A WOMAN TO BE REMEMBERED…

Posted: June 24, 2020 in Devotionals

Written by J.C. Ryles

THERE are few warnings in Scripture more solemn than that which heads this page. The Lord Jesus Christ says to us, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Lot’s wife was a professor of religion: her husband was a “righteous man.” (2 Peter ii. 8.) She left Sodom with him on the day when Sodom was destroyed; she looked back towards the city from behind her husband, against God’s express command; she was struck dead at once, and turned into a pillar of salt. And the Lord Jesus Christ holds her up as a beacon to His Church: He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person Jesus names. He does not bid us remember Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, or Sarah, or Hannah, or Ruth. No: He singles out one whose soul was lost forever. He cries to us, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

It is a solemn warning, when we consider the subject Jesus is upon. He is speaking of His own second coming to judge the world: He is describing the awful state of unreadiness in which many will be found. The last days are on His mind, when He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

It is a solemn warning, when we think of the person who gives it. The Lord Jesus is full of love, mercy, and compassion: He is one who will not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax. He could weep over unbelieving Jerusalem and pray for the men that crucified Him; yet even He thinks it good to remind us of lost souls. Even He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

It is a solemn warning, when we think of the persons to whom it was first given. The Lord Jesus was speaking to His disciples: He was not addressing the scribes and Pharisees, who hated Him, but Peter, James, and John, and many others who loved Him; yet even to them He thinks it good to address a caution. Even to them He says, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

It is a solemn warning, when we consider the manner in which it was given. He does not merely say, “Beware of following – take heed of imitating – do not be like Lot’s wife.” He uses a different word: He says, “Remember.” He speaks as if we were all in danger of forgetting the subject; He stirs up our lazy memories; He bids us keep the case before our minds. He cries, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

I propose to examine the lessons which Lot’s wife is meant to teach us. I am sure that her history is full of useful instruction to the Church. The last days are upon us; the second coming of the Lord Jesus draws nigh; the danger of worldliness is yearly increasing in the Church. Let us be provided with safeguards and antidotes against the disease that is around us; and, not least, let us become familiar with the story of Lot’s wife.

There are three things which I shall do, in order to bring the subject before our minds in order.

  1. I will speak of the religious privileges which Lot’s wife enjoyed.
  2. I will speak of the sin which Lot’s wife committed.
  3. I will speak of the judgment which God inflicted upon her.

Read the rest of this entry »

Everybody enjoys hearing about how “Jesus is a God of love,” and undeniably many sermons entitled “God is love” have brought much needed comfort to the heart of the truly repentant. Nonetheless, while these statements are certainly true, as believers we must remember that they are not complete statements of truth. An unwavering truth is that God is no respecter of persons and sometimes the holiness and righteousness of God requires a change in His posture with individuals, a concept some believers have a hard time believing. But consider the following two verses.

“And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it,” (Deuteronomy 28:63).

“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land . . . ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise,” (Numbers 14:34).

Certainly, God is a God of love, yet in Rev. 2:6 Jesus said “. . . this thou hast that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” Again in Proverbs it says, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among the brethren.” Now, I am not trying to present God as a God of hate, just establish the fact that God is capable of hate.

If God’s people are to have true intimacy with Jesus Christ, coupled with a righteous boldness (not a religious cockiness), then we need a basic understanding of God’s precepts. Jesus conditionally told His disciples, “IF ye continue in My word, THEN are ye My disciples indeed; (THEN) ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:31, 32). Jesus was not referring to the truth as certain “facts” which could liberate them. The truth He was referring to was Himself. Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father except by Me” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is the polestar of all truth. If we are going to be “set” free then it is Jesus Christ personally who we must seek to know, not just mere biblical and historical facts. For “if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

While God is perfect in the administration of His love, the Bible does say He still “judgeth the righteous, and is angry with the wicked every day,” (Psalm 7:11). It is this foundational precept that gives us understanding as to why, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:11).

Proverbs 8:13 says “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: [therefore] pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the forward mouth do I hate.” Proverbs 16:6 says “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” Therefore, if believers are to live harmoniously with God they must strive to live according to the scriptures, “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We must abhor sin and all unrighteousness, no matter how slight it’s deviation from the truth, for “ALL unrighteousness is SIN,” (I John 5:17). This at times is very hard to do since we are often so easily deceived by the pleasures of sin. Of course, this certainly does not mean we are to be hating “sinners,” but rather the sin that has found root in their lives and hearts as if it were hell’s own death grip on them.

To further clarify the attributes of “God’s love” a contrast needs to be made between our natural humanistic “love” and God’s “righteous love.” Humanistic love (due to man’s fallen nature) is both erratic and temperamental. It changes with circumstances or emotions and often ceases without any apparent reason other than loss of interest. Humanistic love rarely subscribes to logic and when found to be so; it is only aligned with the laws of God out of coincidence and not truly governed thereby. When shaken and unsettled, it usually can only be tranquilized by a self-favorable compromise.

Humanistic love usually has a high toleration of sin in another when something desirable for self might be obtained, or else their sins may not likewise be tolerated. If there is no personal profit to be had, then the response is usually judgment and criticism. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these not having a law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:14,15).

Contrary to fallen man’s own love, the love of God is not governed by His emotions, but is directed by His righteousness. This is clearly seen in Matthew 23:37, “0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often I would have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate.” Had God’s love been controlled and subject to emotions, He would have forgiven everybody. He would have gathered them (with all their wickedness) unto Himself whether they repented or not. But God’s love transcends emotions and is founded in holiness and truth.

Likewise, our emotions are God given and can work for good when they’re used correctly as the expressions of our hearts and not the rulers of our lives. Paul instructed the Corinthians saying “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they have none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possess not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” Certainly Paul wasn’t forbidding marriage any more than he forbidding us to weep or rejoice. Rather, he was warning us not to allow ourselves to be controlled by our marital statuses, emotions, possessions, or the world.

If we are to fully answer God’s call to be holy as He is holy, we must cease to be ruled by our emotions and seek, ask and knock in diligent pursuit of knowing God and His will in our lives. We are to be ruled by His righteousness and live to fulfill His will, not our own. If we foolishly continue to indulge ourselves in the luxury of self-government we jeopardize our relationship with God an run the risk of being unfruitful.

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Righteous love” in one’s life is evidence of a contemplated surrender to God and His will. Since true love is governed by the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is not easily swayed by human emotions, but still enjoys full emotional expression. This kind of holy love is conceived in our minds as a result of a personal conviction and revelation of God’s love for us, and birthed into being through the surrender of our hearts.

1Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Jesus reminds us that true love is undeniably evident by our obedience as we see in John and carries with it the promise of reward.

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Mme shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.
24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings . . .

Just like faith and hope, righteous love is based upon and therefore governed by God’s word, for God has said, “Come now and let us reason [intellectually] together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye are willing and obedient [surrender in your hearts], ye will eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye will be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.”

Absolutely, God commands us to love one another and for that love to be effective it must be within the confines of God’s will as revealed by His word. We must remember that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” and that faith “works by love,” (Ro. 10:17, Gal. 5:6). While we are to be longsuffering with immaturity, ignorance and other human frailties and limitations, we must not and cannot tolerate willful sin in ourselves or in each other. If one is overtaken by a fault, then those who are able to instruct must go and do so. If such a one defiantly rebels against God, he is to be rebuked. Should he repent of his wickedness, then let him be forgiven and embraced as a brother. If he doesn’t, he should be removed from the fellowship of believers for he has obstinately forfeited his fellowship with God, for what fellowship has light with darkness? None.

Nowadays, too many believers are being seduced into accepting a “feeling” as love. Because they found acceptance in a church social circle, they are deceived into believing a spirit of churchianity as true Christianity. Love is more than a feeling of warmth, such a feeling is often no more than emotional satisfaction. Since they “feel” good where they are, they are persuaded this is evidence of righteous love. Yet righteous love is maintains an uncompromising commitment to God, His precepts and His church. Remember it is not what we “feel” at a church that confirms truth, but what we hear, “For the word of God . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Likewise, Mercy is too often presumed to be something it’s not. Mercy is a fruit of love, yet, like love for mercy to be effective and redemptive it too must be founded in the righteous judgments of God. People often mistake mercy to be a softness or tenderness exhibited toward someone, or they mistake longsuffering for mercy. These are actually compassion, kindness and gentleness. Mercy is not suffering the consequences of one’s sins which they truly deserve. It is the pardon for an offence which as been exposed, acknowledged, and repented of.

Before the mercy of a pardon can happen however, there needs to be a conviction of righteous judgment first. This too is where many mistake God’s judgment for His wrath, but these are two distinctly different events. God’s judgment is the accurate evaluation of one’s life in light of His righteousness. Should one be found contrary to God as revealed through His word and yet truly repent, pardon is then possible inasmuch as the law was satisfied by the shedding of Christ’s blood. But, when one is evaluated to be a transgressor and refuses to turn from his wicked deed, Jesus Christ re-dying again on ten thousand crosses would not save him, all he has to look forward to is wrath, or “judgment without mercy.”

One must acknowledge his transgressions for what they are with a true godly sorrow and by departing from his sin. The only time an immediate departure from sin may not be required is if it is due to ignorance as a direct result of natural (not willful) Christian immaturity. Therefore, the believer is instructed to diligently seek the will of God in their lives.

2Pe 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that [or why] he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

If we are to effectively love one another so as to minister to and build each other up, we must each devote ourselves to the knowing of both God and His word. We must never compromise our convictions of truth for the sake of church unity, yet we must never cease to labor in love for it. We must dig deep and seek the solid ground of truth, not common ground. While we are commanded to be both submitted and committed to each other in the fear of the Lord, we are not to be not loyal. Loyalty to a man will eventually result in a sinful compromise. We can not afford to “love” anyone, family or otherwise, so much that we unwittingly cast away our pearl of great price. Yes, we can and should suffer long with the frailties of each other and/or with the fallen condition of one seeking the truth, but not with a stubborn hypocrite. Effective and redemptive mercy always requires a surrender to the true evaluation of one’s condition by both the Spirit and Word of God.

Remember,

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6)

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”
(1 John 5:1,2)

Peace

A besetting sin…

Posted: June 19, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

Perhaps, the greatest hinderance to a Christian’s effectiveness as being true salt and light for God’s kingdom in this world stems from a carnally sympathetic and humanistic understanding of the emotions and troubles of the lost. When a believer fails to remain fearfully sided absolutely and wholeheartedly with God by maintaining a clear understanding of the righteous anger of God with the wicked every day, they lose sight of why God has commanded every man to repent and thus become useless to the Holy Spirit as a godly means of conviction to the wicked.

Apart from God, there is no good thing in any man, for God alone is good. Being separated from Christ, all men must recognize they are not merely sick and downtrodden, but are in truth dead, alienated from the life of God, and without any hope. Until the sinner comes to the absolute awareness and acknowledgement that they are wicked, and in a lost and desperate condition, they will never truly surrender or cry out for that grace and saving faith from He who alone can save them.

God intends Christians to be holy that they might be part of that convicting grace which works to cause the sinner to realize they alone are responsible for their woes, and that Jesus Christ and God alone their only hope.

Sympathetic understanding is a dangerous flaw in the heart and mind of a believer because it causes them to partially justify the wicked in their rebellion against God, and worse, it holds God partially accountable for the continuation of their life’s woes. When you sympathize with the sinner, you lose sight of the righteousness in the wrath of God and thus cease to be capable of righteous judgment and recognizing sin; as now you have in part become emotionally sided with the wicked and guilty of not completely accepting all the judgments of God as being righteous and true altogether.

We need to be ever perfecting holiness in the fear of God, which we will never do until we fearfully, absolutely and wholeheartedly, accept and stand unwavering with God’s word in its defining sin and His judgments of holding all accountable for their actions.

Awake unto righteousness and sin not, for some of you have not the knowledge of God; and I speak this to your shame.

The Cost

Posted: May 23, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

(Note: this is a chapter from John C Ryles’ book “Holiness”)

“Which of you, intending to build a house, does not sit down first and count the cost?” – Luke xiv. 28.

The text which heads this page is one of great importance. Few are the people who are not often obliged to ask themselves – “What does it cost?”

In buying property, in building houses, in furnishing rooms, in forming plans, in changing dwellings, in educating children, it is wise and prudent to look forward and consider. Many would save themselves much sorrow and trouble if they would only remember the question – “What does it cost?”

But there is one subject on which it is especially important to “count the cost.” That subject is the salvation of our souls. What does it cost to be a true Christian? What does it cost to be a really holy man? This, after all, is the grand question. For want of thought about this, thousands, after seeming to begin well, turn away from the road to heaven, and are lost forever in hell. Let me try to say a few words which may throw light on the subject.

I.     I will show, firstly, what it costs to be a true Christian.

II.   I will explain, secondly, why it is of such great importance to count the cost.

III.  I will give, in the last place, some hints which may help men to count the cost rightly.

We are living in strange times. Events are hurrying on with singular rapidity. We never know “what a day may bring forth”; how much less do we know what may happen in a year! – We live in a day of great religious profession. Scores of professing Christians in every part of the land are expressing a desire for more holiness and a higher degree of spiritual life. Yet nothing is more common than to see people receiving the Word with joy, and then after two or three years falling away, and going back to their sins. They had not considered “what it costs” to be a really consistent believer and holy Christian. Surely these are times when we ought often to sit down and “count the cost,” and to consider the state of our souls. We must mind what we are about. If we desire to be truly holy, it is a good sign. We may thank God for putting the desire into our hearts. But still the cost ought to be counted. No doubt Christ’s way to eternal life is a way of pleasantness. But it is folly to shut our eyes to the fact that His way is narrow, and the cross comes before the crown.

I. I have, first, to show what it costs to be a true Christian.

Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement, and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all.” (1 Corinthians vi. 20; 1 Timothy ii. 6.)

But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question, “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday, and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self-denial or self-sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity, and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an arm-chair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ, and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction, or some sudden death, or an awakening sermon, has stirred his conscience, and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.

(1)         For one thing, it will cost him his self-righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer-book words – that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and done the things he ought not to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

Now this sounds hard to some. I do not wonder. “Sir,” said a godly ploughman to the well-known James Hervey, of Weston Favell, “it is harder to deny proud self than sinful self. But it is absolutely necessary.” Let us set down this item first and foremost in our account. To be a true Christian it will cost a man his self-righteousness.

(2)         For another thing, it will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it, and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day, and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written – “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” – “Break off thy sins and iniquities.” – “Cease to do evil.” – (Ezekiel xviii. 31; Daniel iv. 27; Isaiah i. 16.)

This also sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come. “Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner’s mouth, though he hides it under his tongue; though he spares it, and forsake it not,” yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved. (Job xx. 12, 13.) He and sin must quarrel, if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins. Let us set down that item second in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man his sins.

(3)         For another thing, it will cost a man his love of ease. He must take pains and trouble, if he means to run a successful race towards heaven. He must daily watch and stand on his guard, like a soldier on enemy’s ground. He must take heed to his behavior every hour of the day, in every company, and in every place, in public as well as in private, among strangers as well as at home. He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life. He must be diligent about his prayers, his Bible-reading, and his use of Sundays, with all their means of grace. In attending to these things, he may come far short of perfection; but there is none of them that he can safely neglect. “The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Proverbs xiii. 4.)

This also sounds hard. There is nothing we naturally dislike so much as “trouble” about our religion. We hate trouble. We secretly wish we could have a “vicarious” Christianity, and could be good by proxy, and have everything done for us. Anything that requires exertion and labor is entirely against the grain of our hearts. But the soul can have “no gains without pains.” Let us set down that item third in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man his love of ease.

(4)         In the last place, it will cost a man the favor of the world. He must be content to be thought ill of by man if he pleases God. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated. He must not be surprised to find his opinions and practices in religion despised and held up to scorn. He must submit to be thought by many a fool, an enthusiast, and a fanatic – to have his words perverted and his actions misrepresented. In fact, he must not marvel if some call him mad. The Master says – “Remember the word that I said unto you, ‘The servant is not greater than his lord.’ If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John xv. 20.)

I dare say this also sounds hard. We naturally dislike unjust dealing and false charges, and think it very hard to be accused without cause. We should not be flesh and blood if we did not wish to have the good opinion of our neighbors. It is always unpleasant to be spoken against, and forsaken, and lied about, and to stand alone. But there is no help for it. The cup which our Master drank must also be drunk by His disciples; they too must be “despised and rejected of men.” (Isaiah liii. 3.) Let us set down that item last in our account. To be a Christian it will cost a man the favor of the world.

Such is the account of what it costs to be a true Christian. I grant the list is a heavy one. But where is the item that could be removed? Bold indeed must that man be who would dare to say that we may keep our self-righteousness, our sins, our laziness, and our love of the world, and yet be saved!

I grant it costs much to be a true Christian. But who in his sound senses can doubt that it is worth any cost to have the soul saved? When the ship is in danger of sinking, the crew think nothing of casting overboard the precious cargo. When a limb is mortified, a man will submit to any severe operation, and even to amputation, to save life. Surely a Christian should be willing to give up anything which stands between him and heaven. A religion that costs nothing is worth nothing! A cheap Christianity, without a cross, will prove in the end a useless Christianity, without a crown.

II. I have now, in the second place, to explain why “counting the cost” is of such great importance to man’s soul.

I might easily settle this question by laying down the principle, that no duty instructed by Christ can ever be neglected without damage. I might show how many shut their eyes throughout life to the nature of saving religion, and refuse to consider what it really costs to be a Christian. I might describe how at last, when life is ebbing away, they wake up, and make a few spasmodic efforts to turn to God. I might tell you how they find to their amazement that repentance and conversion are no such easy matters as they had supposed, and that it costs “a great sum” to be a true Christian. They discover that habits of pride and sinful indulgence, and love of ease, and worldliness, are not so easily laid aside as they had dreamed. And so, after a faint struggle, they give up in despair, and leave the world hopeless, graceless, and unfit to meet God! They had flattered themselves all their days that religion would be easy work when they once took it up seriously. But they open their eyes too late, and discover for the first time that they are ruined because they never “counted the cost.”

But there is one class of persons to whom especially I wish to address myself in handling this part of my subject. It is a large class – an increasing class – and a class which in these days is in peculiar danger. Let me in a few plain words try to describe this class. It deserves our best attention.

The persons I speak of are not thoughtless about religion: they think a good deal about it. They are not ignorant of religion: they know the outlines of it pretty well. But their great defect is that they are not “rooted and grounded” in their faith. Too often they have picked up their knowledge second hand, from being in religious families, or from being trained in religious ways, but have never worked it out by their own inward experience. Too often they have hastily taken up a profession of religion under the pressure of circumstances, from sentimental feelings, from animal excitement, or from a vague desire to do like others around them, but without any solid work of grace in their hearts. Persons like these are in a position of immense danger. They are precisely those, if Bible examples are worth anything, who need to be exhorted “to count the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost” myriads of the children of Israel perished miserably in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. They left Egypt full of zeal and fervor, as if nothing could stop them. But when they found dangers and difficulties in the way, their courage soon cooled down. They had never reckoned on trouble. They had thought the promised land would be all before them in a few days. And so, when enemies, privations, hunger, and thirst began to try them, they murmured against Moses and God, and would fain have gone back to Egypt. In a word, they had “not counted the cost,” and so lost everything, and died in their sins.

For want of “counting the cost,” many of our Lord Jesus Christ’s hearers went back after a time, and “walked no more with Him.” (John vi. 66.) When they first saw His miracles, and heard His preaching, they thought “the kingdom of God would immediately appear.” They cast in their lot with His Apostles, and followed Him without thinking of the consequences. But when they found that there were hard doctrines to be believed, and hard work to be done, and hard treatment to be borne, their faith gave way entirely, and proved to be nothing at all. In a word, they had not “counted the cost,” and so made shipwreck of their profession.

For want of “counting the cost,” King Herod returned to his old sins, and destroyed his soul. He liked to hear John the Baptist preach. He “observed” and honored him as a just and holy man. He even “did many things” which were right and good. But when he found that he must give up his darling Herodias, his religion entirely broke down. He had not reckoned on this. He had not “counted the cost.” (Mark vi. 20.)

For want of “counting the cost,” Demas forsook the company of St. Paul, forsook the Gospel, forsook Christ, forsook heaven. For a long time, he journeyed with the great Apostle of the Gentiles, and was actually a “fellow-laborer.” But when he found he could not have the friendship of this world as well as the friendship of God, he gave up his Christianity and clave to the world. “Demas hath forsaken me,” says St. Paul, “having loved this present world.” (2 Timothy iv. 10.) He had not “counted the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost,” the hearers of powerful Evangelical preachers often come to miserable ends. They are stirred and excited into professing what they have not really experienced. They receive the Word with a “joy” so extravagant that it almost startles old Christians. They run for a time with such zeal and fervor that they seem likely to outstrip all others. They talk and work for spiritual objects with such enthusiasm that they make older believers feel ashamed. But when the novelty and freshness of their feelings is gone, a change comes over them. They prove to have been nothing more than stony-ground hearers. The description the great Master gives in the Parable of the Sower is exactly exemplified. “Temptation or persecution arises because of the Word, and they are offended.” (Matthew xiii. 21.) Little by little their zeal melts away, and their love becomes cold. By and by their seats are empty in the assembly of God’s people, and they are heard of no more among Christians. And why? They had “never counted the cost.”

For want of “counting the cost,” hundreds of professed converts, under religious revivals, go back to the world after a time, and bring disgrace on religion. They begin with a sadly mistaken notion of what is true Christianity. They fancy it consists in nothing more than a so-called “coming to Christ,” and having strong inward feelings of joy and peace. And so, when they find, after a time, that there is a cross to be carried, that our hearts are deceitful, and that there is a busy devil always near us, they cool down in disgust, and return to their old sins. And why? Because they had really never known what Bible Christianity is. They had never learned that we must “count the cost.” [*9]

For want of “counting the cost,” the children of religious parents often turn out ill, and bring disgrace on Christianity. Familiar from their earliest years with the form and theory of the Gospel – taught even from infancy to repeat great leading texts – accustomed every week to be instructed in the Gospel, or to instruct others in Sunday schools – they often grow up professing a religion without knowing why, or without ever having thought seriously about it. And then when the realities of grown-up life begin to press upon them, they often astound every one by dropping all their religion, and plunging right into the world. And why? They had never thoroughly understood the sacrifices which Christianity entails. They had never been taught to “count the cost.”

These are solemn and painful truths. But they are truths. They all help to show the immense importance of the subject I am now considering. They all point out the absolute necessity of pressing the subject of this paper on all who profess a desire for holiness, and of crying aloud in all the churches – “Count the Cost.”

I am bold to say that it would be well if the duty of “counting the cost” were more frequently taught than it is. Impatient hurry is the order of the day with many religionists. Instantaneous conversions, and immediate sensible peace, are the only results they seem to care for from the Gospel. Compared with these all other things are thrown into the shade. To produce them is the grand end and object, apparently, of all their labors. I say without hesitation that such a naked, one-sided mode of teaching Christianity is mischievous in the extreme.

Let no one mistake my meaning. I thoroughly approve of offering men a full, free, present, immediate salvation in Christ Jesus. I thoroughly approve of urging on man the possibility and the duty of immediate instantaneous conversion. In these matters I give place to no one. But I do say that these truths ought not to be set before men nakedly, singly, and alone. They ought to be told honestly what it is they are taking up, if they profess a desire to come out from the world and serve Christ. They ought not to be pressed into the ranks of Christ’s army without being told what the warfare entails. In a word, they should be told honestly to “count the cost.”

Does any one ask what our Lord Jesus Christ’s practice was in this matter? Let him read what St. Luke records. He tells us that on a certain occasion “There went great multitudes with Him: and He turned and said unto them, If any come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” (Luke xiv. 25-27.) I must plainly say, that I cannot reconcile this passage with the proceedings of many modern religious teachers. And yet, to my mind, the doctrine of it is as clear as the sun at noon-day. It shows us that we ought not to hurry men into professing discipleship, without warning them plainly to “count the cost.”

Does any one ask what the practice of the eminent and best preachers of the Gospel has been in days gone by? I am bold to say that they have all with one mouth borne testimony to the wisdom of our Lord’s dealing with the multitudes to which I have just referred. Luther, and Latimer, and Baxter, and Wesley, and Whitfield, and Berridge, and Rowland Hill, were all keenly alive to the deceitfulness of man’s heart. They knew full well that all is not gold that glitters, that conviction is not conversion, that feeling is not faith, that sentiment is not grace, that all blossoms do not come to fruit. “Be not deceived,” was their constant cry. “Consider well what you do. Do not run before you are called. Count the cost.”

If we desire to do good, let us never be ashamed of walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Work hard if you will, and have the opportunity, for the souls of others. Press them to consider their ways. Compel them with holy violence to come in, to lay down their arms, and to yield themselves to God. Offer them salvation, ready, free, full, immediate salvation. Press Christ and all His benefits on their acceptance. But in all your work tell the truth, and the whole truth. Be ashamed to use the vulgar arts of a recruiting sergeant. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armor, the watching, the marching, and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back “the cross” of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to “count the cost.”

III. The third and last thing which I propose to do, is to give some hints which may help men to “count the cost” rightly.

Sorry indeed should I be if I did not say something on this branch of my subject. I have no wish to discourage any one, or to keep any one back from Christ’s service. It is my heart’s desire to encourage every one to go forward and take up the cross. Let us “count the cost” by all means, and count it carefully. But let us remember, that if we count rightly, and look on all sides, there is nothing that need make us afraid.

Let us mention some things which should always enter into our calculations in counting the cost of true Christianity. Set down honestly and fairly what you will have to give up and go through, if you become Christ’s disciple. Leave nothing out. Put it all down. But then set down side by side the following sums which I am going to give you. Do this fairly and correctly, and I am not afraid for the result.

(a)  Count up and compare, for one thing, the profit and the loss, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly lose something in this world, but you will gain the salvation of your immortal soul. It is written – “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark viii. 36.)

(b)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the praise and the blame, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly be blamed by man, but you will have the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Your blame will come from the lips of a few erring, blind, fallible men and women. Your praise will come from the King of kings and Judge of all the earth. It is only those whom He blesses who are really blessed. It is written – “Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” (Matthew v. 11, 12.)

(c)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the friends and the enemies, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. On the one side of you is the enmity of the devil and the wicked. On the other, you have the favor and friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your enemies, at most, can only bruise your heel. They may rage loudly, and compass sea and land to work your ruin; but they cannot destroy you. Your Friend is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him. None shall ever pluck His sheep out of His hand. It is written – “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear Him.” (Luke xii. 5.)

(d)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the life that now is and the life to come, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. The time present, no doubt, is not a time of ease. It is a time of watching and praying, fighting and struggling, believing and working. But it is only for a few years. The time future is the season of rest and refreshing. Sin shall be cast out. Satan shall be bound. And, best of all, it shall be a rest for ever. It is written – “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians iv. 17, 18.)

(e)  Count up and compare, for another thing, the pleasures of sin and the happiness of God’s service, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian, for the pleasures that the worldly man gets by his ways are hollow, unreal, and unsatisfying. They are like the fire of thorns, flashing and crackling for a few minutes, and then quenched forever. The happiness that Christ gives to His people is something solid, lasting, and substantial. It is not dependent on health or circumstances. It never leaves a man, even in death. It ends in a crown of glory that fadeth not away. It is written – “The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.” – “As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool.” (Job xx. 5; Eccl. vii. 6.) But it is also written – “Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John xiv. 27.)

(f)   Count up and compare, for another thing, the trouble that true Christianity entails, and the troubles that are in store for the wicked beyond the grave. Grant for a moment that Bible-reading, and praying, and repenting, and believing, and holy living, require pains and self-denial. It is all nothing compared to that “wrath to come” which is stored up for the impenitent and unbelieving. A single day in hell will be worse than a whole life spent in carrying the cross. The “worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched,” are things which it passes man’s power to conceive fully or describe. It is written – “Son, remember that thou in thy life-time received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.” (Luke xvi. 25.)

(g)  Count up and compare, in the last place, the number of those who turn from sin and the world and serve Christ, and the number of those who forsake Christ and return to the world. On the one side you will find thousands – on the other you will find none. Multitudes are every year turning out of the broad way and entering the narrow. None who really enter the narrow way grow tired of it and return to the broad. The footsteps in the downward road are often to be seen turning out of it. The footsteps in the road to heaven are all one way. It is written – “The way of the wicked is darkness” – “The way of transgressors is hard.” (Proverbs iv. 19; xiii. 15.) But it is also written – “The path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs iv. 8.)

Such sums as these, no doubt, are often not done correctly. Not a few, I am well aware, are ever “halting between two opinions.” They cannot make up their minds that it is worthwhile to serve Christ. The losses and gains, the advantages and disadvantages, the sorrows and the joys, the helps and the hindrances with that faith we shall set things down at their true value. Filled with that faith we shall neither add to the cross nor subtract from the crown. Our conclusions will be all correct. Our sum total will be without error.

(1)  In conclusion, let every reader of this paper think seriously, whether his religion costs him anything at present. Very likely it costs you nothing. Very probably it neither costs you trouble, nor time, nor thought, nor care, nor pains, nor reading, nor praying, nor self-denial, nor conflict, nor working, nor labor of any kind. Now mark what I say. Such a religion as this will never save your soul. It will never give you peace while you live, nor hope while you die. It will not support you in the day of affliction, nor cheer you in the hour of death. A religion which costs nothing is worth nothing. Awake before it is too late. Awake and repent. Awake and be converted. Awake and believe. Awake and pray. Rest not till you can give a satisfactory answer to my question, “What does it cost?”

(2)  Think, if you want stirring motives for serving God, what it cost to provide a salvation for your soul.

Think how the Son of God left heaven and became Man, suffered on the cross, and lay in the grave, to pay your debt to God, and work out for you a complete redemption. Think of all this and learn that it is no light matter to possess an immortal soul. It is worthwhile to take some trouble about one’s soul.

Ah, lazy man or woman, is it really come to this, that you will miss heaven for lack of trouble? Are you really determined to make shipwreck forever, from mere dislike to exertion? Away with the cowardly, unworthy thought. Arise and play the man. Say to yourself, “Whatever it may cost, I will, at any rate, strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Look at the cross of Christ, and take fresh courage. Look forward to death, judgment, and eternity, and be in earnest. It may cost much to be a Christian, but you may be sure it pays.

(3)  If any reader of this paper really feels that he has counted the cost, and taken up the cross, I bid him persevere and press on. I dare say you often feel your heart faint, and are sorely tempted to give up in despair. Your enemies seem so many, your besetting sins so strong, your friends so few, the way so steep and narrow, you hardly know what to do. But still I say, persevere and press on.

The time is very short. A few more years of watching and praying, a few more tossings on the sea of this world, a few more deaths and changes, a few more winters and summers, and all will be over. We shall have fought our last battle, and shall need to fight no more.

The presence and company of Christ will make amends for all we suffer here below. When we see as we have been seen, and look back on the journey of life, we shall wonder at our own faintness of heart. We shall marvel that we made so much of our cross, and thought so little of our crown. We shall marvel that in “counting the cost” we could ever doubt on which side the balance of profit lay. Let us take courage. We are not far from home. It may cost much to be a true Christian and a consistent believer; but it pays.

[*9] I should be very sorry indeed if the language I have used above about revivals was misunderstood. To prevent this I will offer a few remarks by way of explanation. For true revivals of religion no one can be more deeply thankful than I am. Wherever they may take place, and by whatever agents they may be effected, I desire to bless God for them, with all my heart. “If Christ is preached,” I rejoice, whoever may be the preacher. If souls are saved, I rejoice, by whatever section of the Church the word of life has been ministered. But it is a melancholy fact that, in a world like this, you cannot have good without evil. I have no hesitation in saying, that one consequence of the revival movement has been the rise of a theological system which I feel obliged to call defective and mischievous in the extreme. The leading feature of the theological system I refer to, is this: an extravagant and disproportionate magnifying of three points in religion, – viz., instantaneous conversion – the invitation of unconverted sinners to come to Christ, – and the possession of inward joy and peace as a test of conversion. I repeat that these three grand truths (for truths they are) are so incessantly and exclusively brought forward, in some quarters, that great harm is done. Instantaneous conversion, no doubt, ought to be pressed on people. But surely they ought not to be led to suppose that there is no other sort of conversion, and that unless they are suddenly and powerfully converted to God, they are not converted at all. The duty of coming to Christ at once, “just as we are,” should be pressed on all hearers. It is the very corner-stone of Gospel preaching. But surely men ought to be told to repent as well as to believe. They should be told why they are to come to Christ, and what they are to come for, and whence their need arises. The nearness of peace and comfort in Christ should be proclaimed to men. But surely they should be taught that the possession of strong inward joys and high frames of mind is not essential to justification, and that there may be true faith and true peace without such very triumphant feelings. Joy alone is no certain evidence of grace. The defects of the theological system I have in view appear to me to be these: (1) The work of the Holy Ghost in converting sinners is far too much narrowed and confined to one single way. Not all true converts are converted instantaneously, like Saul and the Philippian jailor. (2) Sinners are not sufficiently instructed about the holiness of God’s law, the depth of their sinfulness, and the real guilt of sin. To be incessantly telling a sinner to “come to Christ” is of little use, unless you tell him why he needs to come, and show him fully his sins. (3) Faith is not properly explained. In some cases people are taught that mere feeling is faith. In others they are taught that if they believe that Christ died for sinners they have faith! At this rate the very devils are believers! (4) The possession of inward joy and assurance is made essential to believing. Yet assurance is certainly not of the essence of saving faith. There may be faith when there is no assurance. To insist on all believers at once “rejoicing,” as soon as they believe, is most unsafe. Some, I am quite sure, will rejoice without believing, while others will believe who cannot at once rejoice. (5) Last, but not least, the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, and the absolute necessity of preventing grace, are far too much overlooked. Many talk as if conversions could be manufactured at man’s pleasure, and as if there were no such text as this, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” (Romans ix. 16.) The mischief done by the theological system I refer to is, I am persuaded, very great. On the one hand, many humble-minded Christians are totally discouraged and daunted. They fancy they have no grace because they cannot reach up to the high frames and feelings which are pressed on their attention. On the other side, many graceless people are deluded into thinking they are “converted,” because under the pressure or animal excitement and temporary feelings they arc led to profess themselves Christians. And all this time the thoughtless and ungodly look on with contempt, and rind fresh reasons for neglecting religion altogether. The antidotes to the state of things I deplore are plain and few. (1) Let “all the counsel of God be taught” in Scriptural proportion; and let not two or three precious doctrines of the Gospel be allowed to overshadow all other truths. (2) Let repentance be taught fully as well as faith, and not thrust completely into the background. Our Lord Jesus Christ and St. Paul always taught both. (3) Let the variety of the Holy Ghost’s works be honestly stated and admitted; and while instantaneous conversion is pressed on men, let it not be taught as a necessity. (4) Let those who profess to have found immediate sensible peace be plainly warned to try themselves well, and to remember that feeling is not faith, and that “patient continuance in well-doing” is the great proof that faith is true. (John viii. 31.) (5) Let the great duty of “counting the cost” be constantly urged on all who are disposed to make a religious profession, and let them be honestly and fairly told that there is warfare as well as peace, a cross as well as a crown, in Christ’s service. I am sure that unhealthy excitement is above all things to be dreaded in religion, because it often ends in fatal, soul-ruining reaction and utter deadness. And when multitudes are suddenly brought under the power of religious impressions, unhealthy excitement is almost sure to follow. I have not much faith in the soundness of conversions when they are said to take places in masses and wholesale. It does not seem to me in harmony with God’s general dealings in this dispensation. To my eyes it appears that God’s ordinary plan is to call in individuals one by one. Therefore, when I hear of large numbers being suddenly converted all at one time, I hear of it with less hope than some. The healthiest and most enduring success in mission fields is certainly not where natives have come over to Christianity in a mass. The most satisfactory and firmest work at home does not always appear to me to be the work done in revivals. There are two passages of Scripture which I should like to have frequently and fully expounded in the present day by all who preach the Gospel, and specially by those who have anything to do with revivals. One passage is the parable of the sower, that parable is not recorded three times over without good reason and a deep meaning. – The other passage is our Lord’s teaching about “counting the cost,” and the words which He spoke to the “great multitudes” whom He saw following Him. It is very noteworthy that He did not on that occasion say anything to flatter these volunteers or encourage them to follow Him. No: He saw what their case needed. He told them to stand still and “count the cost.” (Luke xiv. 25, etc.) I am not sure that some modern preachers would have adopted this course of treatment.

More than forgiven…

Posted: May 8, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

People need to understand that Jesus did not die merely to forgive them their sins; He died and rose again in order to save them from their sins. Otherwise, it would be little more than forgiving someone for crimes committed out of ignorance or poverty, yet allowing them to stay in jail. Nor does saving them from their sins only mean they receive a “get out of jail free card.” No, He saves people from their ignorance and corrupt nature, which causes them to sin, in an endeavor to make them partakers of His very own divine nature.

Jesus came, died, rose again, and is willing to send His spirit to all that ask, that He might restore any and all to the very essence God originally intended for them to be, holy, temples suitable for His own Spirit to dwell with in. He faithfully guides and enables His followers to be more than mere animals that live only mindful of the appetites of their lowly fleshly bodies; for He causes them to become spiritually alive by placing His own Spirit with in them. He “saves us from our sins” because He BOTH forgives AND leads them out of their prisons and into the glorious liberty of His light and truth and into communion with Himself.

For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For the carnal mind is constantly at war against God; because it is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be. Such is why they who think and live and focus only in the flesh cannot please God. But, if you have truly been “saved,” you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit; if in truth the Spirit of God dwells in you. For if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

This truth is as obvious to the true believer in Jesus Christ as is a developing fetus in the womb of a pregnant woman. There is no doubt in her mind something is radically different and new in her body and life, because the evidence of a conception of life continues to grow daily in her.

Is this new life of Christ so growing in you?

If so, then continue to faithfully purify your souls in the obedience of the truth, through the Spirit of Christ within you, unto an unfeigned love of the brothers. We must love one another fervently out of a pure heart, for we have been born again, not mere semen, but by an incorruptible seed, through the living Word of God in us; which abides true and faithful forever.

See Romans 8:6-9 and 1st Peter 1:22, 23

Originally posted Posted: October 6, 2015

Back in 2015 I was asked  to share with a local fellowship after the pastor had received and read about America’s imminent destruction in my book The Eighth Beast. The following is the recorded message from that meeting. May it minister to you.

Live for the King!

God’s Breech of Promise

Posted: April 3, 2020 in Shared Thoughts

Numbers 14:34 – After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know My breach of promise.

Few “believers” give the necessary consideration to the words spoken by God here to His people when He states, “and now you shall know My breech of promise.”

A “Breach of Promise” is most commonly connected with marriage, and is often called “Breach of Promise to Marry.” (Don’t get confused with the different spellings, “breech” is simply the archaic KJV spelling, “breach” the modern.) There is also the term “Breach of Contract,” which refers to one party of a contract failing to uphold their end the contract. Such failure legally allows the other party to “breach” the contract as well.

Therefore, God’s people should give serious heed to these words spoken by God to His people. For He had surely swore unto them that He would give them the “Promise Land,” yet here He states He is going breach, or break His promise unto them. Yet not with out cause, for God had longsuffered with their complaining and disbelief while continuing to provide miraculously their food and water and being a constant visible presence of defense for them; a cloud by day and a cloud of fire by night that they would be protected from the heat of day and the cold of night.

Yet here upon getting His people to the threshold of The Promised Land, except for those who had grievously rebelled against Him and thereby perished in their sins prior hereto, God was now ready to fulfill His word to them. Even so, after all God had done and showed Himself both capable and faith to keep His word, they failed to believe Him when the time of their inheritance was at hand.

Do not think this is just some Old Testament accounting of an angry God before the “dispensation of grace.” No, for we see volumes of grace and mercy with God hearing the cries of His people and bringing them out of their captivity with a mighty hand. Those who fail to see it are surely spiritually blind. For we the Church of God today, believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the very members of His Body, are given a very stern warning in the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews to which we must give heed.

4:1 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, AS WELL AS UNTO THEM: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Faith is a necessity on their part of the Covenant God has with His people; for with out faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is not mere belief, for one can believe and fail to respond or trust; but true God-pleasing-faith works by love and trust. Faith must have equal parts of belief, trust, and love, if it is to please God and compel Him to open wide the provisions of heaven and shower His blessings upon His people.

But though it is a grand thing to be called such, we are not just “The people of the Living God.” No, for as the Apostle Paul states, we have been “espoused,” or entered into an engagement of marriage with Christ, and are therefore expected to be a “chaste virgin to Christ.” We are not just the people of God; we are those who are to be living with earnest expectation of His coming for His Bride and preparing ourselves for the day of the “Marriage of the Lamb.”

What historically grieved the heart of God over and over? Those, who were called by His name, who lived seeking to satisfy their lust, love the world, and were basically self-centered. For this was the constant gateway for idolatry to creep into their impure hearts. Such is why friendship with the world places us at enmity, or war with God. If we look to, and love, and live in the realm of the flesh and earthly things, we are breaching our part of the Covenant. For God is a Spirit, and He is Holy, and He has commanded us to be holy. For the time has come, and now is, when the true worshipers of God must worship Him in spirit and truth, and not in some vain believe-ism with empty and dead religious traditions.

1 John 3:2 – 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. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.

1 John 4:17 – Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love Him, because He first loved us.

So please, do not be foolish virgins, but purchase now the oil needed for your lamps as we wait for the marriage day at hand. And “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them this promise of “rest” 40 years later by leading them in the conquest of the Promise Land, then King David many, many years afterward would not have prophesied of yet “another day;” the marriage day.

See then that there still remains “a rest” for the people of God to be entered into. For whoever has entered into his rest, he must also have ceased from his own works, as God did from His; meaning he has COMPLETED THE WORKS given him by God to do, for we all must accomplish “through faith” our own works which are assigned unto us by God. This is what the Apostle Paul referred to as “Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Therefore, let us labor to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief and thereby likewise come to experience God’s “breech of promise.”

Consider Paul’s words of confidence in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. For I Have Fought A Good Fight, I Have Finished My Course, I Have Kept The Faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.

Such is why Paul prayed for the church, stating, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. And that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that being rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and fully know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge; That You Might Be Filled With All The Fullness Of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Trust, Love, and Obey.
Live for the resurrected King of Glory!!

I know I have written several times on grace in the past, but we must be obedient to what we feel the Lord gives us to share. So, whoever you are, maybe this is just for you.

The follow list contains three things that God’s word not only fundamentally teaches about God’s grace, but biblical history affirms over and over again to be true as it records without partiality the triumphs and failures of those who believed in God.

  1. Grace is sufficient.
  2. Grace can be frustrated.
  3. Grace can be received in vain.

First, regarding grace’s sufficiency in the life of the believer, Paul was assure by God that His grace would be adequate to see him through whatever temptations he would endure or the trials and persecutions he must suffer for the cause of Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul learned his confidence was only to be in God’s grace, and that he could not depend on his own strength or power. For it was in his weakness where Paul found he was able to experience God’s fullness in a way he couldn’t in those areas where his own strength or wisdom were adequate, such as making and mending tents. But when it came to his salvation, doing the work of the ministry, fighting the fight, or running the race, Paul knew full well he could not do those things apart from the grace of God given unto him.

Furthermore, the fact that God had given such empowering grace unto Paul, he was fully aware he must take full advantage of it so as not to frustrate it, lest he fall short in the calling God had given unto him.

1 Corinthians 9:16 – For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

I often use the following example when speaking of God’s “sufficient” grace. Someone needs to get somewhere but they have no means to get there. They are at an impasse and do not know what they are going to do because they have to get there or the consequences will be severe if they fail to do so. Upon hearing of their plight I offer them the use of my car, to which they say, “Great, but I have no money for gas.” I tell them no worries, I will fill up the tank and that will be more than sufficient to get them there.

Being greatly relieved, they are now confident that they can safely make the trip because they have been given all they need for the journey, but while on their way they get to thinking they have more than enough time and there is “more than sufficient” gas, so they take the liberty to go sightseeing to other places along the way. Getting caught up in their new found liberty with my car and gas, they carelessly are driving around exhausting the gas. Soon they turn around towards their original destination and suddenly to their surprise the car abruptly stops out of gas!

Is this is not like the parable of the ten virgins Jesus gave us? Or the warning in Hebrews 4-

Hebrews 4:1 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

There was no more reason for the people to run out of gas than there was for why the promise of God to give “The promise Land” wasn’t realized by those to whom the promise was given. Yet we too today are being warned of like consequences, the possibility of coming short of our destination by tempting the sufficient limitations of God’s grace. For “To day if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” God clearly gave the Israelites a sure promise, and all the promises of God in Jesus are yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us! And so how could it possibly be that they failed to have God’s promise fulfilled?

Numbers 14:34 – After the number of the days in which you searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years, and you shall know My breach of promise. 35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

What’s this? God told them they would know His “breach of promise?” How could this be? Surely God doesn’t break His word? There is no doubt that He loved them, and God is no respecter of person, right? And yet what did Peter say when God gave him the revelation of His grace being given unto the Gentiles too?

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him.

Secondly, scriptures clearly say God’s grace can undeniably be frustrated.

Galatians 2:21 – I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Paul makes it clear; God gave unto him a grace that was sufficient to enable him to be and do all which God had called him to. This grace given wasn’t because of any sacrificed animal or any other ordinance given under the Levitical priesthood, or because of Paul’s own keeping of the Law. Rather, this grace was founded upon what God did through Christ so that Paul and men everywhere could be washed and justified of their sins and then filled with the Spirit of Christ in them, the hope of glory. It was this indwelling grace of the Spirit of Christ that enabled Paul to do and be all that God required of him. Likewise God desires His grace to work in men so they too might fulfill that which God requires of every one who names the name of Christ.

Hebrews 7:11 – If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Romans 8:3 – For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

It was impossible for the law to save men, as it was weak through the flesh, meaning “it is not possible” for dead, unholy men to make themselves holy and alive, or “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away [their] sins,” (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, God sending his own Son in the likeness of man’s own sinful flesh, through Jesus’ shed blood and it alone men can now be justified of their sins, fully forgiven and sanctified so as to render them fit for the fullness of God’s sufficient grace; the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit of Christ.

Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

I Timothy 1:12 – And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.

Colossians 1:27 – To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily.

Three, God’s grace can be received in vain.

Grace is so, so much more than just “unmerited favor.” Yes, absolutely God’s offer of grace is unmerited, for it was ordained from the beginning, even before the foundations of the world, long before anyone could have even tried to earn, merit, or deserve it. And when sin did abound, grace did abound all the more in that Christ came and willingly died for the ungodly. But God’s grace doesn’t stop at the offer of forgiveness of sins, for it is the power which quickens dead men and makes them alive and turns sinners into saints.

1 Corinthians 1:24 – But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

God’s grace is the power of God that delivers us from the sinful nature embedded in our hearts and equips us for our unique ministry unto Him and others. It cannot be said enough, grace is the divine indwelling of Christ Himself empowering us, moving us ever towards victory and making us overcomers. It is by this grace and grace alone we are what we are, (or can be as we grow in Christ), or as Paul said, “I am what I am…”

II Corinthians 6:1 – We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

I Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Likewise, we all must be sober and recognize that the Kingdom of God suffers violence and they who would take it must take by force as the Jews did the Promise Land. But we need not depend on our own strength, for it is by the force/power which works in us mightily as we exercise our love and faith in Christ that we are empowered to do what He has called us to do.

Like Paul says, faith works through love.

Galatians 5:6 – For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avail anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.

John 14:23 – Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loves Me not keeps not My sayings: and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Faith works because it is the consequence of hearing God’s word whereby we can receive grace to enable us to be faithful. For the Apostle Paul said, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” So let’s look into this, first faith comes by hearing God’s word, and then grace through faith saves us. However we know without hearing we could have no faith, and yet it is through faith that grace comes whereby we are saved. So what is the gift? Is it grace or faith? What says the word of God?

Romans 12:3 – For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Every man has been dealt the measure of faith, but what is that measure? What does that mean? It means that for all those who would recognize their personal poverty of spirit, and mourn for their sins before a holy God and quit excusing themselves by blaming everyone and everything for what they are and have done, and start to hunger and thirst for righteousness, that God will give them grace for obedience to the faith. That is the beginning of the Be Attitudes of the Sermon on the Mount.

Romans 1:5 – By whom we have received grace… for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name.

But how can men know these things without hearing the word of God or be able to recognize it as true? By that measure of faith God has dealt to every man. Every person has enough faith already dealt to them; it is there in their conscience with the writing of God’s law in their inner man that can enable them to properly respond to hearing the gospel, the only question is will they? Even creation is designed so as to stir up that measure of faith, compelling all men to seek after God and truth.

Romans 1:20 – For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

  Consequently, there is no excuse, even Wisdom is said to be continually “in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she utters her words, saying, “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out My spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” Thus hearing God’s word we are given that increase of faith through which grace can flood our souls and save us, God pouring out His Spirit unto us and changing us from the inside out, from inward virtue to outward godliness.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus expects to see these things in us, for by “grace through faith” these things should be in us and abounding. Otherwise we will be proven to have been “barren…[and] unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Surely none of us would be content or pleased with a friend or a spouse as our lover who simply “believes” in us. We would expect and settle for nothing less than faithfulness, and rightly so, because that is the reasonable expectation of a love perfected by grace. True faith will always work towards faithfulness because faith works by love. It really is that simple.

Sadly, many believers continue in sin while rejecting correction with “God loves me unconditionally.” They have minimize amazing grace to nothing more than “unmerited favor.” Foolishly they live out their lives giving way to their flesh, continuing their friendship with the world. They don’t even try to keep His words simply because they don’t love Him, having believed the lie it really doesn’t matter anyway… since God loves them unconditionally. But is that what Jesus said or their pastor?

John 14:21 He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him. 24 He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.

Right there in verse 23 is the biggest word in the bible, and often the most overlooked, “If.” Wherever there is an “if” in the scriptures there is also an insinuated “then.” That little word has enormous meaning; for it is a qualifier preceding a condition. That little “if” is a razor sharp edge on the sword of the spirit that cuts through all the pretense and good intentions to the very heart of every man’s faith and belief in God. So much so that the Beloved Apostle John had this to say-

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, [then] we [God and us] have fellowship one with another, and [then] the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The very first act of grace through faith is the work of repentance, faithfulness to the commandment of Christ to all men.

Acts 17:30 – And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men everywhere to repent.

Titus 2:11 – For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

1 Peter 1:13 – Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy.

Sadly, many professors of faith today will one day find they have exhausted the grace of God, having frustrated it with their persistent unfaithfulness. They neglect that measure of faith dealt to them and thereby limit the effectual working of God’s grace, burying as it were the proverbial “talent” Christ entrusted them with to invest towards for His glory. These are they who will one day find they were actually goats and not sheep they thought they were when the Lord returns to separate those professing to know Him.

Psalm 78:41 – Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy.

Dear reader, this is a very serious matter, because God has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be holy and separate from the world, doers of His word and not hearers only, to answer the call to be glorious partakers of His divine nature, having Christ formed in us and escaping the wrath to come.

1 Peter 1:3 – 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: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

No Excuse

Even though Adam sinned and all are now required to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust, there is no excuse for continuing in sin. For God foresaw sin even before anything was created and though as a mystery hid until the appointed time, the remedy was always there. Therefore it must be recognized as an indisputable fact that God foresaw absolutely everything, in infinitesimal detail, and categorically knew every good and evil thing that would transpire throughout all eternity. Therefore before the creation of man, God fully knew all the circumstances which would occur and every opposing force of evil that would arise with all their intensity, destruction and confusion, and accordingly made all the necessary preparations to assure His own purposes and glory. That regardless of the foe or evil intent, He can absolutely assure those who love Him, that each and every circumstance and event in their lives was foreseen and therefore He can successfully work all things together for their eternal well-being.

No, the foreknowledge of sin didn’t discourage God; He still elected to create humanity in His image, knowing that as lights they could still brilliantly manifest the wonders and glory of God through the sufficiency of His amazing grace available through Jesus Christ the Lord. Each created to be temples for the Spirit of the living God, and called to “serve the LORD with gladness… [for] the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” Man, every man, is “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” What then will sinners say when they are asked by their Creator why they ignored His calling them?

 It is irrelevant how men may view and dismiss their sin, for what God sees in sin is a willingness of men to trample His Son in order to continue down their own path with a callous indifference for Jesus’ precious blood; devalued to the status of a common product readily available on shelves of the local convenient stores that they assume will always be there whenever they need it. Sadly such people are sitting in churches on Sunday feeling all justified while committing idolatry, worshiping a “Jesus” the modern commercial church system has made just for them and they don’t even know the difference.

2 Corinthians 11:4 – If indeed someone is coming to preach another Jesus, whom I did not preach, or you are receiving a Spirit other than you once received, or another gospel which you did not accept before, you would do well to bear with me.

Dear reader, if Jesus tells us, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works?” Don’t you think we better be sure we know who He was talking about? Before He says to us as well, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work iniquity.”

It has been said the judgment of God is to let men go their own way when they have frustrated His grace. For this cause God permitted the rise of those empires that took the Jews into captivity twice, and why He allows the rise of the last and final, Eighth Beast, a corrupt government system under the authority of Satan eager to force those created in God’s image to desecrate their bodies (God’s temples) with a “mark” that would forever oblige them to now serve and worship the dragon and the beast.

2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.

It is truly sad that a day of rest can cause so much unrest among believers. I personally believe the lack of understanding what the Sabbath represents to the Church is the reason that it is often surrounded by so much confusion to the point of contention and mutual condemnation by both Sabbatarians and Sunday worshipers. Certainly with a God with whom all things are possible, creation could have been accomplished in one or two days or even drawn out to ten to twelve days.

So why the seven days? Is there some wisdom and knowledge in the answer to that question that is beneficial to believers? I think so; I also think a lot this debate between Sabbatarians and Sunday worshipers is of the flesh and many times out right pride. Having said that I know I too now stand on a slippery slope for electing to put forth the conclusions of my personal studies regarding my views why God created a seven day week, as well as offer a possible meaning and purpose of the seventh day Sabbath. However, my hope is not to make anyone change their day of worship, rather to share my own appreciation for God’s wisdom in all things. Faith is conviction functioning by love and love will always have posture of humility in its service if it is a righteous and godly love.

My first hope is to establish a point of agreement about the Sabbath, that it, like the ceremonies of the Old Testament, represents something specific. If we can all agree on that then we have a mutual point of understanding from which to move forward from. Building on that point, it may be noteworthy to recognize how most believers readily acknowledge that the ceremonies and sacrifices of the Old Testament were actually prophetic actions. Prophetic action is simply a term noting something done to signify a future event. Perhaps a simple New Testament example would be that of a certain prophet, named Agabus in Acts –

Ac 21:11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Just a re-post reminder that hell is real. This is actually part 2 of 2  of my series on hell 

1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

God’s word is more glorious than even the wonder of birth; for in it He has given us some incredible insights into His own heart’s desire. His word is not merely a bunch of rules and laws made to regulate every aspect of men’s behavior and to oppress their freedom in life. No, God’s word is actually the only true wellspring of life, in addition to the only effectual means for guarding what He gives unto His people. Some may immediately feel compelled to challenge that statement, but I am not speaking about the bible you have on your shelf, I am speaking of that which came by unction of God’s Holy Spirit unto His prophets and apostles, that which is spirit and not merely “letter.”

The bibles we have are but books made of paper and ink, filled with letters that cannot do anything of their own, there is no power in them anymore than a flashlight has the ability to illuminate without batteries being in it. It is only a means, a tool whereby the supremacy of God’s spoken word which is ultimately spirit can be revealed unto us . . . that is if and when our heart is in the right condition.

Through God’s holy word comes first the revelation of His supremacy and preeminence, that “God is,” meaning there is in fact a God to whom all men are accountable. Secondly it teaches us how He has created all things in a state of “good.” God created the realms for life to flourish, the sea, the air and the land and then brought forth all manner of life and gave them not just the command to be “fruitful and multiply,” no much more than that, God gave forth the blessing of life.

He created every “herb bearing seed upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree for food which also has yielding seeds.” God also spoke into existence things that were not and gave them life that they might live and move within God’s very being. After God created man He declared that the result was “very good,” or what the Hebrew would convey as extremely good.

Thirdly, we can see, and learn from God’s holy word, that through it comes both the revelation and foundational teachings of righteousness. We also see creation set into motion with harmonious order, established cycles and rhythms whereby all things would thrive and flourish. It reveals boundaries for man’s protection whereby he could grow, learn and experience the joys and liberties given unto him. What God created was good, not evil; life and not death. This does not mean He failed to make provisions for such, which is far from the truth.

Just as certainly as God flawlessly fashioned all creation for life, He knew that giving His creatures the facilities and means to enjoy it, would also mean His perfect creation could be polluted and therefore most certainly would be. God knew from the beginning when He first put into place the harmony of creation that His creatures would eventually fall into disharmony with Him through exercising their ability to choose.

But that does not mean God created sin, for I would ask how could there be sin without first the establishment of righteousness? Disharmony and sin are not God’s creation, nor are they a state or condition that can exist alone; rather they are measured and established only by their contrast with God’s original harmony and righteousness. There can be no disharmony without harmony, nor sin without righteousness. These two things cannot exist by themselves, for they are nothing more than witnesses to the absence of their counterpart, just as darkness is measured by the degree of light present, likewise cold in regards to the presence of heat.

Now when I said God didn’t create “evil” I know many are going to throw the following verse at me,

 Isaiah 45:7 – I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

 One would do well to investigate the intent of this verse; for it is God’s forming of the light that created darkness, just as “the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” meaning without light and void of illumination. Likewise God’s desire and establishment of peace is what creates the possibility for evil. However, the “evil” of this verse is not moral; rather it is the contrast of peace, i.e. war, which cannot exist without willful disharmony to God’s formerly established harmony. Others may want to debate that God Himself does evil and they may seek to prove it by submitting verses similar to the following scriptures –

 Jeremiah 26:3 – If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

 Jeremiah 42:10 – If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent Me of the evil that I have done unto you.

  What is paramount is to understand is that the “evil” in these verses is not synonymous with sin, wickedness or unrighteousness. This evil is best understood as a required action that is contrary to God’s preferred will. God never wanted to punish, but His holiness and righteousness demands it because God will not forever endure with that which refuses to live and exist in accordance with His word. Yes, God is longsuffering, but there is a limit to God’s willingness to wait for repentance, which when exhausted then obligates God to act contrary to the blessings He desires to give. If we will not comply with the conditions of His blessings, we are only left with the repercussions of His curses. But never, never does God commit wickedness or unrighteousness for He is holy.

  Isaiah 30:18  – And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.

 Lamentations 3:31 – For the Lord will not cast off for ever:  32 But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

 Ezekiel 18:23 – Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? . . . 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

 Ezekiel 33:11 – Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

 Romans 2:2 – But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

 1 Timothy 2:4 – Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

 It has always been the desire of God that what He created as “good,” even “very good,” that it should continue as such forever. However, because sin entered, disharmony was created when His creatures made the fatal willful choice to cast away His word. Nevertheless, He has long sought to make available to all the remedy that was prepared from the foundations of the world to reconcile all things back unto Himself. For more on this plan of reconciliation please see my old post “Justified in the Spirit.

In continuing with the topic of hell, let’s now look at a little discussed passage of scripture –

 Deuteronomy 23:9 – When the army goes forth against your enemies, then keep yourself from every wicked thing. 10 If there is among you any man who is not clean because of an accident at night, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp. 11 And it shall be as evening turns, he shall wash with water. And when the sun is down, he shall come into the the middle of the camp. 12 You shall also have a place outside the camp where you shall go forth. 13 And you shall have a paddle on your weapon. And it shall be, when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it, and shall turn back and cover that which comes from you. 14 For the LORD your God walks in the middle of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you. Therefore your camp shall be holy, so that He may see no unclean thing in you and turn away from you.

This is one of those passages that many Christians just read over and rarely gleam anything from. However, there is much here that we should be giving our focus too, for we are talking about going to battle and having the certainty that the Lord will be with us. What is the underlying principle in these verses is the requirement for us to be holy for He is holy. That is why it is absolutely clear that since everyday we are waking up afresh, we therefore need to be daily putting on the whole armor of God, . . . because every minute, of everyday, our adversary is seeking to devour all he can. Therefore we must keep ourselves “from every wicked thing.” These truths should be clear and evident even to the young in faith.

However, the passage also warns against those who are “not clean by reason of uncleanness that chances him by night.” Now what does this passage mean? These verses in Leviticus help to bring clarity–

Leviticus 15:1  – And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying,  2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean. 3 And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness. 4 Every bed, whereon he lays that hath the issue, is unclean: and everything, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean.  5 And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening.

Leviticus 15:16 – And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the evening. 17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the evening. 18 The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening.

The light shed by these verses clearly indicate that the concern of the Lord is the uncleanliness, associated with either genital disease, or a “copulation,” meaning an ejaculation of semen. Now, some might readily see the problem with disease rendering one unclean, but an ejaculation? How would that defile a man? Whether we understand it or not it is still in God’s Holy Scriptures and is given as an admonition to His people and therefore requires our prayerful consideration. But this is also why I selected to entitle this post with the opening verse –

1 Peter 1:23 – Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

 The “corruptible seed” Peter is alluding to is the seed whereby we were originally born, our father’s semen. Yet in this verse Peter is also stating how we are in fact “born again” by incorruptible seed, even the word of God. Furthermore, the beloved Apostle John tells us that true Christians cannot sin because His seed is in us –

1 John 3:9 = Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.

Now when John says one who is “born of God cannot sin,” he is not saying they are incapable of sinning. He is saying that because God’s “seed remains in him” that he cannot accept the pleasures of sin in the light of the cost of sin. It would be similar to me offering any of you $5.00 for your car or perhaps a gold watch. Certainly you could foolishly accept the $5.00, but if you truly understand the worth of what you have then you “cannot” accept my offer without abandoning what is reasonable. That is why Paul pleads with us to present ourselves as living sacrifices unto God.

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

How do you know “that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God?” Only by God’s word. That is why John stated that “His seed remains in him,” which may help to shed light on  some other passages of scripture regarding uncleanliness –

Leviticus 15:19 – And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the evening. 20 And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. 21 And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 22 And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening. 23 And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the evening. 24 And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.

Leviticus 20:18 – And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

Now why would it be inappropriate for a man to lie with a woman while she is menstruating? Apart from the normal responses regarding hygiene, it is because the “seed” placed in her would not remain; her body will naturally cast it forth from her. When a woman’s body is menstruating it is going through the process of expelling her last egg that wasn’t fertilized. Since at this point most eggs are no longer alive, in the normal situation the male sperm will therefore never penetrate a viable egg but it too will only be flushed out as waste.

(Now before I am dismissed because of accuracy regarding the chances of a woman becoming pregnant even though she has had her normal cycle, the chances are very, very rare and could only most likely happen if prior to the menstrual cycle some sperm from an earlier relation managed to enter the fallopian tubes and was not flushed out. This unlikely event would create an opportunity for them if they are still alive to encounter a new egg during the next ovulation if for some reason it was hastened from irregularity in the cycle. But again this is going outside the norm and stretching normal limitations. Please remember that I am not a gynecologist and that I work with wood)

What is important is that we see the correlation the Apostle Peter makes between the “corruptible seed” whereby we were conceived and the “incorruptible” whereby we are born again, even the word of the Lord. This shows us the significance of our design and Why God Created Us Male And Female. Symbolically the male’s semen represents the word of God which is not cast to the ground. To do so is prophetic action showing disrespect for that which has holy symbolism. Think of the anger the Lord had towards Onan who was told by his father Judah to go and “raise up seed” for his dead brother with Tamar –

Genesis 38:6 – And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. 7 And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. 8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. 9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore He slew him also.

 This displeased the Lord on at least two counts, first, a lack of love for his brother and second, the intentional spilling of his semen on the ground. Since we are created in the image of God and are to be His glory, then it is conceivable that our seed, i.e. semen, represents His holy word. Thus it was important to God that Onan’s seed should have remained in Tamar, just as it is important that God’s seed remain in us, and that as children of God, we be able to impart His seed unto others. Perhaps part of this can even be our love of Christ and evangelistic willingness to go and “raise up seed” for our Brother and Savior Jesus Christ by being instant in season and ready to give and answer for the hope that is within us.

Again, these are but prophetic imagery given unto us to teach us greater lessons from our Lord, just as circumcision of the flesh does in regards to circumcision of the heart. But look at the verses in Duet.23 before this –

Deuteronomy 23:1 – He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

It is important to the Lord that we know in whom we believe and are able to procreate with our faith by His seed, i.e. word which remains in us. Those not having seed or unable to impart it “shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” Also, since Paul tells us we’re to be living sacrifices, we should be able to appreciate that animal sacrifices were not acceptable unto the Lord either if they were born or rendered impotent.

Leviticus 22:24 – Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.

Those who have truly been quickened by God’s word have hidden His word in their hearts and are desirous to share it. That is because God’s word is the only solution for uncleanliness in the heart and lives of His children, now please don’t confuse that with the purpose of Christ’s blood for our atonement and forgiveness. We know that all things were sanctified and consecrated unto the Lord with both water and blood. Consider how the Apostle Paul speaks of husbands loving their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” and the correlation of the water of the word and the blood of atonement and their applications as to why Jesus laid down His life for us. –

Ephesians 5:26 – That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Consider also the words of Peter –

1 Peter 1:13 – Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

We are to be holy, not just because we have been washed by His blood, but also because we have renewed in our minds. As if the very loins of our minds were girded with the girdle of truth and walking in obedience to our Lord and Savior. That is why we are forgiven by His blood, so we can be freed from sins and indwelt by His Spirit and empowered to walk in His word whereby we are to be changing daily, our old carnal nature decreasing while the nature of Christ is being formed in us.

1 Peter 1:18 – Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,  21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.  22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

We are given the responsibility of purifying our souls by obeying His truth, but thank God for the grace and empowering by His own Spirit within us which enables us and labors with us to perfect our love for Him and each other… if we remain willing. It is this Gospel, this incorruptible seed that causes us to be born again and quicken and changed.

1 Peter 1:24 – For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Let look back now at our text in Deut. 23 –

Deuteronomy 23:12 – Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:  13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:  14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

After the instructions regarding, “uncleanness that chances him by night,” as it said in Leviticus concerning if “any man’s seed of copulation go out from him,” the Lord now moves to another topic concerning keeping the camp clean because the Lord walks in the midst of the camp. This shows both the responsibility for personal cleanliness, and the individual and corporate responsibility to keep the camp clean as well. Therefore if any man has to “ease” himself he is to go outside the camp and so do. By the words “thou shalt have a place without the camp” it is indicated that this would be a designated place, not just every man running off to wherever, but a specific place known to all.

Therefore, instruction was given that every man should have a “paddle upon they weapon,” whereby they could dig a hole and ease themselves in it, and “turn back and cover that which cometh from thee.” Again, regardless the apparent subject matter, we are actually being given glorious imagery here. Placed upon the weapon was a paddle, designed specifically for digging of a hole to accommodate that which is expelled from the body. Sadly we cannot see these weapons, but one of the weapons of choice which could be so equipped with a small spade is a sword. Again, symbolically the sword represents two things in scripture, God’s word and His judgment. Not just judgment in the sense of determining right and wrong, but in the sense of judgment coming upon a people for their rejection of His holy word, casting it, as it were on the ground.

 Deuteronomy 32:41 – If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me. 42 I will make Mine arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.

Now one thing we must remember, our Lord is a warrior, the ultimate warrior . . . and He is mighty in battle.

Psalm 24:7 – Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

Our God has graciously given us His word and by it quickened us, it is His “seed” whereby we are born again. But be not mistaken, it is also the sword He will whet and take hold of, it is His sword of judgment against the wicked who “will not stand in the congregation of the righteous.” Consider also these verses in Isaiah –

Isaiah 1:16 – Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil;  17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

But as Jesus said, broad is the path which leads to destruction and many will choose it by casting God’s word behind them. These are wicked men serving their own lusts and not honoring God who gave to them both the blessing of life and the honor of being created in His own image. Instead they defiantly turn away and lived their lives refusing and rebelling, doing so regardless of the Spirit of His Grace. Therefore they are unclean, defiled, sold under sin and foolishly boasting in their own shame.

Isaiah 1:21 – How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:  23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

God will not always strive with mankind, He will soon avenge Himself of His adversaries.

Isaiah 1:24 – Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease Me of Mine adversaries, and avenge me of Mine enemies.

Yes, as God commanded the host to keep the camp clean, and just as a man who needed to ease himself was to go to the designated place and there with the paddle on his weapon dig a hole. Likewise God has prepared a place in His judgment where He too will ease Himself. Listen to the word of the Lord; listen to His cry, “Ahhhh!” This is the groaning of the pain within His bowels of mercies after continually being frustrated, grace extended in vain to a rebellious, stubborn and stiff-necked people. It is as if God is cramped over in anguish and heartache by the very presence of the wicked within Him; all creation as well is groaning for the manifestation of the sons of God and the removal of the wicked. Mind you though, all the evil men and all the demons and devils which hell currently awaits cannot weaken or abate one iota the strength of God. Still nevertheless He has long-suffered while warning the wicked, endeavoring to rescue the lost and to offer repentance to the broken and contrite ones. His omnipotence cannot be weakened by the sins of men, but His heart is nonetheless pained and vexed by their sins.

All who have rejected God’s word, those from the very beginning who have lived and moved and had their very being within Him, will one day be expelled out from His presence for all eternity as waste out the draught and into the pit. The Gospel makes it evident it is the responsibility of every person to take full advantage of the exceedingly great and precious promises of God’s word, whereby we can be made partakers of His divine nature. Therefore, we are commanded to be what He fully enables us to be. Therefore we must be holy, because He is holy, or be expelled.Only by purifying ourselves by obeying the truth through His spirit, can we perfect this holiness in the fear of God. For He will not be mocked. He will repay who reject what He went through great lengths to provide, a remedy for our sin and sinful nature.

Psalm 62:11 – God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto You O Lord belongeth mercy: for You renderest to every man according to his work.

Deuteronomy 7:9 – Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; And repays them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hates Him, He will repay him to his face.

Yes, there is a hell, Rob Bell and all the other universalists are wrong. It is the eternal place of torment for all those who would not be assimilated unto God, refusing to be purified, sanctified, consecrated and made holy by yielding to the working of the Spirit of Christ within them with and through the power of His seed/word. All those unclean, rebellious and wicked will not only fail to be able to stand in and with the congregation of the righteous, God will treat them as the filth they are and ease Himself of them in a place He has prepared outside the camp. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

Isaiah 66:22 – For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the LORD. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

Psalm 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Yoy.

John 3:17 – For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

Peace to those who love the Lord, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Post is here on my other blog…

Is your faith being tried?

Posted: October 10, 2019 in Shared Thoughts

Last week one morning, in my devotions and prayers, I was thinking about the trials God takes us through and a few verses came to mind which caused me to have to stop my prayers and go search them out; and look at them more in depth. It was even because of tonight in my prayers thinking of Psalm 23 that all this came back into mind afresh, of how the Lord works to “restore” our souls, even though the “path of righteousness” seems to be taking us right through “the valley of the shadow of death.” For all this is done both for “His name’s sake” and our well-being; because He is indeed our Shepherd.

Here are the passages –

Psalm 17:1 – Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goes not out of feigned lips. 2 Let my sentence come forth from Your presence; let Your eyes behold the things that are equal. 3 You have proved mine heart; You hast visited me in the night; You have TRIED me and shall find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. 5 Hold up my goings in Your paths, that my footsteps slip not.

Psalm 26:1 – Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity. I have trusted also in the LORD, therefore I shall not slide. 2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; TRY my reins and my heart. 3 For your lovingkindness is before mine eyes and [therefore] I have walked in your truth.

Psalm 66:8 – O bless our God, you people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard: 9 Which holds our soul in life, and suffers our feet not to be moved. 10 For You, O God, have proved us. You have TRIED us, as silver is TRIED. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction upon our loins. 12 You have caused men to ride over our heads and we went through fire and through water. But You brought us out into a wealthy place.

As you can see it is about “proving” and “trying” us, and that often while in the midst of our adversities. The word “prove” in the original Hebrew means as we would naturally conclude, to establish the reality of a thing; that thing being twofold, both our faith and our lives. For it is by His grace working through our faith that we are indeed changed and made to be partakers of His divine nature.

2 Peter 1:2 – Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the [ack-]knowledge[ment] of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue. 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature.

Now, the words “TRY” and “TRIED” in the Psalms above were in caps because that is the thing I was led to look at more closely. In some place in our KJV Bibles, where it says “tried” it means to test, so as to prove. As a matter of fact, the very word translated “proved” in Psalm 66:10 above has been translated as “try” and “tried” more than other ways.

But the words “TRY” and “TRIED” in the Psalms above is translated from a completely different word in Hebrew which has a meaning that is hidden in the English translation; which is more revealed in principle in Peter’s statement that “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold,” and in Psalm 66:10, where we are “…as silver is TRIED.” For the Hebrew word which was translated “TRY” and “TRIED,” is also often translated as “[re-]finer,” “refiner,” “goldsmiths,” and “founder.”

A classic verse is below –

Malachi 3:3 – And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Now remember, we are all called to be were as the “sons of Levi;” for as Christians we are called to be both kings and priests unto the Lord. But the Lord “sits,” or takes a place in our lives, “as a refiner and a purifier of silver”; which silver is often used to represent of our sanctification to the Lord. The “refiner” smelts the silver to purge it of the impurities or dross. The process of smelting requires heating it to its melting point and allowing the lighter weight impurities to come to the surface; the appearance of such is like soot being black. Once the silver is liquefied and the dross surfaces, the refiner carefully scraps it from the top.

Psalm 12:6 – The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver TRIED in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Now, silver when it melts is like aluminum or lead when they melt, in that they all simply liquefy at a lower temperature than other metals, which when heated to their melting point become illuminated with a glow. Silver simply melts with no glow, and pure silver free of dross lays perfectly flat with a glossy sheen causing the surface to be a perfect mirror. Thus, a refiner can look into the smelter and see a perfect reflection of himself therein. Such is the work of Christ as our refiner, it is to make us a partaker of His divine nature; that He might see the perfect completed work of His grace working through our believing-faith, making “the trial of your faith, much more precious than of gold.”

The same is true of the “founder.” For he is the one who takes the purified silver or gold, and then “casts” it in a mold so it can become solid in a fixed form. And for us, that is our coming to “…the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” or as Paul said, “until Christ be formed in you.”

Judges 17:4 – Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to the FOUNDER [same word], who made thereof a graven image and a molten image [of the silver] and they were in the house of Micah.

I just want to encourage you to be strong in the Lord and to remember that in everything we are to give thanks; for in truth He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

The title of this post is probably one of the most important questions people need to be asking themselves. If you are one who might eagerly say “yes,” then you need to make a list of all the reasons you think so, and then prayerfully consider how God might fit into your equation.

Some will point out that being so rich, President Trump cannot be bought.
Some will point to his astute ability to “make the deal.”
Some will say he is a no-nonsense guy, that whether you like what he says, or how he says it; that if Trump said it, then he means it and will get it done.
Some will even say, as it has made its sweep across “Christians” in America, that President Trump is another prophetic Cyrus, a man sent of God to set God’s people free, expose the wicked, and of course, Make America Great Again.

However, this post is to share my personal perspective concerning what is happening with President Trump and with the United States of America. To begin, let me first say that nearly 4 years ago I moved to Costa Rica after writing a book about America in prophecy and her prophetic destruction where she will one day be utterly destroyed in one hour. Yes, there is a verse for that… BTW, the book was the fruit of over three decades of prayerful studying regarding this matter, and I assure you it is not a book or message I like.

However, while being fully persuaded that God in His faithfulness led several others and myself to come out of America, as witnesses for those who might hear what His Spirit is saying to the church, I must admit that I doubted whether President Obama would leave office. Partly because, as it was obvious to many of God’s people, he was a blatant liar who only professed to be a Christian, yet clearly lived as an arrogant, immoral Muslim. Over and over Barack Obama openly mocked Christians and God’s word, even from the very podium of the presidency; not to mentioned that whole creepy Obama Messiah thing that happened everywhere… and amazingly is still lingering.

But as time drew closer to the 2016 election, I knew in my heart and understood by God’s word that Hillary would not be elected, but that is not the subject now. However, I couldn’t understand why God was being so long-suffering with America. It certainly required much prayer on my part and seeking God about it all; for having left both family and friends behind in the USA, many of them have since felt justified and that they were right to stay… and I foolish to leave. After all, look at the economy all the POTUS has done.

But let me share with you the process of how God begins to judge a nation. First, He exposes the sins of the people, and in order to do that He first uses the voice of His people, the watchmen, to cry out and define the wickedness of the people. In doing so, they tell everyone, the wicked and religious alike, that God will not be mocked. For the soul, or souls, that continue in sin are on a head-on collision course with Jesus Christ and will indeed be destroyed.

BUT, (and pay attention here,) before God destroys the ungodly and wicked, He purposely both tries and exposes the hearts of those who profess to be His people. That is because those who have taken His name in vain by calling themselves “Christians,” but are not seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, are in fact themselves to be counted among the wicked. God was very clear that He would not hold them guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Exodus 20:7 – Thou shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

2 Timothy 2:19 – Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Do you think I’m wrong? If so, then I think you need to read your bible and reconsider all that God not only allowed to happen to His own people, but purposely caused. For those who He once rejoiced over to save, He later rejoiced over their destruction. Why? Because by continually rejecting His word and doing what was right in their own eyes, they frustrated and exhausted His sufficient grace, and therefore failed to so love Him as He requires; with all their heart.

Deuteronomy 28:63 – And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Being carnally minded, many are in love with themselves, the world, and the pleasures of the world, more than they are in love God. For loving pleasures MORE THAN God, the Jews of the Old Testament simply would not obey. They, like many Christians nowadays who refuse to pick up their cross and deny themselves, daily, refused to obey and follow God wherever He leads. Rather, doing what was right in their own eyes, they strayed from the truth and never missed it.

Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Proverbs 21:2 – Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

John 10:27 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Remember, God’s people are called to be the light and salt of the world. BUT, if they have double eyes by only looking to Jesus to save them from hell, and then to the world for their satisfaction, then the so-called light in them is in truth darkness. They are deceived, for their light is darkness and their truth is error; for while they are supposed to be salt, they have lost their saltiness; therefore, Jesus said they are “good for nothing, unfit even for the dung-heap; so are cast out and trodden underfoot of men.”  Do you understand this, that a pile of dung is actually too good for such professors of Christ?

People, I am persuaded what God is doing with President Trump, is that He is proving the heart of those who claim to be His people in the USA. The test they must past is whether they are more interested in making America great again and it having a booming economy with hopes they’ll get to live out their American Dream in a comfortable retirement, or are they fervently praying for God’s kingdom to come and His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven; without reservation or hesitation. Are they truly looking for and hastening the coming of Christ their Savior? OR, having itchy ears have they rallied around President Trump as their hope for a better life here and embraced all the “prophetic words” about him being another “Cyrus?” Is it possible you too are hoping to have your “best life” now?

See, God’s righteous judgment MUST BEGIN IN THE HOUSE OF GOD. Thus, God tries the hearts of those professing Christ, that He is their God, to prove where their real affections rest. Because if they are not loving God with all their mind, heart, and strength, I can assure you they do not have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. For if you do not have ears to hear, then yours is a vain self-serving religion which lacks a true God-pleasing, saving-faith. Bold statement? Well know this, saving faith works by love and those who are truly Christ’s hear His voice and will faithfully follow Him.

1 Peter 4:17 – For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

It is a fact that President Trump is the president of a nation divided, perhaps more now than ever since the Civil War. That alone is a disturbing sign, for Jesus said a kingdom or house divided against itself CANNOT STAND. Plus, never before has a president of the USA been so viciously hated by the opposition; that they conspired to keep him from winning the election, and has deceitfully plotted plan after plan to try and impeach him. If that won’t work, I am sure they are already desperately looking for another way or means to get him out of office; by violence if necessary. They have to, because otherwise at this point, too many are going to be exposed, publicly humiliated, and jailed for their crimes and treason.

For what has been done by the wicked controlling the deep state is now all being exposed; much to the glee of many on the right. For Jesus assured us that what was done in darkness will be brought to light, and that said in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. Yet sadly, there will actually be some “Christians” out there who are completely clueless to all I have been talking about; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, because in truth their hearts are harden towards God… because they simply love this world and want to save their life in it.

2 Timothy 3:4 – …lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.

People, be assure that God is using President Trump at this time to both prove and expose hearts. So, is your heart passing the test? For I do not know how much longer God will long-suffer with a lukewarm church whose affections are not on His kingdom, but I do know that it isn’t much longer…

1 Corinthians 15:34 – Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

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The Only Test of Love

Posted: September 12, 2019 in Shared Thoughts
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From the beginning, the only sound scriptural authorized test of love is obedience; and by “love” I mean the biblically righteous love which alone will be acknowledged by God and acceptable to Him.

There is of course, a carnal love, just as there is a divine love. However, the carnal love, though capable of somewhat benefiting others, it is nonetheless self-serving. For the height and benefit of a carnal love’s virtues are limited, and that because its priority is only to profit the hearts, mind (emotions), and the physical well-being of self and others.

Furthermore, the viewpoint of a carnal love is consequently limited, because the birth of such is out of one’s own affections, wishes and cravings. Often, a carnal love barely exceeds that of mere obsession; and that being one’s own gratification. Now, the important thing to acknowledge, is that carnal love is quite capable of being religious and have a profession of faith. For Jesus frequently had to deal with religious men who were lovers of themselves, prideful men who were selective in their obedience to God’s word. These are such who justify themselves, and being deceived think themselves to be superior to others in religious matters. Men who teach one thing, but yet do another.

A heart seeking truth will recognize that a divine love stands in stark contrast with carnal love; for a divine love is birth out of a revelation of God’s holy love and benevolence for humanity. God’s love is undeniable, in that He gave His only begotten Son for our redemption for and from sin. Thus, a divine love will only exist within one who has indeed come to the humbling revelation of God’s great love for them as an individual, and that in spite of the contrariness of their corrupt nature with He who is holy.

The fact that He first loved us is the very foundation and reason why we can love Him with a perfect love, which simply means to love Him with all of our hearts, our minds, and our strength. For in truth, if one truly comes to understand their poverty of spirit, that their sins have left them spiritually bankrupt before a holy God, they will be cast into great agony of heart and mourning before God.

It is then that the promise of entrance into His Kingdom and the gift of repentance is offered to them upon their open acknowledgment that their sins have bankrupt them; for only such who do so are truly contrite and broken before Him. These, at the prospect of His mercy, respond joyfully with obedience and delight at a chance now to do His will, and are in so doing comforted by His unmerited love and consideration.

Truly, such who have been so humbled by the illumination of God’s great love will no longer seek to justify themselves, nor will they blame others for their having fallen into the depravity of sin. For those who seek to justify themselves, especially by blaming others, have no inheritance with God.

But those who are so humbled will find themselves aroused with a holy hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, which righteousness is now available to us solely because of that great love whereby He sent Jesus Christ to be our only Savior and Deliverer from our sins. It is only because of His death that we can be offered new life, and because of His holiness that sinners can now be made into saints.

Truly, anyone who has partaken of God’s redemptive mercies will themselves be both messengers and vessels of that mercy. This should be evident to others by a true Christian’s public proclamation that forgiveness for sins has been made available through Jesus Christ for all; as well as Christians freely forgiving all who have ever treated them wrongfully. These are such who seek through their obedience to God and His word to purify their hearts even as He is pure; and to be holy, even as He is holy. For if their old nature has truly been crucified with Christ, and they have been born-again and made new creatures desiring to be like their Savior, then they too will find themselves laboring to be peacemakers. For being forgiven, all become ambassadors for God’s Kingdom and messengers of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ that alone can save men from their spiritual depravity and bondage of sin.

But there are some who will not receive a love for the truth of the Gospel. There are those, who being carnal, have had their hearts hardened and have had their minds blinded by the god of this world. Such will naturally hate those, who not only “believe in Jesus Christ,” but purposely walk in His truths that they might sin not, and live their lives seeking foremost His glory that it might be brilliantly revealed to others through their obedience of faith.

Hence, the only sound scriptural authorized test of love is obedience. For only they who love obey, and they who obey overcome both the old nature of sin and the seductive wickedness of the world. Those who have a divine love delight to do God’s will, for the heart of all His precepts is love for Him and others as ourselves. Those who obey the dictates of a divine love have the promise that they will walk with Him for “they are worthy.”

So, do you love Him?

John 14:21 – He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

Matthew 5:3 – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

1 John 1:5 – This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we [us and God] have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 5:3 – For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.