TruthInvestigate

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

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nature reveals the mysteries of its Maker

Elohim said, “Let there be light,” “Let there be an expanse in the atmosphere, dividing the water above from the water below it,” “Let there be land to divide the seas and let the plants come up,” “Let there be two great lights to rule the day and the night.”

All that we see in inanimate nature speaks to us of God, the Father. The rocks, the plants and trees, the wind and air, the bodies of water, all speak of our God who reveals Himself in them all. Distant yet all-encompassing, quiet, subtle, almost imperceptible, filled with enough knowledge for an everlasting sabbatical, yet without evident personality, and apparently absent of intimate love. As with our Father, within inanimate nature we live and move and have our being. From it’s bosom God feeds His children; through it we, as it were, nurse from God.

Then Elohim made the lower and higher orders of animate creation, finally saying, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” All that we see in animate nature speaks to us of God, the Son. In the animal kingdom we are better able to see of the character of God what was not so apparent in the plant, the rock, the liquid, and the gaseous kingdoms. Among all the tiny insect world, and the fish realms of the great deep, and land animal domains we view the Son’s traits of community and intimacy, personality and character, determination and surrender, mercy and power, nurture and boldness, giving and receiving. We see love and loyalty in correction and instruction, lessons which are taught in the inanimate sphere of nature, but not so obviously.

But clearer than all the animal kingdom, the character of Christ is even more so revealed in the humans. Their depth of intellect and passion, their extremes in expressing emotion, their intricate ability to communicate, place them high above the most advanced specie of their lesser counterparts on the sixth day of creation.

Christ was the Word. From everlasting He was with God, and was God. He was God’s thoughts made audible. The Son shared in the life and mysteries from the mysterious Father and dispensed them before the creation. He was His Father God’s mouthpiece. His spokesperson, Christ alone could reveal God. This revelation of Elohim He designed in all of His works.

But Earth was special. More so than any other world, Earth was a miniature kingdom of God, a small-scale universe. For all other creations to see, as on HDTV, the two person Elohim was revealed in the two-fold creations of our planet, in the inanimate and animate natures, the flora and the fauna.

As the white clouds move upon the surface of the earth and the mists which hug the mountain troughs, so the Spirit surrounds God and all-pervades His universe; and as it moved upon the face of the waters before the commencement of creation, it still surrounds us in anticipation of working redemption on a fallen creation.

As we look to the mountains, the grandeur of “the everlasting hills” speak to us of the throne of God, “high and lifted up” (Gen. 49:26;Is. 6:1). “The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.” (Ps. 72:3).

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Is. 2:2).

“He stood, and measured the earth: He beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: His ways are everlasting.” (Hab. 3:6).

“The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth…. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:34,35,44).

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” (Is. 11:9).

The trees of the forest portray the millions of angels who stand before the great Progenitor of all life. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then…I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by—” we are “made…kings and priests unto God and His Father” praising God in His presence with those billions of heavenly servants that stand “before the God of the earth.” (Zech. 3:7;Rev. 11:4;Rev. 1:6). Silently, reverently, the trees remain in place as in God’s presence, and hear His wisdom and grace. In their upturned arms the Creator gives us insight to the perpetual attitude of praise of His angels to their God in response to His everlasting love and righteousness. And it should lead us to learn through faith to follow their example.

Its no wonder Jesus loved to walk through the groves of Palestine and commune with His Father as if joining with the angelic hosts who were in His Father’s very presence. “A garden…Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.” (Jn .18:1,2).

As we see from what Zechariah and John heard, those forests of wood also represent the Lord’s redeemed. “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.” (Ps. 96:12). “The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted.” (Ps. 104:16).

In the autumn we see the leaves die and fall. Likewise, all that is dead and dying in our spiritual life needs to be shed. The other day I say two large, noble oaks full of dried up leaves. When all around was greenery, why were those trees clinging to dead leaves? It seemed that they were trying to prove something, and it taught me a lesson. Should we hang on to our old self-indulgent practices which are obviously good for nothing and destructive to us and everyone around us? Yet, we hang on to them as if no one notices.

Trees live long lives, likened to the redeemed and their eternal life. “As the days of a tree are the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” (Is. 65:22).

The grassy meadows, and fields full of amber waves of grain speak to us of all those who are growing in faith. “The voice said, Cry. And He said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Is. 40:6-8).

In the atoms, the nucleus and electron cloud covering it, we see the infinite union of our Creators. The bond that holds the atomic proton and neutron together is so strong that upon splitting them apart, vast amounts of power are released. What does this say about the Godhead? It says that the Father and Son know a love that is so tightly woven together, that when They had to separate from each other for man’s redemption at the cross, a tremendous, inaudible pain was experienced by Them both. The great earthquake at Jesus’ death was only a tiny expression of the severing of ties caused by the Son becoming sin for us and being rejected by His Father.

“It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Is. 65:24). Inaudible nature’s pull on the human heart is God’s overture of love to man. In the beauty of nature God sends millions of messages, “My love is for you, no matter who you are.” And when a soul finally surrenders to God and He has gotten its attention, then it is that that person realizes that God has been showing him His love all along through the exquisite artistry of the world He gave to us. He has put all the beauty in the world, just waiting for the day sinners turn to Him and hear His promise of everlasting love.

Departing from the inanimate features of Earth, we turn to animated nature. There, we see unnumbered species of intelligent life. From the tiny ant, continuously building up the ant metropolis, to the gargantuan Blue Whale mother and calf piercing the watery depths, we see intelligence and communal living.

We identify with them all in so many respects, whether it is in their work ethic, their charm, their warmth to one another, their fear of death and survival instincts, etc. They communicate lessons to us much more clearly and amenably than the inanimate world. The nobility of the lion, the meekness of the lamb; the fierceness of the hungry Grizzly, the timidity and innocence of the fawn; all communicate traits of character that we comprehend, lessons that go immediately to our hearts.

“Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.” (Job 12:7,8).

Another lesson striking home to the human heart is the ending of life. All throughout the animal kingdom we see death. Either accidents leave innocent creatures dead, or predators hunt down and kill their victims. In either case, what we are given in death is the opportunity to sorrow for them and be broken in heart.

That brokenness of soul has been captured in the fallen natural world since sin entered. Like Israel’s animal sacrifices which converted the hearts of those who took part in the slaying of the innocent little ones, so our hearts are broken when we witness the death of animals preyed upon. But our wise Creator altered this planet, destroying His beautiful heaven-on-Earth demonstration, all for our sake.

The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, but they beckon repentance, and evoke the sacrifice of self, which brings heaven closer to earth. In a million ways, God made this earth to give us study and wonder and a contrite spirit, throughout eternity.

Everything God has created, animate or inanimate, the sun, moon and stars all the way down to the remotest mite living on a mote, praises Him.

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise Him in the heights.
Praise ye him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts.
Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars of light.
Praise Him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord: for He commanded, and they were created.
He hath also stablished them for ever and ever: He hath made a decree which shall not pass.
Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy wind fulfilling His word:
Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars:
Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl.” (Ps. 148:1-11).

The very cause of Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven was related to the making of this planet, in the secret council between Father and Son through the communion of the Holy Spirit. In that council, as never before, through a new extraordinary creation They wanted to bring together a special means of manifesting Themselves to the universe. By an object lesson the Godhead would give Their multitudes of children of the innumerable worlds afar and the angelic hosts opportunity to study the Godhead and Its kingdom through a small scale representation of it.

The king of the planet was to represent God the Father; his wife was to represent the Holy Spirit which comes from God and knows the mind of God; and their son was to represent the only begotten Son of God, the highest of the children of God and only heir to His throne. The animal kingdom represented the intelligent life on the inhabited worlds throughout the cosmos, and the birds that patrolled the heavens and filled the air with song corresponded to the angelic hosts, all these representations to be from the Son’s perspective, who was one like them. Christ designed the creeping things and the flying insects to exemplify the same from God’s perspective, who is infinitely purer than even the holiest of angels.

Lucifer was not permitted to take part in all the matters involving Earth’s creation, being a creature himself. This brought to public an envy of Christ which had been musing in his heart. He was a mighty angel with many great services and attainments for God; he had been very faithful in his duties. Why should the little Child of God have this higher privilege of being included in the special council, while Lucifer is excluded? Didn’t he stand before God as high priest of the angelic hosts? Wasn’t he the leader of billions of ministering spirits of the Father, hearkening unto the voice of His word? Why should the Ancient of Days set him aside like this? What did the Beloved Son do to be more beloved than Lucifer?

But, all these thoughts were simply the outworking of a love for praise which he had been enjoying from the hosts under his leadership. For some time prior to the great secretive meeting of the Godhead the angels had been unwittingly showering him with laud and praise, and he allowed it to continue. Before the private councils of the Most High concerning Earth had ended, Lucifer’s loyalty toward God was already severely tested and tarnished.

To Lucifer as He had done to Hezekiah, “God left him, to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” “Therefore will the LORD wait… and therefore will He be exalted… for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (2Chron. 32:31;Is. 30:18).

Thus, Satan’s determined effort to bring this beautiful world to ruin and to make it his own possession. He foments wars; he plays with the chemistry of the air and the mechanisms under the ground to bring desolation everywhere; he leads in the destructive arts of technology, using of the wisdom of God that he learned in the courts of heaven.

However, God’s wisdom has been at work even in the midst of Satan’s afflictions. And despite the adversary’s best efforts to wipe the earth free of people happily obedient to the King of kings, obedience will persist to the very end when the Lord of lords returns to receive them to Himself.

Love

The greatest want in the world today is love, love that works by faith and purifies the soul. Love is the automatic response of trust; trust is the automatic response of time spent together with someone who is trustworthy. We see this in life many times in each day.

We see children playing together, laughing and rejoicing in a heavenly freedom; we see young adults going places and doing things together; we see grown-ups who are companions for life. Love is not a new thing in the history of mankind. And even in the lesser orders of the animal, and even the insect, kingdoms we see community, communication, and togetherness. Love is what keeps the world together and going around.

What a continual testimony to God, His image of love which He instilled in the wonderful creation called, planet Earth! Lucifer is beside himself in doing what seems to Him to be the impossible task—to stamp out the all-pervading evidence of God that is so painful to his selfish heart.

And he has one last attempt at this planned for the human race. He will sink man down in his own self-absorption through his diet, through error, and through spiritualism. By these three he will affect the destruction of man’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of nature.

Yet, by beholding the self-forgetful love of God, we can avoid all three prongs of Satan’s pitch-fork.

There is no law against love. Gal. 5:22,23. No true government in its right mind would seek to destroy love, seeing that love forms the basis of real law and order. What a job would a governor or mayor, king or president have on his or her hands because love disappeared and the people are in an uprising! No ruler wants the headaches war brings.

Owe no one anything except love. Rom. 13:8. We owe a debt of love to everyone we meet. How that love comes across will be tailored to the individual need. The love may be strong; it may be gentle. It will never overwhelm; neither will it ever lack. Nothing is more alert and alive than love. Nothing is more considerate of others.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Prov. 31:26).

I was reading the other day about the God of the Old Testament. It came from Psalm 11. “The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth. Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; His countenance doth behold the upright.” (vs. 4-7).

I asked a friend what this was saying. He said that in the old dispensation, God loved those who obeyed Him and hated those who didn’t. But in the new dispensation of grace, He has opened His love up to everyone. But that bothered me a lot.

Surely, if the virtuous woman, whose price is far above rubies and in whose mouth is the law of kindness, is upright and honored by the God of the Old Testament, then surely the God of the Old Testament must also have the law of kindness in His mouth. “She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” (Prov. 31:20). Surely, the holy God of heaven does a million times better than even the most virtuous of women.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11).

So, let’s keep the loving-kindness of God ever before us. When we read something in the Bible that seems to destroy our faith in the love of God, we must take another look. And we will see that the law of kindness forever has our Father as its source. He is and ever has been the light that lightens every shining star that has ever come into this world.

The one grand assumption we can make upon reading the very first words of any Bible text is that God is love. Love is the main lesson every word of God is teaching. Trusting in Him for love is the beginning of having faith in Him. Without faith in his love we are all atheists. Our minds reject a God without love. Subconsciously, we cannot entertain the thought of a God who does not love. Consequently, for those who seek God, but a God without love, they remain atheists in spite of their best efforts to have faith.

Faith has one object—love. Trusting God must assume that He is the creator and upholder of love and that His law is love. If I seek Him I will find Him, when I have sought for Him with all my heart—that is, seeking His heart, His love. I may seek His justice on evil, I may seek His mysteries in prophecy or science, I may seek a number of interesting topics relating to the Almighty, and never find Him or His power to help me overcome sin.

When all else has failed in my search for the God of my life, and I finally fall in total helplessness before Him, then He will reveal His love to me. And in that love comes all the knowledge of God and the essentials for the Christian life.

“Whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matt. 21:44).

Let’s learn to start at the correct beginning. Love forms the first and foremost assumption when dealing with God and man. Let’s assume that God loves, and then go on from there. And we will find every move He has made, even His hard, tough actions, to be founded deeply in love, bound in the bundle of life. Will you believe that? Will you trust Him?

“For God so loved the world.” (Jn. 3:16).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preparation for the Time of Trouble

We need to take EGW’s advice as direct from the throne. But should a time reference be given to the counsel? In other words, she also said that the Loud Cry went out in the preaching of Christ’s righteousness in 1888. Yet, it seems that the church turned away from it and turned back into the wilderness to wander for 40 years. And then in the 1920’s RBF surfaced again and we turned it down again. Then in the 60’s it rose up again and remained up for several decades. But those vanguards of Faith have grown old and don’t preach it anymore. I believe Morris Venden was the last heaven-sent messenger to get us ready for the trouble.

Now we live in a dead period of real silence from heaven. Similar to the silent 400 years after Malachi, for some, there is a sense of expectant calm before a horrendous storm, time to bunker down and get ready for WWIII. Or, for others, it’s an opportunity to abandon our Adventist forefathers. To them its time to re-invent the Adventist wheel, time to remodel the cause.

But the real preparation for anything God is going to do is to learn to accept Christ’s invitation, “Abide in Me...For without Me ye can do nothing.” In the Latter Rain downpour God’s called and chosen and faithful will know what to do in any given circumstance because they will be able to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in the daily sanctification as well as any preparation for the time of trouble. Any other attempt to get ready for trouble will lead off the path from the Midnight Cry to Jesus. Those who refuse to learn the vital connection with Jesus will ultimately fall off the path to the dark world below where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

So, back to the time reference. Should someone leave the cities during those wandering times between the exaltation of Righteousness By Faith By Jesus or Righteousness Cubed (R³), when the Lord was frowning on us? I say, No. To leave the cities for the countryside was to invite self-willed abandonment of sowing the seeds of truth in the cities. Without R³ those who fled for the countryside only went out there on their own steam. They were operating on their own steam because true R³ was lost to us as a people.

I’ve spent some time in the wilderness at a self-supported school. I found rampant Pharisaism, little known grace, veiled gossip, etc. How could they be learning to know God when they weren’t being put to any real test out there sheltered from human contact? They were like the Essenes of Christ’s day. And John the Baptist wasn’t an Essene.

I believe when the Latter Rain comes, it will fall on those who are doing hand-to-hand combat with the tide of evil, wherever they are—even living in the cities. There is something to be said about Lot in Sodom, and maybe soon we will need to get of out the cities, especially those with children. But I believe that a temporary hiatus was placed on the counsels to leave the cities and begin the Loud Cry each time we turned down Righteousness By Faith By Jesus.

But we’ve turned down Righteousness Cubed for the last time. There isn’t any time left to take it up again and move it forward as a whole body of regulars. Now, it will be only a small Gideon platoon who have accepted R³, in spite of the rest of the body.

Until we get a handle on the Early Rain there will be no Latter Rain, which is the real preparation for the time of trouble. To escape “corruption” in the cities before surrendering to the Early Rain is a mistake. This, by no means, says we have plenty of time to dilly-dally in the cities. It means that we need to redouble our effort to overcome sin in the strength of the Early Rain, and seek for the salvation of other souls struggling with sin, so that it may be possible that the Spirit of God can develop a great need for Jesus in us. We’ve been called and chosen; now will be prove faithful? Will we take justification and sanctification seriously? Will we be reconciled to God by the death of His Son; and much more, once being reconciled, will we be saved by His life through beholding Him?

Then we will be readied for the Latter Rain; and with that we will be readied for the time of trouble.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Relationship or principle

On my last submarine we had a great disappointment.

A first class petty officer Missile Technician was the best on the whole boat. He had recently come from shore duty as a shining star there, a leading instructor at that school command. This MT1 had professionalism, he was self-disciplined, he had a close, healthy rapport with the junior shipmates under his supervision, he had respect from the rest of the crew and the chiefs, and he was a balanced Christian. The command had voted him as the leading E-6 of the ship and the chiefs were giving him special mentoring. The command awarded him letters of appreciation and well-deserved accolades and medals. All this was to confirm to the Navy that this sailor should put on khaki at the next chief’s promotion board. MT1 was an example for the whole crew and we all held him in high esteem.

Then came the fateful day when one of his guys, with whom he had a tight relationship and in whom he trusted, while performing some minor maintenance, skipped over a step and forgot to return a little switch to its correct position. It was not as important as causing a casualty; it caused no nuclear weapon detonation, nuclear accident, or even a nuclear incident. But MT1 had the supervisory watch when the event happened and he signed off that the maintenance had been completed per procedure. MT1 did no wrong in this because he had not witnessed the oversight.

Later the discrepancy was discovered and MT1 was brought into the investigation. Now MT1 was thrown into a quandary. Should he join with writing up charges against his beloved junior sailor and testify against him at the captain’s mast? Should he hurt that close-knit love he had for his shipmate, that rapport that had been a beacon of light to the rest of the divisions on board, and which had provided such a wonderful learning atmosphere in which the junior MTs could develop into knowledgeable technicians?

Or should he try to cover it all up? Would he protect his guys from punishment? Or stand for the Navy’s high standard of compliance to procedure and attention to detail?

He wrestled with these questions. Whose side should he go with? What weighed more, the authority of the United States Department of Defense, or a soul whom he sought to help? Both decisions seemed right; yet both were brought into a mutual conflict. Before the disobedience to procedure the two principles of righteousness worked together beautifully. But now they were irreconcilable. Would he benefit the Navy or his shipmate?

Of course, as hard as it might be to decide at the time, it seems obvious to an outsider that to benefit the Navy’s standards meant to protect the lives of many sailors by devolving upon each sailor compliance to the rules of safe procedure, without which the deterrence ability of the United States government against the use of nuclear weapons by rogue nations with nuclear capability would be potentially affected. However, MT1 threw in all his weight which he had accumulated at the command and even with the squadron, on the side of the beloved sailor, seeking to shield him from harm.

Thus, he had to lie and cover up. He had to go against everything he had learned as a Christian and as a professional sailor in the U.S. Navy.

But the truth came to light, and far, far down he fell from the command’s good graces. He went to captain’s mast. And although he was not demoted and lost no income, yet he was censured and he lost the one and only opportunity to ever be promoted to chief. He had been put to the test and had proven that he could not be a chief. He could not hold the standards of the Navy as his highest standards. He did not believe that the Naval standards are unerring and carefully thought through, but sailors are faulty and often guided by self-interest. He could not separate himself from the personal relationships even when it meant upholding the authority of the military. His highest loyalty was to his friends.

I’ve learned a lot from that experience. I’m glad it wasn’t me who had to make that choice because it would have been a difficult one. And what about God? When Adam, God’s most wonderful and beloved creation, disobeyed the law of the government of God, what should the Lord God do to him? Should He do to Adam as Adam had done with Eve, and look the other way, repudiating His Law?

Adam is working in his heavenly garden of Eden which the Lord God had given to him and his beloved wife, when she appears with her arms full of the forbidden fruit and a big smile on her beautiful face. Instantly, he knows what all this means. Oh, the sorrow and trouble that immediately racked his soul!

He must instantly choose. Should he remain loyal to his Creator who had so lovingly and abundantly rained His blessings upon them in every conceivable way, and lose his beloved wife forever? Or should he join in disobedience with her, who had been such a huge source of human support and joy? Adam trembled terribly with the thought of losing her, and then without more weighing of the far-reaching consequences of obedience to God’s government he quickly took of the fruit and ate it. At that very time, Lucifer was charging God and His laws with intolerance and mismanagement.

Did the Lord God approve the decision of Adam, His favorite of the sons of God? Did He excuse this disloyalty because Adam’s motive for Eve was love? No, there is not a word of condoning disobedience to God’s government in all that transpired in the garden before their expulsion.

“Unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Gen. 3:17-19).

So, the Son of God did to Adam what Adam should have done to Eve. And like, MT1, Adam forever lost his kingdom and his kingship. His high office and status was never restored. MT1 stayed on board, having to relive that horrible day, never rising above E-6 and sharing that fate with his friend and shipmate, who forever felt guilty and ashamed for what he had caused his supervisor and mentor.

We all have this same scenario to reenact. We all have loved ones we want to protect. And protection is all part of love—so long as right-doing is part of the equation. But when some kind of disobedience enters, suddenly love cannot protect the loved one from the consequences of that disobedience—true love just cannot.

True love will seek to soften the impact of the consequence, but it will not stop the impact. Love will blend mercy with the justice, but it will not obstruct the work of justice. Neither will it join in the disobedience in the hope that it can overturn the definition of the law, simply by out-numbering it with transgressors of it. Right will always be right; and wrong is never right, even if the whole world says so.

But, the Lord God did something before executing justice on Adam and Eve. He executed it on Himself. He took two of His beloved sheep, and killed them, and used their skins to clothe the guilty couple. They were informed that what they now must suffer for the rest of their life, He would suffer also with them. The judgment He was giving them, He would one day suffer in their place and in the place of their children. He was crucified with us.

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

“Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Is. 53:12).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baptism by fire

“Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Ps. 50:5).

Jesus had two baptisms—one by water and the other by fire. The first by birth, the baptism of life, a life filled with blessings, the comfort of the Holy Spirit without measure.

“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.” “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Is. 53:2;9:6).

The second baptism was by crucifixion to self, the weight of the government of God on His shoulders, filled to the brim with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the burden of speaking the unvarnished truth, the baptism of suffering and death, a full separation from God and all His fullness. “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matt. 20:22).

“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (LK. 50:49,50).

He set the example for those who would choose to follow Him in the baptism of water, the baptism of life. “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (Jn. 1:4). “They joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor.” (Is. 9:3,4). “He that hath the Son hath life.” (1Jn. 5:12).

Christ thrilled from the abundance given Him from His Father. And He taught His followers to enjoy it all with thanksgiving, as well. “Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the Bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” (Mk. 2:19,20).

But He also led the way into the baptism of fire, the baptism of death to self.

“Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” (Matt. 20:22,23).

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

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” (1Pet. 2:21).

The life of Christ overflowed of doing with and doing without. His was a life of joying in all that His Father abundantly gave for the happiness of the human race, acknowledging His great love; and it also was a daily rejoicing in every trial and deprivation, knowing that God still loved His beloved Son, despite the present situation and appearances.

Both abundance and privation were necessary for continued growth in His spirituality and ours. A tree is strong because of the many rings that make up its trunk. But those rings are caused by periods of rapid, unhampered outward and upward growth during the wonderful wet and warm summers, and then by periods no outward growth (yet inward strengthening) during the severe cold, dry winters when the tree is forced to close itself off to the outside world in order to survive the harshness of the elements.

The two baptisms can be summed up in the following verse. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:… And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Rom. 5:1,3). Notice, first the reconciliation and restoration, then the exercise of that faith and love that He restored to us. First, He babies and nurtures us and strengthens our attachment to Him; then He puts that attachment to the test through hardships, binding us even closer to Himself. It’s His grace that makes His yoke easy and His burden light. Without knowing His goodness we could never endure the battles of life. With His grace the warfare is doable and even easy, yet it remains difficult and burdensome.

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body….
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2Cor. 4:8-10,17).

Those who surrender to both baptisms will constantly relive the words, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). They will be students in the school of Christ. They will learn to stay open and vulnerable to all that their wise Father gives them in their life experiences, good and bad, easy and hard, comfortable and stressful. They will gladly trust in Him.

The Son of God was surrendered to the Father’s will, and dependent upon His power. So utterly was Christ emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. Desire of Ages. p. 208.

This life of sacrifice influences our daily life in this world. We are stewards only; we own nothing—not even ourselves. God owns it all, and we are His caretakers. Even our children are on loan. Crucified with Christ, we will be always surrendering our most beloveds, never possessing our loved ones—giving them perfect freedom, yet serving and protecting them.

“But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” (1Cor. 7:29-31).

The true Christian joy is in receiving, to joy in life as God bathes us in His goodness. But it is also in the joy of giving back; the joy of death. Joy in obedience; joy in laying down ourselves in service. It consists in reveling in the gifts of God, as a tender son dandled upon God’s knee, and then reveling in the giving back of those gifts to God, as a young adult, trained by our heavenly Father and our Elder Brother. The second is the more mature joy; the first the precious essential foundation.

Thus imbued with grace, we will be always on the verge of receiving and giving, gaining and losing. We will joy in hardship and pain; never hoarding, but taking only what we need, for fear that if we take more than that God will let it turn to corruption and stink. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. We must to do the hard thing, the thing that doesn’t feel good to our human nature.

Sacrificing is when our personal religion is put to the test. Adam had to choose between keeping Eve and giving up His Lord, or giving her up and keeping His Lord. But how could he give up the one with whom he had such close earthly ties, whose life had been woven so intimately into his, who had brought so much happiness and fulfillment to him? Yet it was serving self to dodge his responsibility, to not suffer the heart break—to elude the pain of sacrifice, avoiding the pain of sorrow that comes with judging by principle. To stand representing God requires to know His burdens. To renege on right judgment, painful though it be, is to depart the service of the King. God must give us a small taste of the burden sin has caused Him. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” (Ps. 51:17).

We all have loved ones, gifts from God. But the only way to avoid making idols of them and teaching them idolatry is to love them and to enjoy their love, but to be ever ready to sacrifice their love if they turn from righteousness; it is to add caution to our love for them, as agonizing as this is to do. We are perched on the fulcrum of loving them as if we were about to lose them, holding our loyalty to the God of love always above loyalty to any of His creatures. But, this is pure love; this is righteous love, the best love, the most trustworthy love. And the prospect of losing our special beloved ones makes us all the more protect them and love them and hallow the precious time spent with them. We must ever be of the mindset: “as they that receive, yet possessing nothing.”

Love has changed to lust when we refuse to put all of this world’s most prized loved ones second place to our Creator and Father. It means worshipping the creature instead of the Creator, the gift not the Gift-giver. This is the condition of all who don’t seek Jesus or fellowship with Him. The reason the church of Rome has been so cruel throughout the centuries is that she lost sight of God’s grace, but refused to go to God in repentance. So she held tenaciously to her status as “God’s people.” Her determined outward beauty came without the sacrifice of self; thus it turned to corruption. “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Rev. 18:7). She refuses the covenant by sacrifice. All who follow her disallow the Lord’s merciful baptism by fire, and therefore heap up to themselves a terrible judgment of fire unmixed with mercy.

To deny the baptism by fire is to become the scapegoat (which escaped being sacrificed), every day suffering a worse fate in the separation from God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36). And ultimately that lack of sacrificial covenant will result in damnation at the Day of Judgment. It will produce the sentence given to the greatest scapegoat of the ages. “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41).

All who turn away from God’s requirement of the crucifixion of self become soft and effeminate, and unprepared for difficulties and the simple life. “The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter.” (Deut. 28:56).

Let us endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, submerged in the roiling fire of heavenly sanctification, and patiently wait for His next baptism by water which He faithfully promises to give in due season. Let us stay in the purifying heat until all our dross is consumed, according to His determination.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1Cor. 3:13-15).


By the life and the death of Christ, the thoughts of men also are brought to view. From the manger to the cross, the life of Jesus was a call to self-surrender, and to fellowship in suffering. It unveiled the purposes of men. Jesus came with the truth of heaven, and all who were listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit were drawn to Him. The worshipers of self belonged to Satan’s kingdom. In their attitude toward Christ, all would show on which side they stood. And thus everyone passes judgment on himself. Desire of Ages. p. 57.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus, the great burnt offering of the ages, has led the way into the death of self, leading us to lay self in the dust, “buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4).

“Whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25). The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, but they beckon repentance, and evoke the sacrifice of self, which brings heaven closer to earth.