“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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A kite with no tail

“And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead: and when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber; then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee….” (2Ki. 9:1-3).

Jehu’s anointing as king began a non-stop rampage against everything royal in the Israelite house of Ahab and for anyone associated with him, including Ahaziah, king of Judah. With an arrow, Jehu shot king Joram, son of Ahab straight through his chest. Then his men caught up to king Ahaziah and shot him also.

Jehu was accomplishing the task of cleaning up Israel’s pervasive idolatry. But, he did it with no mercy. Maybe he was the only person who could accomplish this most needed removal of spiritualism from the Old Testament church. But, his downfall was his merciless methods of doing the work of the Lord.

“If we would enter into the joy of our Lord, we must be co-laborers with him. With the love of Jesus warm in our hearts, we shall always see some way to reach the minds and hearts of others. It will make us unselfish, thoughtful, and kind; and kindness opens the door of hearts; gentleness is mightier far than a Jehu spirit.” Review and Herald, February 10, 1885, par. 13.

“He said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” (2Ki. 10:16). But, his zeal included deception.

“Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.” (2Ki. 10:20,21). For Jehu, the end justified the means. He holed up the whole group of Baal worshipers who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel and had his soldiers slay everyone in the house of Baal.

 “Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel…. And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” (2Ki. 10:28,30). But, it must always be assumed with a holy God, that His servant keep His laws, especially after knowing His will to clean up His people. This Jehu would not do, and he had trouble for the rest of his life. “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (Jas. 2:13). The Lord and His Law are no respecter of persons.

King Nebuchadnezzar was like a King Jehu on steroids. He took on a area of spiritualized nations a thousand times the size of the northern kingdom of Israel.

 “Thou, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all.” (Dan. 2:37,38).

“O thou king [Belshazzar], the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: and for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down.” (Dan. 5:18,19).

“For this cause [the Chaldean priests and advisors couldn’t tell or interpret for Nebuchadnezzar his dream] the king was angry and very furious, and commanded to destroy all the wise men of Babylon.” (Dan. 2:12).
“Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.” (Dan. 3:13).
“Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.” (Dan. 3:19,20).

“But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him. Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.” (Jer. 39:5-7).

Jehu and Nebuchanezzar were both appointed by the Lord to bring to an end the chaotic nations which had adopted occultic Baal worship and its penchant for lawlessness.

“Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.” (Jer. 25:9).

Both had been anointed of the Lord to do their work of discipline. But neither had been trained in the knowledge of the Lord. Neither was sanctified. Neither had learned to love the Law of God. And the occultic Israelite people got a taste of where their spiritualizing would eventually take them, for the wages of sin is death. Nevertheless, each of the disciplinarians, Jehu and Nebuchadnezzar, paid the price for justice without mercy.

“Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan…. But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel.” (2Ki. 10:29,31,32).

“All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (Dan. 4:28-33).

Both of these kings are object lessons to show what happens when the Lord justifies someone, forgives them of their trespasses, giving them a new lease on life by the anointing of Holy Ghost. They receive strength, a confidence, an assurance that God is with them.

But, if justification is not a result of struggling to know the Lord, studying His Law, striving to become a son of God, if they do reconcile with God and receive His Holy Spirit, then the power that attends the Spirit and forgiveness and acceptance with God, causes them to quickly get out of control. They needed the Law of God to continue balancing the joy that comes with the Spirit of God.

The Son of God had the Spirit without measure. He had joy from His anointing of the Spirit of His father and grace of God was upon Him. “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7).

But, He also had the Law of God without measure. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4).
“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” (Ps. 40:7,8).
“Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in Thy word.” (Ps. 119:148).
“I have not departed from Thy judgments: for Thou hast taught Me.” (Ps. 119:102).

It was the perfectly equal combination of Law and grace that kept Jesus perfectly and endlessly stable and balanced. “And the Child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40).

By the time a new Christian is born, he will have struggled to be forgiven of sin. It will have cost him. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isa. 55:1).

Freedom isn’t free. This labor may take years of wrestling with God. Then, when the blessing from heaven arrives, he is so well-rounded between Law and grace, between accountability and remission of sins that are past, that he can keep his salvation, without ever forgetting the Law that had convicted him of truth.

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Rev. 14:13).

But, to all who lose their salvation, the Law departs from their conscience. However, the driving freedom can remain; and then they become wild and destructive. This is what happened to Lucifer when he turned away from God. His powerful intellect and talents, gifted from God, remained; but he had become conscience-less and in every work unconscionable. Nebuchadnezzar was saved from his own lawlessness, by the constant ministry of Daniel. Jehu? The Bible doesn’t say.

Every kite needs a tail or it will crash and shatter. Every tail needs a kite, or it will never leave the ground. Obedience to the gospel needs obedience to the Law, and obedience to the Law needs obedience to the gospel.

The gospel! (of bad news)

 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7).

The gospel! of bad news? The Greek word gospel is Old English gōd-spell or gōd-spel meaning good news, glad tidings. This is the good news about the bad news; and this is not a gimmick. Gospel is good news; but the gospel has some bad news, even an equal measure of bad and good news. The bad news comes as punishment for our disobedience to the Law of God. And, punishment is humiliating and degrading; and, to too many modern Christians, humiliation and degradation are unacceptable. Yet, here is where we can distinguish the true Christian from the false.

From the start, the true Christians surrendered their rights in this world when they accepted the crucified Lamb of God who was made to be sin for them. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8).

They boldly walked amidst the ridicule of a world that hates righteousness and faith. They knew humiliation and rejection and hurt. But, like their Master, they surrendered to it all, just as they had surrendered to the pains of a world of sin that led them to give up and look to God for help. They were not perfect, but they acknowledged that. They recognized their part in the troubles that plagued them; they couldn’t blame anyone else for their predicament. Therefore, once trusting in God they continued to remain humbled for God to sanctify them into His image, removing those objectionable flaws from their character.

Therefore, they could appreciate the bad news of the Bible.

“Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:5-13).

“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” (1Pet. 1:4-6).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1Pet. 4:1).
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1Pet. 4:12,13).
“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1Pet. 3:17).

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
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. 2:19-25).

“But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23-26).

They are all children with the Law in their hearts, according to the promise, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” (Heb. 8:10).

Surrender to the bad news coming from disobedience had led the Greek and Roman Christians to obedience, and they could never forget the lessons of obedience, after all the years of consequences to disobedience grinding on them. God wrote obedience to His law into their hearts, forever.

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1Pet. 3:8-13).

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (1Pet. 2:19).
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1Pet. 2:18).
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: 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.” (1Pet. 2:21-23).

To most people, the Bible makes no sense. This is because of the bad news. The bad news is unwelcome to their hearts, and so their minds create a mental block to it. But, without the bad news of the gospel, the gospel is left with many large holes. The Bible, without the bad news, would be smaller than the Jefferson Bible, which had nothing miraculous in it. The Jefferson Bible is a very bland book. It requires no faith, and expects no surprises. Oh, joy! But, likewise, all who remove or disenfranchise the bad news from the Bible will find their Bible to be dull and without any life to it. Without its authorizing the punishment of our sins, the Bible is tasteless and boring. Isn’t it exciting to be punished for our sins?! Especially after the punishment is over! What a beautiful promise from God, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2). We get no comfort from God if our warfare can never be accomplished because we abrogated God’s authority to punish us. And if we receive none of His comfort, we aren’t His people.

Yet, many “Bible Christians” today revile Thomas Jefferson and all his devilish Democrats because they won’t accept the whole Bible. But, these “Bible Christians” essentially have done no differently than Mr. Jefferson, except they didn’t literally cut out the unwelcome parts. They merely overlooked them or reinterpreted them. They used theology “falsely so called” (1Tim. 6:20) to de-authorize the Old Testament, which is ¾ of the Bible. This makes their Bible, that is, the Bible in their false conceptions, even more dangerous than Jefferson’s. At least he was honest and open about disregarding most of the Bible.

But, what do we miss if we abrogate the punishment of God in the Old Testament, rather than letting “patience have her perfect work” (Jas. 1:4)? “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience…that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:3).

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36). Therefore, we should “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (Jas. 1:2).

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1Pet. 1:7-9).

“The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:… who by Him [ye] do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:19,21-23).

What do we lose when we discount the disagreeable parts of the Bible? Salvation and the necessary preparation for Jesus’ second coming. This kind of loss is not worth having a religion that allows for pride to run rampantly and for accusations to fly back and forth between us and our enemies. Yet, this is what happens when we do not let God run us through the ringer for our unsaintliness. We get ugliness everywhere. That is why the condition of the church before Jesus comes is described as Babylon, the Great.

“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.” (Rev. 18:4).

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Cor. 6:17,18).

Friday, December 26, 2014

Serving self

“A chip on the shoulder.” “Somebody owes me something.” “Life didn’t treat me good enough.” “I deserve/d better.”
We are all born this way. We are all children of wrath. Our nature says, “Serve me!” and we spend our days serving self and expecting everyone around us serve us, too. The “Me first, you last” attitude sends out signals even by the way we look. If we aren’t always seeking to uplift others, we send out signals of self-service. And we live in a world of like-minded self-servers, so we don’t get far in our effort to be served first before someone else bigger and stronger lets us know that they are to be served first.
We are a piranha dropped into a huge river of millions of other piranhas. God has left us in the soup we have created so that we don’t get out of hand. Every piranha needs to be converted into a minnow, and our Creator can do it. But, He won’t until we know we are a piranha.
Our self-pity and complaining about the troubles of life demonstrate that self is still in control. Fallen human nature still has the ascendency; our basic selfishness presides. We can’t show any mercy without expecting a reward. The chip on our shoulder transforms our acts of justice into revenge. We are like our father the devil, “who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger.” (Isa. 14:6).
What we need is a lightning bolt to kill us. It needs to have enough high voltage to bring to life another mind that can see the abomination of self-service. It needs to wake up faculties that can serve our Creator first, others next, and ourselves last. We need a new principle of life, one that eschews self-serving and keeps us humble. That principle is love, disinterested love, through acceptance with God, peace with God.
There is only one source for that love, the Spirit of Christ. His love, received into the soul, will turn on the principle of life that brings instant happiness to the soul, and peace with everyone around us. “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” (Mar. 9:49,50).
As salt is a drying agent, absorbing every hint of moisture, so does the principle instilled by the Spirit of the Lord absorb all selfishness and self-serving. Self-indulgence, self-pleasure, self-pity, self-exaltation, self-justification, etc. all must leave with the Spirit of Jesus enters when love and humility. Self put down, and the soul is at rest. The rest of Jesus drives Satan away with his self-pleasing temptations. We are free to develop into the creation we were originally made to be. We were made in God’s image, made to be like Him. Godliness is God-likeness, like Christ, the Servant of servants.
This restoration to paradise was the first promise given in the Bible. “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. 3:15). The Spirit of Christ would destroy the serpent, but not without Christ having His eternal life destroyed. But the Edenic promise spoke of His heel, not His head. Satan could not destroy Christ’s divinity or divine nature, only His human soul given through Eve would die, and the holy lineage she would create.
This enmity was the Holy Spirit that is at odds with the wrathful, self-serving spirit of Satan. There is no co-existence with them both. Satan can adopt the look of some good with his evil mind, but the Spirit of God through His Son never dilutes its principle of pure selflessness. Satan only mingles the two in the insidious effort to slowly remove all good and leave only evil. His spirit trembles and goes into convulsion in the presence of pure selflessness. He must flee such an environment.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Gal. 5:22,23). But the fruit of Satan is “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.” (Gal. 5:19-21).
The “emulations” (Gr. zēlos, zeal, ardor, indignation) looks like righteousness. But such righteousness is not righteous indignation, rather, self-driven revenge. The Spirit of love is not present. The principle of unselfish service is not its guiding power. The purpose of Satan in such a host is to destroy men’s lives, and not to save them. If often looks religious, and fanatically so.
“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” (Rom. 10:2). “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (John 16:2).
Mercy cannot be the guiding principle when the spirit of Satan is present. Such hearts are full of thorns and briers.
“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (Jas. 3:14-18).
“If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” (Heb. 6:6-8).
There is only one remedy for a devilish heart, the Spirit of Christ.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.…
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;
And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns.
With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns.
And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.” (Isa. 7:14,15,21-25).
Without the butter and honey of Christ, only briers and thorns are the result. Let’s get with Jesus and eschew the devilish spirit of Satan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Remission and no more guilt, shame, unclean past

Heb 10:2  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

Heb 10:11  And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
Heb 10:12  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Heb 10:13  From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.
Heb 10:14  For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Heb 10:15  Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before,
Heb 10:16  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Heb 10:17  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Heb 10:18  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Heb 10:19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20  By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
Heb 10:21  And having an High Priest over the house of God;
Heb 10:22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

The whole object of redemption is to have no more old sins nagging our conscience. This is the reason religion exists all over the world. Of course, there is the wrong way to go about having a clear conscience. But regardless, a tormenting conscience keeps the world from doing what its fallen nature really wants to do. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17).

It’s the Spirit of God that keeps the conscience sensitive to disobedience. Through it Christ wrestles with us, for us to hopefully concede the war to God. When we fall on the Stone and our self-will breaks, we are the calmest, happiest people on the planet. But until then, they are the unhappiest who have a healthy, lively conscience.

However, there are some who have seared their conscience. They don’t have the problem with the conscience that others have.

“For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.” (Ps. 73:3-9).

How did they get a dead conscience? It’s a long and painstaking effort, but I believe it takes constant cutting off the convictions of God’s Spirit.

First, they avoid the truth. That way they can’t be reminded of their wrong course. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (Jn. 3:20).

But, that’s not enough because God has left abundant evidence of His presence and desires throughout nature, including in the heavens.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. ” (Ps. 19:1-4).

There is no escaping the knowledge of God. Then, He also sends His spokesmen. How could they ever forget, being so surrounded? That’s the second way of avoiding the truth. They live in cities and kill the messengers God sends.

“Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” (Lk. 11:49-51).

So, they have it easy in this life because Satan rewards them well for serving him. Yet, though “there are no bands in their death”, “their strength is firm”, and “they are not in trouble as other men”, still “the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.” (Ps. 9:18).

The poor in spirit have the correct way for a happy, peaceful conscience…. Come to the stone hard Law of God, especially the living Stone hard Law of God, Jesus.

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30).

“Whosoever shall fall on this Stone shall be broken.” (Matt. 21:44).

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” (Isa.1:18,19).

There is no other cure for the evil conscience than standing before the Law of Christ and being convicted of sin. Once convicted of sin from the Law of Christ and it making us willing to surrender to its requirements, our natural response will be to need a Savior from sin. When we have fallen on the Stone of Christ in repentant sorrow for sin, He sends His Holy Spirit of comfort. Then, with that palpable presence in the heart and mind, we have no longer the need to seek for forgiveness because we have no more conscience for sins. That means there is no more offering of Christ’s blood for our sins as the promise above says.

We are reconciled to God’s Law. Our hearts are new again. Life is new again. We have peace with God through Jesus. “The Spirit of His Son” (Gal. 4:6) enables us to cry, “Abba” to the Father, His Father and, now, our Father. We are reunited with God, our sleep is sweet, and He gives us power to do what no one else can do. Are hearts and minds are free again to live and be in health. We aren’t dying or existing in a living death. We have certainty of acceptance with God and His Law finds a natural place in our heart.

Our evil conscience is sprinkled with the Spirit of Christ and our bodies are being washed with pure water. This is a reference to the cleansing of the unclean person by the ashes of the red heifer mixed in flowing water.

“And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel:
And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:
And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.” (Num. 19:17-19).

Today, the unclean, the miserable, the shamed, the guilt-ridden, may come to the Law and then into the arms of the softer Stone, and receive His pardon for sin.

“Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
And having an High Priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:18-22).

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” (1Tim. 1:5,6).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Time, distance, shielding

Some people work in nuclear reactor plants. They learn the life-saving lesson of protection from the lethal radiation that always fills the reactor and also leaks out of it. The three word motto of their life is time, distance, and shielding.
In other words, the longer a person remains in the presence of radiation, or the closer he lives to the source of radiation, or the less material he has blocking the radiation, and the more damage done to his body. And on the contrary, the less time he stays in the vicinity of the deadly rays, or the farther away he stays, or the more material he has to shield his body, then less damage, if any, will occur.
But, in one situation I heard of an eating facility that was right next to a reactor. There must be a lot of shielding between that eating space and the reactor.
If we are ever to be spared the ravaging effects of Satan’s presence in our weakened body and soul, we need the same three methods of protection. The less time thinking like him and doing things like him, the more distance we put between ourselves and his temptations, and the better we can be shielded from temptation and the evil habits that we’ve already learned, the healthier and happier we will be.
But, because of the fall of the human race into sin, our hearts are evil and we cannot change them. It’s open season with us for Satan. We must have help in order to distance ourselves from sin and temptation. Deliverance will take our time and a continuous, lifetime dedication. Yet, these alone cannot give successful disconnection and victory over sin and its destructive nature. We need more than we can provide. Of ourselves, we are not bullet proof or temptation proof. We need shielding, plenty of shielding. We need “the word of truth, …the power of God, …the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” (2Cor. 6:7).
We need the Stone, the ragged Stone that was cut out of another world that will become a Mountain and fill our world. “And a Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” (Isa. 32:2).
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For Thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” (Ps. 61:2,3).
With Jesus, the word of truth and the Spirit of truth, comes the whole armor of God. He tells us, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (Gen. 15:1). Walking with Him by our side, Him in us and us in Him, we can get a great distance from sin, inherited and cultivated; and we can stay miles away from temptation. With our thoughts in Him and His thoughts in us, temptation will flee over the horizon and out of range, out of sight and out of mind. With Jesus we will cut off every avenue for the tempter to get a word in edgewise. Not trusting in self to do battle with our seasoned warrior enemy, we will let Jesus fight those battles for us.
But, we must fight the fight of faith; we must battle to get to Jesus and stay with Him; we must labor to enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:11). We must let Him grow on us. We must spend the time letting the Bible remove the scales from the eyes of our mind so that we can see Him. We must heed the admonitions of the Bible that will facilitate the scale removal. Perverted diet, dehydration, overwork, laziness, disregard of warning signs, keeping away from our Creator’s beautiful world of nature, resisting the pull of His Spirit, all will destroy our ability to have Jesus for our time, distance, and shielding from the enemy of souls. Therefore, all of those transgressions of God’s laws of health must be substituted for something better. This is not legalism, this is survival!
These idols will destroy every effort to get with Jesus. Idolatry has ever been the obstacle and stumbling stone that has prevented God from dwelling with His people. Self-indulgence, in whatever form, has meant death, immediately or ultimately, one way or another. Many desiring to be saved never obtain salvation because of the idols they choose to not let go of. A feeling and a hope to have Jesus, but no diligent, everything-it-takes effort to have Him, will mean eternal ruin. You will have to pick up the cross if you really want to find Him (Matt. 16:24-26). Satan will not loosen a pinky-hold without our determined rebuke to his corrupting grip.
Proper diet, pure water, fresh air, labor and rest, sunlight, self-denial, trust in divine power, are the eight laws of success in the Christian life. They are the antithesis of idolatry, and the narrow road and narrow entrance to real life here and eternity. They will naturally bring us to salvation. How can a person be saved from selfishness while he focuses his will to please himself? How can we have a clear mind without plenty of pure water and fresh air? How can we follow Jesus if we refuse to suffer for His sake on the issues that are closest to us and are the most easily dealt with? How can we love the things of Christ, things of holiness if we won’t abstain from wrong thoughts and words and practices?
From a widely read author: “But what do we give up, when we give all? A sin-polluted heart, for Jesus to purify, to cleanse by His own blood, and to save by His matchless love. And yet men think it hard to give up all! I am ashamed to hear it spoken of, ashamed to write it.” Steps to Christ, p. 46.
It will take our deciding which we want the most. Love for others, or love for self. Jesus or Satan. Is it really a hard choice? Clearer perceptions of truth and grace, or that bowl of ice cream and cake. An hour with the Bible, or three hours of televised sports. We can’t have them both; no man can serve God and mammon. A walk in the woods or around the neighborhood, or six half-hour increments of sitcoms and soap operas. It won’t be an easy choice, especially at first. But, whatever we do not overcome will overcome us.

Multitudes want salvation. Multitudes desire eternal life. Multitudes want heaven, but most will not let go of their idols. “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14). It can take a long time to move completely away from Babylon. But, it is certain that if we parley with Babylon’s temptations we will never come out. The longer we handle and hold the sin, going over and over whether or not we should give it up, the less and less we can let it go. And the less and less likely we will ever be saved.
We don’t readily have both Christ’s loathing of sin and the poisoned mind of those who minister sin. “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children.” (2Pet. 2:14). “But [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23). This should be our goal, our target. It was Christ’s purity and austere conscience that wrestled in the Garden of Gethsemane, recoiling from the presence of Satan, to not handle humanity’s lust for sin and self-indulgence, and to reap sin’s dread effects. But, that awful day He must taste the total disgust and separation from God that sin has caused, causes, and will cause the great King by every member of His beloved human race.
Like cockroaches we revel in the detestable world of sin. It’s been our home since our conception. Our filthy character and separation from God doesn’t bother us that much. But, only because the grace of God spares us, do we not immediate reap suffering and death. We savor excitement and open rebellion, empty and deleterious. But, God keeps us alive in the hope that we will turn from our ways and really live in Him.
Jesus suffered under our iniquitous lives. All the grace of God that has paid for our continued existence has been taken from our Saviour (Matt. 8:16,17). The abundant life from the Father for which we can never reimburse Him, Jesus had to lose from His life. The separation from His Father sent distress throughout His whole internal organs, killing Him body, spirit, and soul. Before He even left the Garden, “from the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they [were] not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isa. 1:6).
This is the Jesus the world claims to want, but knows nothing about. And most don’t want to know because they fear the responsibility that comes with that knowledge. “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” (John 14:17). Yet, in spite of the pervasive failure to surrender to Jesus, it’s not hard. It is actually very doable.
He spoke differently toward His friends. “But ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16,17). These closest associates of Jesus’ weren’t special, naturally holy men. They were fishermen, publicans, and otherwise sinners. But, notwithstanding their weakness and evil passions, they stayed with Jesus through thick and thin. They constantly witnessed His cold rejection of their sins, but  simultaneously His warm acceptance of them. They stayed with Him, even when He punished them with a storm at sea in the pitch blackness of night, when facing demoniacs, and though often chased from city to city by enflamed religious fanatics and reaping the suspicions of the leaders all because they had Jesus for their teacher. Nevertheless, they found something in Jesus that met a need they didn’t know they had until they saw the way He was. They discovered in His indefatigable righteousness a boon to their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health.
In Him was life like they had never known. His painful hatred of sin was all over His face; He couldn’t hide it. No wonder that to see Him was to be struck with lightning bolts of conviction. No one, no one was ever the same again after meeting Jesus. But, His love for the sinner was equally apparent. High and low, rich and poor, free and bond, it didn’t matter who. Even His enemies were disarmed because He loved them, too. God had given Him to the world, and He sent His Son filled to the brim with His undaunted love for them. Everyone knew that God loved them by the encouragement and help Jesus gave them. If Jesus had stayed, He would have turned the world back to His Father in His lifetime.
But, there would have been a problem. The Spirit of truth, the Spirit of God would have remained limited. It would have remained “with” them, but not “in” them. Jesus had to reconcile His Father to the great controversy. That could only happen when the great King of infinite perfection could see a man live the perfect life (by His infinite standards) to the last waking thought before death, all the while under the wildest barrage of wickedness heaped on him by the adversarial hosts of the rebellion.
Once Jesus accomplished that, He satisfied the infinite grief of His Father. Thus, His Father glorified Him. As an evidence of that, He deluged the lonely, praying 120 disciples with a tornado of His joy.
Looking unto Jesus, turning away from the idolatrous life of this world is very doable. When we are looking at Jesus, handling the Son instead of handling sin, the things of this world grow strangely dim. And, like the disciples, we will have much to say about Him. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1Jn. 1:1-3).
We must stay in the dining room instead of in the deadly reactor. Let us eat, drink, and be merry eating in His presence. Let’s enjoy Him in perfect fear and obedience, like the leaders of Israel.
“Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: and they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in His clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.” (Ex. 24:9-11)
Let us follow Him away from our idols. And let’s ask, seek, and knock for His robe of protecting righteousness, holding out our arms until He puts it on us. Then we will find in that robe a divine nature that makes sins and temptation fall off of our old human nature like the fleas off of my dog’s back when he takes his medication for them. Receiving our protective shielding, Jesus will throw around the whole host of darkness hip and thigh, and put the armies of the aliens to everlasting reproach.
Let’s not wait another moment to indulge in the pure word of God. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor. 6:2). Let’s choose to get nearer and nearer to Jesus and His love. And let us accept His loving Spirit when that privilege comes to us. Then we will have His shield, distance, and time away from sin. And it’s doable because we are only going for the gold that He has already promised —that is, the riches of His love and faithfulness. “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Rev. 3:18).
And for every child of Adam, each one made in God’s image, love is always the strongest  of incentives.
 “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
Incline your ear, and come unto Me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David….
Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon….
For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isa. 55:1-3,6,7,12,13).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Neither here not there, but the heart

“Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20,21).
The children of Israel had been given a very regimented religion. It had to be that way, having come out of deep Egyptian darkness. But, that wasn’t all the Lord gave them through Moses. For 170 years we’ve heard that the Old Testament was only legalistic and now the New Testament is all about freedom in the Spirit. It’s true that we are free in the Spirit, but conceptualizing that liberty with the misleading backdrop that it contrasts with a dispensation of legalism has sent multitudes—whole denominations—into antinomianism, i.e. lawlessness.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.” (Rom. 3:21).
The following quotation from Romans can only be grasped by first understanding the text Paul was quoting from. But, first here is what Paul wrote:
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:4-9).
And here is the original from Moses:
“If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Deut. 30:10-14).
When we compare the two, we see that they both say the same thing. Moses was preaching the gospel of righteousness by faith. “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” Moses was instructing the people, close to the end of his life with them, in the nuts and bolts of obedience. The heart. If righteousness doesn’t come from the heart, then it doesn’t get out right. The heart must be purified first that we may be able to “do it”.

“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” Steps to Christ, p. 18.
“All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.” Desire of Ages, p.668.
Heart work is all that Moses was saying to the children of Israel. And therefore Paul was only amplifying what Moses hadn’t made clearer because the people would have rushed to using it for a segway into antinomianism. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.” (Gal. 3:19).
It would take time, even generations and much falling and getting up again, before the human will could surrender to the Spirit of God. Christ, “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9), knowing Him—was the end of the Law, back in Moses’ day and in Paul’s and in ours. The promise of the Spirit would be the panacea for all of humanity’s ills because it would realign us with the will of God and His laws. This secret of success Satan has fought tooth and nail to keep hidden because it is his undoing.

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).