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

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A covenant with Me by sacrifice

Under construction.
This post is back in for its third revision. I apologize if I have unnecessarily offended anyone. There is an offense to the cross, and I wanted to communicate it. But, I fear I failed to do so, and very improperly. I need to go back to the drawing board on this subject. It is very deep and complex. Maybe it will take eternity to fully grasp it. Again, forgive me, please, for dishonor done to the Lord or His gospel.

Justification and sanctification

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11).

Our part in justification is simple, but God’s part is a heavy burden. We come to Jesus, so that we are in tune with God’s Law; but, we come in our distress and great helplessness. And God puts all of our guilt and punishment on Jesus and washes away our bonds to sin. He puts us in our right mind, and He reconciles us so that we are no longer angry with or at odds with God, and Jesus is made sin to God for us.

Jesus is made filthy, but we are sanctified, not that we are perfected, but willing to be so. When Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), didn’t He encompass all of 1 Corinthians 6:11? Didn’t the sin we were released from encompass all of verses 9 and 10, “fornicators, …idolaters, …adulterers, …effeminate, …abusers of themselves with mankind, …thieves, …covetous, …drunkards, …revilers, …extortioners”? 1 Corinthians 6:11would also include, “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2Pet. 3:18).

When we come to Christ God calls us perfect; and so we are, because whatever God speaks becomes reality. “He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33:9). We came to Christ and His goodness compared to our badness led us to repentance, which resulted in our hating sin and renouncing it. Therefore, we are new creatures with a new disposition toward sin—we hate it and have lost the taste for it. God spoke our repentance and conversion, and our victory over sin was done.

Therefore we are perfect on day One. And we continue to be perfected every step of the way for the rest of our life. What a blessing! Continuously perfected and instructed, corrected, and humbled. No more self-indulgence! No more selfishness! No more self-justifying, self-serving, no more self-exalting! No more following after pleasing, flattering, carnal traditions of men that downsize and down play our despicable human nature.

As a baby in our new heavenly family we are perfect, as a toddler we are perfect, as adolescents, teens, and young adults we are perfect. So are we perfect in our prime and in the sunset years. And if we want to be like Jesus, we love the walk of being perfected; because as we follow His example, we appreciate Him more and more, His love becomes more and more a reality, and we see Jesus as a better and better friend. He never leaves the sinner; it is always the case that sin separates the sinner from Christ.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. 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. 3:1-3).

This is the plan of redemption. If we give up under the pressure of God and His Law, and surrender to His provision of a savior in His Son, then we are perfectly in union with His Son and also have the manifest possession by the Father—His Holy Ghost—the Father’s hand on us and on our affairs, His presence in our heart and mind.

Faith was the operating choice that put into action the whole work of salvation. The Father’s divinely created forge of trouble and strife to the soul transformed our hope into faith and experience, both together which could lift our trembling will to His throne. We laid hold of the horns of His mercy seat and He rewarded us with the power to become sons of God. We were born of the Spirit of God and by His designated spokesman, Jesus Christ. We were adopted into God’s nation, given a new name that describes our victory over our old kings, Satan and self. We overcame the adversary by the blood of the Lamb and by our cry for God’s help.

Restored to health spiritually, mentally, physically, and accepted in God’s love, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient.” (1Cor. 6:12). While living under the control of God’s power, we have a freedom never before known while under Satan’s control. We have guidance to make our choices that will not war against our new-found salvation from Jesus. We love our new Master who delivered us from the harsh mastery of Satan and we always seek to stay in the light shining from the words of God.

Daily our hearts are enthralled by the love and beauty found in His word. The Bible makes sense like never before as we find that it aligns perfectly with the experience and transformation we’ve known when coming to God. If we stray from either the Law or the gospel, God can send a troubling reminder and set us back on the path to life. Our original hope and faith and love are in Him, and our new repentance brings us again to our resting place next to Jesus. We never lost our hope; our certainty of God’s acceptance never left; our connection with Him never ended. But our heart and will broke, as He reset us in humility. We doubt ourselves more than ever; but, when we are weak, then He is strong. Then we are strong.

Again and gain God brings us back to His original salvation, justification. Repeatedly we must accept His reconciliation, restoration, and discipline. Through His apostle He tells us, “I write not these things to shame you, but as My beloved sons I warn you.” (1Cor. 4:14). “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19). “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Howbeit, not all

“For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.” (Heb. 3:16).

“Not all” “did provoke”. Blessed thought! Boon to health! Not everyone rebelled! Not everyone lived for this world. Some walked by faith. It’s the bad news that so much fills the Bible and so much saddens the hearts of God’s chosen. Yet, now and then, we get to witness obedience and humility. And our spirits are refreshed. How much more relief must the angel’s find, all in whom “is joy” “over one sinner that repenteth.” (Lk. 15:10). And, infinitely more so must the hearts of Father and Son rejoice.

True, much of inspiration dwells upon the times of disobedience and disciplinarian consequences. More often than not we read of Satan’s victories and the horrors upon God’s people that resulted by the devil’s revenge on God through His people. It’s this seeming endless saga that discourages people from reading the Bible or uniting with God’s movement on earth. Sacred history doesn’t look very sacred and holy and successful to the unbeliever. The prospects look pretty dismal and grim.

“Howbeit not all” did that. Not all have “charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:22). Sacred history has its success stories! Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, etc. etc. Ruth and Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David, Jonathan, Samuel, Jehoiada, Jehoshaphat, Daniel and his friends, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, and the prophets who were holy men moved by God, all create a glorious panoply of starry hosts against the reigning darkness. Faithful, a great cloud banding the night sky, creating a long, connected history of God’s successful work of arresting the destruction of the deceiver against Him and His children. The lost river often has become lost from sight, but it always came up again.

It was heaven’s work of ultimate, inevitable success that led to Paul’s conclusion of predestination—not an arbitrarily predestining of destiny as believed by a Protestant Reformer, but a revival of primitive godliness, a movement to restore the true image of Christ in human hearts and lives, “the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Gal. 3:19).

The sacred histories plainly showed the evidence of a faithful remnant ever existing amid the moral declension into which Satan had led the majority. God has always had His faithful representatives. Though few in number, they always planted the standard of heaven on earth like the American soldiers on Iowa Jima, and the young Republic’s thirteen stars and stripes flying boldly amidst the bombs bursting all around to hit it and to knock it out.

An undercurrent of repentance and conversion, humiliation and love, has sanctified the whole unregenerate human race and watered it. “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.” (Isa. 8:18).

At times it might be lost from sight; but, sooner or later the Creator and Redeemer brings it to light again—proof to humanity that that lost river was there all along, simply not visible; and proof to God’s faithful care to mercifully and continuously seed earth with His redemption. Even without a leader, and marred by every man doing “that which was right in his own eyes” (Jdg. 21:25), a “remnant” (Isa. 10:22) would continue. That “very small remnant,” (Isa. 1:9) has preserved Earth in the cosmos, keeping this planet from its complete blotting out of existence by divine retribution.

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34).

“It [the law] was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Gal. 3:19).

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (1Pet. 2:9).

Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age. And there are Enochs in this our day. Christ’s Object Lesson, p. 332.

“And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” (Heb. 2:13). “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Heb. 2:11).

The Son of God has been the instrumentality to keep that predestined group alive and well throughout the ages of this great controversy. He is our arm of strength. “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?” (Isa. 53:1). “O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee: be Thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” (Isa. 33:2). “Or let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” (Isa. 27:5,6).

Jesus reincarnate, Jesus among us, Jesus ascended and glorified has kept His movement from its inevitable desolation were it not for His involvement. Never once, throughout the battle against His adversary, has He ever misjudged or overstepped the line He drew in the sand for Satan. His children have accepted His correction and instructions being sanctified by faith in His truth and grace. Close by His side, the mutual choice has been His virtue in their spirit, guiding and purifying them. Their bond results in His shamelessly calling them brethren, and delivering “them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage…. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:15,18).

The river of life may go underground, but it always surfaces again. “This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face, O Jacob. Selah.” (Ps. 24:6).

“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.” (Isa. 51:11).

“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” (Rom. 11:26,27).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Humility, what could have been

“Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:1,2).

What if Job had admitted to the lack of wisdom and knowledge? He eventually did that after the Lord personally got involved. “Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.” (Job 40:2-5). But, if Job had accepted conviction and humiliation, what could have been the outcome with the three legalistic elders?

They would have witnessed a most unearthly transformation, right before their eyes. They would have seen evidence of eternal realities—heaven at work. Despite all their religious rhetoric, atheism (“unbelief” in church jargon) held their faith in captivity. But, the surprise that might have shocked them into faith would have come by hearing a simple confession from Job’s mouth, "You know, you’re right! I have sinned. I have justified myself. I have glorified myself instead of God.” Peace and a smile would have broken over Job’s face, and quite possibly the legalists would have been converted on the spot. And God would have been glorified in everyone present.

Is this the scenario the Lord intended when bringing the catastrophes to Job? He wanted to save more than Job; He had the never-before-redeemed wife and three men to reach with grace. Humanity, childlikeness, Christ-likeness is what the world rarely gets to experience. And the lack of such a brilliant dawning of that heavenly reality drives them into misery and darkness.

Providence orchestrated the whole Job event. “Ye…have seen the end of the Lord.” (Jas. 5:11).

The Son of God had a purpose by bringing chaos against Job, his easily unsettled wife, and three self-acclaimed moral police. He wanted to show all of them the difference between heaven-born meekness and earth-bound, filthy-rag righteousness. The Lord is always working to reach this large class which makes up 100% of the human race before conversion.

It was for the “ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7), that, 1500 years later, another Job named Stephen was sent to convert men. They stoned Stephen with more that self-righteous criticism; they used real stones. Yet, this Job II came through in perfect humility. “He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60). Stephen’s faith laid hold on to the hem of Christ’s robe and his prayer reached all the way to the ears of Lord Sabaoth, whose praises cause the pillars of heaven to shake. No doubt that day God declared His righteousness to Satan’s kingdom, and in heaven “there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.” (Rev. 8:5).

God rejoiced the day of Stephen’s faithfulness in death; His Son rejoiced and even stood up, and all heaven went into operation to make a big advance for God’s kingdom against Satan’s. Soon, the conscience of Saul was grinded upon until he met his Maker. Saul could no longer ignore what he saw on that day of his first great triumph for Judaism. So, despite the loss of prestige and wealth, he joined the small, hated sect proclaiming Jesus of Nazareth as the long awaited Messiah. Stephen’s shocking humbleness woke up the heart and soul of a determined enemy of God.

The power of humility—it may not result in physical mortality, as with the martyrs. In these days, while civil America still enforces freedom of conscience, the result of persecution will lead to the death of pride, and a triumph for humility—to both parties. Even Christians can use a deeper humiliation, no matter how exalted their walk with God. Paul, the greatest disciple kept before us the low road that ends high.

“Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first…the blessedness ye spake of.” (Gal. 4:13).

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,…that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;… I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:8,10,14).

“I die daily.” (1Cor. 15:31).

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1Tim. 1:15).

It was pride that the Lord had to exorcise from Job, and it was a meek testimony from His servant that He coveted. He sought the glory of His Father, “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.” (1Tim. 1:17).

Self-righteousness is ugly; but the righteousness of Christ flowing out through His humbled children is eye-catching and powerful to change hearts and to alter erring lives.

 “Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.” (Jer. 31:26).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, …” (Prov. 6:16, 17).

 “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7).

Pride tops the list of sins that God hates the most. The essence of pride is taking the glory that God is due and applying it to self.

“I’m pretty good!” “I’m good looking.” “I’m pretty smart, talented, thrifty, caring, and compassionate.” “I have good willpower, nutritional habits and lifestyle.” “I exercise, I am creative, inventive. I’m prosperous, wise, and savvy.”

But, all of those good traits came from God. Even the good genes and chromosomes came from God. Taking their praise to ourselves, as Solomon did, even subtly, even in passing, even in our thoughts, is sin, and the greatest of sins. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6).

It’s only right to pay the homage to the One who gave the blessing. God is the real source of all our strengths and abilities. Our gratitude to the Giver of every good thing should keep us thankful all the time. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:17).

Do you appreciate heat in the winter and A/C in the summer? How about a faucet and a sink? Hot bathwater? Hot meals? Ice cubes? How about a toilet? TP? Toothbrush? Toothpaste? What about wheels? A roof over your head? A phone? Lights and electricity? We have a lot to be thankful for; but, most will not return thankfulness to God until the soon-coming tribulation comes, and all of these amenities will vanish. Then, according to the prophecy, “The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: so that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.” (Deut 28:33,34).

Of course, we say grace over our meals. But these other things deserve our thankfulness also. I once knew of a woman who prayed over every glass of water. I don’t think that is too fanatical. Did Adam and Eve thank God for anything in the Garden of Eden? I have no doubt they thanked Him for everything.

Adam and Eve were charmed with the beauties of their Eden home. They were delighted with the little songsters around them, wearing their bright yet graceful plumage, and warbling forth their happy, cheerful music. The holy pair united with them and raised their voices in harmonious songs of love, praise and adoration, to the Father and his dear Son, for the tokens of love which surrounded them. They recognized the order and harmony of creation, which spoke of wisdom and knowledge that were infinite. Some new beauty and additional glory of their Eden home they were continually discovering, which filled their hearts with deeper love, and brought from their lips expressions of gratitude and reverence to their Creator.…

The holy pair received the [angelic visitors] with joyful innocence, expressing their grateful thanks to their Creator for thus surrounding them with such a profusion of his bounty. Everything lovely and attractive was theirs to enjoy, and everything seemed wisely adapted to their wants; and that which they prized above all other blessings, was the society of the Son of God and the heavenly angels, for they had much to relate to them at every visit, of their new discoveries of the beauties of nature in their lovely Eden home, and they had many questions to ask relative to many things which they could but indistinctly comprehend. 
  Adam and Eve should never transgress the express command of God; for it was their highest pleasure to do his will. The angels united with Adam and Eve in holy strains of harmonious music; and…their songs pealed forth from blissful Eden. Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 26, 34.

They sang constantly, and the content of their praise was all the wonderful things in their garden home which they saw as gifts from a God of infinite love. Sinlessness lent itself to gratitude to the Creator.

On the contrary, after the fall into sin, the first of many downward steps was the glorifying of self instead of the Creator.

“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). It may not have seemed so disastrous to the human race at the time to be ungrateful, as the same frame of mind doesn’t seem too awfully terrible to our generation today. But it eventually ended in compete breakdown of the societies of the nations.

Probably when Paul begins his description of the moral slide into perdition, he is speaking of the post-flood world. Ham, Cush, and Nimrod spearheaded a revolt against the holy government of Noah and Shem and Arphaxad. Although Shem was able to put down the revolt, according to extant extra-biblical sources [Two Babylons, by Edward Hyslop] the apostates did not surrender to righteousness. They came up with an elaborate, secretive system to perpetuate the rebellion and self-indulgence of the chief revolters. The builders of Babel refused to submit, and extended their rebellion to the farthest extent of the human race. Nimrod gathered a host of armed men and chased down the multitudes as they obediently left the tower of Babel, capturing them and enslaving them and creating the world’s first empire in Ashur. Egypt, founded by Ham and Cush, remained unreformed, stubbornly maintaining their rebellious stance. They would assist the underground effort to avenge the death of Nimrod upon the government of Shem, spreading throughout the earth depravity and ignorance and weakness of morals, intellect, and body.

A resurgence of that system came by providence. The nations of the earth, including Israel, had succumbed to Babylon’s unconscionable religion, so God gave Babylon new life with Nebuchadnezzar’s new-Babylonian empire. For the next 600 years that system of forgetting God and His Law would be focused on the Middle East and Europe through four successive pagan empires.

“Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto My words, nor to My Law, but rejected it.” (Jer. 6:19).

The Israelites fixed their hopes upon worldly greatness. From the time of their entrance to the land of Canaan, they departed from the commandments of God, and followed the ways of the heathen.… God sent them warning by His prophets.… They suffered the chastisement of heathen oppression…. Desire of Ages, p. 28.

Babylon came to symbolize pride and daring contempt of God. Pride, the essence of sin won’t confess a wrong. Its pride that won’t admit to error. Its pride that can’t be corrected. Pride will not be instructed because it reigns over the law-enforcers of the earth and no one can reprove it—not God’s messengers, and not even the Almighty Himself. Satan has control of the heart that refuses to bow before godly reproof. “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a Queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Rev. 18:7).

The Queen of heaven has spoken. Woe be to the Elijah or John the Baptists who dares to stand in her wicked way. Woe to the brave soul who tries to prevent her determined descent into perdition. The dragon possesses the Queen of heaven. He inbues her with his rebellion and pride. Trust God? I will not! Keep His commandments? I will not!  “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15). I will not!

Let Israel go? I will not! “Who is the LORD”? “Obey His voice?” “I know not the LORD, neither will I” do what His commandments! (Ex. 5:2). The Queen of heaven speaks with a man’s voice, “a mouth speaking [pompous] things.” (Dan. 7:8). She has the bold, imperious “eyes of man” (Dan. 7:8), set in “a whore’s forehead.” (Jer. 3:3).

The Queen of heaven is the god of the one false religion, a religion that began with Cain. Without realizing its long-term, permanent affect on the human race, Cain entertained the spirit of discontent, grumbling at God’s corrective measure to sinful man by making the family live outside of the Garden of Eden in a harsher world.

Cain didn’t see the blessing of the curse; nor would he ever choose to comprehend it. Thus, by complaining about his miserable surroundings instead of looking for the rose-covered thorns, he had nothing of which to give grateful thanks to his Creator-Redeemer. After a time Satan entered into the soul of Cain and made it his permanent home. The devil then did to Cain as Jeroboam did to the nation of Israel; he changed the religion of God to suit his carnal desires.

The one false religion was born and thrived in the human family already prone to pride and self-sufficiency. The apostate counterfeit to the Edenic religion would have nothing to do with humiliation. As Cain refused to surrender his will to the Lord’s plan for his good, neither could he ever see the humiliation tied to the dying and death of the sacrificial lamb. The counterfeit would have the close appearance to the genuine, but nothing in it would require grief and sorrow, nothing to break the pride and crumble the willful heart.

The religion of the Queen of heaven perfectly suited the fallen, sinful nature, even impelling it to heights of pride heretofore known. It drew Cain to thoughts and feelings that he could not have dared to have prior to the soothing endorsements from the devils’ flattering whispers. His conscience was seared; his wrath toward the Lord ceased to disturb him; he became the host of the spirit behind the Queen of heaven. By his choice to entertain complaint at God’s justice, he became home to the insinuations of Satan and the progenitor of an evil seed. Self-pity, Self-justification, self-indulgence of every kind of rebellious thought and behavior has characterized that wicked race to this day. It spread around the globe preventing the redemptive effects of God’s true religion until “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and…every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5).

The Lord God had spoken the first two prophecies. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:16,17). “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14,15).

Certainly, the first was fulfilled, as surely as the second, that two families of humanity would exist until the very close of probation. The Queen of heaven has done battle against the King of heaven, almost always the King and His children disadvantaged numerically. But His one true religion has faithfully freed His seed from the service of sin by His Spirit dwelling in them. Their human progenitor, Abel, exemplified everything the true religion offered: the broken and contrite heart, redeemed will and soul, and victory over the love of sin.

“How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:2). “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22,23), having fearlessness of the devil and of temporal death, and fearing God and the eternal separation from Him in the second death, while Cain’s descendents feared Satan and death, and felt no separation from heaven. Abel’s one true religion led to faith in a coming Savior from heaven who would save His people from their sins.

“Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1Pet. 2:22,25).

The two seeds restarted the war after the world-wide flood, as Ham rebelled against the holy government of Shem, implementing the old, antediluvian apostate religion that schmoozed its adherents with undue familiarity, winning their affections and claiming their hearts for the proud Queen of heaven. Her descendents will eventually join the Queen of heaven in destruction. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41).

Ahaz, King of Laodicea

 “Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.” (Isa. 7:10-12).

Ahaz was so nice and cordial and Laodicean toward the messenger of the Lord. Was that the response the Lord wanted from this leader of heaven’s movement on earth? What greater offense can our self-righteousness give God than to turn down a personal invitation to receive a gift from the great, loving King of heaven? But, “Who is Jehovah?” (Ex. 5:2) to an idolater like this king? His heart was stolen away by false religion.

“Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD, like David his father: for he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter.” (2Chron. 28:1-5).

He saw a large, sprawling altar during a visit to Assyrian King Tiglath-pileser when he went to flatter him and pay him to protect Judah; and Ahaz had the same pagan altar built for the temple of Jehovah. He even converted one of the temple porches for the Hebrew kings on the Sabbath day into a resting place for the king of Assyrian. Would the Lord co-habit His house with a corrupted and violent son of the devil? Did Ahaz have no concept of Jehovah’s holiness?

“And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this is that king Ahaz. For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel. And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers.” (2Chron. 28:22-25).

Ahaz had no time for the Lord because his heart had never been converted. Then, as life progressed, he further offended by being won over to open Baal worship, and a succession of increasingly grosser blatant offenses.

He was cool to the God of love; never had he known the love to the Lord, nor would he ever.

He should have abdicated the throne to prevent being the “the ruin…of all Israel.” (2Chron. 28:23). But, since when does sin ever abdicate the throne, or admit to having a problem? Since when does it ever willingly humble itself? This is why it takes so long for sin to be exterminated, especially when God loved Ahaz and He loves every other rebellious sinner.

Ahaz’s heart was decidedly hoping in Baal worship. All loyalty to the Hebrew religion was diluted by the world’s lawless, non-convicting, non-reproving, non-converting religion. In Baal, the king could have the privilege of highest place in the church. No one was higher to tell him what he ever did wrong. No prophet, except the rare prophet of the Lord, would appeal to help him see himself as he really was. In that wicked religion all the people would applaud his every action (or be killed). And, the people loved Baal also because by applauding a lawless religion, they could enjoy lawlessness, too! “Live and let live!” “Don’t judge me!”

And with some Spiritual Formation, the people could mesmerize themselves and actually hear voices coming from idols as they bowed to them or to the Sun, or Moon, or the stars. Great religion! Great fun! Great acceptance by the whole world, great response from the gods!

Spiritual Formation: Laodicea on steroids; but, Laodicea nonetheless. Because, after all the hype and sensationalism, the self-help and self-abuse, the body becomes enervated and morally effeminate. Then apathy sets in—Laodicea. According to Revelation chapter 3, Laodicea is just as outwardly good as Pergamos or Thyatira. Pergamos’ and Thyatira’s excitement by lust, or Laodicea’s being spent of all love—makes no difference to the adversary. In either case the attention is off the Lord. Red slippers or black Cossack; either way, the godly manhood is wasted.

Ahaz did the same as Cain. He would not allow God to win his heart. He wouldn’t give the Holy Ghost an opening, which the dying lamb could have done for Cain, and the proffered sign from Isaiah (Isa. 7:10) could have done for Ahaz. Neither of these professed Christians permitted God opportunity to convert them, and both died in his sins.

Without redemption, Ahaz and Cain were naturally susceptible to the temptation of Baal worship to ease their chastisement of peace. In the case of Ahaz, he was enthralled with the gold and mystery of it all. He had to have one of his own. The Assyrian religion and culture was all he could think about. Its enchantment took him by storm, without the staying power of the Holy Spirit.

For Cain, anything must do other than a suffering, innocent little lamb and the resulting heart’s sorrow and obligation to the Lord God.

I'm only human--no excuse for sin

“I get irritable, but I’m only human.”

Is that the gospel? Is that goodness? Is that “righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5)?

Actually, it is not the gospel. “I steal, but I’m only human.” “I look at pornography, but I’m only human.” “I killed, but he/she made me mad. After all, I’m only human.” “I do drugs, but I’m weak and only human.” “I covet, but I’m only human.” “I’m resentful and unforgiving, but I’m….” “I have the right to be angry and unforgiving.”

“I’m only human” is the reason this world is the oppressive place that it is.
Excuse for sin comes in every variety and is the foundation of Babylon. When our proud fallen nature is never overpowered and shut down by the thunder and lightning of Almighty God, the genius that God put into man finds some loophole to excuse for disobedience to the Law of love. Because of our mischievous genius, for every right action of God’s character there exists an equal and opposite excuse for actions against His character. And Satan is the mastermind behind all of our self-centered genius.

But, the Bible is clear; there can be no excuse for sin. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12).

The truth of the gospel is that God alone will excuse our guilt. But He will only do this after making our guilt painfully apparent to us.

“I had not known lust, except the Law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the Law sin was dead. For I was alive without the Law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me…. Sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:7-11,13).

And He will only clear our guilt when we have an exceeding guilt and sorrow for sin.

Additionally, we can't clear ourselves of guilt and shame. But, we do have a merciful Saviour who can and will. We can't justify sin or excuse it; and neither will Jesus. But, He will justify and excuse sinners. And again, He will only excuse sinners when they have an exceeding sorrow for their sin.

“Addressing Peter, Jesus said, ‘Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.’ The weakness of His disciples awakened the sympathy of Jesus. He feared that they would not be able to endure the test which would come upon them in His betrayal and death. He did not reprove them, but said, ‘Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ Even in His great agony, He was seeking to excuse their weakness. ‘The spirit truly is ready,’ He said, ‘but the flesh is weak.’ Desire of Ages, p. 689.

Christ's justification leads to eternal and happy indebtedness to Him for His reconcilingn Spirit of peace and to His righteousness: our own self-justification leads to indebtedness to ourselves, which causes self-righteousness—humanism. We will never have victory over sin by excusing ourselves. There is no such thing as righteousness by humanism.

Even during a Bible study or in a church setting, “I’m only human” is humanism and causes God to turn away from us. “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Isa. 1:15).

Hands full of blood? Yes, because if I don’t see sin in all of its shamefulness and then repent, I don't receive the Spirit of reconciliation with God, and I don't have the life of God to give. Therefore, I don't give life I take it. (See Mk. 3:4; Lk. 6:9). I can't love my brother with a love that comes from walking in the light of the holy God of love. So i am a murderer. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1Jn. 3:15).

In other words, the standard (I’m only human”) is not God’s standard. His standard is reality. Ours is only a surrogate reality and God cannot bless it.

God’s holiness is infinitely far from “I’m only human.”

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8,9).

Humanism insidiously overthrows the ability for God to convict and convert us. Our excusing sin can never get anything good from God. It’s an offense that burns in His deepest frustration and anger at Satan.

“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. 29:19,20).

“They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” (Deut. 32:21,22).

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1Pet. 1:16).

In God’s eternal kingdom, there can be no excuse for sin.

“The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. No matter how severe the pressure brought to bear upon you, sin is your own act. The seat of the difficulty is the unrenewed heart.” Adventist Home, p. 331.

“But, I’ve got to be me!” “I can’t be anyone else. I got to be what God made me to be!”

“But, I’m weak! Only Jesus could be perfect! He was God!”

“Of the bitterness that falls to the lot of humanity, there was no part which Christ did not taste. There were those who tried to cast contempt upon Him because of His birth, and even in His childhood He had to meet their scornful looks and evil whisperings. If He had responded by an impatient word or look, if He had conceded to His brothers by even one wrong act, He would have failed of being a perfect example. Thus He would have failed of carrying out the plan for our redemption. Had He even admitted that there could be an excuse for sin, Satan would have triumphed, and the world would have been lost. This is why the tempter worked to make His life as trying as possible, that He might be led to sin.” Desire of Ages, p. 88.

“Had He even admitted that there could be an excuse for sin, Satan would have triumphed,” and Jesus would have been “led to sin.”

We are what Satan’s kingdom has made us. By a long shot Satan has had first dibs on us and we’ve assisted him in his bridge building a fortress stronghold in our soul. “But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” (Dan. 11:38,39).

“(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2Cor. 10:4,5).

God has had the disadvantage except for everyone who surrendered to His humbling truth or consequences. They came away from His victory with the real spoils— “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). But everyone who swerved from it “turned aside unto vain jangling.” (1Tim. 1:6).

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19).

“In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15:9).

Friday, February 21, 2014

A good day only by a good night

 Can you have a good day without having a good night? I doubt it. From my limited experience, a good day follows a good night, and a bad day follows a bad night. A good day doesn’t follow a bad night.

“As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (Prov. 26:2).

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:25).  We can operate our Christian life by the Bible or we can fly by the seat of our pants. We might think we can shoot from the hip like some Hollywood western star, but the reality is that you miss the mark every time. Only in Hollywood movie sets do you hit the target. Jesus was the only one who could live the life of obedience by shooting from the hip and flying by the seat of his pants—and He never tried it!

He lived by every word of God. So our sanctification, our success in the Christian life depends on God’s access to our hearts and minds when we choose to come to His word and to appropriate that word to ourselves. John 16:33 makes no sense and brings us no peace without the principle that every word of God is for us. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33).

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” (Prov. 30:5).

“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” (Ps. 119:160).

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2Tim. 3:16).

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1Cor. 10:11).

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever.” (Isa. 30:8).

We must immerse ourselves in Gods’ word; we must consciously introduce it to our memory banks. Then it will seep into our conscience through the Spirit of God like leaven makes its way throughout the whole loaf of dough. Our brain is constantly busy with soaking up observations through our senses. And it works on that data, coming to conclusions. We see a billboard advertising whiskey, and the picture stored in our brain begins to ruminate on the pros and cons of that and eventually to decide for or against it, which determines our loyalty for God or for Satan. Upon our final conclusion, then that decision belongs to part of the frontal lobe, the conscience—for good or for bad.

We hear music, and the same process happens. We smell something we shouldn’t eat, same process. We see mighty cities of concrete skyscrapers, and the sight naturally leads to the conclusion that this life is all that there is and will ever be. This is how Satan has designed this world. Subtly, ever so subtly, the messages are being preached to the human race to abandon the eternal laws of God and to live for this world. And his subliminal messages are wildly successful.

Only in the word of God can we be saved from this pervasive menace to God’s kingdom. This is why Jesus immersed Himself in the scriptures. Faith cometh by the word of God (Rom. 10:17), and that is practically the only place faith comes from. Nature can still provide for faith and Jesus uses nature as a resource to declare His character, as well, the experiences in life and from manual labor. But, primarily faith is born out of the word of God. 1Pet. 1:23. With patience. Lk. 8:15.

Therefore, if we do not marinate our brains with the Bible, our minds automatically become marinated by Satan’s craftiness in the world around us, the cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches. We all have a Hal9000, the conscious 10% of brain, but the subconscious 100% of brain, our radar system, intuition, 6th sense.

You want peace and rest; it will only come by consciously planting the seeds of scriptures into your mind, by reading it, meditating on it, putting it into practice (experiencing it). Psalm 1:1-3 show the secret of David’s successes which he didn’t keep secret. Why did it remain a secret to Israel throughout the Old Testament? They didn’t believe it would work for them (Heb. 4:7;3:19), or their pride didn’t like the light, the doctrine, the reproof, the correction, the instruction. So they didn’t come to the light (Jn. 3:20).

But the very small remnant who did receive it (vs. 21) were spared the captivity of Satan. They were lights to the world and the salt of the earth, and they saw God using them to be a blessing, the promise to Abraham and to his seed realized. They found the strait gate which few find, and peace and rest.

Deceived, self-satisfied, asleep

Hi Pastor A____, 
  You deserve a lot more than one grateful thanks. You greatly broadened my understanding of the Bible, which I still use, and no doubt, much of what you taught us went right over my head, never to be retrieved. I still remember your pep talk in the gym where you spelled out (in no uncertain terms) that if we desired good grades, we should not study while laying down in our beds. And the other point that still sticks in my mind from that talk was your expression that the Sabbath shouldn’t be a disruption of what would otherwise be a normal week. I smelled the smoke of righteous indignation, and very much needed!
  I go back to __ Academy sometimes, and the students don’t appreciate the blessings of the Sabbath. We’ve lost our urgency. We’re repeating the history of the Jews. Do you believe Desire of Ages is prophetic, pointing at the last generation of the Advent movement? If it is, Mrs. White spoke of us when she wrote,
“He [John the Baptist] saw his people deceived, self-satisfied, and asleep in their sins. He longed to rouse them to a holier life. The message that God had given him to bear was designed to startle them from their lethargy, and cause them to tremble because of their great wickedness. Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin.” p. 103.
   Maybe she applied this to her role as prophet, but the need is greater now, isn’t it? Or is this just my narrow perspective of 50 years, instead of a 170 year scope? I believe that the Advent movement experience will differ nothing from ancient Israel, where blatant disregard of the prophets ended them in a long 600 year captivity, rife demonic control, and pervasive ignorance of the character of God. At the end, the people would finally be able to listen to the Spirit of God. And that’s when He sent His Son. God had one shot at redeeming the world, and He wouldn’t squander the gift of His Son on a nation that wasn’t run through the ringer in order to circumcise their ears and minds. He must do everything possible to open ears and minds. And He has never been too nice to hit hard if that would wake up the people He loved. “Too nice” would be like a defibrillator set on 1 volt.
  Based on that idea, I have interpreted Daniel 12:7, “when he (God) shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people....” And Isaiah 40:1, 2, “Cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned....” What this says to me is that the Advent movement and all of Protestantism are due a very big punishment from above; and the armies of Babylon are already amassing outside the walls. The final assault will take many by surprise; but the final pardon will be worth it.
  It’s not a pretty story that I’m writing about in my manuscript, but I believe it is the message of Revelation to this last generation before the troubles come. However, I do like the promise from Isaiah 40:1, 2 to the descendents of the Reformation. I love it very, very much. And I want to be able to correctly let it have its day in court throughout my book. But, it needs to be balanced with the bad news, because only the bad news will arouse the sleeping people and prepare their hearts for the good news. This is God’s age-old method, isn’t it? (Deut. 32:39; Hos. 6:1). How can He deeply heal unless we are first deeply wounded? If we won’t learn the easy way during times of peace, we might learn the hard way during times of difficulty.
   But, the only message from the false prophets was “good news”, that Babylon would just give a little love tap─which never happened. That kind of message made the people happy, but it put them in a deeper sleep.  I see that this is why Mrs. White concentrated so heavily, although not exclusively, on the bad news. I have brought up this concept often in the manuscript.
    Take care, Pastor A____,

Friday, February 14, 2014

Righteousness by works

“If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” (Jn. 14:15).

Did Jesus say, If you love Me buy Me a gift? Did He command a Christmas or birthday present? Did He say, “Fall down and worship Me”?

Keep My commandments. Let’s keep His commandments through the faith of Jesus. Does a relationship with Jesus mean we don’t have to keep the Ten Commandments?  No.  “Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law.” (Rom. 3:31). If we love Jesus we will love God in whose image Jesus is.

“God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, …who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” (Heb. 1:1-3). “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.” (Jn. 14:9).

So, if all Jesus wants is for me to keep His commandments, and I decide to buy Him a gift instead, would I make Jesus happy? Should He be satisfied with my gift in lieu of obeying His expressed will? Isn’t this the whole basis of righteousness by works—that I will bend over backwards and suffer for Jesus so that I can skirt His commandment.

Would a husband be happy if all he desired of his wife was to be a good wife by cooking the family’s meals, cleaning the house, and raising their kids in a godly home; but, she decides she will bypass those requirements while her husband is at work, and buy him a necktie or a hammer or a golf club, and when he gets home she may cook dinner, but the kids are out of control and the house is a mess, because she watched TV all day? Would that make a good Valentine’s Day for the husband?

And then, let’s say this kind of thing goes on for years, no matter what the husband tries on order to help his wife see the wisdom of his wishes, Valentine’s Day after Valentine’s Day; meanwhile, the children have grown up filled with horrendous habits, hateful and irreverent to their parents, and swept up by the world. Should he say, “Well, honey, you got one out of three right. I can live with that”?

This would be hard for most husbands and fathers. It would be difficult for wives and mothers if they were the breadwinners, and their husbands sat around all day joking and getting drunk with their friends. Why shouldn’t it be infinitely harder on the Lord for His church to do the same to Him?

Worse than all that is when false religion moves in. The Lord will discipline us because of our righteousness by works, if we strive to know Him and keep His religion of law and grace. The children are sunken in depression and He grieves over them sorely. But, if we are honestly striving to keep the lines of communication open He will be happy to meet us more than half way, to correct us and to get His earthly wife up to speed with raising her babes in Christ, and keeping the church free from deceptions.

But, when the one false religion comes in to play, then we are serving Satan and pouring out our heart and will to the devil. His one false religion has no law or grace; but, instead it’s all about emotion and make-believe and fake peace. It’s a lot of show and pretense and the Lord despises this dog and pony show when the hearts are bowing down to another lover. So, the servants of Satan make a show of morality, but because they have dispensed with God’s Law and have switched from His solemn service to the wild, raucous celebration service, He shuts His ears to them.

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread My courts?
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto Me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth: they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them.
And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” (Isa. 1:10-15).

“What hath My beloved to do in Mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.” (Jer. 11:15).

“In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the LORD.” (Jer. 51:39).

“I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of Thy hand: for Thou hast filled me with indignation.” (Jer. 15:17).

Let’s return to our Husband with our whole heart. It’s true that we naturally rebel against God’s Law. That is a given—no argument. Then, that being the case, Jesus must be available to give us repentance and power to keep His commandments.

Where is His power to keep His commandments? At the cross, where He laid His life down at our hand, “and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5).

Otherwise, we easily slip into the same habit of past millennia, serving a god of lawlessness and vain foolishness. “Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.” (Matt. 5:26).

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Patient experience

“Wilt thou also disannul My judgment? wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be righteous?” (Job 40:8).
Why was the Lord so angry at Job? Previously, I’ve agreed with righteous Elihu, “Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.” (Job 32:2).
“For Job hath said, I am righteous: and God hath taken away my judgment.” (Job 34:5). On a past blog post we went through chapter 31 and sensed a lot of self-glory, self-pity, and self-righteousness. But I believe there was more to it, judging by the Lord’s answer to Job in the opening text above.
The plague of painful boils was the judgment of God whether He allowed it or conducted it Himself, whether it was for self-justification or self-pity, or taking His blessings for granted, or even for Job going too easy on his children’s upbringing in frugality or his laxness to enforce godliness in them—it all is not up to me to decide. The basic point is that God saw fit to bring this trial upon Job and the King of the universe and the Judge on trial in the great controversy expected Job to be patient and to not complain, even to the utter end. Faith in the Lord God says, “A reward was coming; and the more suffering, the greater the reward.”
I’m not saying I’d do better in Job’s shoes; but I have been through some real trials, also. So, I have a little idea what waiting patiently is about. And I’m not saying I know this because I got through my trials with flying colors. I’m embarrassed to say, I did not prove that God could keep me from falling.
In fact, the experiences left me questioning that promise of God. Then I began to question my confident formula for victory over temptation and sin. Finally, it left me questioning my salvation. Thankfully, I was grounded enough to not abandon Him altogether, because of the big troubles that led to my restoration to God after 13 years of running from Him. Those troubles and the victory over them through Christ left a deep satisfaction and firm trust in Him to get me through the next round of punches by the 2,000 pound galoot in full-body red tights. But, I’m not through the woods yet.
Patience. It only comes from trials. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:… And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” (Rom. 5:1,3). We can’t learn it from a textbook. Yes, we can learn about it from books—it’s this long and this wide, and this high. But what is experience? We have to get into the ring to find out. But, first we must be fortified with justification and faith, or we won’t last 2 seconds with that 2,000 pound galoot.
So, how do we get patience, according to Paul? We need hope in Christ which leads to firmer hope, which we call, faith (Heb. 11:1); then that faith leads to reconciliation with God which leads to peace; which leads to access to grace, which leads to happiness in tribulation, tribulation then leading to patience, experience, and deepening hope, so that nothing in this world can shame us for serving God because our heart is then filled to overflowing with love for God.
Experience. I have a feeling that in experience there is a lot of wisdom and knowledge of the operation of God. With experience we have God’s track record and a settled trust in Him for the unknown future because He came through for us in the past.
My dog Pingo, at this moment, is whining. He wants to go for a walk. It’s that time of day. But, the walk has to wait because I’m in the middle of burning a pile of pine straw in my back yard and I can’t leave it unattended. Does Pingo understand the ramifications of my burning down the whole neighborhood, if I take him for a walk? Obviously not. Even if I tried to explain it, it would go in one dog ear and out the other. I would just get the deer in the headlight look and probably a lot of barking because he would misunderstand me, thinking I was apologizing for not going for a walk. Boy, does he ever look forward to his two walks each day! Tiny Chihuahua Mama-mia loves to go, too! But, I’m not sorry a bit for not taking him on his favorite event of the day. I have bigger issues to deal with at the moment. Later, we will romp and play.
We don’t really understand why God puts us through the hard experiences. But, we can find comfort that, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man,” and “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13).
We can also know that there is a controversy raging over our heads. The scenes in Job 1 and 2 are there to show us that controversy. Certainly one thing we can know—that Jesus wasn’t the only one God expected to be victorious over His adversary. Jesus was the first to blaze that trial; but, a great company which no man can number follows right behind Him.
“It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. And again, I will put My trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given Me.” (Heb. 2:10-13).
“I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father's name written in their foreheads.… These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:1,4).
This could be the deepest reason the Lord God was so harsh toward Job. He needed and expected Job to prove his loyalty to God. The Father has been on trial and today we live in the privileged time when His final judgment has come. We must prove Him able to keep us from falling. Will we learn patient endurance? Will we draw near to Jesus and face the tests He permits that will make us hard solders for God? Will we do it without complaining and grumbling? If we fall under the burden, will we go back to Jesus and repent and let Him pick us back up and dust us off? Will we get back into the foray and learn experience from that failure to faithfully represent God? The 144,000 will do just that. They won’t be disheartened and doubtful of God’s grace because they fumble and fail. But, they didn’t learn that lesson overnight. They are learning it today. Are we one of them? “Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36).
The 144,000 won’t be born with the moral strength to follow the Lamb through all His trials, plus His Gethsemane. That power will come only by coming to Jesus and staying with Him, even if they fumble and fail.
We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Steps to Christ, p. 64.
But, after many failures and justifications, we will have the depth of experience that the 144,000 will have. As Paul described,
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Phil. 3:8,9).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Unload on Jesus--no one else can take it, not even self

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Do we really know the blessedness that God has offered us through the atonement of Christ? Do we know the health-giving boon that comes with Christ’s sacrifice for the world? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16).
What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? Was it more than theological benefit? Was it more than “efficacious”, or “atonement”, or “mediatorial” or “salvific”? If children should be able to benefit, like Samuel and David and, no doubt, many others, in what way can they and how did they? In what way can the non-theological adults benefit? And can it also be possible, even in our day and in our Adventist sub-culture, for someone to has all the theology correct, and miss the real thrust of the cross; and thus be lost? Can we have a hot theology and a cold experience?
This is possible, not because I think I have my experience all together as compared to others, but because the hot and cold have ever been the possibility since the days of Adam.
Cain had it all together. He had a massive intellect like Adam, and cleverness, a powerful body and perfect health, the stately walk and kingly bearing; but, he lived off of these gifts from heaven. They were his sole source of thought and action. They were also the cause of his grumbling and murmuring toward the Lord for having to live at the doorstep of the Garden of Eden, with its lush and abundant ground. But, his rebellion made the difficult existence outside the garden intolerable to his selfish fallen nature. The fallen world, though having not the splendor of Eden, was far superior to ours today. Cain had all the look of heir to Adam’s glory, except for the main attribute requisite for the crown—reconciliation with God.
“Righteous Abel” (Matt. 23:35) had none of the massive endowments of kingly Cain. But he had what Cain lacked—“a more excellent sacrifice.” He was reconciled with God, “by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
Abel had an excellent sacrifice. It was a sacrifice that made him righteous and gave him the “excellent spirit” (Dan. 5:12) that Daniel had. I won’t go into all the theology of justification by faith, as Christianity has built it into a mammoth, brick and mortar courthouse. I don’t believe Abel had made it so complicated with his sacrifice. I think with Abel justification meant, “I killed the Lord of glory.” I do believe Cain complicated justification. But all of his justification, which was without faith, became self-justifying. This was forced upon his soul because he received no justification from the Holy Ghost. So, the whole religion of his parents only fed his miserable gall and wormwood.
Abel had the experience of redemption, the “witness” (Heb. 11:4). He knew peace with God. Each time before the fire fell he was right with God because the lamb was slain. The baptism of fire simply honored the obedience of the heart that the Lord God saw within Abel. Thus, he was sealed, and his brother received the mark of the beast. Both evinced a witness from either of the two great spiritual powers contending for the human race.
I want Abel’s “witness”—the sealing; and I want to avoid Cain’s—the mark of the beast, don’t you? But how did Abel get sealed? He went to the cross. He got the sealing by slitting the throat of his most precious lamb. Only by bringing pain, shock and death upon the little, innocent animal could he unload his congenital “root that beareth gall and wormwood” (Deut. 29:18). Abel gave his sinful disposition to God. Through the sacrifice he could unburden himself of his natural rebellion and be relieved of the horrible “chastisement of [his] peace” (Isa. 53:5).
Our merciful healer, “knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). “O Lord, Thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thought afar off” (Ps. 139:1, 2).
The great Therapist and Physician knows our constant building up of stress and anxiety because of self-centeredness, our living alone and supreme in the universe. He knows that “there is none righteous, 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” (Rom. 3:10, 13-17).
He knows our pride and insolence. He also knows the pain that every child of Adam carries in the heart; and He seeks to heal them all.
So, when He came to accomplish our redemption, He willingly placed Himself as the object of hatred, being “once” (Heb. 9:28) a punching bag for the release of our pent up aggression. We could not pinpoint the cause of our chastisement of peace, the gall that makes our mouth and thoughts so venomous. But He knew the remedy. The remedy was to unload on Him; so He has given us that opportunity. Thus, He allows us to be relieved and freed from the internal pain, but, only at the expense of the pure, Anointed One. Then, we have the needed, healthful peace; but, the innocent One is dead, His blood is on our hands and splattered all over our body. Now we can calmly and with clear heads be thankful to Him and worship Him for His healing of our mind and soul. There is no other way to keep down the ill effects of sin in humanity.
But, Cain rejected this. Will we? Cain kept his chastisement of peace. He loved it and dwelled on it. Will we? Cain slew his brother who was more righteous than He. Will we kill those who resist us or resent our killing them little by little, thus firing up our chastisement of peace, perpetuating it in an endless feud? Or will we hit and claw the innocent Lamb who “openeth not His mouth”, who “had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth”? (Isa. 53:7, 9). Will we get completely out of our system the aggression from being sinners in a world of sin, and be dead to venomous sin, so that those around us can be completely spared from our aggressions? Will we unburden our venom on Jesus, the sinless Lamb? Only He can take it.
“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1Pet. 2:24, 25).
Will we drink the true elixir, the water of life? Jesus is pleading, “I am the water of life”. “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. 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….)” (Jn. 7:37-39).
The Lord taught to the children of Israel through Moses this lesson of unburdening sin. Right in the midst of the congregation caustically blaming him for their thirst, and being ready to stone him, Moses was to take his rod, and smite the Rock. “And that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:4). He had to hit the Rock hard, in order for water to come out. The people had been dehydrated, for sure. But what made their thirst so dire and hated was their unredeemed, natural aggressions, and for having to be so inconvenienced by Moses and the desert. To Moses the hot desert was difficult, but doable; but, they murmured and they griped.
“All the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?” (Ex. 17:1-3).
From this they were to see how to unburden themselves on One who alone had the infinite reserves of forbearance and love. Otherwise, they would stone their fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, children, etc. He could take it—He could take it all, but no one else could. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:14, 15).
The children of Israel knew the story of their father, Israel, and how he beat on the Son of God all night. Then his conscience was pained and the lights came on. He was redeemed and became perfectly humble, holy, and at peace with God and with all of mankind—even with his murderous enemies. But he had to fall on the Stone and be broken. Until his breaking he could not be rid of his congenital gall and wormwood that nagged him day and night all of his life. The only consolation came through his amazing gift of cheating people. But, supplanting, lying and stealing finally lost its appeal (by the work of the Holy Ghost) and he needed something better. He wanted what his father and grandfather had—real right standing before God, real faith and holiness. And Jesus let him beat on Him until he saw himself for the sinner he really was.
If we will go easy on the Stone, then it will do no good for our under-the-radar chastisement of peace. If we try to prevent breaking the Stone, we are too good for God. But, if we will strike the Rock hard, with “all that is within me,” (Ps. 103:1) then we will only need to do it once. Our conscience shattered, our peace no longer being chastised, and all the gall and wormwood flushed out, from then on, we are happy to speak to the Rock. But this beautiful and therapeutic lesson of redemption was jeopardized by Moses finishing it to Israel by his disobedience to God’s direction; he hit the rock again instead of speaking to it. Thus he unadvisedly taught that the Lord’s redemption can’t keep us from falling again and again into the thirsty desert of sin and gall and wormwood, and the Lord’s redemption can’t lead us to perfect communion and victory over sin.
The sanctuary also taught this lesson of redemption from sin. The altar of sacrifice involved killing and blood, but the end product involved speaking to God at the second veil, praying humbly and at peace because of the previously required killing and blood. What a privilege to be humbled and to be at peace with Jesus, as his trusted friend! What a boon to health!
But, could the priest use the altar of incense without first using the altar of sacrifice? Never. Sacrifice must precede incense, and perpetually so until the end of time. There could be no privileged union within the sanctuary without the bloody death of the innocent lamb first. To avoid the sacrifice would have resulted in the episode of Nadab and Abihu. No matter how righteous Abel ever got, he still had to precede his communion with God by a sacrifice and its resultant repentance. Cain wouldn’t do this. He demanded God speak to him while disregarding the blood and the death.
We must come to Jesus and unburden our gall and wormwood on Him before we repent of sin and pray to Him. Whoever turns away from the sacrificing of Jesus, even his prayer is abomination to God. We must beat upon Jesus so that He can prove Himself worthy of our trust and love, faithful unto death.
Whoever comes to the Son and murders “the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” (Jn. 6:53) will be forgiven of their hated sins, and be redeemed. Whoever doesn’t come to Him and beat upon Him will never lose their lust for sin, and inevitably they will stone His people that surround that unredeemed sinner; and they will sin against the Spirit of God by not coming to “Lamb as it had been slain.” (Rev. 5:6). They sin against the Holy Ghost, and for that there is no forgiveness, not in this world nor in the world to come. “The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Ps. 1:5, 6).
That is to say, that those like Cain, who choose to avoid the beating upon Christ and seeing Him fall lifeless under our last blow, will have no part in the world to come. They will never know the restoration of mind, body, and soul that comes with smiting the Rock, unburdening sin upon Him and knowing the outflow of sorrow for His innocent, but mandatory death. They will never know the “the powers of the world to come”, they will never “[taste] of the heavenly gift” and be “made partakers of the Holy Ghost,” “[having] tasted the good word of God”,  “being made conformable unto his death” (Heb. 6:4, 5; Phil. 3:10).
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:53-56).
Coming to God without first coming to the redeeming Lamb, I don’t detect the demonic tapeworm talking within me, “[speaking] out of the ground, and [my] speech…low out of the dust, and [my] voice…as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and [my] speech…[whispering] out of the dust (Isa. 29:4); but, God hears it. And He cannot dwell in that same selfish, self-indulgent, self-pitiful, and foul environment.
But, having fallen upon my victim, Satan must flee my sorrowing soul. Thus, having saved me from Satan’s presence in me, God and I are able to speak together without Him hearing the voice of the dragon come out of my heart. Then, He is “satisfied.” (Is. 53:11).