Thursday, December 31, 2015

Honoring Jesus as God Does

Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012

It is an understatement just to say that God has highly exalted His Son.  God has glorified him above the heavens and given him a name above every name!  God has exalted His Son so much that if His Son has baptized you with the life of God, then that’s all the baptism God ever wants you to have, because that is the only baptism that honors His Son.  To honor the Son as God does is to feel that the Son’s kind of circumcision, the invisible circumcision, the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of circumcision.    To honor the Son the way God does means that you think that the Son’s kind of communion, fellowship with God, is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of communion. To honor the Son the way God does means that you think that the Son’s baptism of your spirit by the holy Ghost is so wonderful that you don’t want any other kind of baptism.  To honor the Son as God does is to know that you do not need a ceremonial “outward expression of an inward experience”, for you become the outward expression of that inner work of God.  When we esteem the Son’s spiritual garments of praise to be so good and holy that we do not need choir robes, we are honoring the Son as God honors him.
Oh, to honor Jesus in a way that pleases the Father!  That is the value of the truth.  The truth enlightens us as to how to honor Jesus as the Father has honored him, the way those without the Spirit cannot do, the way that no Christian ceremony has ever done!  God has visited us and anointed our eyes to see how foolish and vain religious ceremonies are.  At the same time, He has given us great compassion for those who practice them.  When God anoints you to see that water baptism is nothing, with that anointing comes the power to love the people who carry out that ritual the way He loves them.  You cannot love people the way God loves them until you see them the way He sees them.  How vain their efforts to serve Him in the flesh are!  But when you see it, the truth begins to hurt your heart for people the way it hurts the heart of God.
I remember, years ago, when God began to reveal the truth to Brother Jim Gregory, when the eye salve was still wet on his eyes, he began to feel a pain that he had never felt before.  He talked to me about it one evening, and I told him, “Brother Jim, that is ‘the burden of the Lord’.  You’re beginning to feel the way God feels for people.”  Only the knowledge of the truth brings that kind of compassion into the heart.
We were up in Montreal not long ago, visiting a shrine, the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world, I believe.  It was a huge complex, very impressive.  You had to go up three or four long escalators to get to the sanctuary.  And in the prayer room, they had maybe a thousand little red candles on this side – for five-dollar prayers.  If you couldn’t afford that, they had a thousand or so smaller candles for one-dollar prayers.  Oh, to watch a young mother there, kneeling before that big image of Joseph, lighting a candle, with her child, praying about something; hurting about something!  How that grieved my spirit.  That poor mother was longing for something from Jesus and thinking that’s what she had to do in order to receive it.  She could have stayed home and touched his heart, but she didn’t know it.  She didn’t know Jesus is that good, or that accessible.
Oh, God, what has religious ceremony done to people’s hearts and minds!  I watched her climb up those stairs and reach up into the place where she could get some “holy” water, put it on her forehead, and then light a candle.  And there were others there doing the same thing.
Do we have the faith to leave off ceremony and trust in Jesus as if he really is the only way to eternal life?  We are saved by grace through faith in him!  And not through Joseph, Mary, or any other dead saint.  “There is one mediator between God and men – the man, Christ Jesus.”  And Jesus our Mediator sent us the holy Ghost to take his place.  The pope is not the vicar of Christ; the holy Ghost is the vicar of Christ, and it makes you a vicar of Christ.  Paul said, “We beseech you, in Christ’s stead.”  Paul was a vicar of Christ.  Did not Jesus say, “You’re the light of the world”?
Then, may God help us to shine, and not to charge people five dollars, one dollar – any dollar – to minister to them, but to give them a dollar if they need one.  Just through a life of holiness and faith, we can do our part in this world.  That is being a light in a dark place.  Rejoice in what Jesus has made you!  Be thankful!  You will be undervalued by everybody whose eyes have not been anointed yet, but you are precious to God!  Oh, God!  Save us from the influence of this foolish world, and let us finish our work and do our part.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Staying Excited

Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012

One of the amazing things about Preacher Clark, the man of God that some of us grew up under, is that he always seemed to realize how valuable he was.  He had a flock of about fifteen or twenty people, and he thought his ministry was the greatest thing on earth.  He never lost sight of the value, the beauty, the holiness of life in the Spirit, and he never lost his joy and excitement about what was coming.  Never.  Anything from God is exciting, and he really had something from God.
May God save us from losing our excitement about what is truly of Him.  May we always be like Preacher Clark and live in excitement for what God can do with us, and for us.  Those who walk in the Spirit know in their hearts that the truth of the gospel of God is constantly molding us so that what comes out of our mouth is from Him and what we do with these bodies is of Him.  That kind of life has an effect; it has an effect on people that we don’t even think about.  Wherever Spirit-filled children of God go, into restaurants, or ball games, or wherever, people feel something good from them.  If we will walk in the Spirit of God, even our children will impress people with a feeling of goodness.  Some of us have had airline stewardesses come up to us and say, “Are they your children?  They are so good!  They’re different.”  That’s valuable, my friends.  It is a good testimony.  And we humbly thank Jesus for it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

“Working You”

Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012

I got an email from Brother Ron today.  He was excited about Bob and Ellen visiting down there with him.  He’d been telling some of his friends about his visit with us, and they said, “Boy, they’re really working you hard.”  Do you know why they said that?  Because if they were visiting somebody, they would be working them hard.  They would be working them hard to get more members, to get more money, to get more status, to increase the congregation’s status in the community.  I wrote him back and I said, “Working you hard to get you to . . . what?”  He offered to start paying his tithes and offerings the last time I was there, and I said, “No, not yet.  I want you to make sure you know what you are getting into when you get involved in my work.”  So, it’s not money.  As far as I know, there’s nothing for Ron to do here but enjoy it.  His friends obviously do not understand fellowship!
There’s not a single one of Ron’s friends that would fly to Australia to visit a man and his wife because God had opened their minds, as some of us did with Brother Damien and his family, or pay for them twice to fly to the US from over there.  Not a single one of them would do that because that is not how you “work people hard”.  Oh, we worked you hard, didn’t we, Damien?  It is so sad that Christians don’t understand that depth of love and joy for others, and here we are, living in it!  Thanks be to God, we live in it!  And we live in that love and joy and  fellowship, and excitement of seeing God opening up a heart and mind because we rejoice in the truth.  That’s our joy!  That’s our purpose.  I flew to Australia with Gary, Song and Barbara because Damien was me over there.  We had been made one in Christ, and I wanted to go visit me!  Christianity doesn’t have that kind of fellowship.  It doesn’t exist anywhere except in the sweet light of God.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Live The Way You Want To

Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012

If you people here are not living the way you want to, please leave!  Go somewhere and live the way you really want to live.  If you are not living the way you want to, you obviously need to change something.  If you want to do the will of God and you are not living that way, you need to repent of something and be filled with the Spirit.  If you want to live like the world but you are too ashamed to do it here, you need to repent of wanting to live that way – or leave and go do it!  I believe and preach a gospel that liberates people to live the way they want to!
Many years ago, on a Sunday morning before we left to go to our afternoon prayer meeting down at Grandma’s house, I was listening to a local minister on the radio.  He was talking to his congregation, warning them against living the way they want to.  “You can’t live the way you want to!” he demanded.  “You need to live the way the Bible says!”  And I thought, Those poor people who want to live in sin!  And their pastor isn’t helping them!  If that minister had been of God, he would have told those people that Jesus delivers from sinful desires and replaces those unclean desires with holy desires!  Then they could live the way they wanted to, and it be good!  Instead, he berated them for wanting to sin, and gave them no way out.  People cannot help wanting what they want, and if they are languishing in a life of evil desires, they need to be set free, not condemned for it.
My message is, and always has been, “Be filled with the Spirit and then live the way you want to!”  Are you living the way you want to?  There is no other way to be happy, in Jesus or otherwise, than to live the way you really want to live.  The person to whom God has given the holy Ghost and in whom He has created right desires, can live the way he wants to live, and it will please God!  But if you do not want to live right, then your options are either to seek God for deliverance or leave this congregation and stop tormenting yourself with a pointless act.  Seek God for a desire to live right, or go live the way you really want to!
Thank God, I’m living the way I want to!  I drink all the liquor I want to drink.  I go to Las Vegas and gamble every time I want to.   I commit adultery with all the women I want to.  I tell all the lies I want to tell.  I live the way I want to!  And I praise God the way I want to.  And I love others all I want to.  And I tell all the truth I want to tell.  Jesus came to create holy desires in our hearts and then to give us the power to live the way we want to!  In Christ, we are not doomed to force ourselves to live contrary to what we want; on the contrary, we are liberated to really be ourselves!
Brother Earl Pittman once testified – and it’s a true testimony of all of God’s people – that a long time ago, he wanted to live without sin and he just could not do it.  So, he kept repenting and seeking God until he could do it, until the power of God came in so that he could live the way he wanted to!  That’s my testimony, too.  As a young man, I wanted to truly understand the things of God.  I wanted my words to reflect His wisdom, not my opinions.  That’s what I wanted from my heart, and I sought Him from my heart, and He taught me from His heart so that my words would reflect His heart.  That is the kind of thing Jesus came to do for us, and he did it!  So now, just how do you want to live?  If you want to live a right life, tell Jesus!  He’ll accommodate you.  He’ll make room for you at the table and let you live exactly the way you want to.
Some years ago now, Brother Bob was alone in his peach orchard one day, and he wanted to live right but didn’t know how.  He prayed, “God, there’s got to be more to life than this.”  God made room at the table.  Shortly after Bob prayed that sincere prayer, God sent a sister in the Lord to invite Bob to the supper.  The same thing happened out in San Francisco with Brother Gary, wanting to know the truth.  “God, there’s got to be something better than this.”  And God invited him to the table with a gospel tract that he received in the mail.  Praise God!  Every one of the people in this congregation have had similar feelings at some point in their lives: “God, where is the truth?  Who is right?  I want to live right; I want people in my life that I can trust, people that I can love and they’ll love me back and not do me wrong.”  And over time, God has created this congregation to meet that need, to answer those prayers.  Here we are.  And it has nothing to do with me manipulating you, or you manipulating me; all of that kind of stuff is in the world, not in our heavenly Father’s kingdom.  We do not manipulate each other, we relieve one another; we edify one another; we build up one another; we help one another; we love one another.
Every creature in heaven – the cherubim, the seraphim, the archangels, the angels, the Father and the Son – all of them are just doing what they want to do.  For them, living a life of holiness and goodness is just as natural as can be.  They do not have a “live holy and good program” to go by.  They just do what they want to do, and it is holy and good.  And if the Son of God has made you free, you, too, are doing what you want to do.  Holiness is easy when Jesus creates a desire for it in your heart.  That’s what John meant when he said, “His commandments are not burdensome.”   God’s commandments were not burdensome for John because he wanted to keep them.  Every commandment of God opens up a door so you can live more like you want to, if you want to keep God’s commandments.  But let me tell you, God’s commandments are very burdensome if you do not want to keep them.  If you do not want to know the truth, the truth is a burden, the truth will seem like an attack to those who do not want it.  To them, the truth is bad and is cast aside as irrelevant.  But if you do want it, the truth tastes sweet.  It is a relief.  Oh, what a refreshing it is!  When Jesus said, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” this is what he was talking about.  He was promising to re-create us so that we can live the way we want to, and it be good!
God has given us holy desires, and then given us the power to live the way we want to!    That’s really living.  When we are living from our heart, we are living the way we want to.  And when we live the holy life we want to live, there are no regrets.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

You Are Not Irrelevant, Part 2

the test of being ignored
Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012

If you do not have the Spirit, you don’t have any hope.  It does not matter in the least how many ministers pat you on the head, tell you that you are saved, or say that you are one of the best members.  Member of what?  You’re not a member of the body of Christ without the holy Ghost.  And every religious organization that is in the world is trying to make that message seem irrelevant to what’s really happening in your life.
What’s really happening is that everybody who repents really receives the holy Ghost!  But neither men nor Satan want that message to be heard.  That is why they devised their religious organizations – as an alternative to the truth.  What’s really happening is that people are not repenting, and that is why they are not receiving the holy Ghost and being born again!  That’s what’s really happening, and that’s not irrelevant – unless you trust what one of man’s religious institutions tells you.  Everybody needs to know that Paul once said, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.”  And that does not mean that a person has the Spirit of Christ just because some minister told him that he had it.  God alone tells you when you receive His Spirit.  His Spirit bears witness that it has come into your heart because the Spirit is truth!  Paul said, “because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ ”  That’s not irrelevant.
You mean if I haven’t spoken in tongues I’m not born again?  Yes!  If the holy Ghost hasn’t declared you to be a child of God, who else has authority to tell you that?  I don’t.  The Bible doesn’t.  Angels don’t.  Christian ministers don’t.  Nobody but God has the authority to tell a person he or she is born again!
A Pentecostal Holiness minister, pretty well known in the Pentecostal Holiness faith, was talking to my Father one time about receiving the holy Ghost before being baptized with it.  He was saying that a person receives the Spirit by portions, a little when he “gets saved”, a little more when he “gets sanctified”, and the rest when he receives the holy Ghost.  My father said, “If that’s true, then the holy Ghost comes into a person tail first because he doesn’t speak until the end.”  My father pointed out that “The scripture says, ‘God does not give the Spirit by measure.’”  Still, the respected minister didn’t budge.  He replied that in the process of being born again, that was how it happened.  My friend, no one receives a third of the Spirit when he “gets saved”, and another third of it when he “gets sanctified”, and another third when he receives the holy Ghost baptism.  A person either has the Spirit or he does not, and he does not have it until he is baptized with it and the Spirit speaks in tongues through him. That distinguished Pentecostal Holiness minister was trying to make my father feel irrelevant.
The Dean of the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University tried to make me feel irrelevant one evening as we sat together in his office, having a private conversation about the new birth.  His position was that people always receive the Spirit before they’re baptized with it.  I said, “Can you think of an example in the Bible of that?  Where did anybody receive God’s Spirit before He baptized them with it?”  He said, “Well, when Philip went up and preached to the Samaritans; it says they received the word of God, and then later on, Peter and John came up, and laid hands on them, and they received the holy Ghost.”  Then I said, “The Bible says that ‘the holy Ghost had come upon none of them’.  It says that Peter and John went and laid hands on them that ‘they might receive the holy Ghost, for as yet it had come upon none of them.’ ”  His reply?  “Well, the Bible just says it that way, but they really already had the Spirit.”  That world-renowned minister was not just trying to make me irrelevant so that he could cling to his own doctrine; he was trying to make the Bible irrelevant!  He was a celebrated leader among God’s people, but to me, he seemed very foolish.  What he said did not change the Bible at all, and as far as the truth was concerned, both he and his doctrine were irrelevant.
May God save us from this world’s efforts to make us feel irrelevant and to make us think that the truth Christ gives is irrelevant.  It is not irrelevant; it’s the saving gospel!  But God’s people have thrown the true gospel behind them, just as God’s people did in the Old Testament.   Yes, this has happened before, and through one of the prophets, God lamented, “Israel has rejected what is good!
One of the great benefits of learning the Old Testament is that we can see that such a thing has happened before.  The spiritual condition of God’s people really has been this bad before.  God’s people really have been, as a whole, this far from the truth.  It is not a new thing for there to be but a remnant of God’s people who understand and love the truth.  In ancient Israel, matters grew so bad that when anyone dared to repent and walk according to the truth of the law, he became a target, a prey for cruel and proud people who belonged to God (Isa. 59:15).  So it is today.  Unbelievable as it may seem, it happened before, just as it is now, that truth itself perished from the minds of God’s people (Jer. 7:28).  It is nothing new that entire generations of God’s people live in complete ignorance of the truth, or that the truth itself is irrelevant to what they think and say and do.
Nevertheless, the truth is precious, and relevant to our salvation!  And you who know the truth are a chosen and blessed people!  The truth of Jesus Christ is not irrelevant to any man’s soul; it will either damn or justify every person who ever lives.  All people will be judged by the truth, and to understand the truth in this life, and to have it influence your conduct while you live is a gift from God!  Value the truth, and do not be discouraged by what they think or say who are ignorant of it.  Neither the truth nor those who live in it are irrelevant; the truth is the light of Jesus, and those who let it shine through them are shining beacons of love and hope in this very dark world.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

You Are Not Irrelevant, Part 1

the test of being ignored

One of Satan’s most effective weapons against those who are walking in the light is to inspire people to ignore them, to try to make them feel inconsequential, unimportant, and irrelevant.  But no one walking in the light of God is irrelevant; they are accomplishing wonderful things even if they don’t know it.  Israel lost its way in the Old Testament when the nations made them feel irrelevant.  They began to think of themselves the way the world thought of them, and began changing how they lived so that the Gentiles would consider them to be worthwhile.  When the Spirit of God fell on Balaam, he said that Israel would “not be reckoned among the nations,” and they never were.  That is why the nation of Israel is only rarely mentioned in ancient heathen documents.
If a person is ignored, he can begin to wonder if he is worth anything, or if he really has a worthwhile purpose in life.  And if being ignored continues a long time for him, the pressure on him to conform and to please those who are ignoring him can become very heavy.  Such a person can forget who he is if he tried to change himself to be what others want him to be, but if he does forget, and if he ceases to be who he really is, he will never be happy, even if others stop ignoring him.
The principal message that God’s people need to hear is the truth about who they are, for they have forgotten.  They have forgotten that they are God’s people because He baptized them with the holy Ghost and they began to speak in tongues, not because they performed a ceremony and joined a church.  God’s people do not know that, and in pursuing church religion instead of life in the Spirit, they are trying to be relevant in a world filled with man’s religions.
The truth about the baptism of the holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues being the new birth is needed.  We have done more to get that truth out than anybody on the earth that I know of.  The book I wrote, Speaking in Tongues at Spirit Baptism, is an important book.  It shows many Old Testament prophecies of that new birth experience, along with New Testament references to it.  We have sent out, in this country and beyond, close to fifty thousand copies by now, including copies to every Pentecostal or Charismatic person or pastor that we were able to find.  And our biggest response has been that we are ignored.  It’s Satan’s old tactic against God’s people, hoping to make us change from following after the Spirit and pursue church religion instead.  But it is not working, and it will not work as long as Jesus continues to keep us encouraged.

Baptism of the Spirit

In Acts 1, Jesus told his disciples, “John indeed baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy Spirit not many days from now.”  Then, in Acts 2, we find this: “When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord, in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven like a violent, rushing wind.”  In other words, when the holy Ghost came, it sounded like a roar.  If the author of Acts had known about trains, he might have said it sounded like a train coming.  That’s how people often describe the noise that tornados make, as trains, powerful and rushing, and that is the sound they heard on Pentecost morning.  That sound “filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them divided tongues like fire, and it sat upon each one of them, and they were all filled with holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other tongues as the spirit moved them to speak.”  In Acts 1, Jesus called that experience the “baptism of the holy Ghost” when he told his disciples that they would receive it.
Of this baptism, Paul later would say, “For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body” and “Do you not know that you are baptized into Christ?” and “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  So, if what they received on the day of Pentecost was the baptism of the Spirit – and Jesus said it was – and if Paul said the baptism of the Spirit puts us into Christ, then we know what the new birth is: the baptism of the holy Ghost!  Why have God’s people invented doctrines to make people think they are in Christ before they receive it?  I can tell you: they have invented doctrines to make people believe they are right with God before receiving the holy Ghost baptism in order to be accepted as relevant so that they will stop being ignored.
We are “baptized into Christ”!  And we are “baptized into the body of Christ”!  When we receive that baptism, we are born again; when we receive that baptism, we are converted; when we receive that baptism, our sins are washed away; when we receive that baptism, our hearts are circumcised by the Spirit and we become children of God.  To bring God’s people back to this fundamental truth, this long-forgotten resting-place of the soul, is a difficult task, but it is the work that Jesus has given me and my congregation to do.  If we somehow manage to communicate that single truth to God’s people, then the door out of the confusion of Christianity will at last be opened to them.  And if they obey the Father’s call to come out of confusion, they may well suffer the test of being ignored, but they will be too happy and free to care much about it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Our Standards

Occasionally someone will write, asking us for information on the standards of The Pioneer Tract Society.  Some time ago, in a publication of ours called The Broadcaster, we published some fundamental truths of the gospel which we teach.  Even though we no longer use The Pioneer Tract Society as an organization, the standards have not changed, and for the sake of those who want to know, here again are the fundamental standards by which members of this congregation are expected to live.

(Previously, The Pioneer Tract Society)
Rules for Conduct

Pastor John’s house is the meeting place of a group of believers whose purpose is to promote the fellowship of the saints, to the end that we may be a people prepared to meet our Lord Jesus in peace and with joy when he returns from heaven for his own.  Pastor John’s house is not a denomination; nor is it sectarian in any respect.  It is simply a place for saints to gather and work for the edifying of the saints and the promulgation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Saints at Pastor John’s house are expected to live so as to bring honor to God and His Son, Jesus.
The following Rules for Conduct are the minimum required standard for members of the congregation that meets at Pastor John’s house.

1. Members are to be examples of moral purity, faith, and love in Christ.
“Let fornication – indeed, all uncleanness – or covetousness not be mentioned among you, as befits saints” (Eph. 5:3).  “Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2Pet. 3:14).

2. Members are to dress according to holiness.
“According to holiness” means according to what is appropriate to the occasion, in modesty and cleanliness.  In short, saints are to use common sense and be decent.  They are not to use their bodies or their clothing to allure or to arouse the lusts of others.  For women, the Bible is clear that they should adorn themselves, “with modesty and prudence” (1Tim. 2:9).

3. Members are to refrain from gluttony and other excesses.
Jesus warned us that this sin would actually cause some saints to loose their souls.  “Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be dulled by dissipation, and drunkenness, and cares of life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly” (Lk. 21:34).

4. No member of this work may use tobacco in any of its various forms.  Neither are they to abuse drugs.
In all things, we are to pursue the exhortation of Paul, who wrote, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor. 7:1).  Because our bodies are the temple of God, we are to glorify God in our bodies as well as in our spirits (1Cor. 6:19-20), knowing that “if anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him” (1Cor. 3:17).

5. Concerning worldly entanglements, members are not to have any.
Paul the Apostle explained, “No one who goes to war entangles himself in the affairs of this life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2Tim. 2:4).  Whether worldly entertainment, social affairs, or political events, the work of the saints should always have the priority.  While we encourage our members to be aware of situations around them, the task given to us by God requires that our lives be as free as possible from commitments which interfere with accomplishing our purpose.

6. Members are to be good citizens of the country into which they are born, obedient to every law, and doing nothing which would endanger or demean the powers which God has placed over us.
As Peter said, “Be subject, therefore, to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake . . . for such is the will of God” (1Pet. 2:13-15).   The saints’ relationship to the rulers of our country is simply that “First of all, therefore, I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made . . . for all who are in authority” (1Tim. 2:1-2).  Whether concerning laws, rulers, or the customs of an earthly nation, the people of God should conduct themselves as ambassadors for Christ, with good will toward all men.

7. Every member is required to pay tithes and offerings.
Any child of God who does not render to God their tithes and offerings is a thief, according to God himself: “Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed me.  But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’  In the tithe and the offering.”
God has never repealed the tithe and offering system for the support of his earthly ministers.  On the contrary, Christ established it, being “made an eternal high priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’ ” (Heb. 6:20), who himself received tithes from Abraham (Gen. 14:17-20).  

8. All debts owed by members must be paid, or a sincere effort be made to pay them.
We are exhorted to “owe no one anything, except to love one another” (Rom. 13:8).  Members may borrow money, but must make timely payments on the debt.  It is a reproach to Christ for saints to fail to meet their financial commitments, for he has promised to deliver us from the curse of debt if we will walk uprightly (Dt. 28:12-13).

9. Any member who marries outside the faith of Christ will be immediately expelled.
The commandment that children of God marry only in the Lord is so clear and consistent throughout the Bible, that marrying outside the faith is tantamount to denial of the faith.

10. Also, any member who desires to marry a believer who is not a member here should leave this society and be fully joined to the believer he or she marries.
This society shall not be party to any division between God’s people on any level.  Husbands and wives are, in God’s sight, one flesh.  They should, therefore, have the same love and commitment for this society.  As the prophet asked, “Can two walk together without meeting?” (Amos 3:3). 

11. Every member of the body of Christ everywhere is to be treated with the dignity which is due a child of God.

12. We ask that any believer wishing to become a member of this work for Christ worship with us and live according to these standards for at least six (6) months before asking for membership.
The pressures which attend our particular work for the body of Christ are such that any saint who desires to be a member of the Pioneer Tract Society needs to be associated with us for some time so that he may make that commitment with full knowledge of the costs, as well as the benefits of doing so.  Also, because children may not be able to judge such weighty matters rightly, we ask that anyone requesting membership be of a mature age.  

. . . 
These standards are basic to holiness and are not intended to be exhaustive.  None of these rules will seem distasteful to the soul who is “walking in the Spirit”.  We have only given, in brief and general terms, a description of the kind of life required of those who participate in the holy work entrusted to us.  In matters not covered in this list of standards, we must humbly approach the scriptures in the fear of God and with the help of the Spirit, which alone is able to guide us into all truth.
Now, we will ask Paul to complete this general description of the right life, required of all who hope to enter into eternal life with Christ:

“Now, the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, immorality, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, emulations, angry outbursts, rivalries, disputes, factions, envyings, murders, bouts of drunkenness, revelings, and things like these  (concerning which things, I forewarn you, as I also warned you previously, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faith, meekness, self-control.  Against such there is no law. . . .  Now I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out fleshly desire.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How To Honor God

     Paul’s gospel liberated men to honor the Son as the Father honors him, and to honor the Father as the Son alone had always honored Him.  It is the nature of man to honor God as it pleases rather than the way that pleases God.  It is the nature of God’s true children to do all things as He would have it done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thanking Our Way Out

We can thank our way out of a hole if we are sincere.  And we start by thanking God for the hole.

Monday, December 14, 2015

How To Judge Thankfulness

From a sermon from 11/9/14

It is unwise to judge how thankful our children are by how pleased they are.  Children are not spiritual in their thinking and they are pleased most at what their flesh wants, not what God wants.  When you have given your children a gift, their true thankfulness cannot be measured by how happy they are that they got a gift.   Their thankfulness can be measured only by how glad they make you that you gave it to them.
Our thankfulness toward God is judged this way.  Think about it.  The last time God gave you a blessing, how glad did you make God that He blessed you?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Names in the Book of Life

And I stood upon the sand of the sea.
And I saw, coming up out of the sea,
a Beast with ten horns and seven heads,
and upon his horns were ten crowns,
and on his heads were names of blasphemy. . . .
And all the inhabitants of the earth shall worship him,
whose name is not written, from the beginning of the world,
in the Book of Life of the Lamb who was slain.”
Revelation 13:1, 8

Moses said that God determined the boundaries of the nations of earth according to the number of His people, Israel (Dt. 32:8).  This means that God determined the boundaries of the nations in the way that was in the best interest of His people.  And as with all other things God determined, He made that determination concerning the nations’ boundaries long before He even raised Israel up as a nation.  Likewise, our names were written in God’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.  This means that our names came first, and then God created everything else in preparation of bringing us here to live.
In God’s heart, we who belong to His Son came before the stars and the planets.  Now, do you think God love us, or what?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Every Morning

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22–23

Every morning you wake up, God’s mercy and love are available.  Every morning you wake up, you can make a deal with God, and He will take you up on it.  My father often told his congregation that all that matters with God is from now on.  God is willing to erase your past and start over, if you can believe it.
Jesus said that everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  He knew that God’s mercies are “new every morning” for anyone who is willing to start over and do what is right.  Let us gladly take advantage of God’s promise so that whoever admits that he has done wrong and turns from his wrong–doing will receive mercy (Prov. 28:13)!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Who Really Wants To Know

What thoughts and feelings do you have that you are not sure are of God?  You can lay them out in front of a wise, Spirit-filled group of saints, and you’ll find out whether they are of God or not.  And you will do that if you really want to know.  Everyone who truly wants to know whether or not their thoughts and feelings are right lays those thoughts and feelings out before the body of Christ to be judged.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

When the Truth Gets into Your Heart

So then, my dearly loved brothers, be steadfast, unmoveable,
abounding in the work of the Lord always,
knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1Corinthians 15:58

When the truth gets into your heart, nothing can take you away from it.  Nobody’s bad conduct, nobody’s hurtful words, nobody’s ungodly attitude can move you from the light of Christ.  No misfortune, no disappointment, no physical ailment can take you away from your Lord.  You will not turn from the truth because of what others do or say, for in your heart, you know the problem is their lack of it.  You will not turn from the truth because of bad things that happen, for in your heart, you know God’s answer for you is in it.  For those who have taken the truth into their heart, every pain, physical or spiritual, causes them to cling more tenaciously to the truth; it does not loosen their grip on it.
When the truth gets into your heart, the truth is your home, your hiding place, and nothing outside the truth attracts you.  You cannot envy those without the truth, no matter how wonderful their lives appear to be, because you feel so very blessed to have the truth that you pity anyone who is without it.
We become steadfast and immovable when the truth gets into our heart, and we abound in His work, because the truth constantly reminds us that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Rightness of Being Wrong

How wrong are you willing to be?  Jesus was so willing to be the most wrong person in the world that he made himself “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).  However, Jesus learned to do that only by following his Father’s example.  He was the perfect reflection of the Father in all things (Heb. 1:3), and he was willing to be wrong because he saw that depth of meekness in his heavenly Father.
We are like God only to the extent that we are willing to be wrong and that we are willing to step aside so that others may have their way.  Repeatedly in the Bible, we see God making the choice of preferring for people to have their way than to force them to obey His will.  He will not make us puppets to His will; He will not force us to do what is right.  And yet, knowing that His ways lead to peace and joy for us, and knowing that our own ways lead to misery and regret, and in the end, death, He sends His messengers to us to plead with us not to go our own way but to follow Him.  He calls for us to forsake our ways only because He loves us.
Everything you think you are right about is working against you, for it is keeping you from being willing to be wrong.  Paul said that knowledge makes people proud (1Cor. 8:1).  He saw that knowledge makes people unwilling to be wrong; that is, it makes them unwilling to let go of their “rightness”, and it causes them to look down on others who do not have the same knowledge.  Jesus showed us that God is not like that.  No one had as much knowledge of God as Jesus had, and yet he suffered for others as if they were more important than he was.  But more than that, he did not impose his way of living on others, even though he knew that his way of living would save them.  He begged others to repent and believe on him, and warned them of what would happen to them if they did not, but if they chose not to follow him, he backed off and let them go their own way because that is what his heavenly Father did.
Jesus humbled himself to let evil men have their way, even with him.  He was willing to let them be “right”, to let them win over him and even kill him, if that is what they wanted to do, but their doing so cost them their souls.  That kind of winning in this life costs people everything.  Being the ones who were “right” in Pilate’s court made Jesus’ accusers as wrong as they could possibly be.
The goal of the gospel of Christ Jesus is not to make us right, but to make us like God.  It is not to make us winners in this world, or popular, or wealthy, or powerful.  It is to make us pure in the sight of God.  But to be made pure, and to be like Jesus, we must first be willing to be wrong, to be very wrong, to be so wrong that everybody around us thinks we are wrong and despises us for it.  That is where Jesus lived, and where he died.  And because he was willing to live there and die there, he was raised from the dead in eternal glory.  This is the glory to which he is calling us, the eternal glory that awaits every soul who is willing to be wrong in this world so that they may be found right with God in the world to come.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

True and Lasting

In this world, it is dangerous to have these things:

1. Worldly success
2. Physical attractiveness
3. High Intelligence
4. Physical skill or talent
5. Popularity

Not many people who have one or more of these is humble enough to please God.  I have seen each of these blessings destroy the soul that had it.  If you possess any one of these things, or several of them, and yet you still desire to please God, you should fall on your face and thank God for keeping you from the corrupting influence of the good things that this world has to offer.
True and lasting success is being faithful to the calling of God.  True and lasting beauty is a life of holiness.  True and lasting wisdom is the fruit of the fear of God.  True and lasting skill is knowing how to do what is right in God’s sight.  True and lasting popularity is being known by the family of God in heaven.
Trust in the invisible, true, and lasting richness of Christ.