Thursday, March 30, 2017

Before the Restoration

How is the faithful city become an harlot!  It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.  Your silver is become dross, your wine mixed with water.  Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loves bribes, and goes after rewards.  They do not give justice to the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them. . . .
Nevertheless, I will turn my hand upon you, and purely purge away your dross, and take away all your tin.  And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counsellors as at the beginning.  Afterward, you shall be called, ‘The city of righteousness, the faithful city.’  Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.”
Isaiah 1:21–23, 25–27

How compassionate God is, to give such a promise to His terribly backslidden people!  What a precious promise, that He will come and restore righteousness to them, and give them – again! – leaders who are wise and good.
But you may have noticed that a verse is missing in the section of scriptures quoted above.  In that missing verse, we are told what must come to Israel before God restores His blessings to the nation – judgment!
Therefore, says the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease myself of my adversaries, and avenge myself of my enemies” (Isa. 1:24).
In other words, before God comes with His promised mercy, He will come with His wrath, and clean house.  And as always when His judgments are revealed, the guilty will become angry and retaliate against the upright.  Righteous judgment always sparks protests from the wicked.  They become bitter, and grumble, and make all kinds of accusations against the upright.  But God is never moved from His purpose by the wicked.  He is only moved from His purpose when the upright are moved by the wicked to turn from their uprightness.
God is determined to rescue His faithful people, those who love Him and His ways.  The foolish will not prevail forever.  Peace and holiness will fill the house of God again.  God has promised it!
The only question is this: Will you be among those who rejoice when God restores righteousness and peace and joy to His household, or will you be among those who are cast out so that it can happen?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The State of Dead Saints

And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw beneath the altar the souls
of those who had been slain because of the word of God
and because of the witness of the Lamb which they had.
And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Master,
holy and true, will you not judge and avenge our blood
upon those who dwell on earth?’  And a white robe was given to each of them,
and it was said to them that they should wait for a while,
until their fellow slaves and their brothers, who were about to be killed
as they also had been, should finish their course.
Revelation 6:9–11

We often hear it said that righteous souls who have died are now in eternal, perfect bliss, but the verses above show that such is not the case.  The souls beneath God’s altar in heaven seem to be pretty miserable.  They were filled with the Spirit (“the witness of Jesus”); they had suffered martyrdom because of righteousness; they were now dwelling in the very presence of God; and yet, here they are, obviously weary with longing for something that has not yet happened.  And God’s only response is only to give them some robes (which no doubt were wonderful) and to tell them they must continue to wait.  We should note that God did not answer their prayers!  He did not do what they were begging Him to do.  These verses reveal that while saints who have fallen asleep in Jesus have finished their earthly labors (Rev. 14:13), they are not yet perfectly happy, that they still have longings and prayers that can go unanswered, and that they still need patience to overcome frustration and disappointment.  Does that sound to you like eternal, undisturbed joy and peace? 
These verses suggest that the saints who have fallen asleep in the Lord still are a part of us, that they still pray for us and have feelings that they express to God about us.  If the wicked rich man who died and went into Torment still remembered life on earth and still felt the feelings he felt on earth (Lk. 16:27–28), it seems reasonable to assume that saints who fall asleep in Jesus and enter into Paradise can do the same.  The dead saints under the altar of God certainly remembered what had happened to them while they lived on earth (unjustly martyred), and they also were aware enough of matters on earth to know that God had not yet avenged them.  If the wicked rich man who went to hell still thought about and prayed for those he loved, surely the saints of God still think about and pray for those they loved.
 The tormented rich man’s desperate prayer for mercy in Luke 16 was unanswered because it was not the will of God to do what the rich man asked.  The dead saints underneath God’s altar were praying for something that God fully intended to do, but their prayers were also unanswered because it was not time for God’s answer to come.  Regardless of the reasons, however, neither the prayers of the wicked rich man nor the prayers of the righteous dead saints were answered, and that means that everyone who prayed, saints and sinner alike, felt disappointment.  And that means that nobody in those two stories was enjoying eternal, perfect, undisturbed peace.
That kind of peace and joy will be granted to God’s children only after Jesus has reigned on earth for a thousand years, has won the last battle, and has destroyed this present heaven and earth: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. . . .  And I heard a loud voice out of heaven, saying, “Behold!  The dwelling place of God with men!  And He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them.  And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more; neither shall there be sorrow, nor crying, nor pain anymore because the former things will have passed away” (Rev. 21:1, 3–4).

What I Learned from This about Believing

In spite of my having read Revelation 6:9–11 many, many times through the years, until Monday, March 13, 2017, when Jesus gave me understanding, it cannot be said that I truly believed it.  In reality, every time in my life that I thought or spoke of dead saints as already enjoying eternal, undisturbed bliss, or every time I said “Amen” when somebody else said so, I was not believing what those verses were telling me.  I was instead still confused by Christianity’s mythological version of the State of Dead Saints.
When we truly believe, that faith moves us and takes us somewhere; it leads us into the knowledge of God, into understanding, because true faith is of God and is alive, and makes us alive to the things of God.  “By faith, we understand that the worlds were created by an utterance from God, so that things that are seen were not made from visible things” (Heb. 11:3).  If you have truly believed the word of God, then you understand the truth.  If you have truly believed, then your true faith has taken you to good places.  It has taken you out of darkness and into the knowledge of God, out of strife and into holy love, out of pride and into humility, out of heresies and into fellowship with every other human being who has also truly believed.  You can’t hide it, and they can’t miss it!
May God grant us genuine faith in His word so that we may know His Son Jesus Christ, and experience the unity and fellowship of the Father and His Son!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Only Proof

It is the Spirit that bears witness because the Spirit is truth.”
1John 5:6b

The increase in number of scientists and educators who are not afraid to publicly confess faith in the Bible’s creation and flood stories is refreshing.  The evolution bullies are having their stranglehold on education and scientific outlets loosened a little.  We may be seeing the beginning of a revival of good, common sense in the scientific and education communities.
Before you start jumping for joy, however, let me remind you of this eternal truth: the holy Ghost is the only completely dependable witness that the Bible is true and that Jesus is Lord.  It does feel like a relief to hear scientists and scholars speak up in favor of Genesis being a trustworthy record of historical events, but if those scientists and scholars do not have the holy Ghost, they do not even belong to God, much less have they been sent to speak on His behalf!  And not belonging to God, they must have an agenda other than love for God for their defense of the Bible.
The theory of evolution has always been goofy.  God’s children have never needed help from “creation scientists” to understand that.  Genuine faith needs no scientific evidence to be strong and sure.  No matter what we know of earthly scientific facts, it is only by faith that we understand that the worlds were formed by the word of God (Heb. 11:6).  Do not be seduced into leaning on the knowledge and wisdom of men!
One of the first truths Jesus taught me as a young believer is that the closer something comes to being true, without being true, the more evil it is.  Someone who is close to the truth can deceive many more people than someone who is nowhere near right.  Likewise, men who defend the Bible, but have not yet been baptized with the holy Ghost into the body of Christ, are only close to the truth; they are not in it!  And the truth is not in them, for “the Spirit is truth.”  Guard your hearts against such men!  Do not trust those who believe in the goodness and need of the Bible but who do not believe in the goodness and need of the holy Ghost!  They are not of God!
The holy Ghost is God’s witness that everything in the Bible is true, and it is sufficient.  The geological, biological, and astronomical facts that “creation scientists” proclaim can be interesting and instructive, but they are all things the human spirit can learn and teach; they can never create righteousness and save a soul.  “If we receive the witness of men,” John wrote, “the witness of God is greater.  And this [the Spirit] is the witness of God which He has borne of His Son” (1Jn. 5:9).
John went on to say that “He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself,” and that “he who does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar because he does not believe the witness that God gave of His Son.” (1Jn. 5:10).  In other words, those who do not have the witness of God, the holy Ghost, are making God out to be a liar, no matter what they say about the Bible, or even what they say about God Himself!  Some men passionately argue that the Bible is one big myth, while other men passionately argue that it is all factually true, but they are all making God out to be a liar if they all do not have His Spirit.

Monday, March 6, 2017


Why should you be stricken any more? You will revolt more and more.
The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it,
but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.”
Isaiah 1:5–6a

God chastens those He loves, and those whom He chastens show their love for Him by receiving His correction.  If, on the other hand, God’s correction is resisted for too long, He will back off and give His child over to his own way.  But the end of that way is death.
For God to care about us enough to correct us is a precious opportunity, for by His correction, we are made more like Him.  Pray to have a heart to receive the correction our heavenly Father gives, while He is still willing to give it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Growing Abomination

Except the LORD of hosts had left for us a very small remnant,
we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like Gomorrah.”
Isaiah 1:19

The abomination of perverse immorality plagued ancient Judah, too.  Judging by what Isaiah said, homosexuality had all but taken over the little nation in his day.
Later, a hundred years after Isaiah was called and anointed by God to prophesy to the Israelites, young King Josiah began his reign.  Unlike Isaiah, Josiah had the authority and means to do something about the despicable perverseness of God’s people.  The single act that Josiah performed which best shows how far into debauchery God’s own people had sunk is recorded in 2Kings 23:7: “And he broke down the houses of the sodomites that were by the temple of the LORD where the women wove hangings for the grove.”
Yes, a hundred years after the LORD lamented through Isaiah that His people had given themselves to the demons of homosexuality, His people had become so depraved that they had built houses for homosexual activity right beside the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem.  And notice that the Bible says “houses”, not “house”.  There were so many queers in Israel by Josiah’s time that just one house was not enough.  There may have been a bunch of them; we are not told how many.
Be patient, my brothers and sisters in Christ. It will get worse in our time, too.  The abomination will increase.  But you keep yourselves pure.  Jesus will come and make all things right again, for God has promised, “though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.”  In the meantime, be still, and be faithful.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Now You Can Shake Your Head

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!  For the LORD has spoken:
‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib,
but Israel does not know; my people do not consider.’
Isaiah 1:2–3

Before shaking your head at Israel for not knowing where her blessings came from, consider this: Peter predicted, accurately, that many of God’s New Testament people wouldn’t know, either.  He wrote, “There shall also be false teachers among you, who shall bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them. . . .  And many shall follow them. . . .” (2Pet. 2:1–2).  How did this happen?  I will tell you.
It is the holy Ghost baptism that makes us clean in the sight of God, not repeating a few verses of scripture and “getting saved”.  You are purchased by Christ only when he puts the “down payment” of the Spirit in you (2Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:14)!  Paul said, “The Lord is the Spirit” (2Cor. 3:17), but when someone claims that he received the Lord (“got saved”) before he received the Spirit, he is “denying the Lord that bought him.”  And most of God’s New Testament people are doing just that.
The holy Ghost is what gives us hope of being raised from the dead (Rom. 8:11); the holy Ghost is what washes your sins away, and sanctifies, and justifies you (1 Cor. 6:11); and without it, you do not belong to the family of God (Rom. 8:9b).  But almost none of God’s children in this covenant know that, for they have been taught to claim to have been spiritually cleansed before God bore them witness, baptizing them with the holy Ghost into the body of Christ (Acts 15:8; 1Cor. 12:13).  They give more honor to the spirit under which they “got saved” than to the Spirit that comes from God and truly cleanses the soul.
Now you can shake your head.