"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its 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 mostly from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Florida 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 ninth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "Prayer - A Challenge For Divine Communication" comes from a dear
friend and church scholar
for today, Dr. Jack Jacobsen. He shares with us pearls of wisdom regarding this basic, yet so mis-
understood topic - prayer. Brother Jack and his wife Marjorie are from a suburb of Minneapolis,
MN and co-pastor the Arise and Shine Fellowship. They are also active several months of the
year with an assembly in the New Port Richey area.
II. "What Do They Mean - Are You Saved?" continues with wonderful
insight regarding salvation
and its true meaning. This article is provided to us by a good brother and teacher in the Word,
Elwin Roach. He and his wife Margit live in Alamogordo, NM and are very faithful and able
ministers of the Word.
III. "Set Apart To Obey" is an excellent word from my close friend,
Romeo Corsini. His article takes
us into the subject of holiness and is quite relevant for our day. He and his wife Christine live in
the Tampa (Brandon), FL area. They have three beautiful little daughters.
IV. "Discovering God In ManKind" provides several challenging questions
and suggests some thought
provoking answers regarding our ideas of God.
V. "The Serpent - Where Did The Devil Come From?" is a reprint of
one of perhaps the best articles
written on this subject. This writing comes from a friend and wonderful teacher, J. Preston Eby. He and his wife Lorain publish the Kingdom Bible Studies and live in El Paso, Texas.
VI. "The Healing Balm of Calvary" on the back cover has been provided
to us by a dear Sister, Frances Shufflebangen from West Chester, PA. These thoughts
of inspiration serve as a word
of encouragement and should minister to each and every one of us.
We trust these articles serve as a blessing to all who read. As we continue to discover truth, we openly and gladly share with you. As the Christ of God continues to unfold in our hearts and minds, we offer words of insight and thoughts of hope for all. I pray that your walk is enriched with a deeper desire to experience Jesus Christ the Lord in a way as never before.
I hope each and every reader has had a wonderful and peaceful holiday season. As for me, I was blessed with a beautiful wife, Melissa Lee Carroll. The service was provided by Brother Romeo Corsini. Surely, the Lord had heard my prayer and was merciful and gracious. "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord".
In His Service
Timothy D. Carroll
"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 the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies are
available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
Prayer - A Challenge For Divine Communication
Webster's Dictionary defines Prayer as having its root in the Latin word, "precarius". This word in the Latin means to obtain an answer through begging. And looking at the word, "precarious" in Webster's Dictionary, one of the definitions is that precarious means to be dependent upon the will or favor of another person. Ideally, this is the best way to sum up in a few words, "What is Prayer." The Heavenly Father, Author of Prayer, wanted His Creation to depend wholly upon Him and to voice their needs, their concerns and their desires to Him. Prayer is conversation with the Heavenly Father in the voicing of those needs and desires.
When the Disciples of the Lord Jesus came to Him requesting Him to teach them to pray, Jesus gave them the sum and substance of what Prayer embodies in the Lord's Prayer as we have it in Matthew 6:9-13. It is interesting to note that Jesus told His Disciples, "After this manner therefore pray ye." It is as if Jesus was saying to His own, "Use these thoughts and words as your pattern" in your prayer life. Do not use My words only as rote but use the thoughts I give you in these words as the pattern for the issues of life that you need to bring before the Heavenly Father. Martin Luther in his Catechism takes every Petition in the Lord's Prayer to express and makes it contemporary for the Believer in daily life. For instance, in the Fourth Petition, "Give us this day our daily bread", Luther explains this as meaning that God gives daily bread indeed without our prayer, also to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. Then in answer to the question in the Catechism of "What is meant by daily bread?", Luther explains by saying, "Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors and the like." It is interesting that only this Petition deals with our material needs, the other Petitions deal with our spiritual needs.
It is noteworthy that the first mention of Prayer in the Bible is given in Genesis 4:26. In that place in Scripture, we read these words, "And to Seth, to him also was born a son; and he called his name Enos; then BEGAN MEN TO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD." Prior to that, no mention of Prayer is made in the Book of Genesis. We may question why at this time and with the birth of Enos did men begin to pray? What did Enos have to do to encourage men to pray? One reliable source states that what is suggested is that Enos began to worship the true God, Jehovah, and this encouraged others in his era to pray to that true God when men saw how this God answered his prayers. It may be that the character and spiritual power of Enos may have encouraged others to pray to the same source. The American Evangelist, Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), was such a Spirit-filled person that when he would enter a factory, workers at their machines would cease their labor and would stand in silence because they felt the Presence of a Heavenly Power. Many would weep, many would pray.
Many attribute the Great Awakening on the East Coast to Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and Charles Finney. Finney had received a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God in his Law Offices after he had spent time in the "woods" near his office. After realizing that in his prayer time in the "woods", he had a relationship with the Lord of lords that he was pondering what had happened to him. As he went from one room to another to put more wood in the stove, Finney met the Lord Jesus in the archway which divided the two rooms, and the Saviour began to pour forth the Holy Spirit so that Finney cried out for the power to cease lest he die. That Spirit of the Lord was upon Finney and in Finney so that his revivals were very effective. We are told that less than ten percent would drift away from their Lord in these revivals. Many evangelists see only ten percent remaining true after their "conversion" in their crusades.
The Bible tells us that our prayers are precious and are like incense to the Lord. In Revelation 5:8, we read these words, "And when He the Lamb had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the PRAYERS OF SAINTS."
Later in Revelation, we read in chapter 8, verse 3, these words, "And another Angel came and stood over the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should add it unto the PRAYERS OF ALL THE SAINTS upon the golden altar which was before the throne." Verse 4 continues, "And the smoke of the incense, with the PRAYERS of the saints, went up before God out of the Angel's hand." Our Prayers are precious in God's sight and our prayers are as incense before the Presence of the Lord. What an encouragement for us to pray.
Examples of Effective Prayers
How effective are our prayers? We see an Abraham praying for Lot at the city of Sodom in Genesis, chapter 18. Abraham kept asking God to spare the city if there were so many righteous and God said in answer to his prayers that He would do so. Abraham asked God if fifty were righteous, would He spare the city? God said, "Yes." And as you know the story, Abraham kept going down in number to finally number ten; if there were only ten, the city would be spared! But perhaps both God and Abraham knew that there were less than ten and so judgment would come. But Abraham prayed so that at least LOT, HIS WIFE AND DAUGHTERS would be spared.
Moses saw many of his prayers answered. At the waters at Marah, God showed Moses how to make the waters sweet. At the impending destruction of Israel, Moses stood in the gap and God withheld His Hand of destruction. In conversation with the Lord, Ezekiel heard the complaint of the Lord about the conduct of the priests and the people in Ezekiel's day and in Ezekiel 22:30, God says to this Prophet, "I sought for a man among them (Israel), that should make up the hedge, and stand in the GAP before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I FOUND none!"
God rewarded Hannah with a son, the mighty Samuel, in answer to her faithful prayers. The prayers of Samuel when he prayed as he offered a burnt offering for Israel against the Philistines were answered. The Lord discomforted the enemy and the Philistines were smitten before Israel. We read about this in I Samuel 7:9. When Elijah prayed that the Lord would send fire upon the sacrifice so that the people would KNOW that He was the true God, fire fell from Heaven and consumed the sacrifice. The contest with the priests of Baal was over and the Lord was Glorified. We read about this contest in I Kings 18:37. God heard and delivered His people out of the hand of King Sennacherib and the Assyrian Army after Hezekiah had fervently prayed. II Kings 19: 19 and in I Chronicles 5:20.
Our Nation was started when a group of Pilgrims from England settled on our shores. It was prayer that guided them to the Eastern shore. As they prayed on their ships for guidance from Almighty God, a flock of birds flew overhead and the Pilgrims knew that the birds were heading for land. Following the birds, led them to Plymouth Rock. They arrived in 1619 and God was with them in spite of the hardships when in the first Winter nearly one half of that group died. In 1623, prayer saved the Pilgrims from starvation when friendly Indians shared their corn and other food items with the Pilgrims.
In 1777 at Valley Forge, George Washington prayed for heaven's help and our Continental Army eventually won the war of Independence. It was prayer in 1787 that saved the Consitutional Convention from total dissolution. The issue was whether the small states should have the same representation as the larger states. It was then that Benjamin Franklin rose to his feet and said to that august assembly, "Gentlemen, I am 81 years old and I offer this word of advice, I am convinced that Scripture is right when it states, except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I have lived a long life and I am convinced that God governs the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God's notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid? I move that prayer be made imploring the assistance of heaven before we proceed to business." The Chaplain prayed a prayer for God to guide them with His wisdom. In a short while, the problem was solved and our Nation could now go forward in development.
About 100 years later when our Nation faced division, history records how before the great battle between the North and the South in 1863, the Cabinet met with President Lincoln in the White House. The mood was sad and sober, the Confederated Army was coming from the South and an engagement the next day at Gettysburg would take place. In the midst of that melancholy, President Lincoln stood and said to his guests, "I have spent the last night in prayer and the Lord has given me the assurance that our cause will triumph and that our Nation will be preserved." God heard the prayers of our honored President and others and our Nation survived that nightmare of the Civil War. Prayer kept us as a united Country and not a divided one. During World War II, General Dwight Eisenhower said, "Prayer gives you courage so that you can make decisions in a crisis and then in confidence leave the result to Almighty God."
What does God's Word tell us of those things which will hinder prayer? God's Word is filled with warnings that hinder the prayers and we read that disobedience as stated in Deuteronomy 1:45 kept Israel from entering the Promise Land when they came to Kadesh and fear of the enemy was the barrier which stopped them from entering the Land. The Bible says that secret sin will cause prayers not to be answered. In Psalm 66:18 it says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Indifference will hinder our prayer life. In Proverbs 1:28, the author Solomon says that if God's people are indifferent and half hearted then "when they call upon Me, I will not answer, they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find Me."
God dislikes lukewarmness in His people, He delights in His children who love Him totally with their heart, strength, mind and soul. Another hinderance to prayer is when we neglect mercy. Proverbs 21:13 states, "Whoso stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he shall cry himself and not be heard." In Proverbs 28:9 we are told that despising the Law and the Word of God will hinder our prayers. We read, "He that turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." James in his Epistle states that instability is a reason for unanswered prayer. James says in chapter one, verse 6 and 7, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like the wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. But let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." Later on in his Epistle, James tells us that self-indulgence will hinder an answer to our prayers. He says in James 4:3, "You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts." The Word of God tells us that blood-guiltiness, iniquity and stubborness are basis why prayers are not answered. Isaiah 1:15 speaks of God hiding His eyes in the days of Israel's backsliding because their hands were full of blood.
The Apostle Peter gives good advice when he reminds us who are husbands that we need to be kind to our wives and give honor to them so that our prayers are not hindered. Peter states, "Likewise you husbands, dwell with them (wives) according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the Grace of life: THAT YOUR PRAYERS BE NOT HINDERED."
What are the conditions for answered prayer? Oswald Chambers says this on the subject of prayer, "Our Lord never referred to unanswered prayer. He taught that prayers were always answered, 'for every one that asketh receiveth'. Jesus implied that prayers were answered rightly because of the Heavenly Father's wisdom." What are these conditions?
Contrition: II Chronicles 7:14 says, "If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Whole-heartedness: And you shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with ALL your heart." Jeremiah 29:13 Faith: Mark 11:24 states the words of Jesus when He said, "Therefore, I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you have received them, and you shall HAVE them." Righteousness: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a RIGHTEOUS man avails much." James 5:16 Lastly, Obedience: The Apostle John in his First Epistle states the importance of obedience when he wrote, "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." I John 3:22.
I like what Archbishop Trench of the Anglican Church in England said about PRAYER. "PRAYER IS NOT OVERCOMING THE RELUCTANCE OF God, but laying hold of his highest willingness." Effectual Prayer is not with methods or methodical, but the prayers of the heart. Charles Spurgeon, Prince of Preachers, said once, GROANINGS WHICH CANNOT BE UTTERED ARE OFTEN THE PRAYERS THAT CANNOT BE REFUSED.
Pray without ceasing, as Paul reminds us, and God will not cease to bestow His Blessings upon us.
................ Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
What Do They Mean - Are You Saved? - con't
THERE IS A WAY - ONE WAY
It is impossible for any man to save himself, but with God ALL GOOD THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. The way possible with God is laid out very clearly in the scriptures; namely, that HIS SON JESUS IS THE WAY! Let us listen to the words of this Son and truly hear what HE is saying: " I AM THE WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but BY ME" (Jhn. 14:6). "Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you... I AM THE DOOR: BY ME if any man enter in, HE SHALL BE SAVED, and shall go in and out, and find pasture" (Jhn. 10:7,9). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, THE SAME IS A THIEF AND A ROBBER" (Jhn. 10:1).
Are you trusting in your "good life" as being the way to God's favor? If so, then you are a thief. Are you believing that you can lay hold of God's paradise by obeying as many of the ten commandments as you can? If so, you are then a robber. Are your efforts of going to church, watching Christian television programs, or learning church doctrine and dogma supposed to be your ticket to heaven? If so, these things are taking the place of Jesus Christ in your life, you are a thief and robber! For you are attempting to climb up some other way than the prescribed way--J E S U S!
We may want to be the lord of our destiny, the captain of our own salvation, as Adam and Eve before us, but God will not accept the filthy rags of our own goodness any quicker than He did with theirs. It is recorded that Jesus only is the Captain of salvation (Heb. 2:10). There is no other way, especially not of ourselves (Eph. 2:7,9). He alone is the Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). He starts it and He finishes it. He is altogether the source of Life, and if we don't go through Him, THE DOOR, THE WAY, THE LIFE, we will be left out in the cold with the other naked thieves, shivering in the lifeless ashes of our own self-righteous efforts.
Now the BIG question-- HOW DO WE ENTER THROUGH THAT DOOR CALLED JESUS?
YOU SHALL BE SAVED
When it came time for Jesus Christ to die, resurrect, and ascend into the heavens, He assured His disciples by telling them something that would be very important, and not only to them, but to the rest of the world. He spoke of His return as the Holy Spirit. He said: "I must go away, but I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, which will be Myself. I, the Spirit of truth, will come and remain with you forever. Those of the world cannot receive Me, because they do not have My Spirit, and without it, it is impossible to even see Me. They can know nothing about Me. I will remain a mystery to them: but you know Me; for I dwell with you; but when I come again, I SHALL BE IN YOU. I will not leave you comfortless: I WILL COME TO YOU. Yet a little while, and the world will no longer see Me, for those of carnal minds cannot see that which is Spirit--but you see Me. SINCE I LIVE, YOU SHALL LIVE ALSO. At that day, when My Father sends Me back as the holy Spirit, you shall know that I AM IN MY FATHER, and YOU ARE IN ME, and I AM IN YOU" (John 14: 16-20m ERV).
Let us ask, If the Spirit of Jesus Christ Who is righteous dwells within people, If He lives in absolute peace and possesses unspeakable joy at all times, and if we are joined to Him and have become ONE SPIRIT, as the scripture says--what does His presence WITHIN US do? The simple answer is this: We are stirred by His Life and changed by it. By His Spirit, and for the first time, we experience righteousness, peace and joy. We have Christ who is all these things in our very midst, and being joined to Him we experience everything He experiences. Who needs anything else when we are fused to Jesus Christ?
When He abides in us, we can enjoy the peace of God that passes all understanding. When He lives in His house that we are, as the scriptures say, unspeakable joy becomes our daily portion of life. Praise God! What a way to live! We don't have to torture ourselves in our carnal efforts of trying to find ways to please Him, and then wait to die and hopefully find joy if we are lucky and get to go to heaven. We don't have to wait one day or one minute for that joy to be ours, for the instant He makes Himself known in our house--IT BEGINS.
You might think He is too busy to bother with just one insignificant person as yourself, especially if there are things you are not very proud of in your life. Don't worry about that, for it was for that reason He died. If we were all perfect, there would have been no reason for Him to hang upon the cross and die. He took with Him to the cross every sin and rebellious act and paid the price for us all. He took our sorrow and death so we could take His joy and life. The apostle Paul put it this way: "And that HE DIED FOR ALL, that THEY WHICH LIVE should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again". ( UU Cir, 5:15). Remember one thing, He did not die for the righteous people of the world, for there weren't any, He died for a world full of sinners. Paul said, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
You can rest assured that what you have done in the past, or what you are doing today, is not a concern of God; for He knows the power of Christ's cleansing blood. The prophet Isaiah wrote in very plain words: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool". John endorsed this when He recorded in Revelation 7:14: "...These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
"This may be a fact," you say, "that the blood of Jesus has made me clean in the sight of God; but what about His presence, His peace , His joy, His Spirit within that enables me to truly live a righteous life? He is so far away in heaven that I don't think I'll ever be able to get His attention. And besides, who am I that He would even notice me?" This is logical thinking to those who have never known Him, but let us see again what Paul said. He speaks of just how far He really is from us: "...Say not in your heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above, for He is not up there in heaven:) Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead, for He is not in the grave either.) But what do the scriptures say? The WORD, (which is Jesus Christ) is near you, EVEN IN YOUR MOUTH, and IN YOUR HEART: that is, the Word of faith (Who is Jesus), Whom we preach" (Rom. 10:6-8, ERV).
That is close, isn't it? He isn't a billion miles out in space somewhere. He is as close as your own mouth and your own heart. "But how," you ask again, "do I get to know that reality." Paul's next couple of verses make it clear: "That if you CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH, 'JESUS IS LORD' and BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Rom. 10:9-10).
To be saved simply means: deliverance from sin and unrighteousness. It means deliverance from oppressions and worries. It means deliverance from sorrow, heartaches, and unhappiness. Jesus is not too far away nor too busy for anyone. His purpose for coming was to come into our lives and deliver us from all those things, and more. To be saved not only means the deliverance of things that are against Christ and the highest Life of the ages, but the placement of better things in our lives. When something bad goes, it is because something good has moved into its place and pushes out the bad. When sin and unrighteousness go, it is because the reality of Christ's nature has come. The power of His righteousness leaves no room for unrighteousness. Once we find our rest in Him and begin to know His peace, the oppressions and life's worries go. When joy and happiness flood our souls, our sorrows and unhappiness flee away. Those tormenting things find no place in such sparkling lives.
All the negative things must go when Christ comes in. Since "GOD IS LIGHT, and in Him is no darkness at all," as it is recorded in I John 1:5, how can darkness remain when He enters the house of your soul. When He comes in, His presence is like turning on a light in a dark room. The darkness just goes when He is perceived. His presence is that way--it dispels the pain of a hurting soul. The darkness of hell does not have to first go in order for the light to shine. You don't have to clean up your life first for Him to come in; the fact is, you can't clean up to any major degree at all. You just turn on the Light and the darkness scatters in His presence, and then the house-cleaning begins.
This is what happens when the Good of Christ comes, the evil of ourselves fades like a bad dream upon awakening from a long, dark night of winter's dread. He comes to our awakened souls with the treasures of His Kingdom, and the garbage of our old life goes. What a trade! Trinkets of trash for the bountiful treasures of His gold!
When you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, it is because He is there in your heart, making Himself known. This enables you to believe. Believing in your heart comes from the reality of Christ in you, and so does the confessions of your mouth.
Such a confession is the same as a wedding vow to your bride or groom. The vow, the confession, "I Do" can only be made if the other is standing there with you. You do not make a vow to a man or woman you have never met. You cannot make a vow to someone you have only been told about. You make the vow to a very real, living human being who you can see and hear, one you can reach out and touch and hold close to you. That is also how real your Comforter, your Savior, Jesus Christ is when you confess Him to be your Lord. It is from this reality, His presence of love and power, that any and all of your salvation comes.
Without the reality of Christ's presence, there is no salvation. Any one who is saved, or delivered, in a way other than by the power of Jesus is not truly saved. This man is climbing up some other way, his own way, which makes him a thief and a robber. Jesus is the Door to being saved. He is the Way to being rescued from sin and death. God allows no other way!
Furthermore, there is no power on earth other than God's power that can draw you or anyone else to Christ: For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:13). Jesus said, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which sent Me draws him..." (Jhn. 6:44). And let us be reminded how no man can even say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:3). But don't let these mighty declarations of God's sovereignty dismay you, nor cause you to doubt that you can know Jesus and be saved if it is God who does the drawing and the work, rather than the will and decision of yourself. You see, Jesus also said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth (signifying His death upon the cross), will draw all unto Me. (Jhn. 12:32). Therefore, dear reader, if you are being stirred in your spirit by this word, and you desire His supreme Life of the ages--YOU ARE BEING DRAWN TO HIM! Your hour has come to confess Him as your Lord, as your Deliverer from the distress of this world.
If this is you, one of those being drawn into the glorious Light and Life of Jesus Christ, then simply open your mouth and seal what your heart is aching to say. Speak those endearing words to Him-- "JESUS, MY LORD! JESUS, YOU ARE MY LORD." With surrendering joy, rejoice! For from this day forth He is in the confines of your being to make Himself known, and He will lead you into all truth, and give you the conquering power over death and hell. Listen to Him--and it shall be.
.............Elwin R. Roach
Set Apart To Obey
"Ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45.) "And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine." (Leviticus 20:26). The God of the Israelites took them out of Egypt that they might live unto Him, not so that they might not live like the Egyptians. A holy thing or person is one who has been set aside, apart, to glorify God by exemplifying the nature and character of God. Has God called you to be his, to be set apart, to be identified with him, to be holy?
What God told Moses, he is saying to us. "And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." As long as Moses was in his own shoes, he was not one with the holy ground. In taking off his shoes, his obedience makes him part of the holy ground where God speaks with revelation, "through the fire".
But what is holiness? Is it abstinence? Is it not doing evil things? Is it piety, the act of seeming devotion? Is it suffering? Is it perfection?
In the Old Testament, God set up laws for these people whom he set apart for himself. His instructions to them were simple: "...that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: that ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God." (Numbers 15:39-40).
"And Samuel said, hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam 15:22).
It would seem, then, that understanding obedience is paramount to being holy in God. If I obey God, what am I doing? He said, "Thou shalt not..." Because I did not, does that mean I am holy? In the parable of the publican, Jesus tells of the Pharisee proclaiming his pride in not being like "these others" and proceeding to list the things he does not do and the things that he does do. Yet Jesus assigns righteousness to the sinner who could only stand there at the altar and confess his faults, not to the Pharisee. (Luke 18: 10-14). "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 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."
To exalt oneself would be to do things according to one's opinion. To humble oneself would be to obey the voice of God. In the publican's case, the voice of God was instructing him to repent.
Again there is a parable of the two sons who were instructed to work "today in the vineyard." "But what do you think: A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.' And he answered and said, 'I will, sir'; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, 'I will not'; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you" (Matthew 21:28-31). Obedience, regardless, is the sweet savour of holiness. The father's request was that it be done "today", suggesting that, no matter what it may seem like now, ultimately it is obedience that accomplishes the father's will. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." Surely a harlot and a tax-gatherer are less likely to seem worthy of holiness than a "man of God". It is not what you think of yourself but that you are obedient to the voice of the Lord that points to your holiness, that points to the fact that you are indeed identifiable as God's, separated and apart for his glory. How else can that be known except by your obedience? Even the wicked can demonstrate piety. "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). Some of those who say Lord, Lord, would be those who play at piousness.
Don't mistake piety for holiness. There are many in the world who cannot forgive, which is to say they cannot forget, someone's past wrongs--no matter that the individual has repented. Therefore, the person's standing is subject to the opinion of the one who judges him. Yet the repentant one can claim the righteousness of God by the mere virtue of having obeyed God to repentance. It is not the opinion of the judge that redeems the penitent into the realm of God, but the obedience of the man.
Evidently, obedience is the key element of holiness in the Old Testament living. Is it so in the New Testament?
Jesus obeyed. "Then, said Jesus unto them, 'When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:28-29).
"For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, therefore I am holy. In him is my obedience fulfilled. "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32). "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:19.) Praise him for his obedience!
The key to holiness in the New Testament is again obedience. The difference between the old and the new is this: in the Old, obedience was to the written law; in the New, obedience must be to the voice of the Lord, because the voice of the Lord encompasses the written law and supercedes it. "Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." (Matt. 5:17) It was not so much that Jesus said things that differed from the law, although many of his sayings did seem that way. His words broadened the law for better understanding as when he said in Matthew 5:21-22 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'you shall not commit murder'..... But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court." Obeying the voice of God keeps our feet "clean". John 13:10 "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.....". I read this as pointing to our holiness, our uniqueness, our "peculiarity", our being set apart before the foundation of the earth with all being left to do to obey our most holy God and Father. "You are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" (Rom 6:14-15). This is a perfect example of being set apart to obey, where we are separated first, set aside, set apart, holy and then directed to be obedient as the holy people that we are.
So then, it remains that I must focus on hearing the voice of God lest at any time I might miss his instructions and thereby neglect obeying him. We have such a gift given us by God that we might hear and discern his voice. It is the gift of discernment. (1 Cor. 12:8-10). For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit: to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits...;" (1 John 4:1 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.")
Beloved, you are holy because you belong to God. It is the value placed on you by God that determines your worth. It is the value placed on you by God that determines your worth. That value has been established by our Lord Jesus who descended from his glory to redeem us back unto the Father. Leviticus 27:28 tells us: "...every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord." That is, everything that should have been destroyed but was spared from destruction at an enormous price is holy unto the Lord. Jesus declared us as devoted things unto God when he prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth...And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth." (John 17:17 & 19).
It is important that we view ourselves in the proper perspective (as God sees us) in order that we might walk rightly in the midst of where we do not belong. For we know the promise in Psalm 16:10 "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption." Paul sees this clearly when he writes in Ephesians 1:4-6 about our holiness and how that God himself deemed us devoted things. "...just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace." We have been sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Therefore we can mightily agree with Paul when he declares: "What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (Ephesians 6: 19-20).
Clearly it is obedience that is the heart and life of holiness; not the vanity and hypocrisy of piousness. Show me a person who declares himself to be without sin and I'll see a liar! First John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Our holiness is in Jesus.
I have heard of the vegetarian who has not let meat touch his mouth for over twenty years. Does this make him holy? I have heard of individuals who have had themselves castrated that they might refrain from sexual fulfillments. Does that make them holy? No! in either case!
Beloved, the exact and perfect work of Christ as our redeemer is sufficient to declare us holy. We cannot add or detract from what he has done. Therefore, let us not attempt to sacrifice, to deprive ourselves, to hurt ourselves, to deny ourselves. There is plenty of suffering in the world that will come around to tease us. "Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:9-14). Let us give thanks in all things and rejoice in the Lord for all that comes our way, while we seek, at the same time, to develop our spiritual hearing that we might hear the voice of our God leading us from glory to glory. Let us strive to learn obedience to that voice that his will may be accomplished in the world, the world he purchased with great price and that is therefore his!
Why do we thank the Lord? Because he has made us holy and his. Just as Jesus died once for all, receive your salvation once and for all, and let the work of our Savior be sufficient for the Father. The more you work to earn to keep your salvation, the more you take away from the perfect work of Christ.
"But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee O Israel. Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when though walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flames kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior." (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Discovering God In Mankind
Why does one man believe in God while another rejects Him? What exactly should a man believe regarding His God and how does he know if it is correct? I am of the opinion that every creature in heaven and earth is on a journey toward discovering who God truly is. I also hold the point of view that every person has a misconception of God to one degree or another. Your misunderstanding may be different than mine, and larger or smaller in scale. Nevertheless, we both harbor a false notion regarding a true God. I don't make this statement to suggest condemnation. Rather, I make this remark to help us realize that we must be open to learn from one another. This openness will facilitate our understanding and growth in God. Said a simpler way, we need one another if we dare to continue in our development towards God.
Let us not be guilty of thinking that we are rich in understanding and spirituality and have need of nothing. For if this is our attitude, then the Lord would say to us, "Knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Rev. 3:17-18). And repentance, my friend, is turning our minds and making them right in how we view and think of God. Yes, even turning from our misconceptions of Him.
Permit me to further this point with a simple illustration. If I were to give you a picture of a boat, yet you didn't know what a boat was, and I were to ask you to write the letters 'c a r' under the picture, you would hold the false notion of a car. In fact, every time a person would mention the word 'car', your stomach would be distressed with an urge to vomit as you're overcome with nausea to the very thought. Every time you ride one, it makes you seasick. Of course, it is not that you dislike cars, it is simply that you hold a wrong idea of the subject at hand. Well beloved, should we as believers of Jesus Christ be quick to blame a person who does not believe in God or should we ask first if his notion of God is a god that ought to be believed in?
And have we the slightest idea of whether our own beliefs and notions are founded on a real God? Are we leading lives that are truly spiritual or are we blindly leading lives that are more religious and cloaked in Babylon garments. I ask this of every reader, regardless of where you think yourself to be in God. It is difficult, yea impossible, for a man who thinketh himself to be rich in religious knowledge to enter the kingdom of God. But blessed is the man that discovers the true way to life, for "the road that leads to life is both narrow and close, and there are few who find it." (Matt. 7:14 Moffatt). I pray we find ourselves on that road.
As Jesus finished speaking to the multitudes on one occasion (we recognize it as the Sermon on the Mount), He said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and floods came , and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matt. 7:24-27). Today, there are thousands who hear His sayings, yet are we as the wise man or as the fool? Is our house being built on (and by) the rock? Is our foundation and source of life from that same spiritual rock that followed the children of Israel? "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." (I Cor. 10:4). Are our principles true and ideas accurate regarding Him? Beloved, I say with all sincerity, be sure that you're founded upon a true understanding of that spiritual Rock. For when the hardships of life begin to descend and come and blow, one will stand and one will fall. Jesus did not promise the believer that they would be excluded from these hardships while the foolish only received them. Jesus did, however, tell us of the outcome. Two men, one was founded on the truth and the other was not. And what do we read regarding the one that was wise? Being founded on that spiritual source of nutrition, he was in a state of automatically doing what he heard his Master say. On the other hand, although hearing the sayings, the foolish one was founded upon sand, upon something other than that true spiritual source. Perhaps thinking himself to be wise and having built his house upon a correct perception of God. Nonetheless, his house fell, and great was the fall!
As time goes on and we continue our journey in this land of the living, I find not only a deeper sense of love toward our Lord and God, but also toward God's creation known as mankind. Yes, I am well aware that man continues to be stubborn and rebellious. He continues to reject the love and compassion of God. Yet I can not help but to think that there are at least two very good reasons for this rejection. First, his denial may be the result of a misconception. It may be that he refuses to accept such a god, a god which only can cause one to be nauseous. And may I say, rightfully so. He has rejected a false notion of God, an image inaccurately created by religion. Another reason I see for this rejection is that God in His infinite wisdom has blinded them, shut them up in unbelief, in order that His love can be revealed to its fullest extent. "Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias (Isaiah) said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." (Jhn. 12:39-40). They may be blind, they may be walking in darkness, yet as sons of God we are to set them free. We are not called to condemn them as religion has done for two thousand years, but to deliver them from their bondage. Read the text, they are already condemned by their very state of existence. Did God send us into the world to accuse it or to be a light? What do we see in the pattern? "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already...." (Jhn 3:17-18). And again, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." (Jhn 12:46-47).
Another problem I see is that the church hasn't learned to accurately look for Him. They still look for Him in PLACES. They still hold the idea (whether they admit it or not) that God is more on the move during a particular evening or morning of the week, namely Wednesday and Sunday, rather than at any other time. As if at their very own command, God will move and begin to bless. As if at their beckon call and very own will, He responds to their charge to perform in accordance to their show. The charismatic exhibitions are coming to an end. Man has initiated for far too long the play-acting, the prophesying, the slaying in the spirit, and so-called healing. I say 'so-called', for the evidence is rarely there. I am not rejecting these things as true happenings for our day, I do believe, however, that much of it has been initiated from the soul of man rather than the Spirit of God. It is high time that we say 'NO' to religion, whether it be labeled catholic, baptist, methodist, presbyterian, pentecostal, charismatic, kingdom-now, the way, non-denominational, or any other name in which man has created. We as the church of Christ are to be dedicated in principle in moving and being led by the true Spirit, not by our own religious ideas of how we think He ought to move. Nor have we the time to get entangled in endless discussions over pulpits, seating of chairs, and whether to meet in buildings or homes. We desire and must have the real God, else we perish.
'Nay, the Lord would say to all that your exhibitions and times of religion are as filthy rags and an abomination to me. Wash you, make clean and put away your evil doings from before mine eyes. For I am the Lord, I am God Almighty, I am He that created thee to be My instrument, My vessel, My handiwork, My creature, and yea, even My expression in the earth. Come away My beloved, come away with Me and sell not yourself anymore.'
In the gospel of Saint John, chapter 4, verses 5-24, we find an excellent example that places of worship are of no consequence. "Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there, Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."........ "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." The Samaritans for generations had worshipped God in the mountain and the Jews had for generations worshipped in their Jerusalem temples. Each thought that their PLACE of worship was the only true place. Each group mocked and scorned the other man's place of worship. But Jesus settled the issue by showing us that places are of no consequence for the Father seeketh such to worship Him in spirit (attitude) and in truth. Some may read what I just wrote and try to twist it to justify their lack of desire to fellowship with any of the brethren in any place. We would rather not waste time commenting towards such ignorance and will leave them to God's correction. For ourselves, we love the brethren and desire to flow with them as the Lord sees fit. As one so aptly wrote, "The man who loves his fellow is infinitely more alive than he whose endeavor is to exalt himself above his neighbor. The man who strives to be better in his being is more alive than he who longs for the praise of many." - endquote.
The reality of Christ and our relationship to Him must not be limited to a
place, whether it be past, present or future. If we are to be His true church,
we are to function as spiritual people and not religious folk. The body is to
take it's directive from the One who sits in authority as the head. Jesus said,
"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son
of man hath not where to lay his head." (Matt 8:20). He spoke these words
to a certain scribe who desired to follow Him and I have no disagreement with
the idea that Jesus was conveying the difficulty the man would encounter in
the natural realm if he were to follow Him. Yet, as inspiration leads and interpretation
follows, the Spirit of revelation begins to unfold line upon line and precept
upon precept and we can begin to see that He spoke of a more grandeur truth.
He sought those who would take their direction from Him as the head over those
called to follow, as a head governs its body.
I am convinced that God is more than what we have been taught, He is something far greater. Our spiritual progression in Him can only take us into greater heights in the Spirit until we discover Him and the reality of His existence. We must continue to grow faith to faith, glory to glory, strength to strength and grace to grace until that day when we behold Him as He really is. Let us not be so foolish to think we can accomplish this task by our own thought life, for which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
It is true that God has turned man to destruction and made him subject to vanity. Yet, it is equally true that it is the goodness of God that leads a man to repent. A man's heart may devise his own way, but it is the Lord Who directs his steps. The very idea that God is at work to bring His entire creation back to Himself becomes a full and complete revelation of Himself. Mankind is destined to become the express image and glory of his head, to become a true revelation of his Maker. Ephesians 1:22-23 in the Diaglott reads, "........a head over all things for that congregation, which is his body, the full development of Him who is filling all things with all." God has incorporated Himself into man in order to become the full development of Himself. It is the very revelation of God through man. It is discovering God in mankind.
The Serpent - Where Did The Devil Come From?
"Now the SERPENT was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made..... and the SERPENT said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die..... and the Lord God said unto the SERPENT, Because thou hast done this thou art cursed above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:1, 4, 14-15). The book of Genesis is probably the most important book ever written. The word "genesis" of course means "origin" or "beginning", and the book of Genesis gives the only true and reliable account of the basic entities and conditions of the universe and of life. Genesis yields vital information concerning the origin of ALL THINGS - and therefore the meaning of ALL THINGS!
When God speaks of "the beginning" He is speaking of the originating point of the subject in question. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). Away back yonder, before the dim and distant ages that are gone, our heavenly Father purposed and planned and commanded; and lo, the worlds came into being! Out of invisibility came forth the visible; where previously there had been but empty space, now matter appeared and took form: a kingdom was in the making. It all began in "the beginning." All these things had their origin in Him, and they were His workmanship from the beginning of their creation. It is interesting to note that in the Hebrew text this word "beginning" is in the plural number - "beginnings." There were many things begun all at the same time, as the manifold wisdom of God found expression in innumerable ways to bring forth into the realm of visibility the majestic purposes of God. There is neither time nor space to enumerate all that is included in just two words: ALL THINGS. "For by Him were ALL THINGS created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things" (Col. 1:16-17).
The truth to which the Spirit of God would now draw our attention is this: When God speaks of "the beginning" He is speaking of the ORIGINATING POINT of the subject in question. It is written of Jesus when he had turned water into wine, "THIS BEGINNING of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and "THIS BEGINNING of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him" (Jhn. 2:11). This means, simply, that the miraculous aspect of the ministry of Jesus Christ had as its originating point this miracle of the water turned into wine. He had performed no miracles before this time, but from this day forth many more were to follow. This, so far as His miracles were concerned, was "the beginning". Thus we may clearly see that if something is manifested in a certain form "from the beginning" that means that from the time it was first formed, established, and came into being it has been in that condition.
Webster defines "beginning" as (1) a start (2) the time or place of starting or coming into being; origin; source. It should not be difficult for anyone who has working knowledge of the English language to understand the meaning of "in the beginning" or "from the beginning". The beginning of anything is simply THE TIME OR PLACE OF ITS STARTING OR COMING INTO BEING. Yet, the whole teaching of the church system has perpetrated a crude notion which collides head-on with this plain and unmistakable truth of God's Word! Despite the fact that "from the beginning" obviously means from the start, origin, or coming into being of a thing, men have taught a doctrine for long centuries which blatantly contradicts this simple statement of divine fact. I speak of that which is taught concerning Satan - the Devil.
Orthodoxy had long taught that Satan was, in the beginning, a high and beautiful archangel in heaven. The theologians and preachers recite over and over how Satan was originally "the anointed cherub that covereth...the most beautiful and wise of all God's creation!" This being was, so they say, the ruler and leader of the angelic beings and apparently led them to their praise of God and shouts of joy...the greatest being God ever created, one who had unequaled strength, wisdom., beauty, privilege, and authority, and was next to God Himself. This blameless, perfect one, named Lucifer, was created without any form of evil and with the greatest intelligence of any created being. Then, we are told, this Lucifer, suddenly realizing how beautiful and intelligent he was, became inflated with power and pride and his heart was lifted up in rebellion against God. According to the story, Lucifer gathered one-third of the heavenly angels to his cause, mustering an army with which he planned to knock God off His throne and supplant himself as king and god of the universe - and there was war in heaven! Luckily, God won, cast Lucifer out of heaven and he became, instead of a holy angel, the Devil that he is today.
It is nothing short of amazing that such a doctrine could have enjoyed such widespread acceptance in the light of the plain teachings of the Scriptures on this subject. Any man who fails to discern between facts and fables, and who opposes or rebels against facts, is a fool. Fools manifest their true state of resisting and ignoring facts. Please remember, there is a world of difference between facts, beliefs, and fantasies. I believe the core of our natural earth is hot, perhaps molten. But no man knows anything about the true conditions down there. There is no possible way of ascertaining or demonstrating the truth or falsity of my belief. So it remains merely a belief: it may be true, or it may be false. On the other hand, if I thought our natural sun were made of red paint, that would be a fantasy, just a highly improbable or irrational idea of my own. But facts are altogether different. They are actualities, realities, whether they can be demonstrated as such or not. Ice is cold. That is a fact which can be demonstrated. The earth is round. That fact has through recent centuries been conclusively demonstrated. It is neither a belief or a fantasy. Fire burns, one must have air to breathe; these are facts, and, only fools will oppose or resist them. Now we are going to state some facts. Let us contrast what MEN say and believe with what GOD says!
Man says that Satan IN THE BEGINNING was holy, but later fell from that estate. JESUS said of Satan, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a MURDERER (not an angel) from the BEGINNING, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it." (Jhn. 8:44). In these studies on the Garden of Eden we are searching out the BEGINNING, probing into the very midst of the past, the times before this age and past ages, that we might understand the grand and glorious purposes of our omnipotent and omniscient heavenly Father which He hath purposed from the beginning of the world. How authoritatively the Lord Jesus reveals that way back there, IN THE BEGINNING, in even HIS beginning, Satan WAS A MURDERER!
The verse we have just quoted states that Satan "Adobe not" in the truth. In the Greek text this verb is the imperfect tense of the Greek word. I keep my standing, or simply, I stand, and the form is similiar meaning that even before the fall or as far back as this person existed HE WAS NOT TRUE. Dr . Robert Young, in his Literal translation of the Bible, renders this verse: "He was a manslayer from the beginning, and in the truth HE HATH NOT STOOD, because there is no truth in him." The Rotherham version reads: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and IN THE TRUTH HE STOOD NOT; because the truth was not in him." J.B. Phillips gives the plainest and most accurate translation: "HE ALWAYS WAS A MURDERER, and has NEVER DEALT WITH THE TRUTH, since the truth will have nothing to do with him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
MAN says that Satan IN THE BEGINNING was perfect and sinless. But the apostle John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned these words in regard to Satan's origin: "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil SINNETH FROM THE BEGINNING." (I Jhn. 3:8). This could not be rightly said of Adam. According to Genesis 2 and 3, it was not until after Adam was created in spirit essence, after he was lowered into the realm of flesh, after he was placed in the Garden, after he named all the animals, after the woman was taken from his side, after she listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden truth - it was AFTER ALL THESE THINGS that Adam sinned. Adam was not a sinner from the beginning. But the devil, according to I Jhn. 3:8 W-A-S A SINNER F-R-O-M T-H-E B-E-G-I-N-N-I-N-G! Now, if we are to believe the Bible means what it says - and I believe it does - we must believe that from his very beginning SATAN WAS EVIL.
Did GOD create the Devil? Well, 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 and sin in the world. When they are asked if a good God created a bad Devil, they can 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 inductions 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 and 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 for the Devil? 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 God-given ability to become evil? In either case, there is absolutely no way to absolve GOD from the Devil!
That "all things are of God" is declared over and over again in the Bible. Did not the Lord say to Pharaoh, that wicked man of rebellion against all that was God, "Even for this same purpose have I RAISED THEE UP, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared through out all of the earth?" (Rom. 9:17). The infinite wisdom of God's mind cannot be ascertained by these carnal little heads of ours. We must banish our childish theology and bring our minds into harmony with the mind of Christ. We must begin to peer through the mighty telescope of God's wisdom as it looks through the vast universe of good and evil until heavenly light bursts with blazing brilliance upon our inquiring spirits and we see with crystal clear vision that God is in all things, and is responsible for all things, including all the so-called evil things as well as good things. Is it not a fearful thing to say that evil is of God? There is nothing fearful about this view unless the TRUTH be fearful! I would not be surprised if some of the compatriots of the prophet Amos may have thought he was speaking blasphemy when by the Holy Spirit he said, " Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be EVIL in the city, and THE LORD HATH NOT DONE IT?" (Amos 3:6). There are untold millions of Christians who do not like to believe that A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S A-R-E O-F G-O-D - including evil. They much prefer to believe, as the harlot system has taught them, that in the beginning God made everything "perfect", then one of the "perfect" angels "made himself" into the Devil and the Devil came in and wrecked the work of God's hands and so degraded God's beautiful and perfect creation that the Lord Almighty Himself was hard to put to the test to discover some way to restore the creation from the clutches of the Devil - and after six long and tortuous milleniums of conflict and struggle, contest and effort, the battle still rages on year after year and generation after generation, the Devil out-foxing God at times, and God getting the upper hand eventually. Childish prattle! Vain imaginations! Carnal-minded stupidity!
Why, oh why can men not believe the simple, unvarnished Word of God? Ah, we have God's own Word for it - His positive statement that HE CREATES EVIL. "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 the darkness: I make peace, and CREATE EVIL. I THE LORD DO ALL OF THESE THINGS" (Isa. 45:7). God creates evil! It cannot be! But here it is in the Word! What will you do with it, beloved? "We must explain it somehow," the fundamentalist says, "surely it cannot mean that God creates evil, sin, sinners, devils, or wrongdoing - it must mean that He creates physical evil - famines, pestilences, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, floods, calamities, judgements, etc. which God sends upon mankind as punishment for their wickedness." Not so! The word here for "evil" is the Hebrew word "ra" which is used throughout the Old Testament to denote wickedness, sin and wrongdoing. In some five hundred passages it is so used!
For example, in Gen. 6:5 we read, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil (ra) continually." Again, "And the Lord's anger was kindled against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil (ra) in the sight of the Lord, was consumed". (Num. 32:13). In Ps. 34:13-15 we are admonished, "Keep thy tongue from evil (ra), and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil (ra), and do good...the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry." The very same word in the original is also rendered "wicked" and "wickedness" more than a hundred times. So God declares, "I must form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things!" Why should puny man attempt to shield the Almighty from the responsibility He Himself has taken? If He says, He creates peace, then believe Him. If He says He creates evil, then believe that, too. Do you remember how they brought the blind man to Jesus, and as the poor fellow stood there, the disciples said to Jesus, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parent, that he should be born blind?" Jesus replied, "Neither hath this man sinned, not his parents: BUT THAT THE WORKS OF GOD SHOULD BE MADE MANIFEST IN HIM." (Jhn. 9:2-3). So through the evil of blindness, the glory of God was manifested in the end!
Before counting with this thought we need to establish one other point where the word of men and the Word of God differs. MAN says that the serpent in the Garden was one of these, long slender reptiles that have backbones and ribs and scales on the outside of their bodies. Numerous pictures have been painted of the snake dangling from the limb of a tree, conversing with Mother Eve. In the book of Revelation we have a truth given by revelation to the apostle John wherein is revealed a most important fact concerning Satan and the serpent. This truth is stated twice in the book. Two is the number of WITNESS, thus has God given a clear and unmistakable WITNESS concerning the identity of the serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him...and I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years" (Rev. 12:9; 20:1-2).
Here Satan is called "that old serpent". The word "old" is from the Greek word "archaios" which means ORIGINAL or PRIMEVAL. "Primeval" means FROM THE FIRST AGE OR AGES: PRIMITIVE. "Archaios" is from the Greek word "arche" which means A COMMENCEMENT OR BEGINNING. Furthermore, "arche" is an abstraction of the Greek word "archomai" which means TO COMMENCE IN ORDER OF TIME. Putting this all together can we not see that Satan is that OLD serpent., that ANCIENT serpent, that ORIGINAL serpent, that PRIMEVAL serpent, the serpent of THE FIRST AGE, from the BEGINNING, who existed as a serpent right FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF TIME!
Phillip's translation reads, "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key of the pit and a huge chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, the SERPENT OF ANCIENT DAYS, who IS both the Devil and Satan..."Another version states, "And he seized the dragon, the ORIGINAL SERPENT, WHO IS the Devil and Satan..." The Amplified Bible says, "And he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that OLD SERPENT OF PRIMEVAL TIMES, WHO IS the Devil and Satan..." It is a common fault among us to repeat what the theologians and preachers of Babylon say instead of saying what GOD SAYS, but it is a very great blessing to us when once we comprehend the utter simplicity of the truth of God and simply believe it. Practically all sermons preached today are merely the philosophy of the preacher is the tradition of men handed down from one generation to the next. These philosophies and traditions of the church become the established doctrines of the sect, and the graduates from the Seminaries become so zealous in propounding them that they never once think to see HIS face, come to know HIS will, or be partakers of HIS glorious mind. Thus through a lifetime men go on preaching, contending and arguing their time-honored traditions until they become like the Pharisees of old, making the WORD OF GOD OF NO EFFECT through their traditions. They become thoroughly robbed of their vital association with Him, and lost to them is the grand and glorious TRUTH as it is IN JESUS.
MAN, on the one hand, says that a fallen angel, Satan, used the serpent in Eden. God, on the other hand, says that the original serpent IS THE DEVIL and Satan. I once read a book which explained how Satan was the greatest ventriloquist of all time, he threw his voice into the serpent so that the serpent only appeared to speak - it was really the Devil! GOD SAYS that THE SERPENT HIMSELF WAS MORE SUBTLE than any beast of the field, that the SERPENT SPOKE, and that the serpent IS THE DEVIL AND SATAN! MAN says that the Devil somehow got into the serpent and spoke through its mouth, whereas GOD declares that THAT ORIGINAL SERPENT I-S THE DEVIL!
Children in school learn what we call definitions. A definition is an explanatory
statement which tells us just exactly what a certain thing is, as "an island
is a tract of land completely surrounded by water". God also gives us definitions
in His Word. He tells us exactly what certain things are. And in the Scripture
just quoted He has told us exactly what the serpent is: "That original
serpent, WHICH IS the Devil and Satan". Now let us make this a little plainer.
Definitions of men can be given backward. For instance, the definition, "An
island is a tract of land completely surrounded by water," can be given
thus: "A tract of land completely surrounded by water is an island".
This is but another way of stating the same fact. It does not, in any way, change
the meaning. Now let us try this on the definitions of the serpent. "that
original serpent IS the Devil" - "Satan IS that original serpent."
That, dear reader, is GOD'S OWN DEFINITION of the serpent in Eden!
As soon as this truth dawns your enlighted heart, the knowledge of WHENCE CAME THE SERPENT will speedily follow. The Word of God is certain and unmistakable. The Holy Spirit emphatically declares, "Now THE SERPENT was more subtle than any BEAST of the field which THE LORD GOD HAD MADE" (Gen. 3:1). Two things are here revealed: the nature of the serpent is a BEASTLY nature - and GOD MADE HIM! Suppose that instead of trying to explain this passage in harmony with some cut-and-dried creed, we let all creeds go and wait upon the Spirit of the Lord to give understanding of what the passage really means, and then, if the creed does not harmonize with the light the Spirit brings, throw the creed away. At any rate, here is the statement in the Word and we will be brave enough to receive it as TRUTH and trust the same One who made it to explain it. "The SERPENT was more subtle than any BEAST of the field which THE LORD GOD HAS MADE." These words deserve pages of explanation, but can you not see that they are filled with the spirit of revelation? God MADE the serpent, God MADE him with a beastly nature, God MADE him subtle, God MADE him the Devil and Satan, God MADE him a liar and a murderer from the beginning!
It is completely impossible for any man to truly know and love God until his spirit has been taught that before all things, through all things, in all things, and after all things is God, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, purposeful, and filled with righteousness, love, kindness, forgiveness and truth. He was before ALL THINGS and BY HIM ALL THINGS CONSIST. There is no angel, principality, or power anywhere in all the endless vastnesses of infinity that does not hold his authority by direct appointment of God. In Him, all men and angels and creatures live and move and have their being. By Him and FOR Him are ALL THINGS. From Him everything comes, by Him everything exists, and in Him everything ends bringing glory to God forever and forever, Amen. The imagination that a thing can have its beginning in God, and then become something other than what God foresaw, purposed, intended, or planned for it is a vain imagination of man and not a truth that comes from the omniscient mind of our heavenly Father, for OF HIM AND THROUGH HIM AND TO HIM, are all things; to HIM be glory forever and ever! Amen! (Rom. 11:36). Even more enlightening is the translation from Goodspeed which says, "For FROM HIM EVERYTHING COMES: THROUGH HIM EVERYTHING EXISTS; AND IN HIM EVERYTHING ENDS. GLORY TO HIM FOREVER!. AMEN." Or as the Amplified Bible bluntly and beautifully words it, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. - For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him. To Him be glory forever! Amen - so be it!"
The words of this precious portion of Scripture cast a ray of divine illumination across the gloomy pages of human tradition that for centuries has confused men's minds and attributed to Satan the power to be and to do apart from, and in rebellion against God, causing men's faith in the omniscience, immutability and omnipotence of the Lord to falter and die. There came a blessed day in my life when my Father in heaven let me hear a secret from His own heart, a secret that few have understood throughout all generations of the Church. When He breathed into my listening ear it well nigh stunned me because of my own tradition and unbelief, yet I could not doubt the truth He taught me when He said, "For by Him were ALL THINGS created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or PRINICIPALITIES, or POWERS: ALL THINGS were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist" (Col. 1:16-17). :ALL THINGS were made by Him, and without HIM was not anything made that was made." (Jhn. 1:3). I was as one shocked by a lightening bolt out of the sky by these words because for years all my teachers had instilled the very opposite into my mind. "God," they told me, " made a beautiful, glorious angel, but the Devil made himself!" But when I heard the voice of the all-wise Lord, speaking from the throne of His all-powerful majesty, taking upon HIMSELF all the responsibility for THE ENTIRE CREATION, my heart was amazed in His presence and for the first time in my life the "purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will," began to unfold in my deepest heart.
God is THE CAUSE of all that is. It all exists with the one purpose of showing forth His glory. Every object in nature and every creature in the universe has its only reason of existence in this-that the wondrous goodness and wisdom and power of God may shine out through it. God is the end and aim of all things, because He is their beginning and origin. All must fulfill His will because all came from Him and exist only through him.
To be continued............J. Preston Eby
The Healing Balm of Calvary
The Healing Balm of Calvary
is flowing, is flowing
To make us whole (spirit, body and soul)
by the Blood of the Lamb!
Behind the clouds the sun is brightly shining -
even so brightly!
Just lift thine eyes, and bless the Lord -
Bless the Lord!
As we eat His flesh
and drink His blood,
Broken Bread and Poured Out Wine
we will be!
The Healing Balm of Calvary
is flowing, is flowing
To make us whole (spirit, body and soul)
by the Blood of the Lamb!