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

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Not necessarily right or wrong

“There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots… and He shall not judge after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: but with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.” (Isa. 11:1,3,4).

The requirement for the judges was that they would only justify the righteous, but never the wicked. “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.” (Deut. 25:1).

This seems so cut and dry, so textbook perfect. In reality, is anyone truly perfectly right? What about David’s and Paul’s assessment of every member of the human race? “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Ps. 53:2,3). “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” (Ps. 58:3).

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin...
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom. 3:9,11-18).

Then, back to the original question, how can a judge call one man righteous and another wicked? How can he justify one and condemn the other? It is possible for a criminal act to happen 100% unprovoked. Fraud happens every day to completely unsuspecting victims. But, there are many other cases where the victims did provoke the attack. Can’t we say, by Romans 3:11-18 authority, that 99% of sinful acts come provoked?

One thing we can surmise from Revelation concerning the causes of sin, is that we live in a world of sin that is getting increasingly worse. The cause of sin is growing more complicated and confusing, with both parties at fault. “Babylon the great…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).

I realize I have no statistics upon which to base my assumption of 99% provoked sin, but it seems, based upon the opening text from Isaiah 11:3, 4, that Jesus worked off of that assumption.

It did not say that Christ would judge by seeing or hearing any testimonials. None at all. Why? Because everyone would be corrupt, and all of their testimonials would be corrupt, too.
“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matt. 7:17,18).
“Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” (John 2:24,25).

What was His basis for judging? What did He look for? The meek. He looked for the person who was humbled. The prophecy said that His equity in judgment would be in favor of the meek. Who had been the whip and who had been the whipped? Who was the oppressor and who was the oppressed?

“And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.” (1Ki. 3:25). Which one was righteous? Neither; they were both prostitutes. But, which one was truly oppressed by the other? The one who was broken and who sobbed out a real surrender of her baby. She had ceased to think of herself; she had won the victory over self. Life had humbled her, and she was now meek. She won the case.

In the case of Hannah and Peninnah, which one of them was right and the other wrong? Neither; but, one was oppressed and the other was the oppressor. And when did Jesus judge the case, at the beginning of the oppression or at the end? At the beginning there was no one meek, so He couldn’t pass judgment then. Hannah wasn’t meek yet. She wouldn’t become meek until after years of oppression. “And as he did so year by year [her husband taking them up to the big feast], when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.” (1Sam. 1:7).

We all want to be right, and never wrong. We want to believe we have the right to hurt others, but avoid all blame. We want to be justified by faith, and never condemned. But, we also don’t like the rigorous trials that make us “the meek”. And most people jump out of the crucible before Jesus is finished with their disagreeable humbling process. They therefore never become meek, and Jesus can never justify them. They will spend their life believing they are meek, and justifying themselves; but, they never get God’s justification and are never turned into another person with a new heart. They never receive His Holy Spirit into their hearts and His power to become sons of God.

They live in a delusion; they deceive themselves. They are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2Tim. 3:4) because they would not love Him enough to stay with His training through thick and thin. They can’t endure His hardship.
“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 [illegitimate], and not sons.” (Heb. 12:6-8).

It’s not until we endure the whole purifying process, which our wise heavenly Father knows we need, that we are then humbled and meek. But, once we are humbled, He immediately turns the tide of the enemy’s battle and comes for our rescue.

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7,8).

As for the real mother, “then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.” (1Ki. 3:27).
As for Hannah, “she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life.” (1Sam. 1:10,11).

Hannah was justified after Jesus humbled her, when she had endured the full length of His test. We see the same life lesson learned in the holy men of old. Job and Abraham and Jacob, Judah and Joseph, Moses and Aaron, the disciples.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” (Isa. 61:1-3).

“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).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In His cross our glory

“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1Cor. 2:2).
What is glory, but that which flashes into our dead souls and stops us in our self-centered thoughts and intents? What else than the revelation of love helps us lose our inborn wrath? What else sweeps away our dead self-sufficiency than love? What else shows love than sorrow for separation? When our hearts are contented with a comfortable life, we become mired in selfishness and implacable, and gain a misery that nothing can drown. We lose our capability of loving. The only remedy for this is to have in place a constant testing of that love by separation from something loved.
God has made life on Earth abounding in the tests for the hearts of men. We have death, we have suffering, in the animal and human kingdoms; and we have the medium on hand to keep our hearts revived, if we will avail ourselves of it all. Sin may have weakened our ability to grasp the potential for redemption in the trials and suffering that God sends us, and thus to make use of them to keep our love pure and our mercy alive. But, for our sake, God has given every man a knowledge of His suffering so that we can be revived from the dead.
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). Here, for all ages to come, we have the greatest display of love. We see infinite separation. We see the infinite bond between divine loved Ones. Like an atom split, we see the power of a nuclear explosion in the Garden of Gethsemane. Doesn’t that infinite separation redeem our lifeless hearts? Doesn’t the cloud of death upon the Son for the loss of His Father’s love bring us back from the dead? And if not, why not?
It’s easy to hear something so many times that it loses its impact. Even for Israel who had the purest sacrificial system, sacrificial death lost its power to redeem the sin-deadened heart and to conquer their self-sufficiency. “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck.” (Isa. 66:3).
Such a far cry from the beginnings of that beautiful system. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21). “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” (Gen. 4:4). They were broken in heart and in self-will. Redeemed, they were restored to the image of God. Justified, they lived for their Creator and His just Law until death overtook them.
In a previous post I’ve related the story of my wife and a kid goat that someone had given her. She immediately became attached to that little baby with its thick, matted fur; and it got deeply attached to her. But, she began to foresee the problems of raising a goat in the city, and when she met a man who had some land outside of town, she asked him if he would take the kid and he accepted her offer.
But, she never realized how attached that baby goat had become to her by her much handling, stroking, feeding, and loving attention. She ran across the man again two weeks later and asked about the little goat. He said that it had died. It just stopped eating and died.
It lost the only thing that gave it purpose to live, which was love from my wife, a source of love that it considered to be its new mother. And today as I ponder this, I read into that little animal’s mind. I see separation, a killing longing and desperation to have its mother again. I see a hopless sense of lostness; I see the baby crying for my wife day after day for two weeks, all alone in a back yard, cries that were not heard by the new owner. I see a young, disparaged heart ravaged with sorrow, a sadness with no sympathy. I see a little heart bursting with constant yearning that nothing could satisfy and unending, biting grief, grieving until death consumed it. I see an animal sacrificed. And in that kid goat I see the Lamb of God, slain since the Garden of Eden.
I also see a love so natural to the Son of God that is so hard for sinful humanity to manufacture. Sin has robbed us; service to Satan and all of his tempting idols have blunted our faculty of love. We need outside assistance to be saved from sin’s shackles. That little goat was more righteous than we are. Our little children, who retain the yearning to be loved and the need for our care, are more righteous that we are.
My wife was abandoned by her parents at the age of four. Ever since, she has starved for love and attention. Her grief and retaliation against the loss of the special love from her father, knows no bounds. She has tried to fill that gigantic hole throughout her lifetime, and never is it satisfied. Thousands have tried every chemical invented to fill that God-sized hole, to no effect. Only my wife’s father can fill her void like no one else can. Yet, even if she could find him living in that other part of the world, her heart will remain incomplete. She lost her childhood innocence that could receive the kind of love that only he was capable of giving her. Now, only someone bigger than her and her daddy can satisfy that gigantic need. Her Father in heaven, Jesus, and His almighty Father. Only They can fill her adult heart with the Comforter.
They have done for the entire human race the only thing that can fix all of its woes. They have shown us how much They have tried, with much failure on our part, to deliver us from the master that we have chosen. They permitted the great controversy to play out here on our planet, to let every member of the human race intimately know how They have suffered since our separating from Them.  In Gethsemane and at the cross, They separated from each other to cause the death of both of Them, and to reveal how terrible it has been for Them because Their children chose another father, and a ruthless one at that. The circumstances of that separation reveal a love for each other and for Their children that is inconceivable, and will be our study for eternity.
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46) will echo throughout the universe and through all eternity.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The bling-bling in the hum-bling

I think I understand it correctly. I’m always slow to get the latest quirks of my language. So, please forgive me if I’m not getting it right. But, “bling-bling” means something good, something to show off, right? The “bling-bling” phenomenon was short lived, but I remember how it took over my daughter’s conversations. Everything was bling-bling (smile) this and bling-bling (laugh) that and bling-bling (grin) the other thing. For a time I had no idea what she was doing by her blings and things.

But, now I know that bling-bling represented the shine or flash from a diamond, from super white teeth, or something else showy. Hence, bling-bling communicated something to show off. Bling-bling meant something good, some thing to rejoice in.

But, being humbled is not normally something to rejoice about—not initially. Not until after the humbling process has finished its perfect work do we rejoice in it. And then we rejoice in it like there’s no tomorrow; there’s nothing better than being humbled. That’s because then we know God is our everlasting Father. It’s only after being humbled that we know that our way is wrong and detrimental, and that our Creator is a God of eternal, fatherly love and patience with us. So, it’s God who makes the humbling process wonderful. God’s love puts the bling in the humbling.

Humbling self is never an easy task. We must have a facilitator. Us humbling ourselves is as impossible as putting two opposing magnets together. We must wrestle with them to be perfectly aligned on top of one another; yet, they still resist every effort to be joined. And at the last moment when you have them exactly together, no sooner do you let go of your strenuous, tedious efforts, than the magnets, with the flash of lightning (bling?) go their separate ways! They return to their natural positions, disjoined and glued to the wrong side. Equally futile is our fallen nature, burgeoning in boastfulness, to humble itself and admit to sin.

For humanity, humility is an uphill drudgery. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:17). It is impossible for us to surrender up our pride and self-sufficiency. We must have help. We must have a mediator, and we do have one. But, he must have the right qualifications.

That mediator must love us. A mediator must have more than proven himself trustworthy. He must have bent over backwards to win our affection. He must have gone over the top in perfect camaraderie. His love will show itself unselfish and other-centered. A mediator will have already established a rapport before he or she does any correcting and reproving. A friend is the only successful humbler. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:6). If the mediator will reprove and correct us successfully, he must mix into his discipline an abundance of discernible, obvious love.

“As many as I love,” Jesus says, “I rebuke and chasten.” (Rev. 3:19). “Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame…. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Heb. 12:2-4).

The wise and holy One has proven His unselfishness and trustworthiness. He came only to serve. He took upon Himself our pains and infirmities. “Christ pleased not Himself” (Rom. 15:3). And He says to each one of us, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3). He proved the truth that, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.” (John 15:13).

“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.” (Matt. 26:37,38).

Something was robbing His happiness, His ever-flowing well of water, which had ever sprung up into everlasting life. For the first time, His feet were leaden as He stumbled into the garden and fell fainting to the ground. “And He went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:39). It took all the strength that He had to get off the damp earth and onto His knees.

In Gethsemane, our Friend and Mediator had lost all joy. He, who had only ever known His Father’s blessed acceptance without measure, now knew only a constant, badgering chastisement of His peace. He couldn’t sense His Father any more, and His mind was whelmed in darkness. He was suffering eternal torment in hell, alone. Would His Father leave Him there? “And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22:43).

He was being gripped with wave after wave of a maddening emptiness. Exponentially stronger and with increasing frequency, the peaks of torment assailed His soul. “And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44).

“Being in an agony”, He must desperately beg comfort from His faithful friends. And “He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done. ” And “being in an agony”,  “He came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.”

“He left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matt. 26:40-44).

The Father’s work of substitutionary damnation was in motion; and His Son was the holding tank of that infinite, earth-shaking judgment. The work of delivering mankind from sin and Satan had begun in earnest with the momentum of a spiral galaxy, a massive gyro that nothing could stop. The rebirth of mankind would not end until our old nature could die and a new race be born again.

There was no stopping the throes of His mental travail and His pelvis-breaking bodily torment until completing the purchase of His promised possession. A work greater than the Son of God ever could imagine was swirling around Him, and, if for a moment He slackened His faith sealed in His Father’s trustworthiness, He would fly off the plan of our salvation. With tears He cried out intents and thoughts for His God and for His yet unborn, cries for a future family, cries and tears which He could never have expressed under any circumstance less than total desperation. Under the infinite contractions of His soul, He trumpeted the infinitely deep yearnings of the silent, unknown God.

Could Jesus take this much humbling? Could He continue unclothed of the private love and confidential longings with His Father? “In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation?for His life is taken from the earth.” (Acts 8:33). Could He remain unclothed of acceptable propriety and decorum? “I was naked; and I hid Myself” (Gen. 3:10); “I was…naked, and ye clothed Me not.” (Matt. 25:35,43). In shame too painful to hide did the pure and innocent second Adam permit the exposure of His nakedness. “Charity…doth not behave itself unseemly” (1Cor. 13:5), but, this was different. Everything was out of Christ’s control, and under His Father’s.

It was His humbling, as a mother spread on the delivery table. His innermost self was exposed to the hosts of heaven, and, by daybreak, to the people of God and even the pagan Gentiles. His whole body throbbing and His mind in shambles, all He could do was strive to hang on in this holocaust. He was the sacrifice of the red heifer that was burnt to ash because not only His head, but His whole body was under great pressure. Blood seeped from all over from His bloated body. “His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.” (Isa. 52:14).

Open to the view of all was the swollen conformation of the great red heifer, bloody all over before the first whip had lashed into Him. “From the sole of [His] foot even unto [His] head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isa. 1:6). Added to His Father’s wrath was the prince of evil exacerbating the agony physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually. The Father’s wrath because of our sin, and the devil’s because he had been our chosen master, was Christ’s double punishment in our place. Everything we must ever suffer, He has already suffered to the 10 billionth power. “He hath poured out His soul.” (Isa. 53:12).

“Speak ye comfortably to [the children of Adam], and cry unto [them], that [the Messiah’s] warfare is accomplished, that [their] iniquity is pardoned: for [He] hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all [their] sins.” (Isa. 40:2). “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” (1Pet. 3:18).

The Messiah knew our hell before the judgment seat of God; He was the great burnt sacrifice. “Eat...of it…roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning.” (Ex. 12:9,10).
“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).

“Wherefore, my brethren, ye…are become dead to [the condemnation of] the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Rom. 7:4). Jesus blazed the trail to the Father’s infinite humility, for no man could come to the Father but by His Son.

If the Son could be so humbled and opened, why can’t we? Jesus put the bling-bling back into the hum-bling. Let’s be humbled by the Law and the gospel, and see the salvation of the Lord.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The path to life, part I

“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Prov. 6:23).
The path of life is through death. What feels more like death than shame? What is more mortifying than nakedness? Is this the affliction of soul required for the Day of Atonement? Isn’t this what we should be doing during this investigative judgment, living “naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”?
But, we love the tough exterior. We need the tough exterior. We would die without the tough exterior. To every “How are you doing?”, we give a “Fine. Just fine.” “I don’t need any of your help.” “I have need of nothing.”
“Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17). Therefore, says the Lord, “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).
But, how? How do I get with Jesus to buy His gold, and His white raiment, and His eyesalve? Jesus is in heaven, and a rocket wouldn’t get me to the first star, let alone all the way to the throne of God. The answer: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19).
“You mean You want to rebuke and chasten me? And then I will zealously repent? That’s a new method! What’s wrong with going easy on me, like all the other gods do?”
But, rebuke is the only method that gets through our tough hearts. Our tough exterior is difficult to crack and to expose the real us. Talking nicely to us doesn’t work. We only scoff it off; or rather, the devil scoffs it off through us.
“Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8:48).
“Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24). And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Hold thy peace, and come out of him.” (Mark 1:25).
Rebuke? Wasn’t that a little harsh. Did that poor demon-possessed man really need to be rebuked? The pitiful man had no control over his mind and his mouth.

Yes, the devils needed to be rebuked, and they were dug in really deep. And the man needed to be rebuked because he let the demon possession happen. The man had welcomed them in; they couldn’t come in uninvited. And this man was a church member. (A devil-possessed saint?) Could it happen today? Maybe it could be us. The devils are that slick about working their invitation to rule our heart and soul; and their favorite method is flattery, smooth sayings, easy going. But, once we have let the subtle invitation that they inspire become our desire, then they have the legal right to take up our offer—that is, the offer they put into our thinking. And they quickly and boldly make good on our invitation.
How can I know if the devil controls me? How can I know if my heart is surrendered to Jesus?
Who fills my thoughts? With whom do I love to converse? About whom do I love to talk. Is it Jesus and the Father? Is it people who have submitted to Their kingdom of holy love, and received the faith of Jesus and His character? Or, do we think and talk about this world, and its heroes and celebs and its philosophers of ethical causes? “With every truly converted soul the relation to God and to eternal things will be the great topic of life.” Great Controversy, p. 463.
“Every soul that refuses to give himself to God is under the control of another power. He is not his own. He may talk of freedom, but he is in the most abject slavery. He is not allowed to see the beauty of truth, for his mind is under the control of Satan. While he flatters himself that he is following the dictates of his own judgment, he obeys the will of the prince of darkness.” Desire of Ages, p. 466.
Am I surrendered to God? If not, I need to be rebuked. Not the phony, dramatized and humorous “rebuking of Satan” that we see on Sunday morning TV. To the televangelists the devils say, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15). But, rather than jump on them and tear them to shreds (see Acts 19:16), the spirits use them for the work of casting out phony devils. They counterfeit the true casting out of familiar spirits, and they lead multitudes astray.
What we need from Jesus is His honest rebuke; we need Him to really set us straight. If we can accept His heart-felt rebuke from the written word, then we can know we are children of God. We can have certainty of salvation. How do we know if we are right with God? We are right with Him if we can humbly accept His loving reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness.
“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). “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31, 32). “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:20).
We cannot surrender ourselves to God or to His will. We are not so trusting of Him. We lost our trust in the Garden of Eden. Surrender to another means vulnerability. It means submission. It requires humility. Our proud heart is contaminated with rebellion and it will need help to surrender. Our fallen, natural heart cannot do those things. It utterly resists control. Self, sin, wants to be in control of its host (which is the mind and body). Self is controlling. It wants everything done on its terms. It tells God what and how He should do His will.
Pride refuses to subordinate self to another, neither to a human nor even to its Creator. Nobody can tell Me what to do! God, how dare you tell Me how to live my life! You are nothing to Me! I Am that I Am! “I, ME the Almighty” “waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and [I, ME the Almighty] cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, [I, ME the Almighty] magnified [I, ME the Almighty] even to the Prince of the host.” (Dan. 8:10,11). The warfare of self against God is what the great controversy is all about.
Yet, living in surrender to God is the only avenue to peace, as well as mental and physical health. If stress is killing us with cancer and other diseases, then all that we need is peace with God through Jesus, which will give us peace of heart and mind.
Therefore, if stress and disease need peace; and peace needs surrender; and surrender needs trust, vulnerability, submission, and humility; and they all need rebuke; then, let’s get rebuked! In other words, let’s let loving reproof have its way in our will. Simple enough!
But, rebuke by whom? God. How? His Law. Nothing else works so well to grind into powder our defective, reprehensible self-will. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:19). But the law is more than about correction, instruction, condemnation, and reproof. It also is full of messages of promise and hope and encouragement.
Peace is a 4 step process that begins with conviction of sin, as spelled out in Hebrews 4:12-16.
Step 1) We get convicted. “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).
Go to the Law, the word of God; go to the Spirit of Prophecy books. There you will hear promises and commands; you will hear instruction in righteousness and condemnation of sin. You will find sin to look very different from the way the world paints it. You will find godliness and purity and holiness to be beautifully beneficial, and the Law of God to be holy and just and good. The true picture of sin will convince us that sin is very wrong. The Spirit of God will make the truth from the Bible go straight to your conscience like the dentist’s needle to the nerve.
Then, you will find in your heart a resistance rising against principles of righteousness that you know must be obeyed. “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Rom. 7:20,21). “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). The resistance separates the soul from its Creator; and thus from the peace and life that comes from Him. We cannot do what we naturally want to do. Happiness disappears. We exist between action and its equal, opposite reaction. For a long time maybe, we wrestle for and against righteousness, godliness, holiness.
Step 2) We get ashamed. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Through the Law, as we are reading His soul, God is reading our soul. And shame will happen naturally, as we spend time exposing ourselves to the high standard of the Bible, and especially to the high, high standard of the Spirit of Prophecy books. This is very harassing. This is pure death. On so many counts we stand exposed to the light of truth.
But, the agony and misery that come with facing the truth are a necessary evil. It’s only as we get shamed and guilted, as we let the Spirit of truth peak into our conscience, that we can need a Deliverer from that shame and guilt. Day after day, week after week, month after month, the rebuke of sin by the Almighty gives us no rest because we are hanging on to the old “I don’t need any help” mind. It was this life and death struggle that Martin Luther said almost killed him. The stress upon his mind drove him into a monastery, and yet he still only got relief when he found a Bible and saw in it the mercy and compassion of Jesus toward other sinners like Martin Luther.
When no one else can help, or wants to help our desperately troubled soul, that’s when we go straight to Jesus. As there are no atheists in foxholes, neither are there any atheists in every other desperate circumstances of this life. Whenever the children of Adam are desperately in need of acceptance and help, they always go straight to the holy One. This response is quicker for those who used the Bible at the beginning of the peace-making process. The Bible has a great solution for our terrible distress.
Step 3) We discover the touched heart of Jesus for our case. But, look at what just happened! The desperation from the Spirit of God, entertained by one in whom the Law created a fear of God, also created faith in God. It drove him to God for help. And no sooner does one speak straight to God, than he must have faith! The condemnation of God created faith. And the Lord immediately rewards that faith. This is what Jesus has been hoping to see for so long! Once the sinner has faith, he is justified and no longer a sinner. He is a saint. Jesus gives the helpless one the blessedness of Abraham; He gives him the promised Spirit. The needy one had come to realize that God knows our hearts’ great need. The desperate person knows God’s heart is touched by our calamity.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:14,15). Our new faith sees Jesus, and it knows that He sees us and cares about us. We have faith, honest faith, real, true, abiding faith.  “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…that the blessing of Abraham might come on [every needy soul] through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal. 3:13,14). He sent His dove of peace to our heart. Jesus was “made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
Step 4) We receive the boldness of the sons of God. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16). From now on we know that God is and that He is a great forgiver of sinners. We can always come to get His forgiveness for our sorrow and hatred for sin. Our hearts are settled in Jesus. We are loved by the King of the universe. His love has transformed us. Troubles that used to bother us aren’t such a problem anymore. Things that offended us don’t hurt us so badly anymore. God saved me.

“He surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder.”
(Mark 3:17).

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;
We are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Cast down, but not destroyed;
Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” (2Cor. 4:7-10).
Having endured the tremendous distress from the Law of God, now the Law is our delight. “Great peace have they which love Thy Law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps. 119:165). “His delight is in the Law of the LORD; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.” (Ps. 1:2).
But, before they could have such peace and power, God had to make war with their soul. If no warfare with the sinner, then no peace for the sinner. “Thus saith the LORD, …where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word.” (Isa. 66:1,2). “The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation. The LORD is a Man of war: the LORD is His name.” (Ex. 15:2,3).
Only the devil will offer peace without war. Such a regimen for “salvation” was Baal worship in the Old Testament, and today it’s the same, called Spiritual Formation and celebration worship. “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.” (Jer. 6:14). If we let the devil near enough to speak to us, he will fill our minds with flattery. “Oh, you don’t deserve all that reproof and correction and instruction in righteousness. You’re already a pretty good person. God just doesn’t recognize your good aspects. He doesn’t want to let you be what you were meant to be. He just wants to keep you down. He wants to keep you under His almighty thumb. Resist!
The longer we listen, the more pleased we get, and the more we are hooked on his smooth talk and familiarity. If we never awaken out of his trance, we will end up fully in his clutches. We will choose to leave God’s people and move to our new friend’s place. During the transit, our limousine is filled with flashing lights and music that transports our soul to the heavens. We take no notice that our transportation has taken us to a far off country, and within a compound of high walls and barbed wire fencing on top.
But, we had the freedom to choose. It was either sit at Jesus’ feet and learn of Him, or this other option. Only two powers are contending for the supremacy of the human race. Rather than come to the light “that [our] deeds may be made manifest” and eventually be “wrought in God” (John 3:21), we are captives to one who has no love, never did have any love, and never will. Neither He nor anybody in his house are nice people. We want to get out, but we learn that we can’t leave. The doors are locked tight and the windows have bars. Now we want to cry to God for help, but our pride won’t let us. And the boxing match begins. After years of abuse either we have become as abusive as the others before us, or we are whittled down to a mere punching bag. Then, the first admission to our mistake of joining Satan dawns upon our soul. Later, we have ideations of asking the Lord to take us back. Later still we act on those ideations, and our thoughts turn to needing His help. Then, we make the big step of asking Him for forgiveness. Our repentance is full and honest. It reaches all the way to touch the hem of His garment, and His virtue heals us. Suddenly, like with King Manasseh, we are released from our prison and we know that Jesus is our Lord (see 2Chron. 33:11-13).
“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).
God’s science of salvation is very simple. God condemns our sin. We either tremble before Him or we stand up stiffly in rebellion. That decision determines whether or not we can receive His grace. Our decision predestinates each individual to whether or not they will be saved. If we accept our rebuke of sin, then He calls us to Himself. If we continue to receive His often painful working in our darkened soul, then our experience with Him grows, and so does our trust in Him. His mercy and truth grow more and more acceptable and the devil’s hold on us grows increasingly distasteful to us and weaker, despite all of his countermeasures to keep us his captives. Soon enough, our faith cries to God for deliverance and God answers in power. He calls us by His name—we are justified and in His kingdom. Our naturalization is complete; we are citizens of the heavenly country. God has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” (Col. 1:13). He has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6).
We have cooperated with Him, by choosing to “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” (Col. 3:10). We “are dead, and [our] life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall [we] also appear with Him in glory.” (Col. 3:3,4).
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:28-30).

Path to life, part II

“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).

It makes me sad to see folks not understand this scripture. It seems to me to be the crux of the whole gospel. We need a condition of mind that we can’t bring ourselves to—surrender to God’s Law. And without surrender we can never renounce sin in order for God to be able to justly justify us.

“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.” Testimonies to Ministers, p. 45.

Our justification hinges on the warfare God must do against our dug in appetite for sin. When we read Jeremiah 30 and 31 we see the same message as Galatians 3. We see the large and long work of God to justify us and to put His Law in our hearts and natures. That’s what we see in Romans 7. By the end of the war, Paul was sold on the Law (Rom. 7:22), even if the war against the Law from within him was still raging. But, because he came to love the Law, he was at the tipping point to salvation, as seen in Rom. 7:25. Jesus delivered him by His body on the cross (Rom. 7:4). Now, the Law was etched into Paul’s heart. And by continuing to look to Christ in the Law (Rom. 8:1, 2), from that time onward he could live the life of faith.

“By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith.” Steps to Christ, p. 48.

But, the devil makes it confusing, so that no one can see the truth. For some, he puts it all in the past, so that, as historical, it is no longer applicable. It was a historical record, a lesson to those Christians of Galatia only. It was only for the apostolic church of the first century.

That does great damage to anyone reading Paul’s letter in the 21st century. It makes the word of God limited in its reach. If it doesn’t apply to me today, on this part of the world, then the Bible is not the true word from the eternal God, for “word of the Lord endureth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:25). Such an interpretation misses the mark. By it Galatians 3:23-26 is corrupted. But, we are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:23).

We need to rethink such an interpretation. Our resolution should be Paul’s, we “have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2Cor. 4:2).

“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isa. 40:8). No time, no distance, no circumstance can alter the intent of God’s word. No one can alter the Bible’s intents; it must alter ours. As we quoted before,

“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).

In other words, Galatians 3 should be written in the present tense, or the near present tense.

“Before faith came [before our conversion], we [21st century Christians] were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [during our wrestling under its conviction and slowly receiving faith] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under [the Law as] a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23-26).

It is noteworthy that Paul is not only speaking to Jews, but also Gentiles. We see this in his conversation with them. “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” (Gal. 4:8-10).

Therefore, we can conclude that everyone today can read this text and benefit from it. It applies to the church-goer and the non-church-goer, the professed Christian and the secularist, even the hedonist. No one is exempt from the requirement to “obey...the gospel” (1Pet. 4:17); and no one is excluded from its “blessedness” (Gal. 4:15). Every soul must come and answer before God.

The historical interpretation works for many today who don’t want to be subject to the Law of God, even though Romans 8 makes submission to God’s Law mandatory. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Rom. 8:7).

But, they do love the part which says, “After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [the Law]. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:25). So, interpreting this historically, the lawless say that the Jews were under the Law during the Old Testament times, and now Christians are under grace and can disregard the Law and live like they please (of course, they must love). But, they can eat anything that doesn’t eat them, etc. They can drink anything the pagans drink, they can speak like the pagans, etc. The only law they are under is the law of love, whatever their personal construal or definition of love may be. It’s good times for all; nobody can tell them what to do! No one can judge their life! Yippee!

But, God is clear on this. No matter how religious you are, if you knowingly betray His Law and turn a blind eye to sin, you are in danger of being cut off from God. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” (Prov. 28:9). And, “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Rom. 2:13).

To others, the devil redefines “Law” and calls it the ceremonial law instead of the moral law. Now we are speaking of a group completely on the opposite side of the train tracks from the antinomian ones. Those on the other side are lawless; but these on this side are so law abiding that they are legalists.

These define the Law as the ceremonial Law because of verse 25, “After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster [the Law].” These folks believe they are guarding the Law by interpreting this verse to mean that it is only about the types and ceremonies that ended at the cross of Christ. Yet, their prophet, leader, and mentor called it both ceremonial law and moral Law, the whole Law of God.

But, the legal mind can’t comprehend a time when we aren’t under the schoolmaster, that is under the Law. Therefore they go no further to investigate, and simply declare that the prophet, leader, mentor was wrong. They don’t have the experience she kept appealing to them to get—the experience of righteousness by faith.

But, the problem comes in that the legalists are so good at showing the fruits of the Spirit, that they can’t bring themselves to believe that they aren’t born of the Spirit. They can’t believe that they don’t have righteousness by faith and are legalists. But, they are legalists as seen by their love to talk about works. And they even slip up sometimes and speak of their own works, which the most experienced of them know is a no-no, because they know about Hebrews 4:10. But, invariable, eventually, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

They want to live under a schoolmaster, because they have gotten accustomed to a pained conscience, mind, and heart; and they love to have it so. This is a serious condition, just as serious as someone suffering with anorexia. The constitution gets weaker as the appetite grows smaller. And as the food intake decreases, the strength of the heart diminishes. Finally, the heart loses enough strength to stop beating. I realize that it is a terrible illustration, but the spiritual counterpart is even more terrible.

Likewise, the legalists suffer without the bread of life. They never hear a good word from above. Their focus, their hearing is not tuned to Jesus. He said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6). But, the legalists hear, “No man comes to the Father but by good living, and Jesus was just a good liver. Now, He is light-years away and 2,000 years in the past, so we just have to keep up a stiff upper lip and make the best of this lonely life of religion.” But, Jesus also defined coming to Him as knowing Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). Until a good word of Jesus can get in edgewise through all their good works, they are starving spiritually, no matter how they repaint the picture in their own minds. So, they die young, in spite of all their law-keeping.

The truth is, whether or not they slip up and reveal the true legalist living in the heart, their language is still very telling in that they have nothing good to say about the Saviour. Their thinking is still about What and not about Whom. They have nothing helpful to offer people, therefore they can’t witness for Him. But, this creates a horrible bind, because the Law (especially magnified in the Spirit of Prophecy) states that they must be a witness to Jesus and give their testimony of what He did to save them. But, He hasn’t saved them, or they would have a testimony! I don’t say this in fun, but in commiseration. For I’ve lived that horrible bind many, many years.

The legalists know all the ropes, but have never tried the ropes. They have never surrendered their heart to Jesus. This is a fearful and sorrowful and deadly state of affairs. It needs a Reformation.

That is why understanding Galatians 3:23-26 is so desperately essential. We are dying for the lack of knowledge. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hos. 4:6).

It’s time for another John the Baptist. And here’s why: the work of John was to bring the people back to the Law! The LAW! Before the Messiah with good news would arrive! They had given up on it, and had allowed men to reinterpret it. But, despite its harsh treatment of our sins, we must go back the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible, or we will surely die.

We must let the Law convict us of sin. We must let the Law force us to wrestle and sweat with the Lawgiver. We must sweat with Jesus, the Law incarnate! It’s the wrestling that creates faith. Where there is no sweat equity, there is no faith or life. Wrestling—of all things—actually equates to time spent with the Saviour! It might not seem like the most favorable setting of time together—a wrestling match! But, if that’s all He has to work with, He’ll certainly make the best use of it. Beside, that’s the most often method of communion that He’s ever had with sinners. We’ve always come for His help after every other gimmick mankind can invent, with the coaching from Babylon.

Yes, we must wrestle until He can get in and knock our hip out of joint. That will wake us up! Talk about cutting through the joints and the marrow! Talk about the word of God being “quick” (Old English for the feeling of a dentist’s drill hitting a nerve)! “Speak; for Thy servant heareth”!

That’s how Jacob knew that God loved Him. He knew that for the God of heaven to draw near, close enough to touch him but not destroy him, then it was good to be with Him. And, thus it will also be how the legalist will know that God loves him or her. But, the cost is time under the Law, in the grip of condemnation, under the rebuke of the Law, for who knows how long before we surrender. But, it pays off real good—eternally, starting as soon as we surrender. And that’s the only way to get eternal life. Yes, it is true that we must see Jesus on the cross, as John 3:16 says. But, that sight will never do us any good until we first are under strong conviction of sin. We must, I repeat, we must go back to the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible, and get convicted. The alternative is deadly spiritual anorexia—“speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Tim. 4:2).

If we will choose to be rebuked and have all of our sins condemned, we will have the faith that we so much long to have. We will have a friendship with the world’s best Friend, who saved us from the Law of God, and from God who stands so opposed to our sin. The Judge chastises our peace like He did His Son in Gethsemane. But, only in order to bring about deliverance from Satan. Only by His strong stance against our sin can we come to Jesus. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me”, Jesus said (John 6:37). Do you want to come to Jesus? It will only happen by coming under the Schoolmaster. But after God has worked faith into you through His Law, then you will come to Jesus with all your brokenness, because you won’t mind feeling naked of self-sufficiency. As Jesus He said concerning those who His Father would carefully hand over to Him, they “shall come to Me.” “…and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

“After that faith is come, we are no longer under a Schoolmaster [the Law]. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:25).