. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:34,35).

In a similar repeat, when Solomon dedicated the temple he constructed, the Lord God’s person we see again as a misty pale whiting out everything around it and growing so radiant that no one could bear its brilliance. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” (1Ki. 8:10,11).

Another of this same cloud of glory, that shining “Ghost” came upon Mary at the incarnation of the God’s Son. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Lk. 1:35).

This “cloud” was used to carry Jesus to heaven. “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9).

It was the same “clouds of heaven” that Daniel saw carry Christ to His Father’s presence to receive His final kingdom. “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.” (Dan. 7:13).

And when He returns for His kingdom of people, He will arrive here on the same glorious “clouds,” “in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Acts 1:11;Matt. 24:30).

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev. 14:14-16;1Thess. 4:17;Rev. 1:7).

The cloud of light was part of Israel’s baptism into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1Cor. 10:2). That cloud must have had the same effect of disconcerting as it had on Peter on the holy mount. Fear at the sight of the unearthly purifies the soul.

We can expect the same experience again for God’s people before He comes again. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.” (Is. 4:5).

I believe that the Spirit of God which came in the form of a white dove upon Christ at His baptism was like a small representative of His Father’s bosom, a gift of glory from His Father’s presence. “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16). Likewise, that glow of light from the Spirit of God was seen on the apostles at Pentecost, described as a flame of fire.

And, just to keep us always in remembrance of God’s cloud of glory, He has left us the misty band of stars above our heads in the night sky, this time representing all those saints who have fought the good fight of faith by God’s grace, left us the light of their holy examples, and are now awaiting their reward. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Holiness

In the typical system, which was a shadow of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration. It was the closing work of the atonement --a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It prefigured the closing work in the ministration of our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment; and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every case has been decided. GC p. 352.

The cleansing, both in the typical and in the real service, must be accomplished with blood: in the former, with the blood of animals; in the latter, with the blood of Christ. Paul states, as the reason why this cleansing must be performed with blood, that without shedding of blood is no remission. Remission, or putting away of sin, is the work to be accomplished. But how could there be sin connected with the sanctuary, either in heaven or upon the earth? This may be learned by reference to the symbolic service; for the priests who officiated on earth, served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.” Hebrews 8:5. GC p. 417.

Says the prophet: “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.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14.

When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look “forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10.
GC p.425.

This says to me that the removing of sins from the heavenly sanctuary happens as they are put away among His people who are living just before He comes.

The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour. COL p.419.

Here she reiterates the gospel. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1Jn. 3:7-11).

John says here that overcoming and righteousness and love are all of one source and all happen together. And not only this, but they are mandatory for standing firmly when the Son of man appears to receive us to Himself.

Our sanctification must be valid, through “the grace of God ” and our “own diligent effort.” But lets remember other words by the same author.

But no man can impart that which he himself has not received. In the work of God, humanity can originate nothing. No man can by his own effort make himself a light bearer for God. It was the golden oil emptied by the heavenly messengers into the golden tubes, to be conducted from the golden bowl into the lamps of the sanctuary, that produced a continuous bright and shining light. It is the love of God continually transferred to man that enables him to impart light. Into the hearts of all who are united to God by faith the golden oil of love flows freely, to shine out again in good works, in real, heartfelt service for God. COL p.418.

Christ does not bid His followers strive to shine. He says, Let your light shine. If you have received the grace of God, the light is in you. Remove the obstructions, and the Lord’s glory will be revealed. The light will shine forth to penetrate and dispel the darkness. You cannot help shining within the range of your influence.
COL p.420.

It will be through Salvation by Faith by Jesus that we become what we need to be before Jesus comes. I believe when we have removed the obstructions from the Spirit, He will so infill us that He will in a special way as He empowers us to speak for Him. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Hos. 10:12).

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.” (Joel 2:28-31).

Its still true, that the only true motive for using our “own diligent effort” is for the purpose of gaining a deeper relationship with Jesus. No other motivation works! But out of that motive will come the power to become the sons of God—purity of character and holiness of heart. And readiness to stand before a holy God without a Mediator, when the heavens fall and Jesus comes again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A born again American--the video

Hi A____,
Please don’t hate me for this, but we, Americans, are sitting right where the Jews sat at the end of their 490 year grace period. We have dismissed the voice of God’s law and put in its place one of our own devising. Protestantism “is fallen, is fallen and is become the habitation of devils, the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” We can try to sound pious, but the church is fallen, and can’t get up. No matter how much we try, we are guilty of the past 160 years and more of dismissing the Lord and His prophets, and now it requires a huge reversal, which the Protestants aren’t willing to take.

How much self-sacrifice did we hear in that video?(http://www.bornagainamerican.org/). Are Americans willing to “spend and be spent”? (2Cor. 12;15). No, we want to cling to the good life, which we only had because of the faithfulness of our Reformation forefathers. They accepted the authoritative voice of the Law of God. But their children refuse to. They sing, We never did anything wrong! It is someone else’s fault that we are falling apart!

We want to protect our place at the pinnacle of the world, but we don’t deserve that place anymore. So it is being taken away; God is lifting His protective care. We are being conquered—by Babylon. First, it was internally, spiritually. Now physically. Satan is leading us to do exactly what Israel did. And God is doing to us exactly what He warned Israel of through Moses.

God isn’t finished humbling us until He works repentance into some of His children. A few will come out of the confused disillusionment of lawlessness the Protestants have made, and the rest will be rejected. This is the straight testimony of the true witness, which EGW said many would rise up against.

Is this a popular message? No, but when was the truth ever popular? God’s people need to get off the bandwagon everyone else is on, that long train speeding to hell, and walk the blood stained path on foot.

I say this because I love you, dear sister.
David

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Email on an asteroid hitting Earth

Hi Gladys and happy Sabbath past!

I hope your Sabbath was a restful one. Mine began beautifully. I had nice communion and trust in Jesus all the way up to the sermon. Then the elder spoke on the subject of justification by faith, salvation, repentance and the blood of Jesus. But without any modern, applicable examples, it left everyone more in the dark than they were before he began. As much as I love him and he is my good friend, I wonder if he has more than an intellectual understanding of justification. Added to that, he believed he must speak at the top of his lung capacity, further distancing himself from the people, especially the young people.

I was in bad spirits after that until I could get away for a little bit. The Lord needs to get our attention and keep us looking up to Him like little children in need of His love.
My new personal mission statement:

I am not my parents’ son; I am not my siblings’ brother; I am not my church’s pianist or my boss’s slave. I serve one master, and He is the good Shepherd. Instead of many voices I heed one. I am His son and servant. Everyone else must get in line behind Him. I can serve them best if all my service to them comes through serving Him. If I serve only Him constantly, everyone will be the happiest they could ever be. And so will I be. Serving the Prince of peace will bring perfect peace to me and everyone around me. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” (Is. 26:3).

I want to keep that mission statement ever before me. I want to walk in His light. How about you, sister?

Concerning the timeline, the question about hail: I just finished reading a book by the Signs of the Times editor, Marvin Moore. I didn’t agree with it all, but what he said about asteroids sounded valid. Speaking on Christ’s statement in Lk. 21:25, “There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring,” EGW wrote, “In the last scenes of this earth’s history, war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague, and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries.” {Mar 174.5}

“A world is represented in the destruction of Jerusalem, and the warning given then by Christ comes sounding down the line to our time: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25). Yes, they shall pass their borders, and destruction will be in their track. They will engulf the ships that sail upon their broad waters, and with the burden of their living freight, they will be hurried into eternity, without time to repent.” {3SM 417.3}

“I am bidden to declare the message that cities full of transgression, and sinful in the extreme, will be destroyed by earthquakes, by fire, by flood. All the world will be warned that there is a God who will display His authority as God. His unseen agencies will cause destruction, devastation, and death. All the accumulated riches will be as nothingness.” {Ev 27.2}

“The time is near when large cities will be swept away, and all should be warned of these coming judgments. But who is giving to the accomplishment of this work the wholehearted service that God requires? . . . {Ev 29.2}

At the present time there is not a thousandth part being done in working the cities, that should be done, and that would be done if men and women would do their whole duty.--Manuscript 53, 1910.” {Ev 29.3}

Destruction of Thousands of Cities.--O that God’s people had a sense of the impending destruction of thousands of cities, now almost given to idolatry.-- Review and Herald, Sept. 10, 1903. {Ev 29.4}

He wrote about a band of meteorites and asteroids just beyond Pluto. I already heard of a closer band between Mars and Jupiter. I believe that the Lord has been sheltering Earth from the stones out there that make up all the shooting stars and comets that get pulled in toward the Sun. I believe many of these have passed us and we didn’t even know it.

Once, on a fluke, (because I stopped watching the TV many years ago) I stepped into the living room and saw a special on the asteroids that live out in space. The documentary showed all the recorded asteroids that have already passed Earth, and I was amazed at all the arcs made by their paths. It was a jumble of lines everywhere representing all the near misses by many cosmic rocks.

Mr. Moore quoted a NewsWeek article on a supposed future scenario, “It comes screaming out of the sky... bigger than a mountain and packed with more energy than the world’s entire nuclear arsenal. It hits the atmosphere at 100 times the velocity of a speeding bullet, and less than a second later smacks into the ground with an explosive force of 100 million megatons of TNT [Gladys, that is more than all of this world’s nuclear warheads combined]. The shock wave from the crash landing, traveling 20,000 miles an hour, levels everything within 150 miles. Simultaneously a plume of vaporized stone shoots up from the impact site, blasting a hole through the atmosphere and venting hot debris.

“The vaporized rock cools, condensing back into hundreds of millions of tiny stones. As they streak to the ground over the next hour, they heat up, and soon the very air glows pink. Steam hisses from green leaves; buildings and even trees burst into flame. Nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere combine into nitric acid; any surviving life crawling out of a burrow or cave, gets pelted with a rain as caustic as the acid in a car battery.

“That’s what astronomer Henry Melosh of the University of Arizona calculates would happen if something six miles across fell from space and smacked into Earth.”

The six mile number came from another scientist’s estimation of what killed the Dinosaurs. Of course, we know the flood did that. But astronomers are finding asteroids the size of small states floating around out in our solar system.

If an asteroid the size of a mountain or a state hit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, travelling 20,000 m.p.h., it would create huge tidal waves that would travel away from the point of impact. Like the rings that move away from tossing a pebble into a pond, the large volumes of water in the tidal waves from an asteroid would wash up against every city built on the Pacific rim, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Canadian cities, the South American countries, far eastern Asian countries and Australia, even into Indonesia and the eastern coast of Africa. Tens of thousands of island villages would vanish. The tidal waves would even wash up onto Antarctica and do some more melting of it.

An asteroid impact puts a different light on Jesus’ saying in Luke, and EGW’s illumination of His words.

Of course, there are innumerable smaller meteorites, which heaven could easily push our way. A talent is 58 to 80 lbs. That is probably just a word used to describe a very, very heavy stone. I’ve carried 80 lb bags of concrete mix and can barely carry it 50 feet. I couldn’t imagine that kind of weight falling at 20,000 mph. eeks! Truly, nothing man has built will withstand that kind of attack. We’ve used so much technology to make our beautiful skylines, and they will all go away so quickly by such simple weapons of war.

If you remember, in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel chapter 2, it was a stone from space that destroyed the final civilization at the feet of the image.

I’ve seen Doug Bachelor say the hail stones were made of ice, and I didn’t like what he said. It isn’t a very realistic explanation in light of what we know is out in space. The Bible says God would destroy the Earth by fire, and iron or rock hailstones would be on fire or glowing red hot from the friction of entry into our atmosphere. We know that because a space capsule burned up everyone inside back in the early days of the space race with Russia.

About the people being left behind statement: the Left Behind and Secret Rapture falsehoods say that 75% of the Christian church will disappear instantly one day and be taken to heaven. It says that the only ones left behind will be the fake people whom God didn’t accept, and all the wicked who wouldn’t accept the Secret Rapture theory. That would be all the Muslims, and other pagan religions, the athiests and the SDAs. And then, soon after the Rapture there is supposed to be a horrendous time of tribulation when the Antichrist rises to power.

The big problem is that the theory of the Secret Rapture is an invention of the great deceiver, and the day is coming when the Lord is going to lift His protection of Earth, and calamities right and left are going to begin. Its going to take the world by storm and surprise. And added to all that confusion will be the total befuddlement and disorientation of millions of Christians when the false realization dawns on them that the Secret Rapture must have already happened and they missed it. After all their good behavior and God wasn’t pacified! This may be part of what Jesus meant in that verse, “there shall be... upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity.” “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:12).

I hope this helps, sister. But I don’t want to end without leaving the final statements from EGW’s first quote above, “We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him. There is a rest from earth’s conflict.”

I look forward to the end of all conflict and rest beyond all of this life’s cares.

Love you sister,
David

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love and forgiveness

Yes,

The angels are in a flurry, I believe. They know how little time is left and so much to get done. I don’t normally hear them, but I think I have on an occasion or two. One time, like in my testimony, I heard the words, “Redemption. Redemption.” At another time, “The love of God” passed through my head, attended with the sense that I didn’t know His love. After having been back in the church for ten years, and professing God pretty loudly, that was kind of disconcerting. But I had to admit it was true.

But I don’t have that happen often, and I’m kind of glad. I want the Lord to open me up slowly to those things or I could get deluded by Satan. We don’t fully comprehend Satan’s deceptive ability or the power of his influence. But I’d rather look to Jesus and try to receive His power. And if I have to dig His influence out of archaic words of ancient prophets, then I feel safer than getting outright voices. That is what is driving the fallen Protestant churches into deception. Man shall not live by sensation, but by every word of God and faith. “He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock.” (Deut. 32:13).

Bible study makes the sucking reflex very healthy and strong. As Richard used to say, quoting EGW, “I commend to you the scriptures.” The honey and oil are so much better when you’ve had to suck hard to get them out.

Your mother doesn’t hate you. She just doesn’t understand. She wouldn’t have invited you to live with her or pay your housing, if she didn’t love you. But a knowledge of how much God suffers because of us gives the true conception of love. Human love doesn’t surpass it, although human love is real and to some degree the image of God. Charity “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:” (1Cor. 13:7,8).

Ask Jesus to show you how much He forgives you, and you will be happy to forgive anything your mother or anyone will do to you. And it may be that she has cause. We aren’t perfect by a long shot. We need our bumps and bruises. We deserve far worse. We deserve to be tied in a bag and thrown into the deepest sea; to be put out of everyone’s misery. But God is gracious to us and prevents that. But we deserve it. We are the man in the parable who stole a million dollars from his boss, but whom when the boss heard his repentance, “then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” (Matt. 18:27).

Let’s not go to those around us who have damaged us just a little by comparison to what we’ve done to God, and fight with them. But rather, let’s forgive and love them and submit to them and serve them. “Love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest.” (Lk. 6:35). Because that’s the way He does everything. We have been His rebellious enemies, yet He has only been good to us. “For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb. 12:3). Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

I love you very much, sister. Thank you for your faith and encouragement.
David

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Lord thinketh on me

I know what you mean. It would be nice to be able to jump off the Earth and land on the far side of the Moon. But the shallow love of man should send us in search of a deeper love—God’s infinite love. But He must be the one to reveal that love. And He will as we continue to seek it. We are so hard-hearted that it’s hard for Him to get through to us. But He will get through. “And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Is. 30:18).

More and more, I see that the real problems in this world are due to not knowing the depth of love and grace God has for His ailing planet. The Islamic terrorists who kill for God are a good example. The Jesuits in charge of the Inquisition are another. The protesters on the Mall who are throwing shoes at President Bush with signs that say, “Arrest him” are another.

Our bitterness in this life is due to being cut off from God and His love. If we try to operate a moral life without Him, it will be shallow at the least, and murderous at the most. Who can initiate love? Who can manufacture it? We must be loved before we can love. We must have been nurtured in order to be able to nurture. Yet, because the vast majority is separated from God, they must produce their own fruit. And it’s a life of hard work, or dismal failure.

We don’t know what its like to have love flow through us. Like Jesus giving bread to His disciples and them to the people (Jn. 6:11), we can and must take from Him in order to give away. His love can flow through us, and it must. People are suffering on every side, physically as well as emotionally, because they are not getting loved. Our psych wards are full of people who didn’t get loved until it crushed them mentally. They snapped and got rushed off to a place that could keep them sedated forever. I believe that many of them would still respond to love and pull out of their conditions, whatever they’re called. Those conditions are all basic devil-control because the devils come in when God is not present, because His love is not cognizant.

I’m sorry about your mother, but she doesn’t realize what she is lacking. She is probably totally unaware of the science of salvation. Our nation, the one Protestant nation in the world, has lost its light from the Reformation days, and is in great darkness. And our nation is seeing the results of that loss every day, more so with each passing generation.

As I panned through the photos in the news portion of Yahoo mail this morning, I got a sense of new defiance toward powerful religion. James Taylor sang or will sing, an icon of a better America from the hippy past. A forgetting of the Bible and Bible spirituality and obedience is about to take a bigger step than we saw during the president Clinton days. This can only result in a reaction by the powerful religio-political sector of our country. But either atheistic secular or religious, both are operating apart from God and His love. Neither will ever find it, as they both vie for supremacy. And their in-fighting will only take them farther and farther away from the search for God’s love.

Only those who find in all the fighting such a vacancy that they have to come out of it and look for love, will finally make it out of Babylon. Love will be God’s greatest drawing force before He comes. You already feel that lack. So do I. Let’s not give up the search until we get all the way to Him and have no doubt of His acceptance and joy over us.

I spent yesterday working in the house I’ve been remodeling. They had their nephew over, who is slightly retarded. He was talking loudly all day long—non-stop! :) But I couldn’t help but love him for it. He was being boastful and sometimes braggadocio, self wasn’t hidden in Christ, he wasn’t sanctified. Yet, I felt like he was being honest and genuine and happy. As I thought on it, it seemed like this is what God is like to His creation. They aren’t nor will they ever be as holy and sanctified as He. Yet He joys to have them part of His huge family. His whole family in heaven and earth are dysfunctional compared to Him. Like Paul said, “If Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory;but not before God.” (Rom. 4:2). “The heavens are not clean in His sight.” (Job 15:15). But I’m glad for what David said. “I am poor and needy;yet the Lord thinketh upon me:Thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” (Ps. 40:17).

Does the Lord think upon David only or for us too? For us too, maybe even more so. “Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written:” (1Cor. 9:10). EGW said we must appropriate the word of God for ourselves. This is why those men wrote what they did. “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.” (Is. 30:8). Whatever is written in scripture is for us and our children forever.

And God’s thoughts toward us are no lukewarm, half-hearted thinking upon us, like sinners do to each other. When He says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end,” (Jer. 29:11) He really knows them! He means it with all His heart, all His love is focused on us. It’s like the microwaves that focused on the spoon I accidentally left in my bowl once. Those microwaves were so concentrated and focused that they boiled the glass turntable at the spot where the spoon made contact with it.

When He writes that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), His Spirit applies that to the needy soul reading that promise, even if its thousands of needy souls reading it simultaneously, sprinkled around the globe. He had it written down and disseminated throughout the world in order to speak to the whole world, for He so loves the whole world (Jn. 3:16). His love is big enough to accept every last sinner, work with them in their sinfulness, and win their hearts back, perfectly cleansed from sin. But the love response can never be forced. The limitation to salvation by love is in that the majority isn’t interested. Satan has ruined them. In many, many cases, Satan has defeated God. And the great Father suffers for His lost children; infinitely does He sorrow.

Let’s not be the reason He has to suffer more. Let’s ask Him to open our hearts and to leave behind our self-protectiveness and self-defenses, and yield ourselves totally to Him, His law and His grace.

Love you sister,
David

Thursday, January 15, 2009

God was manifest in the flesh

“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1Tim. 3:16).

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1Jn. 4:3). The denial to identify with Jesus in His humanity is the spirit behind the antichrist. That denial, that lack or refusal of confessing His human-ness, forms the whole basis for the Christian apostasy and the loss of their first love for Him. He must be more than some mental icon, some imaginary figure. For that, He might as well be Buddha or Krishna. If all He is is some intangible “God” then He might as well be the giant mother ship Hinduism calls, “the Soul,” which all of our smaller souls follow after. Lucifer has made our Father into a meaningless, loveless, personless blob. He has “opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name” and defame His character. (Rev. 13:6).

No, our Lord must be much more tangible; much more touchable. But how? He has ascended to heaven. Must we relegate Him to the dusts of antiquity like the apostatizing Church did 1800 years ago? Must we do to Christ like Israel did to Moses, “Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this [Jesus], the Man that brought us up out of the [bondage to sin], we wot not what is become of Him.”

“For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).

“Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” (Heb. 2:17).

“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).

We can look to His time here as a man. We can look up to Him like a little one. With all of our great need for a big brother, we can join in His unchanging passions and timeless plans for people then, and enlist ourselves among His band of disciples. We can invite ourselves into the record He left; we can let the Holy Spirit, who always attends that record, bring that record to life and up to date, and apply it to our 21st century experience. Nothing has changed about human nature since the beginning, anyway. We can be His “little children.” (Jn. 13:33).

“And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:2-6).

“And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” (Mk. 7:37). We should be able to make the same statement as we watch Christ during His close up and personal ministry during the apostle’s and Moses’ day, or His more distant ministry from heaven all the rest of the time. We need to have Someone definite we can lay our eyes on. We must have a Person, well defined and recognizable, Someone who does like we do, who feels and needs like we do.

There is no greater joy than having a friend, a companion. No one wants to travel this life alone. We love society; we are social creatures. We love to do things together. The Lord said it right, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Gen. 2:18).

Man is made for companionship. Companionship reveals the glory of God. When there is a task to be done, we are much happier doing it with another person. When we have a difficult problem to handle, dealing with it alone makes the going much more difficult. A companion is a counselor, someone who can remind of ideas forgotten and help us keep the bigger picture. We need Jesus because He ever kept the unseen world in the forefront of His thoughts. “How … can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” was His constant motto. (Gen. 39:9). He is our best peer.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Does Jesus offer us this same companionship? Can we still find in Him human qualities? How can He compete with our human friends if we can’t have the same communion with Him that we have so readily with our earthly companions? If we can’t identify with Him or know that He identifies with us, how will we ever give prayer the precedence over conversation with our human friends or even strangers?

The little child looks up to his parents for support and guidance. And anyone who does this to Jesus is the greatest in the kingdom. Do we look to Jesus for the same kind of support as the little child? Does He walk and talk with us like He did with the disciples? Or is He remote, sitting on His throne like Lincoln in his memorial?

Those disciples lived in an atmosphere of His acceptance and grace. The groundwork for that atmosphere was laid by His Father through God’s maintaining the grievous consequences of their sin and thus creating in them the need for grace. Then Jesus could show them that grace. He knew how essential grace and friendship is to the well-rounded development or rehabilitation of every human being. He never failed to give them gracious love daily, repeatedly, in an on-going fashion, and to provide them counsel.

This is God in the flesh. Whoever doesn’t preach this, or even neglects to preach this, according to John, “is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come.” Allah never condescends to draw near us. He or it never leaves the sanctity and safety of his hiding place to mingle with sinners, but stays there throwing lightning bolts at us, the author of guerrilla warfare. Buddha, at the other extreme, never threatens us. He remains in death-like peace and Nirvana, and remoter still than Allah. Djwahl Kuhl never leaves the “astral planes.”

The living God alone has come to spend time with us. “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8). Not only did they build Him a sanctuary tent and two larger buildings in which to abide, but, through His providences and abundant grace and justice, they provided Him a holy line though which to be incarnated. He had dealt with Israel and their failures in temptation and in the daily routines of life, and now He would live with them in the flesh.

Daily He reproved their selfishness, but daily He found every opportunity to reveal His deep love for them through the riches of His grace. They could identify with Him. He wasn’t a distant Creator that Satan could easily impersonate. He became one of them. They ate and talked and walked with Him. He was flesh and blood, carrying all the infirmities they did. He sang and thrilled their hearts. He prayed for them and won their love. He strictly kept under the Law, happy to do His Father’s commandments, and earned their respect and worship.

His teaching was light-years ahead of the rabbis, and the people heard Him gladly. His communication skills were without peer. Truly a greater than Solomon was present before them. Who could convict Him of a fault or of sin? No one dared even to try! Yet He never preached about Himself. He never asked anyone to worship Him. He was always pointing the people to the God in heaven.

Today, two thousand years after His ascension, how can we identify with Him like they could? He isn’t here in person; He doesn’t charm us with His beautiful righteousness. He doesn’t preach the good news to us and convert our hearts. He doesn’t, in person, bend every effort to reveal His love and grace for us. All of that happened 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land, but what about me right here and right now. He whom their eyes had seen and their hands had handled, what about my eyes and my hands? I want to see and touch and listen to Him too!

But if I can’t touch and embrace Him and sit at His feet here and now, how can I identify with Him like they could? How can I identify with a God sitting on His throne? Is He nothing but some abstract icon? Even if He were to only sit on a throne somewhere, in my culture and in this age, we don’t care about worshipping someone who just sits there. Maybe in some other place and time that was acceptable, but not for this generation. Even if Christ is pleading His blood, how does the average human being identify with that? Does every candidate for faith in Jesus have to be retrained before he can have faith, or is there something about Jesus that we all can naturally identify with?

How can the typical secularist westerner detect love and grace from Christendom’s typical idolatrous description of Jesus in heaven? Or is it no wonder that they never step foot in a church and left it when their parents or pastor could no longer stop them?

Can the Jesus of today in the heavenly places only be known by what was written of Him in the gospels? Even if we know that He is officiating in the heavenly tabernacle like the Aaronic priesthood did in the OT, how can the modern every-day man identify with priests in white robes doing priest things? I mean personally identify.

We need an active, living Son of God. He must do more than the gods of this world’s religions. “They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Ps. 115:5-8).

I commend to you the living, breathing Jesus of Nazareth, who hasn’t changed the way He loves us with both mercy and justice. He is the same today as He was in yesteryear. John saw Him, not an icon sitting on a throne, but walking amongst the candles of the sanctuary. “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:10).

The one renewable resource

The world is finding that our resources for energy from coal and oil cannot last forever. So they are looking to other resources, renewable resources, such as solar power. Likewise in the spiritual, our witness for God must be founded upon a resource outside of ourselves. It must come from the one renewable source, the grace of Jesus. I believe that for a long time we as SDAs and other Christians have been running on our own steam when it came to being a witness. And Christ in the Most Holy Place has been working with us to rest fully in Him.

When we do this we will truly be His representatives and spokespersons. He will be able to entrust us with the greatest message ever given to this world. Heaven will touch Earth. We will be able to say with Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” (Is. 61:10,11). We will know the experience of those who have spoken for God in the past—“In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). And “that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” (Deut. 8:3).

The handover from limited fossil fuel to unlimited renewable resources will probably be a slow and painful process. So in the spiritual realm, our growth from self-dependence to reliance on God will be full of painful failures and hard lessons to learn. But the switch over must take place before Jesus comes. And His coming will be soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

False eschatology

Something that just amazes me and at the same time horrifies me is the way the eschatology of the fallen churches lines up so perfectly with the crowning act of the great delusion when Satan personates the second coming of Jesus.

I just finished a book my mother sent me, What in the World Is Going On? authored by Dr. David Jeremiah. The book attempts to show how current events with the Arab nations’ desire to destroy Israel line up with Ezekiel’s ancient prophecies concerning the destruction of the surrounding nations of the Palestine of his day which had been so involved in defiling Israel’s obedience to God. Ezekiel said that all those nations would be destroyed—Gog and Magog and a host of smaller nations.

Mr. Jeremiah has basically echoed and repeated the 1970’s blockbuster, Hal Lindsay’s Late Great Planet Earth . What has really confused me is how he used 1Thess. 4:13-18 to prove a secret rapture. He glazes over the words, “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” (vs. 16). They speak of an earth-shattering event; certainly not secretive or happening without, or even intending for it to be without, the world’s notice. “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt. 24:30,31). Yet, a huge radio audience is following this man and his biased Bible interpretation.

Often the author quotes from other men who believe the same falsehoods of last day events and, to embellish their believability, he calls them “Bible scholars” or appends their name with “Dr.” If you write a book geared to the popular notions of a certain religious subculture, and attend a Bible college that promotes the same material as the book you wrote, you can get your doctorate and be certified a person the world should look up to and listen to. Other “important” people who think the same way as you can refer to you in their book, while you refer to them in yours, and everyone thinks all these “important” and “smart” people have all the right answers.

But I’m glad for a little lady who wrote and wrote and wrote about the Bible and its principles, and never once tried to get a piece of paper calling her a “Dr.” or “Honorary Ph.D.” She didn’t need the title of Ph.D. because she knew all this world’s titles were contrary to the Lord’s will. They all began in pagan Babylon back in the days of Ham, Cush, and Nimrod. And they were all going to go away soon anyway.

And the Bible teaches against them and the educational system that provides them. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?... Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1Cor. 1:20, 25-30).

Interesting it surely is, how the Bible’s own interpretation of Ezekiel, as it relates to the end of the great controversy, shows that his prophecies spoke of the final destruction at Judgment Day, after 1,000 years of saints going over the books, and wrestling and reconciling with the question why their loved ones were lost. Just go to Revelation 20 and Ezekiel’s reference is given after the 1,000 years in heaven. Yet, Dr. David Jeremiah and all his other doctor friends have the whole evangelical multitudes thinking all of that will take place before the millennium, in our generation.

Why is this so significant? Because it is leading millions to expect fine details that will never happen, while blinded to real prophetic fulfillment, confusing them and misleading them until it’s too late! And Satan will be wonderfully able to convince those people that what they are seeing is exactly what they’ve been told to expect! He can twist reality to conform to his “reality.” A little hoax, some falsified peace of mind, his appeals to the baser passions of man’s fallen nature found in modern religious music and worship, and we are quick to follow that sinister benefactor. “By peace [he] shall destroy many.” “He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.”(Dan. 8:25;11:21).

He has led these false prophets to assist him in preparing the whole religious world for his own impersonation of Christ’s second coming. Our prophet, the true prophet, has forewarned us that Lucifer will make his appearance with his dazzling angelic brilliance after great upheavals have wreaked havoc on the earth. Dr. David Jeremiah speaks of some great battle of Armageddon between Israel and the Arab nations and Russia, which brings the whole world to bear in a World War III.

He hints that what we see in the world today is already leading up that that world-renowned battle. One of these days, a world leader who seems good and friendly, but who really is demonic, will rise to world dominion. But after 7 years of tribulation for the whole world who missed being sneaked away in the secret rapture, then “Jesus” will finally return to put an end to the trouble and tribulation, and “He” will destroy the Antichrist and his “false prophet.”

Then “Jesus” will reign on Earth establishing righteousness and bringing judgments on all the rebels of the world who wanted to destroy Israel.

One thing this scenario does is create prejudice and hatred for Islamic countries, branding them with divine disapproval. According to the doctor, those who hate Israel today will be the same nations who are judged and exterminated when Jesus finally comes.

Another thing the popular Left Behind scenario does is set up the mind of many people for the coming day when the entire world will desire to unite under the umbrella of the Church of Rome and its Sunday. At that time, the “rebels” will be those who hold the Law of God supreme, who have gained a love of truth, but who cannot submit to a law and authority of a man when it works at direct cross-purposes with God’s Law.

Listen to the words of his book, and situate yourself among the “rebels” if you know of Dr. Jeremiah’s misinterpretation of scripture and think you might be branded as a heretic by the Church of Rome.

In one short verse, Jude (verse 15) used the word ungodly four times. This repetition is not accidental. Jude was emphasizing the fact that when Christ comes the second time, His long-suffering patience will have run its course. He will come to impose judgment upon those who have defied Him, and that judgment will be massive. At this point the people on the earth will have rejected the ministry of the 144,000 preachers and the two witnesses that God sent to them for their salvation, just as the prophet Jonah was sent to the Ninevites. In His loving mercy, God endeavored to turn them away from their fatal rebellion. But unlike the Ninevites, the people in the last days will have hardened their hearts beyond repentance.

If you believe Sunday is the centralizing, unifying institution of Satan to sweep the whole world into spiritualism, and you see Satan landing with a retinue of other devils impersonating Christ and all heaven to rule the world, do you see that this period of time will bring the greatest tribulation for whose who are faithful to the Ten Commandments and who love the obedience of faith through Jesus?

The author further states,

Reclaiming the earth, however, is not merely a simple matter of Christ’s stepping in and planting His flag. Before the earth can be reclaimed, it must be cleansed. You wouldn’t move back into a house infested with rats without first exterminating and cleaning it up. That is what Christ must do before He reclaims the earth. All rebellion must be rooted out. He must avenge the damage done to His perfect creation by wiping the rebels from the face of the earth.

This sends a shiver down my spine because it speaks of the day when honest followers of Christ will be furiously hunted like wild animals. It speaks of extermination; it foretells of Inquisition and vigilante justice; and Satan supervising it all through his earthly counterpart, the Roman Papacy. It all lays so perfectly over the description written almost a century before the new rapture theme became popular, a description of the Time of Trouble, given to us in the book, The Great Controversy, pages 614-616,624-626,632,634.

When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old.

A single angel destroyed all the first-born of the Egyptians and filled the land with mourning. When David offended against God by numbering the people, one angel caused that terrible destruction by which his sin was punished. The same destructive power exercised by holy angels when God commands, will be exercised by evil angels when He permits. There are forces now ready, and only waiting the divine permission, to spread desolation everywhere.

Those who honor the law of God have been accused of bringing judgments upon the world, and they will be regarded as the cause of the fearful convulsions of nature and the strife and bloodshed among men that are filling the earth with woe. The power attending the last warning has enraged the wicked; their anger is kindled against all who have received the message, and Satan will excite to still greater intensity the spirit of hatred and persecution.

When God’s presence was finally withdrawn from the Jewish nation, priests and people knew it not. Though under the control of Satan, and swayed by the most horrible and malignant passions, they still regarded themselves as the chosen of God. The ministration in the temple continued; sacrifices were offered upon its polluted altars, and daily the divine blessing was invoked upon a people guilty of the blood of God’s dear Son and seeking to slay His ministers and apostles. So when the irrevocable decision of the sanctuary has been pronounced and the destiny of the world has been forever fixed, the inhabitants of the earth will know it not. The forms of religion will be continued by a people from whom the Spirit of God has been finally withdrawn; and the satanic zeal with which the prince of evil will inspire them for the accomplishment of his malignant designs, will bear the semblance of zeal for God.

As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration. It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. The same argument many centuries ago was brought against Christ by the “rulers of the people.” “It is expedient for us,” said the wily Caiaphas, “that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” John 11:50. This argument will appear conclusive; and a decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precept.

The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. “Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. . . . All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:5-7.…

Fearful sights of a supernatural character will soon be revealed in the heavens, in token of the power of miracle-working demons. The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven. By these agencies, rulers and subjects will be alike deceived. Persons will arise pretending to be Christ Himself, and claiming the title and worship which belong to the world’s Redeemer. They will perform wonderful miracles of healing and will profess to have revelations from heaven contradicting the testimony of the Scriptures.

As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. Like the Samaritans who were deceived by Simon Magus, the multitudes, from the least to the greatest, give heed to these sorceries, saying: This is “the great power of God.” Acts 8:10.…

As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment keepers shall withdraw the protection of government and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places. Many will find refuge in the strongholds of the mountains. Like the Christians of the Piedmont valleys, they will make the high places of the earth their sanctuaries and will thank God for “the munitions of rocks.” Isaiah 33:16. But many of all nations and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. The beloved of God pass weary days, bound in chains, shut in by prison bars, sentenced to be slain, some apparently left to die of starvation in dark and loathsome dungeons. No human ear is open to hear their moans; no human hand is ready to lend them help.…

With earnest longing, God’s people await the tokens of their coming King. As the watchmen are accosted, “What of the night?” the answer is given unfalteringly, “‘The morning cometh, and also the night.’ Isaiah 21:11, 12. Light is gleaming upon the clouds above the mountaintops. Soon there will be a revealing of His glory. The Sun of Righteousness is about to shine forth. The morning and the night are both at hand--the opening of endless day to the righteous, the settling down of eternal night to the wicked.”

As the wrestling ones urge their petitions before God, the veil separating them from the unseen seems almost withdrawn….

Glorious will be the deliverance of those who have patiently waited for His coming and whose names are written in the book of life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to be a prophet

Yesterday in Sabbath School we talked about prophets, with their vision and dreams; and what made a person qualified to be a prophet.

Prophets had dreams—Abraham when the Lord informed him of the affliction his descendents would pass through; Daniel and his famous dream of the world empires until the judgment happened; we could say Peter on the rooftop was a prophet, although what his dream pertained to did predict any future event.

Prophets had visions—Daniel, multiple times; Ezekiel and Isaiah when the Lord introduced His person to them and gave them their mission, Paul in the third heaven, etc.

Others beside prophets had dreams—King Abimelech in Abraham’s day; Pharaoh in Joseph’s day; Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel’s day; an unnamed soldier of the Medianite in Gideon’s day, etc.

Many prophets never had either dreams or visions. They just heard the word of the Lord in their minds and spoke for Him. “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth....” (Jer. 14:1).

No one beside prophets had visions from the Lord; however, many have tried to make it look that way.

But prophets could make mistakes. Samuel wanted to pick every other son of Jesse to be king, except the one who should have been king, and he mourned over the rejection of tall, gallant, handsome Saul from the throne. Nathan had to do an about-face after telling David to build a temple and that the Lord would be with him.

Prophets could sin. Abraham lied twice. Moses, one fatal day, let the agitated and aggressive rebels get to him to blow up. There was David and Bathsheba; Solomon and his major apostasy. Jonah and Elijah ran away from duty.

So what exactly is God’s criteria for a prophet, to ordain him so to be? If it isn’t having dreams, having continuous holy behavior, never making mistakes, then what is it?

God read their heart; He knew them. Those who have needed God the most and found their way into an extremely intimate relationship with Him, have been rewarded with a very clear comprehension of God’s love, a view of love that thrilled their soul and gave them perfect peace. Those were people He could trust to faithfully and correctly communicate His will.

And evidently, this doesn’t happen often, so God has been forced to strong arm these holy men when they didn’t want to do the dangerous work of the prophet. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” (1 Cor. 9:16,17).

His word to them was like honey in their tongue, but came together with a heavy responsibility, attended with a fire in their bowels to avenge the Lord of the insulting actions of the people. But that knowledge of God’s love balanced the bitterness in the belly, and gave them more firepower in the hope that strong reproof could lead sinners to repentance and inclusion within the arms of that God of love who they had come to know personally.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Ps. 19:7-11).

The Lord still needs prophets today. In fact, before He returns, He has promised many prophets.

“Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you.
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and My people shall never be ashamed.
And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed.
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.

And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.” (Joel 2:23-32).

Wouldn’t you like to be part of that picture described above? Our experience in the things of God will be full of satisfaction and strong faith, and overflow with joy and peace. Wouldn’t you want to be one of them? You will be if your deepest desire is acceptance by heaven and your sanctification, so that men will glorify your Father in heaven.

“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” (Jer. 15:16).

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Navy SEAL

The following came from a sermon I heard a while back.

A long time ago I went to a concert with my friend Rebecca. Rebecca can sing better than anybody I’ve ever heard sing. I heard this folksinger was coming to town, and I thought she might like to see him because she was a singer too.… Between songs, though, he told a story that helped me resolve some things about God. The story was about his friend who is a Navy SEAL. He told it like it was true.

The folksinger said his friend was performing a covert operation, freeing hostages from a building in some dark part of the world. His friend’s team flew in by helicopter, made their way to the compound and stormed into the room where the hostages had been imprisoned for months. The room, the folksinger said, was filthy and dark. The hostages were curled up in a corner, terrified. When the SEALs entered the room, they heard the gasps of the hostages. They stood at the door and called to the prisoners, telling them they were Americans. The SEALs asked the hostages to follow them, but the hostages wouldn’t. They sat there on the floor and hid their eyes in fear. They were not of healthy mind and didn’t believe their rescuers were really Americans.

The SEALs stood there, not knowing what to do. They couldn’t possibly carry everybody out. One of the SEALs, the folksinger’s friend, got an idea. He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close his body was touching some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them. None of the prison guards would have done this. He stayed there for a little while until some of the hostages started to look at him, finally meeting his eyes. The Navy SEAL whispered that they were Americans and were there to rescue them. Will you follow? he said. The hero stood to his feet and one of the hostages did the same, then another, until all of them were willing to go. The story ends with all the hostages safe on an American aircraft carrier.

I never liked it when the preachers said we had to follow Jesus. Sometimes they would make Him sound angry. But I liked the story the folksinger told. I liked the idea of Jesus becoming man, so that we would be able to trust Him, and I like that He healed people and loved them and cared deeply about how people were feeling.


The Navy SEAL didn’t have to go so far to get the prisoners to be saved. He hadn’t been trained to do what he did. But his heart told him what to do—that is, gain their trust and then they will follow you to the ends of the Earth.

I’m glad this is what Jesus did. He went over and beyond the call of duty to help us identify with Him, even assuming our characteristics and our nature. He even took our body, knowing we would not otherwise be able to identify with Him and His purpose for coming among us.

He came close to us, tabernacling with us. He put down His punishments, took off His warrior stance, and curled up tightly next to hostages of Satan, getting so close His body was touching theirs. He softened the look on His face and put His arms around them. He tried to show them He was one of them. Christ did all this because He knew that none of the devil’s prison guards would have done this. He stayed here for a little while because the prisoners had spent their whole lives hiding their eyes in fear. He talked quietly with them, until some of the hostages started to look at Him, finally meeting His eyes. We were not of healthy mind and soul, and didn’t believe that Jesus really was our rescuer.

But like the SEAL, Jesus didn’t give up on us because of our total lack of faith in Him. He used every method in the book to win our trust. And that’s why I love Him and look for Him to come back to reclaim me completely.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

To a friend on God's Kingdom Community

Hi Charlene,
Thanks for the poem. It’s always nice to hear from a friend. Like your poem said, I am who I am for a reason. God made me who I am.

This morning I was reading from Romans 4. I had just spent the night before writing on my blog and defending the Law of God. I read Romans 4 about the promise to Abraham wasn’t given on condition of obedience to the Law, but through or on condition of the righteousness of faith.

As I read of Paul’s exaltation of faith contrary to Law, I wondered how we can be so adamant about defending the Law of God. I see the need to defend it because we are watching this world get more and more corrupt because of its rebellion against the Law and its authority. Yet Paul exalts faith.

As I pondered this, I remembered what Abraham came out of. He came out of an overbearing, hypocritical religious world which Ham, Cush and Nimrod had established. They had corrupted the whole world after the flood, and this atmosphere of insincerity, cold-heartedness, and ruthless religion bruised Abraham’s soul. He had spent his whole life surrounded by all that in the idolatrous and greedy suburban towns around Babylon, and accepted it as all that God had to offer. But he must have thought, “God, there has to be more to life than this.”

So when the Lord approached him, it wasn’t with more rules and religion. His approach was to regain Abraham’s trust and love—something Abraham didn’t know he even had, but something Christ knows how to bring out of those who submit to His mysterious, yet wonderful work on the heart. Christ’s approach was through faith in a promise—like friends do to each other. What an overture to a weak and helpless sinner! The foundation for Abraham’s sanctification was a friendship, and the fixing up of misbehavior and faultiness in Abraham would come in Jesus’ own timing. Hence, “the righteousness of faith”—the righteousness of the Law that comes out of faith.

This is why Paul was so adamant about faith and a promise. He wasn’t, for a moment, trying to undermine the Law of God or the need for sanctification. That would come as the soul and conscience wakes up to the warm fellowship with the Savior. There was no secret desire to presume upon God and His Law in Abraham or David or Paul. The need for righteousness was fully made aware to them as they looked around and saw the rampant abuses which tore at their hearts. They didn’t want to skirt the Law when they jumped at the offer to have a relationship with God. A relationship was everything to them—especially a relationship with the God of heaven, the God of creation, the God of love, and law.

Charlene, I hope I didn’t overstay my welcome at your site. Have a beautiful day. I just thought we might be able to share this together.
David

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Comment to a comment on another blog

Hi Ellamae,

You may not even read this, but I thought I’d chime in anyway. I like the way you said, “the law is the schoolmaster (it teaches) how to love.”

I know that Steve corrected you by changing the “is” into a “was” which is how Paul wrote it. But for Galatians and the rest of scripture to be relevant and profitable for doctrine, reproof, etc, as Paul also said, I believe he would say that we need to apply everything in the Bible to our current circumstances. Otherwise, it becomes a 2,000 year old statement and meaningless to us fighting sin today.

The Law is our schoolmaster to keep bringing us to a need of Christ’s grace. As we walk in the advancing light of truth, we have fellowship with God. Ellen White through the Holy Spirit did a lot to advance the light of the Bible, much like Moses did in the wilderness. It’s all our schoolmaster, giving us good reasons to flee to our Savior for His mercy. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” All those who came to Jesus and received Him were driven there by the Father’s powerful consequences to the breaking of His Law. And He gives us the certainty of acceptance to all who have been thus humbled and moved by the Father: “and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn 6:37). What a beautiful arrangement They have going to get our attention and love, and get us safely in Their embrace!

We need all the help we can get for getting to and staying with Jesus. Abraham, the father of faith, did. Remember Pharaoh rebuked him through Sarah for lying? David, the man after God’s own heart, did. Remember what happened when he numbered his army for his own vanity’s sake? Both of these men knew grace, and that abundantly. Yet, there was the Law and its consequences if broken.

Then there was Paul, who also discovered what Abraham and David had found in grace, using sharpness to the Corinthians when needed because the Law still had a place in “his” gospel. Nothing has changed since Christ spoke in kind warning to Cain before his murder. He spoke the same way to Judas when he wanted to join the following.

What we need is to understand the relation between grace and Law.

The only thing that changed when Christ came was an increased knowledge of God’s compassion for us. His grace could be more abundantly revealed because the status of the great plan for justification of sinners through faith moved from the potential to the actual, the promised to the fulfilled, from deep within the counsel of God’s heart to demonstration before the whole onlooking universe.

But as offense abounded and grace much more abounded; likewise, when grace much more abounded, the standard of the Law raised. God didn’t love His fallen children more than before, but His love was so much more increasingly manifested. And for love to be love, it must have equal parts of grace and truth, mercy and law, peace and righteousness. For divine love to remain true love, if the grace/mercy/peace aspect moved up many notches, we must expect the truth/law/righteousness aspect to move up with it. And that is exactly what happened. Both moved up abundantly.

So, we hear Christ raising the standard of the Law in His sermon on the mount. We hearken back to the prophecy regarding the Messiah, “But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth: with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins.” (Is. 11:4,5). We see Him cleansing the temple of the wicked, yet sanctimonious law-breakers, and opening it up to the genuine “meek of the earth.”

This was to set the stage for His ministry to heal the brokenhearted and preach the gospel to the poor in spirit. He wanted to send the message that the amazing sacrifice of Father and Son would not be presumed upon. “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:7). When the Jews swore, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” (Matt. 27:25) their children experienced the besiegement and scourging by the Romans and the scattering of the surviving generations for 2,000 years.

The Law cannot change, lose luster or authority. If it did, a man’s law would move immediately in to take its place of reverence. Satan would make sure of it. He is already preparing for this very thing today.