The Many Cold – The Few Faithful

“Because iniquity shall be multiplied the love of the many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:12.

IT IS evident that our Lord is not here speaking of the world, for the world does not have this love. It is the Church of whom Jesus is speaking; it is only the Church with whom God is now dealing. As New Creatures, God’s children have seen a great Light, Christ Jesus. Through this Light we have ourselves become illuminated, and we seek to let our light shine before men. We are not lighted candles to shed light upon others until we have become the Lord’s, until we have received of His light. The Bible declares that all men are by nature sinners, unworthy of God’s notice. But He has made a provision of everlasting life for the perfect. How, then, will any member of our sinner race ever get everlasting life? Surely none of the children of Adam are worthy of everlasting life! The Lord, however, has provided for this emergency through the death of Christ. During the Gospel Age God has been delivering from death a certain class. During the incoming Millennial Age, He will lift up and make perfect the world of mankind. But only at the close of that Age, after they have been finally tested, will God grant them, if worthy, everlasting life. If they fail to attain perfection, He will not give them everlasting life at all, but will destroy them.

UNIQUE ARRANGEMENT FOR THE PRESENT AGE

The Church is an especially called-out class. “Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” said the Master. “I have chosen you out of the world.” Mankind in general are in a different heart attitude from those who come into the Church. It is only the minority who now hunger and thirst after righteousness. God in mercy keeps back the Truth from those to whom it would not in the present time be a blessing. This class that the Lord is now calling out from the world are “called to be saints.” The word saint stands for one who is holy. The word holy has the significance of the word whole–that which is entire, lacking nothing. God, who is holy, calls His children to be holy, saying, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16.) But we were by nature unholy; hence His arrangement for our justification, our being made right, whole. The world in general will be made right during the Millennium. None is made right now in the actual sense. In what way, then, does God make the Church right now? Ah, there is the beauty of God’s Plan! They are made right reckonedly, by the counting to each of them of the perfect merit of Christ. This is a unique arrangement, peculiar to the present Age alone. God says, “My Call at this time is an invitation to a new nature. I am not inviting any now to Restitution; if so it would not be necessary to issue this special Call. I want a certain class for a specific purpose, to be used later in blessing the whole world. I know of some who will be glad to respond. So I am sending My Message, that those able to hear may hear.”

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY ILLUSTRATES GREAT TRUTH

We all know something of the wireless system of telegraphy. This is one of the blessings of this “day of the Lord’s preparation” for the incoming New Age. It may serve as an illustration of how God has been sending out His Truth during the Gospel Age. If we would hear the Lord’s Call, we must have co-hearers. If we do not have co-hearers, we cannot hear His Message at all. We need to have responsive hearts, ready to receive with gladness the Message of God’s love and mercy. If your heart is not rightly in tune, you cannot understand; but as you get it in tune with the Lord, the Message enters, and you can hear the wave tones. God speaks to us in tones of a certain character. We recognize those tones and respond, if our heart is in the proper attitude. We had a wrong tone given us by the Adversary– that God had damned the world, had made a place to eternally torture the majority of mankind. With that wrong tone given us, we were not in a position to get the true Message. God’s true Message is a glorious tune, a marvelous melody. Finally we got the right tune from the Word of God. “I can hear better now,” we said. “Yes, yes; God is Love!” “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son”; “Like as a Father pitieth His children, so the Lord pitieth!” Yes, I now understand something of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God! It is too wonderful a symphony to fully comprehend, I cannot take it all in, but it is there. I am hearing it more and more clearly! Only those who get their hearts in tune with God can hear it all, and the more fully in tune you get your heart the better you can hear. If your instrument is out of tune, if something happens to get you out of touch with the Heavenly electric wave, then you cannot hear the wonderful melody. If you do not keep in close touch with the Lord, you will fail to catch the harmony. You are out of tune with the Infinite One.

JUSTICE THE BASIC QUALITY OF CHARACTER

What is the character of God that we are learning more about as we study His Word? We find that the very basis of God’s character is Justice, absolute Justice. If God were an unjust God, we could never depend upon Him. He might make some term or condition today and then alter it tomorrow. But He is absolutely just; “Justice and judgment are the foundation of His Throne.” (Psalm 89:14.) He changes not; “I am Jehovah, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6.) He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” He will never fail us, He will never deceive. Whoever desires to be in proper tune with God must practice upon that string of JUSTICE. Justice must come into our heart and into our life. The nearer we come in line with justice, the better we shall understand and enter into the spirit of God’s great Plan. We trust that is what we are striving to do. But there are many ways of being unjust. We may say unjust things about our neighbors; we may make trifling faults appear to be great faults; we may color things unjustly. We may use words with a certain intonation or emphasis, with a shrug of the shoulders, giving a wrong impression which might be detrimental to the reputation of another.

Although we might not really mean to wrong another, yet this course would be wrong, and might do incalculable harm. When you say, “I would not wish to be seen in that man’s company,” you might not mean to do wrong, and yet be guilty of slander. Your co-hearer is out of tune with God. Then in the mind one might be unjust. Many people seem to become prejudiced against certain things or persons without just reason. To that extent they are out of harmony with justice. What we need to do is to think righteously, soberly, kindly, along the lines of the Golden Rule, to let our words and deeds be in harmony with the principles of righteousness. Thus we shall be greatly assisted in the development of the sterling Christian character which is absolutely essential if we would have our Father’s approval. Justice, then, is the basis, the first thing necessary, in building character. From this basis we are to go on to the attainment of sympathy, benevolence, forgiveness, love. God has been very loving and sympathetic with us. He has provided us a Redeemer. He has covered our many blemishes from His sight. Then, as we seek to copy God, we shall wish to be kind and forbearing and helpful toward all. But we must be just first. If we have an unjust twist in our mind, it will interfere with our communion with God, and we shall be in danger of failing to make our calling and election sure. We are continually surrounded by the spirit of the world–hatred, envy, malice, strife. So we must keep very close to the Lord to counteract this spirit. The world and the things of the fallen nature are so close to us that we can with difficulty avoid being contaminated by them. One can hardly pass through a vile neighborhood without carrying away vile odors. But the Lord has furnished us with a most effective disinfectant in His Word. All the cleansing we need is derived from the Message which God has given us, with its explicit instructions. This wireless Message from Him tells of His love for us, speaks peace through Jesus Christ our Lord, makes known to us our privilege of becoming heirs of God and joint-heirs with our Lord Jesus. Having been called with this Heavenly Calling, we can readily understand that God would not have us in this class unless we have the right spirit. The selection is not according to a whim of Divine preference. On the contrary, God chooses according to character, according to natural qualifications of honesty and the desire to be just, to be right, whatever may be the fleshly weaknesses. Justice is the very basis of God’s Throne, the foundation of His Government.

WORLDLINESS AMONG PROFESSED CHRISTIANS

In our text the Lord Jesus declares that at a certain time in the Gospel Age, and apparently pointing down to our day, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The Revised Version given here is stronger than our Common Version rendering. It is not only many who will grow cold, but the many, the majority, of professed followers of Christ. How truly the Master’s words have been fulfilled! Iniquity is inequity, injustice, unrighteousness. Our text might properly read, “Because unrighteousness shall abound, the love of the many shall grow cold.” We are in the time against which the Lord sought to especially guard us. How few comparatively have heeded the warning! The STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES point out that in God’s arrangement the Prophet Elijah was a type of The Christ in the flesh–Jesus being the Head of the antitypical Elijah and the Church being His Body. The three and a half years, 1260 days, of Elijah’s experiences while hiding in the wilderness from Queen Jezebel were symbolic, and corresponded to the 1260 years of the true Church in the wilderness condition, where she had fled from the antitypical Jezebel. (Revelation 12:6,14; Daniel 7:24,25.) Elijah’s coming out of the wilderness prefigured the coming out of the true Church of God from her wilderness hiding after the year 1799 A. D., when Jezebel’s power was broken, and the copious rains following represented the wide circulation of the Bible since that date. The Church of Christ, the watching ones, are now in a particular time of waiting. The Elijah class is soon to be taken beyond the veil. The Elisha class will be left until later, to wash their soiled robes in the blood of the Lamb in the “Great Tribulation” just before the world. It seems that the Lord is now especially testing His people. Among many of the people of God love has waxed cold, because unrighteousness is abounding everywhere. Many today profess to believe things that they do not believe. Empty forms of godliness prevail. Love of pleasure is rampant. As a result many professed Christians are lukewarm or cold. They say, “Look at what the church systems are doing. What is right for our church leaders is right for me.” Thus many are taking a very wavering course. There is much injustice practiced everywhere. We find great neglect of the Golden Rule. Christian parents, too, are leaving the religious training of their children too frequently to the Sunday School, where the teachers are often wholly incompetent to instruct them in the Word of God. Christian parents should be the priests of their own family. They have a great responsibility. Because iniquity prevails, the temptation is strong with many to follow the multitude. But the Lord’s children should not follow a multitude to do evil. We must learn quickly now all God’s will concerning us. The end of the Church’s probation is drawing near. We have not much time left in the School of Christ. The saints are soon to be judges of the world. Shall we be among those judges?

PROPER ATTITUDE OF CHRISTIANS

Let each child of God bestir himself. Let him encourage the brethren to faithfulness. Let us give close attention to God’s Word, that we may become more and more like our Father in Heaven. Let us love the things which are true, right, noble, Godlike. Let us renounce all else for the Heavenly things. We cannot stand for our own rights in the world. We gave up our human rights when we gave ourselves to the Lord. There are times perhaps when we might offer a protest, as Jesus did when He was smitten. But He did not retaliate nor try to render evil for evil. And we are to walk as He walked. Let us not allow the inequity of others to cause our hearts to grow cold. The One whom we are to please, the One with whom we have to do, the One whom we love above every human tie, is our Lord. We desire to do His will. As for the brethren, let us do the best we know how for them. Let Heavenly wisdom be our guide. Let us faithfully follow Jesus in the Narrow way, whatever others about us may do; and soon we shall hear His sweet “Well done!” <R5856>

Should Christians Vote?

Does the Bible allow Christians to VOTE? On the other hand, should they just sit on the sidelines and not become involved? Does God allow believers to become active participants in the political affairs of where they live in order to make a better world? Do their responsibilities as those who are called and chosen include arranging protests, campaigning for others, organizing for or against a particular law, and so on?

 A realistic way Christians can always judge whether they should do something, such as deciding to vote or not, is to ask what Jesus would do. The apostle John once wrote, “Anyone who claims to dwell in Him (Jesus Christ) is obligating himself also to walk even as He Himself walked” (1John 2:6, HBFV throughout). The “what would Jesus do” admonishment is solidly based on Scripture. 

So, would Jesus vote? Moreover, if He did, whom would He choose? Would he choose a CHRISTIAN? Would He be willing to choose the “lesser evil” of whoever is running for office, since no political candidate or party is perfect? Can we imagine Him taking sides on the myriad of contentious issues that drive the politics of most nations? On the other hand, would He stand apart from the world and proclaim a different way? 

On trial for His life, Jesus told Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate the following when asked whether he was the King of the Jews. 

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, so that I might not be delivered up to the Jews. However, My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36, HBFV) 

Since Jesus proclaimed that His followers would not fight to save Him from an unjust execution because His kingdom (God’s government) was not derived from this world, then why should Christians be so eager to get involved in politics such as trying to vote? This world is clearly deceived by Satan and lies under his power at least for the time being (Revelation 12:9, 1John 5:19, see also Matthew 4:8 where he offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world).  

 

 

The Peace of God

“The peace of God which passeth all understanding,  hall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil.4:7)

 The word ‘peace’ in the New Testament is from Strong’s 1515 and means ‘quietness, rest, to set at one’ again’. In the Old Testament it is from Strong’s 7965 and has the meaning of ‘safe, well, happy, to be at peace’ and from 7999 ‘to be safe in mind, body and state, to make complete, make restitution, restore’.

 Peace is here then defined as a state of quiet and tranquility, freedom from disturbance or agitation, calmness, repose. Such a state of mind in the text quoted is affirmed of God, it is a mind tranquil, calm, undisturbed, never agitated nor even wearied or perplexed by any of the cares of His vast dominions. As the Creator of all things and the Originator of all law, our Heavenly Father comprehends all causes and concerns with precision and all effects, and consequently knows the end from the beginning.

 As it says in Deut.32:3-4: ‘ I will proclaim the name of the Lord, and praise the greatness of our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; and all his ways are just; a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.’ God’s peace is based upon man obeying His commandments. We go back to when He created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden. The tranquility and beauty in perfect surroundings would have filled their hearts with awe towards their Creator. Our Heavenly Father had provided for Adam and Eve everything they would ever need. God as a father shows that he has a father’s love for all his intelligent creatures, the whole family in heaven and in earth, and that for His pleasure they were and are created. He created them in His own likeness, with the same mental and moral aptitudes, that they might have communion and fellowship with Him as children and they with Him as a father. Thus, in mutual fellowship and communion the Creator and the creature might find pleasure, happiness and delight. 

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that the first parents also needed to be tested if they would be worthy of this paradise and peace that He had provided for them. In Gen.2:16,17 we read: ‘And the Lord God commanded the man, You are free to eat from any tree in the garden but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When you eat of this you will surely die.’ Then came the temptation of Satan through the serpent and Eve ate of the fruit, and then Adam did. They had disobeyed God’s commandment, and therefore the penalty was given for their disobedience.  

In Gen.3:9 we read: ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’ Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and were estranged from God. If we could for a moment put ourselves in their place and imagine the heart-wrench they must have felt and the longing to be back in the garden to be once again in harmony with God, enjoying His peace. From this standpoint we can realize that man has desired peace but because of sin has not been able to obtain it. We see Satan as the foe against mankind. Our Heavenly Father gives us in Gen.3:15 the key to his destruction. We read: ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.’ 

Since Adam, God has overruled lives of righteous men. Because of Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience to God, he was given this promise in Gen.22:17: ‘I will surely bless you and make your descendents as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore; your seed will possess the gate of his enemy, and through your seed all the nations of the world will be blessed because you have obeyed me.’

From Abraham came the nation of Israel and they were also to be given blessings if they would observe and do all of God’s commandments when coming into the promised possession of the land of Israel. In Deut.28:12 we read ‘The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and bless all the works of your hand’ and in Psalms 29:11: ‘The Lord will give strength to his people; God will bless his people with peace’. But because of their sin, the desired peace was not given to the nation of Israel. We remember our Lord’s words in Luke 19:42 when He wept over Jerusalem, saying: ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes.’

 “Peace with God”

So we can see that there can be no peace to man except in the re-establishment of the relationship between himself and God. Since this relationship of sons can only be re-established through Christ, there is no peace to anyone out of Christ. ‘There is no peace, says the Lord, to the wicked’ (Isa.48:25) and ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one’ (1 John 5:19). To have the peace of God then, we need to be at peace with God through justification. Rom.5:8-11 reads: ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. ‘Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him; for if when we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life. Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.’ And in Rom.5:1: ‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 

To these justified children of God, sons and heirs of this Age, God has not only granted His recognition but also His special favor in offering to them exceeding great and precious promises. Our Heavenly Father has drawn us with a heavenly calling and invited us to be part of the body of Christ, His Bride, and to be joint heirs with Jesus in His Kingdom, and all the gracious work of that Kingdom. It is to these new creatures begotten and led by the Spirit of God that are promised peace and mercy. Mercy because our best efforts to walk after the leading of the Holy Spirit will be imperfect but God, who judges our hearts, desires and efforts, is merciful and will not expect from us more than we are able to perform. He gives His blessed peace to these begotten ones who are led by His spirit.  

Rom.8:6 declares: ‘For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.’  Our Lord, on the last night of His earthly life, bestowed on His beloved disciples His parting blessing, His legacy of peace. ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (John 14:27) The promise was for that rest and peace of mind which Jesus himself possessed, the peace of God. It was the same peace which the Father has always had. Jehovah’s peace comes from within Himself because He has all power and wisdom, and knows the end from the beginning. The peace of Christ came through His faith in God, faith in His  wisdom and power and grace. So, also, if we would have the peace of God, the peace of Christ, it must be centered in God by faith. 

Peace that endures

The peace promised is not the short-lived peace of the world, which is sometimes enjoyed for a little while, but it is the peace of God which Christ by faith enjoyed. Although He was rich, for our sakes He became poor. He lost friend after friend, and in His last hour was forsaken by all the friends who remained. His was the peace that endured through loss, persecution, scorn and contempt, and even amidst the agonies of the Cross. If we would know the foundation and security of this abiding peace which is able to survive the heaviest storms of life, we can see it in the teaching and example of the life of our Lord and the Apostles.  

We have many instances recorded in the Book of Acts of the sufferings of the Apostles and followers of Christ. Because of the jealousy of the priests and Sadducees they were put in jail and beaten but when released they rejoiced because they had been accounted worthy of suffering disgrace for the name of Jesus.  

And we have the account of Stephen, who although falsely accused, gave a courageous witness to his faith, and when being stoned fell on his knees and prayed, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’. Herod had the Apostle James put to death by the sword, and the Apostle Peter arrested and put in prison, but the people of the church prayed earnestly for him and the Lord sent an angel to rescue him. The Apostle Paul, in defending his ministry, in 2 Cor.11 speaks of his experience saying: ‘Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move; I have been in danger from rivers, dangers from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea, and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst, and often gone without food. I have been cold and naked.  

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressures of my concern for the churches.’ What was it that held them so firmly and gave them such rest of mind while they suffered? It was their faith, their faith in the love, power and wisdom of God. They believed that what God had promised he was able also to do, that His righteous and benevolent plan would know no failure. Isa.46:9-11 says: ‘Remember the former things of old, for I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all  my pleasure: …. Yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.’  

In Jehovah their faith was anchored and on His assurances they rested. So the Apostle Paul was able to say in Rom.8:’If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or dangers? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us, for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers from the height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ It is only through steady, unwavering faith that the peace of God, the peace of Christ, will abide with His people.  

1 John 5:4 says: ‘This is the victory which overcomes the world, even our faith’. The blessed peace that comes from the knowledge of the fact that God accepts us as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ if we continue to faithfully follow in His footsteps is the basis of our peace. No matter how heavily the storms of life may assail us, we must never let go our anchor. Always remember that the foundation of God stands sure. His truth is our shield and buckler, that what He has promised he is able to perform, and covering our human imperfections we have the imputed righteousness of Christ. Jesus’ peace is in true reconciliation with God, purchased with His death. It is the supreme remedy for all fears and the legacy left for his heirs. Even as we see the sad state of affairs in the world today, we can have peace knowing that He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

We look forward to and pray for the establishment of the Kingdom when the beautiful Old Testament promises of Psalms 37:11 have their fulfillment: ‘The meek shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ and in Isa.32: ‘Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgment…. and the fruit of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in thee in peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.’ So, in conclusion, ‘When He gives quietness who then can make trouble?’ and ‘You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.’ Who but He, the God of all comfort, can give quietness in the midst of trouble when we can come to our loving Heavenly Father in prayer, not asking for all disturbances to be removed, because it is not always the divine will to bring peace in that way, but asking for a loving, trustful submission to the will of God.

“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises”

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” – 2 Peter 1:2-4

The promises of God are not only great but precious, the Apostle declares. Gifts may be regarded as precious for various reasons, some of which might be:- The giver: Many of us treasure some small, probably not very valuable things, that is, not valuable in the eyes of others, but because they came to us from a parent, a loved one,
a Christian friend, they are priceless to us. Our great and precious promises are the gift of God, our loving Father, who so loved us each one that He gave His beloved and only-begotten Son for our salvation.

The price: There is a wonderful story out of the life of David recorded in 2 Samuel 23:15-17, which reads: “And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out
unto the Lord. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it.”

The gift David received on that occasion was merely a portion of water, but was purchased at so great a price – the hazarding of three lives – that he could do nothing other than pour it out in offering to God, so precious was it in David’s sight. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:18-19: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, ….but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot or blemish.” Like David, how can we do other than offer such dearly bought gifts back to Him in grateful service and obedience?
The value: It is sometimes said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and so in the case of a gift its value may depend on the appreciation or otherwise of the recipient. We read in Hebrews 11:26 that Moses chose ‘rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of the Anointed greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” This surely is also the viewpoint of the faithful followers of Jesus today: Of all such, it can be truly said “unto you therefore which believe, he (Jesus) is precious” (1 Peter 2:7).

The certainty: Even the best-sounding promises are of no value unless there is absolute confidence in the sincerity and ability to perform of the giver. So as well as greatness and preciousness, the promises need to be certain of fulfillment, and here the Word of God thoroughly assures us: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith for He is faithful who promised.” (Heb 10:23) “For all the promises of God in him (Jesus) are yea and in him amen, to the glory of God by
us” (2 Cor.1:20) The nature of God himself, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning, and the finished work of Christ are the Christian’s ironclad guarantee of the fulfillment of
all the divine promises. Each one of God’s dear children has
furthermore been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the
earnest or pledge of the rich inheritance which God has
promised.

The scope: In earlier times ‘promise boxes’ were fairly common among Christian people and these held perhaps 200 or so little scrolls with a Scripture promise which could be selected for daily reading and encouragement. The Word of God itself is the great storehouse of all His promises and these relate not only to the eternal life and joy and peace and glory which are laid up for all who are faithful unto death, but also the assurance of our Savior’s constant presence and of His grace and strength in every time of need and of His peace within our hearts.

The prospect: 1 John 3:2 reads – “Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” What a prospect! Can we really comprehend it, to see Him as He is? And also in Rev.3:21: “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.” What a privilege, what a prize, what a Saviour!

Further, we have present promises in Matt.28:20: “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the age”, in Hebrews 13:5: “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” and in 2 Cor.12:9: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

The purpose: Turning again to the Apostle’s words in 2 Peter 1:3 and 4, we see that all of God’s provisions including the gift of exceeding great and precious promises are all designed to guide Christians in the paths of new life and righteousness in Christ, to foster development of character and Christian graces so that ultimately they can be made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The full realization of this share in the divine nature awaits the completion of the earthly course, but even now we can rejoice in what God has already revealed to us and in us of His love and mercy and goodness through His dear Son, our Savior.

Our loving Heavenly Father is the great author of all the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word. In response let us continue in our personal resolve to –
· Daily take more and more to our hearts and savor the full riches of God’s grace toward us
· Daily lay hold on all His precious promises, not only of future glory but of present help and strength along the narrow way.

“Faithful is He who calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thess 5:24 (Amen)

The Opening Year

Christians cannot remain oblivious to the very real and dangerous
problems that exist in the world today both locally and worldwide, our news media inform us daily of the crises and hardships which so many suffer and we cannot but feel for those involved, even though there may be little we each can do. Only God’s Kingdom holds the final and complete solution. In the meantime, we have the assurance of God’s word given long ago that all those “will be kept in perfect peace whose hearts are stayed upon Jehovah”, those whose lives have been firmly established thereon for support. (Isa 26:3)
The promise of peace within a world of turmoil was reiterated by our Savior, through whom we have come to know God as our Heavenly Father – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto thee; let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid”. “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good courage, I have overcome the world. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace”. (John 14:27, 16:33) Peace is His will for His followers!
Such peace is the treasure and privilege of all the Lord’s people and we do well to draw deeply upon this source of inner peace and rest in the Lord. Such peace will strengthen us and enable us to go forward in trust and assurance into the new year, whatever 2017 may hold for us as individuals, as assemblies of God’s people, as part of that one Church “which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all”. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His”. (2 Tim 2:19) He who knows and loves each one of His children will surely be their peace, as they trust Him.
As we look back over 2016, can we say with Samuel “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” (1 Sam 7:12) Surely He has indeed done so for us each as we think carefully back over the experiences of the way. God’s promises do not fail as we are reminded in Lam 3:22,23 – “His compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness”, also in 1 Thess 5:24 – “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it”. So in times of special stress when it seems that “help delays to come”, we need to trust Him even more, knowing “He will send the answer, though in wisdom oft delayed”. In such times, we can help one another, by prayer, by the word of encouragement, by practical support.
Yes, even in a troubled world, Christians may still know real joy, in the abiding presence of our dear Master, in present enjoyment of the great and precious promises of God, in the rich and satisfying truths of His Word as they have been opened up for us in these last days, in the glorious prospects for all mankind, when the dark night of sin gives way to the light of a new and glorious day. Such inner peace and hope and joy will help to sustain us each one whatever our experiences may be in the coming year.
At this turning point, then, when one year closes and another opens before us, let us take stock. What progress has been made “in the school of Christ” in faith and understanding, in character and daily living, in love for the brethren, in appreciation of the so great love of our Heavenly Father, in zeal for His service even in what may seem the smallest way, in the joy of our Lord? All these things are His will for us, let us resolve then to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. (Heb 12:1)
May we each prove ”more than conqueror” through Him
who loved us. Amen.