1 CORINTHIANS 3:21,23 – A Precious & Very Great Promise

1-CORINTHIANS-3-21-23-ESV.jpg

“For all things are yours; … And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21,23

These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping, these are enjoying. As the apostle declares, God hath given “us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the LORD and His service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art.  R. 3734, c.2. p.4.


Reprint No. 3733-3737 of the Original Watchtower & Herald of Christ’s Presence

BLESSEDNESS SUPERIOR TO HAPPINESS.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:1-16

HAPPINESS describes the joyful moods which come to mankind from time to time, but blessedness relates to that permanent joy and comfort which are the result of the attunement of character to harmony with the divine. The people of the world may at times be happy, and at other times downcast, mournful and troubled; but to those who become followers of the Lord Jesus, and who as pupils in the school of Christ are taught of him, there is a peace of God which passes all understanding ruling in their hearts, bringing comfort and rest even under most adverse outward conditions. The lesson we are now considering describes to us the condition of heart necessary to the possession of the peace of God. In proportion as we get before our mental eyes the true conception and then strive to attain that ideal, in the same proportion will be the degree or progress of blessedness which will come into our hearts and lives to rule there and to keep us in the love of God.

Our Lord and his disciples were on an elevated plane of the mountain side, and crowds of people were coming to hear the message of the great Teacher respecting the Kingdom so long anticipated and which he declared was nigh. His miracles had attested his divine authority as a Teacher, [R3733 : page 71] and this drew the people to him “who spake as never man spake.” (John 7:46) …

The teaching was addressed primarily to those nearest to the Lord, namely, his special disciples, the multitude interestedly watching for any items in the address that would specially enlighten them. It must have seemed strange to all the hearers that our Lord did not talk more about the Kingdom itself, explaining when and how it would be established, etc. But he knew that he must first suffer for the redemption of the world before the Kingdom could come and the divine will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. He knew, too, that the first work in preparing for the establishment of the Kingdom would be the gathering of the Church class, the elect, to be his Bride and joint-heir in the Kingdom. His discourse, therefore, was so directed as to divide the hearers into two classes—some would be disappointed because they were interested more in the glories and honors and dignities of the Kingdom hoped for than in the condition of heart necessary to a place in it. These probably went their way saying that doubtless Jesus was a great Teacher to those who liked his kind of philosophy, but to them it was a very dry and unsatisfactory portion.

Others, though disappointed in the character of the teaching, found something in it which satisfied their longings as nothing else could do—found in it nourishment, comfort, upbuilding qualities. The same is true today: some hear the good tidings of great joy with interest merely in those features which relate to restitution. They are glad to know that there is no eternal torment in the divine plan, but that, on the contrary, times of refreshing are coming to the world, and times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.) But aside from this, all discussion respecting consecration to the Lord and terms of discipleship, all descriptions of characteristic conditions that would fit them for the Kingdom, are wearisome to them, distasteful. Thus does the Truth always separate.

“THE POOR IN SPIRIT”

The message of this great Teacher differed from all others, and was especially attractive to the humble, the lowly. Whereas others would have said, Blessed are the rich, the learned, the prominent, the rulers, this great Teacher reversed the matter, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”—blessed are those who are not self-conceited, who do not think very highly of themselves, who appreciate their own littleness and imperfection. Astounding! How are such blessed? Surely the world thinks little of those who do not think much of themselves! Surely they will make less progress in the world! Ah, yes! But, says the Master, their blessedness consists in the fact that they are of the Kingdom—of those from whom the Kingdom of heaven class will be selected.

Self-confidence, self-esteem, may win for its possessor a high and honorable place in the present time, but is disesteemed of the Lord; and those who have such a spirit will be the less prepared for the tests and conditions which the Lord will impose in selecting the heirs of the Kingdom, the joint-heirs with Christ. Yes, indeed!—there is a favor and blessedness associated with being little in one’s own estimation: it preserves from many a false step into which egotism would lead. All who are seeking to follow the instructions of the great Teacher, who naturally are poor in spirit, humble-minded, deficient in self-esteem, have much advantage every way over others as respects this particular element of character. And those who are not naturally humble should take heed to the Master’s instruction, and humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, that they may be exalted in due time. (1 Pet. 5:6.) The Lord’s followers, then, should continually [R3734 : page 71] practise humility and be especially on guard against pride, self-conceit, etc.; they should know on the great Teacher’s authority through the Apostle that God resisteth the proud and shows his favor to the humble, the poor in spirit, to such an extent that only the humble will share with the Lord in the inheritance of the Kingdom.—1 Pet. 5:5; Jas. 4:6.

MOURNERS BLESSED AND COMFORTED

Again it seems strange, contrary to the usual thought, to say “Blessed are they that mourn.” The general thought is that those who mourn are to be specially commiserated. What principle lies behind the Master’s assurance that there is a blessedness connected with mourning? We reply that we cannot suppose that there is mourning in heaven—we must suppose that there is happiness, blessedness there. Hence the blessedness of mourning must in some way relate to our present imperfect, sinful conditions and surroundings. Sin is in the world, and death, the wages of sin, is being paid out to the entire human family, carrying into every home more or less disappointment, sorrow, trouble. Where these are appreciated rightly there must surely be mourning. The world is sick and dying; … he who is “merry” must surely be correspondingly irrational. Who but a foolish person could be merry in the shadow of such a charnel-house! Those who are merry under such conditions give evidence of so wrong a condition of heart and mind that we may know that they will require rigid disciplinary instructions (such as will be accorded to the majority of mankind during the Millennium) in order to bring them to their proper senses.

On the contrary, those who do mourn because of a realization of their own imperfections, their own fallen condition, and who to any extent mourn in sympathy with the poor, groaning creation, these have corresponding advantages because of their saner condition of mind; they will be the more ready for the heavenly message, telling of the glorious blessing that is to come through redemption in Jesus and through his Kingdom, which, as the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, shall bring in health, healing, life and comfort to all the families of the earth. Blessed are these mourners now, because they are in that much more favorable condition to hear the voice of him who speaketh from heaven—speaking peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. They shall be comforted. Their comfort shall not wait either until the new [R3734 : page 72] dispensation of the Kingdom shall be fully inaugurated and bring in the blessings of restitution: their comforting will begin at once, for their mourning will bring a readiness of mind to hearken for the Lord’s favor. So to these he will be pleased to make known something of the riches of his grace and lovingkindness through Jesus. They will have therefore the best opportunity for attaining the peace of God which passeth all understanding through the holy Spirit in this present time, and also in the dispensation to come.

Sorrow may be associated with sin and imperfection. It is proper that we should realize our fallen condition and be sorry for it, but this sorrow may be healed at once through the knowledge of the great redemption sacrifice and through our acceptance of a share in the merit of the same. But there is another sorrow or mourning which is not because of sin but because of sympathy. Our Lord, who was separate from sinners, had this spirit of mourning. It was this mourning in sympathy that led to his tears at the tomb of Lazarus, and the same that led to his being called “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”—Isa. 53:3.

In our imperfect fallen condition, even after our hearts are fully consecrated to the Lord and imbued with his Spirit, it will not be possible for us to enter so fully into sympathy with others as did our dear Master; but we are to cultivate this spirit of sympathy, which is a part of the spirit of love, and the more we grow in grace and in character-likeness to the great Teacher the more we will have of the spirit of sympathy, the more sorrow and mourning will appeal to us.

On the other hand, however, the more we receive of this same holy Spirit proportionately we will have the greater peace, the greater joy in the Lord and the greater rejoicing, because of what we will be increasingly permitted to discern in the unfolding of the great plan of salvation under which all who mourn in Zion shall be comforted. So, then, the most advanced Christians, who have the deepest and most holy joy, should be the ones who at the same time would have the deepest sympathy with mourning and sorrow. Who has not already noticed this, that as our Lord and Teacher is the exemplar of perfection, so those who most nearly imitate him are usually such as have had deep experiences in the school of sorrow and mourning, and in whose hearts and characters deep spiritual lessons and characteristics have been engraved?

The word comfort does not contain the thought of relief, but rather that of strengthen together, or added strength. In other words, the Lord does not propose to take from us that noble quality of sympathy which we receive in the school of experience, but he does propose for all those who become his true followers that they shall be comforted or strengthened together, that he will give them a blessing of strength to endure, which will compensate their mourning and spirit of heaviness. He gives this through the promises of his Word and the glorious hopes which he sets before us, and he gives it also through the living epistles of the dear members of the household of faith. Note how the Apostle calls this to our attention in 2 Corinthians 1:4, where many times over he repeats the thought of our comforting one another with the comfort wherewith the Lord has already comforted us. Oh, what a privilege we enjoy, not only of being comforted by the Lord through his Word, but of being used of him as channels for comforting or strengthening or upholding one another during this mourning time, when some, more than others, have in themselves weaknesses and frailties to cause mourning to themselves and to others. Blessed are those who, being comforted themselves, shall be used of the Lord in the comforting of the other members of his body.

“BLESSED ARE THE MEEK”

The poor in spirit or humble minded, who do not think highly of themselves, are unquestionably the same as the meek, the gentle.

The Century Dictionary defines the word meek as “self-controlled and gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; forbearing under injury or annoyance.” Webster defines meekness as “submission to the divine will; patience and gentleness from moral and religious motives.” As we look about us in the world and note the meek of the earth we do not see them more prosperous than others, and our Lord’s words that such shall inherit the earth would astonish us and seem quite untrue if we did not understand that he referred to blessings beyond the present life. Surely the millionaires of earth, that own the larger portion of it and its riches, valleys and slopes, are very rarely to be counted as the meek. And so we see that the Master did not say, Blessed are the meek, for they do inherit the earth, but “they shall inherit the earth.”

When, Lord?

Answer: When God’s Kingdom shall come and his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven—then the meek shall inherit the earth. So, then, if we perceive that the rude, the unjust, the self-assertive, are grasping the bounties of earth in the present time, and if we find ourselves rather crowded out because of meekness, let us remember our Lord’s Word that we are especially blessed, and let us cultivate this quality of meekness more and more, and let us not think to exchange it for a spirit of arrogance and self-assertion and vindictiveness, to grasp earthly fame and name and riches. Let us rather be content to cultivate this spirit which the Lord assures us he approves, and let us wait for the time when this class shall inherit the earth. We perceive that the inheritance will be with a view to giving it to the human family under the terms and conditions instituted during the Millennial age. Then the meek of the restitution class will inherit the earth; they will be given the advantage everyway, and eventually all who are not meek will be utterly destroyed from amongst the people in the Second Death.

The meek ones of the Lord’s followers even now in a measure receive the fulfilment of this promise, as the Apostle declared, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:22,23.) These have more enjoyment of the earth now than have others; while others are grasping these are enjoying. As the Apostle declares, “God hath given us all things richly to enjoy.” (1 Tim. 6:17.) Freed from the grasping spirit, we can pass through the streets and observe the rich displays of the shop windows without covetousness, without wishing that we had the various works of art and beauty under our special care and control. We can feast our eyes upon them and be without the care of them at a time when all of our talents are consecrated to the Lord and his service, and when we have more important things to do than caring for earthly trinkets called works of art. [R3735 : page 73]

BLESSED THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY

Our Lord refers to two of the most potent influences known amongst men. To what activity will not hunger and thirst spur us? Similarly there is in some a heart-hunger and thirst for that which is right, that which is true. The majority of people evidently do not have much of this hunger of the soul: natural eating and natural drinking are their special attractions. But all are not so, and there is a special blessing for those who have the soul-hunger to which our Lord refers. “They shall be filled”—they shall be satisfied.

Nothing in this promise implies a miraculous filling or satisfying: the thought connected with the illustration rather is that, hungering and thirsting,they will make use of their time, knowledge and opportunities for seeking the bread of eternal life, which satisfies, and the water of life, which truly refreshes; and that in proportion as these are sought and found and used will be the blessing. We have the Lord’s guarantee of the blessing for all who are in the attitude of mind to seek and to use the spiritual refreshments he provides.

Righteousness here applies to right in every matter—Truth. God is the great standard of righteousness, and he communicates it through his Word, his exceeding great and precious promises delivered to us through Jesus and his apostles. The majority of the world, careful for the meat that perishes, think little of the Truth and get little of it; the few hungering and thirsting for it are filled, refreshed, sanctified by it, and in word and in deed and in thought are being fitted and prepared for still further blessings in God’s due time—participation with the Redeemer in the Kingdom and a share with him in the work of blessing and uplifting mankind.

“BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL”

Mercy is akin to love, and in proportion as the fall has effaced love from any heart in that proportion mercy will be lacking. Of course we cannot always judge by the outward appearance, as there are outward forms and expressions of love without the heart. So sometimes mercy is extended without the real spirit of mercy prompting it. Sometimes it is to be seen through the recognition of a principle without a sympathy with that principle. The true Christian learns in the school of Christ not only of his imperfections and his need of divine mercy, but having found that mercy and having entered the school of Christ it becomes one of the most important lessons he can learn to extend similar mercy toward others. The Apostle declares that “Mercy rejoices against Judgment”—against the execution of justice. (James. 2:13.) Strange as it may appear, those who have most need of mercy for themselves appear usually to be the ones least ready to accord mercy to the failures of others.

Contrariwise, those who grow most in the spirit of the Lord grow proportionately merciful and compassionate. Some of the Lord’s people have more to overcome in this direction than have others, and may therefore show less development in proportion to their efforts; but the thought should be continually before the minds of all that it is very unbecoming for those who themselves have need of divine mercy to be sticklers in the last degree in their requirements of justice for others, in their refusal to exercise mercy toward others. Not only so, but this lesson which our Lord so frequently emphasized he intensified when he said, You do not from the heart forgive those who trespass against you, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.

… Our mercy must be more than formal, more than an outward forgiveness and reconciliation—it must be from the heart, sincere. In proportion, therefore, as we each realize our need of divine mercy through Jesus, in that same proportion let us be very merciful to others—especially toward the brethren and all who in any sense or degree demonstrate their desire for righteousness.

“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART”

The word pure is very comprehensive—without adulteration, sincere, unsullied. No member of the human family is by nature in this condition. On the contrary, the Scriptures assure us that the heart of the natural man is exceedingly deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9.) The heart in this text and in general conversation is used not as the name of one of the organs of the human system, but as indicating the inner mind, will, intention of the person. As originally created man was the image of God, and hence was then pure in heart, sincere, honest, truthful, perfect-intentioned; but, by reason of disobedience, sin and selfishness have been developed in the human heart and will, and the God-like qualities originally there have been to a considerable degree obliterated. Hence it is that those who become the Lord’s people are said to have a new heart, a new will, new ambitions, new desires. Where the conversion from sin to righteousness is thorough it is truthfully said, “Old things have passed away, all things have become new.”—2 Cor. 5:17.

To accomplish so radical a change of will, of intention, requires a powerful influence. It may be of fear and it may be of love, but we are assured that the results of fear are imperfect, and that only love produces the lasting, perfect, acceptable conditions. Fear may have to do with the beginning of a change of heart, but it certainly cannot carry the conversion to completion, for, as the Scriptures declare, “Fear hath torment,” and the peace of God cannot rule in the heart that is subject to such distress. (1 John 4:18.) Hence the Scriptures set before us the heart conversion which results from the knowledge of God and love for him, saying, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” and again assuring us that “perfect love casteth out fear.”Mark 12:30; 1 John 4:18.

Our Lord’s words intimate that there may be various degrees of impurity of heart, and so we find it: there are some who at heart are really black, devilish; others are drab or gray or speckled. But the Lord singles out the kind of heart that would be acceptable to the Father—the pure in heart. We are all witnesses that we could not claim purity of heart, of intention, of motive, of desire for very many of our friends and neighbors of Christendom, and that so far as we know in the heathen world the proportion would be still fewer. Yet the intimation of our text is that only such as attain to heart purity can hope ever to see God, to enjoy this evidence of his love.

But lest some should be discouraged through supposing that purity of heart means absolute perfection of thought and word and deed, we hasten to correct that thought and to point out that the intention is not always supported by the words and conduct. To will right, to will perfectly, to be [R3735 : page 74] pure in heart, is quite possible, yea, quite necessary to all who would have divine approval; yet how to perform all that they will is sometimes beyond the ability of the Lord’s most earnest followers. The new will, the new heart, must act and speak through the medium of the old body, whose affections are continually in opposition and must be battled against. Hence so long as we are in the flesh, so long as we are obliged to reason, speak and act through the imperfect medium of our fallen flesh, that long will we have need of the merit of Christ to continually cover its blemishes; that thus the new will, the new heart and not the flesh, may be judged of the Lord and tested as to its worthiness or unworthiness of the eternal life and blessings which he has proffered us.

How precious the thought, then, that we may attain to absolute purity of intention, of love, etc., toward all mankind as well as toward the Lord, and that God will thus accept us in his Beloved One, not counting to us the unintentional weaknesses and blemishes which we realize and which others realize perhaps still more than we. How blessed the thought that such will see God, that such have the clearest views of God’s character and plan now, that such shall see him shortly when changed in the resurrection, when they shall have awakened in the likeness of their dear Redeemer.

BLESSED THE PEACEMAKERS

Never was there a time when this statement of our Lord deserved more consideration than at present. We live at a time when envy and strife are in evidence on every hand, amongst all classes, amongst nations, in politics, in business, in homes and families, in nominal churches and amongst the fully consecrated of the true Church. The tendency toward strife is evidently somewhat associated with the strenuous times in which we live; but all the more those who are true members of the body of Christ are to remember the Scriptural injunction, “Follow peace with all men;” and again, “Be at peace amongst yourselves.” (Heb. 12:14; 1 Thess. 5:13.) Some of the best people in the world have the organ of combativeness large, but proportionately they need to have love to control it, so that they shall combat only those things which are evil and injurious, so that they shall think generously, kindly, lovingly of all who take a different view of matters; and while standing always firm for principle, they should take note of the fact that principle enters into remarkably few of their conflicts, contentions, etc.

Each of the Lord’s children should be learning day by day to cultivate the fruits and graces of the holy Spirit, amongst which prominently are patience, long-suffering, [R3736 : page 74] brotherly kindness, love. These things dwelling in us and abounding we shall be more and more pleasing to the Lord and able to assist others in the same direction—to be peacemakers. For who can properly be a peacemaker who is not himself at heart a peace lover?

There seems to be in the majority of humanity a contentious streak, which not only leads the possessor to be quarrelsome and contentious, irritable and irritating to others, but additionally this trait seems in many to be inclined to stir up disturbances in others, when the first principle of decency—minding one’s own businesswould be favorable to peace. As the Lord’s people more and more come to realize the selfishness and quarrelsomeness which the whole world has inherited through sin and depravity, and how this is all opposed to the Spirit of the Lord and of meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, love, they should not only strive to develop peace in their own hearts and lives but to be peacemakers amongst men.

“Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Yes, truly, the peace lovers, peace promoters, manifest that in this particular at least they are the possessors of the holy Spirit—the Spirit of God. Let us not only merit this title, sons of God, now amongst men who, seeing our good works and peaceable dispositions, will glorify our Father in heaven on this behalf, but let us by the continued cultivation of this same quality of love, under the guidance of the great Redeemer, merit the distinction of being sons of God on a higher plane in the Kingdom.

BLESSED THE PERSECUTED

Not all the persecuted, but merely the persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Many bring upon themselves persecutions for foolishness’ sake and for being busybodies in other men’s affairs. Let us heed the Apostle’s word along this line and avoid persecutions or sufferings for evil doing of any kind; but, as again it is declared, if any man suffer as a Christian let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Pet. 4:16.) It is well, too, that we preserve in this matter as in all others the spirit of a sound mind. There are, for instance, some that evidently imagine themselves persecuted when really they are very kindly treated, and are the victims of their own morbid imaginations. The Lord’s people should be so filled with the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude and appreciation that they would be in no danger of erring in this matter. They should be so generous in their thoughts of the motives and intentions of their friends and neighbors that they would be in no danger of misapprehending them and feeling persecuted by those who are really their well-wishers.

As perfect love casts out fear, so also it casts out these false impressions of evil doing or intention toward us. The benevolent heart, full of love for others, will rather prefer to suppose that slights are unintentional oversights, or to put some other similar good construction upon the conduct of their friends, only yielding to an appreciation of persecution when its intention is unmistakable. Even then it should think generously of the persecutor, realize his share in the fall and be disposed to pray for those who despitefully use them and persecute them. Blessed are such ones who thus hold to righteousness and the spirit of love toward their enemies and persecutors, and who may be sure, therefore, that they are being persecuted for their fidelity to truth and righteousness and not for personal idiosyncrasies and peculiarities. Blessed are they, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven. The Lord is looking for those who are so faithful to the principles of righteousness that they will exercise it toward their enemies even when being persecuted by them and on its account. If the Kingdom of heaven is for such it is assuredly but a little flock. Let us strive the more diligently to be of that little flockto make our calling and election sure.

REVILED FOR CHRIST’S SAKE

The Lord’s people are not to revile [criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner] each other or anybody under any circumstances, but are to remember that they are pupils, followers of him who when reviled reviled not [R3736 : page 75] again. Whatever evil others may say or insinuate about us we must be faithful to our Teacher and not return evil for evil, reviling for reviling, nor insinuation for insinuation, but contrariwise must speak evil of no man and be pleased to notice and to mention any good qualities which even our enemies may possess.

Our Lord’s words, however, warrant us in expecting that those who will be faithful to him will share his experiences of being evil spoken of. With his words before our minds we should not be surprised at false charges and false insinuations made against his true followers, and that in proportion to their prominence as his servants and followers. The expression, “all manner of evil,” is very comprehensive, while “for his sake,” is worthy of notice. It does not imply that those who strike with the fist or weapon or tongue and who shoot out arrows, even bitter words, will say, We do this to you for Christ’s sake and because you are one of his. We have never heard of any one persecuted in that manner along those lines, and this cannot therefore be what the Lord meant.

What he did mean evidently is that his followers, like himself, honorable, moderate, possessing the spirit of a sound mind, truthful, honest, virtuous, would naturally be highly esteemed amongst the Scribes and Pharisees, the nominally good; they would have a high place, were it not for their fidelity to the Lord and to his Word. Because of loyalty to truths contradictory of popular errors, because of their faithfulness to the Word of the Lord, they are unpopular, and, like the Master, are hated by those prominent in Churchianity. These conditions bring a double test:

(1) They test the adherents of Churchianity along the lines of the Golden Rule, and when they speak evil through malice, through hatred, through strife, through opposition, they are judging themselves, condemning themselves under the Golden Rule, for well they know that they would not wish others thus to speak evil of them;—either through malice or a concocted lie or through hearsay.

(2) It becomes a test also to the faithful ones—Are they willing to endure these persecutions and oppositions cheerfully as a part of the cost of being the Lord’s disciples? If under the pressure they yield and revile in return, and slander and backbite, they are proving themselves unworthy of a place in the Kingdom. If on the other hand they receive these lessons and experiences with patience and long-suffering, these serve to develop in them more and more of the character-likeness of their Redeemer and tend the more to fit and prepare them for a share with him in his glorious Kingdom. Our Lord’s assurance is that those who are thus tested and who stand such a test will have the greater reward in heaven, and reminds them that similar persecutions from the Lord’s professed people came to all the holy prophets of the past.

THE SALT OF THE EARTH

The declarations, “Ye are the salt of the earth,” and “the light of the world,” may be very properly applied to such of the Lord’s followers as give heed to his teachings and cultivate the blessed states he has described foregoing. All such blessed ones in proportion as they have attained such conditions are indeed the salt of the earth and the light of the world. As salt is useful in arresting decomposition, so the influence of these, though they be few in the world, is preservative. Looking back along the aisles of history, we can see that a good influence extended from the Law Covenant God made with Israel.

As the Jews scattered more or less amongst other nationalities they carried with them more or less clear conceptions of the divine standards as represented in the Law, and these wherever they went had a preservative and corrective influence amongst men. But it was Jesus and his higher Law of Love, exemplified in his own life and in the lives of his apostles and all his followers, who became the real salt of the earth, in a period when without it we know not what might have been the result. As it is not only the spot upon which the candle or lamp rests that is enlightened by it, but as the rays extend out in every direction, so is the influence extending from every true Christian. It touches not merely his own person or home but to some extent radiates throughout his vicinity. Similarly it is not merely the spot that is touched by the lump of salt that is preserved, but the influence of that lump spreads over a considerable space round about it, and all with preservative influence.

At the time of our Lord’s first advent the world was in a condition in which it would probably have hastened to degeneracy and corruption, but the introduction of the body of Christ and the beneficial influence extending from each member of that body were potent for the arrest of the demoralizing tendency of the times. The light which shone out from Jesus, the Light of the world, and from his followers, had undoubtedly a beneficial effect upon the then center of the civilized world. That influence is still manifest in so-called Christendom. And even today, although the truly consecrated believers in the great Redeemer are confessedly very few in number, yet the general influence, the saltiness from the teachings of the Savior, exercise a wide influence throughout Christendom. Without this, doubtless, corruption and a complete collapse would have come long ago. In spite of it we see very corrupting and corrupt influences at work in every direction and the wider our horizon, [R3737 : page 75] the more general our information, the more this fact will be appreciated.

Before very long we expect that all of the overcoming members of the body of Christ will be changed, glorified, and the body completed on the other side the vail will be without members on this side. The lights will have gone and the darkness will hold fuller sway than ever; the salt will be gone and the corruption will take hold swiftly, and the result will be the great time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.

Meantime we are to let our lights shine and thus to glorify the Father, whether men heed or forbear to heed; we are to exercise our salt or preservative influence, our influence for righteousness and truth, whether men hear or forbear, though we clearly see that it is not God’s purpose to enlighten the world through the Church in its present humble position. The matter will test us and prove whether or not we are worthy to be members of the glorified body of Christ, which shortly shall shine forth as the Sun in the glory of the Father, and enlighten the whole world in a manner with which our little lamps of the present time will in no sense compare. [R3737 : page 76]

HO, PRODIGAL RETURN!

“Return, return! thy Father’s voice is pleading,
Thy robe is rent, thy tender feet are bleeding,
Return, my child: a welcome here awaits thee:
Resist the cruel tempter that belates thee,

“Return, return! Thy Father’s loving-kindness
Yet in his touch is healing for thy blindness,
Return in all thy rags of sin’s defilement;
Thy Father’s voice bespeaks his reconcilement:

“Return, return! Thy substance hath been wasted—
Yet art thou longing for the bread once tasted,
Return, for why shouldst thou delay the pardon
Arise and go, before thy doubts shall harden

“Return, return! Leave thou the swine and famine
Why dost thou toil among the husks of mammon,
Return thou to his arms, his kiss, his blessing,
After thy sinfulness and guilt confessing,

“Return, return! The angel-hosts bend o’er thee—
They have beheld the Savior dying for thee,
Return, for he will heal all thy backsliding—
Come, weary soul, rest in his love abiding, 

====================

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/09/10/1-corinthians-32123-a-precious-very-great-promise/

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

Wondrous Grace – Hymns of Dawn No. 21

Wondrous Grace – Hymns of Dawn No. 21

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 21 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Lyrics

1.
Behold, what wondrous grace
The Father hath bestowed
On members of a fallen race,
To make them sons of God.

2.
By His dear Son redeemed,
By grace then purified;
What favor that we should be named
For Christ’s joint heir and bride!

3.
Nor doth it yet appear
How great we must be made;
But when we see our Saviour here,
We shall be like our Head.

4.
A hope so much divine
May trials well endure;
May purify our souls from sin,
As Christ, The Lord, is pure.

5.
Now in our Father’s love
We share a filial part;
He grants the spirit from above
To dwell within each heart.

6.
We can no longer lie
Like slaves beneath the throne;
Our hearts now Abba, Father, cry,
And He the kindred owns.

*******

 

The History Of This Hymn

Author Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Verse 2 in the “Hymns of Dawn” is not contained in the lyrics written by Isaac Watts and could not be found in any other Hymnal other than in the Hymns of Dawn.

ComposerNo information. From a Google search, the earliest record of the same tune as contained in the Hymns of Dawn, has been found in the “Songs for Social and Public Worship” published in 1863, on page 144.  Another tune arrangement (nearly identical to the “Hymns of Dawn” score) is found in “Every Sabbath: A new collection of music adapted to the wants and capacities of Sunday-Schools, the home circle, and devotional gatherings,” page 147 Hymn No. 145a published in 1874

 

*******

 

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

John 1:11-13 (ESV)—(11) He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Acts 15:10, 11 (ESV) — “(10) Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (11) But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Romans 3:23, 24 (NIV) — “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Roman 5:1-2 (KJV) — “(1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:13, 14 (ESV) — “(13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (14) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

2 Corinthians 6:1 — “(1) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Ephesians 2:8, 9 (ESV) — “(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, (9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV) — “(11) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, (12) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Hebrews 4:16 (KJV) — “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 3:1-3 (KJV) — “(1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (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.”

*******

The words below are from Reprint No. 2283, from the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

“BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED.”

EPHESIANS-2-8-9.jpg

“For the grace of God that bringeth [leads to] salvation hath been manifested for all men—teaching us that renouncing ungodly desires we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age, waiting for the blessed hope, even the glorious manifestation of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto himself a peculiar people, devoted to good works.”Titus 2:11-14.

[Note: The definition of “renouce” (or “say no to”— NIV Bible): formally declare one’s abandonment of (a claim, right, or possession). Synonyms: reject, refuse to abide by, refuse to recognize, desert, discard, disown, cut off, cast off, lay aside, refuse to fulfil, invalidate, nullify, disclaim, repudiate (which means reject, divorce from, refuse to accept).] 

“GRACE, ’tis a charming sound,” sang the poet, nor did he exaggerate; for to all who have learned the true meaning of divine grace, that word, like the word “gospel,” is a synonym for all the divine mercies which God’s people may now or ever enjoy…

The word grace signifies favor—particularly unmerited [not deserved] favor. Acts of grace are thus to be clearly distinguished from acts of justice and from obligations… Every testimony to the effect that God is extending his “grace” to humanity or to the Church is a testimony to their unworthiness to justly demand those favors or blessings.

The spirit of the world in general is that of self-sufficiency and independence; following their own wisdom and lacking the instruction and wisdom from above, the worldly-wise regard themselves with complacency; they believe themselves to be quite sufficiently righteous to merit a good deal of divine blessing and reward: true, they admit also that they have imperfections, but these they expect to pay for to the full according to some law of divine retribution. Hence they are undisposed to look for or to accept pardon, forgiveness, justification through the great sacrifice for sins which God has provided… And so they regard all of the laws governing humanity as merciless, graceless—strictly just.

The Scripture presentation of the matter does not overlook the law of retribution—that sin of any kind, the transgression of any law, will surely bring its penalty, whoever may be the sinner and whatever may be the conditions. And the propositions respecting divine grace, rightly understood, are not in conflict with this universal law of retribution: the proposition of grace is … not to prevent the wages of sin from following transgression, but to succor the repentant who desire to reform, and to help him back to divine favor and full recovery, along the lines of strictest justice;—by a willing ransom-price.

And since this succor is wholly unmerited on man’s part and without just obligation on God’s part, it is purely of divine favor—”grace.” Indeed, if it were not for sin and its retributive punishments, there would be no room for grace: it is man’s necessity for grace that constitutes the divine opportunity for its exercise. Grace, however, operates in harmony with the divine laws, and not in violation of them.

Remembering that divine grace signifies God’s unmerited mercy and favor, let us examine its operation in the light of Scripture:—

(1) The first movement of divine grace toward mankind was the exercise of benevolence, love and compassion toward mankind in his fallen and sinful condition. There was nothing in man to merit this compassion and sympathy; quite to the contrary: we were aliens from God and enemies of his righteous rule through wicked works,—the depravity wrought in us through sin voluntarily committed by father Adam.

(2) It was in harmony with this thought of grace on God’s part, or, as we might term it, God’s gracious plan, that he revealed something respecting his purpose of ransom and restitution to father Abraham;—thus preaching first, beforehand, to him the good tidings of a coming blessing or grace, saying, “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blest.” Abraham, and others who believed God, rejoiced in mind under the influence of this gracious promise—altho even the beginning of its fulfilment was still nearly two thousand years off.

(3) The third step of grace was in the great gift of divine love, our Lord Jesus Christ. It included the gracious arrangement made with the only begotten Son of God, on account of which he joyfully laid aside his heavenly glories and conditions and humbled himself in death as the ransom or substitute for the first Adam and thus incidentally a “ransom for all” [1 Timothy 2:6] the race of Adam.

(4) It was a fourth step of grace when God, having determined to select a Church, a “little flock,” to be heirs of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ their Lord, in the dispensing of the divine favors or grace, promised through Abraham, began the work of selecting this Church—receiving at Pentecost the first installment, from the house of servants into the house of sons and joint-heirs. (John 1:12,13.) Altho tests were applied to those received into the family of sons, and altho character qualifications were imposed upon them and will be imposed upon all who will be called and accepted to this high calling [Philippians 3:14], nevertheless this also was a step of grace, because there were no obligations resting upon God to confer upon us such a “high calling,such “riches of his grace in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

(5) Throughout this Gospel age the same grace has been in operation doing a twofold work; (a) justifying repentant believers from the guilt of their moral obliquity, and giving them thus a standing before God in Christ’s imputed righteousness;—thus making them eligible to the “high calling” to divine sonship and to joint-heirship in God’s Kingdom to come, and (b) then extending to them that “high calling,” inviting them through the divine Word to become the “very elect.” True, there are conditions imposed, and not all the many “called” will be among the few “chosen;” but nevertheless it is an inestimable privilege to be “called” and to have put within our grasp the opportunity and all the needful helps, whereby we may make our calling and election sure.

(6) The grace of God will still further be manifested when the “elect” Church shall all have been sought, found, tried, disciplined, and “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;” for the blessings which will be conferred upon this glorified Church will not only be such as were not merited, such therefore as were not of obligation upon God’s part, but according to the divine testimony they will be additionally great, super-abounding in grace, “exceedingly abundantly more than we know how to ask or expect;” for “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath in reservation for those that love him.”1 Cor. 2:9.

(7) Even then, God’s grace will not have exhausted itself;—even after having thus honored and blessed and exalted the Church, the body of Christ, whose only merit consisted first in an honest confession of sin and an acceptance of the divine favor, and second, in their “reasonable service” in rendering their lives in obedience to him who bought them and in and through whom the divine graces were extended.

Then divine grace will begin to be fully manifested—then all shall see it, all shall know it, and all who will may share it; for then will begin the glorious [R2284] “times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”the Millennial age of a thousand years; the time when the knowledge of the Lord shall graciously be caused to fill the whole earth; the time when all the sin-blinded eyes shall be opened; the time when all the prisoners of the pit (death) shall come forth, that they may be instructed in righteousness. Then, according to the grace of the divine promise, he who redeemed the world shall judge the world in righteousness, a trial, an opportunity, that whosoever will, with a knowledge of sin and its penalty, and with a knowledge of righteousness and its rewards, with a knowledge of the goodness and grace of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, may then stand trial and be judged as to whether they will receive God’s grace and its provisions of eternal life, or whether they will reject these and die the second death.

Here we behold the wonderful steps of grace. No one can intelligently believe in divine grace who holds the theory of evolution or any other theory of salvation than the Scriptural one, which recognizes man’s original creation in the divine likeness, his fall into sin and death, his redemption therefrom by the death of our Redeemer, and his hope for recovery through divine grace extended now to the Church and to be extended by and by through the Church (under Christ its Head) to all the families of the earth.

Coming now to consider present manifestations of divine grace toward the Church, we note that many professed followers of the Lord fail … to appreciate this grace which it is their privilege to enjoy. This is attributable largely to false teaching and preaching… For instance, how common it is for people to hear and to believe that if they “do right” they will have divine rewards at the end of life’s race; but if they “do wrong” they shall have divine punishment at the end of the race. Such views ignore grace entirely…

If we are to be punished in proportion to our shortcomings and rewarded for our obedient deeds, where would be the grace? Where would be the mercy? Where would be the necessity of a Savior, a sin-offering, an atonement and a reconciliation with God? Where would be the peace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? None of these mercies and blessings can be rightly recognized except as the grace of God (his unmerited favor) is seen in them.

The fact is that the divine standard of righteousness is much higher than men generally understand: with God righteousness is synonymous with perfection; and hence “all unrighteousness [all imperfection, however or whenever or wherever]—is [a proof of] sin. Thus all men are proved to be sinners,—because all are imperfect, un-right. And the divine law is that the sinner, the wrongdoer, the un-right, the imperfect, shall not live. “The wages of sin is death.” Whoever [R2285] understands this can see at once that man’s only hope of eternal life lies not in his own perfection, but in divine mercy, grace.

But, says someone, That is not a fair statement of the case. God made me as I am, imperfect; and justice requires that he shall not demand of me an impossible perfection, nor punish me for weaknesses and imperfections beyond my control. Such reasoning implies a misunderstanding of the case. It is a mistake to assume that God made us imperfect. All “his work is perfect.” (Deut. 32:4; Psa. 18:30; Matt. 5:48.) He neither created idiots nor other physical and mental malformations of humanity, but, as the Scriptures declare, we were “born in sin and shapen in iniquity—in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Our blemishes come to us from our parents, not from God.

The Scriptures not only point out to us father Adam’s sinless perfection, saying that he was created in the image of God, but they plainly declare that it was by his disobedience that the divine sentence of death passed upon him and passed as an inheritance, a legacy of evil, to his offspring, saying, “By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world and death as a result of sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all are sinners [imperfect].” Truly also, “The fathers have eaten a sour grape [disobedience] and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”Rom. 5:12,17-19; Jer. 31:29; Ezek. 18:2.

The very basis of all our hopes, then, is this grace of God, operating toward us through Jesus Christ our Lord. God’s grace does not subvert or set aside God’s law, however, and he who would rightly appreciate and use the divine grace should recognize this fact. God’s grace was not intended to frustrate the spirit of his own law: it was not intended to clear the guilty, the wilful transgressor. It acknowledges the divine law, attests its justice, and has fully met its requirements in the person and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on behalf of Adam and all his race involved in his transgression and his penalty—death. Hence it was that “Christ died, the just for the unjust” in order “that God might be just and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”

The only condition upon which God’s grace is offered is:

  • our acknowledgment of our sin, weakness and imperfection,
  • a sorrow for these and
  • a repentance and
  • reformation to the extent of our ability and
  • an acceptance of Christ Jesus as the personification of divine grace.

Upon no other condition can we step into this grace of God or walk in its way and inherit its rewards.

And even after we have received Christ and God’s grace in him, and are no longer recognized as strangers, aliens to God, but sons, as servants of righteousness and no longer servants of sin, being imperfect, we are not free from blemishes of word, thought and deed; yet, God’s grace … continues with us to cover our blemishes until perfected in the resurrection. Under its provisions whatever is contrary to our wills, and purely the result of hereditary weakness, may be forgiven; and our obliquity and blameworthiness be gauged only by the measure of wilfulness or assent connected with the wrongdoing. Nevertheless, to some extent, chastisements or natural penalties for violations of law may be expected: but to those under grace these will come as helps by the way, causing them more and more to detest sin, as corrections in righteousness, as chastisements and disciplines for their blessing. And even these sure penalties may be to some extent ameliorated in accordance with the wisdom of our great High priest, who, having borne all our sins in his own body on the tree, is freely empowered to abate for us so much of the penalty of our misdeeds as grace may be able to cover as un-wilful [accidental, not deliberate] transgressions.

There is a disposition in our day, as there was a disposition in the days of the apostles, for those who have once accepted of divine forgiveness, the grace of God through Christ, to turn aside therefrom and to attempt to justify themselves by works. Even while first experiences were those of humble dependence upon divine mercy, subsequent experiences sometimes lead to the rejection of the grace that at first was so thankfully received. The Apostle wrote to some thus affected, saying, “Christ has become of none effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4.)

Judged from this same standard, how many Christians today have backslidden—fallen from grace—lost the trust in the merit of the precious blood and in divine favor extended to us through the great atonement sacrifice. Now, as then, the disposition is to trust to works of our own righteousness, which … our own consciences should prove to us are imperfect, “filthy rags” unfit and unable to cover us. Yes, we need a covering before we could in any manner or degree hope to be acceptable to God, and this covering of our imperfections with the imputed righteousness of Christ, is another statement of the grace of God extended to us. This tendency to depart from a recognition of God’s grace in Christ as our only hope for eternal life, and to take instead a hope of being able to walk righteously and to do justly, and thus to merit eternal life, is what the Apostle very properly calls “another gospel”a false gospel.—Gal. 1:6.

This thought of the divine grace as the basis of all our mercies is interwoven with all the promises of God’s Word. Thus the Apostle speaks of the gracious plan of God, and Christ as the exponent of that plan as “the grace of God and the gift by grace.”Rom. 5:15.

Our approach to God in prayer is spoken of as an approach, not to the throne of justice and equity, but as an approach to “the throne of grace,” where “we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need.”Heb. 4:16.

Hebrews-4-16.jpg

Again we are exhorted that our hearts be established in grace; and again told that unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of our faith; and again the Apostle declares of himself, “By the grace of God I am what I am” [1 Corinthians 15:10].

According to the testimony of our text this grace is general, for ALL men,” and must therefore ultimately in some manner or other be extended to all men,—the dead as well as the living. The translation of our Common Version is manifestly faulty here; all men, even in this most enlightened day of the world’s history, have not yet beheld God’s grace in any degree, nor has it as yet brought them salvation. But since it has been provided freely for all, so ultimately it shall be extended to all, that all may avail themselves of it.

The teaching of this grace is not that we may continue in sin that grace may abound; for divine grace is intended to benefit only those who renounce sin and become servants of righteousness: and thus, as our text declares, God’s grace teaches us that we should repudiate sin and live separate from every ungodly desire, in righteousness, soberness and godlikeness. Furthermore, as our text declares, this grace of God does not claim to have reached its completeness, and to have accomplished in us and for us the grand designs of the God of all grace. On the contrary, it teaches us to WAIT for the consummation of this grace until the glorious manifestation of the Son of God in the majesty and power of his Kingdom, to unite his Church with himself as his Bride and joint heir, the channel of mercies and blessings through which God’s grace shall flow to all the groaning creation.—Rom. 8:18-22; 11:31.

“RECEIVE NOT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.”

“We then as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”2 Cor. 6:1.

This exhortation is addressed to such as have already recognized God’s gracious character and the gift [R2285] of his grace toward mankind,—the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The Apostle has just been explaining this matter of how God’s grace had provided a reconciliation; “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them [but unto him who died for them]. He declares himself an ambassador on behalf of God to declare this grace and exhorts his readers not only to accept of God’s grace in the forgiveness of sins through Christ, but additionally that they also should become fully reconciled or completely in harmony with the Lord, as would be represented by full consecration to him and his service, after the example of the Apostle himself.

We take it that this exhortation of our text is the equivalent of the same apostle’s exhortation elsewhere, namely, “I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God [already brethren because already believers in Christ and partakers through him of divine grace], that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”Rom. 12:1.

The Apostle was here urging progress on the part of the believers, advancement from “justification by faith” to the next higher step in divine grace and privilege,—full consecration even unto death, in response to the “call” to joint-heirship with Christ in his Kingdom,—to suffer with him in the present time, and to reign with him by and by in glory. These two steps are contrasted by the same Apostle, who says of himself and others who had taken both steps, (1) “Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2) “By whom also [additionally] we have access by faith into this [further] grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of [sharing] the glory of God.”Rom. 5:1,2. [R2286]

In our text the Apostle distinctly implies the possibility that some may receive the grace of God in vain—to no purpose.  We see from the connection as we have examined it, that he refers to the grace of God in justification, the forgiveness of our sins, and not to the second step of grace, our acceptance to the new nature through the begetting of the spirit. This implies, therefore, that the only object of justification by faith in this present age, is to give us a footing, a standing of acceptableness with God, from which we may be able to advance and take the second step of self-sacrifice, and become joint-heirs with Christ in his Kingdom. Nevertheless, this first step and all the privileges and blessings connected with it would be “in vain,”profitless to us, if we fail to take the second step, the particular feature of the divine plan which belongs to this Gospel age.

We are not to add to the Word of God, and to say that to receive justification in vain (by not making use of it to progress to a complete consecration and newness of nature) would mean eternal torment, or even the second death: we are simply to understand it as it reads, that the intention of the grace of justification, the first step, being to qualify us for the second step, those who fail to take the second step will have no particular benefit accrue to them from the first step, which would thus have been taken in vain, profitlessly, without permanent results and advantages.

… Only those who take the “narrow way” will gain any prize offered during this Gospel age, which is specifically the age set apart for the development of the “royal priesthood,” devoted to good works—to self-sacrifices in the service of the Lord and his cause. Indeed, there is only one prize and one hope of our calling during this age—the other prize and other hope and other call will be in the age to come. We cannot therefore expect that any who take the first step of faith in Christ, and who are therefore temporarily justified because of their faith, will have a reward for a faith which did not work by love. The faith that works by love speedily goes on to full consecration and self-sacrifice, and is a sure indication of the kind the Lord is seeking for his “little flock,” the “royal priesthood,” the “joint-heirs.” The faith, therefore, which refuses to work by love, cannot be considered an acceptable faith in God’s sight. Nor can we expect that this class will be counted worthy to share in the earthly phase of the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets.

… While not favored with the “high calling” to the divine nature and jointheirship with Christ, because this “call” was not yet due to be proclaimed, nevertheless, these ancient worthies manifested a faith and a trust in the Lord and his promises which worked, and by their works manifested a love for the Lord and a loyalty to him which did not hesitate to sacrifice reputation, wealth and life itself, in obedience to the principles of righteousness revealed to them… [R2286]

A much misunderstood text respecting grace is the one used as a caption for this article, namely, “By grace are ye saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8.) The erroneous thought given by many is that our faith is not our own faith, not of our own volition, but an impartation, a gift from God. Of course, in one sense every gift and blessing which we enjoy is indirectly if not directly from God; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17.) But the proper understanding of the Apostle’s words, we believe, is this: It is of God’s grace and not of personal merit on our part that salvation is offered to us; and altho that salvation is offered to us as a reward of faith (including true faith’s obedience), yet we cannot even boast respecting our faith as tho it merited the Lord’s favor,—for our faith is something which is the indirect result of divine providence also; there are millions of others in the world who might exercise just as much faith as we if they had been favored of God with as much light, intelligence, knowledge, as a basis of faith: hence our faith is not to be credited as a meritorious condition but we are to be thankful to God for it, for the circumstances and conditions which have made it possible for us to exercise faith are of his grace.

====================

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:

The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/
The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

  • Br. Charles Taze Russell

IMG_1071

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated-to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn—the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA

——-

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

 

Suggested Further Reading

Debtors To His Marvelous Grace, by J.J. Blackburn. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, July/August 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_4.htm#_Toc36907878

The Foreshadowing of Grace, by F.A. Essler. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine, January/February 1986.
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1986_1.htm#_Toc36905444

A Special Calling by Br. David Rice. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July /August 2016.
https://herald-magazine.com/2016/07/01/the-bride-class/

The Bride and the Bridegroom by Br. Carl Hagensick. A Verse-by-verse Study of Psalm 45. The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom. July/August 2004.
http://www.heraldmag.org/2004/04ja_4.htm

A Chaste VirginThe Herald of Christ’s Kingdom.
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/chliv_38.htm

His Loving Kindness – Hymns of Dawn No. 19
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/19/his-loving-kindness-hymns-of-dawn-no-19/

Awake My Soul — Hymns of Dawn No. 20
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/27/awake-my-soul-hymns-of-dawn-no-20/

The Sacrifice
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/01/05/the-sacrifice/

Give Thanks In All Circumstances
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/01/03/1-thessalonians-518-thankfulness/

The Truth About Hell. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/hell.htm

Hope Beyond the Grave. A Dawn Bible Association Publication. http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/grave.htm

Christ and His Bride. BIBLE Students DAILY.
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/25/christ-and-his-bride/

Our Beliefs — What Does the Bible Teach Us?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/beliefs/

Bible Students’ Links and Bible Study Resources
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/category/links/

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/07/25/wondrous-grace-hymns-of-dawn-no-21/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

Tears of Joy – A Thanksgiving Offering To God

(7) In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (8) Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (9) And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:7-9, ESV).

psalm-126-5-biblestudentsdaily2.jpg

Beloved Brethren, dear friends:

This testimony sonnet is for you written,
For praise to God, through Christ who was smitten,
To comfort those mourning for righteousness sake—
Suffer for Christ, your election sure to make!

Some still remain who need to hear,
For ’tis not too late with Christ to share.
With fortitude and strength divine from above,
Present on the altar every labour of love.

Let us, begotten of Him, overcome the world,
Layer upon layer of character, impearled.
Should this cause many a tear to flow,
It will be mingled with Christ-like joys, we know.

Often, when the head is bowed low,
And tears in anguish like a waterfall flow,
With no courage in self, nothing good within,
“Depend on God for mercy and grace,” we sing.

Dead to the world, we feed the New Mind,
Sharing God’s precious Truth with various kind.
Could we keep the promises of the glorious Word,
Only for self? Letting God’s Plan be unheard?

As we trumpet Christ’s Millennium soon to come,
As ambassadors, sharing the hope now to some,
Opposing us the world, flesh, and devil, these three,
From these tempters let our conduct be free.

If told to stop sharing the Kingdom to come,
Booklets or tracts dust-binned by some,
Rejoice, dear pilgrim, keep carrying your cross,
Even if those served count your words as but dross.

Why should we flee, terrified of man, when reviled?
Is not this a test for those reconciled?
All previous instruction through God’s Holy Scriptures,
Helps us in such moments to be counted as victors!

Are not these trials the opportunities prayed for,
Without them, what testimony of sonship, and more?
The answer may follow through unbidden tears.
How God’s mercy does strengthen us through these carnal years.

Are not tribulations what our Lord has forewarned?
It would cost, the consecrated, all that we owned!
To be worthy of belonging to Christ alone,
Means sharing his sufferings, to the world unknown.

God understands the sum of your tears perfectly,
Each drop in a jar labelled “shame,” mournfully,
Others fallen to one labelled “ridicule and scorn,”
But Christ’s name on our foreheads, will forever be worn!

Those who sow in tears for righteousness now,
Shall reap fullness of joy when fulfilled is our vow.
When, later, the Truth floods each heart and mind,
Then your clay jar of tears, will Christ to them remind.

If your tears have been your meat, both day and night,
Rejoice in afflictions, walking in Christ’s light.
They prepare you for glory beyond all comparison,
Patiently accept them, kindly, like a good Samaritan.

As we continue for Jesus, representing his cause,
Man cannot stop us declaring, even through closed doors.
As martyred for Truth’s sake were the apostles, but John,
Through tears may your trumpeting “ALL FOR JESUS” go on!

Put your trust in Jehovah to overcome all fears,
Our Master in Gethsemane, offered loud cries and tears!
Jesus was heard for his reverence, by One above who all sees,
Things misinterpreted by man — so please be at ease.

It is our Heavenly Father whom we are to please,
If dimly considered by even friends, and trustees,
Job’s friends gave him scorn, while he “poureth out … unto God,”
So you, put your confidence, in the power of His rod.

Aaron’s rod reminds us, antitypical under-priests,
Of our privilege of service, which our heavenly joys increase.
Be productive, put on the fruits of Christ-likeness,
To become heavenly “stars” in Christ’s brightness.

Recognizing in each experience a divine appointment,
Changing from glory to glory since our sanctified anointment.
Each labour to deaden all of self-will,
Leads the heaven-bound follower, God’s will to fulfil.

Now hidden in a jar, our tears soon will be no more,
When in glory and immortal, we are united with Christ.
When the Day of Sacrifice soon is complete,
Beyond the vail then gathered, all the Gospel’s true wheat.

Whom they once pierced, Israel shall finally recognize,
Accepting Christ as Messiah, no more false surmise,
Tears then of joy will stream down their face,
For God’s Spirit shall be poured upon all by His grace.

Then God shall wipe away tears from all eyes,
No longer Adamic sin will cause all to die.
With minds then brightened with Godly righteousness,
Mankind will learn, and then show, their own faithfulness.

When tears shall turn into JOY FOR ALL,
Then tears no more shall ever again fall.
Jehovah’s Universe shall eternally stand,
God’s glory will then forever expand!

*******

The below words are from “Pilgrim Echoes” (page 326-328) by Br. Benjamin Barton:

Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” Jesus did not mean, Blessed are those that mourn from the worldly standpoint, any more than he meant, Blessed are those that are poor in spirit from a worldly standpoint. There are two ways of being poor in spirit; there is the world’s way and God’s way. For instance, somebody mistreats you and you do not stand up for your rights; the world says, That man is poor in spirit. But Jesus did not mean it that way. And so the same way with this word “mourning.”

Our Redeemer did not mean, Blessed are those that mourn because they cannot own a finer house. Blessed are those who mourn because they cannot buy an automobile. Blessed are those who mourn because they cannot buy the diamond they saw in the jeweler’s window. Blessed are they that mourn because their head aches so badly. No, no, He meant, blessed are those who mourned like He mourned. How different His mourning was from that of other people.

There was something so unselfish about His mourning. You remember when He went to the tomb of Lazarus it was not for himself He was weeping. When He wept over Jerusalem He was not mourning for himself but for them. He wept as He thought how unwilling they were to praise and glorify God as they should, and what they were bringing on themselves because of their disobedience.

Then there was another occasion when He mourned in the garden of Gethsemane. You remember His tears, His strong crying. There again there was something unselfish; it was not because He had to die that He wept; He came into the world for that very purpose. He wept because of that cup He was drinking then. What was that? The cup of expectation of death? No. The Lord Jesus was so desirous that the Father should be pleased in every little point, and He realized that His ability to accomplish the work the Father entrusted to Him, the redemption of the race, depended upon His actual perfection; He realized there was no advocate to make up for His deficiencies; and it was along this line He mourned. There was nothing selfish about it.

So we way, Blessed are we if we mourn like Jesus mourned, if our mourning is unselfish. Do you mourn because you want the Lord glorified to a larger degree than people seem to want you to glorify Him? Do you mourn because you want more of the joy and peace which comes from a closer acquaintance with God and a better understanding of His Plan? Oh, that is the right mourning!

I remember a good brother in the northeast said this to me a year or so ago: Many years ago I lost a child and I thought I never would

PE327 get over it. I cried and cried until I thought I would not have any sight left; and when it was all over I made up my mind I would never cry again. Another child died, but I did not weep. My wife died but I never cried. I had a great deal of trouble on various lines and I have always been able to restrain my feelings so it was not shown outwardly. But, he said, I go to bed at night and as I think of all my weaknesses and imperfections and my inability to serve God better that I do, I cry and cry until the pillow is wet with my tears.

Oh, that was mourning like Jesus wanted us to mourn. That is the right kind of mourning. That is more in imitation of Jesus. If you mourn because you say so many things you don’t want to say, you mourn like Him. If you mourn because your hands do so many things you do not want them to do, you mourn like Jesus. If you mourn because your feet go so many places you don’t want them to go, you are mourning like Jesus. That is the way with Him. He mourned as His tongue and lips said so many things He did not want them to say.

He mourned as His hands would engage in so many works He did not want them to do. He mourned as His feet would go so many places He did not want them to go. Yes, dear friends, Jesus was continually mourning because of those things.

Why, you say, that astounds me! Do you mean to tell me that Jesus was imperfect? I thought He was perfect, I thought He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. I thought He never did anything wrong, and now you say His lips said so many things they ought not to have said, and His hands did so many things they ought not to have done, and His feet went so many places they ought not to have gone. Is that really so? Yes, friends, it is so. But Jesus was perfect in spite of all this. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. He never sinned.

Then how do you account for that seemingly inconsistent statement you have made?

Well, here it is. You know we have trouble with our lips, hands and feet, but in our case it is with our physical members in this physical body. Jesus did not have any trouble with the physical members in His physical body, but it was with His spiritual members in His mystical body. These were the members that gave Him trouble. You remember that while the Body of Christ was not organized in a certain sense until the day of Pentecost, yet in a rather preparatory sense we might speak of the apostles as composing the Body of Christ during even our Lord’s lifetime. How much these members of His Body tried the Lord Jesus! You and I have only one tongue to give us trouble, and He used to have twelve tongues that gave him trouble. There was James’, and then Peter’s,

PE328 and Judas’, and then Andrew’s tongue—Oh, how much trouble He had with His twelve tongues! It is bad enough for us to have the one. We know how much trouble it gives us. I have sometimes thought of a verse that says, “O, for a thousand tongues, to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.!” I am so thankful in God’s providence He has not inflicted a thousand tongues on me; yet if they would all sing my great Redeemer’s praise it would be all right. I would not mind it; but I am afraid that while about three of them would be singing the praise, the other nine hundred and ninety-seven would be in some kind of mischief. But we see Jesus had twelve tongues to give Him trouble, and those twelve pairs of hands that would not always do His will, and those twelve pairs of feet that wandered so frequently.

Think what that must have meant to Him. You see in a certain sense He had a similar experience to ours, only with Him it was with members of His mystical body.

But we see this must be the character of our mourning. How are we mourning? Look back over your life. You made a consecration of yourself to the Lord and what worries you to the largest degree? Is it because you are not able to buy that new piece of furniture? Or is it because you cannot be more patient under the test? Are you troubled to a larger degree because you are not able to do financially what some other people can do from the worldly standpoint? Or is your greatest trouble because you want to glorify God better? If you can answer that and say, I know it is a thousand times easier for me to bear the ordinary trials of life from a natural standpoint, it is a thousand time easier for me to miss a natural meal than to have to miss a spiritual meal; it is a great deal easier for me to be deprived of some little worldly advantage than some spiritual advantage, then you have another one of the marks of the Lord Jesus, another one of the evidences that you are one of His bond slaves. “Blessed are they that mourn.”


 

Here is an extract from an article titled “The Power of the Gospel of Christ” in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom Magazine June 1927 :-

St. Paul’s Tears of Joy and Sadness

O, how the Apostle bore the burden of the Church’s peace and tranquillity upon his heart as he languished in dungeon dampness, or spent the days in weary toil, making tents that he might continue spending and being spent in the service of the Church he loved so intensely, until he had been literally poured out as an offering on the sacrificial altar of devotion to them! And how sympathetically we may enter into his disappointments and anxieties as again and again he is reminded of the immaturity, carnality and contentiousness of so many for whom he would willingly die, as we see those burning tears of affection blinding his afflicted eyes as he laboriously pens his fervent entreaties to these bickering, factional brethren! Our tears must flow in unison with his and for the same reason that today as in his day the unity of the faith is so often marred or disrupted by the same things.

But there were bright and happy experiences mingled with St. Paul’s frequent  disappointments, oases in the way, where the seeds of truth had fallen and germinated, producing the luxuriant greenness that shone out in pleasing contrast to all the barrenness around, where the Gospel of Christ had been permitted to exercise its grace and power and make manifest its sanctifying, ennobling, maturing effects. If in writing to the Corinthians he must reprove and lament and deplore much of what he found there, not so in writing to the Thessalonian brethren. To these dear brethren he could write with the strains of our text as a sweet melody in his heart, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” He could point to these faithful brethren who had always been loyal, responsive, and reciprocative as a living testimony of the Gospel’s fruitage. We may again share with him his joy as he remembers the operations of grace in his own life, of all that “seeing Jesus” had meant to him personally, and of his energetic enthusiasm to make Him known to others; and we can enter into his joy as he writes these precious sentiments of commendation and love, “And you followed the pattern set you by us and by the Master, after you had received the message amid severe persecution, and yet with the joy which the Holy Spirit gives, so that you became a pattern to all the believers throughout Macedonia and Greece. For it was not only from you that the Master’s message sounded forth through Macedonia and Greece; but everywhere your faith in God has become known so that it is unnecessary for us to say anything about it” (1 Thessalonians 1:6-8, Weymouth). “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (Verse 3).

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, 4).

*******

“These prospective kings and priests are urged to look away from the afflictions and persecutions incidental to their sacrifice and loyalty to Christ; that they look to Jesus, the author of their faith, who is also to be its finisher; that they remember his example and what he endured and that everyone whom the Father accepts into the house of sons under this call must expect to have chastisings, disciplines and various testings of faith and obedience for the development and crystallization of character.”
(Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, R4513).

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/10/01/tears-of-joy-a-thanksgiving-offering-to-god/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

 

HAGGAI 2:7 – The Desire Of All Nations Shall Come

1.

Here is an overview of the written content from the video “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed at the link provided at the end of this post.

In recent times Television and Radio news commentators, have filled our consciousness almost daily with catastrophic events happening throughout the world. Who can forget the tragic collapse of the twin towers on November 9th, 2001, when thousands of innocent people lost their lives because of a hand full of terrorists. Earthquakes are increasing at an alarming rate all around the world, which in turn, often produce the heart wrenching scenes of Tsunamis, wiping away entire cities with tens of thousands of lives lost in Indonesia, and the more recent one in Japan. The world is plagued with terrorist attacks. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being fought not against conventional armies, but suicidal terrorists. Throughout the Middle East we see people uprising in revolt against their nations leaders. The masses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and many other countries, are held down in poverty and oppression of rights. As a result, they demanded the removal of all their corrupt leaders, and governments. Other countries are worried that terrorists or radical governments might acquire a nuclear weapon to destroy their enemies resulting in a nuclear holocaust.

Armageddon In The News

2.

These catastrophic events and increasing threats are resulting in the Medias News anchors using the term Armageddon ever more frequently. People are wondering if all this trouble is an indicator that we are approaching Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation?

In Revelation 16:13-20 (ESV) we read:

“(13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Political power under the influence of Satan], and out of the mouth of the beast [Papacy – the Roman Catholic Church], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [the Church of England and their Protestant allies]. (14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [Strongs 717 – “the hill or city of Megiddo”]. (17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. (18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. (19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

The destruction in Armageddon is highly symbolic picture language. By many, the word Armageddon has come to be misunderstood as a final great cataclysmic event that will destroy by fire the heavens and our literal planet earth, together with all remaining unbelievers. Let us explain in relation to the words of 2 Peter 3:10.

3.

This scripture is using figurative symbolic language, and should not be taken literally.

The Heavens and The Earth

4.

The heavens being destroyed couldn’t possibly be referring to the literal heaven of God’s abode or the billions upon billions of stars in the starry heavens above as in this NASA deep space shot, in which each speck of light is not a star, but a galaxy.

Nor could the destruction of the earth be referring to our literal planet earth on which we live, for notice God’s Word in Ecclesiastes 1:4.

5.

This scripture is a plain easy to understand literal statement. The earth will abide forever!

How then, can 2 Peter 3:10 be understood which says the earth will be destroyed by fire?

Since the Bible was inspired by God, we realize it must be harmonious with itself. Hence, the heavens and earth that are to be destroyed can only be understood in a symbolic sense.

We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the god of this present evil world.

“In their case the god of this [evil] world [the Adversary] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Thus, the symbolic heavens and earth that will be burnt up with fire, refers to the destruction and removal of all the works of injustice and iniquity of Satan’s evil empire.

6.

All these elements of Satan’s empire will be destroyed or removed in Armageddon.

The Apostle Peter furthermore, explains what will replace Satan’s empire.

7.

God will replace the present evil order of society with a new righteous one. This new heavens and earth refers to the kingdom of God that Jesus taught us to pray for.

8.

We notice God’s kingdom for which we pray for, is going to be right here on earth.

Thus the new heavens isn’t referring to a new literal heaven, but to the new spiritual ruling power of “The Christ,” that will govern over a new earthly society. Not a new planet, but to a new holy righteous kingdom here on earth.

A Great Time of Trouble

A great time of trouble will remove this present evil order. Yet, let us take note what immediately follows aftera great time of blessing to mankind here on planet earth! The kingdom of God!

Psalm 46 speaks of the time of trouble that will melt the earth at the end of the age. It begins with giving comfort to his faithful people as the trouble time approaches.

9.

 

10.

This is the same end time trouble referred to in Revelation and in 2 Peter chapter 3. The elements melt as he brings desolation or destruction to earths evil social structure. But now notice what immediately follows in the very next verse after the symbolic earth melts from the heat of trouble.

11.

After the symbolic melting of earth, the earth is still here!

God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. It’s God’s kingdom time, the time God will be exalted among the nations.

And where are the nations? God says, “I will be exalted in the EARTH!

Yes, the EARTH will abide forever.

The previous melting, was only symbolic of the destruction of Satan’s evil empire that will be removed, and replaced with God’s kingdom. Similarly we read about this in Zephaniah 3: 8,9.

12.

Again, we read of the destruction of symbolic earth with the FIRE of God’s jealousy. But in the very next verse we read:

13.

After the removal of the present evil order of society, the kingdom of blessings will immediately follow.

All mankind will be gradually raised from the tomb of death, and will be instructed with a pure language, that is a pure and true understanding of God’s word, his plans and His will for mankind to follow in order to go on to receive everlasting life.

Now we come to our theme text of Haggai 2:6-8 (KJV).

“(6) For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
(7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
(8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.

This is prophetic of the same shaking of Armageddon and the end time of trouble that will remove Satan’s empire—the present symbolic heavens and earth. But again, let us notice what immediately follows in the very next verse!

“‘(9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.’”

What a glorious precious promise!

After the trouble, the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth will come. A time when THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME when they are raised from the tomb in God’s kingdom.

What is the desire of all nations, of all people?

→ peace
→ health
→ freedom from all fear and anxieties,
→ EVERLASTING LIFE!

The opportunity for all these and more is what God has promised for all mankind in God’s promised Kingdom on earth.

WHY

One might ask, then, if God intends “the desire of all nations” to pass, then:

WHY did God not do this from the very beginning of Creation?

17..jpg

 

WHY has God allowed man to suffer pain, sickness and death for thousands of years?

 

In order to find the answer to this universal question, may we suggest that for a few moments we try to imagine ourselves being God! That’s rather difficult but let us give it a try! Imagine having just finished creating the Angelic host and all the stars, galaxies and planets.

18..PNG

Let us try to envision our beginning to contemplate creating a new human race of intelligent beings. Our first thought might be that of creating him in such a way that it was impossible for him to ever do anything wrong, for in this way, humanity will live forever never having any pain or sickness.

But upon further thought, we may realize no, this would not be good because then humans would be mere robots, programmed to love God rather than truly desiring from their own hearts to love God.

20. HUGS.PNG

We would want our children to love and obey us because they want to, not because they have to without any choice.

We would want them to have a mind of their own, to have freedom to make their own decisions.

As we consider various possibilities, we gradually develop a fantastic plan. A plan that:

  • is kind and loving!
  • provides for freedom of choice!
  • teaches our children to learn by experiencing right from wrong!
  • provides an opportunity to live forever in perfect happiness.
  • allows our children to love and serve us, not because they have to with no choice, but because they love us for what we are, and for what we provide for them.

This is the plan of God that he provided for his new human family. As we further consider that plan, we will see that it is the most loving, most just, most reasonable plan for mankind that you could ever imagine.

Adam and Eve in Eden

When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a simple test:

Obey and live,
or
disobey and die.

 

God knew Adam would fail his test, because of a lack of experience, but
God permitted it as an act of love
for man’s ultimate greatest eternal blessing.

Man was to learn from experience to discern right from wrong and also to experience the disastrous effects of disobedience so that…

23. CEMETRERY.PNG

after evil is eradicated, for eternity the lessons of the past will serve as a reminder of what JOYS REMAIN ETERNALLY for all who OBEY the Heavenly Father’s principles.

The Scriptures promise, that very soon every single one who has ever lived will gradually be raised from the sleep of death in God’s promised kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Notice ALL will be made alive. This includes every man, woman and child that has ever lived on the face of the earth… Jew, Arab, Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, good or bad… ALL are promised to be made alive in God’s kingdom!

Because the one perfect man Adam sinned, the death penalty came upon him and all of us as his children. But God’s love provided for another perfect man Christ Jesus, to give his life as a ransom to redeem father Adam. Thus, it was Jesus’ ransom merit that provided the legal basis for justice to be satisfied, and allow everyone that has ever lived to be resurrected from the dead.

Two Salvations

The KEY to understand God’s ultimate plan for his human creation is to recognize that the scriptures teach that there are two salvations for mankind:

  • A heavenly salvation.
  • An earthly salvation.

24. HEAVENLY - THE PAST 2000 YEARS.PNG

 

Our Lord refers to this heavenly class as but a “little flock,” that is relatively few in number.

 

But note:

25. HEAVENLY-THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING.PNG

It is to this earthly kingdom that ALL the remainder of mankind (the good and the bad) will be raised in the 1000-year Millennial kingdom of God. As each one will be raised from the dead in this kingdom, they will be guided and instructed in the laws of the kingdom. They will be given every opportunity to gradually change their ways to develop Christ -like qualities.

26. AT THE END OF THE 1000 YEARS.PNG

By that time, all mankind will have experienced the great contrast between disobedience (prison) and obedience (joyful life). Thus, with experience being the best teacher, this vast contrast will enable most of mankind to pass their individual test and go on to live forever in perfect happiness.

27. THERE WILL BE A FEW HOWEVER.PNG

A Foretaste of the Future

We can see that the plan God has adopted for his new human creation will result in most all of mankind loving and obeying their Creator for all eternity, not because they have to with no choice, but because they want to with all their being. It will be then that words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:10,11 shall be fulfilled.

22..jpg

Kingdom Blessings

With this brief summary of why God permitted evil for man’s ultimate good, let us note a few of the many Scriptures that describe the blessings of what the kingdom of God will be like.

In Isaiah 35:1-10 we are promised:

“The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose…
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped…
Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue will shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert…
and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

10496121_10203530977370025_4997210872171024409_o.jpg“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV).

“They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain (Kingdom), for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

“He will destroy in this mountain [kingdom,] the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9, RSV).

29. MICAH-4-3-4.PNG

After the shaking trouble of Armageddon, truly the desire of all nations shall come” in God’s glorious kingdom!

Signs of The Time of the End

Since Jesus died so long ago, one might wonder when will this resurrection take place and the kingdom of God be established? The disciples asked Jesus this very same question in the 24th chapter of Matthew:

30. MATT-24-3.PNGJesus proceeded to outline evidences that would enable those who were watching to recognize when this time would be.

Matthew 24:21,22—For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.

But someone might say, there has always been trouble, and people often feel it is worse than ever before. What makes our present day trouble, a special sign? What makes it a special sign is the last phrase,

“And except those days should be shortened, there should be no flesh saved.”

Recall for a moment the devastation that took place in Hiroshima Japan on August 5th 1945. The next day the United States dropped one Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima and the city was completely destroyed.

40. HIROSHIMA.PNGOver 200,000 people died and countless others were injured with radiation burns.

By today’s standards that bomb was relatively small. Its destructive power was the equivalent of exploding only 13,000 tons of TNT explosive.

On October 30, 1961 Russia exploded a test hydrogen bomb, that had the equivalent of 50 million tons of TNT—3,846 times greater explosive power than the one bomb on Hiroshima!

Today there are eight countries that have nuclear warheads: China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. There are currently about 31,000 nuclear warheads owned by these eight countries. The combined explosive yield of these weapons is approximately 5000 million tons of TNT. That’s 200,000 times the explosive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima!

We can see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign of the end of the age when he said:

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:22).

Never before in the history of man would it have been possible to destroy all life on earth. Today there are enough nuclear warheads to destroy all flesh on earth many times over. But how thankful we are God has promised the trouble will be shortened. And when Satan’s present evil heavens and earth are removed, they will be replaced with the new righteous heavens and earth of God’s kingdom.

In the book of Daniel, God gave us additional signs to know where we are in the stream of time.

“And at that time shall Michael [Jesus] stand up, … and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Daniel 12:1-4, KJV).

 Again a great time of trouble like never before, but note what will come after the trouble in the next verse… THE KINGDOM TIME!

“And at that time thy people shall be delivered, (2) Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake…” (Daniel 12:1,2).

The resurrection of the dead will begin!

Then in verse 4, God gives us two more signs to help us know when this time of trouble followed by the kingdom would be. It wasn’t going to be in Daniel’s day, but in “the time of the end.”

56.

We have witnessed both of these signs. Think for a moment how fast knowledge is increasing. The accumulated knowledge of mankind since his first appearance on earth up to 1750 had doubled by 1900, a period of 150 years, redoubled again in just 50 years by 1950, redoubled again in 10 years to 1960, and again in 8 years to 1968.

41. TODAY THE AMOUNT OF INFORMATION.PNG

The telephone, electric light, automobiles, sound recording, radio, television, jet airplanes, modern appliances, computers, space travel, trips to the moon, cell/mobile phones have been changing so rapidly we can’t keep up. And now with the internet—via a press of a button—information about any topic from around the globe can be accessed.

The “increase of knowledge” was one of the signs Daniel gave us of the nearness of the kingdom of God and it made possible the next sign Daniel gave us: “…many shall run to and fro!” (Daniel 12:4, KJV).

Are we not running to and fro today?

Think for a moment how just a little more than 100 years ago, man’s common transportation for thousands of years was a horse and buggy. Sir Isaac Newton was scorned by his peers when he predicted man would someday travel at speeds of 50 miles per hour. Little did he realize that man would fly across the ocean at 1300 mph and travel through space at 25,000 mph.

“Many shall run to and fro”—this is certainly our day!  Another evidence that we are on the very brink of the establishment of God’s Kingdom!

The Fig Tree

Returning to Matthew 24, Jesus gave another very important sign that would indicate the time of his 2nd presence and the end of the age in Matthew 24:32-34.

44. ISRAELFIG OLIVE.PNG

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

From many Scriptures throughout the Bible we realize the fig tree always represents the nation of Israel. Leaves sprouting on a tree is a sign that the tree has sprung to life after a dormant winter. Thus, what Jesus was actually telling us, is that when we see Israel come alive as a nation after being without a homeland for thousands of years, then we will know that God’s kingdom is right at the door.

Has Israel put forth leaves? Yes!

As we recall the past, we see how Israel as a people were dispersed among all nations, persecuted bitterly, having to live in Ghettos, hunted and exterminated as undesirables. Yet Israel’s hope was strong in God’s promises of a return to their homeland.

73..PNG

 

We recall the words uttered so often by Jewish people, “next year in Jerusalem.”

This hope was fulfilled in an historic miracle of our day, after thousands of years without a homeland.

74..PNG

 

 

 

By all military standards, Israel should not be in existence.

 

47. 1967.PNG

 

 

In war after war, outnumbered 100 to one, the tiny Israeli forces could not be overpowered.

 

 

 

 

And so it has continued to this day because God’s time clock has struck, for Israel to return to their land!

there is hope israel.biblestudentsdaily.com.jpg

The Fig tree has blossomed!

Remember this was a sign Jesus gave to show the nearness of his kingdom. The Apostle Luke adds something in his account that makes our faith even stronger, writing the following words:

48. LUKE 21.PNG

If the Fig Tree pictures Israel, “all the trees” would refer to other nations.

So Luke is telling us that together with Israel putting forth leaves (springing into life), many other nations would be putting forth leaves—sprouting into existence. And when we see this happen we would know the kingdom of God was near at hand. What does history tell us?  It ties in exactly with Israel becoming a nation.

Up until 1945 the number of independent nations in the world remained relatively constant for centuries. A total of 70 were in existence in 1945. But since the ending of the 2nd World War in 1945 notice what’s happened! Today, there are 196 nations! More than 125 new independent nations have sprung into being which previously were held as colonies. Yes, Israel simultaneously with other nations has put forth leaves, sprouting into existence! We are the ones who have witnessed the fulfillment of this!
Let us recall what Luke and Matthew told us:

“When ye see these things come to pass, know ye the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand” (Luke 21:31).

 “When ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matthew 24:34).

What a thrill to our hearts to realize this means we are on the very brink of the greatest event in all human historythe establishment of God’s Kingdom!
If this is so, then why all the continued trouble?

This is again in fulfillment of prophecy. For just as a contractor must remove an old structure from a building site, before he can build a new skyscraper, so with God. He must first remove Satan’s present corrupt systems of society, before they can be replaced with Jehovah’s kingdom of blessings.

Notice how this was portrayed in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 2:31-45 Daniel interprets a prophetic dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, that pictured the four Universal World Empires, and their removal. Here are three images to explain the image according to Bible prophecy:

50. IMAGE
Image 1
51. STATUE - WORDS
Image 2
52. STATUE - WORDS (2)
Image 3

The stone that struck the image—pictures how God’s kingdom will grow and fill the whole earth. This prophetic dream is in essence, another symbol of the removal of the present corrupt heavens and earth being replaced by the new heavens and earth of God’s kingdom, which will fill the earth with blessings.

Then in verse 44 of Daniel 2, we are given another prophetic corroboration of 1914 as the time when the stone of God’s power initially strike the image beginning the “time of trouble” which will be culminated in Armageddon.

39..jpg

We realize that the kings of Europe virtually passed away after the first World War of 1914.

kings.PNG

Thus this Scripture is telling us, that when the kings still existed in 1914, it was God’s initial kingdom power that struck a blow which started the time of trouble. It started to break in pieces the monarchies and colonies of the kingdoms, and the breaking down process will continue until it ultimately removes all the kingdoms in Armageddon.

God’s plan is truly the most kind, the most loving, the most just, the most blessed and reasonable plan for mankind, that you could ever imagine.

We leave you with one of the most precious closing verses of the book of Revelation. Earlier we consider Revelations reference to Armageddon. But now notice how Revelation’s closing promises show us that Armageddon is not the end, but in reality it’s the prelude to the beginning of the new heavens and earth, the most glorious time period awaiting you and me and everyone that has ever lived—God’s Kingdom!

Revelation 21:4-5

Truly, the desire of ALL nations will have come, and it will LAST FOREVER!

Acknowledgment:

Br. George Tabac—The content for this post is based on Br. George Tabac’s script of his video titled “After Armageddon, God’s Kingdom” which can be viewed on the BibleTruth411 YouTube channel, at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzAnPWMXrW0

Suggested Further Viewing/Reading

“Armageddon—A Critical Part of God’s Master Plan” by Br. Bob Goodman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECzweTBCmjk

“Armageddon then World Peace”— a Dawn Publication by The Dawn Bible Students Association.  http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/armageddon.htm

Armageddon then World Peace.jpg“The Melting Elements.” The Dawn (Magazine) – A Herald of Christ’s Presence.http://www.dawnbible.com/1957/5711-hl.htm

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

 

Epoch Periods In God’s Plan

Hosea-6-1-2-bible-students-daily-website.jpg

The Light In The First Day

In Genesis 1:1‑5 (KJV) we are first introduced to the “light” of the sun.

“(1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (3) And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (4) And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (5) And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. 

The Sun

“Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) evidently refers to the light of the sun, which was sufficient for general illumination, but not sufficient to break through the mists to become an identifiable object in the heavens, until the fourth day when it was “appointed” (as the word there can mean), together with the moon and stars (Genesis 1:16). Genesis 1:11 shows that there were already plants and trees on day three, which required sunlight to grow. The sun was in place and burning before the earth was suitable for life.

Genesis-1-11.jpg

The Length of Each Day of Creation

The days of creation recorded in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 were epoch days of creative activity, of undefined length.

The word “day” customarily describes a normal day of 24 hours, but very often has a broader usage for any defined period of whatever length. For example, Genesis 2:4 says “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.” Here “day” is a period that includes all of the seven days reported earlier.

In Hebrews 3:8, Paul refers to the “provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” — which refers to a period of years, not a single day.

When we speak of Jesus’ day, we mean a period of history long ago, not a single day.

The work involved in these “days” of creation required lengthy periods of time for the natural processes to reach maturity, or completion.

Zechariah 14:7-9 provides another example, this time from prophecy, of the greater use of the term “day.”

“(7) It shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time [at the close of the Millennial day that spans 1000 years] it shall be light. (8) And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. (9) And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.”

The metaphorical use of the word “day” is usually apparent from the context.

The Third Day

In John 2:19-22 we read about Jesus being raised on the literal third day:

“(19) Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (20) Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? (21) But he spake of the temple of his body. (22) When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.”

However, if we take the above passage to refer to the metaphorical body of Christ, that is, the body of believers in Jesus, then it is apparent that any application of the three days would be on a larger time frame. In this case the saints are raised on the third millennium from the time of Christ.

In Hosea 6:1-3 (KJV) we read about this “third day.”

“(1) Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (2) After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (3) Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

In both of these cases — John chapter two and Hosea chapter six — the three days involved are evidently millennial days 4, 5, and 6 as counted from Adam. On the sixth millennium, which includes our day, Israel has been under process of restoration. Jesus’ first advent was in the fourth Millennial day, counting from Adam. Here are those “days”

(1) 3958 B.C. to 2958 B.C.
(2) 2958 B.C. to 1958 B.C.
(3) 1958 B.C. to 958 B.C.
(4) 958 B.C. to 43 A.D.
(5) 43 A.D. to 1043 A.D.
(6) 1043 A.D. to 2043 A.D.

The words of Hosea 6:1-3 is thus about natural Israel (not about Spiritual Israel — the Bride of Christ) because in verse one, we read that God has “smitten” them. God has not smitten the Church. But Israel was “smitten” following their rejection of Christ. God did smite Israel during the Roman wars that closed the Jewish Age. They were cast off in 33 A.D., in day “four” from Adam. After the close of day four, and the close of day five, thus “after two days,” they began to be restored in 1878 and forward, on day “six” from Adam.

Hence Israel is now being restored — presently as a nation, and later, in the Kingdom, to individual life after they recognize Jesus as their Redeemer.

Three Dispensations in the Divine Plan

3 dispensations

There are three large periods of time in the Divine Plan. Sometimes these are termed “Dispensations,” because the administration of these three periods varied. Sometimes they are called three “worlds,” drawing from these three scriptures —

  • World that Was 2 Peter 3:6 — Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water [the Flood], perished.
  • Present Evil World Galatians 1:4 — “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”
  • World to ComeHebrews 2:5 — “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”

Epoch 1 – The World That Was

This epoch lasted from the time of Adam and Eve until the flood. In this period some of the angels were allowed to exercise influence in a way that was later restrained. It was not subdivided into ages because God’s method of dealing with men did not vary from Adam’s fall to the flood. God had given man his law, the law of conscience written into his nature. However, after he sinned God left him measurably to his own downward course, that man might learn through experience the wisdom of God in requiring obedience. The disastrous effects of sin were manifested showing that the tendency of sin is downward to greater degradation and misery, showing the necessity of Jehovah’s interposition, if the recovery of “that which was lost” — man’s first estate — would ever be accomplished.

Epoch 2 – The Present Evil World

The second great epoch (Galatians 1:4, 2 Peter 3:7) spans from the flood to the establishment of the kingdom of God. It is under the limited control of Satan, the usurper, “the prince of this world,” who has no interest in Christ’ followers except to oppose, tempt, annoy, and buffet them (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Malachi 3:15).

In this present evil world, or epoch, whoever will live godly shall suffer persecution, while the wicked flourish like a green bay tree (2 Timothy 3:12, Psalm 37:35).

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and until the era or “world to come” does come, Christ’s kingdom will not control the earth. For this we are taught to hope and pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.” Satan is the “ruler of the darkness of this world,” and therefore “darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people.” Satan now rules and works in the hearts of the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 6:12).

The current epoch is divided into three “ages.”

(a) The Patriarchal Age. God’s dealings and favors were with various patriarchs, such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At Jacob’s death his descendants were called “the twelve tribes of Israel.” They were together recognized of God as his “peculiar people,” and through typical sacrifices they were typically “a holy nation,” separated from other nations for a particular purpose, and therefore to enjoy certain special favors.

(b) The Jewish Age (or the Law dispensation). God specially blessed the nation of Israel during this age from Jacob’s death until Christ’s death, as evidenced in the following:

  • Giving the Israelites His law,
  • Making a special covenant with them,
  • Giving them the Tabernacle, whose shekinah glory in the Most Holy represented Jehovah’s presence with them as their Leader and King,
  • Sending them prophets,
  • Sending them His Son, Jesus, who performed his miracles and taught in their midst. Jesus ministered to the Israelites, and instructed his disciples the same during the time that he was with them. “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5,6). Jesus explained, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).

This national favor ended with their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, as shown by Jesus’ words five days before his crucifixion, “Your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38).

(c) The Gospel Age. From Jesus’ death, the good tidings of justification have been heralded for nearly 2000 years not only to the Jewish people, but to all nations; for Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man. During this Gospel age there is a class called to special favor, to whom special promises are made. Namely, to those who by faith accept Christ Jesus as their Redeemer and Lord and follow in his footsteps.

The aim of this age is not to convert nations, but to call out a “little flock” as Jesus foretold (Luke 12:32), to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the Kingdom in an age to follow this.

Epoch 3 – The World to Come

The third epoch is to be a “world without end” (Isaiah 45:17) under divine administration, the kingdom of God. It is called “The World to Come, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” and during this period, all the families of the earth shall be blessed (Hebrews 2:5, 2 Peter 3:13, 2 Corinthians 12:2‑4, Revelation 21:1).

The thousand years of Christ’s reign is the first age in the “world to come” (Revelation 20:4). During the Millennial age, there will be a restoration of all things lost by the fall of Adam (Acts 3:19‑21). Then, all tears, sorrow, pain, and death resulting from the fall of Adam in Eden shall have been wiped away (Revelation 21:4). Following this 1000 year Millennium, there will be “a little season” of final testing time for the world of mankind (Revelation 20:3,7-10).

Revelation 11:15 says that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and His Christ [Jesus].” Thereafter our Lord Jesus exercises his power to remove present powers, and establish his Millennial Kingdom in order to bless the world in righteousness.

There are seven trumpet periods in Revelation. The seventh of these commenced in 1874 with the return of Christ and his subsequent parousia, or presence. Acts 3:21 connects this to the beginning of the “times of restoration.” There the process of restoring Israel commenced.

At the end of the Millennium will come the close of the seventh millennial “day,” introducing day number eight. At this time there will be “a little season” for the testing of mankind. Those found unfaithful and rebellious, disobedient to God and His principles, will not continue further. Thus the world is cleansed, purged, “circumcised” as it were, on the eighth day — evidently represented by circumcision of old being on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12).

Revelation 11:18, part of the description of the seventh trumpet, refer to the raising of the sleeping saints. “The time … that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets [Jesus’ New Testament spokesmen, compare Ephesians 3:5], and to the saints [holy ones of the Gospel Age].” The Millennium will be introduced subsequent, at the close of 6000 years, which we anticipate about a generation future, with the year 2043.

When that kingdom is established, all of the Bride class will have been gathered to glory, ready to serve as priests and kings with Christ to uplift the world (Revelation 20:6). Gradually all will be raised to life again, and have an opportunity to gain life everlasting.

Revelation 11:18,19 shows that the transition period into the Kingdom involves a general time of trouble. Evidently this commenced in 1914 with World War I. Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man’s house and spoil [plunder] his goods, except he will first bind the strong man, and then he will spoil his house” (Mark 3:22‑27). Jesus has entered the house of the strong man, Satan, and is in process of disrupting his affairs, incident to removing the influence of Satan altogether.

Satan is the “strong man” of the Present Evil World. The disruption of his “house,” and the binding of that strong usurper, is the necessary predicate for the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Satan will remain bound for “a thousand years,” allowing the world to grow and learn without the adversary’s deceptions.

We read of this in Revelation 20:2,3

“2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”

The blotting out of evil will be gradual, requiring all of the first thousand years. Evil will not rule then. It will not prosper; it will no longer be the wicked that will flourish; but “the righteous shall flourish” (Psalm 72:7). Then the obedient shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19), and “the evil doer shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:9).

Heavens and Earth – Not Literally Destroyed

This earth is the basis of all these “worlds” and dispensations. Though ages pass and dispensations change, still the earth continues “The earth abideth forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4).

In 2 Peter 3:12, Peter refers to the dissolution of the present heavens and earth. “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” Here “the heavens” symbolize the higher or spiritual controlling powers, and “earth” (verse 10) symbolizes human government and social arrangements.

The first heavens and earth, or social arrangement, ended at the flood, “being overflowed with water” (2 Peter 3:6). “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). The order and arrangement of things then existing ended at the flood. But the physical heavens (sky and atmosphere), and the physical earth, did not pass away.

Likewise, the present social structure, political and ecclesiastical, will pass away in deference to the Kingdom of Christ. The beginning of this work occurs in the “Day of the Lord” which “shall burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1). But the complete integration of mankind into the new arrangement, the “new heavens” and “new earth” (2 Peter 3:13) will require time, as the work of the Kingdom proceeds.

Society will become reorganized in harmony with earth’s new Prince, Christ Jesus. Righteousness, peace, and love will rule among men when present arrangements give place to the new and better kingdom, based on justice and equity. The more we examine God’s plan of the Ages, the more we will find in it perfect harmony, beauty and order.

“Each age has its part to accomplish, necessary to the complete development of God’s plan as a whole. The plan is a progressive one, gradually unfolding from age to age, upward and onward to the grand consummation of the original design of the Divine Architect, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). Not one of these great periods is an hour too long or too short for the accomplishment of its object. God is a wise economist of both time and means, though his resources are infinite; and no power, however malicious, for a moment retards or thwarts his purposes. All things, evil as well as good, under divine supervision and overruling, are working together for the accomplishment of his will” (Br. Charles T. Russell, The Divine Plan of the Ages, page 74).

Acknowledgement

Br. Charles Russell — for content shared from his book titled “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” which is Volume One (of six) of “Studies in the Scriptures.” This can be read from the Harvest Truth Data Base website. Here is the direct link: http://www.htdb.one

Br. David Rice — for content & editing assistance.

Further Suggested Reading

The Stream of Time by Br. David Rice. http://2043ad.com/streamoftime.PDF

Booklet titled: “I Will Come Again – John 14:3”
https://chicagobible.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/I-WILL-COME-AGAIN.pdf

God’s Millennium. A Dawn Bible Students Association Publication (booklet).
http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/Gods1k.htm

Israel in History and Prophecyhttp://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/israel_hp.htm

The Approaching End of The Harvest
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/19/the-approaching-end-of-the-harvest/

1 CORINTHIANS 15:45 – How Long Until the Millennial Reign of the ‘Last Adam’?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/06/1-corinthians-1545-how-long-until-the-millennial-reign-of-the-last-adam/

The Book of Revelation: A 2016 Perspective
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/30/the-book-of-revelation-a-2016-perspective/

 

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/08/16/epoch-periods-in-gods-plan/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

2 TIMOTHY 3:12 – Godliness Attracts Persecution

2-timothy-3-12.jpg

“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:14-17, ESV).

What is Godliness?

Here are some words of the Psalmist David in Psalm 15:1-5.

“(1) O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; (3) who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; (4) in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; (5) who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”

GODLINESS is:

  • the condition of righteousness (Matthew 5:10, 1 Timothy 6:11, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 10:2, Proverbs 11:18, Psalm 34:15, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 34:19, Romans 1:17, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 3:12, Romans 1:17, 5:19, 6:13);
  • an opposition to sin—as God is opposed to sin (Psalm 1:1, Psalm 37:28);
  • a condition in harmony with justice—as God is just (Micah 6:8, Romans 2:1, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 30:18, Psalm 33:5, Zechariah 7:9-10);
  • generosity and kindness and love—as God is generous and kind and loving (1 Thessalonians 5:15, Psalm 37:21);

There are kind, generous and noble characters in the world who are not Christians. These may have more or less of opposition from others who are evilly disposed—as darkness always opposes light; yet these noble people exercise moderation in their righteousness—they are not righteous overmuch. These fine characters might occasionally get some persecution, politically or otherwise; but even the enemies of such would have respect for them.

Living godly versus living godly in Christ Jesus

Because of their special relationship to Christ Jesus, God’s people:

  • have a special enlightenment.
  • see more clearly the principles of God’s Justice.
  • have a more exacting rule by which their lives are governed.
  • have an intelligent knowledge that they have entered into a Covenant of Sacrifice. 
  • realize that they are not to compromise their religion in any way; not to compromise with sin or with the world.
  • uphold the principles of righteousness, even to the detriment of their own earthly interests.
  • consecrate all of their time, talent, influence, money to the Lord’s service, and in relation to the use of their blessings from God, they ask themselves:

     “What is the Lord’s will, the Lord’s way?”

    How would the Heavenly Father want me to use my time, talents, influence, money etc… in His service, in the cause of Christ?

God’s people would wish to use their money for the preaching of the Gospel and the publishing of it in various ways. They would reason:  There are many opportunities for people to get education along earthly lines, and I believe the Lord would have me as His child to use His money to help people get spiritual education.

The godly who are not in Christ Jesus—those who have a measure of Godlikeness:

  • do not see these deeper things of the Divine Plan and the special arrangement God has made with the Church.
  • may indulge in a great many things that would not be wrong for the world—not sinful, not immoral, not unkind.
  • might feel perfectly free to give of their money for various causes and purposes, that would be reasonable and proper in themselves— such as attending a football match or a theatre production; spend a certain amount each season on the opera; be patrons of art and music and literature—adopting a course that will win the approval of society; or spend a thousand dollars—or ten thousand dollars—on a single painting, because he wants art to flourish. Or he might buy a fine piece of sculpture to adorn his home, but this is not the course for true Christians, who must consider the Lord’s will for them as His servants.

The Christian has limitations which the worldly do not have. 

But we are glad! 

  • Glad for all good men and good women, who can be good and noble even though not in Christ Jesus.
  • Glad to esteem them.

There are noble people in the world. There are some godly ones (to a certain degree) outside the Church, and they are likely to come to see something of the Truth, if they are really noble characters.

The godly of this world will get a blessing in the Restitution time. Every godly thing that they have done, every act of generosity, will get its reward. By cultivating their higher sentiments, they will have fewer steps to retrace.

Specially GODLY are Specially PERSECUTED

The persecutions which come to the godly in Christ Jesus are special persecutions. We are not to expect much of this from the Body of Christ. 

Persecution is not merely one act or one word—it is a succession of unkind words and acts with a view to punishing some one for adhering to an opinion or course of conduct.

Persecution comes from a certain class called by Jesus the world. But the class that Jesus called the world are those who had form of godliness, but did not have the power  thereof. The Apostle speaks of a class who would take the name of the Lord upon them and misuse that name. There are people in the world today who do not know nor want to know the difference between Truth and error—and who keep out of the way of being told. They somehow know that there would come a certain measure of condemnation to themselves if they recognized the real facts and did not act in accordance with them.

They are not all bad people by any means. There are very many good people among the tares; but there is no real wheat among the tares—no real nutriment.

These tares pose as the Church of Christ; the tare systems pose as Christianity. And from this class usually come the persecutions. They try to crowd out the wheat, or to choke it and make it unfruitful. It was so in our Lord’s day. Those to whom the Lord referred as persecutors were not the Gentile world of His day, but the worldly ones of the Jews—those who were not fully consecrated to the Lord, but who thought they were.

Nicodemus was a fine character, and Gamaliel was a fine character—and so were a great many who did not become Christ’s disciples at all but were seeking after righteousness; as, for instance, the young man who came to the Lord and asked Him, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” The Lord answered, “Thou knowest the commandments.” The young man said, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth up.” He was a noble character, and Jesus looking on him loved him, even though he was not a disciple. And Jesus said to him. “One thing thou lackest; go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, take up thy cross, and follow Me.” But he went away sorrowful. He did not want to become a member in Christ Jesus.

He did not want to give everything to the Lord.

He was very rich—“had great possessions,” and he preferred to hold on to his wealth.—Mark 10:17-22.

There were others who went through many of the forms and ceremonies, and who kept the various admonitions of the Law, and its feasts and fasts; but they were not the “Israelites indeed in whom was no guile.” And later they became the persecutors of Christ and those who walk in His steps of sacrifice.

Professed Christian Persecutors

And so those who live godly in Christ Jesus have their persecutions, not so much from the worldly class as from professing Christians. There is a class in Churchianity today that has a great deal of pride and self-satisfaction.

Some say respecting those who proclaim Present Truth and who live saintly lives as followers of Jesus Christ:

If we let these people alone and let them teach these things, all that we have been upholding for centuries will crumble.

Did not Luther hand down Truth to us?

Did not Calvin give the Church Truth?

Have we not the teachings of Wesley?

No, no; we will not have these “new doctrines”!

But we see that these people are persecuting the Truth and its representatives because of misunderstanding.

We should have a great deal of sympathy and not feel specially angry with them.

This does not mean that we should be glad of persecution—no persecution “for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous.” (Hebrews 12:11.) But if we know that we are suffering for righteousness’ sake, then we know the Spirit of God rests upon us. It is those who know that they suffer for Christ’s sake, and who take it gladly because it is the will of God, that may rejoice, because the persecution is working out in them blessed effects. Let us then

“Be still beneath His tender care,
For He will make the tempest cease;
And bring from out the anguish here,
The afterward of peace.”

“The Lord Your God Doth Prove You”

WHY does God permit His people to suffer?

WHY does God not shield those who are His from suffering, just as a loving parent would shield a child?

The Scriptures reply that it is because God is working out a great Plan that will eventually bring blessings to all who will do righteously. God wishes to show the evil effects of sin and the deteriorating effects of Adamic disobedience. God’s purpose is that after the Six Days of Sin and Death are ended, in the Seventh Day there shall be a blessing for the whole groaning creation. “Jehovah God will wipe away tears from off all faces.”Isaiah 25:8.

And there is a particular reason why God should permit persecution to come upon His consecrated ones. “The Lord your God doth prove you,” test you. Why? What is He proving? 

We profess to be His loyal children. We profess to be laying down all that we have. And now “the Lord your God doth prove you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul.Deuteronomy 8:213:3.

How much will you endure? 

How patiently will you endure? 

To what extent will you endure? 

Those who will endure most, and endure most patiently, will give evidence of the best character.  And those who demonstrate the best character will have the highest positions in the Kingdom. Each will get a position according to his faithfulness. But as star differeth from star in glory, so it will be in the Kingdom.

 

He who fights

the greatest fight against his own nature

and demonstrates most the love and zeal of his heart,

such is the one who will have a high place.

 

The Solitary Way

Alas! How few may know the grace it takes
To tread the solitary way. Alone!
Ah, yes, alone! No other human heart
Can understand the nameless sorrows there—
The nights in weeping spent, and yet, when dawns
The day, to greet the world with radiant smile,
And scatter sunshine while you whisper low
To your poor heart, “Canst bear a little more?”

Alone! Poor heart, and dost thou question, Why?
Dost think it strange that thou must walk this way?
Ah, no! Thou dost but follow in His steps
Who went before, and of the people there
Was none with Him! Alone? Yet not alone
Hath not thy blessed Lord and Master said,
“My presence shall go with thee”? Ah, my soul,
No longer, then a solitary way!

G. W. Seibert

Acknowledgment

Br. Charles Taze Russell. The content of this post is based on Reprint 5394-5 from the Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

Br. Allen Springer—for the Harvest Truth Data Base website from which all the Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence can be accessed electronically.

 

The URL for this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/14/2-timothy-312-godliness-attracts-persecution/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

 

 

 

Why & How to OBEY GOD

Obedience to God- biblestudentsdaily.jpg

What is the Purpose of OBEDIENCE in our life?

Our OBEDIENCE to God YHWH is an indicator of our heart attitude.

In John 14:15 we read, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”

So, obedience demonstrates our thankfulness, our appreciation, our devotion, our reverence for God and our praise.

“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17, ESV)

—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊

HOW do we become OBEDIENT? Is there a method to it?

Here are some suggested steps to learning OBEDIENCE in order to please our Heavenly Father:-

Step 1: Reading the scriptures daily to know God’s will

The first step to doing God’s will is to actually know what it is, and learn about what pleases our Heavenly Father by reading His holy words in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).

And it [the Word of God] shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear [reverence] the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.” (Deuteronomy 17:19)

Proverbs 8:34 reads, “Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates.”

Why did the Apostle Paul describe the Brethren from Berea as “more noble” in character than the Thessalonians?

Acts 17:11 (ESV) tells us why. It is because “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

It is a lot easier to deal with the issues of life, the trials, difficulties and testings that come to us, if we have daily input from the scriptures. It produces in our heart an overriding confidence and peace that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), helping us “do ALL things through Christ” who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊

Step 2: Developing the will to do God’s will:

As we learn about the Heavenly Father’s will and what God wants us to do, we experience the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 6:6-23), that is, the fallen nature appearing on the scene, that wishes to slow things down in our progress of maturity in Christ.

Fighting against the tendencies of the flesh, which we wish to put to “death” from moment to moment, IS THE BATTLE against sin!

How zealously and diligently with GREAT DISCIPLINE over our thoughts, words and actions do we barricade the fleshly interests… the fleshly wants… the fleshly tendencies in order to let the New Creature in us grow?

You see, the “Old Man” and the “New Creature [in Christ]” are AT WAR with each other! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If the “old man” gains strength, the “New Creature” in Christ, weakens.

 

In Galatians 6:17-27 we read,

“17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 27 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

 

  • Which one are we choosing to feed right NOW?
  • Which one will we choose to feed after we read this post?
  • Which one will choose to feed for the remainder of today?
  • How about tonight?
  • How about tomorrow and then for the remainder of this week and this month and year and until the day we die?

Are we consuming more spiritual food than earthly food?

Let’s say we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks in between, well, then that would mean the spiritual food would require to be served seven or more times a day or else the flesh will receive the growth and not the spiritual mind!

Better still, we shall like to feast on the spiritual ALL DAY as it is this kind of “food” that has no side effects but only most righteous and richest benefits (John 17:3, 1 John 2:25). Consuming spiritual food means feasting with Jesus and the spiritual “eagles” (Matthew 24:28; John 6:53-56, Isaiah 40:31).

In 2 Corinthians 5:15-18 the Apostle Paul well explains how all the “New Creatures” in Christ, should treat each other :

 

“14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one [who is “in Christ”] from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.

17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

May we find time each day to read a psalm and read or sing a hymnrecall and share some biblical verses with whomever we can edify along our day’s pilgrimage. Let us pray on our knees if we can, like the prophet Daniel did (Daniel 6:10)… like the Apostle Paul did (Ephesians 3:14), and above all, like our Lord Jesus did (Mark 1:35, Matthew 6:9-13, Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Luke 22:32, 41-44, Luke 23:34, John 11:41-42, John 12:27-28, John 17:1-26, Hebrews 5:7). By being able to come boldly before the throne of Heavenly grace through our Advocate, Christ Jesus, we are able to keep on the right track, asking for our Father to mercifully show us His will EVER STEP of the narrow way. 

Do we with great joy in the hope set before us, thank our Heavenly Father even when severe stormy experiences come our way?

How much effort do we put in to represent our titles of members of “a royal priesthood”… the “peculiar people”“God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9)?

Brethren, how much do we strive to live in the world as citizens of heaven but NOT be “of the world”?

Do we long for earthly friendship OR are our minds consumed by the joys of our friendship with Jesus, whom we are training to be like in character-likeness?

Are we consumed by the friendship we have also in the Apostles and Ancient Worthies whom we are all getting to know actually RIGHT NOW?! The Bible is like a Reading Manual for our preliminary “Orientation” Program given to us by God’s grace, whereby we look forward to working with these whom proved faithful unto death.

The Apostle Paul explains that learning God’s will and wanting to do God’s will is a matter of development in our lives.

 

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

 

This means that we not only just learn to desire doing God’s will, but that we actually DO do it to the best of our abilities. These experiences and training in the school of Christ, involve TIME and we DO it with GREAT JOY being motivated by “the precious and very great promises” of God which in turn, gives us HOPE.

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

The Apostle Peter explains about these precious promises in 2 Peter 1:2-14 (ESV), which  reads:

 

“2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.”

 

By clinging onto the Divine gifts from God founded upon His word, the new mind in Christ, by God’s grace and mercy, is able to overtake or over-weigh the “old mind” of the flesh, growing into maturity in Christ through the tests of faith, to prove worthy as sharers in the grandest prize of all—belonging to Jesus’ body, bring the Heavenly Father greatest possible joy and being granted the privilege to bring the world of mankind into harmony with GOD during the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom Age.

We come to delight in God’s will and delight in doing it when the desire to do so is continuously presented before God.

If we do our part,
God will do HIS part in our lives
and IMMEASURABLY MORE!

(Ephesians 3:20)

 

1384059_with address

There is a wise saying:

“God helps those
who help themselves.”

Expecting miracles without asking, seeking and knocking is perhaps how this can be understood based on what we read in Matthew 7:7-11,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

 

In Philippians 4:6, we are reminds:

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING,
but IN EVERYTHING
by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”

 

In Isaiah 26:9 we read,

“With my soul have I desired thee in the night;
yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.

 

A Desire to Serve God

One of the ways that God brings us to the point where we desire to serve Him is by showing us His Divine Plan of Salvation that we can truly love and respect now “early” before the resurrection of the world—who will all desire God and turn to Him in the Millennium when all shall be taught to walk up the Highway of Holiness in order to gain eternal life, and most will seek life. For is not God’s love better than life itself.

PSALM 63, 3 - c&a

Let us think back in our lives to a time where we have studied scripture, or attended a convention, or had special fellowship with brethren or in some way come to a special appreciation of God’s character. For instance, when examining some glorious beauties of the Truth and recognizing the perfect harmonious relationship between the Scriptural types and anti-types. Perhaps it was that “eureka” moment of enlightenment upon some glorious gem of God’s Divine Truth that had never been realized before (Daniel 12:10, Proverbs 2:4-6).  Here we were left with a stronger desire and eagerness to seek and do God’s will since. We continuously learn that GOD is more perfect than any other living being that we have ever know.

The Heavenly Father’s love, is the TRUEST, MOST LOYAL LOVE because it is PERFECT LOVE—a love that is balanced perfectly with PERFECT JUSTICE, PERFECT WISDOM, PERFECT POWER and PERFECT STRENGTH (Ephesians 3:14-19).

 

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

 

Jehovah’s love is reflected in Jesus—God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16).

When disappointment and discouragement comes with trials, testings and failures and the realisation of the emptiness of what the world has to offer, we know then that there is no real choice between serving God and serving the flesh/the world. This is another way God’s power works in our lives, guiding us through those experiences and teaching us things.

Perhaps the most painful experiences to the flesh are actually the GREATEST BLESSINGS to the New Creature’s development, for perhaps these are the moments of existence when the SURRENDERING up of self-will occurs fastest or with the best results. When we “let go” of the pain and not fight against the experience, we learn not to attach feeling or any label to the “what is” experiences of the flesh, trusting that “all things work out for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). By numbing the flesh in this way, one can concentrate on feeding the Spiritual Mind and take care to develop joy in the hope given to God’s people through the marvelous precious promises in the Bible.

The Bible is flooded with precious promises and we know they are true because already so many have prophecies have been fulfilled with the Nation of Israel as promised long ago, by the mouth of the holy prophets. For instance, what was once a valley of dry bones, is now an independent country which has gained not only “tendons” and “ligaments”, but “muscles” and soon “the bones” will live again and all things shall be renewed in the approaching millennial reign of Christ with his bride of 144,000 members. (Ezekiel 37, Revelation 7)

—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊—◊

 

Step 3: Incorporating God’s will into our lifestyle:

We have responsibilities at work and with our families, entertainment, school, neighbours, activities with brethren etc., but how many opportunities do you think you have for obedience in any particular day?

Well, nearly everything we do is an opportunity for obedience.
Every time we interact with people is an opportunity.

A lot of the commandments in the Old Testament apply to us as well as in the New Testament. Let’s consider a few:

  • 2 Timothy 4:2: “Be instant in season and out of season.”

That’s about teaching the word, but really it can apply to us in every regard.

  • Hebrews 13:16: “Forget not to do good and communicate, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

This is talking about an entire lifestyle, being connected with your brethren, being aware of what type of things they’re going through; because if you are, you will have no lack of opportunity to do good.

  • James 1:27: “Pure religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

That’s a commandment and a perfect balance between commitment to brethren and personal caring.

There are other things in the Old and New Testament about how to relate to other people, but there are other commandments that also tell us how to act when not with other people, even when we are by ourselves.

  • Philippians 4:8: “Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Also, Pray without ceasing.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:15: “Meditate upon these things: give yourself wholly to them, that your profiting may appear to all.”

This instructs us to take the necessary time to think about what we do in the eyes of God and respect it, so that we may stand in awe of the grandeur of the high standard of being Christ-like, and thus pleasing to our Heavenly Father as His Sons and Daughters.

  • Psalms 4: 4: “Stand in awe, and sin not; commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
  • In Hebrews 12:12  we read, “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”

 

In other words, let us be a strengthening influence upon the brethren around us. Let us seek out those hands that hang down and lift them up. Remember Moses, when his hands were up the children of Israel would win and when down they would lose, so it was important for his hands to be held up. We have the same opportunity with our brethren.

 

  • Hebrews 12:13 “And make straight paths for your own feet lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but rather let it be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” 

By striving to BE RIGHTEOUS IN THE EYES OF GOD—that is by being amongst the company of the the Bible characters during our daily meditations of the Word, we can be saturated with Godly thoughts… Godly words—which result in Godly actions. We can BE GOOD examples to others, someone others can look to for encouragement.

 

EPHES. 3, 20-21 esv.jpg

Acknowledgment:

This post was inspired by the content of an excerpt from a talk by Br. Tim Alexander titled “Five steps Towards Obedience.”

URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/05/11/why-how-to-obey-god/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

Where Does CHRISTMAS ORIGINATE from.jpg

The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

The URL for this post:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/12/23/where-does-christmas-originate-from/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

Save

The Expanse of Divine Love – 3 poems

PSALM 63, 3 - WITH CROSS & address

 

THE EXPANSE OF LOVE DIVINE

He loves me! Oh how much the thought entails,
Love that is perfect, love that never fails.
That strengthens me in sorrow or in strife,
Soothes all the trials and the cares of life. 

Higher than highest Heaven; so sublime
This love that lifts me up to heights Divine,
Enfolds me, fills my grateful heart with praise,
And lights my pathway with its golden rays.

 So high it overlooks man’s dreadful sin
And plans the fallen race to save, and win
Mankind for righteousness. To give them life
And free them from the bonds of sin and strife.

 A love so deep that nothing can molest
The calm and stillness of its perfect rest;
So deep the very lowest of our race,
In Time shall feel His power and know its grace.

Not e’en the silent shadows of the grave
Can hide from Him the soul He seeks to save;
For in due time He’ll call them back again,
Reveal His love, mankind shall serve Him then.

Its length? It teaches out through endless ages–
This love that’s sung by prophets and by sages–
The love that never fails, knows no cessation–
Eternity its limit of duration.

So broad, this love, it takes the whole world in.
It sees the vast extent of human sin,
Yet knows no barriers of blood or race
But reaches all with its unfailing grace.

It fills the universe, it lights the stars.
No selfishness its perfect beauty mars.
Increasing–as the need for it increases–
It knows no limits, varies not, nor ceases.

Lord let me lose myself in that great love,
Knowing Thou watchest o’er me from above.
Oh let me feel the Everlasting Arms
That shield from all that threatens or alarms.

Then shall the earthborn shadows flee away
And self shall be absorbed in love’s pure ray.
Thine image on this faulty tablet trace
And every earth stain from my heart efface.

Till love like Thine I may–in measure–know
And daily like the perfect pattern grow.
Then, by Thy grace, I’ll hear Thy sweet “Well done.”
Life lived in love, eternity begun.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, ESV).

[Note: “supplication” is the action of asking or begging for something earnestly and humbly.]

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4 ).

————

THE STRONGER LOVE

All earthly love is a thread of gold,
Most fair but what the touch of time may sever:
But His is a cable sure, of strength untold
O, His love, it lasteth ever!

And this great love he will on thee bestow
The fullness of his grace make known,
Earnest of glory grant thee here below
If thou wilt be his own!

————

“For GOD so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

*******

LOVE DIVINE

Yahweh God to us in Christ hath given
The proof and pattern of a love divine,
And human love above, though nobly striven.
God’s love is greater far than thine or mine.
For Christ came down from heights unknown to us,
And thus did show to God and man a love–
A love maintained through trial torturous;
A love beyond all loves, save God’s above.

*******

God Is Love

1 John 4:7-21 (ESV) reads,

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from GOD, and whoever loves has been born of GOD and knows GOD. 8Anyone who does not love does not know GOD, because GOD is love. 9In this the love of GOD was made manifest among us, that GOD sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved GOD but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if GOD so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen GOD; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of GOD, GOD abides in him, and he in GOD.

16So we have come to know and to believe the love that GOD has for us. GOD is love, and whoever abides in love abides in GOD, and GOD abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love GOD,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love GOD whom he has not seen. 21And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves GOD must also love his brother.

 

Reference:

“Poems of the Way” – Compiled by Martin C. Mitchell.

 

The URL for this post:

https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/21/the-expanse-of-divine-love-3-poems/

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Isaiah 45:15 – A GOD Who Hides Himself

ISA. 45, 15.jpg

Have you ever thought that God has withdrawn his favor from you?

Have you ever questioned… Is God really still dealing with me on a personal level, like His daughter/son?

We think to ourselves, could I really be in such a bad spiritually state?

We question ourselves:

Why could God be hiding from me?

In Isaiah 45:15 (NASV) we read, Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior!”

Here we note that hiding from man, is one of God’s attributes. Is it because we have done something to displease the Lord, and where God disapproves of our actions? Perhaps in such a situation, we find we don’t have the prayer life anymore or one that we would wish to have where there is ease of communication without guilt or feeling unworthy. Or, we may be saying to ourselves “my life is no different than that of the world around me.”

So when we can’t distinguish any difference in our life then in the life of a person who has not given himself to the Lord then we say “there is no specific purpose to my individual experiences compared to another person in the world.”

Or, perhaps our experiences feel like they no longer have any spiritual meaning when we can’t identify what the experiences are for, and we get into a rut; when our experiences mean I am merely just existing or surviving this experience and I know I am just existing because I experience, but I cannot identify with me this experience spiritually.

Maybe we recognize that for most of us, when we grasped the Truth, we had a great outburst of emotion for it — we loved it; we were enthused about it; we talked about it; we were excited about it and when we heard a discourse we would get goose bumps from joy! And all of a sudden we come to a place where that is no longer true. We just go to meeting because it’s a habit and we expose ourselves to creation experiences which we are sort of glad about having, but beyond that, there is no quickening of the heart beat.

Here are some possible reasons WHY we may experience that God has hidden himself from us:-

(A) God wishes to AWAKE US TO RIGHTEOUSNESS

It is good to remember that when it comes to God’s dealing with anyone, they are never intended to be a harsh, burdensome experience but God’s aim of  allowing certain trying experiences in our lives, is for the purpose of CORRECTING a situation…. correction of action … and ultimately to correct our character so that we may learn to be perfect  (Matthew 5:48) – that is, “reckoned as righteous” through our Faith (see Romans Chapter 4) and LOVE RIGHTEOUSNESS (Hebrews 1:9) so that we can be used in His future kingdom as administrators of the blessings to all the world of mankind – teaching mankind how to walk up the Highway of Holiness, having attained to the highest levels while going through the experiences of the Gospel Age now, while the permission of evil abounds.

In Hebrews 12:6, Apostle Paul writes, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

The chastenings of the Lord are not necessarily designed for punishment, but rather for discipline. They are necessary as a part of our training, and to test our humility before the Lord, and our loyalty to him. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). This is what it means to be “patient in tribulation” (Rom.12:12); and if we are thus patient we will rejoice in a hope which “maketh not ashamed.”

In Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) we read, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Our Heavenly Father does not deal with all in this manner but only with some, His sons.

He thus dealt with our Lord Jesus — “the captain of our salvation” — as he lived in this world of sin and suffered the “contradiction of sinners against Himself.” For, “what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 2:7).

 So the apostle admonishes that we “look unto Him” lest we become weary and faint in our minds (Hebrews 2:2,3). The rigors and the discipline to which a well-trained child is subjected by a loving father may at times seem irksome, unpleasant and painful, but it is for the ultimate good and development of the child in every sense. So it is in the life of the child of GOD but in a perfect manner.

The tests of faith, of fidelity, of love for God and righteousness, of obedience, of patient endurance and suffering wrongfully, the discipline of the Word under adversity, the submission in love to the Father’s will, and an awareness of the guidance of the Spirit, are some aspects of the Father’s discipline as He trains us for the purpose He has in view.

These are all tangible evidences of the heavenly Father’s love and concern. Like those to whom the apostle wrote, we also tend to forget this when the way is hard and difficult. Frustrations, pressures, and perplexities surround us. “Ye have forgotten” says the apostle, “the exhortation that speaketh unto you as unto sons” (Hebrews 2:5).

If we remember this always, we will rejoice even when all things seem to be against us as we earnestly seek to do His will, inasmuch as we know we are under His loving hand.

The life of the child of God, wholly surrendered to Him and to Christ, is an entirely new life, in and of Godly character, under the Father’s influence, control and leading, the Heavenly Father’s constant special and infinite care for our training in the principles of His laws, so that, we can be ministers of these laws and processes of training for all humanity.

We are “hid with Christ in God” (Romans 8:1-4; 8:14, 28; John 1:13; 16:27; Luke 12:4-7, 22-32; 1 Peter 5:6, 7; Colossians 3:1-4). Sometimes the Father withholds or hides Himself in order that the depth of our longing and love for Him and for Christ may be put to the test, that we may be conscious of a sense of loss, that me may yearn for Him and learn to fully depend on Him to reveal Himself more fully in all His love and tenderness.

God may withdraw His favor to awaken us to the situation that we have begun to slip or that we are near the point of slipping and that we need to reassert ourselves spiritually. The best example of this in the Bible, is when we look at the account of Queen Esther.

In the 4th chapter of the Book of Esther, we are told that Esther, (who had become the Queen of the Persian empire), had now an enemy against her uncle Mordecai and all the Jewish people (so this would include her, as she was Jewish). A man named Haman had become a chief counselor of the empire and had put into motion a plan that would mean the destruction of every Jew throughout the Medo-Persian empire. Mordecai realizes this; he tears his clothes; he puts on sack cloths and ashes, and he sits in mourning. Esther’s initial response is documented in Esther 4:4, “So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains came and told it her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received it not.”

So we can see that Esther’s first response is “let us stop mourning; let us not face the reality of the problems that we have.” Esther’s initial reaction is not a good reaction. Her reaction is one of not comprehending the true danger of the situation. It is Mordecai who wakens her to the danger by mentioning one thing specifically and that is, that this is not a danger, remote to someone else; it is, that YOUR VERY LIFE IS AT STAKE! YOU TOO, won’t escape this! You too, are Jewish and so your in just as much danger of death as I am in and all the rest of our people, the Jews, are in. But then Esther experiences the alienation that she has already experiences from the King himself and this is noticed in Esther 4:11, where she is speaking to Hathach, one of the King’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and instructs him to say to Mordecai.

“All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days” (Esther 4:11).

Esther realizes that she has become estranged from the King and notice, that she says, as if “I am free to go to him but if I go to him without being invited to, by him, then I am afraid my life may be at stake even earlier because I have been so presumptuous to come to him.”

We may experience this too, in our spiritual lives as consecrated. We may at some point in our spiritual walk feel like we do not feel free to go to our Heavenly Father. We feel “I am not bidden to come to God anymore or feel God is not communicating with me anymore; that God has hidden Himself from me (just like King Xerxes has from Esther), Jehovah God has hidden himself for the past perhaps 30 days too, and we don’t feel we can go and plead our cause.

And this is what Mordecai is bringing out to Esther — the reason for Him hiding. He is saying, “remember Esther … You’re life is at stake! You think you will die if you go to the King … I know you will die if you do not go!”

So in our lives God may bring us to this point in our lives to show us that if we don’t continuously communicate with Him, then we WILL DIE!

You know dear friends, there is a far greater then Haman out there looking to kill us … that is… a “Haman” who is called Satan. Satan wishes to kill our New Creature developing in us — the embryonic New Creation which is developing into maturity until the Jesus agape love in us, overflows towards our beloved brethren and our will becomes dead to self but alive in Christ — being crucified in ALL we think and do, having our minds super-glued on Christ Jesus no matter how ridiculous we sound to the world or how humiliated we are for striving to conform to the LIKENESS OF OUR LORD JESUS.

Dear brethren in Christ, as we are now on an arena and we are a spectacle unto angels and men, let us endure it with great Joy in our Hope that promised for the faithful unto death isn’t just eternal life in perfect conditions, but IMMORTAL life and those who suffer with CHRIST for doing good now, shall reign with CHRIST. They are those who grow into the maturity in Christ, learning and CUTTING OFF and TURN AWAY from sin -from mistakes made in blind ignorance according to any uniquely individual situation allowed by God, and turning completely away from past errors, learning to well appreciate the failings of all their brethren and the world through their own experiences of enduring the sacrificial experiences as prospective Bride of Christ members, and learning to only FULLY depend on and seek out their Heavenly Father’ will in ALL.

So this experience is to help bring us back to the place where we will come and pour out our hearts to our Heavenly Father, but in doing it, we face that one big emotional problem: that problem of … “well I can’t do this because I’ve gotten out of the habit … I don’t have that feeling anymore.” And that’s when we have to awaken to the righteousness that says, “even if I don’t feel comfortable in praying to God, if I don’t do it, the result is certainly DISASTROUS! If I do do this, then there is the ONE and the ONLY potential of overcoming in doing this and as we come to the remedies we’ll find that the first remedy, is the remedy suggested by the first cause, and that is PRAYER.

PRAYER is the beginning of the remedy even though it may be the very hardest to apply when we feel estranged from the Lord individually.

This situation of Queen Esther’s, may remind us of a certain class in the Bible; a class mentioned in the prophecy of Jeremiah 8; a class that ends up saying “the harvest has ended the summer is passed and we are not saved.” That class that speaks those words in Jeremiah 8:20, in Jeremiah 8:11 said that the reason for their punishment is because they said “they have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”

Is this not the very thing that Esther was doing! Esther was telling Mordecai “your problem is you need to get out of your sack clothes … You need new clothes.” And Mordecai was telling her that’s like saying “peace, peace when there is no peace.” That is not the problem but rather is the symptom. The problem was that she needed to approach the King on behalf of Israel.

And so the alienation we sometimes feel is to awaken us to the deeper problems that lie there to bring us to the Lord not to solve the alienation but to solve a deeper problem; to find out what it is to not keep us away.

(B) God may hide himself from us, to teach us FAITH, TRUST and RELIANCE upon Him through Jesus Christ, our Master and King.

Sometimes our Heavenly Father teaches us that our life isn’t different from anybody else’s or to bring us to a place where we can’t see any purpose from an experience, He then says,

“That’s when YOU NEED TO TRUST IN ME when you can’t trace Me.” This is brought out beautifully in Job 23: 3-5,8,9,15 (NIV) and this pin-points the problem.

(3-5) If only I knew where to find Him; if only I could go to His dwelling! I would state my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what He would answer me, and consider what He would say to me.”

(8-9) “But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see Him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him.”

(11) “My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.”

This is a sad set of scriptures. Job looks everywhere for God, yet cannot find God to feel that He is with him in his experiences at a time of experiencing so much pain and misery. These experiences seem over his head and as a result, Job was beginning to sink in the experiences he had. It isn’t until later in the Book of Job, that Job starts swimming upward again and begins getting over these experiences.

In Job chapter 23: 3-5, Job wanted to find God to plead his case before God.

Let’s look at verse 6 & 7 to fill in some answers.

(6) “Would He vigorously oppose me? No, He would not press charges against me. (7) There the upright can establish their innocence before Him, and there I would be delivered forever from my judge.”

In verse 6, Job realizes if he could find God, he would find Him a Merciful God, who would give him strength.
In verse 7 is the realization that if we feel we have lost God, we firstly need to find our Advocate — the one who pleads on our behalf! We know it is our Beloved, Precious Jesus who is the Best Lawyer in the whole universe!

When we feel we have lost our ability to approach God then more than ever we feel “if only someone spoke God’s language and could get through to Him for me”, and that is exactly what Jesus does! And Job was as if saying, “if only Jesus would argue for me … if I could just enlist the upright one on my side, then he would deliver me from this judgement forever … Then I would be over this particular experience”.

So friends, IT IS FINDING THE UPRIGHT ONE, JESUS, IN OUR LIVES.

And Job says he can’t. He goes upward, downward, backward, front, and simply can’t find him. So now let’s look at verses 10 & 12:

(10) “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
(12) I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread.”

So just like Job highlights through these words of his, let us look for the realization that even though we feel God is hiding himself from us for a brief moment, He knows exactly where we are and has not departed from us, and it is HE who FIRST FOUND US, called out us of darkness into His marvelous light, and adopted us as we are told in Ephesians 1:5 (NLT). God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”

God wishes for us to develop faith in Him, that He is taking charge in our life and to TRUST COMPLETELY in Him.

In verse 11 & 12, Job says what he felt he had done, and they are a stimulus to us about things WE MUST DO to feel this pull to our Heavenly Father. We must trust and be convinced that God will pull us through and make us more than gold IF:

1.      Our feet will hold to His steps;
2.      His way we keep and do not decline;
3.      We do not go back from the commandment of His lips;
4.      We esteem the words of His mouth more than necessary food.

It is at this point God is telling us we will be in a good place IF WE DO OUR PART. God is saying, “I’m putting you in a place where you can’t see Me, but if you just do your responsibilities then trust that then I will do what I promise to do and bring you closer to Me.”

And Job tells why he’s so confident in Job 23: 13-14. “But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases. He carries out His decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store.”

The Leeser’s Jewish Bible translation of Job 23:14 reads, He will bring to completion what is destined for me.”

Each one of the Church of the Body of Christ members (that’s you and me dear brethren) are being trained and fitted for a peculiar specific and each different part of the body that requires a different treatment. I can’t be treated in exactly the same way as Sister X, Y or Z or Brother A, B or C as we each need specific experiences and as we come into these experiences as their all different, we don’t see what the end result is, and God’s saying to us, “the reason I give you these experiences is because I want you to have confidence that I KNOW BEST what the end result should be and so I’m not going to let you see what this end result is, so that you will learn that my hand will lead you through this to safely overcome and develop a Christlike character that I require from you, so that I can present you to my Son when I’m through with you.”

It will take every inch of TRUST, of DISCIPLINE over the mind, and FAITH. It will require us to LAY DOWN OUR COMPLETE UTTER ALL for God to direct us now so we can prove to Him our LOYALTY to God’s PRINCIPLES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS so that we can receive the Highest possible reward because of proving to God that we please Him through overcoming the most unfavorable circumstances of the permission of evil.

And the end of this verse is saying that just like God has this kind of experience in store, so HE has other experiences for us also.

Now, the hiding of God’s face is only one tool in His tool box. 

The heavenly Father has tools of throwing His arms around us too!

At other times in our walk up towards spiritual Holy “Mount Zion”, God is showing us, that He really likes what we are doing.

God gives us His tools of directing us, just when we need that direction.
Our Divine Father testing us to the words we sing in that hymn,

“I’d rather walk in the dark with God,

than go alone in the light”. 

So would you really? That is what God is TESTING.

God is as if saying, “Are you willing to really walk in the dark with me when you can’t see the next step? Will you trust to take the steps in the dark and know that it will lead to gold? Would you really rather walk by Faith then walk by sight? Show me how”.

Let us look at one more thing here. Job’s attitude in Job 10:2. Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.”

This same word “bitter” is used in Deuteronomy 31:27. “For I know thy rebellion…?” The word “rebellion” here, is the same word as the one written as “bitter” in Job 23:2.

Job in verse 2 is saying, ” I just want to argue with God and show and explain to Him that this hiding from me just isn’t fair!”

This attitude is the one God is trying to correct, to bring us into a complacent one that Job shows and had in Job 23:10.

(C) God may hide himself to TEST THE SINCERITY OF OUR CONSECRATION.

How much easier it is to say “whatever your will God, I’ll do it!” but then when hammered down as life unfold, through the Christian pilgrimage to our heavenly home, how easy is it to accept our Heavenly Father’s will when we experience agonizing experiences of pain, sickness & disease, and death?

When we first made our consecration, it may have been far more easily said “God may it be your will”, yet we learn to understand what this means ONLY through the BIGGEST BLESSING OF ALL that follow: LIFE; EXPERIENCE; PHYSICAL and MENTAL PAIN, and /or SICKNESS, and SUFFERING.

We now see that being a soldier in the Lord’s army takes every inch of mental and physical energy that we have into the fight for the victory of being a member of the 144,000!

Never give up!

Never, never, never give up!

A martyr means “a witness” and to be a witness of CHRIST will cost us our ENTIRE ALL not just half of us… No way! God doesn’t want a lukewarm CHRISTIAN as a King to reign with His Son Jesus in future… God does not want a COLD Christian either who has a non- repentant or non-forgiving heart… God WANTS A ZEALOUS follower of Christ who shall defend JESUS and those who are His; who have professed consecrating into Christ, to the best of their human abilities -seeing them all as better than self (Phil. 2:3).

So our tools to overcoming is prayer and the studying of Holy Scriptures every day and immersing the mind into Scripture at every point you have even if it’s a few minutes here or there then do that! ALL our time is consecrated unto the Lord so we no longer even own it, as we lay down our ALL on the altar of sacrifice daily, and daily seek to fulfill our covenant sacrifice until death.

Never stop to rest from activity in the Lord’s service, even for one minute!

Don’t ever think the battle is won till faithful until death!

By hiding himself, God is in fact asking us “are you willing to take a path where you now can no longer identify with me, where you find your confused and say God how does this experience identify with me?”

This was the test our Lord Jesus experienced too. Remember when Jesus hung on the cross, for the first time he did not call God “Father but said:

 “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”

that is,

“My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Jesus felt our Divine Father’s face hidden from him!

Look at the depth that Jesus felt this experience …

I mean here is a PERFECT human, the Son of the Almighty Jehovah God, who had had a prior relationship with the Father when he was the Logos in his pre-human existence. Jesus knew God intimately!

God was testing our Lord Jesus to the very depth of his consecration. Could he take that alienation? In Jesus case, the experience was very temporary. It had to be, as his life was very temporary; it was only a more few hours on the cross and so at last his life WAS RESTORED and Jesus’s last words (which were called out by him in a loud voice) were,

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

God had tested Jesus to the point of seeing if Jesus would really take and accept any experience, even the experience of turning his back on Jesus, turning away from him so that he could not even see the Father’s face.

(D) God may hid himself from us to TEACH US leadership and principles.

Under the Old Law, the Israelites were told exactly how to order their life. They were given a set of Laws and were instructed by God how to follow these laws to inherit eternal life. Every experience of life related to what God did want or didn’t want.

But when it comes to the Church of the Firstborn, God says, “I’m not going to give you a whole set of Laws and tell you what to do and what not to do, but rather I want YOU TO THINK OF IT FOR YOURSELVES … I’ll give you the material to based your thoughts upon, (and that’s in the Bible) but YOU HAVE TO DETERMINE what I want you to do and what I don’t want you to do.” And that’s HARDER, as it’s no longer the case of reading what the law is, but trying to learn HOW GOD OPERATES. And as a result God gives us the Gospel, a broad sketch outlines of HIS will. He gives us a book full of biographies – of both Old and New Testament characters and God doesn’t tell us which experiences they did right and which they did wrong but gives us these experiences and tells us “now you decide which ones I approve of and which ones are right and which ones are wrong based on an EDUCATED CONSCIENCE that you’ll gain from works in developing your Faith in Me”. And in most cases, God doesn’t give us the answers in our own individual experiences but wants us to think on His principles to deal with our challenges of life.

God does not want us as His children to memorize rules, but HE wishes us to be like philosophers and reasoned upon and apply His Righteous Principles… to figure out what He would wish of us and this takes continual leaning on HIM and HIS word through prayer and study.

That is WHY our Father hides himself, so it is better for us to see the principles.

Let’s share a practical example.

You have a new employee and there is only so long you can stand over your new friend’s shoulder and say “do it this way, this way, this way and this way.” After a while, you need to tell the new employee, “this is the end result I want so do it the best way you can.” You LET THEM figure out the best way in realizing how to accomplish the job and the LORD is telling us the same thing. “I want your character like mine. I’m not going to show you every step. I want you to figure it out on your own based on the principles to develop leadership potential.
Why does God work like this? Because God’s training us!

For what? To be Kings who will reign with Christ.

And a King must learn to think.

A King must know what the principles are to actively apply them.

God is training us to be teachers. There are good teachers and bad teachers. One feature distinguishes the two:

A bad teacher — teaches merely facts. He tells you what is the answer. What it is.

A good teacher — teaches how to think and how to arrive at the facts. These students can surpass their teacher and then they become even better teachers.

God is a good teacher. God is saying “if you just look at Me you’ll never learn to teach others so I’m going to hide from you so you can figure out what I’m trying to accomplish in your life.

God teaches us that we must be governed in our life by PRINCIPLES, not by emotions.

The emotional response to Truth can sometimes be an asset but it can be out of balance in our lives because that’s the only response we look for, so God may withdraw the emotional response and withdrawn that which produces that emotional response to see if we’re really serving him out of the principles of righteousness.

(E ) God hides himself in order to STIMULATE STUDY. 

We learn to go back to our Father’s word to see why He is hiding His face.

It’s like God’s way of tapping us on the shoulder and saying, “Read 2 Timothy 2:15 again … ‘Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.'”

Just as one doesn’t study a verse of the Bible out of its context, so too we study the book of our lives IN THE CONTEXT OF OUR LIVES and we don’t take an experience all by itself and say why did GOD let this develop but we relate it to the context of our whole life.

When we go to school to be trained we relate what we study to the job we will do afterwards. So to, in the school of Christ, we are being trained for a particular job which includes many functions and let’s incorporate them into one job — Mediator.

What makes a good mediator?

The Vines Expository Dictionary definitions the word “mediator” in the following way:

“A mediator should himself possess the nature and attributes of him toward whom he acts (man) and should likewise participate in the nature of those for whom he acts (God). Only by being possessed of both deity and humanity can the mediator comprehend the claims of the one and the needs of the other.

And in the final analysis that is exactly the point. We will have the Divine nature (deity) if we are faithful unto death. Jesus got the Divine nature at death, when he was faithful. Only by having that, could he really understand what God required because then he shared the same requirements. Only by being with men and possessing their nature could he understand what they needed and he could then diagnose them. And so with us. Our experiences are to give us a common identity with the world. In fact that is why our life is no different from the world around us, and we’re told it wouldn’t be.

(F) God hides his face to BROADEN OUR BASE OF SYMPATHY

1 Corinthians 10:13 talks about what kind of experiences God gives us.

1 COR. 10, 13 -with cross

There is no experience we have that is different to man’s. So we look around and see that our experiences are no different to those we see around us and so therefore we say…”God is not with me”… It is just the opposite. BECAUSE YOUR LIFE IS NO DIFFERENT FROM THOSE AROUND YOU, GOD IS WITH YOU!

If we look for our lesson and apply ourselves in learning to trust God’s providential care and leading we will know how to endure the experience and use the strength God gives us to overcome any and every test of character development God allows to come our way.

Our Divine Father tells us, “I’m giving you these experiences because that’s what you are here for… to learn to be part of the Mediator.”

In the tabernacle picture, you had two animals making ONE SIN OFFERING. But there was a distinction between those two animals. One signified Christ; one signified the Church. They both died; both had the blood applied on the mercy seat. But the blood of the bullock was for Aaron the High priest and his house, the Levites. The blood of the goat was for the whole family of Israel.

Christ’s part in the sin offering is peculiarly and particularly for the Church and the Church’s part of the sin offering is peculiarity and particularly for mankind.

And we can substantiate this in Hebrews 2: 17-18, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16).

So mankind will have the same experiences that the Church has because that is required in the body of experiences in the sin offering to most effectually help back the world of mankind in the kingdom that someone has gone through a life no different; that they have gone through the most common experience that mankind has had and that is universal and that is, that God is hiding his face from me.

So one of the most common experiences he must give us is that He hides His face from us so that we can learn to find it and so that, in turn, we can help mankind find God’s face again so that their lives are more meaningful even as we look to find God’s face in our experiences so that likewise the experiences can be more meaningful to us.
May the Lord add His bless.

Acknowledgment

Br. Carl Hagensick – words from his discourse titled “When God Hides Himself” have been used to create this post.

 

I KNOW NOT WHAT AWAITS ME

I know not what awaits me,
  God kindly veils my eyes,
And o’er each step of my onward way
  He makes new scenes to rise;
And every joy He sends me comes
  A sweet and glad surprise.

Where He may lead I’ll follow,
  My trust in Him repose;
And every hour in perfect peace,
  I’ll sing, “He knows, He knows“;
And every hour in perfect peace,
  I’ll sing, “He knows, He knows.”

One step I see before me,
  ’Tis all I need to see,
The light of heaven more brightly shines
  When earth’s illusions flee;
And sweetly through the silence comes,
  His loving, “Trust in Me!”

Oh, blissful lack of wisdom,
  ’Tis blessed not to know;
He holds me with His own right hand,
  And will not let me go,
And lulls my troubled soul to rest
  In Him who loves me so.

So on I go not knowing;
  I would not if I might;
I’d rather walk in the dark with God
  Than go alone in the light;
I’d rather walk by faith with Him
  Than go alone by sight.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/07/14/isaiah-4515-a-god-who-hides-himself/

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,281 other followers

Save