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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.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The creeping king of the north

How does Satan bring to nothing a movement established by God in a singular demonstration of supernatural power, as in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the birth of the apostolic church, or the establishment of Protestantism, humanly speaking against all odds? When the Lord of hosts has made bare His holy arm and saved His people in a mighty display of destruction on their enemies, the time comes that He must destroy the movement which He saved.

We see this repeated scenario of sacred history illustrated in Daniel’s vision of the anti-Christ. The “king of the north” was used as the lesson of this destructive power in Daniel 11 and one thing stands out which this “king” does several times. “With the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken.” (Dan. 11:22). A breaking forth of his forces seems to show up again and again, a sudden demonstration of his power.

Paul referred to this suddenness in 2Thess. 2:9 when he warned the church of the coming king of the north. Paul used the Greek parousia, a word which implies a surprise entrance. But we gather from Daniel 11 that a work precedes this surprise attack by the northern foe. We read in the previous verse, “He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” (vs. 21). First a seeming delightful friend becomes devilish fiend, as he springs on his unsuspecting enemies.

Flattery, the exalting of the human abilities, talents, and natural or Spirit-given gifts would be the work of this “king” who had not yet come in Paul’s day (and therefore could not have been Antiochus Epiphanes, whom everyone today wants to call the arch-enemy of Daniel’s visions). His work would be peaceable, quiet, unaccountable, mysterious. As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (vs. 7), and the “king” was already forming in the church. Peter and John, James and Jude, all blew the trumpet against this enemy of God and heaven. (2Pet 2;1Jn. 4:3,4;Jas.2:20;Jude 3,4).

An undercurrent, a silent dissolving of consecration to Christ, was at work in the late apostolic church. Paul bewailed it everywhere he went (Acts 20:29-31;1Tim. 4:1,2). He saw the approach of the king of the north, that antichristian power which prophecy had pointed out.

When a people can be brought through enough trial and conflict, their faith is refined and it glows with the beauty and translucence of burnished gold. But as decades pass the following generations don’t know the testing and purifying experience of their forebears. For all time the template for this repeated process comes down to us from the faithful word of God which liveth and abideth forever.

“Also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.” (Ju. 2:10-13). This was never again written so plainly because God only needs to be plain once, and we are to pay heed.

We don’t bow before the naked male and female statues of Baal and Ashtaroth. Today Satan doesn’t offer those objects or those degraded styles of worship practices—yet. But he changes his tactics to fool those who will not study the Bible and seek the discernment of the Holy Spirit. Thus he tricks multitudes; thus he rules the whole race.

The prince of darkness, who has so long bent the powers of his mastermind to the work of deception, skillfully adapts his temptations to men of all classes and conditions. … That mighty being who could take the world’s Redeemer to an exceedingly high mountain and bring before Him all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory of them, will present his temptations to men in a manner to pervert the senses of all who are not shielded by divine power. GC p. 553.

“All the world wondered after the beast,” while they think they are being blessed by Christ. (Rev. 13:3;Jn. 12:19). What makes the difference between the multitudes that followed Jesus and those that think they do but really follow the Beast? How are they fooled?

First, let’s recognize that neither the whole world, nor even the whole nation of Israel went after Jesus. This exclamation of the priests in the previous reference from John 12:19 comes as an exaggerated misstatement based on a popular uprising among the Jews. Since the Jewish priesthood sought only for power over the people, instead of the revival of spirituality, when an appearance of loyalty shifted away from them to Christ, they feared to lose their power base. The reality of the Jews’ response to the holy Son of God was, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (Jn. 1:11). It is written that toward the end of Jesus’ work for them, “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” (Jn. 6:66). From Christ’s own mouth, “And why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46). “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38).

But, how is Satan so successful in bringing about apostasies? What keeps causing this bait and switch among God’s people? How does this mystery of iniquity work? If we have the word of God, we shouldn’t be “ignorant of his devices;” we should be able to see how Satan works. (2Cor. 2:11). The architecture for apostasy is spelled out by James. “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (Jas. 1:14). How is a consecrated mind and heart drawn away? By its own lusts. How can a consecrated heart have lusts? We can be partakers of the divine nature through the precious promises of scripture and escape the corrupting influence of self. But do we ever lose the roots of sin? Do we ever lose our fallen natures this side of heaven? No, this side of redemption that corrupted nature is only covered over by Christ’s power, and we retain a valid conversion only through faith in Christ’s sacrifice for us and as we maintain a vital connection with Him.

So the seeds of rebellion remain in us until Jesus comes again and then He will “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” (Phil. 3:21). “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Cor. 15:52). By faith we must hold fast our salvation.

But what does “by faith” mean? By faith means by a relationship with Jesus. Ah, but here lies Satan’s greatest of masterpieces! Define “a relationship with Jesus.” You see, Satan allows for the Bible to be sown broadcast today, so long as he gets to control its interpretation. So, in the time of the end where we are today, it is utmost essential that you “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” and not “handling the word of God deceitfully.” (2Tim. 2:15;2Cor.4:2).

What we see today in all religious circles, from Hinduism to Adventism, is claiming “the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions upon which mercy is to be granted.” GC. p. 472. This is not faith, but rather “it is presumption.” (Ibid.) “Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.” (Ibid.)

Every man may come into possession of this priceless blessing if he will comply with the conditions. All “who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,” will receive “eternal life.” Romans 2:7. GC p.533.

“I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” Revelation 21:6. This promise is only to those that thirst. None but those who feel their need of the water of life, and seek it at the loss of all things else, will be supplied. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” Verse 7. Here, also, conditions are specified. In order to inherit all things, we must resist and overcome sin. GC p.540.

Paul wrote of three golden treasures: “Charity out of a pure heart,” “a good conscience,” and “faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). How were these purchased? What is the mechanics of their operation? A person could sleep very soundly every night and know perfect prosperity in this life if he had these. How do I get them? What does it profit to acquire the world’s greatest treasures and not gain these three?

Paul’s answer, “The end of the commandment” —the end product, the end result, of the Law of God upon the soul. The glorious good news is that God will bring us to this state of grace! Salvation is not our job. But, He will use His Law to humble us and save us. “What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19). But herein lays a barrier to salvation—not many desire the condemnation and humbling experience of standing before the authoritative voice of the Law of God.

Comets are a natural phenomenon in the night sky. Wispy light glows from a ball as it seems to speed across the cosmos. Closer investigation reveals that ice and space dust comprise the comets. Our Sun’s gravity pulls them into itself, and as a comets get closer to the sun’s heat, the ice melts and boils away, leaving a long trail of water vapor visible with the naked eye.

The sinner, in whatever religion or culture or country, feels the conviction of his sinfulness; the Law of God is impressing His conscience. The conscience is disturbed as the Spirit of God opens to the darkened mind the distinction between the sinner and God’s expectation of him. Will that Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim or Jew or Christian remain under the heat of the divine spotlight? How long will he squirm there? Will he wrestle with God? Will he allow himself to be kept drawn into the grip of God until God wins the battle for his soul?

Or will he go the way of the majority; will he prefer the millions of sidetracks and excursions Satan has planted in every culture and land through all time? If he will stay and wrestle with eternal things, one day he will know what Jacob experienced—the goodness of God and of holiness. Surrendering the resistance to God and His will, that person, in whatever religion, will become a child of the King of heaven. All such will have complied with the conditions of salvation and will know the promise for themselves, “They shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.” (Rev. 3:4).

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” (Jn. 6:37). Thus the Law of God plays a vital role in our beginning a valid relationship with Jesus. Without a knowledge of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, we would have no need of a Savior who can save everyone “to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.” (Heb. 7:25). Every soul is given a lifetime of choices through which our Creator seeks to awaken the conscience and begin the saving process.

Thus it can be said of the multitudes of humanity throughout all ages, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (Jn. 1:11). The real question to ask is: Do we want a Jesus who represents His Father’s Law of perfect equity and purity? If no, Satan stands ready with a substitute Savior, one who will deal in formalities and traditions and who will skirt the issue of sin. Satan’s imitation Christ will not be in the business to save us from sin, but to “save” us in sin. This is accomplished simply through silence in the realm of God’s Law. The fake Jesus becomes the Savior of choice by those who prefer to avoid the humbling process of conviction. This Savior is the preference of these “rice Christians” because they desire a “rice Jesus,” an effeminate Messiah who never rebukes or condemns or makes demands on his followers. The cross in this substitute’s religion is only an object to look at, not to bear in the character.

The true Jesus declared in no uncertain terms: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:24,25). And the true Jesus exemplified burden-bearing and the daily dying of self. Through the Spirit He mortified sin in His inherited, weakened human flesh just as we must do—through the law of the Spirit of life in Christ, seeing Him do it and then copying Him.

If we will choose to stay under the cutting laser of the all-searching jurisdiction of God’s Law; if we will be “naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13), then and only then can we take part in His salvation. Otherwise, in the words of Jesus, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me.” (Jn. 13:8).

“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23-26). Being kept under the condemnation of the Law until we really need a Savior is the one and only way to the true faith which reaches all the way to the throne of grace.

Any other proposition that skirts the Law’s condemnation is satanic spiritualism, and, according to Paul, is emphatically accursed. (Gal. 1:8,9). But the end result of God’s Law is that Jesus becomes the new focus after God and His law have boiled away our rebellion and brought us to surrender. Only then are we truly humble disciples of His. Only then are we free from presumption. We are “children of God by faith in Christ” and worthy of His forgiveness. We have paid for it in our blood drawn from Christ’s word, which is sharper than any razor blade. We have sought the Savior with all our heart. We bought His wine and milk with the currency of heaven. (Is. 55:1).

From the beginning of the world, only those who stayed in the light of the Law of God ever came to true conversion, and discovered salvation from sin. Only they, of all Earth’s teeming crowds, looked up to heaven with Nebuchadnezzar after their own 7 years of madness, and could testify, “At the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation:
And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?
At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” (Dan. 4:34-37). With Nebuchadnezzar, they are the only true children of God in the congregation of the righteous.

This is faith, which comes as a gift from God, because He works it into us. By this faith we can look for a true Jesus and find Him. Without the faith that springs from the wrestling match with God the human heart can only hope in a pansy for the Son of God with fine female hands and wearing lipstick. But the Bible declares of Christ, “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.” (Is. 11:4,5).

“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” (Ps. 2:12). “Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty.
And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things.
Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:3-7).

Jesus is the light that lighteth every man that comes into the world; and John was a good reflection of Jesus. Therefore, of Christ it can be asked, “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
But what went ye out for to see? A Man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
But what went ye out for to see? A Prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a Prophet.” (Matt. 11:7-9). Jesus sent word to John who was to be beheaded in prison, “Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (Matt. 11:6).

Christ’s pre-carnate character did not change at His incarnation. “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? (Job 38:2). “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me.
Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? Wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?
Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him?
Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.” (Job 40:8-14). “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” (Ex. 20:3). “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex.3:14).

Contrariwise, Satan flees the majesty and manliness of Christ. The devil disguises Christ’s strength of character, a “patience that nothing could disturb, and a truthfulness that would never sacrifice integrity.” “In principle firm as a rock.” DA. P.68.

“And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” (Dan. 8:24,25).

During Satan’s silence concerning holy things, he has always cried, Peace, Peace, when there was only an imaginary peace. And today he cries, Relationship! Relationship with Jesus! When the provision for a valid relationship with Jesus has been made contemptible—the testimonies of Ellen G. White. Satan has worked “wonderfully” again. Jesus’ work through Mrs. White is our last hope to take part in the Latter Rain and to get ready for the time of trouble such as never was and the great second advent of Christ.

“A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:30,31). How mysterious and prosperous Satan has been in the advent movement! Righteousness by Faith today means to disregard the Straight Testimony of the True Witness. Has anything changed from the days of Jeremiah?

Has our denomination changed Saviours? “Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:12,13).” “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not My soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jer. 5:29).

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
If any man have an ear, let him hear.” (Rev. 13:8,9). We need to heed this new apostasy now more than ever.

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