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

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Obedience + patience = eternal life

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36).

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11). Yet the church at Corinth had major problems with sin. Sin raised its ugly head after they were justified, and even after they had been sanctified. Isn’t our Father in heaven able to keep us from falling? “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1:24). Yes, He is able. But, will we be patient with Him to sanctify us “wholly” (1Thess. 5:23)? Will we be patient with our slowness of heart, and with our failures?

Will we “keep” (Luke 8:15) the good word from above, “the heavenly gift, …the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:4,5)? On the long road of sanctification, will we remain partakers of the Holy Ghost and the powers of the world to come? It’s at the end of long hard battles with self that we receive the full promise. 

When we have done all the will of God is when the great blessing comes. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). But, what is the incentive for battling with self over decades? The incentive comes along with the wholehearted effort and the victories won. The first great battle was at our surrender before God through Jesus. We fell on the Stone and were broken. Then the blessing we sought from Him came. The dove of peace came to our hearts, and we knew that it could come only from our God. We joined the group “whose hearts God had touched” (1Sam. 10:26), that great cloud of witnesses that filled the Old Testament. 

“It [was] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Ps. 133:2,3). Peace, health, rest, life—gifts from the heavenly King—count for more than every earthly blessing. Someone very close to me who has chronic kidney pain said, “I would give anything to have health, to be pain free.” Really, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own health? What will a man give for his health? Along with the blessing from the dove of peace comes every other blessing in its path. Because of God’s justification, we walk as “kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6). We have the high privileges of the Levites. 

So, let us carry on with God’s program to sanctify us and prepare us to do literal service in His very presence. 

Will we strive to be “perfect even as [our] Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:45)? After the Father and Son have spent so much to work out our conversion, why wouldn’t They also work out our sanctification? And, knowing Their interest in our eternal happiness, why wouldn’t we cooperate with Them by striving to be like Them? We can cooperate, hand in hand, uniting our heart to Their heart, our ignorant mind with Their omniscient discernment, our weak natures with our Father and Son Saviours. But, we can only have access to Their bounties as we choose to come to Jesus over the long term, and let Him work in us and do of His good will.  

A short-term sanctification is the choice of many and happens only because they have cherished sins, and this blinds them to perceive their thoroughly wretched nature. Idols fill their heart, those idols keep their heart hardened, and the idols lead them to presumptuously take on the battle against sin without any guidance or help from their Redeemer. Impatient sanctification doesn’t work out salvation with fear and trembling, but is full of passion and emotion and presumption. Such a soul isn’t guided by the light of true faith, but loves the “leap in the dark” for the thrill and self-exaltation of it that seems to mitigate some of the “chastisement of [their] peace” (Isa. 53:5). But, Jesus condemned such look-alike, “leap in the dark” faith when Satan tempted Him to jump off the high roof of the temple. 

Like the stony ground in Christ’s parable, hurried, presumptuous sanctification flings itself into danger and difficulty, difficulties which are greatly caused by their life that lacks sanctification. “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matt. 13:20,21). “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” (Luke 8:13). Running into danger is a form of self-martyrdom which results from refusing to admit to weakness. Rather than distrusting self and being thoroughly melted and humbled by past failures, the heart is still stony and independent of Christ, and runs ahead of Him. Then when short-term sanctification is persecuted and humiliated and offended, the unforsaken pride and unbelief refuse to be consoled by “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9), as He draws near to comfort and bind up the wounds. 

Short-term sanctification is in a hurry to get sanctified from all the troubles it is suffering due to the consequences of its sins. It seeks to remove the consequences more than the sin. This kind of sanctification arises from a fear of continued suffering under the just wrath of God, instead of fearing God and trusting that His mercy endureth forever. Its focus is on the uncomfortable and shaming results of sin instead of on the Sin-bearer and Shame-bearer. Impatient sanctification watches the fiery vipers approaching all around that have resulted from a life of sin, instead of beholding the One who was lifted up, and was made in the image of sin and shame for our protection from the shaming curse of the Law, for our redemption, and for our healing. The short-term, impatient sanctification focus is on self-medicating, relieving self, rather than on admitting complete and total failure, and focusing on bringing Jesus happiness as He sees us coming to Him and our sins being washed away in His blood. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Impatient sanctification will not be honest with the one true assumption—that every human naturally is dishonest. The Bible calls us all Jacobs—supplanters, sneaky, con-artists. We all need a converted heart and a lot of sanctification. And until the impatient, presumptuous soul surrenders to the brick walls of God’s providences, he will keep hitting those divinely set brick walls, and keep suffering the consequential bruises, headaches, and heartaches. “And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18). Everyone these days want to say they are “Blessed”. But, most do not want to be blessed in the way God blesses—through His humbling judgments. But, under His judgments, as we stew in our failures our pride is put down, and God is thereby exalted. That is what we need—for God to be exalted in our minds and hearts. Will we be patient with His humbling work, as patient as He is with us accepting His humbling? Blessed are all they who wait for His salvation. He is the Author, Architect, and Engineer of humbled faith. All we can do is accept the free gift, and fall before Him in humility and thanksgiving for His doing in us what we could not do in ourselves.

Yet, based on statistics, the longer we resists surrender—for even giving up a little mustard seed grain’s worth of surrender—the more likely he will abandon Jesus altogether. One brick wall after another, one resentment toward God after another, one missed opportunity after another to fall on the Stone and be broken, they chose fully to deceive themselves. Not one ever “came to himself” and blamed himself and said, “I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son [or daughter]: make me as one of Thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19). Therefore instead of ever hearing the strong rejoicing, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:22-24); in the end they hear the unvarnished truth, “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye [illegitimate], and not sons.” (Heb. 12:8). In the end, all who did not budge even a smidgeon of their inbred self-sufficiency, will depart “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41).

Why…this waste” (Mark 14:4)?!! Why, why, why the eternal loss, when every soul should be saved? Wasn’t it all in turning down the choice to surrender to the “God of judgment” and “mercy” (Isa. 30:18), who graciously, yet with standards, patiently and justly “wait[s]” for our ugly pride to abdicate the throne of our hearts? Why do we resist a Father whose balance and fairness have surpassed all human comprehension?

“That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [hold down, retain] it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15). Examining self and the honest assessments of self pay off big time. As our humbling and justification was God’s work, so is our sanctification. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s work and cannot be rushed—not by us! And God doesn’t rush it either. The elegance and wondrous construction of His fruit in us takes time to build. We must let the Architect, who knows no haste or delay, do His amazing work in our weakened, fallen natures through His divine nature. 

The souls who choose to give themselves an honest appraisal, as fearful as righteous judgment sounds to them, are the ones who cling to Jesus and to His mercy. And afterwards, the honest assessment fortifies their hearts to meet the floods of persecution that Satan sends to sweep them away from their Lord. “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” (Rev. 12:15). No one else will survive persecution except those who trembled before God, and fell on the Stone and were broken. Long before Satan’s floods, the honest souls trusted in the Creator to handle their natural-born wickedness. No one else was patient enough; no one other than God had seen their corruption from the day of their conception and still spent everything He had, even giving them His only begotten Son, to win them back to His holiness. It’s only those who fear they have committed the unpardonable sin that are forced again and again into the Saviour’s presence by faith to tremblingly touch His scepter. And if He must reject them, then He must rightly do so to protect His kingdom; if God deems that they must perish, they should perish. Yet, they come to Him hoping and in His help, and expectant of His mercy. They are crucified by faith, therefore God lets them live. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:7). 

It is the long-term, up and down, often messy, patient sanctification that gives the victory. Those with this kind of sanctification aren’t in it only for the end result, but also for the companionship from Jesus all during the ride. The door of their soul was shut tightly by the sin of Adam. Their birth 6,000 years later has only compounded their first father’s propensity to sin. Yet, God does not hold that against them if they strive to serve Him and yearn to be His faithful son. When He justifies a sinner, that person is no longer a sinner but a saint sitting “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). And if a saint in heaven, then he was never a sinner—not a sinner in God’s eyes. The Father speaks and it is done, He calls us saints and so we have always been. We have never sinned when the great King says so. God treats us as Jesus deserves to be treated; God treats us as He treats His Son. Jesus stands strongly with us before God. And this pleases the Father. His Father declares, “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong”! (Isa. 53:12). The justified saints must be “the great” and “the strong”. Wonder of wonders! How can it be? 

“If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.” Steps to Christ, p. 62. 

They fell on the Stone and were broken. Their pride and self-will were “broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” (Dan. 2:35). They were shattered and then, thusly, and thereby they were justified by God.

In God’s eyes a hardened, stony heart that is broken goes a long, long way. And for those souls, even if they fail, they can know that their first brokenness still goes a long way with God. “For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him.” (Luke 20:38). “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25). Though they failed Him, shame and guilt and repentance went deep into their hearts, and if they will but return to Him and trust in His mercy, He will immediately and happily receive them unto Himself. Even though they feel like they’ve committed the unpardonable sin, in “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) they must trust in the mercy of God, which endureth forever. 

Patience. “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.” (Luke 5:39). This short parable had a two-fold purpose. It was a warning to both the religious leadership and the religious followership who had drunk of the old, putrefied religion that Satan had brought in. Because they had imbibed so deeply of Satan’s filthy religion of self-exaltation, they would have greater difficulty to accept the new tonic, health-giving religion of Christ in which “the flesh profiteth nothing.” (John 6:63).

But, Jesus had another message in this parable. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, “and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7). They had drunk old wine, and they had not “straightway” or immediately desired new. They desired the new wine of the Spirit and they did obtain it, just not immediately. And if God can have loving patience with our delay to trust Him, we can be patient with Him as He fixes our slowness of faith. “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18). 

I heard it called a miracle, and maybe you’ve heard a similar story. A woman had a tumor and she suffered greatly. She determined to faithfully observe all eight of the laws of health. Even law #8, her trust in divine power, was strong. She adhered to the program, not worrying about the potential life threat, even while suffering. One day, when going about her normal day’s work and health regimen, she felt a loosening of something inside, and next she knew her pain was gone and tests showed her to be healed. She was in the work of her natural healing as a lifestyle, not a quick fix. As she left all the healing in God’s hands, thinking about the tumor only enough to keep it before Jesus, and making Him her focus, she made herself susceptible to His built-in bodily systems that are designed to counteract the growth of all the body’s dangerous perpetrators. This is the way patient sanctification works. “Ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Mal. 4:2). The wide-eyed, blinking, long eye-lashed calf grows not out of anxiety to grow, but because it drinks its mother’s milk and love.
The smaller prizes come all along the way back to God, but the biggest prize waits until the full end. 

“Jesus said...whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26). 

“I know that [the Father’s] commandment is life everlasting.” (John 12:50). 

Not if, but when we keep the commandments fully, as Jesus kept them, we will have life everlasting. This is not just an Old Testament requirement and reality. This is what the Father spoke to His Son, and then His Son spoke it to Moses and Israel. 

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut. 30:15-20). 

Life and good days, death and evil days are in our hand to choose whichever we will. Keeping Jesus’ commandments, statutes, and judgments always has and always will be the only way to life. To this both Old and New Testaments attest. “…the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour immortality, [God will give] eternal life.” (Rom. 2:5-7).

“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,  [God will give] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” (Rom. 2:8,9). 

But, let’s not forget that righteousness and well doing come by patient faith. We can see the beauty of Christ’s holiness, but, only through constant communion with Him will His “Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4) rub off on us. And God keeps the consequences of our sins coming at us to spur us on to learn that constant, yearning communion with His Son. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36). 

They will not see life until they trust in the Son. And while their faith is new and still wobbly, Jesus exercises their faith by giving them strong truth and grace, His truth mixed with His grace. Through both truth and grace He strengthens our love for His commandments and statutes and judgments, and solidifies our love in Him. We may stumble and fall, but He picks us up again and again. If we are His disciples, He will be our gracious Saviour and our truth-filled Prince, our merciful Messiah and our just Lord. No man can take us out of His hand, so long as we keep ourselves under His strong right hand. 

So many of us have been born with, or have learned by practice, many wrong habits and ways of thinking. They are our “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet.” (2Cor. 12:7). Yet, even they can be overcome with patient endurance. Over time, over years of building a lifestyle with Jesus and His commandments, years and even decades under the conviction of our sinfulness and evil practices gained early in life, we open the door to the power of the Highest. We weren’t fixated on the sin that had beset us over the long haul; our fixation was on Jesus and His mercy, but the knowledge of our sin did play in the background as we struggled to live to please Jesus our Saviour and His Father, our Father. 

Gently, silently, the Spirit of God pulled and pulled at the roots of that sin. Gradually were the attractions for it dissolved; and a distaste for the sin grew. Suddenly, the temptation disappeared and the victory was won! Righteousness by faith by Jesus once again proved itself to be the only true science for righteousness. Long-term, patient, beholding Jesus and desiring to please Him gave the victory. We see this “patient, protracted process” (Desire of Ages, p. 172) played out in a larger scale with Israel. 

At first under Moses there was rank rebellion against the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Lord Jesus. The next generation was a little better, and over five centuries and after many punishments, a generation arrived that learned the hard lessons of the past. Samuel helped make them ready for David, whose godly and holy leadership quickly brought the people of God to a holy state before Jesus his Lord.

“O Jacob”, “this is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face.” (Ps. 24:6).

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5).

But, again they backslid, and the punishment for their serving Satan lay all around the Jews and the Roman world. Everything that Moses had warned of came upon them.

“And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:
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. 29:21-28). 

Israel backslid under Solomon and it took twice as long to regain what they had lost—a thousand years from David to the apostolic church instead of 500 from Moses to David. John the Baptist made the people ready for Messiah the Prince when He came. Christ did the work of David and recreated a holy state for His people among the Jews and Gentiles. The church, “the seed” that “should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19), received a greater dispensation of the Spirit of the Lord than David’s generation had received.

But, again His people backslid when the church lost its first love for their Lord of love. And it has again taken twice as long, this time two thousand years.

“But at the end [the vision] shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Hab. 2:3). Are we the generation that again seek Him, that seek Thy face, O Jesus? Are we the next and last seed that should come to whom the promise was made? Will we see the Latter Rain and the sealing, a greater manifestation of the reconciliation of God with man than even the apostolic church saw? Will we be purified by the special dispensation of His commandments, statutes, and judgments as given in the Spirit of Prophecy counsels through Ellen White? Will the humbling, unvarnished truth from her pen give us a special repentance, which will give us a special justification, which will give us a special sanctification, that “special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth”?

“When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. Then shall the offering of Juday and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. Song of Solomon 6:10” (Great Controversy, p. 425) in preparation for the special glorification when we see Jesus as He is in glory.    
“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8), and like their Master, so do they.

Will we patiently keep ourselves before the perfect Law of liberty, that begins its work with deeply wounding and offending us and ends in deeply cleansing and comforting us? Will we keep before the God of infinite justice and infinite mercy? Will we have the strong wrestling with Jacob’s Angel, His power to soundly convert? Will we accept the change to His angelic character that will lead us to the holy life, sanctified through “His rest” (Heb. 4:1)? And will that surrender and perfection be what makes us able to stand in “the time of trouble such as never was” (Dan. 12:2)? Nothing else than the Spirit of Prophecy books will prepare us to receive the Latter Rain, and then to hold on to our faith firmly through the approaching tribulation, and finally to stand when Jesus appears.

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Rev. 7:14-15).

“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).

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

“And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” (Eze. 20:11).

In the ultimate interpretation of Ezekiel 20:11 and John 12:20, those who are perfected and obedient in all respects are the only ones worthy of translation. They will walk right into heaven as Enoch did. They will be worthy to never see death, worthy to not die. Theirs will be glorification by faith by Jesus through their special conviction, special repentance, special justification, and special purification. This is a great incentive to strive for perfection in self-denial and self-sacrifice. It’s a great incentive to be like Jesus who made Himself of no reputation. But, the how to get there is not to say, “Now that I know what God expects I will bend all my will to make it happen.” No! The “how to”, according to the gospel, is to come to the Law of liberty, which makes us duck for cover due to its austerity and dreadful greatness (Matt. 17:5,6, cf Eze. 1:18) until Jesus comes to say, “Arise, be not afraid.” (Matt. 17:7). The “how to” is then to rest in His acceptance and His power of sanctify our will. Then we will have the “power of the highest…the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:35) to will and to do of His good pleasure. We will regain the power to think and to do. Without the power of God through walking and talking with Christ, all our great acts of righteousness are putrid, unclean rags. But, with Jesus we can do all things. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37). “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” (2Chron. 16:9).

“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16).
Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:15).

“Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:26).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Who shall stand when He appeareth?

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1).

We have heard over the past several decades that it is hard to be lost. This is not altogether an error, but it can leave a wrong impression on many minds that they don’t have to strive to get with Jesus and stay with Him. There are actually two kinds of messages from heaven, and they have been given to the people of the Lord specific to the condition of their heart.

“With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful; with an upright man Thou wilt shew Thyself upright;
With the pure Thou wilt shew Thyself pure; and with the froward Thou wilt shew Thyself froward.” (Ps. 18:25,26).

In other words, while the people of God were faithful to Him, Jesus gave them His favor. They were safe to receive the knowledge that He was happy with them. But, during the times that they were unfaithful, He rescinded His favor. And He did this for His Father’s name sake, for their eternal safety, and, therefore, for their sake. I repeat, Jesus did this out of love and concern for their dangerous position in relation to the eternity He longed to have with them and His Father, their Father.

Our difficult relation when unfaithful to the God who could redeem us from all sin puts the mind and heart of the sinner, and of the apostatizing nation, under a spell. Sin makes us not only unable to obey, but less inclined to believe that we are not obeying. We are on enchanted ground and under the delusions of the devils. We simply cannot hear any word of grace without presuming upon Jesus and upon His grace. Our only eternal safety can come through strong words of condemnation that shake up our sleeping conscience. Paul called this “the ministration of condemnation.” (2Cor. 3:9).

And although Paul spoke against “the ministration of condemnation”, he did say that it was “glorious” (2Cor. 3:10), and that there was something that excelled it in glory. That more excellent ministry brought the people of the Lord the Spirit and the word of God’s grace.

Now, on this point many get confused. They say, If Paul recommended the ministry of the Spirit over the ministry of the condemning Law, and liberty over “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, … which glory was to be done away” (2Cor. 3:7), then let’s have all the Spirit and grace and glory that we can get!

But, wait. Are we worthy of the Spirit and grace and glory? We must ask that question because honestly questioning our worthiness before God was the assumption in everything that Paul wrote. He knew that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim. 3:16). Scripture to the apostolic church was the Old Testament, the ministration of death and condemnation. Paul accepted, and judged accordingly by, the reproving, corrective, instructive nature that went with that ministration of death and condemnation. If the people of God would not submit to the righteouness of God, then Paul continued to use the ministration of condemnation.  (Just read his letters to the Corinthians.) Therefore we see, by Paul’s example, that the Old Testament never ceased to be profitable to the Jew or Christian. Yet he also saw the promises to be especially applicable to the world after the Messiah came.

Paul understood the relation between Leviticus 26:40-42 and Isaiah 40:1-3.

“If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and that also they have walked contrary unto Me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” (Lev. 26:40-42).
“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. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isa. 40:1-3).

Leviticus 26 showed the ministration of death and condemnation, and Isaiah 40:1-3 was the ministration of life and grace. But, when we look at them together we see that they both say the same thing, the second text resulting from the first. They both look at the judgment of God from different perspectives; they show the comfort of God that follow His retributive death and destruction for their back-slidings and apostasies. And ours also. These consequences and promises of restoration are good for all time.

While Israel served Satan as another husband “[enflamed themselves] with idols under every greed tree” (Isa. 59:5), and prior to their punishment and humbling, they were not worthy of His grace. They were not worthy of His ministration of glory, as in the days of David and Solomon. Neither were they safe to have His full grace. Notwithstanding, He kept some of His grace upon them. “The Lord…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3:9). The God of love never lost sight of them during their horrific abandonment of Him. He loved them even though, in their feigning hearts, flushed with antinomian, idolatrous grace, they could care less about Him and His Law-filled grace. They were doing just like the surrounding nations, which were doing just like Babylon.

“I was wroth with My people, I have polluted Mine inheritance, and given them into thine [Babylon’s] hand: thou didst shew them no mercy; upon the ancient hast thou very heavily laid thy yoke.
And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it.
Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.” (Isa. 47:6-13).

How are we doing? Do we put the Law before our consciences while we seek His face? Have we done like Paul in Romans 7, wrestling with the Law’s amplification of our rebellion until we see ourselves as God sees us? Have we yet come to “delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22) because of the overpowering Spirit of the Law has changed our disposition toward it? Has that delight in God’s Law, and the contradiction to it that we see in ourselves, brought us to the saving exclamation of Paul? “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Even if we’ve been there and accepted the punishment for our iniquities, even if our uncircumcised hearts have been humbled, will we be humbled enough to realize that our fallen nature is deceptive indeed, and forever in need of humbling by the Law of God? “If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye [illegitimate], and not sons.” (Heb. 12:8). In our new service to Jesus, will we “serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Ps. 2:11)? While we can rejoice that “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1), will we admit to ourselves that “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Heb. 2:1)?

Will we be “temperate in all things” Cor. 9:25), including in our balance of the justice and mercy in divine love?

Back to the two kinds of messages. The new covenant message that the early church received came only because the people had suffered under imperial oversight and interference for 600 years and under a deathly silence from heaven over the last 450 of that period. At the end of those years, to both Jews and Gentiles, “[their] warfare [was] accomplished…[they had] received of the LORD’s hand double for all [their] sins.” (Isa. 40:2). Therefore their “iniquity” could be “pardoned”. The Spirit of God could be poured upon them in collusion with the sacrifice of His Son when He received His Son to Himself again safe and sound, who was fully prepared to do battle with the Father’s great controversy adversary.

That generation was worthy of the abundance of God’s grace because they had already suffered an abundance of righteous justice from God’s providence. But, we are not there yet. We have not yet fulfilled the full measure of God’s justice upon our apostasy from the Reformation of gospel and Law. We are still playing around with the Bible and with the complete consecration to God as the apostles had. We are far from the new birth and sanctification that they had. Can we die for Jesus? Can we die for the Bible? We are still wrestling with dying to self whenever we see a bowl of lentils.

Therefore, we are still under God’s wrath and under His ministration of condemnation. We are not worthy of claiming all that the apostolic church had. We must go through one last distress—a little time of trouble such as never was—that will give us the humbled and repentant heart that we need as prerequisites for receiving the abundance of the Spirit that the early church had. That chosen generation will be worthy of the Latter Rain gospel preaching to the world. To them will be committed the gospel preaching to the world, for a witness to all nations. Before we can represent Jesus perfectly we must go through one last push in the pangs of our delivery from this world, a push that will be traumatic, yet necessarily so.

“Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” (Mal. 3:2-4).

“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.” (Isa. 30:19).

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

They will be worthy to claim all the promises of grace and blessings from the God of our salvation. And the greater the tribulation, the more assured we will be that our hold on God will not slip away in eternity.

“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:13,14).

When among the 144,000 we will see Jesus very clearly. Naught but a veil will separate us from our heavenly King. They will hear His voice and see His glory. God will not protest their rejoicing, because they will be dying daily. The church will stand on Mount Sion with the Lamb like Moses stood with Jesus for over a month without eating or drinking anything (see 1 Corinthians 15:31; Revelation 14:1-5; Exodus 34:28).

They will “[see] the Son, and [believe] on Him” (John 6:40). “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18); and that “vision”, Strong’s 2377 châzôn, means a “revelation” of God’s Law in Jesus. Through that vision of Jesus they will be made without fault before the throne of God. By beholding Him they will be changed into His same image. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18).

They will not let Jesus slip away. They will not let anything crowd Him out of their minds. They will perfectly reflect the character of Christ. They will keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

“Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.” (Isa. 33:20,21).

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The perfect work of patience

“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:4).
Patience, what is it really all about? Is it counting to ten so that we don’t blow our lid? Or is counting to ten just a gimmick, and doesn’t really work? What is involved in patience? What are the nuts and bolts of that character trait of the divine Ones?
First of all it’s interesting the way James says it, “Let patience have her perfect work”. Or, because the word “her” is supplied by the King James translators, James really said, “Let patience have perfect work”. Either way, patience is working, rather than being the work. In the modern English we speak of patience as other fruits of the Spirit:
“Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22,23).
Or we see it as a rung on Peter’s ladder:
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2Pet. 1:5-7).
We see it again as part of the sanctification train that follows our justification:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:…
 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:1,3-5).
Then there are other beautiful admonitions.
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7).
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12).
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.” (1Tim. 3:2,3).
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” (2Tim. 2:24).
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” (Jas. 5:7).
“Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true.” (2Cor. 6:3-8).
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1Tim. 6:11).
“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Tim. 3:10-12).
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:35,36).
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1,2).
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you.” (2Pet. 3:15).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1Pet. 4:1).
Synonyms for patience and related words are long-suffering, forbearance, mercy, charity, gracious, compassion.
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” (1Cor. 13:4).
We could even lump persecution and calumny and hatred with patient endurance.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” (Matt. 5:10).
So how can we have much patience and suffer long? According to 2Peter 3:15, we must have the patience of Jesus. As in everything else, He is our standard, our pattern, our holy example. We must have more than just any kind of patience. We must have the kind of patience that we see in Jesus. We must have the patience that we’ve experience from Jesus.
On that note, let’s look at the nuts and bolts of patience. Patience doesn’t come naturally by our will. No one was born with the patience of Jesus. None of us inherits His patience from our first birth. Then how do we get it? It comes with the other fruits of the Spirit at our second birth. When we surrender to God’s Law and thus to God Himself, and then when we surrender to Jesus who modeled everything that God demands including infinite mercy, then we come to God through Jesus with a heart full of grief and repentance, hopeful and patient in God.
Once we have confessed to God all that is in our disturbed heart and acknowledge our wretchedness, then He forgives us for all our past rebellious, ungodly life. We are justified and receive His full blessing. Now we can have endless patience with people around us. In the process of conversion we came to realize how filthy we really are and how much suffering we have caused God. We saw how patient He has been with our grimy life, our blasphemous life, our faithless life. We have been humbled by our shameful sinfulness. Now we have a new capacity to be merciful and compassionate, forbearing, long-suffering. 
When we accept someone in the effort to lead them to the God of righteousness, we commit ourselves to them. That commitment is for life, requiring life-long patience. Paul was committed to the Galatian believers until Christ was perfectly formed in them. He said that he was caught in the throes of childbirth awaiting their full surrender to the new birth (see Galatians 4:19). No mother can change her mind about having a baby when she is in the middle of delivering it. The body’s systems of delivery take control of her and commit her to bringing forth her baby. And that experience gives her a special commitment for the next 50 to 60 years of her life. The excruciating pain of childbirth wonderfully mirrors the horrendous, whole person agony that our Saviour endured from Gethsemane to Golgotha. But, His love committed Him to suffer it all. And all that He passed through for our second birth and our salvation perfected His commitment to remain our lifelong Saviour and Deliverer from all sin.
“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25).
Our life commitment with others while seeking their conversion follows Christ’s example. However He, and especially His Father are much greater than we. Similarly, Their commitment is for life, Their whole life long—through all eternity.
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28,29).
When the Father and the Son win the heart of a new sinner, as Parents They happily commit Themselves to him or her for eternity.
“But Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” (Ps. 86:15).
“O LORD, Thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in Thy longsuffering: know that for Thy sake I have suffered rebuke.” (Jer. 15:15).
“Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3:9).
It is all part of being a parent. They know and are not afraid of the challenges built into restoring sinners to their promised home. They know all the heartache involved in keeping a Christian on the path to life. They know the work will continue forever; They have counted the cost, and that we see in the plan of redemption.
Letting patience have her perfect work anthropomorphizes patience. It gives patience a life of its own. It says that perfect patience possesses the person, rather than the other way around. The true patience is a gift from God, as we see the patience of Christ in the grace of Christ. Again, the possession by the laws of heaven is seen in faith. Faith works. Faith takes hold on us, as the Spirit took Ezekiel and carried him to Telebib. Under the power of faith, we can be drawn in to another person’s needs and held in commitment by the compassion that we receive from Jesus in His Most Holy Place.
Adam’s world is the only one in the universe that finds it difficult to commit for life. God and all heaven are greatly saddened that fallen humanity does not commit to serve others unto the very end, the most obvious evidence that we have lost the original image of God. Service to God and to man are not something we do for 20 or 30 or 40 years and then go into retirement. As long as life lasts there is growth in patience, forbearance, and commitment. When growth ceases so does life. When the fruit of the Spirit cease to grow, so does the Spirit cease in us.
Let us go beyond the common traditions of sinful mankind. Let us recover from this. Let us know the whole duty of man, and the whole glory of God that follows obedience to the whole duty of man. Let us find the pleasure of self-forgetfulness in service by spending ourselves and being totally spent. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25).
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36).

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Simply seeing the Son

“This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:40).
This is Christ’s formula righteousness by faith; this is eternal life. It is the only way that God can keep us from falling. His formula was the secret of His success. It is a simple formula. Look and live.  Watch someone enjoy to do right. Watch someone love to serve. It will catch the whole attention and inspire eternal immitation. The simplicity of the gospel is its power for all simple-minded people. Except we become as little children we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Even the youngest minds can comprehend Jesus, seeing Him, and trusting in Him.
This simple formula was demonstrated the day when Jesus blessed the mothers and their little children. It was the outworking of the Law of God in the fruits of His Spirit exemplified in Christ’s life. That day was yet another providential meeting which Jesus daily thrilled to welcome with open arms and open heart. He always trusted in all the circumstances that His Father sent to Him, all the varied audiences, all the subsets of society, untouchables, rejected, downtrodden, marginalized, oppressed. In this case, the oppressed were women and children.
The mothers came seeking that Jesus might bestow heaven’s blessedness upon them and their children. Those women understood the benefits that the beauty of holiness would have upon their young offspring’s minds and hearts. And they desired God’s benediction of peace upon the charge that He had laid on them by giving to them their little ones.
In keeping with His ever-consistent actions, Jesus accepted these folks as gifts from His Father, who ruled over every circumstance and situation that came to Him. So Jesus brought them into His heart. The mothers felt perfectly at home and at ease around Jesus. They were in His presence, within His drawing power of His redemptive love, “even in Him.” (Eph. 1:10). In His presence was fullness of joy.

Jesus had a joy that was deep and full. It was not explosive, but naturally was controlled by the burdens of the ministry. His joy was so very often diminished by the sorrows that came to Him from facing angry, hardened hearts of those religious leaders who were misrepresenting His Father. Their constant contesting the truth that He was laboring to restore, their belittling the Law that He was magnifying and making honorable, brought great pain to His spirit. The leaders’ daily competition for the minds of the people, and their full permission to be used by Beelzebub, brought the Son of God much broken-heartedness. If the leaders had not stood in the way, the whole nation would have come to repentance and have been a bright light to the Gentiles. A greater than Jonah was among them, yet they prejudiced the people away from Him. Instead, the church of truth must go forth against great opposition. But, though He was cast down, still He was not destroyed. Although persecuted, He knew that He was not forsaken by His Father.

His constant prayer to His Father was, “Now, saith the LORD that formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob again to Him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength.” (Isa. 49:5). He saw that these mothers and their little ones were ambassadors from His Father, and they evoked from Him the joy that He had had among the angels prior to His incarnation.
“Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.
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.
Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:2-7).
And the children responded to His joy with their own innocent joy. “They loved to climb upon His knees and gaze into the pensive face, benignant with love.” Steps to Christ, p. 11.
When the rich, young ruler saw all this, suddenly his guard dropped and he suddenly became cognizant of a new paradigm, he saw of the existence of a whole new reality. Surely this is the righteousness of God! Heaven was real! Righteousness of a whole different order shocked his conscience. The love that he witnessed in Jesus and in the mothers appeared so different from the self-righteousness reigning over the land. Jesus and His love up-ended the expectations in this young ruler as he watched the happiness brightening everyone attending the scene. His old paradigm was shaken and uprooted, and thrown into the depths of the sea. New life surged through his heart and mind. This ruler poured forth the thoughts of Napoleon Bonaparte:
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
The young man saw that no one would ever die for him. But, people loved this unique Rabbi. And why shouldn’t they? “His voice was the first sound that many had ever heard, His name the first word they had ever spoken, His face the first they had ever looked upon. Why should they not love Jesus, and sound His praise? As He passed through the towns and cities He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went.” Desire of Ages, p. 350.
Astounded, the young man’s legs took control and before he realized it, he found himself running to the Master with a heart full of wonder. Kneeling to his Messiah, he prayed a blessing for himself. He wanted the same joy and acceptance that the mothers and their children had. He must have salvation. What must he do to be saved? How can he have eternal life?

After a short interview, “Jesus beholding him loved him.” (Mk. 10:21). Jesus loved this rich young ruler not because he was well dressed, properly mannered, and wealthy, although He could make use of his wealth as He did with Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, and even Zacchaeus. He didn’t love the young fellow because he had power over the people, although He could have used it as He had with Jonathan, Nehemiah, Paul and Apollos, all of them princes in their own right. Jesus didn’t love man because he was young, although He knew full well that “those that seek Me early shall find Me.” (Prov. 8:17). Jesus knew that the more years His disciples have left over after their rescue from sin, the stronger for Him their influence can be in the world.
But, Jesus didn’t love this youthful man for all these advantages. He loved him because he had looked upon the Son and believed on Him; he had received the new heart. He had become another one of “fellows” (Ps. 45:7) that surround Jesus  (see Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 1:13; Luke 23:43; Revelation 14:1); and Jesus’ joy was filled to the full. Subconsciously, the man chose to be a Christian, and conviction made its way into his conscience, overthrowing the kingdom of unbelief and a living death. Christ’s perfect cooperation with His Father had felled the young man’s walls of prejudice against God, and light had poured into the ruler’s darkened soul. “Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.” (Ps. 45:5). Another heart and mind was being converted to the kingdom of God and to eternal life.
Yet the new life of serving God would be full of tests; and the first test would come from his new Friend and Benefactor. How could he fail the test of Him from whom had come the life-giving Spirit of truth? How could he not envision wonderful opportunities of a future full of blessings, such as he had just received from His new heavenly Father? How could he turn away from all loss that he might win more and more of Jesus? How could he not relish every self-denial in order that he might see more of the self-sacrificing love of Jesus, and join with Paul, saying, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death”, “and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:10,9)?
Yet, as high as the prince sent his new Lord into a special expression of joy, equally did he sink Him into loss and disappointment and despairing to regain the ruler’s heart. At the remembrance of his earthly treasures, he immediately forgot about the new paradigm. How quickly we forget the beautiful convictions that Jesus offered! Tears were in Christ’s voice when He called out to the crowds. The young man was walking away from Jesus and from His eternal treasures; and he was returning to the corrupted, dead, unsatisfying treasures of the Roman world. Jesus, exasperated in heart and distraught, and still within the hearing of the departing young man, “looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Matt. 19:23). Would the young man yet heed this final call of Jesus? Maybe he would have regrets; maybe Christ’s words would sink down into his ears and stop him in his tracks. Certainly the struggle in his mind had been grievous; but, the earlier conviction was evaporating fast. Every passing second was determining his eternal future. The calls of the Spirit of truth from Jesus were only hardening his heart, until he walked out of earshot and chose death over life. He was offended in Jesus. The cries and fears of the Saviour to His disciples, who “knew all men, and…knew what was in man” (Jn. 2:24,25), turned out to be the truth.
“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
Unto you, O men, I call; and My voice is to the sons of man.
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of My lips shall be right things.” (Prov. 8:1-6).
“And [God,] He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He [Christ] maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:27). “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1). “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (Jn. 1:4,5).
Despite the entrance of the seed of Christ’s actions and words, the ruler’s heart was the stony soil of the parable. “He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matt. 13:20,21).
Yet, the decision of the young man does not destroy the truth that if we see the Son of man and allow our trust to lodge in Him, we receive power to be His disciple. As we began this post with, “This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Jesus wants to keep everyone who receives the seed that encapsulates the knowledge of His person and high standards. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). But, more than simply hearing, the sight of Jesus exponentially added to the words that proceeded from His mouth. He perfectly exemplified every word that He preached for His Father. Self was lost in love for His most holy Father and for His weak and needy children. The tone of His voice, His open arms, His welcoming countenance, His smile that evinced faithfulness and evoked trust, are what make the righteousness that He gives us the only true righteousness. When we come under His influence the influence of Satan is broken.
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16). As we are drawn into the grace and truth of Christ, we warm up to Him and find our reticence toward self-denial to disappear. As we face the tests that God brings us, and as we find in Jesus an ever-present Comforter, we are able to bear up under the necessities of patience and self-sacrifice. Even in our failures our faith grows in Jesus, if we hold fast His promises of forgiveness and restoration. No fetus looks pretty unless it is a loving parent who is the one beholding it; and the growing Christian falls short of the beauty of holiness except in the sight of a forgiving God.
But, nothing is static; if our hearts are not hardening, then they are softening; if they are not softening they are hardening. Therefore we must keep up an ever-vigilant examination of our hearts, lest we end up reprobates and cause the righteous Judge to discard us from the book of life. Our conversion and justification before God, our peace and resting in Jesus, are only the beginning, not the end of our salvation. We still need a lifetime of purification from self. We must admit to our propensity toward presumption. We need to be ever mindful of our naturally mischievous hearts. We must remember our first cry for help, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24), and the word of hope from Jesus that came into our hearts. We must never forget our response to His word, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 7:25).
We should heed the counsel, “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Gal. 6:6). “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Ps. 2:11), rather than “[receive] the seed..., and anon with joy” run right into “tribulation or persecution...and...[be] offended.” (Matt. 13:20,21).
We must see the Son and trust Him. We need to see Jesus and trust in Jesus so that we can receive His same faith, that mighty Rock. “Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.” (Gal. 2:16). We must have “the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13), “even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22). To “be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:10,9). The righteousness of God by faith, having been humbled by the Law’s revelation of our true filthy rags bought in Babylon the Great, and by the sight of the merciful Healer of the disease, is a necessity not only at the beginning of our walk with Jesus, but constantly at every step of the way.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Four things God does not know

Morris Venden, the best preacher on Righteousness by Faith, loves to tell the four things that God does not know. You need to know those four things. Here they are:
1) God does not know a sin He does not hate.
2) God does not know a sinner He does not love.
3) God does not know a sin that He won't forgive.
4) God does not know a better time than now.

Please watch all these half-hour videos on Righteousness by Faith by Jesus.