“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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Satan is not a loving father

“He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger….” (Isa. 14:6).

“They did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses…. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage…: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.” (Ex. 1:11,13,14).

It was captivity and enslavement that led God’s people to show the true colors of their fallen human nature. The continual lash upon them put in their hearts a continual lash upon one another.

“And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren…. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?” (Ex. 2:11,13).

“As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths. The LORD standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the ancients of His people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.  What mean ye that ye beat My people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Isa. 3:12-15).

Satan has ever loved to enslave people, especially God’s holy people. Our Father in heaven wants us to be humble children, kind-hearted and beautiful. But, slavery makes cold-hearted slave-drivers out of the half-hearted among the holy people. For this end Satan takes the necessary discipline of God to the extreme, repeating it over and over. God never intended His punishment to be abusive. He wants us to humble ourselves under His mighty hand, so that He can bestow upon us the riches of His restored, forgiving Spirit. But, in order to prevent that victory for God’s kingdom, Satan stands at our right hand to resist Him (Zech. 3:1).

The devil whispers to us of God’s overbearing, unending warfare, a warfare which was necessary at the time it came, but which was perpetuated by Satan’s efforts to trip us up again and again so that he could speak in our mind his constant reminders that we deserve to be beat upon day after day, month after month, year after year.

How long Satan stood by “Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest” (Zech. 6:11) we do not know. It could have been a long time. But, what we can say is that Joshua had been “a brand” in “the fire”, and the Lord wanted to “[pluck]” him “out” of the fire (Zech. 3:2). From the context, we get an idea of what caused the distressing situation with Joshua.

“The angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.” (Zech. 1:12,13). The ruins of the nation still cried out the anger of God that had come 70 years previous. Knowing the glories of the past which the Lord had happily poured upon the people of His covenant, and now the withdrawal of His blessings, Joshua felt that God had forever abandoned His people. Everywhere he looked proclaimed the unending justice of Jehovah. It felt like His God was still angry at Israel and would be forever. Over and over again Moses’ threatening record played,

“So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger, and in His wrath:
Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom He had not given unto them:
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deut. 29:22-28).

And we have another possibility for the cause of Joshua’s troubles. “Among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren....” (Ezra 10:18). The current condition of Israel was not due only to Israelites of the past. Joshua, the example for the nation, had not remained true to his calling while surrounded by the influence of Babylon. His unfaithfulness manifested itself in his children. He had sown unbelief in the hearts of his children and had watered it with his lack of strict obedience to the God who he professed to serve. At a different time, but an identical situation, “Their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.” (Neh. 13:24). Now Joshua’s children and grandchildren were defiled by their mothers’ false religion and their thoughts were far from the one true God. He had polluted his own lineage, and the fruition of misery and destruction looked inescapable.

Surely the Lord could never make everything right. Joshua felt like Elijah, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1Ki. 19:4). Have you ever said that? Have you often felt that way? But, doesn’t this state of mind come out of the humiliation which the Lord wants to bring to His people? Isn’t this kind of humility where people are open to His reformation and revival?

No real change, no lasting change, can come from a heart that has not had its glory laid in the dust by the Almighty. Dodging the Lord’s humbling, and thus His gift of conversion, is the reason so many in the church have religious up and down roller-coaster rides. True conversion comes only through surrender to God and His humbling. Yet, we cannot bring forth surrender of ourselves. “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. 456.

But, the Lord finally pulls us out of the fires of doubting His Father’s mercy. Our Lord never wanted His people to suffer forever. Yes, He did want them to know crucifixion of self, but He didn’t want them living in an eternally burning hell. Eternal punishment is of the devil and for the devil. The Son of God is the only member of the fallen human race who had to pass through hell, which He did in Gethsemane and on Golgotha. But, if sinners will not surrender to the God of love, they will receive the automatic, overwhelming alternative for service to Baal, the god of wrath who “ruled the nations in anger.” (Isa. 14:6). “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev. 14:10,11).

I’ve heard that one of the issues during the Reformation concerned the Mass and its daily crucifixion of Christ. Jesus tasted damnation for every man once, never again to suffer eternal death. The Reformers quoted, “By His own blood He [Jesus] entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 9:12). While Jesus has never again suffered the wrath of God as He did, it shouldn’t have been an issue because Christ has been“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8). The Son of God has suffered agony since the beginning of sin, and continues to be crucified afresh because of His church’s lack of His righteousness.

Rather, the real problem with the Mass was/is its “unbloody sacrifice”. The unbloodiness of the Mass has done to Catholic devotees no differently than what the golden calves of Baal did to the Philistines. It was the blood and the death that struck the worshipers of Jehovah with conviction and sorrow. They saw the innocent lambs and kids, heifers and bullocks collapse when the knife came across their necks. They saw the pain and sorrow. They also understood the provision Jehovah made for their escape from the same fate given to the sacrificed animal. They saw the justice and mercy of God. The worshipers loved those baby animals and were forced to see how grievous their sin had been. The worshipers could not overlook sin after witnessing the injustice done to the lamb in order that they could be made just and acceptable before God. It was the ugliness of the sacrifice scene and its promise of God’s love that redeemed the penitent one who brought the lamb. The same happened to all who witnessed the twice-daily sacrifices. The people were crucified with the death of Him whom the baby animal represented. Their pride was stanched, their sin was killed, and their characters brought in line with the Law of their God. Their loyalty and consecration and will to obey His Law was restored. “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and My words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” (Isa. 59:21).

“This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing.” (Isa. 28:12).

But, Satan designed Baal worship to purposely derail our conversion to God and our return to His life of righteousness. The luster of the golden bull, the appeal of the bull to the worshiper’s lower nature, all provided a relief of guilt and of the oppression caused by sin and separation from God. Through false worship, the Israelites who were attracted to Baal truly believed themselves to be redeemed. They felt that Baal and Ashtoreth had saved them from their oppressive mental torment. Salvation has always been Satan’s promise and boast. But, the relief that he gives has nothing to do with the Law of God or with a new heart restored to obedience to God’s Law and His Spirit.

Baal religion gives a falsified redemption; but it is a redemption greatly sought out by the heart that has never submitted to the rebuke of God. “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Cor. 4:3,4). “And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.” (Isa. 6:9-12). “And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.” (Dan. 8:12). “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.” (Isa. 14:26).

The grinding by the Spirit of truth continues unabated to show them their filthiness, and the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever because they refuse to yield their will to God’s will. They never know surrender and repentance. And then when they are offered an imitation redemption, one that requires no denial of self or yielding of the natural self-will, they lunge for such a religion like the starving hosts of Saul flying onto the Philistine flocks. With the new apostate religion, the grinding never stops, but they have believed in a patented nostrum to desensitize the burning of their soul. Desensitizing the conscience is all that every false worship and religion were for. The worshipers try to make drunkenness replace their thirst for peace with the King.

“Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:18,19).

Religion has been called the “opiate of the people”, and often rightly so. In the following statement from Ellen White, please read spiritual things in place of the physical. “By the use of poisonous drugs [doctrines], many bring upon themselves lifelong [eternal] illness, and many lives are [eternally] lost that might be saved by the use of natural methods of healing [God’s Law of love]. The poisons contained in many so-called [false religious] remedies create habits and appetites that mean ruin to both soul and body. Many of the popular nostrums [“sorceries (Gr. pharmakeia)” (Rev. 18:23, cf vs. 3)] called patent medicines, and even some of the drugs dispensed by physicians, act a part in laying the foundation of the liquor habit, the opium habit, the morphine habit, that are so terrible a curse to society.” Ministry of Healing, p. 126.

The use of ritual and forms, and a system of maxims and taboos, is all that Satan has ever offered for our relief of sin and its consequences. He does so because he knows that rites and ceremonies can never be of real help. They never heal and restore. They never cause conviction of sin; therefore, how can they ever lead a soul to search out One who can teach of a better way and whose bloody death gives true repentance and reconciliation with God? And without repentance through unvarnished descriptions of sin, how can the soul ever be saved from his destructive sinfulness? The one false religion, the world round, offers the same empty imitation peace of mind. “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations.” (Isa. 14:26). As it is that the body cannot be healed by the patented nostrums, likewise the soul is never healed of its cancer-causing anxiety and unrest.

“A practice that is laying the foundation of a vast amount of disease and of even more serious evils is the free use of poisonous drugs. When attacked by [sin] disease, many will not take the trouble to search out the cause of their [consequences of sin] illness. Their chief anxiety is to rid themselves of [shame and humiliation] pain and inconvenience. So they resort to [a doctrine of “grace only”] patent nostrums, of whose real properties they know little, or they apply to a physician for some remedy to counteract the result of their misdoing, but with no thought of making a change in their [life of sin] unhealthful habits. If immediate benefit is not realized, another [attempt to get grace without subjection to God’s Law] medicine is tried, and then another. Thus the evil continues.
     People need to be taught that [“sorceries (Gr. pharmakeia)” (Rev. 18:23] drugs do not cure [sin] disease. It is true that they sometimes afford present relief, and the patient appears to recover as the result of their use; this is because [the forbearance of God toward ignorance of His character seen in His Law] nature has sufficient vital force to expel the poison and to correct the conditions that caused the disease. [Redemption and health are] Health is recovered in spite of the drug. But in most cases the [false worship, pharmakeia] drug only changes the form and location of the [sin] disease. Often the effect of the [poisonous doctrine] poison seems to be overcome for a time, but the results remain in the [mind] system and work great harm at some later period.
     By the use of poisonous [pharmakeia] drugs, many bring upon themselves [eternal loss] lifelong illness…” Ministry of Healing, p. 126.

This is the issue of the Mass. I regret that I am condemning the hopes of so many millions who believe that the Mass is a good thing. And today, thousands of Protestants are flocking to something no different than the Catholic Mass—they are running to Spiritual Formation. Spiritual Formation is nothing more than another form of looking away from the Law of God and from the crucifixion of Christ. It will not allow God to convict of sin. It focuses on something nice-sounding in the Bible or in the Spirit of Prophecy. But dirty, ugly, and disturbing condemnation of sin is not permitted entrance into the meditations and contemplations of Spiritual Formation. Only the grace of God, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace.” Spiritual Formation cannot hear the words that convict of sin. It plugs its ears, over and over repeating the mantra, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.” But the Bible says that he who turns away from the Law, even his meditations and prayers and songs are abominable to God (Prov. 28:9).

“And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:19). Protestant Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Prayer, Centering Prayer, et cetera is nothing more than a philosophical form of the Mass and of worshiping Mary, who has ever been equally full of grace, and nothing but grace. Grace without the condemnation of sin is destructive because we need condemnation laid at the roots of our fallen nature before we are able to genuinely repent. “Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.” (Mic. 2:10).

But, the truth is that Jesus, who suffered, requires us to suffer with Him under the powerful conviction of His Father’s Spirit of truth. And as Jesus suffered once, He desires that we know pain of conscience—but not permanently. He doesn’t mean for us to suffer on and on. But, this does happen because we won’t surrender to His convictions immediately. To us, punishment is demeaning, and surrender to it is a sign of personal weakness. So, we resist. Like Jacob we fight against the offense from our Saviour, and we wrestle on in the darkness day after day, and toss and turn night after night.

As for Jacob, he finally capitulated to Jesus’ warfare, but not without Christ’s powerful encouragement to do so (Gen. 32:25). Must monstrous agony from corporal punishment always be what we endure before we choose to surrender? It does seem to be the trend of the proud, resistant human heart. But, corporal punishment need not be, and it is not in God’s first plan. He never desires to beat His people to pieces with a continual stroke. But, if they refuse His blessed shame and humbling and every blessing of life which they will enjoy when they accept being humbled, then they must continue in the misery Satan offers without the humbling and without His blessings that come in its train. They continue to serve the old master, who only knows to be abusive. He loves to break down our defenses to sin and to destroy us from within. “The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.” (Mic. 2:13). “This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from Me, saith the LORD; because thou hast forgotten Me, and trusted in falsehood.” (Jer. 13:25). He prefers to draw them and save them with His gentle love; but, more often than not He has had to use His strange act of tough love to save them.

“Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” (Ps. 42:8). Finally the day comes when some do surrender, and they hear His glorious words,

“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).
“This is my comfort in my affliction: for Thy word hath quickened me.” (Ps. 119:50).

“This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Ps. 118:23).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two battles to fight

Our antipathy of God and of His holy things stem from two issues: Satan’s delusions from without and our own pride from within.
1) When Satan persuaded us that God was violent, His motives were selfish, and His love was a fraud, we believed it all without first testing Him to see if any of it were true. Satan used the world that he had created to convince us: A) the iniquitous media which has exalted the human and obliterated the fear of God; B) the proliferated, unavoidable sights, sounds, smells, and “magic” of a sin-loving Protestant civilization which refused to be convicted by the Law of their God, to repent, and to be converted, and which has since then convinced us of the idea that all that we saw in the world was all that there was, and that faithless knowledge has had all the truth about our existence in the big universe; C) worldly family, friends, and teachers, whose opinions we accepted as perfect wisdom because we loved them more than we loved our Father in heaven, who told us to disregard God and His perfectly high standards lest those standards convict us and them of our self-indulgent lifestyles; D) science and human wisdom, which Satan took control of to prove that God does not exist; all of these have made it an easy thing for us to set aside any attempts to reconcile with our Creator.
2) Our own pride could not disregard the devil’s accusations of God, through his various machinations mentioned above, because we could not take a humble view of our own violent natures, our selfishness and fraudulent love. If we had only lived under God’s condemnation of our own faults and weaknesses, when Satan came to convince us that God was unjust for punishing us with consequences, we would have taken the devil’s accusations of God with a grain of salt. We would have told Satan, “Get away from me! God’s not the problem, I am!” However, the more monumental our pride, the deeper Satan’s persuasion went; and the deeper his lies rooted themselves, the deeper and more difficult the roots of our rebellion against God would be for Him to extract. Our delusion was set fast. If those lies began at the dawning of our intelligence as children, then the probability of dissolving our roots of rebellion would be almost nil. In that case, only the Eden-originated familial love could spare us from complete impossibility to know the truth about God and be saved. This has been proven again and again by the heathen nations, through their one false religion in the world. Their tormented condition and monumental pride has built higher and higher in them a Tower of Babel until God has repeatedly had to destroy those nations. As Protestantism has left its Reformation listed above, after the apostolic church did not regain its lost first love (Rev. 2:4,5), Satan took the one world ancient pagan religion, giving it the mask of Christianity, and handed it to the church.
But, the impure  and unrepentant church, the evil and wicked one time true spokesman to the world, was consigned to the grave by the Protestant Reformation. Yet, it has risen again from the oblivion to which God had consigned it. It is about to go into damnation and drag an apostatized Protestantism and a world of sinners into damnation with it. “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is…. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” (Rev. 17:8,11).
Separation from God leaves the soul empty and taunted by Satan. Depending on self and its purported impeccable nature leaves an uneasiness that cannot be forever swept under the rug. The flaws of our purported impeccable nature keep popping up into the conscience and the sense grows that the truth that self has nothing in which to boast will someday be blazed abroad. The soul unconvicted by the Spirit, unrepentant toward God and unconverted to His Law has no morality, no ethics, no purity or holiness; it has no wisdom, no strength or willpower for good. And all will one day be exposed. Dependence on frail human nature for moral fiber, righteousness, and goodness is a losing and troublesome proposition. There is no rest in it, day or night. Cursed is the man who trusts in himself instead of God.
Until the roots of rebellion can be removed, pure happiness cannot be known. Our relationships are dulled and we go on in life without experiencing the image of God that Adam and Eve had in the garden. The love in the family is cool, and it is exhausting to achieve a happy home.
But, no condition is beyond the power of God. Even in the middle of the rapidly approaching perdition, many souls will see the real purposes behind the great deception. In the dense darkness that is even now covering the earth they will realize their own despicable natures and will rethink their rejection of the evidences of God’s nature seen in His humbled children. The Latter Rain will be God’s final work to undo all that the adversary has accomplished to draw God’s children away from Him. Many will abandon their former misconceptions of God and His love.
“The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee [God’s church], the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory.
Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee.” (Isa. 60:5-9).
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged.” (Isa. 60:3-5).
With these precious promises, let’s begin now to accept the tormenting sorrows that we have brought upon ourselves for leaving the faith and righteousness of Jesus, the  chastisement of our peace which Jesus bore for us in Gethsemane (Isaiah 53:5; Matt. 26:36-44; Luke 22:44). Let us trust in the self-sacrificing Son, so that the wrath of God need no longer to be upon us (John 3:36). “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (1Pet. 5:6).
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” (Isa. 60:1,2).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jesus and His beautiful eyes

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor. 4:6).
What was it about the face of Jesus that gave people power to overcome the world? “His face [was] as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire.” (Dan. 10:6). “Out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” (Rev. 1:16). “The Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire…. He that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” (Rev. 2:18,26).
Everything in heaven is muchy flashier and powerful than on Earth, yet in Christ’s incarnated body which by contrast was weak and banal, the Son had a look that pierced the proud façades of sinners. He had a bright and earnest face bearing a contented smile that broke down their prejudices against holiness and righteousness. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth.” (Ps. 110:3). “He shall grow up before [His Father] as a tender plant” (Isa. 53:2), and He never lost His tenderness. Like His predecessor, David, He was “ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (1Sam. 16:12). The hosts of heaven thrilled to come into His presence, but the lack of hardness in the heart and look of the Messiah caused an unsettling consternation in worldly-wise men, women, and their children. “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isa. 53:2).
No arrogance came from Him; but, like David, a majesty could not be hidden behind His youthful look of innocence.
“Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most Mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty.
And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness; and Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things.” (Ps. 45:3,4). “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.” (Ps. 45:2). His grace was not only mercy, but also righteousness. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth…. For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14,17). He had more than rules and regulations in His righteous requirements. He effortlessly blended His righteousness with mercy and His mercy with righteousness. This pleased His Father to the utmost.
It was the sight of the Son’s expression of infinite goodness that drove His Father to exclaim the decree, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4). His Father could not hold back His delight and bestowal of approval. No one like the Son could cause the Father to express His innermost desires, without suffering under the need for forbearance or forgiveness toward the sin, as was the case for His other earthly children. In perfect freedom His Father rejoiced to announce, “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11). “Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” (Ps. 110:1).
And it was in this view of Jesus that David wrote his song of love for his Lord. “To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil, A Song of loves. My heart is inditing [gushing forth] a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” (Ps. 45:1).
Later, Solomon found the glory that comes in declaring the goodness of the Son. “My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the most fine gold, His locks are bushy, and black as a raven.
His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.
His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: His lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.
His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: His belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, He is altogether lovely.” (Song 5:10-16).
Jesus had David’s youthful love of relationships (1Sam. 18:1; 20:41), his vivaciousness (Ps. 42:4), as well as His forefather’s ardor to fulfill the will of God (Ps. 40:8). The Lord had found in David the perfect host, a habitation of the Son through His Spirit, to reveal His true personality and character to His people and to the world. Therefore, He made David king of Israel and used him to found a nation that could duplicate the kingdom of heaven.
The Son of God came here after many kings had claimed to be the son of David. But, when the truest replica of Isreal’s great king appeared, the people found their chief joy in haling Jesus as the great Son of David. “And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them.” (Matt. 4:24). The special acclaim Jesus received from the multitudes of Israel caused great jealousy among the Jewish ruling establishment.
“Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the Son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.” (Matt. 12:22-24).
“And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed Him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” (Matt. 9:27). The Son of David became Jesus’ common title. His fame as Son of David had even spread far beyond the land of Israel, even up into the region of Zidon, the Canaanite stronghold of demonic Moloch and Ashtoreth. “And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” (Matt. 15:22). The Son of David satisfied her request and beat down the devil until it fled.
“And they came to Jericho: and as He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; He calleth thee.” (Mark 10:46-49). The Son of David from His whole heart gave the greatest gift to His subject.
“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.” (Matt. 21:9). Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of [Messiah]? whose son is He? They say unto Him, The Son of David.” (Matt. 22:42).
The trustworthy, youthful heart of Jesus, the Son of David, the Word of God, drew the people in to receive something good from Him. Then, after satisfying their hearts with His blessings, with a word of conviction He cut through all their self-justifications, and got them to repentance. He did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves. One little word was enough to fell their rebellion. Instant convictions, instant healings, instant conversions and salvations were sweeping the nation. Jesus’ eyes, which spoke of the innocence and excellence dwelling in His heart, preached sermons.
The eyes of the Son of David, the Son of God, His welcoming countenance of love, invited reconciliation between God and man. The people were drawn to “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus.” (2Cor. 4:6). Out of that countenance shined hope, confidence in God, authority from God, and powerful influence for good. And the people, burdened under the consequences of sin, flocked to this in droves. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
His eyes, which revealed the inner beauty of His heart, attracted the infinite love of His Father. Around the Son of God all heaven and earth united. He was the Sent of God, the messenger of the Father to bring Their lost children back to obedience to God’s will, which is transcribed in His Law. Like a hen gathering her chicks about her, all found in the Son the central focus of restored communion with their Creator Father. At the eyes of Jesus, heavenly Father and earth-bound children met together again in spirit and truth.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Seeing is believing

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.…  By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:1,27).
Hebrews 11 sounds self-contradicting. Is faith based on seeing or not? We have the old guardian standard of “faith, not sight”. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). But, that was taken from the following larger context.
“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.
And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.
Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.
And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.
Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book.” (John 20:24-30).
After chastising Thomas, Jesus does signs and wonders before them all. No doubt, they all needed a good dose of seeing. It seems that there is a time and season for everything under the sun, even signs and wonders. God has requirements that are sky-high, and it’s His Son’s job to work into His children the ability to perform those requirements. One of God’s requirements is faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” (Heb. 11:6).
“And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16,17).
His Son pleased Him because He had perfect faith. Of course, everyone listed in Hebrews 11 had faith, but Jesus’ trust in His Father towered high above them all. Yet, how did He get such faith? How could He converse in prayer? He saw His Father.
“The Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.” (John 5:37).
“Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46).
“All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” (Matt. 11:27).
So we see how the people in the Hall of Faith from Hebrews 11 got their faith. Jesus revealed Himself and His Father to them. They saw God. Jephthah, a member of the mixed multitude saw and knew God? Yes, even the lowest can have an interview with Him. And, Barak, the scaredy cat? (I would have been just as nervous to match hundreds of thousands of enemy troops against the farmers and shepherds of Israel). Even the murderers, King Manasseh and Saul of Tarsus? Yes, they all eventually saw God because they allowed their hearts to be brought to the place where He could convict them. Then they believed.
The people of Nineveh saw that God could burn up them and their city, as He had done to Sodom and Gomorrah. They saw and they believed. “Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” (Jon. 3:4,5).
But, the Ninevites’ seeing God was a different kind of seeing than Thomas demanded, wasn’t it? That kind of seeing was an opening of the heart, and the felling of pride and rebellion against God. That kind of seeing involved not light into Thomas’s eyes, rather conviction into the Ninevite conscience, bowing to the warnings and promises of God, trusting His words, good news or bad. But, trusting God is an Uh-oh moment to a sinner. Satan rends his “holy” vestments to affect the self-indulgent sympathies of his slaves, and with great urgency screams into their minds, “Treason! Treason! High treason! Sinner beware! This is what I have warned you about all these years of your faithful service to me! The enemy is in your midst! Don’t let down your guard for a moment! Steel yourselves against Him! Be sober and vigilant because that Devil who wrote that awful Bible is coming toward you like a roaring Lion, seeking to devour you!”
But, those sinners who have had enough of Satan’s false promises and frauds, will consider the Lion and see a Lamb. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56). Something will ring true about the Lion-Lamb. Is it His demeanor of honesty? Is it His discipline that is perfectly fair? Is it His example of self-denial? Is it the scars of self-sacrifice on His face, “His visage…so marred more than any man” (Isa. 52:14)? “He is not the same. His countenance is changed. It bears the traces of His conflict in the wilderness, and a new expression of dignity and power gives evidence of His heavenly mission.” Desire of Ages, p. 145.
Or, is it in the character of service that He requires? “Satan tempts men to indulgence that will becloud reason and benumb the spiritual perceptions, but Christ teaches us to bring the lower nature into subjection. His whole life was an example of self-denial. In order to break the power of appetite, He suffered in our behalf the severest test that humanity could endure.” Ibid. p. 149.
Maybe is it His promise to walk beside and guide the trusting sinner all the way through the process of salvation? “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). They see His patience and helpfulness and kindness. They understand that without Him they can produce nothing good. “For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6).
They see, they conceptualize, they comprehend a love in Jesus that they never noticed before. So, they follow Him, leaving their filthy worldliness and the service to the unnerving life of harassment and enslavement under the real devil. The Spirit of Christ has reached their need of love—a need that their old master was forever loath to give—and new loyalties have been born within them.
Ah, conviction of truth! Ah, the reviving of the heart! It is the beginning of a new and better direction in life. When the pride is humbled, and the heart opens to truth and to its convicting nature, the next natural step is repentance. The soul begs God for His pardon, and immediately the heavens open and he receives the Spirit of God. The heart and will are justified and empowered to obey all of the will of God that they know. Because of justification and peace with God, no burden is too heavy, no difficulty too arduous, no requirement too restricting.
The heart convicted by God’s Spirit of truth is true worship to God. “The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23,24). The Spirit of conviction in the heart is the only condition from which praise to God arises out of a love that He finds acceptable. No Spirit of God in the heart can call God accursed; but, every spirit not of God in the heart will only call God accursed, even in prayer. God cannot accept the prayers of the wicked, the very breath of their souls being tainted with violent hatred toward Him and all that He stands for. So, He keeps His distance, forebearing their destruction and letting His Son work in them to remove their hatred of Him and His righteousness. If they will continue with Christ, they will be His disciples indeed. Then, genuine faith in them works its goodness from humiliation and conviction; and from that fountain comes the only kind of goodness and praise that pleases the Father.
“The entrance of Thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Ps. 119:130). From a heart humbled, convicted, repentant, and converted they tap into a Source of power to do righteousness to which those who resist the humbling have no access or right. They gain a vision of Christ that the world can’t see. The Spirit of life gives them a deeper faculty of insight than the world can have.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1Cor. 2:7-10).
They can now commune with Christ, and it satisfies their every need. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:11). They know a rest of spirit that causes everlasting life and strength to spring up. “The Spirit is life because of righteousness.” “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom. 8:10,11). They live in a safe haven, a pocket of warmth. The righteousness which they see in Christ causes their hearts to burn within them. He has baptized them with fire.
They walk in communion with Jesus, as Enoch did. “Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: and Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:22-24).
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Heb. 11:5).
All who walk in Christ have a different paradigm than the rest of the world, a different mindset, a different world-view. Theirs is a heaven-view. They, like Moses wrapped in a vision of the Anointed One, see the Invisible.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:12-16).
The world cannot comprehend the rest and peace that come from that vision of righteousness in Christ. They live under the regime of Satan; they see no advantage to righteousness, and have no submission to the Law of God. Thus, a great gulf remains fixed between their thinking and that in the converted soul. The converted walk in the mind of Christ and are looked upon as deluded; but they are the only ones free from Satan’s delusions. Because the servants of Satan by far outnumber those who have faith, they believe that it is the saints that are deranged. But, the Bible gives us the real picture. It’s the lovers of sin that are deluded, and the children of God have fortified their minds to bear up under the accusations of being delusional.
The unholy think themselves to be good enough, and moral. And even many churched people believe the same way. They cannot live under the knowledge that their sinful nature is unacceptable to God. They acknowledge that they can’t change their nature, but, they discount God’s existence and His readiness and power to do for them all that they can’t do for themselves, which includes even the first steps toward holiness. They therefore choose to ignore all possibility of their filthiness. They deceive themselves. They are ethical; and let every messenger of truth to their conscience who tries to convince them of their lack of ethics beware, or there will be unpleasant repercussions to the messenger. The unconverted souls are ethical, and that’s the end of the conversation.

They have not come to God and submitted themselves to His righteousness. “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:3). They work to tailor their own Ten Commandments to suit their natural, corrupted character, as Paul confessed to have done. “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom. 7:9). “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Rom. 7:8). “And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death” (Rom. 7:10), “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Rom. 7:13), “sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good [the Law of God]” (Rom. 7:13).
These “Bible” Christians do not serve the one true God of Law. They haven’t come to Christ because they have distained to wrestle with the Law of God. Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.” (John 6:45). “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him.” (John 6:44). If they would come to God and His Law, they would need a Saviour from their sins, “after that [they] have suffered a while” (1Pet. 5:10), wrestling with Him in guilt’s agony and torment. But, this means pain and “death” (Rom. 7:10) that are unwelcome to them. Therefore, they remain aloof from God, filthy, godless, and unsaved.
Their “peace with God” is not real because they have not the faith that is born from wrestling with the God of Law, the Schoolmaster. “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.” (Gal. 3:23,24). God represents Himself to the human race as an immutable, stone Law. All who turn away from His Law, turn away from Him and His gift of faith in His Son as their Saviour.
Because they won’t “serve the Law of God” (Rom. 7:25), they don’t fear and serve the one, true God. Therefore, theirs is not faith, but rather imagined faith. Their wormwood bitterness remains whenever their conscience comes face to face with the truth of their unmerciful, unloving filthiness, and lack of heart consecration to God. “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; and it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.” (Deut. 29:18,19).
“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). They have rejected the words of Christ that are so very tonic, and that make their eyes squint and tear and set their teeth on edge. But that zing is the only thing that can bring the dead soul to life. It will give them the pucker power to “suck honey out of the rock [the Law of God].” (Deut. 32:13).
But, having rejected the convicting life of God, life to the rebellious is anything that can stimulate their fallen nature. Enervation is all that their soul can pallate. “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63); and by serving “the flesh” they serve “the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:25). They are slaves to Satan, to whom Jesus said, “Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23). Drunkenness from smooth, intoxicating religious falsehoods, dead works, and ceremonious substitutes that dodge the high standard and which are the opiate of the masses, are all that they will ever have until they come to a humiliation of their sinful past, conviction of their sinfulness, and repentance to God.
The Bible’s view keeps the faithful ones true to their course of beholding the Invisible and following Him. But, because the filthy are in the majority they try to harry faith out of the family or out of the workplace or out of the land. “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be [judged] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Thess. 2:11,12).
This need never be. Let’s awaken to a sincere assessment of ourselves by looking into the deep things of God’s Law. Let’s plead with God to open our eyes to seeing ourselves as He sees us, to see ourselves as we really are. We need a deep humiliation, a riveting conviction; we need a brokenness that only Jesus can put back together. And if we’re broken, He will most assuredly put us together again and keep us on the right path. They that are whole don’t need a physician, but they that are broken. Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

“Though the LORD be high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off.” (Ps. 138:6). It’s the humbled that He highly regards. But, He can’t touch us if we aren’t broken, for they that are all good have need of nothing. The proud and self-sufficient are none of His.