Category Archives: Devotional

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.

The Harp of God

One gets natural melody out of a natural harp, and spiritual melody out of a spiritual harp. Nominal Christendom can tell us something about the historical features of the Bible, but they cannot tell us about its music. They have not ears that can hear. A harp consists of so many strings, so that it may have perfect harmony, so in God’s harp, there are ten great strings. “I will praise thee upon an instrument of ten strings” (Psa. 144:9), ten great themes. It requires all the strings to make good music.

There was a time when a great many harped on Sanctification, Sanctification, Sanctification! We realize that this is one of the divine strings, but our friends misunderstood the meaning of sanctification, because they neglected the other strings. Our Seventh Day Adventist friends make some music: they are harping on the law! the law! The law! The law is one of the strings in God’s great harp. We are glad that the law string is there. There is the creation string, which is followed by the condemnation string, and the whole race falls into sin. Then comes the law and the ransom, followed by the resurrection, justification, consecration and sanctification, joint-heirship, and restitution; the tenth string is the second death. There is a true octave on these strings, just as there is on a natural instrument.

The passage of scripture from which we are  going to get music this time is found in the fourth and fifth chapters of Zachariah, which refer to the Gospel age and to the Millennial age, the church and the world, the peculiar position which the church holds and the blessings she enjoys.

The first thing is to be “awakened.” Over and over again the prophets tell us that they were in a deep sleep, and had to be awakened first. The great majority of the race are asleep. If they are going to know anything about God’s truth, they will have to be awakened. They do not want to be awakened. (Song of Solomon 5.) “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on?” “I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” The Lord is looking for those who prefer to be awake: “Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that are done in the midst of Babylon.” (Ezek. 9:4.) If we have been awakened by the Lord’s grace and riches, and have passed not only from death unto life, but from sleep unto consciousness, let our action fit His will.

After Zachariah was awakened by the angel (Zach. 4:1), the latter said unto him: “What seest thou?” and he answered, “Behold a candlestick all of gold, etc.” We remember that was a golden candlestick with seven lamps in the Tabernacle and a similar one in Solomon’s Temple. In Revelations the church is represented by seven candlesticks, the seven different periods through which the church has passed, seven stages of development. The branches consist of those who are buffeted and persecuted. If you are among those who are letting their light shine, then you are part of the Golden Candlestick. If I am one of those, then it includes me. This candlestick is represented as being all of gold, which represents the divine nature. The church is thus represented not because we are actually divine yet, not at all; but that if we remain faithful we will have a place in this golden candlestick.

“An olive tree.” We read in Rom. 11 of the great olive tree into which some are being grafted. The fact that we are letting our light shine today is no proof that we shall be members of the “Little Flock.” God does not however, deal with us suspiciously. He deals with us as though we were going to remain faithful. If He had dealt suspiciously with Adam, the latter could have said: “It was through your discouragement.” There is a difference between predestination and fore-knowledge. While our heavenly Father  knows who will and who will not be faithful, yet He does not tell us anything about it. Those faithful will be in the candlestick ultimately when it is raised to the divine nature itself.

“A bowl upon the top of it.” Who is over the church? Christ is the head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22). “And seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps.” Here was a candlestick with seven lamps, and the seven lamps all connected with that bowl–connected by golden pipes, all the oil in the lamps flowed from the bowl; all the measures of God’s spirit are received from Christ, the bowl. The oil from the bowl had to come through the pipes. “The anointing which we have received of Him abideth in us”—received through His Son, we do not receive the spirit direct (1 John 2:27).

“And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.” In Revelations the olive trees represent the Old and New Testaments (Rev. 11:3,4). The fact that there are two of these olive trees shows the two sides of God’s Word, one the right hand side, and the other the left hand side. One part of God’s Word was on one side of our Savior and the other on the other side (the Old on the left, the New on the right). He stands between the two, He is the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments.

“So I spake to the angel: ‘What are these my Lord?’ This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel.” The Lord waited, and this would indicate that the Lord wanted to keep his people waiting for it. The angel did

not answer immediately. A great many do not take this waiting in the spirit of the prophet; they get impatient; they do not say: “I will try to get some meaning out of this.” The prophet was willing to wait, and the answer came: “This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel.”

Zerubbabel led many of the children of Israel back from the captivity in Babylon to aid in rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 2:2; 3:8-13). Our Lord Jesus, who delivers his people, is going to build the great spiritual temple, and Zerubbabel is here a type of Christ. “Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” Many in nominal christendom make the mistake of expecting that God was going to do things by might (margin: army-numbers), and they say: “The Lord wants things done in this way.” Not at all! “Not by numbers, nor by power.” Such is not the Lord’s arrangement, it is not numbers, nor power, nor force, but the Lord’s spirit which is going to and does count in His purpose for this age. God’s spirit accomplishes what man’s might and numbers could not accomplish.

“Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain.” (A mountain symbolizes a kingdom; and the one here represented as an obstruction before Zerubbabel typifies Satan’s kingdom–the dominion of evil under the prince of this world. Zerubbabel typifies Christ. His name signifies “a shoot (or sprout) out of Babylon.” Literally he was a son or shoot out of David and Jesse (as our Lord also is called), and secondly as a sprout out of Babylon(confusion) he was a further type of Christ, who was out of and yet separate from sin and all admixture of evil. Undoubtedly the people of that day understood Zerubbabel to be the “branch,” or “shoot” mentioned in the vision of chapter 3-8, not realizing that Zerubbabel and Joshua were but types of Christ (sign-men), in whom the two offices of King and Priest would be combined.

Verses 9 and 10 blend the type and the antitype. Zerubbabel had begun the rebuilding of the literal temple, and the people understood that it would be completed by him. They might not then despise the humble beginning of the work, but rejoice to see it progress under his directing; realizing that the seven eyes (i.e. the perfect wisdom of God–seven represents perfection, and an eye represents knowledge — which holds survey of all the earth) were superintending all the work.

The real application of these verses is to Christ, who began the construction of the true Temple of God–“which temple ye are.” His earthly ministry and the work of his followers have all along seemed small and weak, and far from what might be expected by any respecting so great a temple for so grand a purpose. But those who realize the situation from God’s standpoint can rejoice in the outcome, realizing the Lord’s promise that “the day of small things,” the day of suffering, the day of trials, will soon give place to the Millennial Day of joy, perfection and blessing. The despised “little flock” which the world knows not, even as it knew not its master, will soon be glorified with him and share his Kingdom.–Z.W.T. Jan. 1, 1893.)

The kingdom of Satan will utterly pass away before Christ’s power, and the next age, the day of great things will be ushered in. Now we are like the great ocean; its usefulness depends upon the consistency of the molecules of water. If these were too sticky, too light, or too heavy, its usefulness would be much lessened, boats could not navigate it. So our usefulness by and by will depend upon the care we take of the small things now. We must not despise the small beginnings of spiritual graces in our hearts, but cultivate them carefully, the small seeds of humility and love, etc., else we never will be ready for the great things by and by.

The headstone of this great Temple is our Lord, brought forth 1900 years ago. The “plummet,” or plumb-line the perfect standard of righteousness let down from heaven, in Jesus’ hands (see Isa. 28:17). “The plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven lamps (verse 2). They are the eyes of the Lord,” his consecrated church, because they view things from God’s standpoint, spiritually discerned. If we continue faithful here we will hold up the standard of righteousness with Christ Jesus. “Run to and fro through the whole earth.” The truly consecrated run to do His bidding, are willing to go anywhere in the Lord’s service. The tribulation class may seek to do His will, but they do not run to do it.

Chapter 5: While the fourth chapter relates to the blessing, the fifth refers to the curse: “The Flying Roll;” the curse that has gone over the face of the whole earth. This curse is the immortality of the soul. “Flying” shows the rapidity with which this false doctrine has spread. It has been elevated by man’s hand to a spiritual place. No subject outside the Bible, no false doctrine has had so much written upon it to uphold it. It is called the ‘seed of Satan,’ because he is the father of lies. To this teaching, other lies have been added, built upon it, and still others till the system is like a great tree, with many branches.

The doctrine has had such a great influence on man’s mind, that one might expect it would be foretold in the Bible as to its effects in the church (deceiving spiritual thieves and false swearers). It has warped the mind of man. “I will bring it forth:” God’s people are no longer deceived by it.

Staying Awake

awake

I guess for most of us there have been times in our lives when we have wanted to stay awake all night. It might be because we wanted to read or study, maybe because we were excited about something happening the next day or because we were on a long journey and travelling at night was more convenient. It may have been because we had to work. Whatever the reason, it was sufficiently necessary or interesting to keep us awake. Yet as the night draws on, tiredness sets in and often we awaken in the morning with a book fallen to the floor or if driving we need to pull over and sleep. I have not worked or travelled at night very often, but have found that the hardest time was 3-4 am when my eyes wanted to close and concentration was at its worst.

I am sure we all remember the parable Jesus told about the 10 virgins, five who were wise and five who were foolish. All of whom fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. Though they all fell asleep the wise had at least prepared for the bridegroom coming, they had tried to remain alert and prepared before sleep overwhelmed them.

Our primary goal in life must be to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon God’s Kingdom and the things that we so dearly believe in. Indeed the cry “Here is the bridegroom come out to meet him!”  has come(Matthew 25:6) Now Jesus said that upon his return, the angels would go out to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. That gathering continues till this day, although in smaller number. What will our reaction then be? Will we be alert and prepared? Shall we have thoughts of this life and what we are leaving behind, or shall we go with fear?

Let us daily fix our eyes upon his coming Kingdom, for it will generate zeal to stay alert. It will generate a willingness to make the effort to develop a character pleasing to the Lord Jesus. It has been a long night, the ‘bridegroom’ has tarried long and it is now almost dawn. It is well worth considering and meditating upon what is to come, for it will help us remain awake. The Master has come, our hope is certain; as we read “Your eyes will see the King in his beauty and view a land that stretches far” Isaiah 33:17. At that time when the earth is ruled by a righteous King, there shall at last be peace. God’s righteous and just law shall go forth from Jerusalem, we read that:

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, and no-one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” Micah 4:1-5.

With this wonderful vision of the kingdom to come, a time when the nations will be ruled by God’s just law, is our resolve to “walk in the name of the Lord our God”? We have been called to know the one true God, our Creator, what an immense privilege! This calling is something we do not deserve and do not merit. It is a calling based upon the great mercy of our Father in heaven. So, how much does that coming Kingdom mean to us? Is it valuable enough to us, that we consider it worth staying awake for? Jesus frequently tells us throughout the gospel records to be watching and if we truly value and love our Lord and Master, we will obey this command.

But surely this obedience is not something we would find onerous. It is for our ultimate good, it is a command born out of love. It should be a joy to follow the Lord Jesus and his example. To encourage us we have a glorious view in the scriptures of the earth at that time when the Kingdom is established. In Isaiah we have many word pictures of the Kingdom age. For example:

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isa 35:4

That is our trust, that is our hope, God will indeed save us. Therefore let us be strong, let us hold fast to the end, for God’s word will never fail! The chapter continues

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. “ Isa 35:5-7

No need for a national health service, no need to fear disability. No more will the earth be desolate and famine strike. But apply this to spiritual matters and the vision becomes even more thrilling. No more will mankind stumble around, groping as a blind man to find some meaning to life, limping along striving to make some sense out of the world and the many troubles that beset us all. No, the eyes of the spiritually blind will be open; the knowledge of God’s ways will set man truly free. The tongue shall be full of praise for our Creator and joy will fill the heart. Sorrow and sighing will flee away and this spiritually parched desert of life will be full of bubbling fresh springs of the water of life.

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. Isaiah 65v17-20

Such will be the contrast between the peace of the Kingdom age and life now, that our trials and sorrows will be but as a bad dream that vanishes when we awaken, vanishing like the morning mist when the sun shines. It will be a time of renewal, a time of refreshing and we will indeed sing for joy at the wonder of the new creation. Once again, the difference will be seen between the righteous and the unrighteous, the godly and the ungodly. God always hears the prayer of faith; He will bring peace and salvation.

“…they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.” Isa 65:23-25

No, there shall be no harm in that glorious age for sorrow and sighing shall flee away. The great Prince of Peace will rule in righteousness and we shall be with him! Regarding the wisdom as righteousness of Christ Isaiah records:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD— and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash round his waist.

Creation itself shall be at peace and at rest:

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11:1-9

Peace will only come when the world is full of the knowledge of the Lord our God and mankind obeys His righteous and just law. His name alone shall be honoured.

We have been called according to God’s mercy to be part of that nation of kings and priests, to honour Him and reflect His glory. Of that city we are destined by God’s grace to inherit, we read:

“You have come to mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the first born, who’s names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” Hebrews 12:22.

Thus we shall be privileged to join in with that mighty throng singing “The song of Moses, the servant of God and the song of the Lamb” Rev 15:3. We have so much encouragement to keep us awake and striving to please our heavenly Father. We deserve nothing, yet have been offered everything! Surely as the scripture say’s “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” Rev 19:9.

This life is full of much sorrow and much sadness. But, and it’s a big BUT, we have so much to look forward too. We are called, as the scriptures say’s to be FIRST BORN SONS of the LIVING GOD! What a privilege, what a hope!

It is our Lord who has made all these things possible, he who has redeemed us by his own great sacrifice. John writes “This is how God showed his love among us, he sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him”. John 4:9 Of Jesus it is written “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. If we obey his commandments, we remain his friends.

Therefore, let us keep AWAKE! For if God loved us while we were yet sinners, how much more will we not be loved now we are reconciled to him through Christ. Let us then diligently, watch and pray for his coming, confessing our sin’s before him and resolving to do his will. Let us always keep in our mind’s eye that wonderful and exhilarating view of the Kingdom age, for it will spur us on, keeping us spiritually alert and filled with the oil of the word of our heavenly Father.

“To whom shall we go?”

to-whom-shall-we-goThese were the words of Simon Peter as recorded by John. Following the miraculous sign of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus had spoken at length of the significance of this sign. He had compared and contrasted the provision he would make with the giving of manna in the wilderness. “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down out of heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die … yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6. 48-51 RV).

This caused confusion among his listeners but instead of explaining what he meant he followed up with more “hard sayings”. Even his disciples began to grumble amongst themselves: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (v.60 NIV). Jesus, of course, was aware of this but still made no attempt to explain his words. As a result: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (v.66). When Jesus spoke to the twelve, asking them if they also were going to forsake him, Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (vv.68,69).

Peter still did not understand; Jesus still did not explain. But Peter refused to go away, he refused to follow those who had turned away. He gave two reasons for this refusal: (1) There was nowhere else to go, and (2) Whatever the difficulties, they had sufficient positive evidence to convince them that, come what may, they had to maintain their faith in Jesus. Their faith was so strong that it amounted to certain knowledge. “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God”. It was unthinkable that they should turn away from him. To go away was to go nowhere. With all the positive evidence they had, the last thing they thought of doing was to indulge in negative thinking, allow doubts to enter in and then turn away.

The disciples could not understand Jesus’ sayings; Jesus did not attempt to explain them or enlarge upon them. Whatever the difficulties, he expected them to trust him and maintain their confidence in him.

It has not been unusual for God’s servants to have difficulty in understanding God’s ways: how He was working in their own lives or the lives of others. The Psalmist was puzzled by the apparent prosperity of the wicked and was tempted to say: “Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.” It was only when he “went into the sanctuary of God” and considered the “end” of the wicked that he found the answer to his problem (Psalm 73. 1-17). Jeremiah had a similar difficulty (Jer. 12.1,2). David could not understand why, when it was he who had sinned in numbering God’s people, it was the people who suffered.(1 Chron. 21.17) The prophet Habakkuk had two problems. First he could not understand why God did not punish His people for their wickedness (Hab. 1.1-4). Then, when God said He had already planned such a punishment and would be using the Babylonians to execute it, the prophet found it hard to accept that God should use such an evil nation to carry out His work. “Thou that art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that canst not look on perverseness, wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and boldest thy peace when the wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous than he” (Hab. 1.13 RV).

Perhaps the clearest illustration of this problem is to be found in the experiences of Job. We know how greatly he suffered. At first, despite the extremity of his sufferings, he accepted them without question. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even when provoked by his wife he stood firm: “What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 1.21; 2.10). Sadly, provoked by the glib “explanations” and totally false accusations of his so-called friends. Job eventually went too far in questioning God’s ways and, in the end, God Himself challenged him. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?” Job had to admit the justice of God’s reproof: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted …. Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 40.7,8;42.2,3 NIV).

God did not offer Job or his friends any explanation of the way He was working in Job’s life. By word and by the manifestation of His power in a great storm He impressed on Job the fact that He was the great creator and sustainer of all things, of infinite power and wisdom, in full control of every part of His creation. Job was compelled to confess that all he could do was to accept God’s will and God’s ways without questioning them. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40.4,5 NIV).

We must expect to have to face tests of a similar kind; to: have experiences which we cannot understand, which are hard for us to accept. Sometimes, in the mercy of God, over a period of time we begin to discern a purpose in those experiences, but not always. We have to learn to simply accept. This surely is one of the greatest tests of our faith and our trust in God; to accept where we cannot understand; to accept that our God is in full control of our lives and is of infinite wisdom; more than this, that He is our loving heavenly Father and that in all His dealings with us He is expressing His love—and never more so than in our severest trials. (Heb. 12.4-13).

That was true of the experiences of His only begotten Son. His supreme sacrifice on the cross, when, for a moment, even the Son felt forsaken by his Father, was God’s greatest expression of His love for His creation. It is no good thinking we can understand this or explain it in coldly logical terms; we cannot. So it is sometimes in our lives. We have to learn to accept, to let go— let go our doubts, our anxieties, our mistrust. We once heard a speaker coin the expression: “Let go! Let God!”—let God take over completely. This is never going to be easy, but this confident faith and implicit trust in Him and submission to His will is surely what He is looking for above all else. We have to be prepared for our loving heavenly Father to take extreme measures if He judges them to be necessary to help us to develop and manifest these qualities.

The alternative is unthinkable. “Lord, to whom shall we go?” To turn away as some of those early disciples of Jesus did is to admit failure; to say, in effect, that God has tried us beyond what we are able to bear, and the inspired apostle has assured us that He will never do that (1 Cor. 10.13). But we must allow God to decide what we are able to bear. He has promised that He will be with us in all our trials, that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13.5).

In the end it is our faith which will win through; our faith in God, our faith in His love, our faith in His promises. “Thou hast the words of eternal life.” By the grace of God there will come a day when we shall know even as we are known, when we shall understand all things, when we shall be able to look back and see a pattern in our lives wrought in love and wisdom by our God to lead us to perfection.

The Struggle Between Truth and Error

untitledOne of the results of the fall of Adam and Eve was a struggle which began between truth and error. Those who do evil are called the offspring of the serpent, while those who do good are called the offspring of the woman. Genesis 3:15 says, “From now on you (the serpent) and the woman will be enemies and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies.”

Jesus spoke of the struggle between good and evil several times. “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad… And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Hebrews 11 lists the things faithful believers have endured in the past. In part it says, “But others die rather than turn from God and be free… Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons.” (Hebrews 11:35-36)

The book of Revelation is largely about the struggle between truth and error. “I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their witness.” (Revelation 6:9)

The struggle between truth and error began with the serpent’s temptation of Eve resulting in the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Believing in the True Doctrine

doctrineIt is in fashion at this time to believe it does not matter what you believe as long as you believe Christ is your Savior, and lead a good life. People who believe this ignore the fact that the reason Eve sinned was she believed a lie! It is important to believe the truth because false doctrine leads to sin.

Solomon knew this because he said, “Zeal without knowledge is not good; a person who moves too quickly may go the wrong way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

The New Testament also says false doctrine leads to sin. I Timothy 6:4 says, “Anyone who teaches anything different is both conceited and ignorant. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, fighting, slander, and evil suspicions.” Paul tells us we must avoid having, “…lustful passions as the Pagans do in their ignorance of God and his ways.” (I Thessalonians 4:5)

Not only does the Bible tell us that lies lead to sin, it also tells us that Truth leads to righteousness. Paul said, “This same Good News…is changing lives everywhere. Just as it changed yours…” (Colossians 1:6) This is why Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you keep obeying my teachings, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

It is common these days to say right living is important: right doctrine is unimportant. This view ignores the fact that sin entered the world because Eve believed a lie. False doctrine leads to false practice as untruth leads to sin – thus it is important, not only to avoid false doctrine, but also to learn and to practice the teachings of Jesus.

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