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, October 31, 2011

An email on Romans 7

Hi David,

Hope all is well. We haven’t talked for awhile.... Anyway, I am reading Romans again because it eludes me. In particular, I was reading chapter 7 and I think I don’t get it. He talks of dying to the body and walking in a newness of spirit. I think I know what that means, but there are nuances as to the way he sees the law of God I don’t get. Basically, can you go over the chapter with me? An e-mail is fine, ... Anyway, I hope all is well with you and with your soul. Peace, brother.

C_____

Hi C_____,

I was wondering what ever happened to you. I had lost my phone and lost your number and D_____ didn’t have it. I think I asked C______ also. I’m glad all is well with you and you are still digging deeply into the mine of God’s word.

Romans 7 eluded me for the longest time! I’ve heard people say Paul is talking about his personal walk with God before conversion, and some say it was after conversion. I have a hard time thinking it spoke of life after his conversion because if that is the life of victory that God offers, I don’t need it! My life of failure is just as good, if not the very thing Paul is describing.

What I see here is Paul describing what happens when we rely on the Law and good behavior instead of relying on communion with Christ to give us the heaven-sent power to obey His commandments. That is why he brings in his comment, “But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (vs. 6). And he ends with the only solution for a life of failure in obeying (although somewhat intangible). “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Vs. 24,25).

His grand answer is that only through walking and talking with Jesus by faith (Rom. 8:1) can I ever be loving and good. But I couldn’t comprehend his closing phrase (“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord”) when I first read it because I had been used to hearing priest liturgies which always ended with the same hum-drum “...through Jesus Christ our Lord this” and “...through Jesus Christ our Lord that”. Paul’s words meant nothing except a monotone trailer off the tongue of a man trying to sound holy, but who was guilty of the very kind of bondage that Paul was warning us against; i.e. going through “the motions of sins, which were by the law, [and] did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”

So, I successfully followed Paul down through the verses that spoke of his struggle to do good but always doing bad. I thought I was hot on the track to the big solution to life. But then it ended in a disappearing rabbit trail when I got to to the litergical “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And all I could do was lift my eyes in despair and say, “Doh!” The science of salvation had eluded me again!

Now, I know that his last sentence was connected with the first of the next chapter. I was used to modern books which end a chapter with one thought and begin the next chapter with a whole new mindset. So I was doing that with the Bible and its chapters just don’t always work that way.

The truth is that Romans 7:25 is a transition into chapter 8, which is the real way to be like God. Trying to obey the Law is like trying to be married to a rock. Some husbands might be like slabs of stone, like a bust of Caesar. :)

How well would you try to obey a statue of Caesar, if the statue has a list of dos and don’ts and says that the Mafia will enforce what the statue is commanding? You would keep it to the letter, but you wouldn’t go another step further. And you certainly wouldn’t love your Caesar or the Mafia.

If you had the opportunity to assassinate the statue, wouldn’t you? So, the Caesar mannequin being offed, or, more realistically, a real husband dies of a heart attack who only read the newspaper and paid you no attention, you are now free to find a husband of flesh and blood, who loves you, loves being with you but gives you your space, and would die for you. Once the old man dies, you are free from the Law’s requirement to live with that first unloving spouse, who was dead while he lived, and to go find another—just the right person—now that you are more husband savvy after decades of loneliness and despair.

The Law is like that dead spouse, but even worse. How worse? First of all, it comes with no human representation to help you identify the requirements with some human character. An image, a statue, a bust, a mannequin breaks the second of its big commandments. Then, the Law is just words, abstract ideas. It offers no power to obey it, because we have difficulty making an abstraction into a living reality. Its like reading the instructions for assembling a new appliance or toy. Most people disregard them. I’ve tried to faithfully follow the instructions and have invariably put them down and just gone for it. I always pay for it dearly, but I do it again and again.

Then on top of that, sinners don’t naturally want to obey anybody, let alone a holy God who sends death in so many ways. We want to live our own life. We don’t care if we owe perfect and joyful obedience to our Creator. We’re on our own agenda and don’t want to change for anyone, if its just for the sake of changing. Like Z____ always says, “I don’t have to go to church. I have to be me! I have to be the way God made me.” And her tone is sometimes belligerent.

We won’t change for anyone just for the sake of changing, just to do what we are told or even to do our duty.

But... when love is involved...Oh, we’ll do cart-wheels, repeatedly, until we get dizzy and fall over!!! Then we’ll get up and do more cart-wheels! If love is there, we float like Bambi and Faline through Lala land. Sinful humans despise living upright lives, but so long as the image of God still remains—even a mustard grain seed of it—they will always respond to love. And always in the same way—What can I do for you? Can I do this for you? Can I do that for you? What else can I do to make you comfortable?
I like the way Isaiah described the effect of love.

“In that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.” (Is. 4:1). Interpreted: The day will come when “many” “hopeless and spiritually weak people” will flock to the spiritually strong person, who is full of life and hope and love, and they will promise and do anything to have what he has, especially the love, in order to get rid of their terrible anxiety and depression.

And,

“And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” (Is. 61:5,6). All because they got loved by God, and we were the ones to help them believe it.

Its like what happened to Paul in Athens after speaking on Mars’ hill, after all the really smart intellectuals left, while making cat-calls over their shoulder. “Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” (Acts 17:34).

And Christ,

“And when they [Jesus and His disciples] had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret [a heathen area], and drew to the shore.
And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew Him,
And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard He was.
And whithersoever He entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought Him that they might touch if it were but the border of His garment: and as many as touched Him were made whole.” (Mk. 6:53-56).

All of this because people finally saw God’s love through Jesus.

Therefore, (as Paul was always wont to say) we need to know God through Jesus, and righteousness comes only through a relationship with Him, not a relationship with it (a Law of stone).

Then, since Christ is the Law-giver, through a relationship with Him, the precepts of His Law will rub off on us. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4).
Love,
David

The vacuum of God’s self

The Son of God not only has revealed His Father’s emptiness of self in His incarnation, ministry, and death, but, as Creator, He also built it into nature.

In the vastness of the universe, decorated by the innumerable galaxies and stars throughout, we can begin to comprehend the beauty of our God. And what do we see filling all the vast void between the cosmic decorations? Vacuum, perfect 0 Hg vacuum. In this we see what is left of our Creator after providing life and power to the immense universe. Every planet has pressure given to it to contain its atmosphere. All that God provides for His creation leaves Him with nothing left for Himself. In order to provide for the life of His creatures, all the virtue and life that leaves Him for their sake saps Him of His life.

Yet to die, for His children is His life. To see and hear their thankfulness keep Him going. With infinite pleasure He inhabits the praises of His kingdom.

Being recipients of His eternal giving we are disciples of His selflessness. We are to receive of His and show it to others. We must keep our eyes fixed on His emptying of self, and thus be driven to live free from sin, which is the categorical title of all self-focus.

His patience toward our many flaws gives us inspiration to suffer long toward others’ short-comings. His forbearance and grace, if we behold Him, will work in us His good pleasure to others. But if we don’t watch the Master at work, no amount of our own ethics and morality can substitute for that which comes to us by seeing and studying His selfless love and imitating Him.

His righteousness, vacant of self, His lowliness filled with redeeming love becomes our modis operandi. Entranced by His matchless charms, our whole nature is transformed. “And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.” (Song 7:9). We are possessed by His righteousness, His prisoners captivated by His love. “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (Jn. 13:35).

“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1Jn. 1:7). By working out what He works in, by acting for Him, being His healing hands and traveling feet, His rich character more and more appears desirable; His loving heart slowly takes the place of our infirmed character. Through His possession of our heart and soul He impants His mind in ours, thought by thought, feeling by feeling, motive by motive, from faith to faith.

As we add to faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity, we will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And in the selflessness we imitate from the Father we will find life to make perfect sense. We will all view all of our trials as challenges to see the Father’s character anew. All the difficult self-sacrifices we will welcome as friends and teachers sent from our God through His Son. Christ is worthy to receive honor and glory and power because He turned us around from our path of sure destruction through our selfishness. No one else could do it, except Him and His cross.

Through His cross and our cross we become trees planted together beside a great confluence, our leaf never withers, we bear fruit in abundance and whatever we do prospers.

We have found the key of wisdom and knowledge and life.

God's strong delusion

“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess. 2:10-12).

This is not the first time God has brought a strong delusion. There have been many precedents throughout time.

“And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.
And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.” (1Ki. 22:20-23).

God sent Satan to delude Ahab.

“Behold, the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue as a devouring fire:
And His breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.” (Is. 30:27,28).

This sieve of vanity to sift His people came from the Lord.

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (Jas. 1:13,14).

God will not tempt; but we tempt ourselves by departing from Him.

“Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1Chron. 21:1). “The Lord … moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2Sam. 24:1).

God allowed Satan to tempt David. Because of his pride of accomplishment and self-dependence, the Lord had to let Satan tempt the king to number Israel.

“The Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3).

Another case of pride, God had to allow Satan to tempt His servant Job.

“Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.” (Josh. 23:13). “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.” (Jdg. 1:21). “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” (Jdg. 2:3). “And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He said, Because that this people hath transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto My voice;
I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:
That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered Me them into the hand of Joshua.” (Jdg. 2:20-23).

Because Israel chose not to remove the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, the Lord left them to be a temptation to disobedient Israel.

“Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” (Ps. 11:6).

“The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.” (Ps. 9:15, 16).

“Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (Prov. 6:2). “The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips.” (Prov. 12:13).

“And He shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.” (Is. 8:14,15).

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (Jas. 1:22).

God will be a sanctuary for some and God says that He Himself will set the snare for others.

“To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Is. 28:12 ,13).

God sent truth to cause scorners to stumble and be snared.

“I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the Lord.” (Jer. 50:24).

The Lord laid a snare for Babylon, just as He had for Pharoah.

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” (Rom. 1:24). “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (vs. 21). “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (vs. 28).

God gave them over to be tempted.

“And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Is. 6:9,10).
“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:
For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt. 13:14,15).

“If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Cor. 4:3,4). “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (Jn. 3:19,20).

Christ took responsibility for blinding and deafening the people so that they would not be converted. The reality was that the people chose to abide in unbelief, which then gave Satan the access to their hearts, who led them into damnation.

“Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.” (2Pet. 2:13).

They laugh and play in the delusions with which they have deceived themselves, “for this they willingly are ignorant of.” (2Pet. 3:5)


Taken together, we see in all of this that God is ultimately in control, “who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” (Eph 1:11). He is in control, even if He allows Satan to deceive us or for us to deceive ourselves by turning away from the Law of God. In the case of Job, Job’s heart wasn’t perfect with God, but it was as perfect as his conscious choice would permit his heart to be. But, “the Lord looketh on the heart,” and He “knoweth them that are His.” (1Sam. 16:7;2Tim. 2:19). So He will order events; He will open the door for the devil to do his destruction, in order to wake His servants up again to righteousness and bring them to repentance and humility and surrender.

The Lord waits a long time for the workers of iniquity to see the error of their ways. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3:9). He remains out of sight and out of human affairs to let them realize that only troubles come when they leave their Creator and protective Father to serve the life of self-indulgence which Satan offers them.

“Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Is. 43:4).

God even allows Satan and his earthly agencies to oppress the faulty people of the Lord who are striving to learn obedience and service to Him. This will be a snare for most of Satan’s hosts, but some will turn to the Lord as they see the meekness and submission of God’s suffering people. They accept the persecution as their just due and their much needed discipline.

“I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him, until He plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: He will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold His righteousness.” (Mic. 7:9). “And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech. 3:2).

The oppression purifies His disciples and makes them worthy of His salvation.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” (Lk. 18:7,8). “Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (Dan. 7:22)

Simultaneously, as He delivers His persecuted people, He reveals Himself suddenly to the wicked oppressors.

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1Thess. 5:2,3).

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matt. 24:30).

In the end, God offers unrestrained opportunity to the wicked to destroy His holy Law and His holy people. It is this that constitutes the final great delusion and makes them unprepared for His second coming. Today, atheism reigns supreme and the world has made our Creator God into a fiction. This has unleashed the ambition of the Vatican and its workers to overthrow the governments that stand for equality and justice. These workers of iniquity soon will make their big pounce upon the inhabitants of the world to control and enslave them. At that time human worth will mean nothing to all who join with Satan’s hosts to grab all the power and disipation and luxury they can. This last strong delusion will be the choice of the vast majority of the world’s population. It will put them fully as rebels against the government of God and worthy of His intense displeasure.

“Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Is. 13:6-12).

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

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt. 25:46).

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Schoolmaster+the Sacrifice=the Salvation

“Jesus … said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (Jn. 19:30).

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. Great Controversy, p. 212.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that has fought to save a world like ours. Is this just an old tradition, threadbare and hoary with age? Is it just, as the title of the hymn says, and Old, Old Story? Is the gospel just another Aesop fable?

No. Millions, yes, billions of animal sacrifices have littered this world’s history. The mountain of their ashes sits a bulwark pointing to, not an ancient myth, but a very ancient truth—the promise of a Messiah who would propitiate our Creator Judge for the sins of the world. All the baby lambs and kid goats, the heifers and bullocks spoke of a coming divine Redeemer who was innocent, pure, humble, and faithful to the end.

Even the raucous swine and human sacrifices all point back to the original promise, though corrupted by false religion, altered by time, distance and the shielding which sin causes the light of truth.

God has used every road kill, every carrion in the vulture’s mouth, every animal victim killed by a hungry predator to testify to His plan of salvation. Through this, the Creator has preached the gospel to every soul under heaven. By murder or mortality, death has reigned in the human race from Adam to the present to remind mankind of the coming Redeemer and of the death that sin causes God.

The true tradition (2Thess. 2:15) from the Old Testament law and prophets, and from Christ and His apostles still lives on. But when it lost its living power to Israel and they had “broken the everlasting covenant,” (Is. 24:5) it became nothing more than a tattered script, a relic of bygone generations. They had disregarded the truth in God’s law, as He said, “they despised My judgments, and … their soul abhorred My statutes,” (Lev. 26:43) which led them to “break My covenant.” (vs. 15).

The knowledge that they had been given of the plan of salvation and of the war raging over their heads (2Sam. 14:14) became nothing more than wallpaper pasted to the dome in the sky. Once the gospel had dried up with the covenant, for six hundred years Israel received no life from it; and their eyes were not opened until the Son of God broke through that very dry wallpaper on His way to be incarnated here.

Today the New Testament gospel, “the everlasting gospel,” is our equivalent to their “everlasting covenant.” (Rev. 14:6;Is. 24:5). It’s the same thing, but amplified with more power to save from sin. But it has atrophied in the church just as it had in Israel, and due to the same causes. “We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments.” (Dan. 9:5). “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; …because of trespass …trespassed against Thee.” (vs. 7). “Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
Yea, all [the churches] have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.” (vs. 10,11).

“The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7). Nevertheless, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Gal. 3:24). “Now we know that what things soever the Law saith, it saith to … all the world.” (Rom. 3:19).

The Law stood to bring us guilt and shame and the promise of forgiveness to all who would allow it to condemn them and bring them to Christ for His reconciliation. But, just like ancient Israel, the church “despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and My sabbaths they greatly polluted.” (Ez. 20:13). The church has even thought to abrogate His “times and laws.” (Dan. 7:25).

The purpose of the Law of God, as a strict schoolmaster, was “to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” But, by the church dispensing with the sharp rebukes and strong language of the Law they are receiving damnation to themselves. They have removed the sole means God has provided to cause us to wrestle with Christ as Jacob did, and through contact with the Son of God to create faith in us.

The Law is real, with uncontestable, real consequences in this life. The gospel is ethereal and spiritual and must have a container to reside in. That container is the Law of God. Without His Law we can have no concept of God or His grace for us. His Law undergirds His mercy; His grace beautifies His justice. To deny the Law of God in doctrine or to ignore it in the testimonies of this Earth’s last prophet, is to lose salvation. It means the truth of the Bible atrophies into wallpaper again. Avoiding the strait testimony of the Law then causes this world and worldly pursuits to deserve all of our attention, and thus heaven becomes a farce even while we profess to have faith. We blinded our eyes and shut our ears lest we be converted and healed.

And that wallpaper that hides heaven will remain in place until Jesus bursts through again like a thief in the night. Then the world will know that the Law and gospel were real, living documents, valid and current demands for our existence.

The love we couldn't kill

“Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands. Saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?
Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.”
“And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter…and Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

The Bible tells us what we don’t want to hear: that we all have made a mess of our lives; that we are walking disasters, accidents waiting to happen. In our wake we have left much desolation, and the older we get the more desolate the landscape behind us.

“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
“A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.” (Rom. 3:11-18;Joel 2:3).

We must live with damage we’ve done to everyone with whom we’ve ever come in contact. Everywhere we look is a dismal, depressing, discouraging wasteland. We damaged even those we loved, our children, our spouses, our friends. Often, they are forever affected beyond the possibility to forgive us completely.

We can’t shake the painful guilt of the permanent damage that we have caused throughout our lifetime, especially to those who we see often or who haunt our thoughts after unexpected reminders. The cry goes up all over the world, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

“We are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled.
Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.
For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Ps. 90:7-9).

We also live with damage that others have inflicted on us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of our assailants have passed away and now we can no longer resolve our anger and sorrow toward them, or find closure from those debilitating emotions. People we most loved and trusted have deeply ingrained their damage into our psyches. The earlier in life their damage hurt us, the more deeply it is rooted. We cannot remove it.

And worse, the abuse we were given is a source of the damage that we passed on to others, and that they will pass on to many after us. But, even without abuse by others, we come out of the womb “by nature the children of wrath.” (Eph. 2:3). Ishmael’s curse applies to us all, “He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” But, here God give us a glimmer of hope: “and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Gen. 16:12). The Holy Spirit can fix anything.

God has given us a source of hope—and only one source. There is Someone in heaven to whom we have brought grievous damage each time we hurt someone here in this life. His Son came here to suffer the damage our loved ones have suffered by us. We sought to destroy Him just like we’ve done to everyone else we know.

But the Prince of heaven could not be ruined. We could not poison His soul. He, unlike every sinner we’ve hurt, could not stop loving and forgiving. His willingness to forgive the meanest, the cruelest, was never dampened for a moment.

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” (Is. 53:7).

“Whelmed in darkness,” He was “troubled on every side, yet not distressed…
[He was] perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Cast down, but not destroyed.” (2Cor. 4:8,9).

“Father, forgive them.” (Lk. 23:34). His first pronouncement on the cross came from a heart yearning to show us His continued love and understanding, even as we stripped Him of His modesty. His mission was fully accomplished by communicating to every age of this fallen world an undying forgiveness which nothing could break. No amount of our abuse could drive it from Him. There was not a whisper of anger in His voice. The infinite love He had had from His beloved Father’s bosom prepared Him to face the tremendous affront; but in Gethsemane and on the cross, His love was His alone when the attack came. And for this the Father was pleased. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” (Is. 53:11). No one before His Son has been able to show us the perfect love that will heal our wounds and assuage the rage from our first birth. “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” (Rom. 5:10).

The Son passed into the grave with forgiveness His very last desire and hope. Now He asks us to look away from all those whom we have broken and brought to ruin, and look to Him whom we cannot break and ruin. He asks us to turn away from the lives we have permanently damaged and come confidentially to Him as He hangs there, firmly and easily retaining His love for us, despite the destruction we tried to do to Him, despite the love we could not expunge from Him. He wants us to lay all of our crimes against humanity upon Him and let Him return to us only mercy and acceptance. He wants to be our wise therapist and wonderful counselor. Killing Him and seeing His heaven-sent look of love is the only thing that will end our serial killing of ourselves and our loved ones. Nothing else will stop the cycle except this remedy that God has prescribed.

There is nothing too bad we’ve done to God and man that the God-Man Christ Jesus cannot pass over; nothing we’ve done too downright mean to poison His spirit of love toward us all.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
… For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (Jn. 3:14,15,17). “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (Jn. 12:32). “This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life.” (Jn. 6:40).

There is healing in that sight. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor. 4:6). His peacefulness was not forced or feigned. It was His nature; it was how He was; that was Him.

He could not stop loving and giving His all for us. Again and again and again we must keep looking at the beating and neglect and death He took from us and at the look of peace and forgiveness and unbroken acceptance which He keeps giving us. We must live at Calvary and let it sink in that His life was draining away while His one desire still was, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37). Even with His head bowed and His eyes closed this was His only mind.

Let Him absorb your anger from life’s troubles; let Him take all of your frustration and sorrow and grief and confusion. This is what He came for. His one purpose was to restore health to those who have trembled before Him for the damage they have done and the damage they have received. But, if we will not keep looking at His sacrificing heart, recrimination against our enemies and regret for our victims will overwhelm us and we will surely die. Our hearts will harden and we will grieve away the Holy Spirit, and our minds and bodies will fail. Daily we must return to the cross which God has ordained for our happiness and longevity. We must go to the Son we have crucified, that great event of all time and eternity, and let the Spirit baptize us into His full acceptance, freed from all the lesser sacrifices we’ve killed during our life, and fully drink in of the only perfect Offering, the only Sacrifice we could kill who keeps on loving us until He goes into shock.

“As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” (Ps. 103:13). He took our abuse in order to be able “to proclaim the acceptable year of the [Father]; … to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the [Father], that He might be glorified.” (Is. 61:2,3).

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. “With His stripes we are healed.” Desire of Ages, p. 25.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thesis+Antithesis -> Synthesis+Counter-synthesis

Conflict is not bad. Differences of opinion mustn’t be seen as necessarily evil. There have been clashes in the past that have brought forth good. John Mark asked to be taken back into the missionary work of Paul and Barnabas. Paul rejected him; Barnabas accepted him. “And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.” (Act 15: 39,40). Now, there were two powerful teams spreading the gospel truths to the Gentiles. Thesis (Paul’s argument), antithesis (Barnabas’ argument), synthesis (a stronger gospel mission).

Another conflict happened when Paul clashed with the Galatians over the humanistic errors being allowed into the church. Out of that controversy we have his letter that is one of the clearest presentations of the truth and the exposure of the age-old falsehood that wars against the new-birth truth of God, an erroneous thinking that will continue to be used to destroy the truth of God’s grace and which Satan will use down to the very end of time. The epistle to the Corinthians serves in the same way. All of Paul’s letters have become guiding beacons. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

Change isn’t bad. By definition a new course is not evil. Christ, through strong cries, laid down the hammer on the Jewish priesthood. “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias..., whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. 23:34-38;Matt. 21:43). Change was due. Christ laid down the hammer because the Spirit of God had left the fully corrupted Jewish leadership and they were no longer the channel to bring divine truth to the world. Afterward, the Jews could still be saved only as individuals coming to the church of the Messiah for light and acceptance by the Creator.

Reform is change from bad to good. We have seen many reformations, many separations, many sifting out of the chaff and the Lord’s keeping of His precious grain. Noah’s flood seperating Noah who walked with God and the rest of the violent world (Gen. 7:1), the post-deluge dividing of the people of Shem from those of Ham (Gen. 10:25), the choosing of Abraham and his family and rejection of the rest of the Semites (Gen. 12:1-3), the selection of Judah and the letting alone of the northern tribes (Hos. 4:17), the election of the church and the disowning of Israel (Dan. 9:27), the raising up of the Protestant Reformation and the casting down of Papal Catholicism (Rev. 2:23-25), the final choice of Adventism and the giving up of Protestant America to Satan (Rev. 8:7), and last of all, the future shaking that will happen within Adventism to divide the wheat from the tares during the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit (Rev. 11:13).

These shake-ups have always been the Lord’s hand in correcting a downward course when Satan had insinuated himself into God’s work to reveal His character to His body of believers on Earth. “The time of reformation” (Heb 9:10) is a God-given, divinely-intended, necessary work of bringing a newer revelation into the world when the weak hearts and dim minds of God’s people have finally grasped, settled into, and obeyed the last light that had shone for heaven. Our Lord “knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Ps. 103:14). As a wise Father and Master Teacher, by degrees He has brought the fullness of knowledge of His requirements to mankind. Little at a time, “by little and little” (Deut. 7:22) as we were open to accept it, He has opened to us the unfolding revelation of Himself. “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).

But every reformation has seen war, as a counter-reformation battles against God. To keep their power over the minds of the populace and the freedom to privately live the life of sin they struggle to silence the voice and example of people who condemn it. When the multitude clearly see the fraud against them perpetrated by the demon-led leadership, the ruling agency by which Satan can impose his wicked oppression on the masses quickly moves to exterminate the new light bearers in order to extinguish their exposing truth.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:16-22). But the new movement of truth survives and grows strong despite the persecution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

But conflict only results in good if love resides in the hearts of men. Without love conflict ends in much evil. When hate or apathy reigns Satan has used thesis and antithesis to move societies into a state of disarray and upheaval where he could then institute his kingdom over them. In an evil way the devil uses thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

He moves one segment of a nation to angrily fight for one issue and another segment to hatefully disagree. Soon the infighting spreads and the whole nation is divided, their opinions galvanized and their ears deafened. Emotion trumps reason, the Spirit of God can find no entrance to counsel the consciences, and Satan now controls them.

Out of this corrupted thesis and antithesis comes a synthesis of astonishing wickedness. At this John marveled as he watched in vision the product of Satan’s work following the confusion caused by the collapse of Rome by the barbarian tribes. “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.” (Rev. 17:6). Throughout history, Satan has used chaos to bring about his new desolating power against God’s righteousness.

An evil one, a godless anti-Christ appears to settle the nation in commotion against each other. The son of perdition comes as an angel of light, bearing “sweet counsel together” with his victims, and walks to the house of God “in company” with his new disciples. (Ps. 55:14). Through the mass media fully under his auspices, the sin-loving, apathetic nation has been prepared for his lies. “After their own lusts” they had heaped “to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” Because they had turned “away their ears from the truth,” they were “turned unto fables.” (2Tim. 4:3,4). Now, the appearance of the deceiver attracts the attention of all. “The words of his mouth [are] smoother than butter, but war [is] in his heart: his words [are] softer than oil, yet [are] they drawn swords.” (Ps. 55:21). “He shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” “And by peace shall destroy many.” (Dan. 11:21;8:25).

Protestant America was founded on the spirit and principles of the Holy Bible. “The fruit of righteousness [which] is sown in peace of them that make peace” could have been the spring of all their social interactions. (Jas. 3:18). That is, holy peace, a humble peace which is submissive to righteousness as revealed in the Bible. And if the late-colonial and post-Revolution Americans had studied the Bible as for hidden treasures, the Holy Spirit would have blessed and protected this nation from its sworn enemy that lived in the Mediterranean Sea. But apathy set in as they beheld the natural resources which their country offered them. They were warped by the milk and honey God had given them for the service to Him by their Reformation forefathers. Love of money displaced the love and obedience to Him. The Bible stopped making sense to them and they could no longer live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” as they were professing to do. (Matt. 4:4).

Today Protestant Americans have set the Bible aside as nonsense. Even the religious ones don’t understand it, and it gives them but little help or consolation. The light of heaven is lost to them in a whirlwind of confusion. In the chaos from eyes not single to God, the Spirit of God cannot speak to the churches. And true to the woes of Leviticus 26:14ff, the sworn enemy of Protestantism is whipping their sentiments on many issues into a thesis-versus-antithesis mode. Their doldrums of apathy and the moral debasement of the United States are fueling the need for change. Abortion, prayer in school, terrorism, hate talk against Christianity, all these have one end, which is, the final demise of Protestant America and its Protestant Constitution.

The destructive collision of opposing opinions by secular and religious people, both camps of which are ignorant of and destitute of God’s grace, is creating the synthesis of bold, brazen, tyrannical, ruthless militarism for humanistic morality, a church-state regime that can appeal to the American majority who sit closest to the centerline of issues and comprise the largest part of the social bell-curve. These individuals are not so extremist that they cannot be drawn to an organization that appeals to both sides of every issue—religion vs. non-religion, Bible vs. anti-Bible, religious Creationism vs. scientific Evolutionary theory, an outward appearance of morality with a historic and modern record of immorality and crime, keen advocacy against abortion while blessing the administrations that uphold stem-cell research, and remaining silent during the mass executions of holocaust children and current genocides.

The compliant bulge of the social bell curve eat up whatever this slit-tongued beast puts into the media and is being reeducated for the coming crisis and synthesis of the tyrannical church-state that will result.

And the counter-synthesis will be a longing for heaven found in holy, faith-filled people around the world, like nothing else could produce.

Locked in looking

“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Matt. 13:22).

Jesus spoke of a kind of Christian that bore no fruit. “Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He [His Father] taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (Jn. 15:2,6). Every branch in Me. Here we see a person that is adopted “in Him” “in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6), yet is cast away and burned. Casting away is not beyond the God of love. “Once saved always saved” is not biblical.

Jesus got this analogy from scripture. “For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.” (Is. 9:18). “And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.” (Is. 33:12). He was the precarnate God of Israel who “loved Israel for ever.” He gloried to be: “The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Yet He also warned that He “will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (1Ki. 10:9;Ex. 34:6,7).

So it is possible to once be saved, but lose that salvation in the end. Just carrying the name of Israel or Christian has never been enough. A name never saved anyone; it’s the character, the heart and life that determines a person’s standing before the great Judge. As this was true for Israel in the Bible, so it has ever been the truth before them and since. “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt. 3:9,10).

If the people would not give up their disposition to be thorns and thistles, they must be burned. If they haven’t lost the mind sympathetic to Satan and his government, constantly working to undo the work that God is doing in the Earth, then in the end they must go the way of all the wicked.

“Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:18-21). By their unchristlike characters He will judge them. “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (vs. 23).

This decision to execute judgment on the enemies of the gospel God doesn’t decide on arbitrarily. He gives much time and love and discipline in the effort to win the hearts and rehabilitate the lives of rebellious, thorny people. Some He does win over from their sharp abrasive nature toward Him and others. But He has had to lose many at the end of His investigative judgments of the past.

What causes the loss of His children who are called by His name? The parable of the sower delineates two reasons: “the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches.” (Matt. 13:22). Their faith begins in a heart that is compared to ground that has been plowed and properly prepared for the seed of God’s word. They were given every advantage for spirituality and the life of victory over sin. Everything is done by the farmer for them to facilitate the healthy maturing process of faith.

But they get sidetracked. They give in to the insinuating temptations of Satan to marry Christ and godliness with the world and its self-indulgent, self-exalting ways. They try to serve God and mammon, and mammon overcomes their desire to serve God. Their once pure love and wonder at the beautiful things God put in the world are replaced by chasing after luxury and lust for wealth.

Can we boil it down further to distill the cause for the departure from Christ? What caused the sidetrack into marrying Christ’s will with the world? Distraction. An attraction, a look. One look away without the fear of separation from God. This looking away brought down King Saul, David, Solomon, and almost everyone since Adam. I believe this look away from Christ and enjoying the moments without Him brought Eve to listen to the serpent, and then Adam listening to Eve.

They lost their fear of God, and enjoying the loss of that fear kept them from rushing back to Him. They ceased to strive to keep that fear. They chose to not struggle for it like Jesus did every day He was here on enemy territory, especially during His crucifixion when His Father was being torn from Him. To the very last moment of consciousness He strove to hang on to His Father, fighting for faith which was leaving and creating a cold emptiness. His dying effort for His Father’s presence came through the words of His last expression before expiring, “Into Thine hand I commit My spirit: Thou hast redeemed Me, O Lord God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5; Lk. 23:46).

We must look to Christ by faith, and keep looking. We must be locked in that look. One day in a campsite our tiny kitten caught an earful of a very large raven cawing high above in one of the camp’s cedars. Our kitten crouched back on its haunches, front legs straight, mouth open shaping the muted utterance of pure terror, his eyes wide open and looking upward, and probably with pupils dilated. He was paralyzed by fear, as the raven’s voice boomed down from above. My kitten was locked on the raven.

If we can have that disposition before God who “is a consuming fire,” then He will look upon us in pity and mercy. (Heb. 12:29). With Christ holding our hand and comforting us, then victory over sin is assured. He is able to keep us from falling, but it takes our continuous accepting of His constant grace in order to stand before His infinite “burnings.” (Is. 33:14.) “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13). “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Is. 30:18).

“They that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful” to the end. (Rev. 17:14). Those who will choose to be brought all the way into God’s infinite righteousness and purity will stand on the “sea of glass mingled with fire.” (Rev. 15:2). And they will be without fault before the throne of God, and will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, “Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.” (vs. 3).

Through many failures they finally learned to look at Jesus and be locked in that look, and they will walk with Him in white for they are eternally locked in looking at Jesus. “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him:
And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads.” (Rev. 22:3,4).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five selfish virgins

“And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.” (Matt. 25:8,9).

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 25:1-13).

This has always sounded selfish to me. The foolish virgins are crying out in desperate need. But their cries receive no sympathetic ear. Not one good, wise virgin gives up even a drop of her precious oil. These were friends and acquaintances, yet when it came down to the possibility of missing the bridal party, they reverted to the serious business of every girl/fellow for her or himself.

Everyone was on his own. Yes, they had fellowship while they waited for the groom and bride; yes, they had community. But, outranking the priority of mutual joy was the joy of seeing the newly wedded couple and partaking of this special occasion to which they had received a loving invitation.

Yet, you do hear regret in the words of the wise. “Lest there be not enough for us and you.” (vs. 9). There wasn’t a total detachment to their comrades’ need. Nevertheless, there still could be no missing the bride and groom or sharing of oil.

So the needy virgins rushed to find someone to sell them oil, after all the businesses had long closed for the night. Yet, despite their nervous haste, the foolish virgins missed the great event to which they had looked forward for months. Sadly, it just wasn’t safe for the groom to open the door to them at that late hour when they arrived to beg admittance.

Even today, I’ve heard of the ploy of a broken down car and a helpless looking woman standing next to it, with several thugs hiding out in the woods nearby. An unwary do-gooder stops to help the woman’s fictitious plight and her accomplices run out and hurt the good Samaritan and steal his car.

Thieves and murderers roved by night, and the streets were no safer in Christ’s day than they were in Lot’s. (Gen. 19:1-4). So it came as no surprise to Jesus' listeners that the bridegroom would not open the door, since their doors were without windows and voice recognition alone is no guarantee of identity and safety.

This parable which Christ gave on the heels of His discourse concerning His second coming also speaks to that great day. It is a parable of warning, ending with, “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” (Mk. 13:37). The church is educated and warned against the lack of preparedness for the day of Christ.

Jesus, who built into this parable the self-interested wise virgins, loved to share. Christ did not use this story to teach selfishness. His life and example to us was one of continuous, unending compassion on the worthy poor, and even on the unworthy. The Lord healed nine unworthy lepers though they had no interest in God or desire for a friendship with His Son. He healed them because they were friends of one leper who did have faith in Him. The faithless lepers’ friendship with His worthy leprous disciple counted for something to Jesus. It made the unfaithful lepers worthy of His help, even if they weren’t friendly with Him. Beautiful Redeemer!

The Savior’s love went beyond the pale of human goodness and worthiness, yet never beyond His Father’s expectation of perfection. Jesus wanted to teach them and us pity and sympathy, as His Father is sympathic and pitiful to those that fear Him. His door of mercy stands wide open. Their arms still are nailed back as open as they can be. The Father in Christ still welcomes the whole world to come to Them. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17). And until the door of human probation closes, until the very last soul is saved who longs to be saved, the gleams of mercy will continue to shine out, attracting and drawing His called and chosen and faithful.

But the time will come when that door of mercy will shut which has remained a beacon of health and life to a world becoming increasingly entranced with selfishness and forgetfulness of God. His long-standing appeal, through law and grace, becomes more and more the jest of multitudes outside of religion and inside of it. Many apathetic church-goers make no effort to keep the lamp of their faith aglow in His love. Carelessness grows out of control toward the offer of Christ to free the world of its idolatry and sin; insult toward God is piled up to heaven by a world daring Him to punish their insolence. Rev. 18:5.

All who love the gospel of reconciliation and have received a love of the truth, who have received a love of self-denial and have overcome their sins and reap the sure benefits of this in health of body, mind, and soul, will be the objects of hatred and envy. They will be targets of condemnation, false accusation, and persecution. Yet, according to Christ’s parable, not everyone taking part in the great gospel movements in the future will fully receive the gift of God. Some will stop seeing Christ’s grace which enables weak sinners to overcome the allurement of sin. They will grow tired and stop striving for the mastery over self and the world.

Too late, after hearing and apparently heeding the invitation to know Jesus and His power over sin, all who accepted His power to become sons of God but did not daily grow in His grace, but walked without it, will one day see a sudden rise of persecution and the reality of the Bridegroom coming, and they will have a flash of conviction to quickly fix up their character and get ready for the great wedding of Christ to His people. They will rush to those who have received the victory over sin in a knowledge and trust in Jesus, but digging through scripture in hope for evidences of Christ’s character and love takes time; therefore, trust doesn’t come overnight. Those who steadfastly strove to get with Jesus in order to stay with Him can share with these poor souls what they’ve learned, but they can’t give their own personal conviction to their brother or sister. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Ps. 49:7). It’s the gift of God in this arena; its every man for himself with God, and always has been.

For these desperate souls, time has run out and the laws of the mind and spirituality cannot be abrogated. They run in horror to the Bible to obtain the witness of the Holy Spirit, but all they hear is silence. The Scripture promises make no sense to them; they receive nothing from them. The muted Spirit of Christ which they silenced is telling them, “I know you not.”

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 4:11,12).

Then the fears of horrific persecution, fears which they never overcame and to which they succumb, sweep them away from hope in God, and they are forever driven to darkness. “The people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58). They drown in an abyss of nervous despair while they watch the wise servants of God on the ark of faith, riding safely above the storms of persecution raging against them all around.

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matt. 24:42).

No law against love

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love...: against such there is no law.” (Gal 5: 22,23).

I believe that if Satan did not continue to lay claim to Earth as his possession after causing Adam and Eve to fall, and work tirelessly to prove his ownership of humanity, then the remaining image of God in the fallen human nature would have returned in full splendor. In that case, God would have to work endlessly to convict and then redeem us from our guilt and shame; but He would have accomplished our redemption long before the end of the Old Testament. Christ could have come to lay down His life and pay the cost for our sin, and humanity would then be struck with a conviction that would have brought an end to the Great Controversy long ere this.

The Holy Spirit works tirelessly with the natural law that is barely audible to us and with the Law of God which perfectly agrees with natural law, but which is largely ignored by humanity. Reconciled to God through Christ, the Law of God can put in and bring out of us all the fruits of love. “If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (Gal. 3:21).

Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love. His enduring love is seen in the beauty and complexity of the natural world, and in the annals of sacred history of His mercy and justice so lovingly dispensed upon Israel. The Bible story describes a Father, not ruthlessly, but jealously, correcting stubborn, rebellious hearts and minds. Yet even in His harshest measures of discipline and warning, He was ever ready to forgive the past and receive His people again.

All their punishment was necessary because of their wickedness. Their burning babies, murdering, stealing, lying, adultery, carelessness toward the poor and fatherless, all needed to be corrected. And if their God did not fix them through the sometime destruction of the vilest persons, they would have destroyed themselves and none of them be left. So His justice was merciful and love.

“Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee, which frameth mischief by a law?” (Ps. 94:20). Soon, Satan will reveal his power to deceive. For ages he has already shown his ability to control and alter men’s consciences toward natural law, and even toward God’s Law of love. But the coming storm will overthrow every last evident manifestation of law and order and love.

God’s Law of love will be repudiated by the whole world, and that repudiation will be managed and orchestrated by the United States and Rome. It will be established here and then be forced upon all the nations. No nation will escape the plague that will stomp out the most basic yearnings of the heart, a pandemic that is coming to scourge this planet. The hosts of darkness will fully banish love.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” (2Tim. 3:1-4).

There will be a law against love. God’s people will have love written on their forehead; while the rest of the world will have meanness and anger on theirs. True, genuine love, will be prohibited and punished. All who manifest it will be fiercely dealt with. It will be illegal to be disinterestedly benevolent. All outward giving will require obligations that kill and steal and destroy human love, by order of the state and church, through the private sector and the paramilitary.

When the circumstances of personality conflicts need mercy, Satan will inspire the plaintiff to purposely crush with pure justice; when justice should be used to awaken the conviction of right and wrong, mercy will be poured upon the infidel, enabling him in sin and giving him unlimited freedom to continue it. The balancing affects of grace and truth will be tipped upside-down and twisted, and the souls of multitudes will be contorted and without consolation. They will have no rest and their torment will never have resolution.

Religion will be enforced by civil law. But even Christianity will be so corrupted by the past century and a half that all it offers for the resolving of guilt and shame is emotion and feelings. Repentance must never exist in Satan’s kingdom. So the Christian masses that comprise every nation of the world, and are ignorant of the Bible, will enter churches and try to relieve their consciences amidst a celebration of victory in Christless, loveless grace, and then return to life fully bent on promiscuity, self-indulgence, and destruction of others, “having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children;” “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”(2Pet. 2:14;2Tim. 3:5).

The devil’s purpose of mercy and justice is ingeniously calculated to destroy all, high and low. Even those with the strongest physical, mental, and spiritual endowments cannot stand before Satan’s sophisticated psychological prowess. “His power shall be mighty, …: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, 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.” (Dan. 8:24,25).

It all looks holy on the surface, yet it takes down the mightiest. The moral, religious planet despised the Lord’s true formula for grace and truth based on loving reproof and edification. So in 1849 He opened the bottomless pit and permited Satan to be loosed to give them an effective counterfeit. In the place of God’s mercy and justice they’ve gotted Satan’s twist on mercy and justice designed to bring them to total ruin. “For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess. 2:11,12).

“And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.” (Ps. 94:23).

Since 1849 Earth has been given over to Satan, as the 5th trumpet signified would happen. Its five prophetic month period ended in 1999, during which time the human race saw unprecedented change from archaic, mundane methods of existence to rapid, easy lifestyles. Technology and invention have exponentially grown to provide millions of benefits for the western world which have translated into millions of opportunity for idolatry for the infidel children of the Reformation and the world under their dominion.

Soon, very soon, their great test will be complete; the Investigative Judgment in heaven will be finished, “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10). Love will be driven from the Earth. A law of hate will replace the law of love, a law of chaos replacing the law of tranquility.

“For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” (Is. 10:23).

But the good news follows the bad news.

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O My people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.” (Is. 10:24).

But…

“Yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and Mine anger in their destruction.” (vs. 25).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How nice it will be

How nice it is to not hear a hammer pecking in the distance on Sunday morning. How nice it is to not be disturbed by the roar of a tractor trailer or the blat of a Harley Davidson flying down the road as it begins a carefree day under the partly cloudy sky. How nice to have silence Sunday morning, quiet across America, peace on earth.

Everyone is going to church; no one is going to work. Across the land, the United States finally has arrived where the colonies failed—100% church attendance! What a wonderful day it is! Whole families going to church together, sitting together on one pew, listening to the priest or preacher give his homily and read a few verses from the NIV or Vulgate.

What a wonderful day. Church coffers are full because people are flowing into her doors throughout the land and doing what the state requires—give liberally—or the Internal Revenue Service will get involved. And pastors know the income of their parishioners because the IRS informs the licensed church treasurers. Finally pastors and priests and church conferences won’t want for funds. Pastors will live well off; community services will afford nice programs for the drug users, prostitutes, and disabled obese. What a wonderful day this is.

How nice it is to spend Sunday morning, not in Bible study, but worshipping God and Pope and country. Worship, baptism of the Holy Ghost, freely speaking in tongues and prophesying. How nice that no thought will ever weigh anyone down again that there is a world outside the church doors that is heckling us as worthless or crazy church fanatics. Or, at the least, it will be nice to not be ignored by the majority as they all go about their pleasure seeking on Sunday, oblivious of God.

How nice it is to have Sunday as a family day, a picture-perfect scene of families at church together, having a picnic lunch together at the park or beach, fathers playing with their kids, pushing them in the swing set or the merry-go-round. Just like the 50’s. Then they all go home before dark and watch some movies or sitcoms and go to bed. Nice, peaceful, perfect.

It took an act of Congress and decree from the White House and some deliberation by the Supreme Court, but utopia has settled on the land, and it was worth the fight to obtain it. What fight? How were all of the secular, hedonistic, atheistic urchins convinced to make Sunday a church and family day?

At first, the Muslims became a threat to our country. Islam was out-populating Christianity around the world and now at home in the U.S. Then, after some sword jangling, they tried to blow up our world trade center in 1993 and finally succeeded in 2001 by careening two hijacked planes right into the two giant buildings, knocking them both down in under 2 hours of burning; a third building fell also without being hit, but that must have been because, well, somehow. But we know the Muslims did all that damage.

And evidently there were Muslim terrorist cells riddling our fair land, like we saw at Waco and the OK City Murrah building. But our well-informed government was able to immediately locate the terrorists and publicly try and execute them. It was bloody mess to hunt down men and women and children, old and young who turned out to be terrorists. They looked just like normal Americans, but they were terrorists. Some of them made their confessions at Guantanamo bay; so we know they were all terrorists, as our president informed us. How scary that so many terrorists were living among us—our next door neighbors! How sinister of them to be so helpful and joyful around us! Now we know it was all an act to try to enlist us into their terrorism plots! How could we almost be deluded! I would never have suspected some of those people ever to want to be a terrorist. But that’s what happens when terrorism spreads around in a country and infects the very citizens themselves. Then no one knows who the terrorist is because he looks and talks just like the rest of the loyal citizens.

Then there were the cultists. Many, very many people were in cults. Ah! Cults! Scary, dark, satanic cults! They all should have been burned at the stake! Cultists! Those Seventh-day Adventists never could see their error in resurrecting the Old Testament Sabbath from the grave where our Lord consigned it after His resurrection. But thankfully many SDA’s saw the light and came over to worship on Sunday—the LORD’s Day—and abandoned their old stubborn error. They were persuaded and rescued from the fate of the obstreperous Adventists who persisted in the illegal ancient Sabbath. The good SDA’s kept their jobs and houses and retirement accounts and their freedom and their lives! The others were true cultists and deserved their execution or lifetime imprisonment. They should have all been tortured to death. Maybe they were; hopefully they were.

But all that trouble is past now. No more terrorists and cultists. Peace reigns. Everybody is happy. Thank God. Thank you, Jesus. We are so blessed! God bless America, Christian America! Long live the Pope, Holy Father! God bless the holy Inquisition and further its cause in keeping America clean of the irreligious. Hail our president for his strong stance against an unchurched America, whipping the rebels into shape, and calming down all the unrest that came from the previous era of hedonism! Hail Pope and President! What a team! We are free from the confusion and drudgery of Protestantism. Let Evangelicalism reign! Let Ecumenism continue to restore the peace we lost because of our old blasphemous sectarianism handed down to us from Protestantism. We are all one Christian church now, world round. God bless Ecumenism. God bless the baptism of the Holy Ghost. God bless praise music. God bless prayer in schools. God bless celebration churches. Praise Jesus. Praise God. Thank you, Holy Ghost.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The faith and patience of Jesus

“There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” (Jn 21:2,3).

Three years with Jesus had passed. Three glorious years. Every hope in God had been filled and rejoiced in by these seven and their brethren. Now it seemed that all over. The revival had defused, their hopes dashed. It wasn’t just the dashed hope of earthly glory, that the Messiah would “restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6), but, for these men who had been the first to respond to the riveting preaching and pastoral care of John the Baptist, faith and love had sprung up for a God who had begun again to reconnect Himself with His disobedient people; and that fledgling faith and love had grown by leaps and bounds while under the care of Jesus.

Not by His miraculous life and work did they believe in Jesus as “the Anointed One,” but by His unbending loyalty to truth which they saw inherent in His character, His constant mercy for their slow hearts and for His servant Abraham’s descendents, this nation which seemed so indecisive about His Messiahship; and even His mercy toward the religious leadership which fought to destroy His godly influence over His nation, and even take His life.

He had faithfully pointed them to the God of their fathers, a God they had faintly believed in, painting for them a beautiful and colorful picture through words and actions, convincing them to trust in God who wanted a covenant with their heart; even constantly calling God His Father. Through many infallible proofs He had drawn them to believe in His love for them, and His Fathers’ love. They knew that those whose sins He had forgiven, God had forgiven; but whose sins He could not forgive, after much forebearance and weeping in their behalf and delaying the awful judgment, that God would not forgive, either.

Many times had they heard the core of His message, “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.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26).
“He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.” (Matt. 10:37-40).

Astonishing events had been their experience with Jesus. Daily they had witnessed His personal life of impeccable godliness. They saw His Godhood; they saw His humanity. They saw His unending love. They had heard His powerful yearning to His Father in prayer; they had often overheard the cries of His frustrated and broken heart. Nothing could unconvince them that Jesus was the Son of God.

From this conviction sprung Peter’s declaration, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16). When he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life,” his fellow disciples had to agree with their inspired spokesman. (Jn. 6:68,69).

Yet, now all that was history, a past they all wanted to bury. They had all denied Him; they had all fled to save themselves. All had proven their disloyalty to the Messiah and were not worthy of the least of His mercies.

So, Peter’s natural conclusion was to abandon the life with Christ; the Lord had probably given up on them, anyway. “I’m going fishing!” he announced, and the six replied, “We’re going with you.” Back to the old life, the mundane, regular life without faith and love, and alone; “having no hope, and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12). “Let’s make an income; let’s just live this life and forget the last 3 ½ years.”

Why did Jesus not stay with them at this time, daily reteaching them His law during the whole, short 40 days before His final ascension? For the same reason He “left [King Hezekiah], to try him, that He might know all that was in his heart.” (2Chron. 32:31). It was the same excellent working that kept Moses on Sinai for 40 days—to allow Israel to backslide into Egyptian hedonism. Only thus could they see just how weak they really were to obey God, though three times they swore, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” (Ex. 24:7). Without being caught in the act, weak and faulty humans will never be persuaded of their self-sufficiency and realize their true lack of reliance on Jesus.

The disciples needed to see their disloyalty and their unfaithfulness to the relationship covenant they had vowed to Christ before God. And they also needed to see Christ’s acceptance of them juxtaposed against their natural, short-lived fortitude. Now Jesus could renew His bond with them, and they could relearn His grace and regain their original genuine joy in Him.

They had suffered through the crisis of Christ’s rejection and crucifixion. They had been crucified with Him. Tried and baptized in fire with Him, now their faith in Him was reclaimed, and they grew in grace and faith and glory during the next weeks before His departure to the holy place of His Father’s heavenly sanctuary. Heb. 8:1,2.

He had again proven His faith and love in them, and reunited their loyalty and affection with His. They saw more clearly than ever that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. Rom. 5:20. He had worked all things after the counsel of His own will; He had developed His willful and undisciplined disciples into fatherly, Christlike apostles.

Wise Master Teacher. “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. 9:6 ).