"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. It's aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are usually from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Clearwater, and Orlando, FL area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This fourth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "Towers of Man / Tower of God" continues with how man builds his many towers to reach the heavens, while God builds the true tower. My close friend, Romeo, his wife Christine and three little girls, live in the Tampa (Brandon), FL area.
II. "He Cometh With Clouds", Brother Elwin Roach provides us with
some valuable insights
regarding the clouds in which the Lord is seen. Elwin and his wife Margit live in
Alamogordo, NM and ministers to many in person and by writings.
III. "The True Church of Christ" continues to look further into the
progression of Church of Christ
and examines how it continues to act and function separate from popular churches of today.
IV. "The Most High Reigns" is from a friend and good teacher of present
day truth, Willie Hinn.
His article deals with the subject of God's sovereignty and is perhaps one of the best and most
balanced I've ever read on the subject. Brother Willie, wife Teresa and four children live
in Orlando, Fl. Willie pastors the Resurrection Life Fellowship.
V. "God's Love Towards All" continues our Christianity 101 teachings with a basic principle regard- ing the love of God and how it accounts for man's eternal security. Contrary to most doctrine taught today, we find that God's love is greater than man's tradition.
VI. "A Silent Friend" is a word given by the Lord to a young man during a time of need. Brother Keith J. Fredlund of Tampa, FL shares this wonderful poem with us.
We have reached the one year mark in printing the journal and I would like to thank everyone who has kept up with it's reading. I have personally found it most gratifying to work on the articles and to have the opportunity to share whatever measure of the Christ I've been given. Many wonderful letters have been received over the year and I can honestly say that there is nothing greater than having fellowship with the Lord's people. What a joy, thank you! I have also been blessed with many close friends who share in this Word. I particularly want to acknowledge the fellowship meetings in the Brandon (Tampa) area; thank you for having the obedience to not only separate from religion but also to assemble together unto Him!
In His Service
Timothy D. Carroll
*** Special thanks to my friend Mark Bodley for spending the time to edit the journal.
"ARISE" is free to all as God's way is "Freely
you have received, freely give". The mailing address is listed on the front
cover for those interested in receiving this journal on a regular basis. Additional
copies are available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
Towers of Man / Tower of God - con't
Man's defiance of God can be evidenced through his vast accumulation of knowledge and great successes: underlying his works and advances is the statement to himself that he has no need of God for he can accomplish all things on his own, as long as he follows his own leading. "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." (Gen 11:4). God had instructed them that they should scatter and replenish the earth. He also confirmed that they had nothing to fear from him anymore for he would never again curse the earth nor smite every living thing (Gen 8:21). Yet, out of fear and distrust, they thought to build something high enough that would protect them from any future flood the Lord might set upon them. They also thought to establish their heritage in their own accomplishments rather than be known for being the children of the most high God by allowing him to lead them in their wanderings. Stubbornly, they dug their heels in their positions and refused to move.
As long as man relies on himself he will learn nothing from himself, for his stubborness condemns him to repeat his failures and mistakes. "The wicked, through pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous;" (Ps. 10:4-5).
Here we have a people who tried to keep themselves from wandering by focusing on one project. They spoke one language, understood each other and were convinced that their way was the reasonable, proper way. Once they saw the beginnings of success of their efforts they then did imagine a vain thing: there was nothing they could not accomplish on their own. "...and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." (Gen 11:6). In short, they were more loyal to their own ideas and to their commitment to each other than to their God.
The church system today attempts to control people in the same way. They keep them from "wandering" with the Spirits leading by neglecting to encourage them to learn more and more of God and his Christ. They limit the learning and teaching to their doctrines and their precepts. They manipulate their people into staying, recruiting and multiplying right where they are so that they keep building on to their "towers", growing bigger and bigger. They never seem to learn from previous mistakes, even when their "language" is confounded through such incidents as exposures of breaches of ethics, moral conduct, splits. When some do leave one, they jump right into another similar situation. They do not hear the Lord saying, "And you, be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly IN THE EARTH, and multiply therein." (Gen 9:7).
When I read that, I understood the Lord to mean that I should be fruitful and multiply; that I should learn more and more of the nature of God's son so that this earth that I am, this person of mine, could so grow in stature and in Him that it would multiply through influence. After all, that which I set out to increase in the earth is the Son of God, not the 25th church of the third avenue of the 9th advent of the second coming interdenominational! It is good to fellowship and come together. But let us do that as believers of the same thing and not as supporters of the same corporation.
Some of us are much too proud of how much we think we know God and his Son that, without realizing it, we become snobs where others are concerned, failing to realize the command we have received to share Him with others through the influence of our own growth in Him. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (Jhn. 12:32). There is that same earth again....me!
Are you stubborn in your own rut? Are you so indoctrinated even by the precepts of the very things you agree with that you cannot trust God to carry you through the very wandering he has commanded of you? Are you, then, building your tower of Babel by doing this, doing that, carrying this, carrying that, in order to make sure you are doing everything just right to protect yourself from any future wrath of God? What's the matter? Haven't you any trust in God? Has he not told you he would not ever again do that? He is not a heathen god or an idol that has to be appeased. Will all your efforts succeed in assuring you a place in the Christian hall of fame? Or has the masterful, complete and perfect work of Christ finally dawned in your spirit as the ultimate and only sufficient work necessary to allow you to carry on the business of being a witness about his wonder?
There is so much darkness out there in the world, so much blindness, so much need of the power of God's grace, that I can't see how time should be wasted on theories, pet doctrines, us-against-them-isms (all towers of Babel); the son of God needs to be seen and demonstrated that the world might see his fullness in you. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall NOT teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest." (Heb. 8:10-11).
How will they come to know him if not by the influence of my witness, to mean my living his life. (Put aside the flesh and think spirit. Sometimes we put the cart before the horse. We think that if we deal with our flesh, fix this flesh up, get this flesh under control, we could then be more spiritual. It works the other way: the more we submit to the spirit the more he takes care of fixing the flesh. Have you ever found yourself not doing any good because you were trying so hard not to do anything bad? Remember that Christ died for you. There is no dying left for you to do: begin living!).
Paul refers to his dying daily as a reference to discipline: "I die daily.....Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (I Cor. 15:31 - II Cor. 4:10). But of the death of deaths that was the propitiation for sin Paul declares: "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL!" (Heb. 10:10). Bearing.... in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus is the conviction that there is no other sacrifice that will count toward salvation, therefore, ought we to declare that his death is the reason for my life with every move we make and every breath we inhale.
It is futile for man to attempt to create and maintain unity by material means alone without God. Many marriages today are towers of Babel just waiting for their collapse in confusion and dispersement because they are maintained by superficial means:
.........enough money to cover debts
.........enough insurance to cover threats
.........everything seems to be in agreement
What's missing is obedience to the command of God to increase and multiply in the earth. They stop growing in Him. They stay 'put' in their teachings and refuse to budge from all they know. They are afraid of the spirit of God because he might teach them something that would cause them to change. Many are afraid to let go of the apron strings of "mother" church or "mother" teaching. Even those who "know better" can find themselves with their heels dug in, refusing to move, refusing to scatter to increase and multiply in the earth, because they are settled in their ways and their "cop-out" is that God will have to give them a second command before they will obey the first if he really wants them to move. (But when the Spirit of God calls on a man to change from his own thinking to that of God's thinking as he did Peter, the changing is unarguable. The result of Peter's change have him this eternal truth to live by: "but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (Acts 10:28).
This seems to be the reverse of the Israelites in the desert. Once free from the bondage of Egypt, they forsook their rejoicing to murmur and complain and declare...'Would that we were back there where we knew where our bread and water was coming from. At least we were settled! At least we had water and bread even if it was under bondage instead of having to trust God.' They believed but they didn't trust. And that is the same in many areas of all our lives. We believe all that God has told us but we haven't the spirituality to trust him. It will be said that that is God's business to equip us with that spirituality to trust him, according to the timing set out for us. But I am finding that what I know is what he has placed in my heart and mind therefore am I without excuse. I'm sure God can handle the world well without me, thank you. But....since I am here....let me show the fullness of Christ as I can.
Our entire approach as humans to everything is to build towers of Babel, where layer upon layer is designed to protect us from one previous wrath or another in the future. Our way of dealing with debts and deficits is to create more layers of bureaucracy to handle the previous, to handle the new approaches of creating and eliminating this or that. The solution is so simple that it is too hard for man to do. He must forgive the debt. Towers of Babel are welcome mats to more confusion and misunderstandings. The thief who is not forgiven and who does not repent of thieving has only one solution to make restitution....steal from another to repay the first. But if forgiven and allowed to repent....then drop the subject and go on to refreshing!.
We cannot protect ourselves from the love of God. No matter how high our towers, how furious our efforts at avoiding him, his love for us knows no hurt, stays never stagnant. He will follow us to guide us and lead us into all truth until we see it. The language we speak is his or he'll confound it. Let us live in his construction - the tower that is Jesus Christ or he'll place us there. "Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy. O Lord, held me up." (Ps. 94:17-18). "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things which please him."
Here is a key to a full and happy life: living in union with God's will. And the secret to living in union with God's will is living your life in search of his will. "If you continue in my word....ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Jhn. 8:29, 31,32). When the word of the son of God is lacking a place in us, that is when our nature seeks to kill him, to ignore him, to get him out of our way. "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you....Ye do that which ye have seen with your father." (Jhn. 8:37-38).
Such a strong indictment of those who indeed claim to be and are Abraham's seed! The 'Babel people' were in the same spot. They knew God. They knew their comforts, their own wills, their own wiles. Yet God himself had instructed them to scatter and multiply, but they deliberately sided with their own natures. "Let us make us a name LEST WE BE SCATTERED ABROAD UPON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH." This was specifically against God's command.
My encouragement to all of us, myself included, is to guard against the deception that so easily besets us: that what we are doing is right because we ourselves agree with it, when in truth it is a blatant disobedience. Holding on too tightly to something should give us a sure clue that we need to let go and let God. There is no more wonderful experience than to be led of His Spirit.....and know it!
He Cometh With Clouds
"Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him" (Rev 1:7). Factions of the church are looking for Jesus to come in the clouds of the sky one sunlit day in the future. Let us notice, however, that the verb "cometh" in this verse is in the present tense, indicative. The present, indicative speaks of an action that is in the process of taking place.
Jesus made an interesting statement to Caiaphas which adds weight to what John wrote: "HEREAFTER shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN" (Mt. 26:66). And indeed, thereafter, Caiaphas did see that mighty coming! According to the resignation of his office as high priest (recorded in the scroll Sanhedrim, 89; By Siphri II 7, and preserved in the mosque of St. Sophia at Constantinople), he first saw Jesus on the right hand of power when He appeared in person to him soon after the resurrection behind guarded doors.
In the presence of His majestic power, Caiaphas said that his breath stopped, his blood ran cold, and he was in the act of falling when Jesus spoke and said, "Be not afraid, it is I......", "He looked at me with such melting tenderness that it seemed to me I was nothing but tears, and my strength was all gone. I fell on my face at his feet as one that was dead. When Annas (his father-in-law) lifted me up, Jesus was gone, and the door still locked." (The Archko Volume, Keats Publishing, Inc.).
Caiaphas also saw Jesus COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN, as it was foretold to him, but he had to first go away in a cloud and out of the sight of those who stood with Him that day. Ten days afterwards Jesus began to be seen COMING in like manner as He was seen going -- IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN! He went away in a cloud, and He returned in like manner, IN A CLOUD. First He was coming in the small cloud of 120 in the upper room, but it was not until He was coming in the huge clouds of the thousands of saints that the prophecy to Caiaphas was fulfilled.
I believe it has been fairly well concluded that Caiaphas never saw Jesus coming in the natural clouds of the sky. Therefore, the only other clouds for his Lord to be coming in during his lifetime were the clouds of His witnesses. It is obvious that he not only saw the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power that day behind closed doors, but he also saw Jesus established with power in those same clouds of people in which He was coming in and is still coming.
We find a confirming word in Psalms 57:10 & 68:34-35: "For Thy mercy is great unto THE HEAVENS, and Thy truth unto THE CLOUDS. Ascribe ye strength unto God: His excellence is over ISRAEL, and His strength is in THE CLOUDS....The God of Israel is He that giveth strength and power unto His PEOPLE." Who has ever heard of the heavens needing mercy? Or God's truth, strength, and power going to the rain clouds? No one has! It is clear that these verses are speaking of His chosen people, and He uses allegorical terms to signify the lofty realm of their power and dominion.
This is easily seen, and when we read about being caught up together in CLOUDS to meet Him in the AIR (I Thes. 4:16-18), the same spiritual maturity and perception should be exercised. For it is these clouds that John spoke of when he wrote, "Behold, He COMETH with CLOUDS...." (Rev. 1:7). Praise God! He was coming at that time, He has been coming since that day, and He shall continue to come until every eye sees Him, even as did the eyes of Caiaphas. The pulpits of religion are teeming with the thought of Jesus returning on a billowy white cloud overlooking the mount of Olives. Although the average Christian is expecting Him to come bursting through the clouds over their own city to snatch them away. It is in Israel, nevertheless, that their sermons usually purport His appearing to occur.
On one hand they say Jesus will be coming in a cloud over the mount of Olives, while their soulish logic have Him coming all over the world at the same time -- otherwise, every eye would not be able to see Him together. In their persistent carnal reasoning, some give T.V. as the answer to how every eye shall see Him coming. But what about the jungles of the Congo and the plains of the Serengeti? They don't have television sets and are not likely to get them any day soon.
Even a child can see there is something wrong here; but the doctors of religion, and their ardent followers, seem to never give it a second thought as they gaze dizzily into the dark void waiting to be "raptured". Evidently, it has never entered their minds that His appearing, which every eye shall see, is in the clouds of His saints.
Isaiah prophesied His appearing with every eye seeing Him: "...Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low...And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:3-5). Simply speaking, the Lord's highway is established in the heavens of our being, as He walks upon the wings (the Spirit) -- riding gloriously in His chariot of saints, shining in and from the clouds of the high heavens of His habitation (Psalm 104:3). But this does not come easily, my friend; for the mountains and hills of our personal kingdoms and desires must first be shaken and made low.
Our own mount of Olives must be rent with a great earthquake, an earthquake which begins as His feet of judgment rest upon it. The time of breaking, however, will come to an end; for as it is with the bruised olive, praise God, we are not crushed forever! Once we no longer stand alone, and we flow together with the rest of His crushed body, we are removed from the olive press. It is in the mount of Olives that man's will is brought to nought and into subjection to God's will. It was here that Jesus spent much of His time. It is here that obedience is learned from the things suffered. Of Jesus, it is written: after teaching all day in the temple, He made His abode there at night (Lk. 21:37), and it was in this place that He sweat great drops of blood, and said, "Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done" (Mt. 26:39).
Those whom the Lord moves upon, His "highway" if you please, will know what it is to be crushed and made low, even unto the shame of the cross. They will also know that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Ps. 30:5). Although we are laid in the tomb, as it were, there is a dawning that comes when the low places are made high. Daybreak will come, praise God, in resurrection glory! No longer will there be a high place of our own exaltation.
Like Jesus, our pattern, we may even be required to give up that high place to which God has called us. But that is all right, for in relinquishing our hold, the low places of weeping vanish. There will be made within us a place in which our Lord can travel throughout the circumference of the earth to be seen of every eye. From this highway -- from the clouds of His people -- He will be seen of all flesh together. Marvelous are His works, and to the carnal mind, His ways past finding out.
....................... Elwin R. Roach
The True Church Of Christ - con't
The first two issues of ARISE began to consider the progression of the true church of Christ and how it functions and acts differently from popular churches of today. Without a doubt, God's true church is invisible as far as worldly recognition is concerned and stands separate from the methods and ways we see in the visible organizations and religious groups across the globe. We should not be deceived to believe after the sight of our eyes or hearing of our hears. The visible church is always working up the outward, whether it be demonstrations or petitions, crusades or miracle-working revivals, while the invisible church is working the will of the Father in secret, ministering life to whomsoever is sent their way. Surely, the invisible church continues to learn more clearly what is inspiration and what are doctrines and commandments of men, what is the spirit of truth and what is the spirit of error.
As many reading this already know, the word "church" means out-called or CALLED OUT. To the idea of being called out, it should be said of everyone who desires and presses on towards the high and holy calling of God. Such people have been called out to be separate from the pride of life, desires of the flesh and desires of the eyes.
The true church is to separate from the religious organizations, denominations and sects which are Mystery Babylon the great, the counsel and instruction of man's own carnal mind devising holy things of our Lord. Many have separated out thinking themselves to have done God a great service, yet they have done nothing other than taken on another religious spirit. They hate any resemblance of godly instruction and assembling, thinking it to be 'old order'. They constantly dwell on the negative, exalting themselves at the expense of tearing down and "bashing" others, particularly brethren. Sadly, these have not considered the verse, "Speak not evil one of another, brethren" (Jas. 4:11). These have not cast down the accuser of the brethren. They have 'separated out' but have not 'separated unto' God. They have not seen the true purpose of coming out of the religious system, a purpose to live a peaceable life carrying the presence of our Lord, separate and holy unto Him.
The true church is to separate from worldliness, uncleanliness of spirit and filth of mind. Many have separated thinking themselves to be walking in the kingdom of God, yet they now call evil good and good evil. Their lives are a lifestyle which cannot be distinguished from the world. They have not considered the words of James, "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). And there are others who have deceived themselves in thinking they are ministering truths of the kingdom of God. Disguised as sheep they teach the mysteries of the kingdom, even precious truths of sonship, almost deceiving the very elect, if it were possible. Yet we know them by their fruit. They leave a trail of destruction behind as families and fellowships following them are a mess. Rather than walking a holy, sanctified life in the presence of God, they commit acts which should not be named among the saints. They have become a house for every fowl and unclean spirit to dwell. Know ye not that we are to try the spirits whether they are of God! Is it so difficult to discern that He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God?
Throughout the scriptures, I have noticed an interesting pattern in how God
moved and worked in the lives of ones in holy script. The visible church is
always "up and doing", always running people busy with their programs,
looking for big success stories and recognition from the religious community.
Yet we find in scripture that God often works quietly and in secret, concealed
to the world and religion. The idea of Jesus born in a manger, invisible to
the world, without the sensational and spectacular, bears witness to our theme.
When Mary and Joseph took the child to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
and to offer a sacrifice at the temple, the just and devout servant Simeon did
not need any outward indication that this poor couple with child was the answer
to his long awaited promise. Today's visible church puts forth every effort
to convince all that they are God's people, yet the Spirit revealed to Simeon
which child was
the Son of God. Even as a small boy, Jesus was not put on display through his childhood years and was invisible to both the world and religion. And again, of the twelve disciples, only Peter, John and James were taken by Jesus up the mountain to see His transfiguration. Matthew says it was a "high mountain apart". The true church is always experiencing being apart, separate from the multitude and common crowd, from all that would distract us.
Even though none of us has seen that Jesus as did the disciples, He should be no less real to us today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The Lord is that Spirit. The reality of Christ is to be experienced here and now by the Spirit. The day must come when every son of God must see and hear only Jesus, to separate apart from every distraction of the carnal mind to see His face shine as the sun and raiment white as the light. The visible church is full of distractions, making sure the mind of the believer is full of every idol and image of God. Even that sectarian spirit keeps the minds of some full of thoughts which constantly dwells on the negative, never exalting the Lord Jesus Christ in His people.
All of the disciples, less Judas Iscariot, arrived at the place called Gethsemane with Jesus. Yet it was only Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John) who were taken when He went to pray. This is certainly not a place of which the crowds are cheering and coaxing all to partake. The visible church would have very little to teach us regarding this place. Interesting to note that Jesus found the three asleep on three occasions as He prayed in agony as His soul was exceeding sorrowful. This serves as a wonderful lesson for the invisible church that even as Jesus, there will be times when all others are asleep during our hardest times and only comfort can be found as we pray to our Father.
Another example is when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary (mother of James) and Salome (mother of James and John) came to the sepulchre to find the great stone rolled away. Matthew tells us, "And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat......" (Mark 16:5-14).
Even though the first words spoken by the man to the three women were "Be not affrighted", they still went out quickly, trembling at what they had experienced. Is it not the same at times in our own lives? We go on our merry way, taking sweet spices to anoint that very image we love and adore so much. Then all of a sudden, whatever it would be for each of us, we experience the unexpected. The messenger says, "Be not affrighted", yet we as the three women run in fear. The visible church would teach us to keep anointing the dead body, to keep worshipping Jesus of Nazareth which was crucified. Yet I tell you, He is not there, HE IS RISEN! He first appeared to Mary in another form, as a very common person. He often appears to us in many forms, not the spectacular, just very common and ordinary. His answers to prayer is sometimes very simple, yet we look for the supernatural. His will in our lives would appear common so we reject it unless we see the nail prints in his hands and feet. And He should appear as one common today to us as He did with Mary, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.........Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The invisible church will find Him as common, recognizing Him in the brethren, in His body, flesh of flesh and bone of bone. They will have discovered where His body has been placed!!
The true church will live by the Christ within and are not dependent on any, outside source for help. Now I didn't say they don't assemble and rehearse what the Lord has done for this is considered both a highlight and joy for them. Indeed, they are known of their love for one another. The invisible church is the true expression and body of Christ. They are dedicated in principle in moving and being led by the Spirit. They haven't the time to get tangled in endless issues over pulpits; seating of chairs; and whether to meet in buildings or homes. These all only minister questions rather than godly edifying of the brethren. Business techniques on how to better conduct meetings are fine practices for the world, however, they provide little value in God's Kingdom. It's not a question of how we meet but rather WHO WE MEET. Are you different in motive and practice from the spirit of the world? Are you led by the Spirit of God? If not, seek the Lord for His grace, remembering that, "they that are led by the Spirit are the sons of God"!
The Most High Reigns
"For I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me; declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." (Isa. 46:9-10). Amid a world filled with immorality, corruption, viciousness, and lawlessness, never has there been a more needful time of understanding that God is absolutely sovereign in this universe.
The word "sovereign" literally means: SUPREME IN POWER, independent, not limited by any other. As we open the pages of our Bible the first words of Scripture read, "In the beginning - GOD." Omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, all-conquering, all-knowing, all-powerful, invincible, absolutely sovereign God! "He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion." (Jer. 10:12). There is none before Him, there is none beside Him, and there is none coming after Him. Jeremiah declared, "....there is none like unto Thee, O Lord; thou art great, and Thy name is great in might". (Jer. 10:6).
Charles H. Spurgeon wrote, "There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God's Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials....they believe that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. These is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the message of their Master over all creation - the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands - the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no teaching more hated by the world, no truth of which they have made such a football. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the evermoving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures gnash their teeth. We proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own without consulting them; then it becomes we which are heckled and exiled; then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love. It is God upon His throne Whom we trust."
While at times we find it all too easy to get caught up in the business of life; and the ensuing positive and negative situations; it becomes essential to our spiritual foundation and well-being to know beyond all doubt that all things are out of God, all things consist by means of Him, and all things are consummated into Him. (Rom. 11:36). We serve a God Whose dominion is absolute over His creation. He has never lost His rule over it, neither has the gross deceptions of man nor the subtle devices of the enemy ever escaped the multi-dimensional vision of our God. Generation after generation, through the rise and fall of the empires of man, through all the shifting winds of time throughout history, God remains the great I AM. It is, "In Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28).
Prime Biblical evidence is found specifically in God's dealing with Pharaoh. Pharaoh mistakenly concluded he was acting upon his own will in resisting Moses. Yet, Exodus 14:8 clearly states, "And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt. In His manifold wisdom, God used Pharaoh's apparent rebellion to satisfy His purpose. This was confirmed to Pharaoh, as Moses under mandate from God, stood before Pharaoh and declared, "Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews....in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee My power; and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth." (Ex. 9:16).
To Paul, a prominent example of God's sovereign love and grace, the matter is very clear, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth;" (Rom. 9:17). And then to bring this into full balance, we are reminded "He locks up all in stubbornness, that He may have mercy on ALL. (Rom. 11:32).
What shall we say then? Does the passage of time alter the nature and character
of God? Does the illusory hand of fate change His master plan for His creation?
The writer of Ecclesiastes states, "That which hath been is now, and that
which is to be hath already been..". God is not bound to time; He is beyond
it - yet He has purposed time to perform His marvelous acts; to declare His
wondrous Name and to
manifest His grace and mercy to all and in all His creation. Consider then beloved, that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God ... He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He changes not. He is the indwelling, controlling factor of life." (I Cor. 15;28 Amp.). Neither coincidence nor circumstances can lay claim to be the controlling factor of life. GOD IS!
The Lamb was Slain
Contrary to this marvelous truth, most of us have lived all our lives believing that because Satan deceived Eve, he also pulled a fast one on God. The fact that the plan of salvation was not one of God's momentary after thoughts, is a revolutionary truth for some. Revelation 13:8 tells us the "Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world." Much of what we hear however, supports the theory that God, from the beginning, had the rug pulled out from under Him and had to quickly switch from plan A to plan B; that He had no definite prearranged design, and is now simply doing the best He can to restore the devastation caused by man's disobedience and Satan's craftiness.
One writer commented, "today's radio and television evangelists passionately proclaim an omnipotent God, from Whom the devil seizes almost everything; an omniscient God; One Who knows everything, and yet restrains nothing; an omnipresent God Who is passive in nature as Satan frustrates the purposes of God on every hand". Along this same line, most sermons are so filled with constant references to the power of the enemy that much of Christendom has become so devil conscious some are "departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." (I Tim 4:1). The devil has been elevated to the high position of being opposite God; and all the while, God Himself stands firm proclaiming His word down through the centuries, "there is no God beside Me; a just God and a Savior; there is NONE BESIDE ME." (Isa. 45:21).
Dr. Hurley wrote, "They have an infinite Creator, but a very little Redeemer. Their Christ is comparatively helpless.....He can pay the price for the sins of the whole world, but the stubborn will of man makes it ineffective. Man's will is mightier than God's will. God is infinite to create, powerless to redeem! But either God is all-powerful or He is not. Either God is all-wise or He is not. Either God is all-loving or He is not. Either God's grace is infinite, or it is not. Isn't it time for the Church of Christ to decide one way or the other, and then make her theology fit her expressed faith?" Selah.
James 1:8 reads, "A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." As Christians, one of the main reasons for many of our past inconsistencies and our unsteady walk in God, is because of the duplicity of thought, of heart, of mind and of speech concerning His total rulership. The desire that must burn deep is that we might not only give mental assent to His supremacy; but pray that this truth might become a vital reality within our innermost being and bring us to a place of constant rest in this blessed truth. Only by this singleness of vision can we enter into the true significance of the cross - the victory of the cross over evil and sin, and the understanding of the ultimate purposes of God for all humanity.
Man's Will vs God's
Because the tendency persists in looking at God's sovereignty from the human standpoint, rather than from the divine; we are consequently confronted with the issue of man's will versus the will of God. In the religious realms, God's will has been made subject to most everything and especially to the will of man. Though the constant effort to uplift the human will against the will of God could very simply be termed as an act of our "human nature" some have gone so far as to imagine the Most High God could be manipulated by the whims and will of man. In fact, God is often seen as a victim of the will of His own creation. His will has been made subject to most everything and especially to the will of man. For a moment some might even think that the issue at hand is not whether God is sovereign but whether man is.
Jesus Christ came from the bosom of the Father. He was born not of the will of man, nor of the flesh; but of God. (Jhn. 1:13). Likewise with us. James says, "of HIS OWN WILL begat He us with the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." (James 1:18). There is no surer road, than being begotten by the will of God. Such knowledge ought to cause us to bow before His majesty in worship and adoration. The ultimate result being that the will of man by the very nature of the sovereign operation of the grace of God must bow to the sovereign will of God. The Psalmist wrote, "surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain." (Ps. 76:10). This is a tremendous word! Whatever outworking of the will of man God does not purpose to use, He will restrain. "But this shall be the covenant that I WILL make with the house of Israel: after those days, SAITH THE LORD, I WILL put my law in their inward parts....and WILL BE their God....and I WILL remember their sin no more....and "THEY SHALL be my people; for THEY SHALL all know Me..(Jer. 31:33-34). There can be no uncertainly in Him. When God says "I WILL"....WE SHALL!, "for the Lord of hosts hath purposed and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back? (Isa. 14:27).
The Issue of God and Evil
"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (Jhn. 9:1,2). The disciple's question touched a problem which is fresh even for our day. It is inevitable that a sincere person would at one time or another be perplexed by the ordering of sovereignty, and may ask some bitter questions. Why should adversity of one kind or another hang over some families year after year while others the sun seems ever to shine? Why should one child be subjected to poverty and maliciousness, so that vindictiveness soaks into the very pores of his being; and yet another have the advantage of a loving home and just circumstances on every hand? One would either be blind or callous if he did not ask such questions as, why evil should have been allowed at all, along with suffering, pain and death. In instances such as these, the temptation would be to seek an answer, not truth. It would be sheer human arrogance to claim that we have the solutions and reasoning for all man's pain and suffering. The only one who fully knows and understands the mind of God and the purpose of His actions is God.
Nonetheless, to discuss the subject of God's sovereignty and avoid the issue of GOD and evil would be inconsistent with truth. We would not encourage the use of the phrase, "God is sovereign" as a "scapegoat" or as a frivolous or superficial answer to sincere and heartfelt questions. All efforts to understand the ways and acts of God are welcome. "Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and His Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning the work of my hands command (agree) ye me." Thus, we dare not attempt to try to answer these soul searching questions with the wisdom of man, but rather, we would speak only those things that are "freely given to us of God, which things we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (I Cor. 2.12,13)
The Word being our source then, we would turn attention to Isa. 45:5-7, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." Alarming indeed, even shocking to most Christians is the plain truth, God "makes peace and creates evil." In our feeble attempts to defend or release God from the responsibility of evil, we have invented doctrines that make God appear to be weak, impotent and blind.
An absolutely sovereign God, must be a universally responsible God. To deny that He alone is in control of the interaction of good and evil is to seize His rank of Deity from Him. All endeavors to discharge God from any portion of His responsibility over His creation, serves simply to diminish His position as Sovereign God, and thus we must again introduce another power over whom God does not have dominion. The Scriptures declare, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." (Prov. 15:3).
The presence of evil may very well be a mystery to man, but it is not a mystery to God. Iniquity is no less under God's control than is good. In the very nature of things, if one has created a thing, he is also Master of his creation. If this were not so, then we would have to concur with the unbiblical teachings of our day and contend that God is in mortal combat with the devil, Satan persists in frustrating the purposes of God, and God is constantly looking to man whom He created to "bail Him out."
J. Preston Eby writes, "Did God create the devil? We know he did not create himself! And he did not 'just happen'. The reason some have held the view that Satan was originally an angel is because it seems to relieve God of the responsibility of evil in the world. When they are asked if a good God created a bad devil, they reply: "No, He did not create the devil, He created a beautiful and powerful angel who later became the devil." This sounds good on the surface but when the Spirit of wisdom and revelation comes from God, this line of reasoning is seen to be but shallow induction's of the natural mind. How could an all wise and holy God create an evil devil? Our reply to that is another question: If God, all wise, all knowing, created a being and designed within this being the inherent ability and potential to become evil - a will capable of rebelling against Him, and if in His omniscience He knew beforehand that this creature would become evil, is God then any less responsible?.....If we say God created a good being and did not know he would become evil, then the devil got a step ahead of God. If the devil could do something back there which God did not know he would do, or did not plan for him to do, THEN HOW CAN WE BE SURE HE MIGHT NOT PULL A FAST ONE ON GOD AGAIN? Ah, beloved, such carnal reasoning is an affront to the majesty of the Most High God! Is it any less thinkable that God would create an evil one than just to create one with the ability to become evil? In either case, there is absolutely no way to absolve God from the devil."
Man teaches that Satan in the beginning was holy (an angel) but later fell. Jesus told the Pharisees. "Ye are of your father the devil....He was a murderer (not an angel) FROM THE BEGINNING, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him....". God's very own words declare His creation in Isa 54:16, "Behold I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for His work, and I have created the WASTER to destroy." The Amplified version reads, "Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals, and who produces a weapon for its purposes, and I have created the devastator to destroy." Satan is a created being of God with a specific purpose....TO DESTROY.
Destruction is as much a part of the plan and purposes of God as is construction. Many times we are not entirely aware of what God is doing; we don't have an explanation when everything around us appears "out of control". Since we do not have the rationale to explain the circumstances, we think there also must not be a purpose. The fact that we cannot reason things out could easily force us to conclude that evil is simply a blind force of destruction. Destruction is only phase one of construction. A construction company specializing in top quality structures, must of necessity, send first their most qualified demolition crew. Diligently will this planned energy force burn rubbish, level the land, and in effect, rid the site of any inferior or rundown structures and debris. In the midst of all this upheaval, is still a construction company. You see, the owner has the blueprints at hand, the drawings have been signed and sealed. He sees the end from the beginning and knows what is required to bring forth His mansions. In fact, he holds the master plan! He is the Master Builder!
Purposed and Planned
At times we call evil good and good evil for we do not know the full purpose or ultimate intention of God. An excellent case is Joseph, and the story of how his own brothers devised against him and sold him for a slave. All their scheming resulted in Joseph landing in the prison house in Pharaoh's kingdom. It would have been easy for Joseph to point the finger and blame his brothers for all his distress. But in the fullness of time, (the perfect timing of God), Joseph became ruler in Egypt. When famine came upon the land and his brothers were forced to travel down into Egypt in search of food, they were brought before Joseph. Upon learning his identity as the very brother they sold into slavery, they became fearful of what Joseph might do to them.
Joseph, being intimately related to the Father, knew full well the purposes of God and concealed no revenge in his heart. At a well chosen time, he brought them before him and passionately confessed, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt....ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good." (Gen. 45: 4-5,8; 50:20). MEANT IT, (literally, - weaved it) unto good. This is not mere permissiveness, not just allowing...HE MEANT IT. Purposed by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. By the use of an instrument we term "evil" God purposed the salvation of all of Joseph's brothers and in turn brought blessing upon the house of Israel and the Egyptians. Surely the "Lord hath made all for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Prov. 16:4).
Someone once said, "If God does not prevent evil, He is not good, and if He cannot prevent evil, He is not God." To this we must respond. Since God does not prevent evil, He intends to use it, for his own Divine intention. When His purpose is fulfilled, He will successfully restrain it, remove it and bring it to a conclusion. His end always justifies His means.
So, what about God and evil? We would not rush in where angels fear to tread, lest we charge God foolishly. (Job 1:22). We dare not suggest that God makes men sin or causes sin. Confusion surfaces when we don't differentiate evil from sin. Evil is the purposeful calamities God uses to bring forth His design in the earth. "Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? (Amos 3:6). "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; and by the same fear (reverence)ought we to depart from evil. (Prov 8:13, 16:6). The more we come to hate evil, the more we will be set up - positioned - for a purging from evil. This cleansing process will lift you above both good and evil and enter you into a realm of life - the life that is Christ. Adam partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the pathway to the Tree of Life comes by way of the sword and the fire.
On the other side of this coin, how vital it is for us to recognize that the flagrant display of pain, suffering, heartache and despair so prevalent in our society, points NOT to the nature of God, but rather to the sin nature of man. The Bible says "God causes no man to sin, He tempteth no man, but if a man sin, he is drawn away of his own lust." (James 1:14). God cannot commit sin, neither does he tempt us to sin.
In an honest endeavor to rightly divide the word of truth, we would in no way justify the acting out of the unscrupulous plans that proceed from the heart of evil men. Out of the rebellious, corrupt, unregenerate heart of man the fruit of corruption issues forth. The righteous judgment of God will see to it that all injustices are vindicated, therefore it is written, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts." (Jer. 2:19).
It was indeed evil men pursing an evil deed who slew our Lord, and hung Him on a cross. Yet, Peter preached that, "Him (Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts 2:23). In Acts 4:27-28, we read, "Both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever THY HAND AND THY COUNSEL determined before to be done." These men were blinded to the purpose and plan of God which had been set into operation from the foundation of the world. Of truth, had they known, they would not have crucified the King of glory! His hand and counsel determined the outcome. The hand of man could not disannul it. Indeed, it was the hand of man that was used to bring it forth. "For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isa. 14:27).
And now in retrospect, as God removes the veil from off our eyes; we rejoice in the fact that out of the death of Jesus Christ came reconciliation, life, and immortality. Out of an action which initially appeared to be the ultimate injustice to man, God purposed for good, indeed, the salvation of all mankind! "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Tim. 1:10).
To be continued.............Willie Hinn
These lessons are intended to be basic, elementary, entry level teachings to better understand the instruction of our Lord. It is with patience and comfort of the scriptures that we rightly discern between our soulish thoughts and our spiritual, confirming by holy script what the Lord has already spoken into our very hearts.
God's Love Towards All - con't
In the last two issues of ARISE we began to explore the love of God and how it relates to the destiny of man. We started our study with the idea that God has a well thought out plan for His creation. The wonderful truth was considered that God is to have man to be in the image of Himself and will give him dominion over the entire universe. Our attention was brought to our present state and condition of life rather than pondering too long on what "will be in the future", thus making it a little more meaningful and perhaps realistic for today. It was suggested that before such great feats in God are experienced, we must first rule over our own little universe by governing our thoughts, words and actions or as Proverbs states "he that ruleth his spirit (is better) than he that taketh a city".
We learned that man was lowered by the divine choosing of God to be ineffective, useless or futile, yet not without having a specific purpose and ultimate goal in mind. He set in motion man's return, charging every man, woman and child to turn back, "Thou turnest man unto a bruised thing, And sayest, Return, ye children of men" (Ps. 90:3 YLT). So we rest in the fact that everyone will respond to that call when God decides to turn them back, to draw them so they can run after Him, to quicken their spirit as deep would call unto deep. Job reminds us of this very same principle, "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee..." (Job 14:15). Jeremiah confirms the same idea with "Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned..." (Lam. 5:21). And how can we miss to see our dependency upon God as the Psalmist writes "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statues; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness" (Ps. 119:32-40).
We have been assured over and over again by several inspired ones throughout the ages that God is sovereign and in complete, total control of His creation. Our brother Paul reminds us that God "as the potter has power over the clay, making of the same lump one vessel unto honour and another unto dishonour" (Rom. 9:21). His servant John put it this way, "Our Lord God omnipotent reigneth". Job said "But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me..." (Job 23:13-14). Can we not believe that He is unrestricted and governed by none other, unlimited, supreme power and having rank over His entire creation! His plan will not fail or be delayed because of the puny, little, stubborn will of man. How can an Almighty God and Creator be subject to his creature?
And yet perhaps one of the most wonderful truths spoken out of the realm of spirit and recorded in holy script are the words of Paul that it is "God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). The Williams translation reads as follows, "for it is God Himself who is at work in you to help you desire it as well as to do it". I think that to whatever amount of divine influence is upon our hearts, we owe to God and share the same thought as did Paul that by the grace of God I am what I am.....yet not I, but the grace of God....with me. And again, the thought which is often overlooked by most, "To Him WHO BY HIS POWER that is at work within us can do surpassingly more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20 Williams). To this we see the words of Jesus, "I can of mine own self do nothing". So we see that it is God Himself motivating and curbing our desires. It is God Himself that is at work within us, empowering us to do that which we would not have done, not have asked, not ever have imagined! Yea, it is God Himself working all things after the counsel of His own will, turning hearts as rivers of water, whithersoever He will.
Our second study began to bring to light God's love and ultimate intention towards His creation. Disregarding "popular teachings" of today, several scriptures were rightly aligned to support the good news taught by the apostles and our Lord Jesus. The thoughts of endless suffering, torment and damnation contradict the very nature of God and the salvation brought to us by Christ. The idea that He created anything to be "damned for eternity" is a product of the carnal mind and should be discarded from the Christian vocabulary. Those that teach such ideas are unskillful in using the word of God. It matters not that the "mainstream" believe and teach such doctrines. We join good company with the apostles and even Jesus himself in preaching in opposition to the majority. I think it is vital and paramount for us to learn of His great love towards all for I am convinced that our very own concept of God and how we see His love determines the place we have of Him in our hearts, and consequently, we measure others with this same amount of love.
Indeed, we "labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men - especially of those believing. " (I Tim 4:10 YLT). We shared the good news that God our Saviour is determined and delights in the fact that ALL men are to ultimately be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (ref. I Tim 2:1-6). We clearly proved that "for even as in Adam all die, so also in the Christ all shall be made alive, and each in his proper order" (I Cor 15:22-23 YLT). All have certainly tasted of death and it shall be THE SAME ALL that will be made alive!
So we'll begin our third study on this wonderful subject with the words of one of our Christian fathers, Clemens Alexandrinus, who said around the year 190 Anno Domini, "The Lord does good unto all, and delights in all; as God, he forgives our transgressions, and as man, he teaches and instructs us that we may not sin. Man is, indeed, necessarily dear to God, because he is his workmanship. Other things he made only by his order; but man he formed by his own hand, and breathed into him his distinguishing properties. Now, whatever was created by him, especially in his own image, must have been created because it was, in itself, desirable to God, or else desirable from some other consideration. If man was made because he was in himself desirable, then God loved him on account of his being good; and there certainly is in man that lovely principle, called the breath or inspiration of God." There are some, says Clemens, who deny that the Lord is good, because he inflicts punishments and enjoins fear. He adds that God's "justice is, of itself, nothing but goodness; for it rewards the virtuous with blessings, and conduces to the improvement of the sinful. There are many evil affections which are to be cured only by suffering. Punishment is, in its operation, like medicine: it dissolves the hard heart, purges away the filth of uncleanness, and reduces the swellings of pride and haughtiness, thus restoring its subject to a sound and healthful state. It is not from hatred, therefore, that the Lord rebukes mankind." Clemens says in another place, "How is he Saviour and Lord, unless he is the Saviour and Lord of all? He is certainly the Saviour of those who have believed; and of those who have not believed, he is the Lord, until by being brought to confess him, they shall receive the proper and well adapted blessing for themselves. The Lord is the propitiation, not only for our sins, that is, of the faithful, but also for the whole world (I Jhn 2:2): therefore he indeed saves all; but converts some by punishments, and others by gaining their free will; so that he has the high honor, that unto him every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth....". - end quote.
We agree with the words of the apostle John that Jesus Christ is the 'propitiation' for our sins, that is, he is the satisfaction, atonement, amendment, conciliation or expiation for our sins, which is the definition of the greek word hilasmos. It is also used when John tells us, "herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (I Jhn 4:10-11). A similar word, hilaskomai, brings to mind that we are justified because of God's mercy; not of our own self righteousness and many religious acts, nor even our ability to trust in ourselves. We share the parable of the pharisee and the publican as Jesus spoke these words to those who trusted in themselves to be righteous, while despising others. "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful, (hilaskomai) to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14). This same word was also used in the book of Hebrews, "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 (satisfaction, amends, mercy) for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17). And again, a similar word in the greek, hilasterion, is translated as 'mercyseat' and 'propitiation' to support our teaching (Heb. 9:5 and Rom. 3:25, respectively).
So we rejoice and should be comforted in the fact that He is the satisfaction FOR OUR SINS. To me, this boggles the mind at times and is perhaps forgotten, yet the fact remains that HE IS! The fact remains that His blood is our satisfaction and when this understanding is grasped, when we come to realize and believe that through faith in His blood we have already been amended, we then openly declare his righteousness for the remission of sins! Now to complete the remaining portion of John's statement, "he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, BUT ALSO FOR THE WHOLE WORLD". For whom? Read it again! The whole world!! So, I ask, is God satisfied with the blood offered by His Son for both us and the whole world? You can either believe it or be as the Pharisee, despising others and only seeing yourself amended?
Now this is not to imply that the whole world will right away experience the same things promised to the believer or the one who overcomes in this present age. Scripture is clear that certain promises are only for the overcomer (ref. Rev. chapter 2). Nor is it to suggest that all are of the household of God. Only those born of the Spirit have been placed into the family of God and share the position as "brethren" of Jesus Christ. However, it is a matter of timing and election on God's part as to when the "whole world" will come into the grace and glory of our Lord. And yet, I think that even their part in God's great drama as "vessels of dishonour" is one of timing and divine election. Here I am reminded of two men, Cyrus and Judas Iscariot. The first was the king of Persia, a heathen rather than one of the nation of Israel. Yet God stirred this man's spirit to perform the task the Lord had for him in the earth. Isaiah even tells us that the Lord regarded Cyrus as His "shepherd" and "anointed" (ref. Isa. 44:28 - 45:1). The second man was Judas Iscariot who went unto the chief priests of his day to deliver the Christ in return for thirty pieces of silver. Yet Jesus chose him from the beginning knowing full well he was a devil. In fact, holy script says the devil was PUT INTO THE HEART OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, Simon's son, to betray the Christ. And let me ask, was it any different for Judas as with Herod, Pontius Pilate and the people of Israel TO DO WHATSOEVER the hand and counsel of God determined before to be done?
So back to my subject. God will prepare the heart of the unbeliever and draw them out of darkness and into His marvelous light when He decides it to be so. Often, He will send or use one of the "brethren", one of His instruments of salvation to inform or rather "share Christ". Religion would try to tell them that first they are sinners, then they are to repent and accept Christ as their personal saviour in order for their sins to be removed from God. What blasphemy I say! Their sins have already been dealt with by Jesus! They cannot do something, make a sacrifice, etc. to make amends with God. His Son already paid the price. Furthermore, they cannot repent and then accept God. Holy script tells us "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4). And repentance, my friend, is turning your mind and making it right regarding God.
When we, as sons of God, declare His righteousness, it should cause a person to behold the true and living God. They will correctly regard God's goodness. We should be telling them that there has already been One in whom God is completely satisfied with and that He is not imputing their sins against them. They will then realize through a turned mind, regarding God in His exactness and wonderful mercy, and awaken unto a new life. From God's point of view, the blood already covers them, from man's vantage, we are to believe and be transformed in our mind and way of thinking to EXPERIENCE what God has already done. From God's position, their 'standing' is one of not guilty, He is not holding them in their sins. Now, if they truly believe it, they will confess with their mouth and believe in their heart unto salvation. A renewing or transformation will take place in their minds and they will start to experience this new life and become the righteousness of God. This is good news. This is coming to the knowledge of the truth. Do we impute their sins against them or do we tell them to be reconciled to God? We have all been shut up in unbelief, both we and the whole world. Yet Paul reminds us "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have HAVE MERCY UPON ALL", yes the whole world!
So, it is true that God will ultimately restore all into His glorious kingdom. David himself wrote "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool" (Ps. 110:1). And Paul confirms the same of Christ, "For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under His feet" (I Cor. 15:25). And what are the 'all enemies to be put under his feet'? Paul gives us the answer that "....all things shall be subdued unto him...that God may be all in all". What then, is that subjection with which all things are subdued? Can it be none other than 'salvation' to be subjected to Christ? Even David said "stilled (subjected) is my soul, for from Him is my salvation" (Ps. 62:1-2 CV). And again, the idea that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.....to the GLORY of God the Father", denotes a subjection to Jesus.
Man's final outcome (e.g., his "eternal" resting place or abode) is NOT solely based on the decisions he makes while in this "land of the living". Religion would want us to think that the ultimate condition of man after a physical death is settled forever, etched in stone, never to be changed or altered. Yet I remind you that our Lord is much greater than man's stubborn will and our Almighty God is not limited to only reaching souls on this side of the grave. The servant and apostle Peter showed this to be true as Christ went and preached to those spirits in prison which were disobedient in the days of Noah (ref. I Pet. 3:20). We reject the idea of any who would try to twist this verse to regard any others than whom Peter refers, THOSE WHICH WERE DISOBEDIENT IN THE DAYS OF NOAH. And I ask the simple question, what do you think He preached? Could it be that He paid the price and He came to set the captives free!
Let us now turn our attention to words and phrases which have been poorly represented by religion and make it difficult to see God's Love Towards All. The remaining portion of this article will focus on the word eternal and everlasting. Future articles will rightly align the concepts of damnation, hell and stories such as that of Lazarus.
There are numerous scriptures which use the words 'eternal' and 'everlasting'. A few common verses will be quoted, along with a few less popular, to demonstrate our theme to be true. Our challenge begins with 20th century usage of these words. Today these words take on the meaning of unending, perpetual, surpassing all time and space. But this was not how they were used by the early Christians. In fact, it is quite interesting in readings of the early church fathers, that although there were difference of opinions regarding the fate of the unbeliever, most of them carried the expressions 'eternal' and 'everlasting' to mean a duration of time having a specific end. Origen, perhaps one of the greatest of all early church fathers, freely used such expressions without any further explanation as is needed today. In fact, he was clearly a teacher of ultimate salvation and found it to be one of his more favorite lessons. It is not recorded whether common orthodoxy of his day opposed or agreed with him on ultimate salvation, however, Origen did not have to defend his position with them. It is also said of him to believe that the doctrine is to be "regarded as a mystery and it should not be divulged everywhere upon the imperfect and those of less capacity", yet he often taught the subject.
Our English words 'eternal' and 'everlasting' are mostly found in the Greek as either aion or aionios. The word aidios is also used in two places but will not be discussed in this article. Since most of the early Christians used the Septuagint for their preaching and study, we will stay with the Greek word and its meaning rather than the Hebrew word. For those unfamiliar with the name, the Septuagint was the translation of the Hebrew holy scripture into Greek and served as the scriptures for vast numbers whose native tongue was Greek. For example, Jesus and his disciples would have used the Greek word aion rather than the original Hebrew word owlam , yet carrying the same meaning. Our first word aion means a term, interval or period of time, an age or an epoch. (An epoch is a particular period of time marked by distinctive features, events, etc.). The word 'eon' has been translated into English from aion. Scripture clearly taught that this word meant a period of time having a specific end to it. So let the usage of the word in the context of scripture determine the meaning of these words.
Jonah was in affliction and cried out of the fish's belly. Yet Jonah said that the earth with her bars was about me for ever or owlam. This word is the exact same as 'eon' and means a duration of time. The story proves this to be true since the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. We are told that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. So Jonah used the word owlam to mean a period of time having an end. The Septuagint uses the word aion, and our English translation uses 'for ever'; all three meaning the same thing! The same word has been translated in the old testament as: perpetual, everlasting, the world, elam, ancient, of old, and eternal. We find several references of the Aaronic priesthood as an 'everlasting' priesthood having an 'everlasting' covenant, yet the new testament tells us that it ended since a better covenant and more excellent ministry was established. God Himself said it was 'everlasting', yet ended it. Was He incorrect in using the word 'everlasting'? Perhaps He changed His mind and just lied to us in the beginning? Or could it be that religion has led us astray in understanding the true meaning of these words. Let God be true and every man a liar. Even the leprosy of Gehazi, stated by Elisha as 'for ever', must end at his death. (ref. II Kgs. 5:27 )
Perhaps a little more difficult to both understand and explain are the following few verses. However, we must maintain a consistent meaning with our word and can only rely on the Holy Spirit to quicken to our minds such truths. "The eternal (qedem) God is thy refuge....." (Deut. 33:27). This word is also translated as east, eastward, before and anciently. It means antiquity and relates with time if one were to review the some sixty verses which use the word. For example, "the chief things of the ancient mountains" or "I have considered the days of old". The translators could have just as easy wrote "eternal mountains" or "days eternal". Yet, that would clearly be misleading since we know a mountain cannot be eternal nor can a day, which is clearly related to time. However, it is very true to say that "The God of the ages is thy refuge" since He acts within the limits and confinements of time with man. Paul writes "Now unto the King eternal (aion), immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (I Tim. 1:17). Dr. Robert Young translation gives "and to the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God, is honour and glory - to the ages of the ages! Amen". Another reads "Now to the King of the eons, the incorruptible, invisible, only, and wise God, be honor and glory for the eons of the eons! Amen!". And yet again, "He is the King of the ages, the unseen one who never dies.......". So we can see that He is the King of all the ages of time and is to receive honor and glory in each one of them.
Now to that more difficult question, what about the 'eternal' life which God has given to us, or the 'eternal' life which we are to lay hold, or the 'eternal' life in which we are to believe so not to perish? And while on the subject, how about the 'eternal' damnation or 'everlasting' punishment for the wicked? Some have asked, how can the punishment or correction have an end, yet the same word for the believer's life mean eternal. On the surface this may seem to be a plausible argument, however as we seek the mind of the Lord, relatively simple answers are provided for us.
First of all, we have seen that the words under investigation can not mean eternal or endless. Eons have beginnings and have endings, however long or vast they may be, common sense demands it and the scriptures prove it to be so. I would be the first to admit that if I only knew of the phrases like 'eternal' life to rely on and knew nothing else of this life in which I now possess, I would tend to think that perhaps it has an ending somewhere in the far reaches of time. However, scriptures clearly show that this life is an endless life, never to cease, eternal without end. It is a life which can not be corrupted and shall never see death or an end. So now that we know a little more about this life, we can see that this 'eternal' life isn't talking about it's duration but rather it's quality. The life, which is endless, has been subjected into the time realm and will exist down through the ages or as some translators have accurately stated, ".....to the life age-during". Once the ages are complete, this life does not discontinue because it is endless, eternal! The word aion does not make it eternal, it simply implies that this life has been implanted into time or is life age-abiding. However, there are other verses which show us that it is truly eternal and shall never end! And besides, whoever heard of (or can find in the Bible) an eternal punishment? Isn't punishment a form of correction? Once the crooked is made straight, the punishment is no longer required. Don't let your carnal mind or your religious dogma get you all confused regarding this subject. Yes, this life endures throughout the ages, it is age-abiding life. But it goes past the idea of only 'during the ages'. It is an endless life subjected into the time realm, to be experienced by man throughout the ages and beyond.
So when we find words to mean a duration of time, we must conclude that these were used with specific intent since they were under inspiration when spoken. God in His dealings with man is working with the ages, it is 'age-abiding' life, 'age-abiding' salvation', etc. He is the God of all ages. Yet He is still Eternal and reaches beyond time. I do not think that the doctrine of eternal damnation belongs in the Christian faith. Those who teach such ideas are teaching against the character of God and are unskillful in handling the word of God. Surely, His whole mind is full of love towards His creation!
To be continued.......T.D.C.
A Silent Friend
As I walked into battle, I wondered where Jesus went
I was just talking to him, About the place that I'd been sent
He told me to be prayful, And to trust in Him
He said that it would be dark and scary, And that I might want to give in
And at that moment there was nothing that I could say,
As Jesus patted me on the back and said "Be on your way"
He said "I'll be with you, though you may want to fear...,
You probably will not see me when your enemy is near"
Then I turned around and noticed He was out of sight,
I quickly threw up my hands and said, "I'll quit this fight"
Then all of a sudden the winds began to blow,
And the sky became black
I was in fear for my life, For soon I'd be attacked
I yelled "Lord, where'd you go - You said You'd follow thru....
I put my faith in nothing else and trusted only you"
And now I know my life, Is coming to an end
He said He'd be here with me, He said "Thru thick and thin"
But it looks like He's not here - It seems He's not my friend
I didn't know what else to do, So I fell down on my knees....
I raised my hands up to the sky, And said, "Lord, tell me, tell me please
Jesus where did you go, When my life was ever low....
Why did you leave me, Lord, Why, Why, I cried
Just then I heard a gentle voice:
"I'm right here by your side."
..................Keith J. Fredlund