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“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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Friday, September 23, 2016

A voice in the midnight

“At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.” (Matt. 25:6).
 
“As Christ sat looking upon the party that waited for the bridegroom, He told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 405, 406.
 
The unnamed cry in the midnight will be the same as John’s anonymous cry in the wilderness.
 
“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not [that is, he was not Elijah literally, but he was prophetically, anti-typically]. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No [‘that prophet’ being prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:18, who was Christ].
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.” (John 1:19-24).
 
A question has plagued me for some time. What or who does Matthew 25:6 represent? What or who will wake up the sleeping saints by a cry in the darkest of nightfall? Christ is not specific. “There was a cry made…” A cry comes out of nowhere. Would it be an angel? Will it be the 144,000 waking up start the Latter Rain? Will it come by Christ’s roar in the Most Holy Place, as we see in Revelation 10:1-3 after the darkness of the 6th trumpet has ruined Protestant America in Revelation 9?
 
Maybe through studying the Spirit of Prophecy or reading of others’ study many already see the meaning of the midnight crier. What I see is that the solitary cry will be the Elijah message to bring the sleeping Adventists back to their original mandates given from 1844 to 1915.
 
“In the closing work of God in the earth, the standard of His law will be again exalted. False religion may prevail, iniquity may abound, the love of many may wax cold, the cross of Calvary may be lost sight of, and darkness, like the pall of death, may spread over the world; the whole force of the popular current may be turned against the truth; plot after plot may be formed to overthrow the people of God; but in the hour of greatest peril, the God of Elijah will raise up human instrumentalities to bear a message that will not be silenced. In the populous cities of the land, and in the places where men have gone to the greatest lengths in speaking against the Most High, the voice of stern rebuke will be heard. Boldly will men of God’s appointment denounce the union of the church with the world. Earnestly will they call upon men and women to turn from the observance of a man-made institution to the observance of the true Sabbath.” Prophets and Kings, p. 186, 187.
 
“Among the mountains of Gilead, east of the Jordan, there dwelt in the days of Ahab a man of faith and prayer whose fearless ministry was destined to check the rapid spread of apostasy in Israel. Far removed from any city of renown, and occupying no high station in life, Elijah the Tishbite nevertheless entered upon his mission confident in God’s purpose to prepare the way before him and to give him abundant success. The word of faith and power was upon his lips, and his whole life was devoted to the work of reform. His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. And while he came to the people as a reprover of sin, his message offered the balm of Gilead to the sin-sick souls of all who desired to be healed....” Conflict and Courage, p. 205.
 
“God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.” Ibid., p. 208.
 
“John separated himself from friends and from the luxuries of life. The simplicity of his dress, a garment woven of camel’s hair, was a standing rebuke to the extravagance and display of the Jewish priests, and of the people generally. His diet, purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed. The prophet Malachi declares: ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.’ Here the prophet describes the character of the work. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. The great subject of reform is to be agitated, and the public mind is to be stirred. Temperance in all things is to be connected with the message, to turn the people of God from their idolatry, their gluttony, and their extravagance in dress and other things. The self-denial, humility, and temperance required of the righteous, whom God especially leads and blesses, is to be presented to the people in contrast to the extravagant, health-destroying habits of those who live in this degenerate age.” Testimonies for the church, vol. 3 p. 62.
 
“It was believed also that before the Messiah’s advent, Elijah would personally appear. This expectation John met in his denial; but his words had a deeper meaning. Jesus afterward said, referring to John, “If ye are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, which is to come.” Matthew 11:14, R. V. John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, to do such a work as Elijah did. If the Jews had received him, it would have been accomplished for them. But they did not receive his message. To them he was not Elijah. He could not fulfill for them the mission he came to accomplish.” Desire of Ages, p. 135.
 
“As John the Baptist...called their attention to the Ten Commandments, so we are to give, with no uncertain sound, the message: ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come.’ With the earnestness that characterized Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist, we are to strive to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Advent.” Maranatha, p. 22.
 
In other words, the midnight cry of Matthew 25:6 will be another Elijah and another similar John the Baptist cry in the wilderness. It will be another Ellen White, this time in the darkest moral night our world has ever seen. The people of the Lord will be completely asleep to their task of warning the world of the gross darkness plaguing the earth, and completely unready to receive their Lord when He leaves the Most Holy without the sin of His people and ready to award full salvation from sin. But there will be a remnant among the remnant whose eyes will be locked onto Jesus through His precepts and promises. “Unto them that look for [Christ] shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:28). They will hear the voice of a John or a Paul crying out in the midnight, and they will shake out all the cobwebs from their heads and will jump to follow his lead.
 
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan 7:13,14).
 
“And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head, and His face was as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire:…
And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when He had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.…
And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up His hand to heaven,
And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets.” (Rev. 10:1-7).
 
Those words will be passed throughout heaven that will make its way to the hearts of those who have remained faithful in the dark immorality and impiety. Their sighs and cries have gone up at the abominations sweeping the earth. And their sighs and cries have been heard. “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).
 
How did Elijah come out of nowhere? A Tishbite from an insignificant spot in Israel suddenly showed up to the king to rebuke him for allowing his pagan wife to lead the people of God into spiritualistic worship. Out of Elijah’s work Elisha was made ready to complete the work of Elijah. After his elderly parents died, John lived in the wilderness outside of everyone’s purview. Suddenly he stood up and began a preaching that took ears by surprise, and gave a stern message that shook the nation.
 
But, “the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church. When he had fulfilled his mission, another work was to be done, which his testimony could not accomplish.” Desire of Ages, p. 181. Therefore, out of John’s revival Messiah was baptized and presented to the people who were earnestly seeking the Lord. Anointed by His Father, Christ quickly took the reins of the revival and brought the revival of godliness to heights that John could never take it.
 
Out of nowhere once more a voice will be raised, a voice in the midnight, to call the people to reform.
 
“Christ ... told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that shall live just before His second coming.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 406.
 
Will the midnight cry come from those who have left the cities before the darkness swept the earth? Will it come from those who have already come out of Babylon before the freedom to leave was curbed? Will the point when the night has gotten the darkest cause the breaking point in their souls, giving them cause to act and speak God’s bidding? Or, will the breaking point be a recognizable event that shakes the world, such as an economic collapse? Or, will both be the cause, as God sends the collapse due to the midnight darkness in the hearts of men? Will that collapse come from God’s punishment on the worldwide wickedness blanketing the globe? Or will the economic collapse begin the dark night, growing so dark that the sighers and criers can’t take any more, and God recognizes genuineness in their cries?
 
Then they will receive the power of Christ’s Spirit to give a loud cry that the whole world hears. The last great work will begin inside the church before it goes to the great world outside the church.
 
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen. I was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the true Witness to the Laodiceans. It will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver of the testimony, and it will lead to him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. This straight testimony some will not bear. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God’s people.
     I saw that the testimony of the true Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs, has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded. This testimony must work deep repentance, and all that truly receive it, will obey it, and be purified. 
     Said the angel, List ye! Soon I heard a voice that sounded like many musical instruments, all sounding in perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard. It seemed to be so full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being. Said the angel, Look ye! My attention was then turned to the company I had seen before, who were mightily shaken. I was shown those whom I had before seen weeping, and praying with agony of spirit. I saw that the company of guardian angels around them had doubled, and they were clothed with an armor from their head to their feet. They moved in exact order, firm like a company of soldiers. Their countenances expressed the severe conflict which they had endured, the agonizing struggle they had passed through. Yet their features, marked with severe internal anguish, shone now with the light and glory of heaven. They had obtained the victory, and it called forth from them the deepest gratitude, and holy, sacred joy.
     The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out, and left by the way. The careless and indifferent who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to agonize, persevere, and plead for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their numbers were immediately made up by others taking hold of the truth, and coming into the ranks. Still the evil angels pressed around them, but they could have no power over them.
     I heard those clothed with the armor speak forth the truth in great power. It had effect. I saw those who had been bound; some wives had been bound by their husbands, and some children had been bound by their parents. The honest who had been held or prevented from hearing the truth, now eagerly laid hold of the truth spoken. All fear of their relatives was gone. The truth alone was exalted to them. It was dearer and more precious than life. They had been hungering and thirsting for truth. I asked what had made this great change. An angel answered, It is the latter rain; the refreshing from the presence of the Lord; the loud cry of the third angel.
     Great power was with these chosen ones. Said the angel, Look ye! My attention was turned to the wicked, or unbelievers. They were all astir. The zeal and power with the people of God had aroused and enraged them. Confusion, confusion, was on every side. I saw measures taken against this company, who were having the power and light of God. Darkness thickened around them, yet there they stood, approved of God, and trusting in him. I saw them perplexed. Next I heard them crying unto God earnestly. Through the day and night their cry ceased not. I heard these words, Thy will, O God, be done! If it can glorify thy name, make a way of escape for thy people! Deliver us from the heathen round about us! They have appointed us unto death; but thine arm can bring salvation. These are all the words I can bring to mind. They seemed to have a deep sense of their unworthiness, and manifested entire submission to the will of God. Yet every one, without an exception, was earnestly pleading, and wrestling like Jacob for deliverance.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 184-186.
 

[Who is the “true Witness to the Laodiceans” who will call forth the straight testimony which will cause the shaking that Ellen White saw? The faithful and “true Witness to the Laodiceans” is none other than Jesus Himself, divested of humanity and independent thereof. See Revelation 3:14. Jesus will send the Latter Rain of His Spirit, and will prompt it by those who will first receive His straight testimony. If they are sanctified by His straight testimony then He will strengthen them to give it.]

“The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place.—Selected Messages, bk.2, p. 380 (1886).  
     As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition.—Great Controversy, p. 608 (1911).” Last Day Events, p. 180.
 
“The Lord has faithful servants who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed. In the daytime we look toward heaven but do not see the stars. They are there, fixed in the firmament, but the eye cannot distinguish them. In the night we behold their genuine luster. —Testimonies for the church, vol. 5, p. 80, 81 (1882).” Last Day Events, p. 181.
 
“This message will close with power and strength far exceeding the midnight cry. Servants of God, endowed with power from on high, with their faces lighted up, and shining with holy consecration, went forth to proclaim the message from heaven.
     Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the Word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence.” My Life Today, p. 63.
 
“The whole force of the popular current [are being] turned against the truth; plot after plot [are being] formed to overthrow the people of God.” The mysterious cry in this world’s moral midnight will come by a lone voice or by voices who have been studying Jesus in the Law of God, the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy. By that unique spirit and power of John and Elijah among the multitudes of the church indulgent in the prevailing false religion with spiritualism’s Spiritual Formation and “do as you please” practices, its celebration and free-lovism, individuals will speak out as did Elder William Miller, Dr. Joseph Wolfe, and priest Lucunza.
 
One star and then two in the dusky heavens, then three stars and more will foretell the approaching plethora of the galaxy that will appear in the midnight sky. May ours be one of those few John the Baptist stars calling for glory to God, men and women who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Resting in death, the gift of God

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet. 2:24).
 
Death to sin is not something we can make happen. It is way beyond us and our resources. We are alive to sin.
 
“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:11,12).
 
Righteousness can only exist in a heart that is completely separate from the great adversary and his power to cause sin. Therefore, righteousness belongs only to God.
 
“O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces.” (Dan. 9:7). Righteousness belongs only to God, but He wants to give it to us. Death to sin is the gift of God. We can only be dead to sin if we receive that death from God. Death to sin is easy if by faith we have appropriated what we see in Jesus. Hidden with Christ in God, we may freely eat of every fruit imaginable which He brings, and He fills us with His Spirit. Hidden in Christ and sustained by His Spirit, we are dead to sin.
 
We also know that God considers literal death to be like sleep.
 
“These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” (John 11:11-15).
 
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1Thess. 4:13-15).

The dead are really dead, and the sleeping are really sleeping.
 
“For ... the dead know not any thing,... the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:5,6). To everyone with a nagging heart and mind, this can be a powerful promise from God.
 
Do you wake up each morning refreshed from all the harassment and anxiety from the previous day? Do you wake up with peace of mind? Have you ever said this prayer?
 
“Dear Lord,
So far I’ve done all right.
I haven’t gossiped,
haven’t lost my temper,
haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I’m really glad about that.
But in a few minutes, God,
I’m going to get out of bed….”
 
If we get our 2 hours of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and if we get our 2-3 hours of deep sleep―the healing sleep―and finally our last 2 hours of REM sleep, then morning by morning God resurrects us from our nightly burial well rested and able to conquer the new day’s harassment. Rest is heavenly. When we come back to life from a good night’s sleep we are dead to sin.
 
But even better, what if you could sleep all day? No more harassment ever! No more anxiety that leads to gossiping, loss of temper, greed, grumpiness, selfishness, self-indulgence. Wouldn’t that be a good life? A spirit calm and trusting, patient and wise. Many look forward to a quiet lifestyle when they can retire, but then they find that they don’t want to cut back their old lifestyle when they were employed to fit their smaller retirement income. So they go back to employment with all its pressures. The eternal peace seems evasive to the multitudes.
 
Yet, they find that even physical sleep isn’t enough to tackle a day of harassment. Often the anxiety leaves them so wound up that they can’t sleep at night. And to compound the problem, before they go to bed they comfort eat. All night their stomach is working on the heavy meal and they wake up exhausted because all that they got was REM sleep. A sleeping pill does the same thing. The pill cannot remove the anxiety which is what causes unrest, and therefore cannot cause deep sleep, which is where rest and healing come from. Sound sleep can only come by the removal of anxiety. Removal from the present harassments and physical removal from a world of sinners by slumbering, isn’t enough. Their Creator must put anxiety to bed before the person puts himself to bed.
 
True, the person who does some aerobic exercise before bedtime, or refrains from a supper, or skips the late-night television junk, and goes to bed early, does give their body and mind opportunity to get the 2-3 hours of deep sleep. This isn’t always guaranteed, but it does often happen. And if they don’t do the exercise or skip the third meal, and if they don’t go to bed early, it is almost guaranteed that they won’t get the long sought deep sleep.
 
“Yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1Cor. 12:31). “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1Tim. 4:8).
 
It’s rest that we need; and God wants us to have it all day long. A spiritual and mental death every day, all day. Rest and relaxation. Sleep. Heaven’s deep sleep. Working and exerting ourselves from a full internal reservoir as His Spirit abides with our spirit (see Rom. 8:16; Phil. 1:16; 1Jn. 2:27,28; 4:13; 2Tim. 4:22). We can and should have this daily, hourly.
 
“For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” (Isa. 30:15).
 
If we can surrender to the spiritual death that God gives us to produce our new life, then our problem of harassment and anxiety, and living in a world of sin, is resolved. All we need is to “sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3). All we need is have God put our self-focus to death, and He can kill the nagging anxiety that never quits. Anything we attempt for fixing our anxiety can only end in failure and greater disillusionment. Often suicide is used by people trying to fix their painful anxiety problem themselves. But this terrible act does not lead to enjoying a life without anxiety. It ends in nothing because there is no life after death. “The living know that they shall die, but the dead know not any thing ... neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:5,6). “His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.” (Job 14:21).
 
God has a better solution for putting our flesh to death. He doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. He surgically strikes our anxiety. He supplies His Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and kills the emptiness, the hopeless failures, and the grinding of the conscience; but He spares the soul and heals the soul. Detached and washed away is the tumor of guilt and shame. We can face life again, even our past life, and with confidence and self-worth seek forgiveness and restitution for all that we’ve done wrong. Crowned with the honor from “Him who loved us and washed us from our sins with His own blood” (Rev. 1:5), we seek restoration of past relationships and obtain it. Providence gave the Prince of peace an excruciating crown of thorns, so that by His Son’s horrific crown of thorns our horrific crown of thorny anger and anxiety could be healed. Beholding Him wear our crown of thorns will give His Spirit orpportunity to remove our hopeless torment so that we no longer desire to kill ourselves. He suffered in our place, “by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pet. 2:24). That’s good news. It’s certainly worth looking into. It’s certainly worth seeking the Son for it.
 
Paul put the death of self this way:
 
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” (Rom. 7:1-3).
 
Paul used the analogy of a woman and an abusive, cantankerous husband. As long as he is alive, she must receive his abuse and a life not worth living. She has bound herself to this old man, and the law of marriage stands until death do they part. Divorce, and especially suicide and murder, are out of the question. But, for sure, one of the two persons must go.
 
Yet, we are not in control of life or death; God alone can bring death. And He will end a life when He deems sufficient time has passed. The old man will reach his eternal demise in God’s wise time. God, the Life-giver, is the only one who should end existence for anyone, even our old man. When someone else involves himself with ending life, taking things into his own hands, he ends up much, much worse than before. Death by suicide and murder are unthinkable. Even if a co-worker, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or our old man, constantly does things that are designed to make us leave the relationship, trying to save oneself from the one’s pain only exacerbates the disease.
 
Paul then shifts the adversary from being an abusive and undesirable husband to man’s relation to the Law of God. And it may sound like introducing the Law of God ends the relevance of Paul’s solution for modern man. But, the Law is relevant to healing our anxiety because all the sources of our human woe, whether in our day or in the days of the Roman Empire, have always had for a root cause the painful disconnect between the creature and the Life-giver. And that disconnect comes from sin. Therefore, continuing with Paul’s explanation:
 
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Rom. 7:4-8).
 
Sin, or our disconnection from the Creator, is a really big problem. Sin is why we are harassed. Our separation from the Comforter and the resulting consequences for our sinfulness are the root cause of anxiety. Sin and separation from God are the cause of all our other problems. Sin is the enemy. And our God has always been the deliverer.
 
But, sin is difficult to nail down or define. What is it that plagues us so? Sin is an abstract beyond all abstractions. It is evasive like nothing else. Other people can see it in us, but we can’t see it in ourselves; self can’t see its sinfulness. Other people give our exceeding sinfulness the antidote that they prescribe, often without our permission and as often without even a hint that they are giving it. Often they don’t even realize they are giving it, it is just a knee-jerk reaction against our despicable trespassing against them. They hate what they see in us and they react. But, the problem with their remedy for our sin is that they are sinners too and unsanctified. So their self-centered remedy, their slanted judgments only make us worse. “The strength of sin is the law” (1Cor. 15:56) in the hands of the uncircumcised in heart.
 
But, good news! This their abuse is in God’s plan! (Or is that really good news?) It may not feel like good news, but God is in control! Oh, Yay! (*sarcasm*). But, let me explain.
 
What we need is peace of mind. That is rest, healing rest, just like deep sleep. In deep peace like a river, there are no flare-ups of anxiety, and we have health, physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is only one way to the peace like a river, which makes it simple; but there are two methods to get there, which make it complicated.
 
The first way to peace. Our Creator knows how mischievous sin is and how mischievous the sinner is because of sin. So, He doesn’t initially approach us bearing the gift of grace and peace. The first thing He brings us is His Law. This is why Paul dove into the issue of Law when he explained the answer to peace.
 
There is no peace apart from peace with God. Peace from any other source is not real peace; it’s cheap and shallow, and doesn’t last long. In spiritual things as much as in everything, you get what you pay for. If you don’t invest much, you don’t get much. Therefore, legal or illegal substances, indulgent yet socially acceptable foods, all sorts of hobbies, time-consuming games, toys, work, relationships, education, culture—every kind of earthly source for peace must fail. Cursed is every man, woman, and child who trusts in anything this world offers to remove his chastisement of peace. Their chastisement of peace will endure forever. But, blessed are all they who trust in God to remove their chastisement of peace. His mercy will endure forever.
 
The world being of no help to give peace leaves only one option—God. And He plays hard to get—at least it seems that way. He isn’t really playing hard to get, but He must do it right if we are to be truly fixed. That correct way to fix us is to help us realize our pride and arrogance. He must baptize us in the humiliating truth about 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.

Once pride is dealt with and humbled, then we are teachable. Our eyes and ears and brain open up to recognizing our problem, which is us. Satan has become very bold toward our ME generation. When you boil it all down, ME is the cause of all our problems, harassments, and anxieties. And ME is self-protective. Self is all-preserving.
 
The two methods God uses to help us see our mischief:
 
1) As we have said, God must bring us to face our enemy—who is the blind and deaf person in the mirror. So He puts that mirror in front of us—His brilliant Law. The blinding truth from His Law pierces the ignorance of our sinfulness, and the truth is overwhelming. We are hit by a lightning bolt. ZOWIE!! OWIE!! Anxiety sets in, as we wrestle against acknowledging the truth. After we are grinded upon, the honest soul admits to the truth. We are busted.
 
2) The other method is the consequence to disregarding the brilliant Law. We don’t have the grace that is inherent to God and His Law; and we find it very painful to see ourselves as we really are. Instead, we dodge the bullet thinking we got away scott free. But, due to our choice of evading the Law’s helpful convictions, we must face Satan’s helping hands: the unconverted, abrasive, thorny, uncircumcised Gentiles. Their crudeness, heartless, harsh ways will be brutally honest in their judgment upon us. “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” (Deut. 32:31). “Lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation.... They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” (Hab. 1:6,7). No mercy or love mix into their righteous judgments. Shape up or ship out!
 
“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.” (Jer. 2:19).
 
“All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.” (Jer. 50:7).
 
Either method will God use in order to bring His people to the ultimate requirement of trusting Christ so that they can be justified by their faith, and have the rest in deep sleep, that lays their old man in the dust. From that point onward their spirit is allied with the Spirit of Christ and sin is dead in them. Their rest of spirit gives them strength to say “no” to all their sins. And their victory over sin is so natural that sin is expelled by the act of their soul.
 
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?
Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:1-4).
 

Friday, September 09, 2016

The cup and the baptism

“And He saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of My Father.” (Matt. 20:23).
 
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
Then saith He unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me.
And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.
And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done.
And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” (Matt. 26:36-44).
 
“And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:43,44).
 
“And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:27-29).
 
Jesus’ baptism by fire caused our baptism by water.
 
“From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood,” (Rev. 1:5).
 
“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).
 
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22).
 
But, later there is more to the baptism.
 
“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. 7:14).
 
The tribulation becomes part of the washing. This is our baptism by fire.
 
“Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But 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.” (Mal. 3:1-3).
 
“I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Luke 12:49-53).
 
Two responses when the Son of God exalts His Father’s will—those against Him and those for Him.
 
“Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:31,32).
 
Jesus will save His people. But, Satan never lets the King deliver his captives without putting up a fight, a huge fight. The devil will never suffer the humiliation of losing a battle or losing his hostages. He will never surrender; he will never concede a battle. He must go down fighting. That is what he has always done and it is all that he will ever do. He will never surrender. During the mayhem, his hostages are put to the worst as they become pawns in the war between the superpowers of Christ and Satan and their own desires.
 
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Rev. 12:10-12).
 
Nevertheless the day of reckoning will come. It will require preparation on the part of those who seek deliverance from the adversary, and it will develop them further as the day of reckoning passes over them.
 
“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt:
And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames.
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isa. 13:6-12).
 
While Jesus is preparing His saints, Satan will be preparing the wicked also.
 
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:2-4).
 
The fifth and sixth trumpets explain a lot about the 3rd angel’s message, which develops all who give glory to God by keeping all “the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12). While those two trumpets are silent concerning the phrase “mark of the Beast”, they do allude to the mark by eliminating all who do not receive the seal of God in their forehead. By the process of elimination the locusts pick out all who receive the mark. And the baptism by fire comes to them.
 
“And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.” (Rev. 9:5).
 
“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
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. 14:9-11).
 
The torment of the scorpion stings fills their hearts with fire and smoke and brimstone, and later kills their heart and soul and conscience and spirituality. “…having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth [smoke], and brimstone: …and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.” (Rev. 9:17).
 
All of these locusts’ burning souls are the fruits of Satan’s hellish influence. And he drives them to corrupt everyone on earth, “the earth…the sea…the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Rev. 7:3).
 
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” (Rev. 9:2).
 
“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).
 
“This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.” (1Jn. 5:6).
 
Water and blood were the two baptisms of Christ. The blood symbolized the death of the body, even though what killed Jesus was the wrath of God—the baptism of fire. He was already deceased after 9 hours of crucifixion, rather than after several days, which the others would have experienced if the high Sabbath hadn’t fallen on their execution day. But, while Jesus hung on the cross 9 hours “the wrath of God abideth on him.” The damnation that we all should have to face fell on Jesus, “as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3).
 
Jesus’ baptism of blood was also a baptism of fire. The fire of damnation came upon Him to the 10 billionth degree, as He tasted the second death for every man. Christ’s baptism by fire and blood caused our baptism of brokenness and tears, “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5), washing “His feet with tears.” (Luke 7:38).
 
This was our second birth and our first baptism. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).
 
But, if we keep growing in grace and in a knowledge of God and His Son, then there will inevitably come our own baptism by fire. We will not suffer damnation, such as Jesus did, but it will take all the eternal Spirit we’ve appropriated to remain faithful during that fiery baptism. Persecution, calumny, libel, being ostracized, verbal, emotional, and physical abuse, harassment, all these Jesus suffered in His baptism by fire.
 
But it is in our own baptism by fire that we draw closest to our Saviour.
 
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads…. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:1,3,4).
 
They are sealed after following the Lamb wherever He went—even through their own Gethsemane. All of their baptisms by fire will prepare for the final cleansing in preparation for His return in glory and great heat. In that day of wrathful visitation, He will make them more precious than fine gold.
 
“Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and He shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.” (Isa. 13:9-13).
 
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” (2Thess. 1:7-10).
 
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2Pet. 3:10).
 
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:12-17).
 
“The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thess. 4:16,17).
 
“I will…receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3).

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Infinity + 1

We are born with certain gifts, but having a talent doesn’t count for anything unless we use it.
 
What do we do with a strong body and health if we have them? What do we do with a strong memory skill or a strong mind if we have it? What do we do with a healthy conscience or strong spirituality if we have it?  We may have inherited these, but is it enough just to own them? What will we do with them? Inheriting them is just the beginning. Our inheritance is not something to show off; it’s to be invested.
 
Jesus inherited every trait we have; He had more than all of us put together. But He didn’t just sit on a throne, waiting for His every whim to be pleased and served. Even though His Father gave Him a perfect body, He continually stretched its powers to the limit. He never rested on His inheritance. He never relaxed from working until His Father told Him that the last second of the work day was over. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28). “For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on Me.” (Rom. 15:3).
 
Infinity + 1 is the great God’s great program.
 
Infinity + 1, doing a little more than before, works in every pursuit. If we are overweight, we can cut out a meal one day this week. Then next week do the same for two days. When every day of the week has two meals, then we can leave out a meal on one day each week. If we want to fast, we can go the decided time without eating and then go a little more. If we wanted to fast a day, continue the fast until mid-day, and let that meal carry us over to the next day before resuming the regular eating schedule. “Fear not, nor be dismayed.” (2Chron. 20:17).
 
For those who are anorexic, take an extra bite of food. Then, next meal after eating all that you can, take two extra bites. Stretch yourself to the limit, “and see the salvation of the LORD.” (2Chron. 20:17)
 
If you see that you are selfish, “give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:42). Not only “spend” for others, but “be spent” (2Cor. 12:15) sometimes. Jesus has proven that Infinity + 1 makes the happiest life.
 
Jesus first
Others next
Yourself last
 
While godliness benefits in everything, physical exercise does have its sure benefits. But, remember the principle of Infinity + 1. For sit-ups do all according to the strength that your body inherited. Wrestle to do as many sit-ups as you can do, go to your body’s infinity, then eek out one more sit-up. Do the same for push-ups and pull-ups, or whatever exercise you like. When walking do the same, “whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matt. 5:41). Then we will have some fellowship with Jesus’ sufferings.
 
Go for the burn, as coaches say. This Jesus did every day of His life. “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened [afflicted] till it be accomplished!” (Luke 12:49,50).
 
Jesus went for the burn. He was the great sin offering, the great burnt sacrifice. Better than all of us Jesus knew His father’s Infinity +1 program. He submitted to His Father’s program, trusting in His Father’s wise oversight. Christ’s tests of stamina came not from His own estimation and His own decision on how much He could take, but from His Father’s estimation of His capability. His Father wouldn’t give Him more than He could take, but He would certainly give Him as much as was needed to be our example; and Jesus hungered for more. His Father put Him through an infinite test throughout His life. Everything Jesus taught us to be He was. He was the truth. He was Infinity + 1 for our salvation and for His Father’s exoneration. And His children will accept the Father’s same program.
 
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:44-48).
 
Even in His death Christ patiently bore all of His Father’s exercise program. He stretched every power that He had exercised all His life in order to remain in the infinite fire long enough to satisfy His Father and the angelic court. For us He struggled to remain under the wrath of God due for a whole world of sin. The Lord spent all that He had for His Father to expend all His justice against us.
 
Now Christ is our exercise coach. His program is the same as His Father’s Infinity +1 program.
 
“I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth.” (Jer. 9:24). We don’t decide our exercise program; we must submit to our Coach to exercise us. But, who will keep with His Infinity+1 program to the very end?
 
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:14). Many are called but few are chosen. Who will be the chosen few?
 
“Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6).
“The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:1).
 
“Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. 7:13,14).
 
“But 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).
 
“And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” (Isa. 13:11,12).
 
The going will be exciting and joyful, but also horrendous and horrific. Who shall be able to stand? Only those who Jesus has already exercised under His Father’s Infinity + 1 program. On the whole, everything will work together for good, to those who love God and who are the called according to His purpose.
 
“Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with.” (Matt. 20:23).
 
Let’s begin today.