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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On the very verge of victory

The Lord pushes His people to the limit. If it were not for Him doing so we would never obtain salvation. We need to stretch and strain, and we need to choose to overcome sin even though our Redeemer is the one to accomplish it. We must ask, seek, knock; we must cry in prayer for characters like we see in Jesus and then work our prayers. “Beholding … the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed … by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

There can be no doubt that righteousness is not a direct product of our doing it. Obedience to goodness is not our nature. “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal. 3:21,22). The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. Yet as anyone knows who has ever actually experienced sin and unbelief and Satan being expelled, the ability to do that came from somewhere outside of their human will.

The human will did the act, but only because it was supernaturally charged. Like the car that carries me down the road, it can only move by use of refined liquid from a huge reservoir that the car knows nothing about. But it submits to being driven to a gas pump, and having its tank opened and filled.

The expulsion of sin is salvation. And it only happens as I strive to find Jesus, “Him whom my soul loveth.” (Song of Solomon 3:1). To receive Him gives our soul the power to become the sons of God. Then we will keep all of His commandments known to us now and in the days to come as we continue to receive Him and learn more of Him. There are ups and downs as we receive and lose our faith in Him and receive it again. But if we want Him always we will keep returning to Him after each of our latest unfaithfulness. We will strive continually to have Him whom our soul loveth. We strive, but He is helping us strive.

The Lord God, by his circumstances, worked a yearning for a life mate into Adam when he lived in the garden. And through sinlessness, Adam patiently waited on his Creator to eventually fill his soul’s need in his Father’s own time. Similarly, through Abraham’s desire to have a son, the Son of God taught His friend about spiritual things, such as salvation from sin. The Giver of every perfect gift gave His friend the yearning to have a son; then He gave him the son of his dreams. And through this the father of faith learned faith in God’s willingness and ability to give us power to obey Him.

Yet, after years of responding to God’s work of perfecting Abraham’s character in preparation to raise a son correctly, at the very end when Abraham was to have this son of his dreams, his faith petered out and he laughed off the whole idea. “That’s all right, Lord! I don’t need Your son anymore! Ha! A son? Don’t be funny, Lord! Please stop kidding!”

On the very verge of a most precious child and a true circumcision of his heart, Abraham is saying, No, to the whole thing. We can be thankful for the forbearance of God. A gracious King is the Lord our God. He is not quick to break the ties developed through time spent together. The jealous reaction between each friendship on this globe in a small way attests to the infinite protectiveness Divinity has toward each relationship He develops with fallen man.

So when Abraham and Sarah laughed at God during their evening devotions, the Lord tried once more to get their attention by assuming a human form and visiting them. If they would not listen to Him spiritually, maybe they would hear Him carnally. Yet, Sarah still laughed in her mind. He reprove her; her pride backed down as her husband’s had prior to the rebuke, and now they arrived at the minimum condition to receive Isaac—the son who represented the work of Christ on their heart, the work of redemption, the school of sanctification by faith.

But He had to break them fully, on the very eve of the promise. Before giving them the victory, He had to wring out every ounce of self from these soon-to-be parents. Oh, the truth and mercy of Christ! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His grace past finding out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Always back to the cross

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23:33,34).

“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mk. 15:33,34).

There is only one solution to our painful self-centeredness. Even though God might bring us to take delight in His selfless will, there always exists this inborn seed of selfishness that wars against God’s wonderful peace and the gift of submission to Him. Our natural rebellion is always working to come back to life if the Holy Spirit has ever been able to successfully vanquish it at all, and remove the bitterness of soul that has proven such a vexation to the human soul.

Only one remedy for our curse exists—Behold the Lamb of God. Nothing else can heal us except sorrow for our pride which blocked the Lamb’s precious connection with His Father. Like the year-old lambs and kid goats, the young heifers and bullocks, little pigeons and sparrows, He was innocent, perfectly pure. As the Israelites brought their docile and sweet animal to pay the price of human sin, the worshipper saw that God was more innocent than this animal He had created.

They saw His willing goodness toward their evident sinfulness. Repentance took hold and humbled their heart. Then the horrific bitterness left them as rebellion fled before surrender. They were free again to be good and loving and obedient to God.

The Amalekites and rest of the world didn’t have this experience. That is why they were always so malicious and warlike. Finally, their malice and bitter hatred left no other remedy but total annihilation.

We must keep going back to the crucifixion of Jesus. He was the lamb from heaven. Who alone can take away our cursed pride and its bitterness which prevents us from obeying God’s will and being loving? There at the cross we see a Man who fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies of a Savior to come. For thousands of years animal sacrifices looked forward to a great propitiation to remove the wrath of God. Only Jesus accomplished that propitiation. “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).

We can trust His sacrifice to be more than martyrdom. He was the Anointed One. “Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25), the One with the immeasurable connection and peace with God. He was that “Servant’” with whom God was “well pleased.” (Is. 42:21).

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief.” (Is. 53:10). “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.” (Is. 53:11). “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). “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6).

Let us keep going back to His cross again and again forever and ever, there dying daily, crucified with Him, dead indeed to sin and alive unto God. Rom. 6:11.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

War of words

The Bible is written for all I.Q.’s and ages. Parts of it can be understood by the toddler, parts are for the pre-adolescent, parts for the teenager and young adult. To the precocious and dull alike it speaks and challenges the thinking. Even to the elders and theologians it offers a true test of the wit and beckons their ruminations and meditations. It truly is a book of life.

The Bible not only tests our intellect, but also our faith. As we looked at a week ago, some actions it writes of are questionable to a narrow view of morality, i.e. a prophet lying for God. But it speaks of many other apparent conflicts with the Ten Commandments, as we looked at a month ago. Can we trust the Bible to be a true moral compass? Notwithstanding its difficult parts, the student of the Bible will come away from a broad study of its rich treasure holding it to his breast as the true word of God, the only trustworthy thing in this world.

The Holy Writ sharpens our morality by setting it on a higher plane. It moves us from an immature, black and white code of judgment and conduct to a deeper, fuller wisdom with an x-ray vision of what constitutes sin. But with that deeper discernment the Bible grows love in its disciples, so that that wisdom, allied with love for God and man, will find truth and seek to surround sin with truth as its neutralizing agent, rather than seek excuses for sin.

All the study of Scriptures will avail no truth without the Holy Spirit present in the mind of the investigator. It was the Spirit of God who gave the prophets the cipher to scramble its message in riddle and parable and it takes the Holy Ghost to unscramble those messages. All the mental power a man has will not decipher the difficulties of the word of God, nor unearth the divine keys that unlock its mysteries. Without the Spirit of truth, the big picture which tells so much gets lost in the Bible’s minutiae.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7). The real power of the Bible is two-fold: 1) to give us a knowledge of God that will promote righteousness in our heart and life; 2) and to give the ability to discern Satan’s clever craftiness and to escape his traps and temptations.

Sang the psalmist, “I will open My mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” (Ps. 78:2). “Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:
Both low and high, rich and poor, together.
My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of My heart shall be of understanding.
I will incline Mine ear to a parable: I will open My dark saying upon the harp.” (Ps. 49:1-4).

The Strong’s concordance describes the word “dark saying or sayings”: Heb. chı̂ydâh (khee-daw’) H2420 From H2330; a puzzle; hence a trick, conundrum, sententious maxim: - dark sentence or speech, hard question, proverb, riddle.
Also: -allegory, hidden things, intrigue; scorn (asking of a riddle as a game could imply scorn and ridicule toward the person asked).

The poet speaks of dark sayings and then commences to describe the end of those who use their wealth only on themselves, and that there is no life after death for them, but they perish forever like the beast. But the righteous, the unselfish, will be redeemed one day. “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me. Selah.” (Ps. 49:15).

Of course, that doesn’t happen until the great resurrection day, for even David had not ascended to heaven, by the time of the apostles. “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.... For David is not ascended into the heavens.” (Acts 2:29,34). Nevertheless, the selfish wicked will “perish, and leave their wealth to others.” (Ps. 49:10). So, the mysterious issue of death is made clear in God’s word to us.

Not alone do holy men moved by the Holy Ghost speak of mysteries. The enemy of God does this also. Speaking of Satan in yet another veiled allegory, “Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee.” (Ez. 28:3). And Daniel explains how Satan uses his immense intellect. It is to guide his human agents, the high priest of spiritualism to control the world under a guise of truth. “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” (Dan 8:23).

The Hebrew word used here for “dark sentences” is the same for “dark sayings” used above from Psalm 49. In other words, Satan will use his own deceptive dictionary to cipher his language. The history of paganism reveals a complex system of meanings for certain objects, and names that yield an underground message to those who were initiated and understood it all. The ability to comprehend the code, the riddles, the parables welcomed the intern into higher and higher levels of brotherhood within secret societies.

Those secretive groups have changed names and faces over the millennia, but the greatest feat in this respect occurred when the system of Mithraism, the official religion of Imperial Rome, adopted Christianity for a host, during the falling away of the church. 2Thess. 2:3. This is what the vision of Daniel’s 8th chapter was about.

What made the absorption of paganism into the religion of Christ trump all other systems of paganism was what it accomplished. “And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes.” (Dan. 8:25). “Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down.” (Dan. 8:11). “And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the Prince of the covenant.” (Dan. 11:22).

When Christ, “Messiah the Prince” (Dan. 9:25), ascended after accomplishing our redemption, He went before His Father in the Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. Heb. 8:1-6. More than simply raising from the dead, He ascended to do a work. That work is described in verse 10, that is, to convert the heart of all who would need God’s forgiveness for sin and then to cleanse their heart and life by the washing of His Law, His Gospel. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.”

But by the commingling of Bible and pagan religions, Christ’s work in His Father’s presence was essentially supplanted by rituals and sacraments of Catholicism, which can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

The conviction of truth and grace found in the Bible was replaced by liturgies and fables of saints which had replaced the old Roman gods. The high holy days of Easter and Christmas replaced the worship of the conception and birth of Tammuz or Nimrod, Jr. All the carnal pleasures and emotional substitutes of false religion were kept alive by these very ancient high days and were looked forward to all year. No room was left in their hearts for the gospel.

The Bible was hidden and the ministry of Christ obscured and lost upon the minds of provincial Christendom. But at the end of 1,260 years the high priest of false Christianity would come to its end in 1798 and then in 1844 the sanctuary which it had trampled would be cleansed, as new light from heaven would break through the mists of the Dark Ages upon the ministry of Christ and a special work of purification of character He would administered in the sanctuary’s Most Holy Place.

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. Great Controversy, p. 425.

Now is the time to study the Bible more than ever. More light is to shine from the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. The Bible is to be opened for us to peruse in pleasure. Our only protection against the coming “strong delusion” will be found in a love for God and His word.

Now is the time to study the Bible. Now is the time for the Spirit of God to reveal His Son to us, so that He can change us into His image. Then the Investigative Judgment can end with a group of people who are ridden of the insidious nature of rebellion and sin, and who perfectly duplicate the character of Jesus, and He can come again to claim them as His own.

Monday, January 10, 2011

All pious-ed up

Last night my long time friend, Richard, and I spoke on the phone. During the conversation, the subject surfaced of making Jesus center of Christianity. He replied that he had listened to a sermon on prayer, but no mention of Christ and his life were brought into the presentation. He didn’t see anything inappropriate about that since the sermon was only a segment of a series on spiritual growth, and that Christ would be brought in as some point in the series.

Too often I’ve seen Jesus used in brief mention or as a side dish of the main order or a smokescreen to introduce voluminous information on Christianity’s doctrines and practices. Like the big, blue billboard on a camp meeting stage. It read, “Its all about Jesus.” Wow! I thought. We’re going to hear about Jesus this time!

But, alas, Friday night we heard, with great drama, a preacher’s personal battle with cancer; we covered the Sabbath School lesson in the morning; the worship service was on decision making; we got sung to in the afternoon; and that evening we heard a televangelist tell how he learned to preach. Not a single mention of Jesus all Sabbath long. But there sat that sign—It’s all about Jesus!—as if to do for the preachers what they couldn’t do themselves. And then, of course, to bless the whole charade, we were all called to the foot of the stage, a thousand strong, to rededicate ourselves to Jesus! Based on what? Chaff?

Rededicating our lives for the sake of rededicating—because Christ was never brought up. Prayer just to pray, because Jesus is not known. Being good for the sake of being good. Do the atheists and pagans any differently? A pious life just for the sake of piety makes the Lord very nauseous. Rev. 3:16. “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.” (1Cor. 6:13).

Everything we do as religious people, even praying for the Latter Rain at 7 o’clock, must be for the purpose of grasping a clearer view of Jesus and His love for us and for getting recognizable power to live aright through trusting in His character and beautiful person. Otherwise, it’s simply praying for the Latter Rain for the sake of praying for the Latter Rain. Perfect futility.

This is how true religion becomes the synagogue of Satan. By forgetting to seek after Jesus, He is left out of true religion. From there its downhill all the way to oblivion. No one can ever say, “My denomination is invulnerable to Satan’s sophistries.” Satan is taking advantage of the natural human vulnerability to not seek God, even within Adventism; and we are seeing it right before our very eyes. Adventists, we need to wake up to this.

Just read the prophetic book of The Desire of Ages to see how it will all end up. It can result in only one thing—the same as has happened all through history—the church of Christ morphing into the church of Satan. They kill thinking they do “God” service. Only the sacrifice of Cain can make this happen.

The people of God in Christ’s day thought they had eternal life by their faithful Bible study. John 5:39. But without the faith in the God their fathers knew and seeking His love and acceptance like Abraham did, what did their Bible study accomplish for them? The wrong conception of the God of love. They had left the need for Him out of their Bible study and prayer life and proselytizing. They wouldn’t come to Him that they might have life.

They blindly studied the scriptures for the sake of studying the scriptures. Without the Spirit of God present to help interpret what they read, the spirit of Satan helped them interpret their scrolls and then he led them to kill the Son of God—all under the direction of their Bible!

Bible reading for the sake of Bible reading. Returning tithe for the sake of returning tithe. Going to church for the sake of going through the motions. Evangelizing for the sake of evangelizing, giving hundreds of Bible studies and baptizing thousands without exalting and studying Jesus, who He is. This is what false revivals are all about.

Christless revivals; revivals for the sake of revivals. Net 2001, Net 2002, Net 2003… Net 2011. It will go on forever and Jesus will never come. Not until the revival comes that studies His pure mind, His spotless character and person, His perfect merits, His unselfish life and death; then He will come and claim a people who are transformed through knowing Him and through fellowship with His sufferings.

A friend of mine got ransacked by the devil—even to the point of being harassed by voices in his head. After giving himself to God, his life was suddenly devastated. My friend thought it was Jesus talking to him and that God had wrecked his life because of his past sins. But He had confessed his transgressions and abandoned that old life. In lamentable tones he told me the most flabbergasting statement—blatant righteousness by works! I smiled inside as he listed each item, counting them emphatically one finger at a time, “I was all prayed up, all tithed up, all tracted up (giving out Bible tracts), all studied up…. And the Lord destroyed my life!” And, because he was a Christian now he was torn, fighting back the worst invectives toward a God he wanted to serve who would abuse His power against my friend as the great Sovereign Creator/Judge.

Obviously, my friend misunderstood the gospel and the character of God. And don’t we all go through this same experience? We leave the life of sin from the motive of fear and loneliness. But we don’t really know Jesus and it can take a while before we hear that only by knowing Him can Jesus be able to help us. The pervasive fallacy of legalistic piety and Christless Christianity is never explained to us, nor do we conceive of it.

How much of Christendom and the world’s religions are just like this! Praying for the sake of praying, being all caught up on prayer, so that God or Allah or the gods, are indebted, appeased, and bound to free them from the assaults of Satan. While “the people ... labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58). All because they don’t seek the the God of love, who commands with mercy, until they find Him.

Those who exist without living under the love of Christ, just going through the motions of morality and piety, are living in Babylon. And the warning is, “the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev 14:10,11).

Until we know Jesus, we serve Satan, who will even pose as God. Until we accept that righteousness and faith and surrender, et cetera, all come through knowing Jesus and trusting in Him, Satan will continue to harrass us, making Christians think his harrassment comes from God. It takes special prayer for us to be embassadors for Jesus to deliver these desperate souls.

“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man [the Lord’s] uprightness:
Then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” (Job 33:23,24).

Friday, January 07, 2011

Why revivals fail, pt. 2

Christ’s love undid the natural order of things in a fallen world. His order and methods and doctrine were a new thing, even to John the Baptist. His lessons of truth were coated in grace. Like carob covered brussel sprouts, He covered the Law with grace and made it appealing even to the publicans and prostitutes. Unbounded love streamed out in His every look and word. Every healing of body was His message to heal any and all alienation toward the Holiest One. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2Cor. 5:19).

Yet, all Christ’s goodness the nation spurned. “The waves of mercy, still returning in a stronger tide of love, had been beaten back by hearts as hard as rock.” Desire of Ages, p. 829. They rejected His appeals to their heart, but every rejection called forth another wave of compassion for them. They turned away from holy love—the Holy Spirit. But as many as received His love He led to lay down their prejudices against His Father’s Law. His truth laid His listeners down into the waters of self-denial.

As Joseph loved his hard-hearted brethren while they plotted his death, Jesus loved all of Jacob’s children. Joseph was young and inexperienced, and had not perceived the hatred in his brothers’ hearts. But Jesus knew all men and still loved them to the end. He could only stop forgiving when His heart would stop beating.

Yet He was bound to reform the nation. Their condition was beyond reclamation without a complete overhaul. As early as Isaiah the word had gone out that the ten northern tribes had been weighed in the balances and had been found wanting. The prophet records the Assyrian conquest of the northern tribes, but then begins the same prophecies of judgment and promise against the southern kingdom. “When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood…. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” (Is. 1:15, 18).

Jeremiah furthered the work of Isaiah laying the ax to the root of the tree. Prophet after prophet did the same down to the last. Gabriel had forecasted to Daniel their end, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Dan. 9:24).

The Lord forewarned through Malachi, “I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 3:5).

But nothing had changed in their subtle resistance to the Spirit in 450 years, since Nehemiah. They were not brought to their great need of the soul, as were Abraham and David and others listed in their scriptures. The nation thought they were on good terms with God, but they had not responded to His Law or the sacrificial system He had established to break their hearts. Thus, it was impossible for them to awaken to their spiritual dearth and character depravity. And the Maccabbean victories did nothing toward a spiritual revival, which had been their only means to Yahweh’s protection and blessing.

So when their Messiah came, He fulfilled Malachi’s prophecies against them. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.
But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:7-9,14).

This condemnation was against the religious leadership; but it was also against the multitudes who let the leadership turn them away from the truth. What more could their Savior do to reach them? He gave the people the best; He gave them His love. To turn away from the love of Him who had the Spirit without measure was to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. So He must declare judgment against the followers as He had to the leaders, “Let them alone.” It was hard to make His statement against them, but He knew that soon the fickle crowd would be crying, “Let Him be crucified.” “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” (Matt. 27:22; Lk. 23:21).

He was quoting the prophet Hosea, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.” (Hos. 4:17). They had not heeded His counsel to “strive to enter in at the strait gate.” They sought to look holy in the public eye, but they had refused the conviction of His Father’s Spirit; whether consciously or subconsciously, they had refused the work of the heart—contrition, repentance, conversion. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof.” (Prov. 1:24,25). Their rebellion was incurable. “For thus saith the Lord, Thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous.” (Jer. 30:12). “And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of hosts.” (Is. 22:14).

Whether they led out in the murmuring or were influenced to murmur against the plain evidence of His love, it was all a manifestation that they had not and would not strive and wrestle and struggle to have a heart toward their Lord, the promised One since the beginning of time. As Yahweh had covenanted with them, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” (Is. 27:5).

“Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46).

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Why revivals fail

Why have the children of Protestantism abandoned their reformers’ foundational doctrines when their fathers and mothers died to institute it? Why did early Christianity apostatize, which Christ and the apostles worked so untiringly to establish? Why did the wonderful revivals of Ezra and David, Moses and Elijah die out?

This is a very pertinent question because we have a big revival on the way—the Loud Cry and the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. The Early Rain in the apostles’ day died; will the Lord risk the same result on His final harvest before He returns? I would say, No, He won’t. We will not even begin it until He is satisfied that He has people who will not let it slip away as did the following generations of the apostolic church.

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;
God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will?” (Heb. 2:1-4). Shouldn’t we take this to heart?

How long must we wait for the Latter Rain? As long as it takes for us to become faithful enough with the light we have of His grace and law that He can trust us to hold fast the greater light of Revelation 18’s 4th angel until He comes.

Jesus told a parable regarding why revivals fail. It came as a warning to that generation and has heavy overtones for ours, as well. “When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and He shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets.” (Lk. 13:25,26).

No doubt Christ created a stir everywhere He went. It sounds like He was invited into many homes and got the royal treatment, especially toward the end of His ministry, when He was expected to announce Himself king. He’d show up and teach and mingle to gain the confidence of the people and reach their hearts, He'd eat with them and teach in their own towns. And the crowds would have a jolly good time with this. What excitement with such a well-known person in their midst! But, they were having such a good time that they had no time for His words to take effect in them.

Joy is a sure result of being in the Lord’s presence. David said, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). And Isaiah’s messianic prophecy indicated that His followers would have much occasion to rejoice. “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, as in the day of Midian.” (Is. 9:3,4).

We should never try to dampen joy—Satan will do enough of that without our help. “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.” (Mk. 2:19). Matthew’s version equated fasting with mourning. “Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matt. 9:15). If we can rejoice, we should. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10).

“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” (Ps. 126:2,3). Like a mother thrills to be surrounded by her beloved children, the Lord loves to inhabit the praises of His people.

But there is laughter from joy, and laughter from a source other than joy. And evidently Israel in Jesus’ day had the wrong kind. Otherwise He wouldn’t have ended His parable like He did. “But He shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” (Lk. 13:27-29).

One laughter is pure and is derived from love to God and man; the other is casual and empty of love. The first is humble and founded on faith; the second is proud and comes with unbelief. The former attends helplessness and dependence on Christ; the latter needs nothing and is worldly, sensual, and only needs a small cause to be devilish.

Why do revivals fail? Jesus gave the answer up front. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Lk. 13:24). Those who heard His wonderful truth-filled messages but lost them did not strive to enter the strait gate. What is a strait gate? “Enter ye in at the strait gate: ...Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13 14). The strait gate is the narrow gate. It’s so narrow that few ever find it.

Why do few ever find it? Because it requires too much to enter. Too much of what? Good behavior? Morality? Never doing anything wrong—in public, that is? No, this is not the strait gate. All these things the Pharisees seek. Except our righteousness exceed this we can never enter through the strait gate into the kingdom of God. Doing those things, we will never find the strait gate—because we will already have what we think we need. We will be confident that God is pleased with our performance.

So what do we strive for if it’s not about good behavior and being proper and conforming to all the latest taboos? “Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (Jn. 6:28).

Jesus’ answer that got to the real meat of His mission, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (Jn. 6:29). Believe on, depend on, lean on Me. He was talking about an intimate friendship—the stuff that trust and love are made of.

“The common people heard Him gladly.” (Mk. 12:37). A battle was raging in Christ’s day. Jesus was all about friendship and the natural obedience that comes out of friendship. He knew how important it was to read the hearts of the people. That’s why He invited the people to come unto Him. And His invitations awakened a new life in the people, and they began to respond. They began to see that the old religion of just going through the motions and formalism was not conducive to true obedience. They were experiencing a new freedom to love and goodness from the heart.

All this aroused Satan to stop love and liberty—a force greater than his cold bondage. The agents of the devil to prevent Christ were powerful individuals in the crowd who were big on good behavior and heartless perfectionism, but small on love and obedience.

So we see something interesting in the devil’s attack as Jesus. “And He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.
But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.” (Lk. 11:14,15).

Matthew gives us a clearer view of this situation. “Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (Matt. 12: 22,24). What we see is that the common people initially wanted to accept Jesus. The people loved what they heard and saw and felt from their Messiah. But they were too easily influenced by the Pharisees. The religious leaders moved the whole crowd against Christ. Under the spell of the Pharisees, in the perception of the multitudes Jesus went from the Deliverer to a deceiver.

Why were they were so easily influenced? Because they didn’t strive for the message Jesus was bringing to them—the message of faith and love and obedience. Christ gave joy and loving conviction to His listeners. They got the laughter and excitement from Jesus’ joy and wit, but His spiritual lessons from scripture and arrows of conviction were not getting to their hearts. They were not wrestling over the truth Christ was presenting or striving for the certainty of God’s acceptance which His Son so wonderfully was providing them.

They were not cooperating with the Holy Spirit by hanging on Jesus’ words in meditation, rejoicing in Him, as His disciples did. The multitudes would not put pride aside enough to reconcile with His love and beautiful righteousness, so that they could receive Him. Subconsciously, with Satan’s subtle assistance, they were keeping Him away with a ten foot pole. They wouldn’t strive to involve their hearts with their Messiah; they wouldn’t do the first work.

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” (Is. 30:15). They wouldn’t. They wouldn’t. He beckoned, but they refused. Even if politely turning down the invitation, it was rebellion.

Likewise, after the Messiah ascended to heaven and His movement started, the church wouldn’t continue striving to keep His love and beautiful merits first and foremost. So, persecution separated them from Him and they lost their first love; yet, the good, proper behavior continued. The honeymoon with their heavenly Bridegroom was over and the apostolic revival came to a screeching halt.

And Christ would say to His beloved church what He said to His beloved Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” (Gen. 4:7). “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:5).

But the church neglected this divine warning, and darkness of the blackest hue engulfed Christ’s work on earth. Christianity was turned into a beast “having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. …And the dragon [Satan] gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.” (Rev. 6:6-8;13:1,2).

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The plan of salvation still good

This post is a follow-on to a more in-depth post on what God did. See http://www.the-tencommandments.com/the-ten-commandments.html

On top of all the goings-on from the Gentile world from four successive pagan empires dominating Israel, God’s holy Law, that stops every mouth from boasting of its morality and makes the whole world “guilty before” Him (Rom. 3:19), had been kept in full force for 1500 years. God's Law and Spirit gave them no relief from shame or help in overcoming sin. Conversely, it brought to life their natural born wrath and rebellion toward God (Rom. 4:15;7:8). Yet He kept His stern law in place before His people. Until.

Through the Law, God had kept guilt and shame in place within the Hebrew religion since the expulsion from Eden (Rom. 5:14) as the initial means to give the children of Adam a need for a Savior from sin. Nothing will send us digging and searching for water like the grip of thirst. The heavy burden of guilt forced the sinner to look to heaven; the powerful anxiety due to the separation from God (Jn. 3:36) would be enough to make them get up and go to Him with their sacrificial lamb. God’s love was lost from man’s thinking, and the guilt of sin weighed on the land.

Now the world of sinners was primed and ready for God’s great gesture of grace. So He sent His holy One, His only infinitely beloved Son. They saw that not only did they need God, but that God wanted them. God’s grace for man completed their need for Him that the law had initiated. Now His Law would push and His grace would pull the world back to God through the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary and through His Spirit on earth.

They were reconciled to God by the death of His Son and saved by His Son’s life here in a human body. They became children of God by faith in Jesus (Gal. 3:26). Now their hearts were riveted to God’s dear Son, the perfect example of righteousness. They became the fulfillment of the promise given centuries before, “In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jer. 23:6).

And so long as they remained justified and reconciled to God through Christ they no longer need go to the old law of shame and anxiety because they had a much better provision from heaven—the perfect, law-abiding and loving Son of God as their friend and mentor.

But they were free to leave their justification and reconciliation through the Son; as Jesus said to them through Paul, “The just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38). But then the old, abusive law would come back in full force and “the wrath of God” would return (Jn. 3:36). So the law kept bumping them back into Christ. Until they would stay with Him permanently, and be sealed. (Eph. 1:13;Heb. 3:15;10:36).

All of this is for us, as detailed in Romans 7 and 8.

Before we came to Christ, we either suffered from the violent law of survival of the fittest or from the unbending civil laws and laws of health we were breaking constantly, if we were unchurched and undisciplined. Or we suffered from the heavy guilt and shame from God’s moral Law through His prophet, if we were in the church. Either way is ordained by God to reach man where he is. He needs to wrestle us to the ground and bind our soul in a straightjacket until our pride is severely challenged.

If we submit and surrender, then the Holy Spirit begins to quicken our conscience with an increasing knowledge of our sinfulness and its resultant guilt and shame. If we respond by going in search of a solution, but we find that earth’s solutions only make things worse, eventually we will be able to hear the Spirit suggesting that we look for Jesus through the Bible. If we never abandon that search, by a special gift of faith, we will come face to face with Jesus and find His grace to be all sufficient for our bitterness and our horrible past. We give ourselves to Him and accept Him as friend and beloved mentor, and become children of God by relationship with His Son. (Jn. 1:12).

Monday, January 03, 2011

Christ the incomprehensible Lawgiver

Never man spake like this Man.” (Jn. 7:46).

“Fury is not in Me: who would set the briers and thorns against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.” (Is. 27:4). Christ wants us to comprehend His actions and words and to be able to unite with Him in mind and heart. His big work is to help us understand Him. But the Lord cannot be hedged in by our definition of His principles of character. He will not allow the adversary to use His human children as leverage to divulge the full mystery of His truth, which they cannot comprehend and which Satan would easily and quickly use for His purposes. Christ will define Himself; all the strictures Satan would put upon God’s Law or His doctrine He will ignore. Try as he might, Satan will not control God. The enemy may “think to change times and laws,” but an illusion of this is all he can do. (Dan. 7:25).

Our Creator is unexplainable. The Lord says, “Thou shalt not kill.” (Ex. 20:13). But He kills. He commanded, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14). But He sends Isaiah and Hosea to commit adultery. (Is. 8:3;Hos. 3:1). He forbade the sacrificing of children (Lev. 18:21;Jer. 32:35), but commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. He hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), but He divorced Israel. (Jer. 3:8). Yet, in all this He is not arbitrary.

Likewise His 9th commandment forbade lying, but He caused the old prophet of 1Kings 13 to lie to the younger prophet. Only God knows why He does what He does. And He needs us to trust Him until light shines on the apparent inconsistency.

The elder prophet was a godly man. He spoke the word of the Lord (1Ki. 13:20). Like Abraham he commanded his sons after him. Like Jesus toward the rich, young ruler (Mk. 10:21,23), the prophet, with all his heart and soul for his fellow prophet, cried out his brother’s doomed end (1Ki. 13:21). His soul was knit with the soul of his younger counterpart. With tenderness and self-forgetfulness, braving—maybe, in his grief, oblivious to—the lion standing by, he picked up the dead prophet to give him a decent burial in his own grave. With genuine grief that must have made Jesus weep he inconsolably cried and mourned at the graveside, “Alas, my brother!” (vs. 30). With deepest brotherhood he commanded his well-trained sons to lay his own dead bones next to those of his fallen compatriot, as some way to reconcile the loss of his beloved friend, and then endorsed his prophecy against King Jeroboam’s system of false worship.

Yet, when we read the whole chapter of 1Kings 13, we see that this whole tragedy happened because the old prophet lied to his fellow prophet. (Vs. 18). This godly man lied. From the pure Christlikeness he displayed later, his lie seems strangely out of character. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7: 15,16). The old prophet had all the fruits of the Spirit, and was in no way an inwardly ravening wolf. Therefore, as strange as it sounds, I believe his lie was by divine design. It was God’s plan; he was obeying God when he lied.

God condoning lying? God inspiring a man to lie? “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” (Rom. 9:20). “For He is not a man, as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay His hand upon us both.” (Job 9:32,33). “Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him: He respecteth not any that are wise of heart.” (Job 37:23,24).

Must God answer to man for all His actions? Must He have Satan’s permission? Must He submit His plans for the devil’s acceptance or rejection, much like a carpenter does to city hall to get a building permit?

“Who can understand His errors?” (Ps. 19:12). For sure, this is a rhetorical question, because it is presumptuous to call any of the great Judge’s actions illicit or erroneous. So our humble answer must be, “Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Ps.19:12,13).

“No man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” (Ecc. 3:11). Even Christ’s disciples “but dimly understood” many of His actions and words. Desire of Ages, p. 506. “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.” (Lk. 18:34). “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand...?” (Matt. 15:15-17).

“Christ’s answer to John’s disciples he found incomprehensible. To the desert prophet all this seemed a mystery beyond his fathoming.  Desire of Ages, p. 216.

The fact that He claimed to be the Sent of God, and yet refused to be Israel’s king, was a mystery which they could not fathom.” Desire of Ages, p. 385.

Is God bound by His own Law, His will, His doctrine? Yes, of course He is. He is no hypocrite. “Every word of God is pure.” (Prov. 30:5). And since no iniquity can be found in Him, we must be careful how we treat His words. Thus the warning, “Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov. 30:6). I don’t want that for myself; and I’m sure you don’t want it for yourself, either.

Yet His word is deep and broad. “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.” (Prov. 18:4). “I have seen an end of all perfection: but Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” (Ps. 119:96). Of Christ, the Word of God, scripture intones, “I will open My mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” (Ps. 78:2). “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” (1Cor. 2:7).

He takes liberties we are not allowed to take, because we can’t be righteous outside of His revealed will. But He can be. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut.29:29). His gospel of grace, the plan of redemption came to us outside of and beyond His longstanding Law of righteousness. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom. 3:21).

“The Pharisees therefore said unto Him, Thou bearest record of Thyself; Thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true.” (Jn. 8:13,14). He was made under the law (Gal. 4:4)─willingly, for our benefit. The reality was that He authored the Law; therefore He perfectly interprets His Law. No one else can interpret His Law. Satan tries personally (Matt. 4:6), and then through men he devises thousands of books of human tradition (Ecc. 12:12.)

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2Pet. 1:20). All we can do in correctly understanding His Law, His “dark sayings,” is to compare scripture with scripture. “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Is. 28:10).

No creature can intercept God in His will by deciphering His law perfectly. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor?” (Rom. 11:33,34).

“And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28). Righteousness is the path to true wisdom; God through obedience to His written word, will ensure that His people, His disciples—Bible students—will not be dumbed down by simplistic humanism. He will try their heart and their observation skills. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Ps. 19:7).

True righteousness—Christ’s righteousness—does not produce dummies. His righteousness is His person that He gives to us—His heart and His mind. “But of Him [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (1Cor. 1:30;Col. 2:3). When He has won our hearts He will train us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt. 10:16).

“We shall reign on the earth” as “kings and priests.” (Rev. 5:10). Christ’s disciples will not only be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:6), but also a generation of prophets. “Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29). Through His Spirit He will give them a wisdom that puzzles unbelievers. His students will discern the prophecies that have been riddles to even the multitudes of the Christian world. Like their Master, it will be said of them, “How knoweth this Man letters, having never learned [from recognized educational institutions]?” (Jn. 7:15).

Like Joseph in the dungeon they will say, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you.” (Gen. 40:8). And they will have the confidence in Christ which Daniel had. “Then Daniel answered and said before the king, I will read the writing unto the king, and make known to him the interpretation.” (Dan. 5:17). “And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath.” (Deut. 28:13).

They will be like Jesus. “And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king enquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” (Dan 1:19,20).

They will reap accolades from those who are strangers to the holy God. “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and shewing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will shew the interpretation.” (Dan 5: 11,12).

“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:3-5).