“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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The long arm of grace

“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8).

We have heard of the long arm of the law. But, the arm of grace is even longer.

The Son of God, though being divine and equal with God, had something to learn. He must learn to be more like His Father, whom He called “God,” “My God,” “Father,” “the Father,” My Father,” “Lord of heaven and earth,” who “is greater than I.” (Matt. 19:17;27:46; Jn. 17:1;Matt.11:25,26,27;14:28). He must know what it means to suffer alone, just like His Father has. He also must feel the depths of hell, if He is to execute judgment on the lost. He must feel the pain they will suffer before He gives it to anyone. And He must take the place of all who will hope in His propitiation and substitution before God’s wrath.

I say this in all respect and in the fear of God, that the high and exalted Son had something to learn from His higher and more exalted Father. He took on fallen humanity as His charge, to wrest it from the universe’s greatest enemy, and to do hand to hand, mind to mind combat with His greatest enemy, the dragon.

This He successfully accomplished at creation, in Eden, in the antedeluvian patriarchs, in the worldwide flood, in Abraham, and Israel, in His Messiahship, on Golgotha, in His baptism of hellfire, in His propitiation, in His ascension as High Priest now and in His final work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary and getting us ready for His return.

He is the Word of God, God’s thoughts made audible. God, “who only hath immortality,” cannot be seen or heard by creation without destroying the perfect balance of peace and power arranged between them. (1Tim. 6:16). The Son has ever held the position as mediator between the Father and His works.

Through Christ’s relationship with His Father, when God pressed His Son’s soul with infinite condemnation, out of Christ came infinite grace. He trod the winepress of God alone, and of the people there was none with Him. The only way for the mother eagle to force the chicks to learn the art of flying, is to cast them out of the nest. As a baby eagle falls, tumbling earthward, it naturally makes use of its wings.

Likewise, the only way God could create infinite grace, a grace able to exceed abundantly when sin abounds in the worst sinner, was for the Father to lay infinite condemnation, infinite rejection, infinite hatred of sin, and His infinite sorrow and suffering because of sin, laying it all upon Christ who had personally formed man from the dust. The Father squeezed grace out of His Son through the tremendous pressure of disfavor and separation from God, as the Son of God responded with submission and undiminished love for a world of sinners He was substituting for.

None have fallen so low or have departed too far away from their God, but that Christ's death on the cross can fully cover them. The long arm of grace which God produced in His Son, can save from more than we can ask or think. “All that come unto Me,” Jesus says today, “I will in no wise cast out.”

Again He says to us, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him.” (Matt. 12:31,32).

“To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” (Heb. 3:15)

“And 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.”

“I’m good!”

“Damn, I’m good!” Please excuse the profanity, but I’ve heard this said in jest many times. It comes from the freedom-loving, agnostic, modern Galileans, the bold and jocular cynics. It can come from rejoicing in a job done and done well. Its a pat on self’s back. Maybe it is not meant to be evil, but it is a spiritual Freudian slip of self-exaltation.

The expression really speaks of humanity’s #1 problem. “I’m good!” is what everyone thinks of himself. I’ve heard it said sometimes, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But the problem with that assumption is that none of us are good.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10).

Jesus said, “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matt. 19:17).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).

“I’m good!” never came out of Jesus’ mouth. Should it ever escape our lips? And “Damn” actually goes together correctly with “I’m good!” Though an expletive said in fun, damnation is the reality of judgment day, and the evil of that day will actually come to billions of folks who never looked to God’s law for conviction, conversion, counsel, and cleansing. So they consigned themselves to fail in judgment, all the while they judged themselves by their own standard. For them it was a comfortable frame of mind to never let the conviction of God’s Law disturb accomplishment and proud self-esteem.

They thought themselves good enough, and never prepared to stand before Christ’s measureless, exalted character. So if they die never having accepted His humbling, eventually their “I’m good” damns them. “Damn, I’m good!” though continued in jest, unwittingly is their undoing and spells their sentence of guilt in their investigative judgment.

But even if not articulated, this mindset lives in every human heart. It has brought on all the carelessness toward sin and repentance that has plagued the human race since its fall from Eden. It has tainted all the revivals and reformations which the Spirit of God has worked out for the blessing of humanity, sending those revivals and reformations to their demise.

From the beginning “I’m good enough” has prevented conviction to do its perfect work.

The offence of "nice"

“The offence of the cross.” (Gal. 5:11).

I hope I’m not misunderstood in this post, but the issue I’m writing about is a part of the everlasting gospel message that has been the cause of much persecution. Many have lost their lives for saying this at a time when constitutional government was set aside and religious government reigned.

I’ve had conversations with many secular atheists who say they do not need God or the Bible because they are nice, moral people. It’s true they are somewhat nice, but they hate God and anyone who talks about Him. That is a strange kind of niceness.

In other words, they are nice only under certain circumstances. They are nice only when things are going their way; they are nice in good times only. They are nice unless you cross them.

They may not see themselves in the Bible, nevertheless they are spoken of there. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20).

I’m not attacking you, if you feel this way toward God. I don’t fully blame you for your stance toward religion and religionists. I feel a similar antipathy toward religion—at least the religion that the world has seen.

Today’s Christianity is a belligerent playmate with hard-ball politics. Catholicism and Protestantism have joined up in a confederacy against secularism/atheism/ paganism. This reconciled alliance of Christianity’s former enemies is building steam—political, legislative, judicial, and executive steam to rescind the civil liberties in the Bill of Rights and to restore powerful, ax-wielding megalomaniacal religion.

Nevertheless, whether it’s the belligerent right or the belligerent left, the people’s nice morality is the enemy of the righteousness of Christ. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Phil. 3:18,19). “Nice” is not only the enemy of righteousness, but it is Satan’s humanistic, spiritualistic substitute for the gift of God.

There is no nice human who lives apart from God, whom God has not justified and sanctified.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
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.” (Rom. 3:10-18).

Ethical people who don’t know God can remain ethical only for so long. Those who boast of their morality eventually slip and then their real unconverted, fallen state comes out and advertises the Bible truth of the decrepit state of natural human morality. It’s when hard times come that the truly honest man, woman, and child of integrity shines brightly, and the truly dishonest person screams its wretchedness in wrath and gnashing of teeth.

“The man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:
So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.
The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.” (Deut. 28:54-57).

“Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs.
They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.
Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.” (Hab. 1:6-11).

The days are coming and haste greatly when all of the good life will disappear that God has so graciously poured upon Protestantism and its civil Constitution of freedom. The U.S. Constitution is already in the process of leaving, and very soon multitudes of descendents of the Reformation, like the northern tribes of Israel, will find themselves facing the loss of all their worldly hopes and dreams.

Then how will their moral humanism stand up? What kind of “nice” people will they be like then? Rage, devil-controlled wrath. “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.” (Is. 13:8).

“Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord.
A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans…
Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.…
And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:53,54,58,64).

The Protestants who professed the Bible and Bible only didn’t study their Bible, if they had they would not have ended up as just a confederacy of nice people, and they would not find God plaguing them with their sworn enemy, Satan and his Papacy.
“To Me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
… And He shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.” (Deut. 32:35,37,38).

“Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto Me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise, and save us.
But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, O Judah.” (Jer. 2:27,28). All scripture is applicable for current instruction. Their gods may be scientific theories or sophisticated philosophies, but they are gods nonetheless.

“Nice” that hates righteousness is the nemesis of love; nice is devoid of self-sacrificing love. Only agape love that loves its enemies and prays for those who persecute and spitefully use it, is true goodness.

Nice is so empty of sweetness and warmth that “nice” wrenches the Lord’s heart. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.” (Rev. 3:16). Nice is arrogant and full of self. It is this niceness that makes God angry.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” (Rom. 1:18). Without the Spirit of God “nice” is under the maintenance of Satan. It may have a smiling face on it, but it ends in captivity to sin. Redemption never can enter where “nice” holds sway; the humbling suffering of our Creator can never break the pride and soften the heart. While the idol of “nice” remains in place God can never touch the heart and claim another soul for eternity with Him.

It was “righteous” Pharisees and “nice” Sadducees who constantly tried to trip Him and kill Him. It was nice religious people and nice pagan people who put to death the Son of God.

It was nice people who were too good for God. They lifted themselves against their Creator just like Satan had done. Of these folks Jesus said, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (Jn. 8:44).

“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….
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. 8:11,25). “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” (Dan. 11:36,37).

It’s the not so nice people that Jesus is calling. They know their true moral condition. They know that they are not good or nice. In Christ’s parable, such an honest person prayed, who, “standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. “I tell you,” said Jesus, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Lk. 18:13,14).

“Jesus…said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt. 9:12,13).

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Lk. 15:7).

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Lk. 19:10).

“I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Is. 13:12).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The letter and the spirit

“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.” (Rom. 7:6).

Satan loves to create controversy out of nothing. He takes what God puts together and splits it up, moving Christians to stand behind one side of the issue or the other. After both divided groups of Christians have fought long and hard and feel good about their “service” in defending God and His cause, they are self-exalted, self-pitiful, angry and unforgiving, and dead to the righteousness that God had built into His original principles, which Satan has split apart. And it all looks so moral and righteous to the religious pawns in Satan’s hands; thus, Satan’s genius triumphs again.

This scenario happens in individual commandments of God’s law, and to the law of God as a whole. Should we keep the letter of the law? Or the spirit of the law? Paul’s statement above sounds like there exists a dichotomy in the law, such that we cannot keep the letter or spirit of it without breaking the other part. This is a real conundrum. The Old Testament sounds so heavy on obedience to God’s law to the letter.

Yet, Jesus comes along and places the things of the heart over the letter of the law. “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?…
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.…
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” (Matt. 15:3,11,18-20).

Again it appears that He crosses the law. “At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the corn; and His disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.
But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto Him, Behold, Thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day.
But He said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?” (Matt. 12:1-5).

Yet Paul says Jesus lived under the law. “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” (Gal. 4:4).

What Jesus was teaching them was that He was the essence of all that the law had to command. He was the great authority on the law. He was greater than the whole Mosaic and Davidic laws. He was greater than Solomon, the temple, and even the Sabbath commandment. “But I say unto you, That in this place is One greater than the temple.
But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.
For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.” (Matt. 12:6-8).

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” (Matt. 12:42).

The spirit behind the law and the prophets had one and the same source—Christ. His Spirit was in all the law and the prophets of old. He was their inspiration.

“Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in His Spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 7:12).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:1,14). “For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him.” (Jn. 3:34).

From the Son of God, the Lord God, originated the Spirit of the Law.
“Seek ye out of the book of the Lord , and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and His Spirit it hath gathered them.” (Is. 34:16).
“Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” (Is. 42:1).
“Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent me.” (Is. 48:16).
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” (Is. 61:1).
“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him.” (Matt. 3:16).
“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Lk. 11:13).
“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” (Lk. 23:46).
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:24).
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (Jn. 7:38,39).

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” (Jn. 15:26).

“He shall glorify Me: for Me shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you” (Jn. 16:14).
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” (Is. 30:21).

The Spirit of truth has been on earth from the beginning. “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.” (Jn. 16:13).
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Gen. 1:1,2).

The Spirit has resided in the law from the beginning. The Lord wrote the letters with His finger, but His Spirit residing in the precepts has written the principle of those letters in the hearts and minds of His people throughout time.
“Christ [crucified] the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1Cor. 1:24).

Christ, as the power of God and the wisdom of God, metaphorically treats Himself as wisdom, the holy Word of God.
“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Counsel is Mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
By Me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
I love them that love Me; and those that seek Me early shall find Me.…
The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and My delights were with the sons of men.
Now therefore hearken unto Me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep My ways.
Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
Blessed is the man that heareth Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors.
For whoso findeth Me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
But he that sinneth against Me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate Me love death.” (Prov. 8:12-17,22-36).

It was the Holy Spirit from Christ that moved the prophets to speak His words. “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1Pet. 1:10,11).

Notice the association of the letter of the law and the flesh, and the self-motivation due to a lack of new birth and of the Holy Spirit. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
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.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.…
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7:4-7,14).
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Jn. 3:5,6).

So we can see that depending on our flesh, our own strength, means only being able to keep the letter of the law and not the spirit of it. Only the Spirit of God can give us that kind of true obedience—spirituality and the righteousness of faith. Any other kind of obedience is only traditions of men and keeping the dead, empty letter of the law only. It means offering God the husks of obedience, the outer shell that may appear to men to be obedience, but it is not the real thing.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” (Rom. 8:9).

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:1-6).

The spirit of the law or the law of the Spirit is in Christ. He is the person behind the law. Behind the law is a heart of love and a mind of true wisdom that places the righteousness of Christ as the eternal truth and wisdom. Through constant communion with Jesus He will give as a gift a morality that no earthly law or humanistic tradition of society or peer group can ever supersede. But in all this wonderful Spirit-led life of obedience, His law will be kept, to the letter! “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Rom. 3:31). “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom. 13:10).

The concept of Christ’s law of love to God and love to our neighbor came straight out of the Mosaic Law. (Deut 6:5,6;Lev. 19:18). Those ancient commandments were to be firmly placed into Israel’s minds. God expected the children of Israel to keep the law of love to the letter and in the spirit of the law, from their inception as a nation.

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” (Heb. 4:2).

The problem with Israel arose because, after departing from the great revival under Ezra, they lost the Holy Spirit as they lost their first love (Jer. 2:2) and continued to try to obey God without the Spirit. But their obedience resulted in Christ-less, loveless religion—the traditions of men. Christ-less traditions originated with Satan. The same thing will happen today when we lose the first love for Jesus. (Rev. 2:4). So, insisting to continue in Christ-less traditions means never arriving at Christ. Only through His spirit do we arrive at knowing Him and sensing His presence.

“This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3:2,5).

Rather, denying the Holy Spirit as the only true power for obedience means to default to the flesh for obedience and thus to the empty letter of the law only. It also means to follow Satan into his captivity. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom 8:6,7).
“And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” (Rom. 2:27).

And God has given us provision through His Son that we don’t have to stand before His Law in constant condemnation. Christ becomes our mediator to the Law and thus, He becomes our surety by His example and merciful doctrine. “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:18).

“Because the law worketh wrath: for is, there is...transgression.” (Rom. 4:15). The law works more than simply wrath in us, but a plethora of evil that breaks forth from the condemnation of God on our souls. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21).

It is the grace and Spirit of Christ that keep us from falling. “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zech. 12:10).

Failing to continue in Christ’s grace is exactly identical to spiritualism and serving Satan, who knows absolutely no grace. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Heb. 12:15).

“Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;
And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:
The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.” (Deut. 29:18-20).

The history of every human made in God’s image is littered with moral wreckage because the good news of God’s grace was neglected.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;…
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
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;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom. 1:16-32).

Only the spirit and letter of the law will result in blessing. Cain thought to skirt the letter of the law by avoiding the slaying of the innocent lamb. In his spirit, he sought to evade the impact of conviction of his conscience and then humiliation, sorrow, and repentance through holding and beholding the helplessness and innocence of the dying lamb and the hardheartedness and guilt and shame of Cain’s heart.

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.” (Gen. 4:3-5).

We must seek the Spirit of Christ, in the new birth, in order to receive of His Hpirit for obedience. Thus, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us in the Spirit of God’s love, and even to the letter. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4). “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.…
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.…
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (Jas. 2:10-18,20-24,26).

“O how love I Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.…
Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. 119:97,165).

We don’t serve God in the letter alone. Only the flesh does that. But those who have responded to His call and whom He has adopted through the new birth of the Holy Spirit, they establish the law of God because they have His Spirit of grace and love; they are born of the Spirit, and serve the Lord in newness of the Spirit.

“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom. 11:22).

“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.” (Rom. 1:21).

“But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.” (Deut. 12:14-19).

Moral atheism became angry

“The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (Rev. 11:18).

The first Babylon started off in a good mood. The surviving families of the flood arrived at a large plain they had escaped Noah and his perpetual preaching--it seemed he had preaching coming out of his pores. They hated it. So they had to separate; they had to part amicably; they had to agree to disagree and cordially say Good-bye! to their patriarch, who had walked with God and in the light of His truth.

Down they came from his estate in the mountains of Ararat. Slowly they ventured here and then there into the strange new world once so lush and temperate, but now regrowing into thick forests and freezing cold. Descending and descending, into the warmth of the two rivers valley, the finally arrived at a large body of water. They named this place Shinar.

Now they would make it a great name for their atheistic group. Nimrod envisioned a man-made mountain upon which to meet with God and worship Him upon a great altar of their own proud making. It could also double as an emergency shelter in case another world-wide flood struck. Everyone enjoyed the new freedom apart from father Noah and their right to pursue their happiness. They reveled in their new project inspired by nimrod. How happy they were. Everyone was fed; everyone was conformable; everybody was employed; everyone was doing their part for the group. Everyone had no acceptance other than human acceptance, for peace with God was undesired.

It felt great to put God out of their thoughts. No one to correct them; no one to tell them what to do or make them feel guilty for their evils, or ecstatic for their union and cooperation, their civil and ethical treatment of one another. It was Godless and that was just as they desired.

But in that it was Godless, it was also loveless. That which bound them together were pride of accomplishment, in the erection of the monolithic structure rising above Shinar; sensual beauty in its engineering and architecture; curiosity as they investigated nature for improved materials and inventions to perfect the work of building; glory in the human as they worshiped their single language and solidarity without any regard to their Creator who made them in His image.

Lest the new race fling itself head long over the precipice of antediluvian wickedness and there be no lineage for their Redeemer, Michael, the Prince of heaven drew near to build a case against their work and to bring judgment against them and against Nimrod’s boasting blather.

“There fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king..., to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.” (Dan. 4:31). In an instant the empire was demolished as their Achilles heel was confused and now everyone talked blather. Words that meant one thing now had a different definition. Other words were plain gibberish. The glossolalia of their satanic worship became the national language, a habit that stuck and could not be turned off. Not a one trusted another. Every single individual was affected.

Building progress stopped and construction was frustrated. Pride of achievement was under attack, scientific curiosity halted. The Godless union unraveled. The fallen human nature encapsulated in each unconverted soul quickly expressed itself. In the first challenge and inconvenience and frustration, anger flared in every heart. No “God of peace” (1Thess. 5:23) was present to calm their unbridled adrenaline. No Spirit to strive against their selfish flesh to give them the spirituality their generation had lost and didn’t know they should want it with all their heart.

God permitted them to live oblivious of their obligation to His authority and loving-kindness; He allowed their atheism to develop according to their choice until they could see the glaring truth of their apostasy from the God of their father Noah. But now He performed on them His unexpected act. He forced their blinded consciences to comprehend His message to them,
“Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offerings? let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.
See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand.
For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me.” (Deut. 32:37-41).

Enraged at the obvious divine discomfiture, their precious solidarity in which they gave their highest faith and loyalty, broke up in complete and utter conflict toward each other. Absolute cacophony and confusion resulted. All the praised human union and accomplishment collapsed in a billowing, scudding plume of dust and ashes. All its great future dashed to rubble in the twinkle of an eye. All their covered work of behind the scenes iniquity was unwrapped and brought to ruin, their sexual, indulgent, and faithless religion exposed to be the satanic invention and under God’s wrath.

All hopes in a brave new world without any association with the Creator of all their food and resources, “O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed.” (Jer. 20:7). “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Ps. 2:4).

“I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day.
He hath filled me with bitterness, He hath made me drunken with wormwood.” (Lam. 3:14,15).

“But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of His house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” (Dan. 5:23).

“Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me shall spoilers come unto her, saith the Lord.
A sound of a cry cometh from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans:” (Jer. 51:53,54).

“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:2).

“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Rev. 18:4,5).

“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.…
And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58,64).

“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).

“And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (Rev. 11:18).

“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).

“Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.” (Obad. 1:4).

“Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” (Zech. 4:7).

“And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.
And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” (Dan. 7:2-27).

Atheism is judged. Pride and self-esteem are judged. Self-sufficiency and indifference to God and His commandments are judged. Satan and spiritualism are judged.

“Thou sawest till that a Stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:34,35).

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Dan. 2:44,45).

Faith in Jesus and love for our Father win.

“The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” (Dan. 7:18).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Offended in Jesus

“Then said He unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, He departed thence.
And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not His mother called Mary? and His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
And His sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matt. 13:52-58).

They were offended in Him. Why? They heard amazing beauty and truth pouring from His lips. Why not rejoice in the truth? Why not immediately fall behind Him and follow with the crowds that were already with Him?

He didn’t fit their preconceptions of the Messiah. He was a commoner whom they had known to be poverty-stricken all during His childhood and young adulthood. He came from the lowliest of regular families. They couldn’t see anything special about Him. He didn’t show any signs of royalty. Their prejudices wouldn’t allow them to listen to and judge solely by His words. They couldn’t fall in line with Him because they were not like Him, whom the prophecy said, “He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: but with righteousness shall He judge.” (Is. 11:3,4). They wanted their Messiah to look like someone out of the ordinary, Mr. Great. They thought He should ride into Jerusalem on His white stallion, like some Roman General, decked in colorful regalia and shining armor, like proud Esau before his stately army of four hundred.

The people of Israel had come to subsist on fable. Religious fiction was their escape from a life of drudgery. They fed their national pride with false hopes of worldly greatness. No one could convince them that when the Messiah would come that He wouldn’t exalt them to power over the rest of the world and give them the life of luxury. This just was unacceptable to their unconverted minds. A humble Messiah, offering them only spirituality and peace with God, was preposterous.

This very mindset destroyed Judas Iscariot. He tried to force Christ to use Satan’s methods of governing sinners by imitating Rome’s dictatorship and brutality. But Rome fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel, “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).

But when Judas found Jesus to never move an inch in the direction of his selfish conceptions, he used one last effort to leverage Christ to take up arms. He sold Him to the religious leaders. When the Son of God did not resist, but allowed Himself to be taken away to certain crucifixion, Judas finally saw the true conception of his Messiah and he saw that he would forever be branded with seeking to destroy the King of Israel. So he went out and hung himself.

Misconceptions have caused much confusion whenever the real thing appeared. When the mind is set on one idea and pride of opinion has cemented that misconception so that it will not be corrected, then the reality comes as a surprise and fills the hardened heart with consternation. A rapid learning curve must take place; an admission to failure must be made, at first privately in the person with the misconception, and later publicly. The longer and louder the sinner had dogmatized his opinions of truth, the further he must retreat and the wider audience he must confess his error to.

This necessarily takes effort, time, and humiliation, affects that the false teacher usually does not want to experience. The truth costs too much to own. It costs self-sacrifice; it costs the demolition of pride. It’s easier to get angry and sweep the truth off the table as nonsense. This is what those Nazarites did. They got offended and closed their hearts to the new perception of truth. They deceived themselves.

This is why Jesus said, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matt. 13:12). They lost what little truth they espoused. Thus their Messiah came to them as a thief in the night.

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is. 33:14).

The Nazarite Nazarenes had heard the preaching of John the Baptist. But they did not receive it. “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.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:9-12).

The beautiful simplicity of Christ was not what they had been taught or craved or lived for. They desired a complicated, regimented kingdom after Satan’s constructs. They also thrived on a complicated, regimented religion after Satan’s construction. Their hard-heartedness fed both their religion and their concepts of a future kingdom. The characters they permitted themselves to develop decided their fate when the Messiah should appear. So it was, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (Jn. 1:10).

Satan is behind all the misconceptions that this world’s masses feed upon. He devises their appetites and cooperates with them in the formation of their characters, knowing that their characters will view reality in a distorted way. “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. 13:15). And today the devil is ramping up his efforts. As hearts are inviting his temptations and deceptions, God permits the devil to use modern technology to spread the evils that he has developed in Christian America.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
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. 2:8-12).

“That Wicked [one]” himself comes to manipulate the conceptions of man cloaked in misrepresentation, using his human agents to prepare his way of full enslavement of the world. “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” (2Cor. 11:13,14).

The vast evangelical Americans are looking for the “Anti-Christ” as a sinister politician and a Mr. Charisma. They have accepted Satan’s description of some evil person coming down from Russia and ruling his worldwide dictatorship from Jerusalem. Yet this conception is largely fictional and unbiblical. The real Antichrist began his work in the days of the apostles. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1Jn. 2:18).
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1Jn. 4:3).

So the way is already prepared for the great deception that precedes the time of trouble and the return Christ. Paul said, “Then shall that Wicked be revealed.” (vs. 8). This intimates a sudden revelation that surprises the world. But his entrance is not sudden. It happens over a long period of time. Satan has trained his earthly agency in the art of slow, quiet movements. Thus, it is called, “the mystery of iniquity.” “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” (2Thess. 2:7). It was at work in Paul’s day as it slowly transformed the apostolic church into the Catholic religion. Today, it has come back to life, through the orchestrated cooperation with America. Protestantism has apostatized and the adversary of God has infused himself into the allied, united effort of the Vatican and the leaders of the Protestant evangelical denominations.

Using his deceptive arts, prince of the hosts of darkness has given them a false conception of the antichrist, so that they can never see the Vatican as that Antichrist power prophesied clearly by God’s word. And as he deluded the Jews through pride, he is doing the same to the evangelical Protestants. By their divergence from the self-denying simplicity of Christ, they opened themselves to satanic influences. They can no longer warn the world of God’s greatest enemy and his work today. They look for a fictional character coming down from the Ural Mountains and, like the Jews in Christ’s day, refuse to listen to truth.

Soon, Satan will devise such a man that fits their conceptions and pleases their dreams. The Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit will make many charismatic people. The same joy that attended the first apostles, and that the devil inspired the Jews to call drunkenness, will again attend the Lord’s disciples in the very last days when Christ through His Holy Spirit draws near to their hearts with His peace and love and righteousness.

“Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the Bridegroom is with them?” (Matt. 9:15). “As long as they have the Bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.” (Mk. 2:19,20).

The people of Nazareth put truth for error and error for truth, darkness for light, and light for darkness. Likewise, the Protestants are choosing their deceptions. Soon they will be completely unable to detect truth from error when the Latter Rain pours down. This is also happening in the Advent movement, as many disregard the Testimony of Jesus for the formation of their character.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Who can understand themselves? Who can trust his own notions apart from the guidance of God through His word? We are not our own. We are simply pawns used by God or by Satan as God permits. We are not the pilot of our body, only the copilot. God must be our pilot or Satan will usurp that office. Unless we wrestle with God and His truth, and remain vigilant, the devil will set up his abode in the citadel of our minds and feed us fables and flattery.

Those who endeavor to obey all the commandments of God will be opposed and derided. They can stand only in God. In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them. None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. Great Controversy, p. 593.

Disciplining the saints

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Rom. 3:10).

God’s children have access to a power that can keep them from falling into self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin. The gift of the Holy Spirit comes from Christ and brings the faith of Jesus, and in that faith a profound peace that provides the atmosphere for receiving His robe of righteousness. But that robe only covers, it does not replace our fallen nature; it covers an inherited and perpetual, natural sinfulness that will always exist, and more often than we like will call to us to reinstate its supremacy over the robe of Christ’s righteousness, until we are changed at Christ’s return—the glorious blessed hope. But until then, self will always present a contention with the Spirit of God.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” “Jesus.” (Rom. 7:18,19,24,25). Christ’s righteousness is able to keep us from falling and help us grow in grace; but, no sooner do we leave Him, than we fall prey to sin. When it comes to righteousness, without Him we can do nothing.

Christ changes the heart. He abides in your heart by faith. You are to maintain this connection with Christ by faith and the continual surrender of your will to Him; and so long as you do this, He will work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. So you may say, “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Steps to Christ, p. 62.

Everyone of us will probably need some disciplining by “tutors and governors” along the narrow path to eternal life. “The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” (Gal. 4:1,2). But who are the “tutors and governors” that give the discipline? God has His representatives to do this; but so does Satan. Then how can we know the difference between God’s and Satan’s people so that we can “refuse the evil, and choose the good”? (Is. 7:15).

Christ’s servants are convicting; and their power is in their heaven-born words. Satan’s servants have no conviction, they flee from convicting truth and love; therefore their power consists of abusive force. Lacking love for the erring they resort to their hatred and anger. Yet, they believe they are doing the work of the Lord. “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. … Because they have not known the Father, nor Me.” (Jn. 16:2,3). Their “God” is really Baal, or Satan. The have the Mark of the beast in their forehead, as the devil’s attributes are all that they can manifest.

Satan has convinced them that God has entrusted them with divine retribution. They have been so long without knowing the grace of Christ that they have no mercy to mingle with their “truth” and “justice.” They have blindly overlooked scriptures that condemn their spirit. “He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13). “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:7). “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God…who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” (Heb. 5:1,2).

“Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.
We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this Fellow, we know not from whence He is.
The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes.
Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.
Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
If this man were not of God, He could do nothing.
They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.” (Jn. 9:28-34).

Although the Pharisees thought so highly of themselves, they were really in a worse condition than the ones they despised. The publicans were less bigoted and self-sufficient, and thus were more open to the influence of truth. Jesus said to the rabbis, “Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” Thus He showed that while they claimed to expound the word of God, they were wholly ignorant of its spirit. Desire of Ages p. 275.

The modern Pharisees take up the work of condemning sin, but they only condemn the sinner. To profess obedience to the letter, but break the spirit, is to be disloyal to God’s kingdom. Thus, they hate sinners but love sin which they pretend to detest. They break the last six commandments in the effort to enforce the first four.

This is how the Man of Sin became so dreadful and persecuting. In his eyes we see stolid indifference toward sinners or saints. We see determination to stamp out heresy without an erg of warmth in the heart, destroying truth that Satan dubbed heresy. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20). Satan has control of those who have lost mercy and has deluded them.

To the apostolic church when it was slipping away, it was written, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 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. 2:4,5). After centuries of backsliding, the church kept up the outward works, but completely lost the first works of friendship building with Jesus and thus became a persecuting power. Later He had to say, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (vs. 19). So, the Lord removed the Church’s candlestick out of his place.

These unloving, merciless agents of Satan often have a fair front. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7:15). They use the law and the high standard from the same spirit that the murderer has in his revenge. Satan controls both murderer and Pharisee in the same cord of vanity. They both bruise and destroy, rather than save. They are quick to call down the fire of God to burn up their enemies; they do not recognize their harbored satanic spirit. They pride themselves when their force, control, and wrath bring success.

“Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in My name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jer. 14:14). These prophets wrought great wickedness. “For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 6:13-15).

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” (Jer. 23:21). “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.…
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption.” (2Pet. 2:2,17-19).

They “have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” (1Tim. 1:6-8). And they are misguided. But they hear not the words of the law, neither are sanctified by the truths, that are barbs of conviction aimed at them. “What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts.” (Is. 3:15). They do like their master who “ruled the nations in anger,” “who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke.” (Is. 14:6).

Despite their confidence in a job well-done, Christ disowns them because they are doing the work of the enemy. “Then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:23). “I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity.” (Lk. 13:27). They made the Law Satan’s tool to strengthen sin, rather than God’s tool to release from sin its captives. “If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me.” (Deut. 32:41).

Being the workers of iniquity, the Pharisees are the sorcerers who deceive and lead people into sin and into Satan’s power. “And 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).

“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.” (Is. 11:1,3,4).

God gives His vengeance for no man to wield. No angel or man can be trusted with divine vengeance. But Satan thirsts for it, so he designs a system of earthly intolerance, centralizing power so that he can have unrestricted dispensation of his satanic wrath. He convinces men that he is God and that his wrath is necessary for the cleansing of sinners. This horrific situation of the Dark Ages is coming together again even now, the Image of the Beast, the reinstatement of the Son of Perdition, in the resurgence of the Inquisitions of the past. All who have never bowed to Christ’s mercy and God’s love will be swept up in a satanic intolerance when the judgments of God begin to fall. False Christs and false prophets will be everywhere, and increasing as the world falls apart and the devils convince humanity that the cause of nature’s upheavals comes from the heretical Sabbath keepers whose peacefulness is a “savour of life unto life,” which they see not as the divine nature, but, in their stark fears and perplexity and delusion, they see a “savour of death unto death.” (2Cor. 2:16).

These Jehu’s of today prefigure the final wicked in the earth. They have not removed the beam in their own eye—the lack of conversion and surrender to the love of Christ. Therefore they have no mercy when working with others to remove the dust speck from their eye. They have refused to wrestle with God in faith and receive His blessing, therefore they don’t know God, and they only know to wrestle with flesh and blood.

The true prophets are persecuted. “Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?” (1Ki. 22:2). But, the false prophets are rewarded. “Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1Ki. 18:19).

“Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.
Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.
Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” (Jer.38:4-6).

The Pharisee gets upset at people who don’t behave according to his standard.
“Verily I say unto you,…But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth His coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 24:47-51).

Even Moses became a Pharisee during a lapse of abiding in Christ.
“And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as He commanded him.
And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” (Num. 20:9-11). “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Heb. 3:19).

In the near future, the established church will be a madhouse, a unified world confederated against God and this Holy Spirit. It will be a habitation of devils, every mind the abode of demons, every fiber of their being captive to the will of the enemy of enemies. Religion, the gift of God, will be wrested from the Father and harnessed by the spirit of darkness and then great religion will end up the hold of every foul spirit, a prison that never frees its wretched victims. Vanity and vexation will be their inescapable enslavement. But the religious confederacy will be only a thinly veiled mask for satanic intolerance which will pervade the hearts of the world that despised the gospel’s offer of peace through surrender to God’s law and grace.

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29).

God will have people authorized to reprove the sin of the world. “Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2Chron. 20:20).

Jesus has His designated spokespersons whom He has sanctified, and made humble and loving. “And he [Zedekiah] did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.
And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” (2Chron. 36:12,15,16). “He sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear.” (2Chron. 24:19).

But His future prophets will have struggled and overcome sin, for the end of the world will have made itself evident to the entire race. There will be no mistaking the disfavor of the Creator. In that time Judgment Day will be a rapidly approaching reality. Every face will gather paleness, every soul will be shaken. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (1Jn. 3:2,3). A special work of purification will have been their work, as they will have surrendered to God’s Law and grace and will see what no one else could see―the rapidly approaching day of judgment. Now, purified with the character of Christ perfectly reproduced in them, the Holy Spirit places upon them the unpleasant duty of warning the foul church of its lost condition. Hearts of tenderest pity will firmly rebuke the ruined world of religionists, a terrible ordeal for these servants of God, but a task forcibly laid on them by Spirit. They must obey the commission. And Jesus helps them with His Spirit of Prophecy.

Likewise, multitudes of false prophets and Pharisees will come out of the woodwork, exerting great effort to force people to be good and to behave, in order to save the false prophets and Pharisees and the whole world.

“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” (Rev. 18:2,3).

Their pity will stem from their memories of the painful process they endured while denying sinful practices which was like cutting off a hand or a foot. Only the cross of Christ and the grace streaming from it was their guiding light through that crucifying experience. They know the blessed reward of following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, and they dare not spare not their voices to show people their sins, to call sin by its right name, and to call His remnant out of the world-wide system of sin. Their humility and pitying tenderness and powerful testimony for the truth will catch the ear of many who have sunken into iniquity but yearn for deliverance. Scattered throughout the wicked world religion, they will heed the call to come out of Babylon. An innumerable multitude will stand with the 144,000, who “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament” and “as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3). “The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” (Is. 60:2). The love of God, His powerful truth and grace, has prevailed.

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Is. 49:24,25).

For many years I’ve spoken without grace to others. But while I could be vehement against others, I would run and hide when others were vehement toward me. But the Lord has been gracious to me and is teaching me to be gentler; and I want to pass that graciousness on to others who are also caught in this son-of-thunder-“burn-them-all-up” syndrome.

The scriptures give us the true mind and heart which God develops in His servants.
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:23-25).

Despite all that the people did to mock and abuse the prophets, the prophets still loved the people, even to the point of death.
“How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” (Lam. 4:1,2).

Isaiah said, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Is. 50:6).

Jeremiah said, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him.
He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.
He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach.” (Lam. 3:27-30).

Ezekiel said, “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt Thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of Thy fury upon Jerusalem?” (Ez. 9:8).

After years of carrying the heavy burden of rebuke and very little good news for them, Jeremiah finally heard a good promise of God’s restoration of His humbled people, “I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” (Jer. 31:25). Jeremiah had a good night sleep with that precious promise of love from the Lord concerning a future for the people Jeremiah loved but who didn’t love him. “Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.” (vs. 26).

“Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art Thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon?
Art Thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over?
Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Is.51:9-11).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Moses and Paul

“Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; … and He shall be a priest upon His throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them [His grace and His law] both.” (Zech. 6:12,13).

The two greatest power players sit in the opposite ends of “the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:23). Moses, the progenitor of justice, and Paul, the progenitor of grace. Moses communicates the Law of God, and Paul enforced the grace of God. Yet, Paul did not exclude the agenda of Moses; and Moses did not preempt the work of Paul. They are not mutually exclusive; they are mutual friends.

Each was not self-appointed and their agendas were not self-generated opinions. God called each to present to the world the message which they faithfully dispatched. The Godhead mandated their course of action and respective doctrines. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” (Is. 2:22). The authority of Moses and Paul came not from man, but “down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:17).

Therefore, both having come from the same source, law and grace are not antithetical or contradictory. They cooperate, working together to demonstrate the perfect character of God. Combined, in infinite justice, and in mercy that endureth forever, we can stretch the powers of the mind yet forever only begin to grasp the eternal God. The poles of justice and mercy are the essence of the Father’s I AM THAT I AM.

“Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face.
Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance.” (Ps. 89:14,15).

“I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints: but let them not turn again to folly.
Surely His salvation is nigh them that fear Him; that glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.
Righteousness shall go before Him; and shall set us in the way of His steps.” (Ps. 85:8-13).

Both Moses and Paul led as champions of the two dipolar principles that teach us of God, “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting.” (1Tim. 6:15,16). God is involved in great mystery. All we can know of Him is abstract and indirect. We see Him through the works of His hands in creation, and from the providences from His hands in life, and we also see Him in His twin poles of justice and mercy, the foundation pillars of His love.

But to aid us in wading through the vagueness of God He gave us His Son. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” (Jn. 1:18). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14). The Son of God as the Word of God lived the truth of God. He showed us the best picture of grace and truth of His Father. But He did more than that. He left us a treasure in the events of earth which He personally devised and in the making of the sacred scriptures which He personally supervised.

He raised up and empowered the two great champions, fiery dynamos of energy, with two disparate doctrines to give to the whole world. Both men exhibited the holy authority of God. Both were kings in their own right.

“The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them.
Yea, He loved the people; all His saints are in Thy hand: and they sat down at Thy feet; every one shall receive of Thy words.
Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.” (Deut. 33:2-5).

The twelve heads of the tribes of Israel surrounded Moses, “the man of God.” They were all kings, as we hear from the promise to Abraham. “I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.” (Gen. 17:5,6). But Moses was king of kings, though he never lived by their tithe or material support. “And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the Lord, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.” (Num. 16:15).

Paul was also king. Of His disciples Jesus declared, “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 19:28). “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” (Rev. 1:5,6). “And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.” (Rev. 2:26,27).

But, similar to Moses, the apostle Paul stood head and shoulders above the other twelve as New Testament church king of kings; and like Moses, Paul never took support of the church. “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” (1Cor. 9:11-15).

He was guardian and enforcer and doctrinarian of the other great attribute of God’s character, which must never flag. He jealously took personal responsibility to ensure the perpetuity of God’s immutable grace. Christ imbued Paul with intense discernment to warn off or destroy to the uttermost any encroachment by Satan against this vital pillar of God, EQUAL to His great, eternal, immutable law of justice.

In the power of Christ he preached and wrote of God’s grace,
“But now the righteousness of God without [outside of] the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: …
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:21-22,24-26). “Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

Thus Christ, the ulimate King of kings, Lord of lords reared up these two witnesses as bookends to His sacred message to earth and to the inhabited universe, “Behold … the goodness and severity of God.” (Rom. 11:22). He, the Rock of ages, who designed creation, designed His book of the ages. As earth revolves around its sun in an ellipse due to two foci close to the center of revolution―as these stand as foci of Earth’s revolution―so Moses and Paul stand as foci for God’s revelation.

Around them both―grace and truth―move the laws of reality; and only through them can we accurately interpret and comprehend our experiences in life.

Root and Fruit

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.” (Jn. 15:4).
“Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He [My Father] taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (Jn. 15:2).
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (Jn. 15:3).

The fruit of righteousness is beautiful. Most people love fruit. It’s sweet and juicy and healthful. The fruit of righteousness is no different. Just think of it—honesty, self-sacrifice, responsibility, burden-bearing, purity, industriousness, contentedness, modesty deference, gentleness, meekness, faith, to respect, to edify, to love, and much more. It’s all very good. We can trust someone with these character traits. We can rest easy around them.

But, for the sinner who has none of these fruits, or for a person negligent in one of these qualities but who hears of his particular short-coming over and over again, in the short term or the long term, if he never hears of God’s provision to help him be obedient and good, then either he will throw away any hope to be good or he will assume he should strive real hard, with all the natural born resources he owns, to produce the fruit.

On the other hand, the root of righteousness is also beautiful. How can we produce fruit without first producing roots? It’s impossible. It takes roots to draw moisture and nutrients from the earth in order for the tree to give that food and water to the branches for fruition. The root is absolutely necessary in order for the tree to get the fruit.

So, as sinners who have no root for righteousness of ourselves, if we spend time with Jesus in His word, He will become our root. By abiding, by enjoying faith in Him, by living and walking with Him daily, hourly, moment by moment, our root gets bigger and stronger; our root system spreads out and develops. Then, naturally, without effort, the fruit appears; first the bud, then the flower, then the fully ripened fruit.

If I teach the root, which is righteousness by faith in Jesus, but I don’t talk about the fruit, which is His righteousness, then I lead people into lawlessness. Without informing them of the fruit of righteousness, Satan will confuse them as to the character of Jesus, because the fruit reveals Him. To ignore the fruit is to never know Jesus’ righteousness. Then, that old wily devil will impersonate Jesus but lead us to follow after a character that has fruit unlike Jesus’ fruit.

On the other hand, if I teach the fruit of righteousness and nothing about the root of righteousness, then I send people into legalism. The fruit without faith in Jesus is sin, just as the law alone without Jesus worketh wrath and is the strength of sin. The root without works of righteousness is dead and sin. Either intentional or ignorant dismissal of righteousness leads to death. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.…
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.” (Rom. 6:17,21).

Therefore, the solution is to strive for both root and fruit, to teach both so to spare the hearer of either extreme or bondage of sin—either legalism or lawlessness.

Jesus taught both the root and the fruit.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.…
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.…
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.…
It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; …
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” (Matt. 5:17-18,20-22,27-28,31-40).

And all the while, He showed His love for the multitude sitting on the mount of blessing as they listened charmed. He gave them the root in person. while He explained the fruit to them.

We know that by beholding we become changed into the same image. If all I behold is the expectation of God in the fruit of righteousness—that is, the Law—then I live in the bondage of condemnation and I will abuse others with the Bible. If I only behold the science of salvation in righteousness by faith, that is, the root of righteousness, but I neglect to behold the standard of righteousness which faith brings us to, or if I neglect to put the science of salvation into practice which obtains the sanctification it is the science for, not initiating the Spirit-given mechanism to let righteousness by faith work for its purpose of producing fruit, then I promulgate the lawless life, and will suffer in a life without the blessings that always accompany goodness and graciousness—I continue in the hold sin has on me.

The bondage of the sin-filled life is no better or worse than the bondage of the law-filled life; its all bondage and condemnation and shame—and control by the devils. Neither life of sin or life of good behavior cleanses me of the guilt and power of sin and connects me with the power and blessedness of the Holy Spirit.

We need both the root and the fruit. We need to study both the root and the fruit—both resting in Christ’s grace and in His righteousness as revealed in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. In fact, when the Bible speaks of one of the two aspects, it assumes both. Jesus put them together when He said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.
And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” (Jn, 5:39,40). We need to keep searching the Law of God, for it is what paints a picture of Jesus and His beauty.

In the case of the Jews, they knew righteousness. The fruit is all they looked at; they never sought out the root or science of how to obtain the righteousness. They strove for the fruit but never attained it. Why? Because they never strove for the root also, which was the grace of Christ and His invitation to abide in His love. “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” (Rom. 9:31,32).

This is the condition of the current religious world; that is, every religion, the world round.

In the case of the Gentiles, they sought only the root, the source of life and failed to reach the true Root, the Unknown God. They never bothered to examine their fruit because they lost hope in ever having good fruit. The result was their being tapped into the wrong root—Satan’s idolatry.

“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Rom. 1:29-32).

This describes the whole secular, non-religious world today, caught up in celebrating life and all that stimulates it.

Could God save this situation in the Roman age? Both camps religious and secular, abstinent and hedonist, were enslaved to Satan and bound in sin, both camps demon-possessed.

Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin. Desire of Ages, p. 35.

How can God save our wretched world today? How did God save the Roman world? “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph. 2:13-18).

He taught both law and grace, and the Father, too, brought them both to the cross where His infinite justice met His infinite mercy, where He poured a deluge of condemnation upon His dear Son and out of Christ’s belly flowed rivers of living water.

Having only half of the picture destroys the picture. Let’s accept both Law and grace, even if the condemn us. And let’s drink of the water of life freely.