Christian Meditation

meditationMeditation is becoming popular among everyday Americans. People have taken religion out of the picture and have turned it into an academic program known as “mindfulness studies.” For many people, meditation conjures up thoughts of someone with a shaved head or wearing a brightly colored robe moaning and humming aimlessly for hours on end. But what is meditation, really?

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a purposeful act. It means to think about, reflect or ponder. Meditation isn’t a complex practice; it simply means to think deeply and intently.

What does the Bible say we should meditate about? Consider King David’s example in Psalm 1:2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Everybody with a functioning brain meditates daily; however, the content meditated on is up to the individual.

God gives a blueprint of what we should think about in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If we think more and more on the things of God, it enables Him to build within us a mind like His.

The Apostle Paul continued in verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” God will be with us if we follow the instruction in verse 8. By meditating on what we learn, we are more likely to apply it.

Distractions are the main obstacle to meditation. It is easy to be distracted. But meditation requires us to put away all distractions and seek to capture deep thought. We must resist distractions if we want to think more like God.

To grow spiritually, it is important to combine our Bible study and prayer with deep, rock-solid meditation. A good parallel is the digestion of physical food. What we eat isn’t immediately usable to the body. The nutrients in our food must be digested and distributed throughout the body in order to benefit it. The same applies spiritually. The spiritual food we eat (through Bible study) must be digested and absorbed (through application in our life).

Meditation is a powerful tool. It doesn’t require any fancy pose or specific regimen. A person can meditate on just about anything—it doesn’t have to be a spiritual topic. While it isn’t exclusive to your spiritual life or your faith, meditation is a key spiritual tool. The goal of spiritual meditation is to develop a stronger relationship with God as you learn to think more like Him. So use meditation to aid your Bible study and prayer. Try it out—think on the things of God!

Why Meditation?

Why should Christians meditate? Taking time out of your day to do what at first impression seems like staring off into space just doesn’t seem right. However, there are countless benefits to meditation.

What we feed our minds with is what we produce, in the form of our thoughts, words or actions. Jesus Christ Himself said that, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).

Your mind is like your stomach: It constantly needs to be fed. It is up to us to feed it a proper diet. Just as a healthy diet produces wonderful physical benefits, so a proper diet of meditation does bring wonderful mental and spiritual benefits.

1. Meditation nourishes our conversion.

When we meditate properly, it aids our conversion process. Conversion requires a change of heart and mind. Think about this in terms of what fills our mind. That is why the Apostle Paul told Christians to think on the things that please God the carnal thoughts of man (Philippians 4:8). Meditation reveals to God a lot about our hearts. God knows all that we think about (1 Chronicles 28:9). Knowing that God is aware of our every thought can be a pretty humbling fact. Our thoughts show God how committed we are to obeying Him and how much we try to emulate Him and live His way of life.

2. Meditate on godly things.

Meditation opens up our mind for God to fill us with His thoughts and desires. This helps us to think like He does (Philippians 2:5).

Filling your mind with godly things and keeping it focused on the goal of becoming more like God helps you to keep from falling back into the ways of the world. If we open our minds for God to fill, He will provide us with deeper understanding that we can use to the fullest in our lives.

3. Meditation fortifies prayer and study.

We should pause, once in a while, and meditate, and let God talk to us in prayer. When we pray we talk to God. When we study, God teaches us. But when we meditate, God is able to put His thoughts into our mind. Through meditation, we give God the ability to let His words of life sink into us. It is important that we take time to listen to God and think upon the meaning of those words for us and how they can be applied.

4. Meditation protects our mind.

Meditation is an effective tool to ensure that we put the right thoughts into our mind. Sometimes the ability to maintain deep, continuous and constructive thought can be a challenge. This struggle occurs when we allow our minds to stagnate. Meditation can combat a stagnant mind.

Our environment, our daily interactions with others, and our own problems and difficulties can be some of our greatest distractions. They can occupy our mind, preventing it from growing spiritually. Our daily responsibilities can keep our minds occupied from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep.

Meditation can keep us from falling into a meaningless rut, and it promotes an active mind that engages in constructive thought. Don’t allow your daily cares to consume all of your attention; meditate to embed right and meaningful thoughts into your mind.

How to Meditate?

True meditation requires us to fill our mind with God and His Word. There are several steps we can take that will help us to really learn how to establish effective meditation. Below are some points to help you improve your meditation.

1. Meditate after you study.

Meditation can enhance your study by helping you remember what you have studied. It is important to turn over and over in your mind what you study as you study. Don’t just study as a routine—study to remember. Apply what we learn in our studies—meditation will enable you to do that. The more you think about something after you have studied it, the deeper will be your desire to apply what you have learned (Psalm 1:2). By thinking deeply about what you study, you engrave God’s Word and truth into your mind. Meditate on your Bible study. Adding meditation to your Bible study routine will help you to remember and do.

2. Couple meditation with prayer.

Another great benefit of meditation is that it allows you to enhance your prayer life. While meditation allows God to talk to you, it also can improve your interaction with Him on your knees. We can make our prayer life more dynamic by pausing to think from time to time during our prayers. This will make your connection with God more real. Pause and focus on God. Focus on who He is and what He does. Doing so can bring great energy to your prayer closet.

3. Follow King David’s example of daily meditation.

Look to the example of King David to learn how to meditate. His life provided a clear example on how to meditate. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5). David made spiritual meditation a habit.

Meditation shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile activity that you check off your to-do list after your weekly stroll through the park. David meditated daily.

God desires that we draw closer to Him through meditation each and every day. David was a man after God’s own heart who knew how to meditate. It helped him build a strong relationship with God. To effectively build strong meditation habits, meditation must become a daily exercise. It will become more natural the more frequent you do it. Begin building this habit by meditating each day after your morning prayers.

4. Meditate day and night.

David said in Psalm 1:2 that he meditated “day and night.” Meditation is a constant practice—it is a part of your daily life. Once you develop meditation as a daily custom, work on setting aside time both in the morning and at night to muse on the things of God. A good way to instill this day-and-night habit is to meditate after you pray on your knees in the morning and in the evening.

5. Make it constant.

The more you practice meditation, the easier it will be to develop it into a perpetual habit. Meditating every day, day and night, will help you eventually to develop this constant habit of meditation. Pause every once in a while throughout the day and think deeply about your work, decisions, conversations and even those beautiful views as you enjoy your drive to and from work. Strive to make meditation a constant as you go about your day-to-day activities.

This is just a progression to build on to enhance our meditation. Start with the basics: Work on making meditation a daily habit. Then work on setting aside time to meditate day and night. Eventually, if you stick with it, it becomes a habit. Then work to incorporate meditation throughout your day. Meditate constantly to help fill your mind with thinking that is in line with God’s.

Remember, meditation is about ridding Satan’s influence from our thinking and filling our minds with the things of God. Follow David’s example on how to meditate and you will more effectively serve God just as he did.

The Winds of Anarchy

8437520_15627243_pm“I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.  (Revelation 7:1-3)

For a number of years, the third spasm of trouble (anarchy) has been progressing. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)  At the present, the winds of anarchy are blowing furiously. However, the fact that there are still a few of the consecrated on this side of the veil, total anarchy has not yet begun.  As soon as all the “light” and “salt” has been removed from the earth, total anarchy will begin. (Matthew 5:13, 14)  For a short period of time, before divine intervention stops the trouble, it will be very dark and corrupt. (Matthew 24:21, 22)
CURRENT EVENTS
The winds of anarchy are increasing. The month of July has been one of violence throughout the world.
“They shall fight everyone against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)   “For I set all men everyone against his neighbor.”  (Zechariah 8:10)
“Wherefore, I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses. …” (Ezekiel 7:24)
“The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fail, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:20)
The prophecies are in the process of fulfillment with more to follow.
Jeff Hood, who claims to be a Baptist member, is actually a sodomite pro-Muslim agent. He was the organizer of the Dallas “Black Lives Matter” rally that resulted in the murder of 5 Dallas police officers and injury of numerous others.  Hood said, “I think that Texas Muslims are the real Christians.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently said that the Department of Justice would stand with the Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino jihad attacks.  …  Lynch was also a part of a Jew-hating Pro-Terrorist Harvard Group.
Gatewood, a director of the NAACP branch in North Carolina, said that the one who killed 5 police officers and wounded others was a “defenseless” victim. ( DEFENSELESS ???)
The first black Miss Alabama has been suspended from her job at a Miami TV station after calling the Dallas cop sniper a “martyr”.  (MARTYR ???)
Recently more than 100 people were arrested and 21 police officers injured in Minnesota.
At least 3 police officers are dead and 3 others are injured after a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Police in Arizona say a single suspect may be responsible for a series of shootings that have left 7 people dead.
At least 84 are dead and many were injured after a truck plowed into a crowd at Nice, France.
During the last 18 months 234 people have died in French terror attacks.
Police in Berlin say 123 officers were injured in clashes with leftist protesters over the redevelopment of a district in the east of the city.
Gunman killed nine in Munich, Germany.
On the social media, ISIS supporters celebrated the Munich killing.  (HOW SAD!)
While responding to a shooting report, a Kansas officer was shot and killed.
About 3,500 protesters marched through Friedrichshain recently.  Some were masked and threw missiles, police said.
In Kabul, Afghan, the death toll from a suicide attack climbs to over 80 and more than 230 injured.
An attacker who murdered a Catholic Priest in France was under police supervision.
A car bombing in Syria killed 44 people;  ISIS claimed responsibility.
Lawyers filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook Inc. alleging it allowed the Palestinian militant Hamas group to use the platform to plot attacks that killed four Americans and wounded one in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Israel’s military is operating in the Sinai Peninsula with Egypt’s blessing – working to crush ISIS.  Israel is operating armed airborne drones in the Sinai, with the full support of Egypt.
Between 2009 and 2014, Israeli settlements expanded by 23 percent in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  Upwards of half a million Jewish Israelis already live in more than 150 Jewish only settlements across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Forces loyal to the Turkish President quashed a coup attempt by some members of the military that began Friday evening and devolved into turmoil and violence.  At least 200 died and more than 1400 were wounded.
Several of the anti-Trump protesters admitted they answered an ad on Craigs list and were getting paid to protest Trump.
Floods in China have killed more than 150 and hundreds of thousands evacuated.
In January, 2009, 32 million Americans were receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  During Obama’s administration, an additional 16 million people have been added, making a total of 48 million people. (Some reports have it much higher.)
    After an almost five year journey to the solar system’s largest planet (Jupiter), NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a 35 minute engine burn.  Confirmation was received on Earth on July 4.
A $100 million representation of Noah’s Ark was opened recently in Williamstown, Kentucky.  The ark is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high.   Its 3 decks span more than 120,000 square feet.
The second evil world (dispensation), under the usurped control of the adversary, Satan, that old serpent, will come to an end, at the time the trouble is terminated,  Satan will be fully bound, and the demons who have not repented will go out of existence.
Righteousness will then begin to prevail and gradually all the willing and obedient will reach human perfection.  (Revelation 22:17; Isaiah 35:8; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

I Will Come Again

2nd coming“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and
receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John
14:3

When this age-abiding promise was first uttered by Jesus to his
apostles, it did not make sense. To the naturally minded men who
followed Jesus, they assumed the logical move would be for Jesus to
take charge as a King, throw off the yoke of Roman bondage, exalt the Jews and bless the world. Why should he leave now? There was work to be done here. When Jesus spoke of his death and strangely of his leaving, the idea simply did not fit into their expectations.
But as they wended their way along the path to Gethsemane, Jesus had assured them, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again.

Dazed, these words made little impression on his little band. But forty days later on Mt. Olivet, huddled together in amazement with eyes turned heavenward, straining to catch the last glimpse of their
ascending Lord, this promise came alive. “I will come again.” Yes their beloved Master would return. The Apostles wove that glorious theme into the fabric of their ministry and their very lives.

No other doctrine is discussed more in the New Testament—over one third of its writings deal with this momentous event. How our hearts trill at the hope of being united with the returned Lord, our heavenly Bridegroom, seeing him as he is, living with him and experiencing his love forevermore—and the reality of reigning with him (Rev. 20:5) in a kingdom that extends to the ends of the earth, bringing “peace…like a river and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” Isa. 66:12

Long have faithful Christians prayed with the Apostle John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Centuries have passed. Seemingly nothing has
happened. But suddenly our day is charged with an air of expectancy.

Few would question that we are living in an unprecedented time of
human history. Most Bible-believing Christians feel we are living in
the very time the Bible says Christ is to return. There is a surge of
interest in prophecy—a revival of interest in the second advent. Many speak of the imminent coming of Christ. This expectancy is based on our Lord’s Great Prophecy recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 17 and 21. Many believe that the nearness of Christ’s return is indicated by such signs as the following: Israel restored (Matt. 24:32; Jer. 16:13-18); knowledge and travel increased (Dan. 12:40); evils exposed as never before (Luke 12:2; 1 Cor. 4:5); infidelity rampant from university to pulpit (Luke 18:8; 2 Tim. 4:1-4); men seeking pleasure, morality rotting (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13); strikes, walkouts (James 5:1-4); racial strife, riots (Zeph. 1:7-9)’ juvenile delinquency (2 Tim. 3:2); wars and war preparations intensified (Joel 3:9-11); men crying fearfully for peace (1 Thess. 5:3, Luke 21:26); trouble everywhere (Matt. 24:21,22).

But let us take a closer look at our Master’s words and see what these signs really prove.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia], and of the end of the world? Matthew 24:3

Coming or Presence

The Greek word translated “coming” is parousia. It really means
“presence.” If parousia means “presence,” then the fulfillment of the
signs of this prophecy would mean that Christ is not coming shortly,
but he is already secretly here as a “thief in the night.” Remember, the Scriptures show that Christ’s initial return would be a thief-like, secret presence (1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 16:15) before “every eye shall see him.” The following dictionaries (standard works in fundamentalist and evangelical bookstores) confirm this definition of presence.

W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:
Parousia, literally, a presence, para, with, and ousia, being…denotes
both n arrival and a consequent presence with.”

Robert Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible: Parousia, a being alongside, presence.”

Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Foreword: “Parousia, as applied to the return of the Lord, is simply the anglicizing of the Greek word which literally means ‘presence.'”

The Bible Definition

However, we are not confined to dictionary definitions. The Lord has provided a Scriptural definition for the Greek word parousia. Parousia appears in Matthew 24:27 where it is mistranslated “coming.” The following chart compares its parallel citation in Luke 17:26, providing the Bible’s own definition for parousia.

Matthew 24:37Luke 17:26 But as the days of Noah were, = As it was
in the days of Noah, so shall also the parousia of the Son of man be =
so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.

The phrase “parousia of the Son of man” in Matthew 24:27 means the same as the phrase, “in the days of the Son of man” in Luke 17:26. the “days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26) refers to the time that Christ is present, just as the “days of Noah” would refer to the time when Noah was present among his wicked generation. Therefore, parousia in Matthew 24:37 should be translated “presence of the Son of man” instead of “coming” of the Son of man.”
This is further confirmed by the Apostle Paul’s usage of the word. The thought of “presence” is plainly shown by the contrast with “absence” in Philippians 2:12. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence [Greek, parousia] only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is also shown in 2 Corinthians 10:10.

Evangelical and Fundamentalist Consent to “Presence”

The Emphasized Bible translated by Rotherham is published by Kregel, an evangelical publishing house. Rotherham relates his struggle with the word parousia in the third edition of his translation. Although contrary to his theology, he acknowledged that parousia means “presence” and so translated it in every occurrence. He states on p. 271 in the Appendix:
“In this edition the word parousia is uniformly rendered ‘presence’
(‘coming,’ as a representative of this word, being set aside). The original term occurs twenty-four times in the N.T., viz.: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6, 7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:3; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12 and 1 John 2:28. the sense of ‘presence’ is so plainly shown by the contrast with ‘absence’ (implied in 2 Cor. 10:10, and expressed in Phil. 2:12) that the question naturally arises,—Why not always so render it? The more so, inasmuch as there is in 2 Peter 1:16 also, a peculiar fitness in our English word ‘presence.’

This passage, it will be remembered, relates to our Lord’s
transformation upon the Mount. The wonderful manifestation there
made was a display and sample of ‘presence’ rather than of ‘coming.’
The Lord was already there; and, being there, he was transformed (cp. Matt. 17;2,n.) and the ‘majesty’ of his glorified person was then
disclosed. His bodily ‘presence’ was one which implied and exerted
‘power’; so that ‘power and presence’ go excellently well together—the ‘power’ befitting such a ‘presence’; and the three favored disciples were at one and the same moment witnesses of both.”

Harry Rimmer (D.D., Sc.D.), who was styled “Fundamentalism’s
outstanding spokesman” until his death, admitted that the word
parousia meant personal presence. In his book, The Coming King, he
observed that the Greek word parousia is used 13 times in describing the return of Christ and not once does it have the thought of “coming.”

Christianity Today (a well-known evangelical magazine) published a
series of essays on “Fundamentals of the Faith.” the essay in booklet
form on “The Second Advent of Christ” had this to say about parousia: “…let us look at the Greek words used in the New Testament for the idea of the return. First of all, there is the word parousia, which means basically ‘presence.'”

No doctrine is more frequently mentioned in the New Testament that Christ’s second advent. Yet, few doctrines have been as greatly
fragmented into such diversified concepts. Much of the beauty of this doctrine has been wrested from the grasp of God’s people. All secular Greek dictionaries define parousia, “presence.” Most Biblical
dictionaries likewise define parousia, “presence.” Most current
fundamentalist and evangelical writings on the second advent usually begin by correctly defining parousia, “presence.” Then a strange thing happens. Somehow the word “coming” replaces “presence.” Incorrect theology requires parousia to be translated “coming,” but Scriptural harmony requires that it be translated “presence.”

“Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth”

Historically there is not a single Protestant concept of the second
advent that has an unbroken lineage back to the time of the
Reformation. Since that time, Bible-believing Christians have
fluctuated among a number of conflicting concepts.

Our purpose in this work is to set aside all theories of men and
ascertain from the Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, the glorious
beauties of this momentous event. The faithful Christian is to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). The Word of Truth was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. But now the average Christian is no longer dependent upon the translators or scholars to determine the meaning of a specific Hebrew or Greek word in a given text. In fact, many of the new “translations” are mere
paraphrases of former translations, with little or no consideration given to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Further, even the best
translations have some flaws since they are the works of man.

The ready accessibility of Biblical concordances, Hebrew and Greek
dictionaries and lexicons in libraries and Bible bookstores is one of the blessings of our day. With the Bible in one hand and a concordance and lexicon in the other, the average Christian can verify the meaning of original words in the Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament manuscripts. He can be a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

For many centuries, the church has been on a rough and stormy sea
longing for the blessed haven of Christ’s return. Now, with the chart
and compass of God’s word, the Christian can trace the various
independent lines of prophecy and see the blessed haven just before
him. As there is the danger of shipwreck upon reefs just beneath the
water’s surface along many shorelines, so the Christian must be his own mariner avoiding the ensnarements of unscriptural or even partially Scriptural theories on the second advent. As a “workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” he will utilize, whenever necessary, the tools that make the Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture readily accessible.

If this work inspires the reader to a deeper search of the Scriptures on this subject, then it will have made a contribution to the fellowship of believers.

A Secret Presence Before “Every Eye Shall See Him”

Having observed that the word parousia means presence and not
coming, Matthew 24:3 properly reads: “What shall be the sign of thy
presence and of the end of the world?”

Luke 21:25 refers to “signs” in the plural.

The Scriptures show that the first stage of our Lord’s parousia,
presence, will be secret. “The day of the Lord will arrive [will be here,
Greek, heko—see Strong’s, Young’s or Vine’s] as a thief.” 2 Peter 3:10, Rotherham A thief enters a house quietly, doing a secret work.
Consequently, the first works of our returned Lord are during a secret presence. The world will, at first, be unaware that Christ has returned.

“But ye brethren are not in darkness that day should overtake[implies, a period of overlapping] you as a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:4 Later, his presence will be made manifest to all. The Scriptures use another Greek word, apokalupsis, to describe this revealment to all. “The Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 It is in reference to this revealment to all, that Scriptures like Revelation 1:7 apply; “He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Christians, who are not overcharged with the cares of this life, will experience the joys of discerning the signs of his secret presence (Luke 21:34-36), before they are “caught up together” with him.

What On Earth Is A Kingdom?

ancient_walled_kingdom_by_androgs-d81tm0oA Kingdom on Earth…is the real answer we need.
“Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will be done in Earth.”—Early Christians expected a literal fulfillment of this prayer. Shouldn’t we?
Just imagine what it will mean!

Real joy and peace and health. Real contentment and fullness. Real government by God, for man, which will not perish from this globe.
Real hopes—soon to come. Read them. Find joy and calm.

CONSIDER THE WORLD NOW! BUT THEN…
…the earth shall yield her increase. Psalm 67:6
The want of today will give way to the fullness of tomorrow. Blight will no longer cause famine—insects no longer destroy; and the inhabitants shall no longer say “I am sick.” The balance of
nature will return: the wolf, in peace, will rest with the lamb, and nothing will hurt nor destroy in all is holy kingdom, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

The eyes of the blind…shall be opened! Isaiah 35:5
Restoration of all that man has lost will be the first work of the kingdom. He whose eyes are darkened will see again with bright delight; he whose mind has been darkened will comprehend
with clarity. The dignity of a sound mind and a sound body will return. Ears which have never perceived sound will hear; minds which have never perceived truth will understand. Love will
extend from hearts which had been stone; wrongs will cease and forgiveness will reach out from those who have been wronged. The knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the
sea; fear will flee away.
The lame man…shall leap like a deer. Isaiah 35:6
Vitality will pulse through limbs once withered. Wholeness will return to bodies once dismembered. Life! Life expressed in energy, in direction, in attainment, in the joy of knowing that our bodies will respond to our wills—all accompanied with the profound peace of the knowledge that tragedies will no longer strike us down. Think of all the beauty of human form and feature that you have ever seen—and know that perfected humanity will be still of surpassing loveliness.

Neither shall they learn war anymore…Isaiah 2:4
The enemy which has cast its shadow across the path of every man will perish. Death itself will die! And the hope (seemingly beyond hope) will be realized as all who have died are awakened, restored, and are given the opportunity for life without end; for God is the Savior of ALL—not just those who have believed.

Think of the reunions, the rebuilding, the re-planning—all without fear of termination. Think of the peace, the calm, the certainty—the government of the Prince of Peace: “and of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.” No tears or pain; no sorrow and crying; no death, no dying. Weeping has endured for a long, long night; but joy and song will greet the morning!
He will swallow up death in victory…Isaiah 25:8
“Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalm 145:16

Food for all in rich supply will be one of the abundances in God’s kingdom. Hunger will vanish. But there is another kind of hunger, one that can be satisfied now. It is the hunger for truth. If you
have found the kingdom prospects shown in these writings to be good, then you may be hungering for more. There are answers for the questions so often asked but rarely answered: How does God plan to accomplish these things? If God really exists, why has He permitted suffering? How does He deal in both love and justice with believers and also with unbelievers?

What is all of this that we hear about “church” and “being saved?” What about the scriptures which speak about heaven instead of earth? What about Bible contradictions? Truth is available. Truth is consistent. Truth is reasonable. Taste it! Read the 360-page book,
THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES, available on this website. This booklets you see that the Bible does, indeed, make sense. You can know the when, the how, and the why of the kingdom on earth!
God hath made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
This Biblical texts on which this is based are listed below for your consideration:

Genesis 22:18; Job 33:25,26; Psalm 30:5; Psalm 72:8; Psalm 145:16; Isaiah 9:6,7; Isaiah 11:5-10; Isaiah 29:24; Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 45:18; Isaiah 61:11; Isaiah 65:21-25; Jeremiah 31:33,34; Ezekiel 36:36; Micah 4:1-4; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 8:20-23; Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:20,21; Acts 24:15; Romans 8:20-25; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Galatians 3:8; Ephesians 1:10; 1 Timothy  2:4-6; 1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 21:4

The Most Comforting Words of Life

Jesus-Christs-hand-of-mercyOne of the wonderful things about the Bible and the Christianity founded upon the Bible’s teachings is the fact that it contains so much sympathy — comfort for the bereaved, the sorrowing, the troubled. This is not true of any other book or any other religion in the world.

And who is there that does not at some time in life need sympathy, need encouragement, need a powerful and loving friend such as our Bible assures us our God is to all who will accept his favor?

But our great adversary, Satan, seeks to make the light appear dark and the darkness light. He seeks to negative the testimonies of God’s Word, and, to a very great degree his deceptions have been successful, as is witnessed by the creeds of Christendom. Practically all of our creeds, even though they assert that God is gracious, careful, kind and loving, contradict this description of Him and His plan for humanity in monstrous terms, fiendish in the extreme. The majority of creeds tell us of His foreordination and prearrangement of whatsoever comes to pass, and that this signifies that a saintly handful will gain eternal life of joy in heaven and that the unsaintly thousands of millions of heathendom and Christendom are equally foreordained to spend an eternity of torture foreknown, foreintended and provided for before their creation. Is there comfort in this? Is such a plan God-like or Satanic?

Could any intelligent and good being rejoice in such a plan of damnation or sincerely worship an Almighty God who would so misuse His unlimited power to distress His creatures? “Born in sin, shapen in iniquity; in sin did their mothers conceive them.”

The majority of Christian creeds declare the same results, but that they were not designed of God, not foreknown by Him, not predestinated. They tell us in other words that we have an incompetent God, well meaning, but deficient in wisdom and in power. Is there any comfort in this? Would it assuage the grief and pain of those suffering in eternal torment if they could be assured that their lot was such, not because of Divine premeditation and design, but because of Divine incompetence? Surely there is no comfort to be had from such a view.

After all, we Protestants did not make much of an improvement upon the theory held by our forefathers against which we protested in the sixteenth century. Surely purgatorial tortures of a few centuries are no worse, no less comforting than our Protestant conceptions of an eternity of torture for all the non-elect.

Our Catholic forefathers manufactured Purgatory without a shred of Scripture upon which to base the theory. They built it in their imaginations; they invented its fires and tortures. Our Protestant forefathers, using their imaginations, gave us an eternal torment hell—not more tangible, not more Scriptural than Purgatory. They did indeed use a Scriptural term —sheol, hades, hell— but, overlooking the fact that these words all signify the state of death, the condition of the dead, they wrested the language and warped it in an unscriptural manner to signify torture. The penalty or “wage of sin is death.”

They made of it torture everlasting, without the slightest authority of Scriptures except a misunderstood and misapplied parable, which rightly understood, teaches a totally different lesson.

THE FALSE GOSPEL

Our contention is that during the dark ages the church lost sight of the true Gospel message of comfort, rest, help, held out by the Lord as a special boon and reward for the weary and heavy laden, to attract them. During the dark ages we substituted another Gospel containing no comfort, and therewith we sought to drive men to love, serve, worship, adore, a God we erroneously pictured as meaner and in every way worse than the worst of his fallen creatures. Is it not time for us to get back to the Gospel of our text, the Gospel of comfort, of sympathy, of gracious promises? The false Gospel has surely lost its power. People are becoming too intelligent to endure it. As a consequence attendance at churches is decreasing and reverence for God is diminishing. Infidelity, called higher criticism, etc., is increasing.

The need of the hour is the Gospel of comfort. St. Paul declares what we all know, namely, that “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

Here we see the necessity for this Gospel of comfort. We see also that God has provided it and that it is coming to the world in the end of this age, in the dawning of the new age. It will come to the world in general as soon as the elect church shall have been selected, and, by the “First Resurrection” power, glorified with her Lord as His kingdom class, as the glorified sons of God, whose mission it will be to bless all the families of the earth.

“FATHER OF MERCIES— GOD OF ALL COMFORT.” 

When St. Paul says, “Knowing the terrors of the Lord” he evidently refers to the fact that our Creator has declared that “the wage of sin is death” (not eternal torment); that “all the wicked will God destroy” (not preserve in fire); and that only such as come into vital relationship with the Redeemer can have everlasting life.

Knowing these things respecting the Divine government we persuade men everywhere, “Be ye reconciled to God” — and thus attain the only eternal life which He promised.

But, on the other hand, note the kindly description of our God which the Apostle furnishes, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all of our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any tribulation, by the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comfort also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . or whether we be comforted, it is for your comfort and salvation, . . . knowing that ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the comfort.” 2 Cor. 1:3-7

What a wonderful statement respecting the divine intentions for the comfort of the world and the comfort of the church, all proceeding from “the God of all comfort!” Nothing written in any sacred books of any people at any time reveals such a God as the God of the Bible — a God infinite in justice, wisdom, power and love. It is He that is working all things according to the counsel of His own good will, for the ultimate comfort and salvation of as many of his creatures as will accept his favors, after being brought to a knowledge of the truth respecting them. The church is now comforted during this Gospel Age (saved to the highest plane of the heavenly nature) and during the coming age the world is to be comforted and saved to the human nature — as many as will. For the world this means the glorious opportunity of the mediatorial reign of Christ which will constitute their time of restitution, uplifting, resurrecting, to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. Acts 3:19-21

“COMFORT—WITH THESE WORDS”

Our text not only tells of comfort, but that this comfort is to be attained and enjoyed  through words —through instructions, through God’s teaching, through human channels and agencies. Thus, as the Apostle declares, “God hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”

And God’s Son used His twelve apostles as His special mouthpieces to declare the Father’s will, the word or message of comfort. And in turn God is pleased to use human instrumentality’s for the explanation of His gracious message — for the enlightenment of His people — that the faithful and obedient may have the necessary words of life, for their comfort.

In order to appreciate the meaning of our text we must consider the words of the apostle preceding it, beginning with the thirteenth verse. He declares, “I would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” All Christian people agree that the word sleep here refers to those who died. They are not asleep in heaven, of course, for there all is wakefulness and intelligence and joy. They are not asleep in purgatory, of course, for, according to our Catholic friends, sleep there would be an impossibility. They are not asleep in an orthodox hell, for, according to the description given by Protestants, none could sleep there. Where, then, are those who are “asleep?” St. Paul says that we should not be ignorant concerning them. Have we not been ignorant in the past — foolishly ignorant? We have ignored the apostle’s words entirely. We have refused to believe that any are asleep and claim that all are awake, alive — a few in heaven or joy, the many in purgatory or eternal torture. But St. Paul was right! The entire Bible teaches that all who die fall asleep. Thus we learn of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, that he “fell asleep” (stoned to death). We read of the good and the bad, Kings and peasants, falling asleep in death. We read that King David slept with his fathers —some of them heathen. The Bible tells us where they sleep and that they will all be awakened from the sleep of death in due time —in the resurrection during Messiah’s reign of a thousand years. The Prophet declares that “many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to life everlasting and some to shame and lasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2)

Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death unto resurrection of life will be the blessed and holy, the saintly, who will be associated with the Messiah in the kingdom work for the blessing and uplifting of the non-elect. Those who will be awakened from the sleep of death to shame and age-lasting contempt will be the non-elect world. Their shame will be in proportion as they have enjoyed light, knowledge and opportunity and have failed rightly to appreciate and use these. They will have contempt from their fellows, in proportion as their shortcomings of the present time will be shown up.

Many highly esteemed among men will be awakened to that shame and age-lasting contempt. But their case will not be a hopeless one. Much of their weakness and dereliction were the result of Adam’s transgression and the sinful conditions which have resulted, including unfavorable environment. God has provided in Christ redemption for all from the sins and weaknesses resulting from Adam’s disobedience, and thus the entire race of Adam is guaranteed an individual trial under favorable conditions for life everlasting or death everlasting.

All who will render obedience to the laws and regulations of Messiah’s kingdom will begin to rise up, up, up, out of their fallen, degraded condition of sin and be brought back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed at Calvary. In proportion as they will retrace their steps and come back into divine fellowship their shame will decrease and their contempt also. Finally, in the consummation of that age all who will may have attained full restoration and regeneration and freedom from shame and contempt. The unwilling and disobedient and rebellious will be destroyed in the second death — “twice dead, plucked up by the roots” —without hope of any further resurrection or restitution.

“COMFORT WITH THESE WORDS”

St. Paul urges that Christians should not be ignorant concerning those who are asleep —that they that “sorrow not even as others who have no hope.” It is bad enough to think of millions of heathen as being totally extinct, hopelessly dead, without any prospects of a

resurrection. The same would be true respecting our neighbors and friends, parents and children, brothers and sisters, who are not saintly, who are not in “Christ Jesus,” who are not walking after the Spirit, who are not heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.

And if it would be a sore trial to think of them as utterly destroyed in death and without hope of resurrection, how much worse would it have been when, in our misunderstanding of God’s plans, we thought of them as even worse than to believe them without hope and extinct.

The Apostle proceeds to point out the basis of this hope in these words, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring (from the dead) with (by) Him.” (1 Thess. 4:14) So, then, the Apostles declare, the resurrection hope is the Christian hope, and the basis of the hope of this resurrection is that Jesus died that He might be man’s Ransomer —that He arose from the dead that He might be the great Deliverer of mankind, the Prophet, Priest and King of God, and that He might gather to Himself the elect, Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, as His joint-heir.

Christians, of course, in thinking of the resurrection of the dead, would primarily, chiefly, consider their dear ones of the household of faith; hence the Apostle continues his argument, saying, that those of the church living at the present time of the Second Advent will not precede or hinder those members of the Church who have died during the past centuries, for the dead in Christ shall arise first  —shall be awakened first from the sleep of death.

“THEM THAT SLEEP IN JESUS”

We cannot think that the Apostle refers merely to the Church in this case, for uniformly, in speaking of the resurrection of the dead, he refers both to the Church and the world, the “resurrection of the just and of the unjust.”

So in this case he evidently refers both to the Church and the world as, “asleep in Jesus.” The expression will be noted as different from another one of his respecting those who “sleep in Christ.” The latter expression evidently refers to the Church as the glorified members of the Christ. But in speaking of those asleep in Jesus he evidently has reference to the whole world of mankind. The whole world died in Adam without having a voice in the matter of their birth or trial or condemnation. “Condemnation came upon all because of one man’s disobedience.” Likewise justification is to pass upon all of our race through the precious merit of Christ’s sacrifice. The fact that He “died, the just for the unjust,” constitutes His death a satisfaction price for the sins of the whole world.

From this standpoint, therefore, the whole world not only died in Adam but now sleeps or waits unconsciously for a resurrection of the dead through the merit of our Redeemer’s sacrifice. If we believe that Christ died for our sins and laid the foundation thus for His great work of blessing the world of mankind, including the Church, the first fruits, let us believe also that God who began His work will not stop until He shall have brought forth judgment unto victory —until all the redeemed world shall be brought to a knowledge of the Redeemer and of the Heavenly Father and to an opportunity for life everlasting through obedience. The world died in Adam — “in Adam all die.” Jesus is the Redeemer of the world. “Even so all in Christ shall be made alive.”

The message has reached the Church only, as yet. In due time it will reach every member of the race. The Church is already reckonedly quickened from the dead by the holy Spirit, and will shortly be born from the dead in the “First Resurrection.” The world, therefore, from the divine standpoint, is not dead in Adam now, but merely asleep in Jesus, waiting for the glorious time when, His Kingdom established, He shall call all mankind from the prison house of death, from the tomb, that each may learn to the full of the grace of God in Christ, and have opportunity for attaining life everlasting.

These are the words in which we are to comfort one another —words of hope respecting the resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust—words of sympathy, words of assurance, words that show that God is better than all our fears; that yet in a little while He that shall come will establish His Kingdom —first the Church in glory, and, secondly, Israel and all the families of the earth through them. Everything connected with the divine message is full of hope, full of encouragement, full of blessing, to those in the condition to receive it.

C.T. Russell

Redeeming the Time

Redeeming-the-TimeThe Apostle Paul was one who, on many occasions exhorted the brethren. Many of those exhortations are recorded for us in Scripture. As we read God’s Word, you’ll notice there is a sense of urgency that is transmitted from the words and from its pages.

For those who fear God and wish to walk in His ways, that sense of urgency has to be embraced and applied on a day to day basis. There is an urgent cry found in Ephesians 5:16, which reads “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”

That word “evil” is ponēros [Strong’s 4190], a Greek word translated “hurtful in effect or influence.” We can all agree that in the times we live in there are plenty of things that can be classified as “hurtful” especially among the brethren, both young and old, as none of us are invulnerable.

We are admonished in Isaiah 55:6; “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found.” Now is the time for the Lord’s people to cry out to Him, to draw close to Him, to receive the strength and the help we all need. None of us are able to execute what needs to be done in our own personal lives apart from God Himself.

Because we are human, there are things that crop up in our lives, things that cause roadblocks to our spiritual growth and well being. For example, apathy and lethargy.  We live in a world that is apathetic and lethargic. And because we live in this world, it’s easy for that to bleed off into our lives. Maybe not in the whole spectrum but in certain areas of our lives where we can become apathetic and lethargic, such as in our prayer life, where days go by and things escape us, like personal Bible study, preparing for meetings, because we let other things crop up into our lives, from the world around us.

We have admonishment in Scripture that tell us that this sort of thing happened to the Church in the past.  Such as in the early stages of the Ephesus Church when they first began. (Rev. 2:4) Where it says after starting out so good, something happened, and all of a sudden they lost their first love. And the admonishment was to WAKE UP, get back on track in your consecrated walk.

What is this “first love”? Deu. 6:5 tells us: “Love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might”. If something else comes in the way of our consecrated walk, somehow the love of God got diverted into other areas. The Ephesians were becoming apathetic and lethargic in their execution of what God had commanded them. A little bit later as the Church progresses along the prophetic picture that is pictured in Revelation 2 and 3, we see in Revelation 3:15, 16, the last Church that is mentioned is Laodicea.

Laodicea is a church that is described as being in a quasi state of affairs, hot and cold, which is translated as being lukewarm. They are not full of fire and zeal for the things of God, but they are not against it either. They are as we say cooled down. We are told because of the world we live in, the Laodicean age, “the love of many is waxing cold.” (Matt. 24:12) And as it waxes cold, it is going to have an impact upon the consecrated, lest they recognize this as the scriptures exhort us to do. To be mindful, to WAKE UP to what’s happening all around us.

This WAKE UP call is very important. As you know our nation was stunned back in 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and our nation was suddenly hit with a WAKE UP call, the  likes, it had not seen before. It wanted to stay out of this trouble that was going on in Europe and Asia. Well this trouble became reality on December 7th, and “we” had to do something. We had to WAKE UP as it were, and it mobilize the whole nation, as we were in a fight for our physical survival as a nation. That’s how serious it was.

Again on 9/11 2001, two airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and another WAKE UP CALL goes out to the powers that be of the United States. What happens? They get quite concerned “What’s going on?” And immediately, they take action, and start taking the necessary precautions to protect the homeland, people rushing to the Churches to draw close to God in this time of trial.

But after a handful of weeks and months, what happened? It was business as usual. The Churches were no longer filled as they were. Seems like people always run to God when there’s trouble, when times are good who needs God? That’s exactly what happened; people began to fall back on their former ways.

So the American people became a little apathetic, lethargic, to the seriousness of that wake up call on September 11, 2001. The Apostle Paul had admonished the Christians in his day, and his words are preserved for our edification so that you and I will keep something in mind, that we never lose sight of God’s admonishment and WAKE UP call.

In Romans chapter 13, we’re told that there was a need for exhortation, the Apostle Paul wanted to exhort the brethren in Rome, and he told them to AWAKE, as it were, out of sleep. He said that their lives were beginning to reflect a dull sleepiness, and he senses that they are losing something.

Exhortation has to do with giving warning or advice, as an example of that, 2 Tim. 4:2 where the Apostle Paul told young Timothy; “Preach the word; in season, out of season” and tells him to do what? To “exhort”, in other words let the people have the warning from the scriptures, help them to understand the sense of urgency that God is trying to convey so that they don’t fall into an apathetic or lethargic lax frame of mind and therefore things slip up on them, and capture them unaware.

What we see in the term “Awake!” carries the connotation of don’t be careless or indifferent, because It is so easy to get careless and indifferent, because we live in a careless and indifferent world, where people don’t have that spark, that desire to want to do things the right way.  Even from a physical point of view.

We need to understand that we are called from a spiritual point of view. We have to shake off as it were any slothfulness, we need to be mindful that if we’re not constantly aware of what is going on around us, it will infect our mental state of mind. This is why we have to bring every thought into subjection to Christ, according to the word of God. Because if we don’t then other things can get in there. There are a lot of things that can penetrate our minds that don’t belong there. That is why it is important to be mindful that we cannot be fatally indifferent to spiritual things.

It’s time for us to wake up, because the day and age is moving very rapidly and as it says in Romans 13:11; “knowing the time”; Paul is focusing in on time, time is a precious commodity that we have been given. And here we are told that the time is now “high time”, in other words this is something that should be top priority on our time schedule of events.

Paul continues “that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” that if we have been sloppy, groggy, somewhat dozing, in terms of our own personal lives that God wants us to wake up and realize the seriousness of the time in which we find ourselves living.

We are not living back in the middle ages, we’re living at the consummation of man’s world we’re living at the day where scriptures talk about all the prophecies that have been proven and that have definitely been fulfilled in the Old Testament ring loud and clear and all the prophecies in the New Testament concerning the Lord’s presence have great impact saying “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22 ) We are living in quite an unusual period of time to say the least.

Now is not the time to be dozing off. Paul says “our salvation” that is what God has called us to understand, grasp  and comprehend, and he says it’s nearer now then when we believed. When we were first coming  in as “babes in Christ.”

Now look at how the years have passed in our life, what have we done with those years? Have we really made them count when it comes to our relationship with our Heavenly Father Jehovah, and elder brother Jesus? I think it’s safe to say we should all hang our heads in shame, that we have wasted an awful lot of time. We have wasted time on foolish things, on things that are not worth it when all is said and done. If we were to put it on a scale and see what we’ve done with that time , we would all be ashamed and say “Father, be merciful on me a sinner, I have truly messed it up.”

God is desirous that we wake up and acknowledge our shortcomings. He’s willing to forgive us. But if we say we’re wide awake and walking in the light when in reality parts of our life are dark, we’re walking in darkness as the scriptures says. If we do that we lie, and the Truth is not in us.

The verse is clear; “it is nearer now then when we believed, because the night is far spent, the day is at hand.” God’s Divine Plan is drawing closer and closer with each passing day.

 

Do we sense that urgency? As God sees it, as he tries to convey it to us. It goes on to say “therefore cast off the works of darkness” now we’re told in John 3:19 that men love darkness because their deeds are evil. You and I have been told in 1 Peter 2:9 to come “out of darkness and into his marvelous light”, we’ve been transferred into that marvelous light. He goes on to say “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying”. In other words not get caught up in the devices and problems of this world as the world is sinking in morality very fast.

Rom 13:14  “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof”.

Let’s ask ourselves a very important question. Why do we need to keep awake?  What is Paul emphasizing? Time. Time is a critical component for us. We don’t know how much time our heavenly Father has bestowed on each and every one of us. Time is in His hands. And he’s given us time, and we ALL hope and pray that we use whatever time we have left wisely in making our calling and election sure.  Knowing that the time is short, it should speed us up with an urgency and a desire to make the most of that time.

In James 4:14-17, we’re reminded that our lives are like a vapor.  How many of us can remember our youth. It seemed like yesterday we were in grade school, high school, college, and now out on our own.  Married, children, grandchildren, and we ask, “where did the time go?” It went by so fast. Actually, it went by one day at a time, and it was gone before we knew it.  That is why we need to make the most of our time as the 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 tell us: “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (Firstfruits for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Paul tells them the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”(this should read “a” day of salvation, according to Isaiah 49:6) And it is for the firstfruits of God. Those called at this time, have been given insight to understand this very important calling.

This is revealed to us in the Scriptures, through the Divine Plan of the Ages.  So we see that this is our day, our time, the rest of the world will have a different time, a different schedule, when God will work with them. He is no respecter of persons, and wants ALL to come to a knowledge of the Truth,  but the vast majority of the world is not at this time able to do that. They do not know what they are doing. They did not know what they were doing when they crucified Jesus.  In their minds they knew exactly what they were doing. They were putting to death one who claimed to be the son of God. What they didn’t know, was that he WAS the Son of God, who provided a “ransom for all”, to provide salvation through his death, his shed blood for all of us, and so the Apostle Paul tells them “that through ignorance ye did it.” Acts 3:17.

Next we are told that our salvation draws near, and yes it is. And most people do not grasp or comprehend what are we talking about when salvation is discussed.  They think it means going t o heaven when you die.  And they do not realize that there is much more involved when the Scriptures mention salvation. It is nearer because God’s Revelation tells us as we move through the corridor of life we begin to discover how truly our own mortality is.  “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all.” Until the times of restitution, when the Lord will call forth all mankind and bring them forth in the resurrection of life and judgment.  We are reminded in Hebrews 9:27: “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.”  Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden, and the path that was chosen by our original parents. We have all been indoctrinated  and implanted with a seed of rebellion in our natures, and we have all gone down that wrong path,  and it has brought about wages that we have earned. Paul talks about that in Romans when he said; “the wages of sin is death.” Death is in this world, but it is not God’s desire to allow it to remain in this world. He is going to destroy it in the process of time. He tells us that “the night is far spent,” and what does that translate too?  It translates to the fact that the world we are living in is drawing to its final close, that the time of man’s days is drawn unto its conclusion, and the Kingdom of God is on the horizon, and when the Kingdom is FULLY established, the world will see something wonderful, a transformation of this whole entire world . What humans beings have talks about, God is going to produce. Human beings talk, but they do not produce the right results, only God can. Notice what it says in 1 John 2:8; “Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.”  We now have access to the True Light, and what does light do? It dispels darkness. God is cleansing our hearts, minds and spirits. He’s showing us what Truth is all about.  How it relates to His character, He is the most beautiful being in all the universe.

That’s why he says “don’t make any idols or statutes, and try to pawn them off as God.” Because they don’t even come close in representing what he is like. This is what we need to keep in mind. This is the fear of God that shows acknowledgment and reverence to Him.

Now we live in a world today that is far from the Truth, we hear a lot about God in the Churches, but as 2 Tim. 3, states: “they have a form of Godliness but deny the power thereof”. They don’t want to hear about God “ruling in the Kingdom of men”, that’s exactly what Daniel 4 says he does, he rules in the kingdom of men, he is bringing to pass the prophecy of his word, just like he said he would. He uses individuals to bring to pass what He wants, and when it’s all said and done God weaves his wonderful promises and all these things come to pass and not one fails. Not one promise will return without accomplishing His purpose.

This is what God wants us to keep in mind. How He’s working with us, because we are a work in progress. We are the first fruits of this wonderful work in progress that God is creating. We have been made in His image.

What are we willing to do in return? He tells us we should respond accordingly because the night is far spent; it’s coming to a close. If we look around today, just as the scriptures say prophetic clouds are gathering. And as those clouds gather, what are they telling us? They are rushing towards fulfillment. When we read the book of Revelation we see a book that has a special blessing for all who read it. And yet there are ministers out there in the Churches who say “you don’t need to read that book. It doesn’t mean anything.” How sad, when people need answers to the questions that plaque them and bother them today.

2 Peter 1:19-21 states: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;  knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,  for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

We see that God’s hand is at work, His hand is going to accomplish his will, his purpose and that brings us as to how we ought to walk. As we look at the world around us, we need to stop and consider very seriously how have we been walking? How have we been using this time that God has given to me? Have we walked with him more this year than the last? Did I walk with Him less? Did I pray to Him more? Did I pray to Him less? Did I appreciate and thank Him for the many blessings that he has given me? Or did I just accept those blessings and never said ‘thank you’?

Today we live in an age when people just accept things and never have the courtesy to say ‘thank you’. We live in serious times. We are told to cast off the works of darkness”. Romans 13: 12 “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” We need to be combat ready, we have to wear the material that will aid us in our daily battle and struggle in living life as God fearing men and women. This armor is described for us in Ephesians 6.

I would hope and pray that none of us are deliberately practicing willful sin, but at the same time it would be an error to say that we are sinless today, if we say we have no sin we lie and the truth is not in us. We have all strayed from the path, not deliberately, but because of human weakness we stumble, we falter from time to time. The point in question is, do we follow the example of David, do we quickly give back to God and acknowledge to God where we have fallen, where we have gone wrong and ask God to help us and to restore us again with the joy of His salvation? Would we rather shake ourselves to get back on track or would we rather have God shake us? I believe the former is the better way to go. Don’t you?

Because when God arises, he is going to shake this earth, and people are going to go out of their minds, they are not going to know what to do. The Scriptures constantly admonish us to consider our way. The world has encroached upon all of us, perhaps in more ways than we care to admit, and that’s why it’s time to WAKE UP. All of us need to take a self-analysis. Do we allow into our lives now things that just ten years ago we would not have done? Has something softened us? Weakened us? Invaded our spiritual lives? Only we as individuals can answer that question. And if it has happened, do we see it for what it is? Do we acknowledge it for what it is? Do we run back to God and say ‘forgive me Lord”. This becomes a very important issue. What are we suppose to get rid of? Notice some of the things mentioned in Gal 5: 19-21 Col 3:5-8. “drunkenness, revelry, lewdness, lust, strife, envy, adultery, fornication, idolatry, sorcery, contentions, jealousies, wrath, selfishness, and the list goes on.

Some of you may say ‘I’ve never been involved in that’, but you’re wrong, perhaps not deliberately, but vicariously. Jesus stated Matthew 5:28 “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Have you been to the movies lately? Do you have a television? What are the themes of those programs? That many times we have ALL watched? Murders, adultery, fornication, violence, vulgar language, it crops up doesn’t it? They keep pushing the envelope. Granted, it’s not like you sit there and say, I want to see this program and listen to the vulgar language, no, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about sitting there, watching a program and say, “well, this is a decent program and then all of a vulgarity is slipped in. Sometimes you know it’s coming and think they’ll bleep it out. They no longer bleep out the bad words.  Why? Because it is now culturally acceptable and people are beginning to become addicted to it.

Well the point of it is this, we need to view everything in life according to how God sees it. He said “come out of her my people” this is not anti-movies and television, because there is a balance here.  There are wholesome movies, but most people aren’t interested in wholesome movies, they want action, violence, death and see things blown up. But even with so called wholesome movies, we need to be careful. The ratings system is no longer what it was, as time and culture changes, so does ratings. What was unacceptable 10, 20 years ago, is now acceptable. Sex, violence and profanity have crept into PG and even G rated movies, something that was rated R years ago.

That is why we are admonished to put on the whole armor of light, because we are constantly in combat mode. Now you have to watch when you go to movies or watch television. There’s always a good side to everything, remember it’s not the thing that is wrong, it’s how it’s used. Man has this wonderful proclivity of taking something good and twisting it and making it wrong. Now in this particular case what we see is that people today are being hypnotized literally by this stuff, it’s a form of entertainment to them, instead of entertainment it should be viewed objectively and look back and asked, where are they taking me with this?

We need to put on Christ, by first arming ourselves as we are at war, in combat. On a National Geographic special there was an episode about the lioness’ (the female lion) and how they hunt water buffalo for the pride, they go out and circle the herd of water buffalo, and what happens is that they target a specific one. That’s how the adversary works; 1 Peter 5:8 tell us that Satan “roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour”. They’re out there seeking which one of those water buffalo is going to be the evening meal. Here’s the interesting part, they start a procedure whereby they go around and around and around and they’ll attack the herd and push them back and they’ll attack again and push them back and they’ll go around and around. The whole point being this, they keep pressuring the herd and pressuring the herd until the herd makes a mistake. When the herd makes its mistake, they go for the kill. How many times have you and I made mistakes in life because we were under pressure and we finally caved in under pressure? Satan knows how to attack, he knows where our weak spot is, and he will pressure and pressure until he can succeed in his attack. Therefore it is important that we do not allow him or as Ephesians 4:26 tells us, “don’t give place to the devil.”

Speaking of pressure, have you notice that the world in which we live in is like a pressure cooker? People long for the good old days, when you can sit on your porch and relax (provided one has a porch). What happened to those days? They’re gone! Everybody’s so busy now, everybody’s pressured, pressured, pressured.

Who’s creating the pressure? Who’s out there seeking whom he may devour? This is why you and I have to be combat ready according to scriptures. Put on Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:27 tells us , we did that when we were baptized. We are told to continue developing the character of God. It is critical, that we are to make no provision for the flesh. How do we understand that? We have the responsibility not to feed the flesh. When you feed the old man, you get the wrong results. When you feed the new creature, you get the right results.

It’s like everything else, if you don’t make the right deposit in your checking account, if you don’t keep putting money in, and you’re just taking out all the time, sooner or later it’s all gone. A zero balance. In the same way, if we allow ourselves to feed the flesh rather than the spirit, then what ends up happening is that we end up being spiritually delinquent and we live only for the moment, the flesh, and that is what Paul is warning us against.

Let’s notice Romans 8:12, 13a; “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die” In other words if you just go about your normal pursuits of life, and don’t take God seriously in the equation of living life, you will die. And that’s what the world is doing, they live, they die. Perhaps that’s why they came up with that old expression in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” They see no hope, no future. Only through God do we see a hope and a future, because He gives us one.

Romans 8:13b; “but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body…”  That is when a wrong thought comes into the mind, we immediately dismiss it. Kill that thought, stop it right then and there.

Wipe that thought out. Because if we hold onto and feed it, it’s going to feed the flesh. So we see if we do this, and “mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live.”

1 Corinthians 10:13;  tells us that God is faithful,” and he “will not allow you to be tempted beyond  that you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to  bear it.”  So our Heavenly Father will never allow anything to get so bad against you that it would break you spiritually. He knows your breaking point. You know, everybody has a breaking point. You could only go so far. And God says I will never put anything on you or allow anything to come on you greater than you can bear.

Now let’s take a look at 1 Peter 4:7 because this has a very important application. I Peter 4:7. Here we are admonished on the following:  It says: “But the end of all things is at hand:. . .” and because of that, it says: “. . . be you therefore sober,. . .” notice that means have a high degree of alertness, that’s what sobriety means in the term you’re sober; you’re very much alert, and notice, “. . .watch unto prayer.” As you’re watching, as you’re looking, and evaluating things in your everyday life, make sure you’re praying about these things because what you see is not always what it is. You may see something and think it’s a certain way, but when you pray about it, all of a sudden God’s Spirit puts something else into your mind and you say, “Oh wait a second, there’s more here than meets the eye.”

Because God’s Spirit, remember, is a Spirit that does what? “Shall show you all things,” it says. It’ll show you prophetic applications of things, and it’ll lead you the way God is directing the affairs. Otherwise, it’s just a guess. It’s just speculation. And that’s what human beings do. They guess; they speculate; but God knows the outcome. And God tells us to be sober and to watch unto prayer. Now we know that we are to watch for what reason? So that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things.

There are things coming that we don’t want to be a part of. They are recorded for us in scripture to both  inspire and encourage us to do the right thing. It’s not designed to scare the daylights out of us as if God’s going to get us, so we’d better do this now. That’s not what God wants. He wants us out of what He has revealed as Jesus said, “Behold I’ve told you all things ahead of time that you might believe. That you know that I have your best interest at heart. That I’m trying to show you what to escape, to avoid the minefield that’s gonna blow up and cause mass confusion in the minds of people. But God is not the author of confusion. He’s the author of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and He shares that with us and gives us that understanding. So we see here a very important application that we need to ask ourselves how serious are we in this regard of waking up and redeeming the time.

Are there areas in our lives where we need to really wake up and get on the ball and as we see God’s Plan moving closer and closer to the end? We cannot afford to be indifferent about spiritual things. We can’t allow the Spirit of God to become something that is looked upon in a careless manner. We need to value the Spirit of God. We need to stir up the Spirit of God. We need to thank God for His Spirit because without that Spirit, all we’ve got to rely on is our human spirit, and that’s not enough. We have to be guided and directed in the knowledge of the things of God. And only God can administer that to us, but we have to ask. You have not because you ask not. And you’ve got to make sure you’re always asking with the right motive at heart, because if you ask amiss, it isn’t going to happen. Plain and simple.

So God, out of love and concern is telling us He does not want us to be in any aspect of our lives lethargic or apathetic.  Let’s have to look at 1 John 1:8, 9. We already read verse 8 before:

1 John 1: 8 – “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Verse 9 – “If we confess our sins,. . .” and that’s part of what this whole period of self examination is all about right now. We’re in the process of confessing our sins to God. Have we been indifferent? Have we been lax in areas? Do we need to polish up the armor of light so that we can let God’s Spirit work and flow more effectively in us? It says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness”. He’s there to help us do what? To keep His commandments and do those things pleasing in His sight.

Because unrighteousness is the opposite of what righteousness is. And the righteousness is defined as keeping the commandments of God. Psalm 119:172: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.”

So God is teaching us how to live by His law. To have it written in our hearts and minds, so that we understand how we are to conduct ourselves.

We need to be excited each time we come together as brethren in Christ. This is not something to take for granted. This is something that the adversary would love to destroy, and we have to guard it. Hebrews 10:25  tells us “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” God commands that so that we hear when we hear, it inspires us and encourages us and makes us realize our God is real. And that our God is going to do what He said He’s going to do. No human being can alter that fact.

We find from God’s Word that as individual men and women, we are to be children of the day, not the night, to clean up our lives, if there’s any dark spots, any places there that are unacceptable. We’re to put on Christ more and more and let that light shine just as He said. We’re to put that whole armor on. We’re to walk properly, to stay away from things which are wrong.

You know, the world we live in can hypnotize you if you’re not careful. Have you ever been driving down the highway, your eyes wide open and yet you were asleep? For a split-second. Does that ever happen to you? It’s happened to a lot of people. Myself included. The technical term for it is myoclonic jerk.

You’re driving down the highway, and all of sudden you do this jerk, and you suddenly come back to reality. Where was I? I thought I was awake, driving down the highway. They call it highway hypnosis, that you just keep your eyes riveted in one spot all the time, this will happen to you. So they tell you always to keep your eyes moving. It breaks up that monotony so you don’t fall prey to that.

Well, think about how people today are hypnotized through the media, e.g. television, radio, news, advertisements, etc. Their eyes are focused on one thing, and they’re constantly blitzed and bombarded by this stuff. And a lot of the things that are on there today, once they get in there, it’s hard to get it out. And so what God is telling us, just like that myoclonic jerk, it’s time to jerk yourself back to reality and see exactly what’s going on around you.

Unfortunately some of our brethren get caught up in the latest fads, the political scene. They get upset over things they have no business getting upset over.  It’s one thing to watch the world, it’s another to get involved. This is something we have to see through God’s eyes, and what God sees, He says it isn’t very good. What a merciful God we have, that in spite of all the chaos that goes on in this world, in spite of all the evil, God still blesses.

“Truth” or “Love”—Which Comes First?

truth or loveThe apostle John repeatedly taught the importance of both Biblical truth and godly love. To understand the identity of the true Church, it is vital to recognize which of these is the foundation for the other.

The larger, well-known churches of this world are comprised of millions of “believers”—people who believed in and talked about Jesus. No doubt, many of them are sincere. They also talked much about “Christian love.” Many are the sermons given about “Jesus” and “love”. This describes the diet served every week from pulpits in tens of thousands of churches, around the world.

Of course, these are both critically important topics! The Bible has hundreds of scriptures that refer to our Lord and the importance of demonstrating godly love. But I see that many people have a hollow love, and that few really believed what Christ taught. No real love is evident in their lives.

They have the Lord’s name on their lips but the truths that He taught is not evident in their lives. Lots of talk about love, but little, if any, being practiced in their lives.

John has been called the “Apostle of Love,” because he spoke about this subject much more than all the other New Testament writers combined. A quick glance in any concordance, will confirm this. What is not realized is that he also wrote more about the importance of “truth” than all the other New Testament writers combined. John could have easily been known as the “Apostle of Truth”! A superficial look at his writings could leave you wondering if he wrote about anything other than these two subjects. Strangely, despite John’s dozens of references to the importance of truth, this emphasis is ignored by almost everyone!

In God’s infinite wisdom, He knew that He could not have one apostle stress truth and a another stress love. This would have left the impression that people could “choose their favorite apostle,” depending upon whether they felt truth or love deserved greater emphasis. (It was this very kind of division that plagued the Corinthian brethren – 1 Cor. 1:10-14.)

Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been signified unto me concerning you, my brethren, by them that are of the household of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized into the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, save Crispus and Gaius.”

The result is that each group would feel superior to the other because it has the “more proper” emphasis. Many today feel that they merely need to stress “love”—and without explaining the Bible definition—with little emphasis on correct doctrine. Those that think this way have a well-honed set of passages they use in an attempt to establish their position.

The Role of Love

Two of the most frequently quoted scriptures come from John. Both speak about love. John 3:16 states:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

People who know little—or nothing—about the Bible usually know of this verse.

John 13:34-35 states:

A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another.”

It is easy to see, from just these two passages, why so many believe they are Christians if they just “have love”—all the while feeling no need to be concerned about truth. Notice the phrase, “By this [love] shall all men know that you are My disciples.” It is true that an outward demonstration of love does make an important impression on people. In a selfish, unhappy, confused world, people practicing genuine love—do stand out from all those around them!

A basic question arises. How does Christ know if you are His disciple? We are not asking how men know, but how Christ knows. John also answers:

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Did you notice the phrase “IF you continue in My word, THEN are you My disciples…”? This is a key point! “Continuing in [Christ’s] word”—remaining free of error—signifies to Christ that we are His disciples.

This is what Christ looks for!

The Role of Truth

Holding to the truth would never be a sign to men. People are usually turned off by what true Christians believe:

because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

1 Cor. 2:14 tells us that the truth is not attractive to anyone not called by God . However, seeing people show genuine concern for one another turns no one off and is attractive to all. Anyone who doubts this, may attempt to “cast” a few “pearls” at someone (Matt. 7:6). Watch the reaction. Then try showing love to them when they don’t expect it. The lesson will be learned.

Consider that True Christians are led by the Holy Spirit—the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17; 15:26; 16:13). This same Spirit of truth “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit will lead all those who are truly consecrated into the knowledge of real godly love. Galatians 5:22 reveals that love is a “fruit of the Spirit.” Romans 5:5 explains that such fruit is possible in a Christian’s mind only because God’s Spirit has put it there.

Romans 13:10 states, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” 1 John 5:3 adds this, removing all doubt:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”

It will be clear to others that you have love, because they will see you fulfilling God’s laws toward your fellow man. Understanding real Christian love—what it is—how it is expressed—its relationship to law—its part in being the light of the world—is in itself also a great truth!

Let’s now carefully examine an important verse:

He that says, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

Pause and consider this before continuing. Verse 5 speaks about people who claim to be Christians—to “know Him”—but who neither keep the commandments nor have “truth” in them. The world is filled with professing Christians who claim to “know Jesus in their heart” but who have no interest whatsoever in understanding the Divine Plan as outline in the Bible. Now, focus carefully on Christ’s words (vs 5)

But whoso keeps HIS [Christ’s] word; in him [that person] verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” (vs 5)

Real love cannot be perfected in those who are not keeping Christ’s word—His recorded instruction—the truth. The true love of God is only perfected in people who ARE doing this!

Remember John 8:31.

If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed.”

We must always “continue in” or “keep” God’s word. No wonder our Lord taught,

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4).

The Greek word for “keep,” tereo, means “to watch or to guard (from loss or injury) by keeping the eye upon…to detain in custody.”

  • Will you determine to keep the truths of God’s Word in your “custody”?

  • Will you “guard” it from “loss or injury”?

  • Are you convicted about keeping your “eyes” continually upon it?

Remember, when we consecrated and became disciples of Christ, we were “sanctified” by that Word of truth (John 17:17). Only in this way can you first become and then remain Christ’s disciple!

Remember! Truth is the umbrella that stands over love. Love springs from truth—not the other way around! It is no coincidence that Matthew 22:37-39 says,

love your neighbor as yourself,” afterwards says, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

We didn’t wake up one day and decide “I’m gonna love God”, no, we learned the Truth, when about His Plan of Salvation, and fell in love with the heavenly Father.

Certainly, no one who rejects God or His truth love Him. Therefore, genuine love for “neighbor” will also be absent.

Many Churches Claim to Have “Love”

What about all those who emphasize the importance of love and having a “relationship with Christ”—while in ignorance of God’s Truths or while neglecting or abandoning the ones they may have? Can love be “perfected” in them? The Bible says that this is impossible! (Recall 1 John 3:4.) The only thing such people and organizations “perfect” is the ability to talk about love. So says God! While many have honed “love speak” into a fine art, this is nothing more than empty talk!

These are the ones who talk of “love” and “Jesus,” while demonstrating no real love of God and no real knowledge of the true teachings of Christ. How you love someone you don’t really know? At best it’s a superficial love. When there is doctrinal disagreement within their ranks.

Augustine has been credited with coining the phrase: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” In actuality, Rupertus Meldenius, a German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, coined the phrase in a tract published in 1627.

In any event, today this thought still echoes, even among the brethren. They say: “we must agree to disagree. Love is primary. Doctrines and opinions about Bible truth is secondary. Let us all just have love. Let us submerge our differences under ever more love.”

It’s a nice gesture, the problem with this thought is that, in the end, this breeds more division and doctrinal confusion and a complete disregard and neglect of doctrinal truth. This wrong premise puts the “love” cart in front of the horse. The true Christian continues in truth and then is able to walk in love. Remember, real love, springs from first having the truth! John stated that he “rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you [them], even as you walk in the truth.” Seeing this within fellow Christians was John’s greatest joy (3 John 3-4).

How Love, Truth and Blessings Work Together

There is a final, important, related point. What role do blessings and growth play within the formula of truth and real Christian love? Do their presence—or absence—tell the true Christian anything?

They should!

1 John 3:18 states, “Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” John explains that this gives Christians confidence toward God in their prayers, while eliminating the conscience problems that hinder them. Now verse 21: “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” Answers and blessings flow from obedience, pleasing God and application of His truth: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (vs. 22).

This principle is made plain through paraphrasing three verses. Let’s notice. Isaiah 58:13-14 explains that Israel was promised wonderful blessings if they kept the Sabbath properly. Malachi 3:8-10 shows that they were also promised great blessings—but only if they tithed faithfully. Exodus 15:26-27 directly connects the promises of good health and healing to full obedience to God’s commands. These and many other verses containing promises show that the Christian can know when he is in harmony with God. Conscience problems vanish when people follow all of God’s commands and instructions.

God’s people must recognize and never forget that a real Christian’s path is not easy or pain-free. However, if our ways please Him, God will continually give blessings and growth. This becomes a sign to us of His happiness and pleasure with us. When blessings, fruit and growth are continually lacking, God is not pleased! We know—either way.

First, belief and continuance in the truth tells Christ who His disciples are (and real love will always be evident anyway). Next, love tells people who Christ’s disciples are. Finally, blessings, fruit and growth tell the individual Christian whether he or she is pleasing God and continuing in His Word.

If I were the adversary I would speak endlessly of love and “Jesus,” while de-emphasizing right doctrine—Christ’s teachings—truth!—and their connection to growth and blessings. If this is what you are hearing, beware!

What is a Christian?

bible“Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:28)

A Christian is a person who intelligently believes that he is by nature a sinner, that by Divine grace Jesus Christ the Righteous died for his sins and that through faith in the atoning blood and obedience to the Redeemer’s -teachings he has become “a New Creature in Christ Jesus.”  For such, “Old things have passed away, and all things have become new.”  Such New Creatures are separate and distinct from all other members of the race.  Instead of earthly aims, ambitions and hopes, theirs are Heavenly.

Getting Into Christ’s Body

It is not sufficient that these should make the proper start of faith in Christ and full consecration to do God’s will and not their own wills.  It is incumbent upon them, after having made such a start and after having been begotten of the Holy Spirit, that they shall grow in grace, knowledge and love. (2 Peter 3:18)  This is styled “putting on Christ”; that is to say, adding the graces of character which God will accept and reward with association with the Lord Jesus Christ in His Kingdom.  For these God has made provision of spiritual food in the Bible–“meat in due season for the Household of Faith.” (Matthew 24:45)  These are represented as at first “babes in Christ,” requiring “the milk of the Word,” but if faithful gradually attaining full stature–“strong in the Lord and the power of His might.”

Such spirit-begotten Christians must needs “fight a good fight”–not with others, but with themselves–overcoming the weaknesses and besetments of their own fallen flesh, the allurements of their environment and the wiles of the Adversary.  Such as are faithful in these respects are Scripturally styled “overcomers,” “the very Elect.”  The promise to them is that they shall have part in the Chief, or best, Resurrection, and thereafter be no longer humans, but spirit beings of the highest order–“partakers of the Divine nature.”  These in death are “sown in weakness,” “in dishonor,” human beings, but are raised from the dead “in glory,” “in power,” spirit beings. I Corinthians 15:43.

Jesus’ promise to these overcomers reads, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne, even as I overcame and am set down with My Father in His Throne” — “I will give him power over the nations, etc.  Again He says, “Blessed and holy are all those who have part in the Chief Resurrection: on such the Second Death hath no power, but they shall be priests unto God and unto Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Rev. 3:21; 2:26; 20:6

All Jesus’ teachings are applicable to this special class; namely, those who become His disciples, His followers, His pupils.  He did not assume to be a Teacher of the world, but merely of those who leave the world, sacrificing all to become His disciples.  To these He said, “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”  Again, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you.”  The great Teacher did not include the nominal church as His disciples, but rather counted them in with the world.  In evidence of this, we note the fact that the world which persecuted Him was the Jewish nation, professedly God’s consecrated people; and that those who have persecuted the followers of Jesus have like-wise been nominally people of God, but really of the world.

Duties, Rights and Privileges of Christians

These are the Christians addressed by the Master, saying, “I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other, also.  And if any man shall sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Matthew 5:39-42.

The thought of non-resistance is here, yet not to the extreme degree supposed by some.  The turning of the other cheek, as illustrated by Jesus’ own conduct, was a figurative expression, signifying the willingness to have both cheeks smitten rather than to do injury to another.  Christians are to be law-abiding, whether they consider the laws just or unjust.  If, therefore, the law deprive them of a coat, they are to yield it up.  If it go still further and deprive them of their cloak, they are still to be non-resistant to the law, but submit to it with good grace, knowing that hereunto they are called.

Be it noted that neither the coat nor the cloak was to be given up upon demand merely, but only after the law, justly or unjustly, had so decreed.  Similarly with respect to the compulsory walking of a mile; the Christian is not to submit himself to every whim of everybody; but, seeking to do the will of God, he is to go about his own business, unless the opposition to him amount to a compelling.  And this compelling, under ordinary circumstances, would mean a legal compelling; for the protection of the laws of the land in which he lives may be sought to protect his rights and liberties, as St. Paul appealed to governors and kings.

Christians Live for the Future

Christians are to love their enemies in the same sense that God loves the world–sympathetically.  They are not to love their enemies in the same affectionate love and tenderness, such as they bestow upon their families, friends and lovable persons.  Their love for their enemies, as defined by Jesus, should be such as would lead them to feed their bitterest enemy if he were hungry, to clothe him if he were naked.  They should not pray against their enemies but for their enemies in the sense of wishing, desiring for them enlightenment and true wisdom, which would turn them from being enemies and evil-doers, to make of them followers of Jesus or, at least, well-doers.

Christians are not to lay up for themselves treasures on earth; for they renounced the earth and all hopes of a future life upon earth.  Their walk in the footsteps of Jesus signifies that as He cast aside earthly ambitions, hopes and aims, so would they, taking instead the Heavenly ambitions, hopes and aims.  In other words, they live for the future.  This will not hinder them from the ordinary pursuits of life to the extent that may be necessary in “providing things honest in the sight of all men”–in providing for their families, etc.  But, with these Christians, any over-plus above life’s necessities represents so much opportunity for serving the Lord and His cause; and in so doing these are laying up treasure in Heaven–a future reward.

This does not signify that they must live “from hand to mouth” nor that, if they have possessions, they must riotously distribute these to others.  On the contrary, they are to seek in all things to have the mind of the Lord-to do God’s will.  God’s mind is a sound mind; and these Christians, in seeking to do God’s will, are said to have “the spirit of a sound mind.”  This dictates that they should live wisely and economically.

Christian Stewardship and Citizenship

To these Christians, everything that comes to them or that they possess by nature is considered a thing of God, because in becoming followers of Christ they make a full consecration of their wills–their all–to God.  Hence from that moment forward these Christians are stewards of God’s mercies-stewards of their time, their talents, their influence, their property, their all.  According to the way they use their stewardship, investing their talents to the Master’s praise, will be His commendation of them, as represented in the parable.  Whether many talents are possessed or few, the commendation is to those who have done well, have been good and faithful in the use of their talents, not for self-aggrandizement or show, or worldly accumulations of treasure, but faithful in the service of God, showing forth God’s praises in the assisting of others and themselves to the knowing and doing of the Divine will.

Christians are to “lend, hoping for nothing in return,” and not, as the world, merely to be willing to do good and to lend to those who would do as much or more in return.  Christians are thus to illustrate the fact that they are children of the Highest, that they have been begotten of God, that they have His Holy Spirit and disposition, and that it is shining out more and more in their words and conduct as they grow in the character-likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians are not to go to war.  Their fight is not to be with carnal weapons, but with “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”  They have the most powerful weapon known in the world for their warfare.  This does not signify that they may not put bolts and bars upon their doors to prevent robbery.  It does not signify that they may not call for police protection; for this is a thing they pay for in taxation and are entitled to according to the laws of the world.  They may not claim of their own nation anything than an alien might not claim; but they may claim all that an alien may claim.  Indeed, Christians are styled aliens, stranger, foreigners, so far as the present government of the world is concerned.  Their citizenship, according to the Bible, is the Heavenly one, which they will fully enter into when they shall have shared the Chief Resurrection.

No Christian Nations

The Bible knows nothing of Christian nations or of a Christian world.  The Bible puts the Christian as separate and distinct from the world and from all nations.  Christians are a nation, or people, by themselves, in the same sense that the Jews are a nation, or people, by themselves.  “Ye are a Royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”–a people for a purpose. (I Peter 2:9)  The term Christian nation comes from a serious doctrinal error which crept into the Church about 800 A.D.  At that time, Pope Leo III began to recognize as Christian nations all the nations which recognized his Pontificate.  The custom has prevailed and is still in vogue amongst Protestants and Catholics; but it is wholly unscriptural.

A Christian conscripted to the army or the navy would be “subject to the powers that be,” and obeying the Master’s words would go, as in Math. 5:41, “Whosoever shall compel thee to go.”  The Christian compelled to enter the army or the navy might properly request service as a noncombatant in the Quartermaster’s Department or in the Hospital Department; but, if required to kill, he is to obey God rather than man, and not kill.  He may comply with his orders to the extent of going into the trenches and being shot at, but no further.

Is it urged that such a view of Christianity would wreck our present civilization?  We reply that nothing in the Bible implies that our civilization is Christian or that the Lord ever expected it to be Christian.  God’s time for saving the world from its sin and weakness has not yet come.  The present is merely the time for calling, finding, testing and delivering the Elect.  The Elect, when glorified, will constitute Messiah’s Kingdom, and with Him will be empowered fully with spiritual control for the government of the entire world.

Then will come the time for the enlightenment and uplift and blessing of the whole world of mankind–the non-elects.  Theirs will not be a blessing of the same kind that the Elect will secure, but a blessing which they will appreciate equally.  The world’s blessing and salvation will not signify a change of nature from human to Spirit, but a Restitution to human perfection. (Acts 3:19-23)

What are today styled “Christian nations” are in the Bible styled “kingdoms of this world”; and their complete disintegration is Scripturally outlined as incidental to the establishment of God’s glorious Kingdom under Messiah, for which we pray, “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, even as in Heaven.”

Some may wonder how it ever came to pass that all the people of civilized lands are enumerated as Christians–except Jews and professed infidels.  Statistics tell us that all the inhabitants of Italy are Christian; that more than ninety-nine per cent of the population of Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, etc., are Christians; and that the total number of Christians thus reckoned is nearly five hundred millions.  Surely it is time that intelligent people realize that some great mistake has been made and that more than ninety-nine per cent of these “Christians” make no pretense of being followers of Jesus.

The error arose in the now long ago, when Pope Leo III, recognized a king as a Christian king and his kingdom as a Christian kingdom, he recognized that king’s subjects as Christian.  There we have the matter in a nut-shell.  The whole thing was a mistake.  The king was not a Christian, did not know the meaning of Christianity and was not taught it.  His kingdom was not a Christian kingdom, and his people were not Christians.

Meantime, here and there, obscured to the world, there have been true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in every denomination.  They have been out of accord generally with the great leaders of the church systems as well as with the political leaders of the world.  It has been true of them as the Apostle wrote: “The world knoweth us not, even as it knew Him not.” (I John 3:I)  The world does not yet know, understand or appreciate that the Church of Christ is not to be found in any of the professed churches of various names–Roman, English, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, etc. The Church of Christ is composed exclusively of those who have made covenant with the Lord through faith in the precious blood, who have been accepted of the Lord by the begetting of the Holy Spirit, and who are seeking to walk to the best of their ability in the footsteps of Jesus. I Peter 2:21.

Heaven, Hell and Purgatory

The theory that Christians only are saved from eternal torture has had much to do with the error of counting all civilized people Christians.  The creeds save Christians only–Jews, Mohammedans, heathen, all go to Hell, to roast eternally.  Roman Catholics provide a Second Chance for members of their church, in Purgatory; and many Protestants hold to a Second Chance for the heathen who have never heard of Christ.  All the while, however, the Bible declares for only one chance, but that a full one for every member of the human family.

The only chance offered during this Gospel Age is the opportunity of becoming a member of the Church–a true follower of Jesus.  Such are to get the Heavenly inheritance, but not until the Resurrection.  The remainder of the world will be offered an earthly future; and this offer will begin with the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom of a thousand years.

The Bible nowhere teaches that either saints or sinners pass to a conscious condition at death.  The Bible declares that they all “sleep,” and that the awakening time will be at the Second Coming of the Redeemer to establish His Kingdom.  The Fist Resurrection will be the Church, and subsequently “every man in his own order.”  When once the fact is grasped that the Bible Hell is the grave–Sheol, Hades–then all is plain.

The great Divinely arranged Purgatory, to last a thousand years, will be glorious.  All the heathen and the ignorant, superstitious millions of Christendom, who were taught to call themselves Christians, but who knew that they were not, will have the opportunity of coming to a knowledge of the true God and of His gracious provision for them.

As A Man Soweth So Shall He Reap

2770“Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” 1 Tim. 6:12

During this present time the merit of Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the church class in order to permit them to become New Creatures in Christ, of a different order from the world. The sins of those who now leave the world to follow Jesus are covered by the imputation of His sacrificial merit, that they may join Him in sacrifice and thus be accounted worthy to reign with Him in the coming time of blessing for the world the Millennial Age. They are to be a distinctly new creation. This covering of their sins lasts from the time when they become Christians until the end of their journey here below.

During this period each one will have a battle against the downward tendencies of his flesh a severe conflict; and by the close of his earthly life he will have demonstrated to the Lord to what extent he has been loyal and true in the striving against sin; for that which constitutes our battle as children of God, as soldiers of the Cross, is not merely a campaign against error. In times past we have all been under a cloud of error. It is important indeed to have recognized this condition and to have come out into the light of God’s Truth. We are not to minimize the value of correct doctrine. But this is not the main thing; it is only a means to an end. The most important thing is to get rid of sin.

There are errors of mind, of doctrine, of thought, of morals, of character. From childhood all these things had been going on in our life. We did not realize just what they were. As to errors of doctrine, few preached about them. Ministers of the Gospel said nothing about them; in fact, many of the clergy did not recognize these things as errors. But now we see very clearly what the Bible has to say about doctrine. Now we see that God wishes His people to be free from doctrinal errors. But especially does He wish them to be free from any sympathy with sin, unrighteousness, iniquity, injustice.

In other words, God wished His people to be very loyal to the golden rule. This is the first proposition; and to learn this lesson requires sometimes the experience of years. Very many have never practiced justice. They are unjust in their dealings with their families. Husbands deal unjustly with their wives, parents with their children, wives with husbands, and children with parents. With some people injustice would seem to be the rule of life.

But from the time when we become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and see how justice is written in the law of God, we begin to perceive that God expects us to observe the golden rule. We should begin to do right in our own families with our parents, our children, our companions in life. This golden rule will affect all the affairs of life. It applies everywhere and in everything. “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” As we learn to consider carefully, in our dealings with others, to do for them and toward them as we would wish them to do for us and toward us, we shall find a great transformation going on within us. Gradually the whole course of life is changed.

GREAT DILIGENCE NECESSARY
If we could get this rule thoroughly worked into our hearts and lives, it would prove to be one of the greatest possible blessings, not only to ourselves, but also to others. No part of God’s instruction to the church is more important than this exhortation to justice. Nothing that He ever does is out of line with absolute justice; and He has invited His people to copy His character-likeness. He wishes us to cultivate and develop in ourselves the great qualities which He possesses and which He has illustrated to us.

There are brethren in Christ who from outward appearance are seemingly not so far advanced as they might be in this respect. Measure not yourselves by the world; for the world does not heed the golden rule. We are not to measure them as we measure ourselves; we are not to expect as much from them. Neither should we measure ourselves by other Christians. (2 Cor. 10:12) Some who are called Christians are only morally inclined people who have never been begotten of the holy Spirit, who have never come into the School of Christ. We appreciate their characters, but we are not to measure ourselves by them. We should measure ourselves only by the Word of our Lord, which asks, “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and Godliness?” 2 Pet 3:11

This pointed question of the Apostle Peter implies that the Church of Christ are a special class, different from all other people in the world a peculiar people, as the Apostle Paul puts it not peculiar in dress, but zealous of good works, zealous for everything that is right, laying down their lives for the Truth, in the service of others. Titus 2:14

In other words, God wishes His people to be very loyal to the golden rule. this is the first proposition; and to learn this lesson requires sometimes the experience of years. Very many have never practiced justice. They are unjust in their dealings with their families. Husbands deal unjustly with their wives, parents with their children, wives with husbands, and children with parents. With some people injustice would seem to be the rule of life.

But from the time when we become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and see how justice is written in the law of God, we begin to perceive that God expects us to observe the golden rule. We should begin to do right in our own families with our parents, our children, our companions in life. This golden rule will affect all the affairs of life. It applies everywhere and in everything. “Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” As we learn to consider carefully, in our dealings with others, to do for them and toward them as we would wish them to do for us and toward us, we shall find a great transformation going on within us. Gradually the whole course of life is changed.

JUSTICE IN THE HOME
We should endeavor not only to say nothing to our families that would injure them, but rather to study to be a blessing to them. And so with our dealings with all. Every human being calls for justice. As followers of Christ, we are to be foremost in exercising justice toward all. There should be nothing less than this in our intentions. If with our heart we are recognizing the golden rule, we shall continually seek to think as generously of our neighbor as we would wish him to think of us, and to speak as kindly of him as we would wish him to speak of us. The principle of doing good to others would be exercised toward all.

Some who seem to be exact in their dealings with the world, who would not keep even one cent back from the person to whom it was due, appear to be very careless in dealing with their loved ones, treating them very unjustly. This should not be. Justice is the foundation of the Throne of God; in practicing the golden rule we become more and more like our Heavenly Father. He does to others only what He would wish them to do to Him. As He would not wish others to roast Him or torture Him, so He does not roast or torture them.

Let us ever keep the golden rule in mind, and it will furnish us with the very essence of the spirit of justice. First and always, let us treat others as we would wish them to treat us. Afterwards, let us do a little more; but let us strive never to come short on this fundamental principle. We should indeed, as Christians, give more than justice, but never less. Love will lead us to do more, even as it led our Lord Jesus. He kept the golden rule inviolate in every instance. He never did less than justice; but He did more, much more. He gave His life for others.

And this is what His followers have engaged to do. This is our covenant. We are to follow the golden rule, and then do more. We are to lay down our lives for the brethren and to do for the world as we have opportunity. This is the Bible thought for Jesus’ disciples. It is one which should appeal to us even from the human standpoint as being the highest ideal of Christian living.

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
There is no place where we can better learn to rule our own spirit than in our own home. With husband and wife, with parent and child, with brother and sister, the constant practice of the golden rule is an important matter. The battle with self is the greatest battle the Christian must fight; for in it he learns to exercise his will in the right direction in the direction of control of self. It is only after we have conquered self, only after we have become master of our own flesh, only after we have subdued anger, malice, hatred and strife in our own hearts, that we are enabled, by means of these severe battles with our own weaknesses, to assist others, to aid them by our example to overcome their own besetments and infirmities.

No matter where this conflict may begin, we find entrenched within ourselves many armed and opposing powers. These have possession of us by heredity; they are there as the result of Father Adam’s fall. If, when we begin the battle, we have passed the days of youth, these imperfections and weaknesses are all the more strongly entrenched; and it requires the greater conflict to rout them. But he that would win the prize of the high calling must fight the good fight of faith down to the very end of his earthly existence.

This continual battle of the new mind against the fallen flesh is a good fight in the sense that the New Creature is fighting against the weaknesses and besetments of the fallen human nature, against temptations from within and from without, that appeal to us as human beings. It is a fight of faith because the entire course of the New Creature is one of faith; for “we walk by faith, not by sight.” In this battle we could never succeed without aid from on High. Hence, we must watch and pray. We must put on securely “the whole armor of God.” Eph. 6:12-18

INSPIRATION OF GOD’S PROMISES

All of use who have become true followers of Christ have had these thoughts come before our minds. As we progress, we learn better what God wishes for us. When first we gave our hearts to the Lord we did not know all that is included in full consecration. Many things were hidden from the eyes of our understanding. But as we have gone on step by step, the Lord has brought us to the clear realization that we must suffer with Christ. Let us, then, progress along this way of sacrifice sacrificing our lives for the Truth, following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Although we have learned that it is our privilege to sacrifice our lives with Christ, yet the greatest lesson for us to learn is what God is to do for us. He is the One who is doing the really great things. Our hearts are stirred within us by His great and precious promises. We feed upon them and meditate upon them. We are enamored of the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard.

Thus we grow stronger, taller, as Christians day by day. With our desire to grow ever increasing, we see the necessity for meeting together with others of like precious faith in order to build each other up in the most holy faith. We see the Heavenly things more clearly. Other things pass away from our vision. We see the great basic principles of justice and love, and realize their bearing upon our lives in every respect.

NATURAL TRAITS REQUIRE ATTENTION
We note that after we have made our consecration and have learned that God has justified us freely from all sin through our Lord Jesus Christ, there is a tendency with some of the Lord’s people to violate unintentionally the fundamental principles of justice and love as existent in the Divine character and manifested in the Divine dealings with the people of God. It is not enough that we should have to walk in the ways of the Lord, and that we should recognize the downward tendencies of sin. If we have the spirit of the Lord, we shall be anxious to do right. We shall meditate upon God’s character; and as we see these basic attributes, we shall endeavor to copy them. Thus the work of grace in our hearts will continue and increase, more and more transforming us into the character-likeness of God’s dear Son.

We are not to judge one another in these things, however. “The Lord will judge His people,” according to His knowledge of their abilities. Mercy will be granted for every unintentional defect; but no mercy will be extended toward those things which we could avoid. Whatever ability we possess we are responsible for; and God will hold us responsible if we do not do our best with what we have. Those who are living up to their opportunities and privileges should go on with courage, doing their best, exercising full faith and confidence in the Lord; for He has promised a sufficiency of grace to cover every imperfection. But there is no excuse for any one to live in careless neglect of his duties and responsibilities. Such are not fighting the good fight of faith.

It is the New Creature who will be held responsible for carelessness respecting conduct, for indifference to the requirements of the golden rule and to the additional exercises of love; and it is he who will fail to receive the commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” unless he exercise great care respecting these important matters. God will have none in that special class of overcomers [HGL814] except those who measure fully up to the standard of His requirements. If we are to be the future judges of the world, we must cultivate justice as well as love, so as to be fit to occupy positions of influence and power, in which we shall be able to bless all the families of the earth.

IN THE NEW DISPENSATION
During the Millennial Age, the Lord Jesus will deal with the world. As He declared “All that are in their graves shall hear His voice (‘the voice of the Son of Man’), and shall come forth.” (John 5:25, 28, 29) Those who thus come forth will be the same imperfect beings that they were when they died. Justice will turn them over to Christ imperfect just as they went down into death. The lifting up to human perfection of all who are willing and obedient will be the work of the incoming age. The lower down they were, the more steps will they be required to take in order to climb up to perfection. Some will have much more to overcome than will others. But in every case the test will be the same.

The Messianic reign will be the world’s judgment day. As the Master said, it will be more tolerable in that day for those who during this life had less opportunity than it will be for those who had more. (Matt. 11:20-24) The latter class will come forth more tainted in mind, weaker in character, less inclined to hearken and obey; whereas those who had not heard the message of God’s love will be all the more inclined to give heed. The judgment day will be a tolerable time for all mankind, but more tolerable for those who have never before heard and have never known.

Confucius, for example, will come forth in the Messianic Kingdom, and will be a towering giant morally amongst the people in that day. Many who see him will be surprised at what a strong character he will be a heathen man, who lived without our opportunities, who heard no church bells, who attended no church services. As they behold him, some will say, “If only we had availed ourselves of the privileges and opportunities that we had, we might have attained a place even amongst the glorified saints in Heaven.” But when they consider themselves in the light of their past lives, they will conclude that they are in their proper position; and, stimulated by the example of various worthy characters, as well as encouraged by the assistance afforded them at that time, they will strive to progress as rapidly as possible. Gradually they will learn the rules of the Kingdom the laws of righteousness, based upon justice and love. Those who are willing and obedient will attain unto life everlasting; but the unwilling and disobedient will be cut off in the second death.

How Jesus Preached To The Spirits In Prison

preaching in hell“Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit, by which (two experiences–death and resurrection) he preached unto the spirits in prison.” – 1 Peter 3:18, 19.

This text has been made the basis for some peculiar presentations.  From it some have deduced an intermediate state lasting between death and the resurrection.  Others have claimed it as an authority for the doctrine of Purgatory.  The difficulty in every case seems  to be the failure to remember that the Bible always and everywhere teaches that the dead are really dead, that they know nothing, and that, therefore, it would be impossible to do any preaching to the dead humans.  Undoubtedly the theory that people are more alive after they die than when they were alive, is responsible for nearly all the foolish things which we have all at some time professed to believe.

Before dismissing the thought that these “spirits in prison” are human spirits, let us note the fact that to say, “human spirits,” is an absurdity of itself, because human beings are not spirits, and spirit beings are not humans.  “Who maketh His angels spirits” is the Scriptural proposition.  True, we do sometimes speak of humans as possessing a spirit of life, but by this we merely mean that they possess the power or energy of life, and the same would be equally true of the lower orders of creation, beasts, fish, fowl, etc.

Again we sometimes speak of the Church as spirit beings–begotten of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the Apostle speaks of the natural man in contrast with the New Creature, a spirit being.  To appreciate this statement we must remember that the Church class receives the begetting of the holy Spirit to the end that, if faithful, they may attain unto a spirit resurrection and become spirit beings, like unto the angels and like to the Redeemer.  But we are not spirits yet, except by faith–by hope. However, the context shows that the Apostle had no reference to the Church, either; we were not in prison; we received the Message of salvation through the Apostles.

Spirits Once Disobedient

The spirits to whom the message was given had proven themselves disobedient, says St. Peter.  He even tells us the time of their disobedience, namely, that it was “in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing.”  Surely, if noticing these particulars mentioned in the context, no one would be excusable for misunderstanding this Scripture and considering it in any way applicable to humanity of our day or to humanity in general.   However, it is helpful to us to learn the full particulars of the matter.  What was their disobedience, and when and how were they imprisoned?

Turning to Genesis 6:1-5, we find there the cause of the disobedience of those angels, who for a time had been permitted to see what they could do for the uplift of humanity, or, rather, permitted to demonstrate that the downward tendency of sin is incurable except in the manner which God has already arranged for through Messiah and His glorious reign of a thousand years.

Instead of those angels helping mankind out of sin they helped themselves into sin, and by so doing they increased the depravity amongst humanity, until the astounding record is that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth,  and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil continually.”  The particular sin of those angels was that when they were granted the privilege of materializing–or taking human bodies for the sake of helping and instructing mankind–they misused this power and took to themselves the daughters of men for wives.

These angels came gradually to prefer to live as men amongst men, and to rear earthly families, rather than to abide in the condition in which they were created–spirit beings, higher than humans.  Not only was this wrong in the sense that it was taking a course in opposition to the Divine arrangement, but it was wrong also because the thing was done for the cultivation and gratification of lust, and it led to their own moral defilement as well as having a baneful influence upon humanity; for we can readily see that for the angels, of superior powers and intelligence, to become leaders in lustful practices would mean a great influence upon mankind toward sin and defilement of mind and body.

We are particularly told that the offspring of this improper union between the angels and the daughters of men were giants, both physically and mentally superior to the fallen human family–“men of renown.”  And this statement, that they were “men of renown,” was at a time when manhood’s estate was reached at a hundred years, and implies that God did not interfere to hinder or stop the progress of sin for perhaps several centuries.  In the meantime, the race had become so corrupt that apparently only Noah and his family were uncontaminated–all others had more or less come under the influence, directly or indirectly of these fallen angels or their giant sons.  Hence, of Noah it was written (not that he was a perfect man, but), “Now Noah was perfect in his generation” (uncontaminated) and his family apparently the same.  Hence these alone were saved in the ark, while all the remainder, more or less contaminated, were destroyed by the flood.

“In Chains of Darkness.”

It was then and there that God imprisoned those spirits, angels, who kept not their first estate, and are, therefore, called fallen angels, devils, demons.  They were not imprisoned in some far-off world called hell, nor are they engaged there in stoking fires for the torture of poor humanity.  Following the leading of the Scriptures we find that when the flood came they were not destroyed, because, while their fleshly bodies which they assumed might indeed perish, yet they would merely dematerialize, or assume their spirit conditions again.

The record is that God cast them down, that He condemned them to an overthrow–that they might not any longer associate with the holy angels, but must be reserved in tartaroo–our earth’s atmosphere.  Here they were imprisoned, not in a special place, but in the sense of having their liberties restrained,  in chains of darkness.”  They were no longer permitted to materialize, and thus to associate with humanity. These things are distinctly told us by St. Jude and St. Peter (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4, 5)–an explanation in full harmony with the Genesis account of their fall.

Once Disobedient–Still Disobedient

We, of course, cannot know that all of those fallen angels are still in a disloyal condition of heart.  On the contrary, in harmony with our text, we may suppose that some of these fallen angels have since repented of their wrong course, and it would be none too strong a way to state the matter–that any such repentant ones would surely have terrible experiences as a result.  To be obliged to be in close touch and relationship with the more evil and malignant ones, and to have knowledge of all. their evil designs and efforts, would be a terrible experience, and, besides this, we may be sure that the rebellious would not hesitate to persecute the repentant ones in every conceivable manner, as they would be lawless, regardless of the Divine will.

On the other hand, the repentant ones would be obliged to restrain themselves and to not render evil for evil, knowing that this would be contrary to the Divine will.  In other words, repentant ones amongst those fallen spirits, influenced by the preaching of Jesus, or otherwise, would have a kind of purgatorial experience, and the very thought calls forth our sympathy.

When imprisoned or cut off from the privilege of materialization, many of the fallen spirits, we know not what proportion, continued their active opposition to God, after the manner of Satan.  Hence they are spoken of as his angels, his messengers, his servants, and he is spoken of as Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons.  Satan, who sinned much earlier than the others, and in a different way, the Scriptures tell us was an angel of a higher rank, or a higher nature, and this superiority of his has made him the Prince or ruler over the hosts of fallen spirits.

Fighting Against God

The fight of Satan and his fallen angels is against God, against all who are in harmony with Him, against all the regulations of righteousness, and against all the channels and servants whom the Lord may use. St. Paul’s words along this line are forceful; he remarks that God’s people contend not merely “with flesh and blood,” but also “with wicked spirits in high positions,” and the question arises, “Who is sufficient for these things?”  The reply is that none is sufficient; without the aid of the Redeemer, His Church would be quite overcome and vanquished by evil.

Likewise, without the Redeemer’s aid through His Kingdom, without the binding of Satan, without our Lord’s releasing of the world from the bondage of sin and death, there would be no hope of the world’s recovery from its present bondage.  But with the Apostle we  exclaim, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”—Romans 5:31

Through Mediums and Obsessions

Satan’s original plan of attack was to bring our race under his influence by misrepresentation–by putting darkness for light and light for darkness–for instance, the temptation under which Mother Eve fell. Satan there represented himself as Eve’s friend, giving her sound advice.  He represented God as having a selfish motive behind His command that our first parents should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Satan declared that God had told an untruth when He said that the penalty for sin would be death.  Satan declared that man cannot die.

And has he not since kept up the same line of falsification? And has he not deceived the whole world upon this very subject?  Do not all peoples in every land believe that when a man dies he does not die, but gets more alive–exactly Satan’s lie of the first instance? How few have believed God, even amongst His people who truly love Him, and who truly desire to believe the teachings of His Word’.  We have all been under a kind of “hoodoo.”  “The god of this world (Satan) hath blinded” our minds on this subject.  We are now coming to see that death is the penalty for sin, and that the resurrection is the salvation which God has promised and will provide.

Satan has had powerful allies and servants in the fallen angels, and it is through their persistence that his lie has triumphed over the Divine Word of Truth–“Dying, thou shalt die.”  These fallen spirits have made various manifestations in every land for centuries, and thereby have apparently substantiated the theory that a dead man is more alive than when he was alive.  Knowing that mankind would have nothing to do with them if their real personality were known, they hide their personality, and represent themselves as our dead friends who desire to speak with us, either directly or through mediums.

A further desire of these angels is to obsess or to get possession of a human being.  Being chained, or restrained from the privilege of materialization, the next most desirable thing, in their estimation, is to gain control over a human being, and to use his body instead of their own.  This is styled obsession, and persons so afflicted today are sent to an insane asylum, where, it is estimated, they constitute at least one-half of the entire number.  In the days of our Lord these were not mistakenly supposed to be insane, but rightly declared to be obsessed. All remember the New Testament account that our Saviour and His Apostles cast out fallen spirits from humanity.

“Know Ye Not That the Saints Shall Judge Angels?”

We need not discuss this question with Bible students, for it is too well recognized to be disputed.  We suggest a topical study of this subject by all of our readers.  See how many times Jesus and the Apostles cast out demons, and note the particulars.  Although we still have with us spirit mediums, and many obsessed, we cannot know whether the proportionate number is greater or fewer than in our Lord’s day.  Since the world’s population today is so much larger, the same number of evil spirits (which do not increase) would show proportionately less.  But, however that may be, we may assume that some fruitage resulted from the great sermons preached to these in connection with the death and resurrection of our Lord, respecting which St. Peter tell. us in our text. Additionally, St. Paul remarks, “Know ye not that the saints shall judge angels?”  (1 Cor. 6:3)  We do know that the holy angels need no judging, no trial, hence the Apostle must in some way refer to a trial or judgment or testing of these spirits in prison who were once disobedient, in the days of Noah.  And if the judgment or testing is a part of the Divine plan, it implies a hope for them, and in conjunction with St. Peter’s statement in our text it gives the reasonable inference that the preaching which Jesus did to them was not wholly in vain.

How Jesus Preached in Death

Here arises another question:  If Jesus was really dead, as the Scriptures declare, if “He poured out His soul unto death,” and “made His soul an offering for sin,” and His soul was not raised from the dead until the third day after His crucifixion, how could He in the meantime preach to spirits in prison, or to anybody else?  We reply that He could preach in the same way that the Apostle refers to, saying, “He, being dead; yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4); and again, in the same way that the blood of Abel is said to have cried to God figuratively.  Of one thing we are sure, namely, that Jesus gave no oral address while He was dead. He preached in the way we sometimes refer to when we say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

It was the great object lesson which the fallen angels saw that constituted to them the great sermon that gave them a ground for hope.  On several occasions the fallen spirits, when commanded to come out of human beings, declared that they knew Jesus.  In the long ago they had known Him, when, as the Only Begotten of the Father, and His Representative, He had created them and all things that are made, and was also the Mouth-piece for all Divine orders and regulations.  They realized that He had come into the world to be its Redeemer; they perceived the great stoop that He had made from His lofty position on the heavenly plane to the servant position on the human plane.  They admired His loyalty and faithfulness to God, but doubtless believed Him to be foolish; they never expected Him to rise from the dead.  But when they perceived His resurrection on the third day, to glory, honor and immortality, “far above angels, principalities and powers and every name that is named,” His sermon to them was complete, namely, that “the wages of sin is death,” but that “the gift of God is eternal life.”  (Rom. 6:23)  And as they realized thus the power of God and the love of God for His human creatures, the Apostle’s words imply that this constituted to them a message of hope.  Perhaps if they would show full contrition God eventually would have mercy upon them, even as He had had mercy and had provided for humanity.

The lesson is one for all.  God’s power is Infinite, so is His love, His mercy, His goodness.  Nevertheless, every willful sin will have its punishment, a just recompense of reward, and only the willing and obedient shall have the Divine favor and everlasting life.  Let each apply the lesson to himself.

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” Rev. 11:15