"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 tenth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "Come Unto Me" provides several thoughts concerning Jesus, the
meek and lowly servant. This
article was written with both believer and unbeliever in mind. It is sure to bless every reader.
II. "The Serpent - Where Did The Devil Come From?" continues and
is a reprint of an excellent
article written several years ago by Brother J. Preston Eby. The very subject of the Devil is often
misunderstood in most churches today. Preston and his wife Lorain has been faithful servants
and ministers to the body of Christ for many years. They live in El Paso, Texas.
III. "The Fashion Of Mercy" comes from a close friend and good teacher
of the Word, Brother Romeo
Corsini. In his article, Romeo helps us to better understand the forgiveness and mercy of God. He
and his wife Christine live in the Tampa (Brandon), FL area. They have three beautiful little daughters, named Caterina, Francesca and Giuliana.
IV. "What Manner Of Man Is This?" provides us with a very clear teaching
regarding the challenge
we are faced with as the body of Christ and what manner of individuals we are now becoming.
This article has been submitted to us by perhaps one of the best teachers for today, Brother Ray
Prinzing. He and his wife Doris reside in Boise, Idaho.
V. "A Brief History Of The Church (33 AD - 600 AD)" comes from a
dear friend and church history scholar, Dr. Jack Jacobsen. Brother Jack walks
us through highlights of the history of the church
in this first of three articles. He describes how the church has gone through three periods, the
formation, deformation and reformation of the church. Jack and his wife Marjorie reside outside
of Minneapolis, MN area, where they co-pastor the Arise and Shine Fellowship. They are also active several months of the year in ministry in the New Port Richey, FL area.
VI. "Feel The Pulse" is a wonderfully inspired poem provided by Sister
Lori Renee Inge. Lori and
her husband Michael Ray Inge reside in the Ft. Myers, FL area and are very able ministers traveling abroad teaching and serving the body of Christ.
VII. "Consider The Lilies" on the back cover has been provided to
us by Brother Bruce Gosey. His thoughts are warm and moving and should be read
by all. Bruce and his wife Linda live in Cape
Coral, FL and are active participants of Present Truth Ministries, pastored by Stephen Everett.
Once again we come to you as servants of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. We so appreciate that we can share these truths as quickened to our spirit and found in the holy script of God. We pray that your walk with the Lord is enriched and His kingdom is increased in your life. We do not seek a reputation nor do we preach ourselves. We pray to bless and serve his wonderful and glorious body of believers.
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.
Come Unto Me
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30). Take a moment and reflect upon our text verse. Read the verse time and time again and let it pierce your heart and soul. Have you read it several times? If so, now ask yourself the question, 'Was there really such a man who could do such a thing?'
Just think, He spoke these words from His very own lips, but did He actually have the power to perform the task of providing rest to the troubled and restless soul? How dare a man claim such a thing! Should one toy with our hurts and burdens by offering such a thought, to only find that He couldn't fulfill it? Shall we find ourselves setup to be disappointed?
Such a simple text, yet so profound and often ignored. I ask you, did He ask us to rely upon our own faith and ability to find this much needed rest? Did He instruct us to pray loud and hard, then claim and name, and finally shout it into occurring? Did He demand of us to get the victory, pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, stand-on-the-promise, whip up a little more faith and then perhaps take steps 1-2-3 to find such a rest? Did He suggest that we raise our level of consciousness or perhaps deny that the burdens exist and the struggles are real? Maybe just an illusion or two? Perhaps just a carefree attitude having no worries for the rest of your days.....its our problem free philosophy....Hakuna Matata?
And how about you? Are you tired and weary of the journey this life has to offer you? Has your life up to this point been a series of disappointments one after another? Do you feel that you have had about all that you can take and you are at the end of your rope, perhaps about to break? Well, Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Now many read these words of our Lord Jesus Christ as if it were an invitational type of question for only the miserable sinner, the one who needs Jesus Christ as their Saviour and salvation. And I agree that every man, woman and child that hasn't experienced Jesus as their salvation needs to taste of His goodness and wonderful grace. But I say that this verse has a much wider span and reach. His salvation is forever and ever at work in our lives continually. He is always at work to deliver us until we are saved to the utmost, to our extreme, to our peak, our top, our height, our apex, our maximum, our crest and our crown. "For he is able to save to the very end, those coming through him unto God...." (Heb. 7:25 YLT). And again, ".....he is able to save completely those drawing near God through him...." (Diaglott), and "He is able to save completely any and all who come to God through Him...." (Williams), and "Hence for all time he is able to save those who approach God through him...." (Moffatt), and "he can save fully and completely those who approach God through him...." (Phillips), and "his power to save is utterly certain...." (Jerusalem Bible).
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ were most assuring and true. But before exploring the weight and impact of our theme, lets examine His words just prior to our text. He said the following, "I thank thee, O Father Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (Matt. 11:25-27). First, we see that Jesus openly acknowledged and confessed His Father in public for the greek word, exomologeo, used for 'thank' seems to carry this meaning. Then we read that it seemed good in the Father's mind that He would hide these things from the wise and prudent. Isn't that interesting. Why hide such things from the wise, the keen, the intelligent, the reflective, the thoughtful, the sharp, or the insightful? Aren't these the ones who are capable of understanding? Aren't these the most deserving and perhaps fittest to receive insight and divine truths from God? Ah' dear reader, herein lies the problem. Such ones are never fit and deserving to receive precious truths of the kingdom of God. Such ones will trample under feet and build their towers of babel to reach the heavens of God. Such ones try to take the kingdom by force and are violent and piercing in spirit. They profess themselves to be wise, yet have become fools. To such ones it has not been revealed that ".... it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32).
We next read that it seemed good in the Father's sight to reveal or uncover such hidden truths unto babes, unto children, to those who are approachable and are in need, to those who have been prepared to receive. Perhaps for some reading this article, such a time is now. Perhaps you have been brought to such a point that you are finally in a place to receive rather than simply tell the Lord how it should be and what exactly shouldn't be. Perhaps you are in a position to no longer be His judge, the One who is the judge of all the earth. (ref. Gen. 18:25).
So, we see that the Father chose to reveal unto babes. Then having thanked the Father, Jesus proceeded to tell that He knew the Father and that no man can come to know the Father unless revealed to him by the Son. And then our text verse, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Does your soul thirst to have heard the man who had the power to actually deliver on such a statement. Well, before we proceed, let it be forever established that He is no less able and available today for the scripture declares "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Heb. 13:8) and "Now the Lord is that Spirit" (II Cor. 3:17). Just think of it, there was and still is a man who is able to do such a thing. There is a man who is fully capable to give your soul the rest that it requires. "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." (I Thes. 5:24).
He bids the call, He initiates the draw. Just when we bow down to depend on our last fiber of strength and energy, He whispers, "Come unto me". Just as we bend and are almost about to break, He whispers, "Come unto me". He softly says, 'Will you continue to labour and sweat and toil all through the day and night, are you burdened with a load too heavy to pull?.....Well, Come unto me and I will give you the rest that your soul thirsts after.'
It matters not whether you have the Lord or not, the bending continues and the restlessness of the soul persists. Simply stated, if the need is there, He is more than ready to share the load. Bruised to the point that there is no more to be bruised? Well, my friend, hear the word of the Lord, "A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory." A bruising, yes. An utter breaking and casting down, never!
The Lord let His heart overflow to the multitudes and said, "Come unto me........ and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me........" His call is to those who are weary and tired. The One who bids the call is neither weary nor tired. He already told us that He knew the Father. I am sure that in this knowing, in this intimate relationship, He also enjoyed the rest and peace of His Father.
He told us to take His yoke upon ourselves and learn of Him. What exactly does this mean? First of all, a yoke is used to draw or pull a load. I find it interesting that in this wonderful parable my yoke is nowhere to be found. He tells us to take His yoke for it is His yoke that is to be laid upon us. It also suggests that my yoke is not capable of pulling the load. Haven't you experienced this so often in your life? How many times have you tried to pull the load with your own yoke, your own strength, your own will, your own way. Those heavy loads that we carry from day to day, week to week and month to month seems to be a load designed for only one yoke, the yoke that was built to pull it. (And if the load is too heavy, whatever it may be, perhaps at times it isn't the correct load. Perhaps is isn't about my Father's business).
So we are to take His yoke upon us. Not a yoke like the one He carries, but the other side of His yoke. This suggests that we walk evenly with Him, cooperating with Him, working and having the same labour as the Son of Man. Working the same field and having the same pace, the same stride, the same path. And what do we pull? Certainly, not all of our little selfish problems we create and encounter from day to day. No, the load is much broader in scope, more universal in reach. You see, the One who pulls along side you is in stride with the Father. He is not pulling after His own will but after the will of the One who sent Him. The load is the entire load of the world, held captive to sin. The load is to set all free from their restlessness and heavy burdens of life. And to walk along side Him and keep the stride, we are to first learn of Him. To become familiar with Him, to learn when He stops, when He turns, when He pulls.
The Lord continued and said, "........ for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." What exactly is His disposition? The passage gives us a wonderful glimpse. It says that He is meek and lowly in heart. What a condition of heart! To be found as One being meek and lowly. Not one seeking to hold high honors but rather one having the heart of a servant, abasing himself to be the slave of all. Permit me to tell of this Jesus. "After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." (John 13: 5). What a menial service, to stoop as low as a slave....... at least this is what Peter may have thought. Many practices of the East were different than what we are accustomed to in the West. At one time we might have taken our hats off when entering a home, while the East would perhaps keep their turbans on but remove their footwear. It would then be the duty of the humblest slave to wash the feet of the guest, by pouring water over them and wiping them off with the towel in which he is girded.
Jesus said to his disciples, "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve), and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28).
Man is always trying to get ahead of another, making himself chief at the expense of others. Always desiring to be called the leader, the head, the master, the keynote speaker, the chairman of the board, the president, or the senior of this or that, etc. Have you forgotten the words of Christ, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.......Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, Christ." (Matt. 23:8,10). In the world you have the corporate ladder, with each person bucking to get ahead of the other. Within the religious walls of Babylon you also have the ladder going up as well. The higher you get, the less you have to serve and the more beneath to serve you. Yet Jesus plainly said, 'IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU'. Christ upholds all things, and serves, and ministers unto all. If you want to be high in His kingdom, you have to humble yourself for you'll find Him at the bottom of the ladder serving all. In the kingdom of God, there isn't time to think of ourselves and consider where we stand in comparison to another. We should all find ourselves being absorbed in the peace, righteousness and joy of our Lord Jesus for such is the kingdom. I appeal to your conscience, are you seeking to be above your brethren, to be served by them, or do you seek to serve them!
To finish our text, "...... and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Tired and weary? Looking for answers in all the wrong places? Grasping for answers by reading astrology books or self-esteem and self-help guides? Well, you can stop the search for your answer is nigh. "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." (Ps. 34:18). The Lord is nigh. The Lord is nigh and He whispers to those that are of a broken heart, "Come unto me, ..... and I will give you rest. ...... learn of me; ...... and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Do you find yourself in such a place. Christian or unbeliever, it matters not. Do you find yourself requiring rest in your soul? Then draw nigh unto Him. Come unto the One who serves. Come unto Jesus the servant. Surrender your yoke and take His upon you. Rest assure that He will never demand too much of you for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
COME, AND YOU SHALL FIND REST!!!!
The Serpent - Where Did The Devil Come From? - con't
Over the years many books have been written, many songs have been sung, many sermons have been preached, and many things have been said about and blamed on the Devil. Sad to say, but the vast majority of Christians fear the Devil more than they do God! Satan has been blamed for everything from the car breaking down to ingrown toenails. People have painted him as a huge, ugly, impish personage with horns, bedecked with a red suit, having a long pointed tail and carrying a pitchfork. The Word of God, however, has somewhat to say about who and what Satan is and WHY HE IS WHAT HE IS.
Jesus declared of Satan, "The THIEF cometh not, but for to steal, and
to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they
might have it more abundantly" (Jn 10:10). Out of God's own mouth proceeds
the assertion, "I have created the WASTER to destroy" (Isa. 54:16).
We gather from this passage
that Satan is a created being with a definite purpose. That purpose is stated in the opening words of the above quoted verse: "I have created the smith (the Devil) that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that BRINGETH FORTH AN INSTRUMENT for his work."
The "smith" that "bloweth upon the fire" is also the one who heats the furnace seven times hotter! "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you." (I Peter 4:12). Our trials and testings are associated in the Word of God with the ministry of Satan. You never thought of Satan having a MINISTRY? "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be TEMPTED (tested) OF THE DEVIL. And when the Tempter came to Him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made of bread" (Matthew 4:1-3). "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, THAT YE MAY BE TRIED...be thou faithful...and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev 2:10). "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, THAT HE MAY SIFT YOU AS WHEAT: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31-32). "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, SEEKING WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same AFFLICTIONS are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).
We flounder a bit in our understanding of these things, but as time passes by and the Holy Spirit takes the things of God and reveals them unto us, we begin to understand that in all the universe a thing is a thing ONLY BECAUSE IT HAS ITS OPPOSITE. Good without the knowledge of evil can scarcely be called good at all. Who could possibly speak of the day if night had never been known? There was no first light if there were no darkness? What could we know of life if there were no death? What would we know of health if there were no sickness? What would we know of wealth if poverty had not spread its spectre upon the earth? No man can be trusted until he has been EXPOSED TO THE OPPOSITES, until he has been tempted. No man can be declared strong until he has been tested for weakness. Nor can he be an overcomer until he has faced the dreadful foe. Those who are worthy to slay their Goliaths must first have slain their lion and their bear. No man can be an overcoming Son of God until he has encountered THE SERPENT IN THE WILDERNESS and come forth victorious!
Everything has its right and wrong , its truth and error, its good and bad, and the one must overcome the other. Sweet must overcome and swallow up bitter, smooth rough, soft hard. Life swallows up death, said Paul in II Cor. 5:4; and it gets its strength from HAVING AN OPPOSITE WHICH IT HAS SWALLOWED UP. You cannot say a certain yes in a decision, until you have first canvassed the alternatives and said an equally certain no to each of them. The strength of the yes is swallowing up the nos! Not in having no nos, not in ignoring their existence, but in facing them and replacing them by the final yes. Ah, beloved, God is God BECAUSE THERE IS AN OPPOSITE, an adversary, an opponent, and God will be God to you, dear one, when you have encountered the adversary in all his works AND OVERCOME HIM THERE! And here we have God's perfect wisdom in the formation of the human race and in bringing forth a convenient opposite, the wrong one, the evil one, THROUGH WHOM HE WOULD BRING HIS VAST FAMILY OF SONS TO MATURITY. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He OBEDIENCE by the things which He suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). "For it became Him...in bringing many Sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation PERFECT through sufferings" ( Hebrew 2:10 ).
As one has written, "God is constructing a temple, made of living stones, through which to manifest Himself throughout the ages to come, hallelujah, and Satan was created (a sinner from the beginning) as a chisel and hammer to be used in the construction of this building. The living stones that are even now being placed in this temple have been chosen, says the Lord, in the "furnace of affliction" (Isa. 48:10). God, however, is mercy; God is love; God is compassion. He is a healer, not a destroyer. It was, nonetheless, necessary that an oven be heated in which to purify the gold - a furnace in which the wood, hay, and stubble were to be burned - but God, in His nature of love, could not perform the necessary affliction. It was for this reason that He created AN INSTRUMENT that was capable of performing this essential action in the lives of men, for in Satan God literally created a chastening rod.
"If we can realize that behind the acts of Satan is the mighty hand of God working to bring forth gold from these earthen vessels, we can rejoice, as David, in our afflictions and trials and exclaim with him, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes' (Ps. 119:7). Praise God! When we begin to see the GOOD that comes from the assaults of Satan on our lives, we are able to appreciate all the more the greatness of our God and the depth of the wisdom of His great mind. Praise His wonderful Name! He is truly a God of power and might, and ALL things are in His hand - even this adversary whom we call the Devil."
Ah, beloved, there is purpose in affliction. There is purpose in trial. There is purpose in temptation. There is purpose in suffering. There is purpose in sorrow. There is purpose in pain. There is purpose in sickness and infirmity. There is purpose in light and darkness. There is purpose in good, and there is purpose in evil. There is purpose in adversity and in the adver-sary who brings it. Yes, my brother, my sister, there is purpose in the existence and work of Satan! Without this understanding all the work of God in all ages becomes a hit and miss, trial and error affair unworthy of our mighty God of whom it is written, "The Most High...liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom is from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth ACCORDING TO HIS WILL in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and NONE CAN STAY HIS HAND, or say, What doest Thou?"
One of the fundamental laws of creation is that an OPPOSING FORCE is necessary for growth, and to produce strength, stamina, and endurance. Any living thing that grows up without any opposition is weak and powerless. God's NEW CREATION must be strong and powerful, and anything that desires to be strong, or anyone, must wrestle with a force that is contrary to them. Any man who wants to develop muscular power to be strong, must spend weeks and months and years in vigorous training doing heavy exercises, lifting heavy weights, using the OPPOSING FORCE of gravity to DEVELOP HIS STRENGTH. A man who wants to be a great wrestler, doesn't just wrestle when he is in the ring. At his training center he has his wrestling partners with whom he wrestles by the hour. If he didn't do this he would be weak and powerless in the ring.
A boxer has his punching bags and sparring partners, with whom he spends hours every day. Those OPPOSING FORCES are indispensable to develop strength. A plant that grows in a greenhouse sheltered from the winds and rains, pampered day after day, may grow large, but it is inherently weak, and if suddenly exposed to the elements will wither and die. But a plant that is constantly exposed to the fierce winds and pounding rains, burning heat and chilling cold, is strong and not easily destroyed.
So it is with us as human beings. One who grows up in a sheltered environment, who is pampered all his life, grows up a weak, spineless individual. ADVERSITY builds strength of character. If we were never exposed to trials and tribulation, we would grow up weak indeed! The more we are exposed to ADVERSE circumstances, the more we have to wrestle with our environment, the more we are CHALLENGED by the world around us, the stronger we become. Saints, IF WE WOULD BE THE SONS OF THE MOST HIGH we must be STRONG in the Lord and in the power of HIS might! Our Father wants us to be strong, so He has wisely given us wrestling partners to wrestle with, so we will become strong. There are opposing forces (thank God for them!) that we must constantly battle against. Some of these adverse things are the principalities and power in the heavenlies. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
There is a great and magnificent future ahead for the Sons of God, and a great work our Father has for us to do in the ages to come, and He is preparing us and making us ready for the high and holy place He has for us. Can we not see that ALL THE OPPOSING FORCES WE NOW ENCOUNTER are working together for our good - to develop the strength, character, wisdom, and power we must acquire? Why the Devil? After every battle I may say, Thank you, Mr. Devil! for helping to make me a Son of God. In due time the saints are going to take the place of these principalities and powers in the heavenlies, and instead of them ruling over us, we shall rule over them. This is even now reality to the degree that we have met them in battle - and conquered. This is God's plan for us!
We see this principle fulfilled in the life of Job. Job was no baby saint, for no one less than God Himself had given testimony that Job was a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil. God had blessed this man with great wealth and a large family. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she-asses. His household was very great with many hired servants so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
The thing we want to note is that although Job was wealthy in temporal things, rich in spiritual things and proclaimed perfect by the Lord Himself, he had not been "tried by fire" as Sons of God must be - he was as yet UNTRIED, UNTESTED, and UNPROVEN. In the midst of Job's ordeal of affliction and suffering the spirit of prophesy came upon him and he opened his mouth and spake concerning the purpose of God in it all, declaring, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Never do I cease to be amazed at how the preachers and teachers, apparently without exception, join their voices in unison with those of Job's contemptible comforters, indicting and blaming poor old Job, charging that God brought all of these calamities upon him because he had sin in his life, or because he was self-righteous, or because of some other appalling fault in Job. The only reliable testimony we have of Job's true state of being is that spoken by the Lord Himself, and HE declared that Job was A PERFECT MAN! Perfect, yes, but untried! His perfection remained to be proven, tested, and demonstrated.
Now, what does God do but deliberately hand over this perfect and upright man into the hands of Satan to do his worst upon him, only that he should not touch his life. It was because God desired to test Job that He brought forth "the smith to blow the coals upon the fire." Please note that it was not Satan's idea to persecute poor old Job! Oh, no! It was God Himself who brought up the subject! There Satan was, presenting himself before the Lord, appearing for duty, and God asked, "Where have you been?" Satan replied, "Walking up and down in the earth" (No mention of Job at all). "Well, Satan,", the Lord asked, "Have you considered My servant Job? Have you noticed that he eschews evil and fears God? Have you noticed that, Satan?" You can be assured, dear ones, that Satan HAD noticed Job, but he wasn't doing anything to him.
One of the most glorious testimonies of the preservation of the saints of God is given here in this passage by Satan himself. "Doth Job fear God for naught? Hast Thou not made a hedge around him and about his house and about all that he hath on every side?" Praise the Lord! Yes, there truly is a hedge around the people of God, and that hedge is Jesus Christ Himself. The Psalmist recognized and rejoiced in this fact when he said, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, HE IS MY REFUGE and my fortress: my God in Him will I trust: (Ps. 91:1-2). "You've put a hedge around him," Satan said, "and I can't get to him!" Then he went on to say, "You must put forth THINE HAND and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face." But the Lord, who searcheth the reins of the heart, who knoweth them that are His, knows who can be trusted with affliction, and will not allow any to be tested beyond what they are able to bear. He therefore said to Satan, "Behold, all that he hath is in thy power - in thy hand - only upon himself put not forth thine hand."
One can only know God by vital relationship to Him. Job KNEW God! Job knew in his deepest heart that God is good, loving, true, righteous, omnipotent, omniscient, immutable and faithful in all His way. At one point in his trial he exclaimed, "I KNOW that my Redeemer liveth ...... and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God," and again, "I KNOW that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought, can be withholden from Thee" (Job 19:25-26; 42:2). Being a perfect man Job understood the nature of God, he knew what God is like - how He is. Armed with this knowledge he was unshakable and unmovable as the hand of Satan moved against him. With lightning swiftness the misfortunes fell as tribulation and affliction sorely smote this man of God. All hell broke loose upon him. His possessions were gone. His servants were gone. His cattle, his family, and his dwelling place were as though they had never been. And now he was desperately ill, tormented with pain, and without even a bed to sleep on he lies down in the ashes of what was once his beautiful home to listen to the relentless arguments of his friends, monotonously attempting by lengthy speeches to make a fool of him and prove that his present despair was the result of his own sin and disfavor with God. I do not know how many days their debate continued, but such miserable comforters as these are always at hand, ready to attest that those who have entered the furnace of affliction have been bad examples as Christians, unbelieving, or that they harbor secret sins and so are deserving of punishment. Unless the Lord Himself has convicted them of sin by His Spirit, sufferers should pay no attention whatever to them. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence before God" (I Jn. 3:21).
In one tragic day all Job's earthly wealth and glory had vanished as a mist before the rising sun. But did Job curse God for all this calamity? Did he even curse the Devil? Was he a fair weather saint without spiritual understanding? No, indeed! He rent his mantle, shaved his head, and falling upon the ground, HE WORSHIPPED GOD with the unmistakable words of reverence, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD" (JOB 1:22).
You see, beloved, all external evidence shouted aloud that God did not love Job, that God had forsaken him, that God did not see him, that God wasn't concerned about what happened to him, and that God wasn't just. It seemed that God had now revealed himself to be THE OPPOSITE of all Job had experienced and known of Him. But, praise God! Job KNEW God! He therefore KNEW that in spite of all the external evidence, in spite of how terrible and hopeless things appeared, God had not forsaken him, God did love him, God did see him, God was concerned about what happened to him, and God was just. Ah, this is faith - trusting God's goodness and faithfulness, knowing that HE has everything in control, that ALL is according to HIS purpose IN SPITE OF ALL EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY! Faith declares with Job, "Though God slay me, yet will I trust Him," - and then after being slain - TRUSTS HIM! Job, stripped of all, tried by fire, tested in the furnace of affliction, found that the key to life is not some creed or doctrinal statement of what we believe about God, but that which we KNOW OF HIM out of intimacy of fellowship and vital union with Him.
"The trial of your faith is much more precious than gold that perisheth" (I Pet. 1:7). Surely this is the lesson learned by Job, and this is the lesson being learned by us as we see our earthly dependencies passing away and withering as grass before our eyes. How could we have a more perfect illustration of how God uses EVIL and God uses SATAN as an instrument for our good? Although Job suffered intensely, yet in the end HE WAS GREATLY BLESSED BY HIS HARD AND BITTER EXPERIENCE. If God thus uses Satan, the embodiment of evil, as a minister for good in the case of one individual, is it hard to believe that ALL EVIL is utilized by God for good in all cases?
The New Testament abounds with this same truth, Did you notice how strangely Matthew and Mark speak of Christ's temptation? "And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil" (Mk. 1:12; Mat. 4:1). What a strange statement! The Holy Spirit of God drives the sinless Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan, the arch enemy of all righteousness, a murderer from the beginning, and the father of lies! Ah, but it was necessary for the Son to be PROVEN, to be made STRONG, to OVERCOME in these realms before proceeding on into His glorious ministry and the death of the cross. Truly God creates evil and uses it, too, for His glory! The apostle Paul fully understood this great truth and practiced it himself. He instructed the Corinthian believers to "deliver such as one to Satan FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," and he declares in his letter to Timothy that he himself has delivered certain brethren unto Satan "that they might learn not to blaspheme." But the apostle had experienced something of this kind of discipline also, for he says, "Lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, THE MESSENGER OF SATAN TO BUFFET ME, lest I should be exalted above measure." All this clearly shows that Satan is a creature created by God for a specific work, and even that work shall result in blessing for God's children and redound to the glory of God!
Dear saints of God, don't believe for one moment that anything in all God's great universe is out of control! God is GOD, He IS in full control of every sphere of activity, and Satan himself is under the province of God. May God enlighten our minds to perceive the truth that Satan has no power at all except that which God delegates to him. Do you REALLY believe that Satan could cause all the trouble in the world UNLESS GOD HAS ORDAINED IT? My friend, if you believe Satan is a problem to Almighty God, then your God is entirely too small! Satan is no thorn in God's side who made him in the first place, who binds his hands daily, who sets his boundaries and limits his power and marks his path. Oh, yes, those who would be Sons of God MUST OVERCOME HIM. Beloved, when that purpose is accomplished, Satan will have completed his course as an INSTRUMENT in the hand of God who has everything under control! Hallelujah!
.................J. Preston Eby
The Fashion Of Mercy
"And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house. And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. And they came unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was born of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion." (Mark 2;1-12)
"We never saw it on this fashion." We never saw a healing result from the forgiveness of sins. How can this be that someone can be released from a bondage through the forgiveness of sins?
"Then said Jesus unto them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." (John 20:21) What did the Father send our Lord to do? What was His purpose, His reason, His function for being here? Was it not to forgive? "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;" (Isaiah 1:18) "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John 20:22-23)
If so be that the Christ has breathed on you and you have received the Holy Ghost, then the power to forgive sins is also yours. For how long now has the advertised church performed healing services and healing attempts for the healing's sake itself, not recognizing the true purpose of the Holy Ghost within us. The power of healing is in the forgiveness of sins. It is not in subjecting people to endless acts of self-flagellation, sacrifice, offerings, as though God were to be appeased all over again. Forgiveness now recognizes the one and only ultimate and perfect sacrifice of Christ being sufficient to enable us to release each other from what so easily besets us. Jesus clearly demonstrated the significance and indivisibility of healing in forgiveness with "the one with the palsy." He even told the knowledgeable Pharisees and scribes that healing of the sick serves to prove the power to forgive sins. (Mark 2:10) But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins...) and He proceeded to tell the man to take up his bed.
"Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?" "And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Gen. 32:38) God has made us princes and given us a name that declares the power we possess. We have a name that declares that what we do we do on behalf of God, as an extension of God, for we are His craftsmanship, His instruments, at His command. Israel, a prince of God! We are so much a part of God's workings, He has made us one with him to the extent that he has given us power over men, and what is more awesome, he has given us power with God, with Himself. We can prevail when he challenges us. We can overcome when we struggle. We have the power to wrestle with God and prevail. We have the power to hold on unto God until he blesses us! We have the power to forgive our fellow man!
To forgive someone is to overlook an offense without demanding a consequence for it. "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." (John 20:23) We reason with our small minds at times and ask simple questions that only serve to expose our vindictive natures: questions such as, "But isn't there a limit? How many times must I put up with...? He, she has to be held accountable or they will only... They don't deserve...until they learn their lesson! etc..." Let all things be by the leading of the Spirit. If the Lord declares unto you to demand a consequence for a sin, then do so. But if you hear nothing of the kind, then forgive. God is not mocked. He cannot be deceived. You cannot rely on your reasoning and understanding whether someone deserves punishment or vengeance. Yours is to be peaceable and forgive. And if you are unable to associate , then forgive and avoid. Harbour no malice.
It doesn't seem then so strange that Jesus referred to sinners as those who are sick. "And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. BUT GO YE AND LEARN WHAT THAT MEANETH, I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND NOT SACRIFICE: FOR I AM NOT COME TO CALL THE RIGHTEOUS, BUT SINNERS TO REPENTANCE. (Matthew 9:13) Mercy is what is given to those who are under someone's power by those who have power. So then we are being told that the solution is not the responsibility of the weak but of the strong. I did not come to God. He came to me. The sinner cannot show mercy; he is shown mercy. "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6) God is declaring that he desires for people to be forgiving of the offenders more than He is saying for offenders to offer sacrifices. He will take care of the sacrifice. Did He not say as much? "And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (Genesis 22:7-8)
Jacob, believing his brother to hate him and to want to do harm to him, feared
Esau as he was approaching him. But when they finally were at arms length, to
Jacob's surprise, Esau, whom Jacob seriously offended, "ran to meet him
, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they went."
(Genesis 33:4 )
Imagine the delight and warmth in Jacob's heart to know that he was forgiven. Indeed, Jacob was so overwhelmed that he used a most astounding comparison to describe ESAU'S MERCY. He said: "For therefore I have seen thy face, AS THOUGH I HAD SEEN THE FACE OF GOD, and thou wast pleased with me." (Genesis 33:10)
In a more striking instance, there is the story of Joseph who was sold as a slave by his brothers who wanted to be rid of him out of jealousy and hatred. "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him...And his brothers envied him..." (Genesis 37:4,11). Years later when Joseph is ruler in Egypt, just lower than Pharaoh, and in a position to save his brethren from famine, he reveals himself unto them who become terrified at his presence because of what they had done unto him. But Joseph sets out to allay their fear. Having discerned the wisdom of God before making a judgment, he tells them : "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life..... And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.... So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God..." (Genesis 45:5,7,8). Again, some time later, when Jacob, their father, dies and they again fear Joseph's retaliation, Joseph reminds them of his wisdom from God: ".... ye thought evil against me: but God meant it unto good." (Genesis 50:20). Joseph looked beyond the selfish reach of the evil that was done unto him and found the will and wisdom of God in it. Therefore the solution, much easier said than done, for sure, was to forgive in order to give way to the honor of the will of the Lord.
Therein is the blessing. That when evil is rendered, good will be found in it if the will of God is sought in it.
But how much greater an example of how to forgive could possibly be shown us than the one offered us by the Lord Jesus himself. Consistent with his having referred to sinners as those that are sick, Jesus said, while on the cross: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Like 23:34). Very much like Joseph regarding his brothers, Jesus considered that those that were rendering him evil could not possibly know that God's own hand was guiding it all. That ignorance needs forgiveness. Those people need to be treated as children who have behaved childishly.
It takes the maturity of a strong, disciplined person in the Spirit of God to discern God in evil. "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction." (Proverbs 3:11). "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Hebrews 12:5-6). Do not seek to know whether you deserve any evil, for then you run the risk of thinking more highly of yourself than you ought. Rather, keep seeking to learn the essence of forgiveness which is to be an extension of Christ, the anointed one; because, regardless of the evil, God WILL turn it to good. We must not be afraid. We must "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; WHO FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS (that he did not deserve) DESPISING THE SHAME...For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." ( Hebrews 12:1-3).
Let us remember this: the issue is not one of desert; it is a matter of worthiness. Whether or not I deserve this evil is not the question; rather, I am worthy of the good that will come of it. Therefore let me forgive and let the strength of God be with me as I wait it out, always remembering who I am, a new creature who lets vengeance belong to God.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord...Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19,21).
What Manner of Man Is This?
"But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this?" (Matt. 8:27).
"The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own." (Romans 8:19, Phillips).
As people beheld the miracles, heard His gracious words, etc., they were astonished, and often said one to another, "What manner of man is this?" He demonstrated the power and love of the Kingdom in a manner it had never been seen before, and it was overwhelming to them. And now, quickened within our heart is the precious truth that God is conforming a people into His image, and when He manifests His finished work, HE will be revealed through a corporate man, a body of believers, so that once again people will ask, "What manner of man is this?" We realize that in all things, Christ must have the preeminence, and this He shall have, but it is in the expanding of His glory that our thoughts are now turned to that whole company now becoming ONE IN HIM, and it is concerning these, the new creation species, that we well can ask, What manner of man is this?
We are faced with the challenge, "I sought for a man among them, 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." (Ezek. 22:30). So also Isaiah declared, "He saw there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him." (Isa. 59:16). God sought for a man -- one that would be able to stand in the gap, make intercession for humanity, and He found none, for as yet "man" was only in the preparation process, far from the state of perfection. They yet waited the manifestation of the PATTERN SON into whose image they would be conformed. And though each generation produced those who responded to God's call, and they walked by faith, yet "These all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39-40). And because God could not find a man at that time, He EXTENDED HIS OWN ARM, to further project Himself into His creation. Condescending to men of low estate, HE CAME FORTH AS A MAN, to redeem us, and to reveal the image of what we are to become.
God had called out a people, Israel, to be His peculiar treasure, His witnesses through whom He would bless all nations. But Israel was not able to bear the load of such a calling, having become the servants of sin. Even the law which was added because of their transgression, could not fully keep them in the right way. In due time many of them forsook the law altogether, and became known as "the Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision in the flesh made by hands." (Eph. 2:11). So, rather than having a united people through whom He could work, God had a very divided people -- with some very zealously keeping the law, with all its works, and others who left off the practice completely. In either case there was very little that He could use -- for the self-righteous law keepers were of no value to His Spiritual Kingdom, and certainly those who had cast off all restraint were no better. Therefore it was necessary for God Himself to come forth to bring salvation, and to lay the foundation for a whole new creation. "For to make in Himself of twain ONE NEW MAN." (Eph. 2:15).
In Genesis 1:26 we read, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion." It can safely be said that this is a prophetic statement of God's purpose. Then in chapter two we read of the historical account of the beginning of that process to MAKE A MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE. It begins with the image of the earthy, but that is only part of the process, for we must also "bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:49).
In Jesus Christ we see the earth-man form, as He "took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:7), and then we see the image of the heavenly; first in a preview glimpse on the mount of Transfiguration, and then after He came forth from the tomb in resurrection power. The MAN Christ Jesus is the first of the new creation species, "The beginning of the creation of God." (Rev. 3:14).
Because we were "In bondage under the elements of the world: - God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, TO REDEEM them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption (placement) of sons." (Gal. 4:3-5). Redemption is the beginning of the second part of the creativity of God, to bring forth in the full image of the heavenly, so that He can PLACE US AS SONS in His Kingdom. "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son." (Col. 1:12-13).
It becomes obvious that He cannot place us as sons if we only bear the image of the earthy, and so there is a metamorphosis taking place, as we "put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; - And put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. 4:22, 24). This "putting off" and "putting on" is not a self-effort of the flesh, but it is the handiwork of God, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus..." (Eph. 2;10), and we have come "to this settled and firm persuasion concerning this very thing, namely, that He who began in you a work which is good will bring it to a successful conclusion right up to the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:6, Wuest). When He has finished this inworking, and manifests a people fully conformed to His image, then shall He place them as His sons, and through them further His work of drawing all men unto Himself.
The scope of the vision staggers our imagination, for while we can look unto Jesus, and see in Him THAT MAN whom God desires, yet when we look at ourselves, beholding the weakness of the flesh, and the helplessness of the natural man, the span between such height and depth is too much for us. But God does purpose to REVEAL HIMSELF THROUGH MAN, and we must realize that it is not "the image of the earthy" that we are to look upon, nor expect to rise to the occasion and fully meet every need, but it will be the NEW MAN which is endowed with His enablements, so that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil. 4:13). Praise His name!
Many have been prone to look upon men who are yet bearing the image of the earthy, and wonder why they cannot produce the works of the heavenly, but "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matt. 7:16). Yet even now wherever Christ dwells in man, by His Spirit, which is but an earnest and foretaste of that which is to come, even now, we say, betimes HE manifests a fragment of His power, and we are blessed by the outflow of His love and grace. But we are also admonished to "judge nothing before the time," (1 Cor. 4:5), for when He has finished His transformation within, then "the day shall declare it." (1 Cor. 3:13). When the DAY OF THE LORD has fully come, and we are manifested for what we have become, then it will be self-evident who is a part of the corporate man whom God has prepared to stand in the gap, and make up the hedge, and become a blesser to all nations.
The very fact that we speak of two kinds of men, the earthy, and the heavenly, makes it self-evident that we are yet in the process of leaving the former behind, that we might come into the reality of the second. And thus we are in that peculiar position of being caught between two realms. Having renounced the earthy, we aspire to the heavenly. But here again, to the amazement of many, we find this is not accomplished in a single giant step, rather, it is a transition process, until the vision we profess is the reality we possess. "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." (1 Cor. 13:9-10).
How clearly Paul stated it: "It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me." (Gal. 1:15-16). TO REVEAL THE SON IN ME! Ah, that is the ultimate question, and when we stand before Him, it will not be, "how great was your ministry?" but rather, "HOW MUCH OF MY SON IS REVEALED IN YOU?"
We note the duality of our present state of being, during this present processing, as we read -- "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (II Cor. 4:16). Two men, an outward man, and an inward man; an earthy, and a heavenly. Therefore, "Put off the old man with his deeds; and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." (Col. 3:9-10). Again we note the words "put off" and "put on," which come from the Greek words meaning: to be unclothed, and to be clothed upon. This is not always a pleasant process, especially in being stripped of the old man -- for we are caught in a state of embarrassment, that of being found naked. All former gain and comeliness of religious works, good deeds, etc. are stripped away, until we say, "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30). But the more the WAY OF THE CROSS works in us, bringing an end to our self-righteousness, self-works, etc. the more He prepares us to be "clothed upon with our house which is from heaven." (2 Cor. 5:2). And so we see that it is with wise design and perfect love that "He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second." (Heb. 10:9). When God shall unveil the NEW MAN, fully clothed upon with Himself, to be the expression of His own nature and character, then shall the world, dumbfounded with the sight, exclaim again, as they did of old, WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS?
We have already noted that God "sought for a man, and found none," so He sent His Son to be THAT MAN. Then as the creative/redemption process continues, we note that He is bringing forth a NEW MAN COMPANY which shall be to His praise. Perhaps today, you, too, might look for this new man, and not find him -- but it is because you have not looked in the right places, nor recognized him in his unfinished state. In Daniel 2:25 we read, "I have found a man of the captives of Judah." How these words stir within! We have looked for "a man" upon the platforms of our churches, and came away disappointed because he was only "an image of the earthy," filled with self, massaging his own ego. We looked for a man in the great deliverance meetings, and again we are almost disillusioned by it all. True, we saw some of the grace of God working, and we are most grateful for any life that is touched by God, but we have not seen the FULNESS which our heart desires. But then, in the midst of all this, we found our path crossing with that of others whom God has apprehended, and they, too, have become "captives" of the Lord, shut up unto faith, placed in "divine isolation," hidden from the view of others, and then ever so softly the Spirit speaks within, "See, here I have found a man." A captive! What manner of man is this?
"Joseph, was sold for a servant; whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him." (Psalm 105:17-19). Servant, captive -- whether by outward circumstance, or simply because the hand of the Lord is upon that one, yet they are learning submission to His will, to His purpose, until from every avenue of their being they can cry out, "not my will, but Thine, be done." What manner of man is this?
No amount of self-assertion will enable one to become this MAN whereof we speak. "The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10:23). It is not in our own self-proclamation, declaring that we are this or that, "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory." (John 7:18). And, "not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth." (2 Cor. 10:18). Self-deception is found on every hand, "sporting themselves with their own deceivings." (2 Peter 2:13). And they will even "think it strange that ye run not with them." (1 Peter 4:4). Yet let it be ever clear, to become the MAN whom God approves, and in whom He shall dwell in divine fulness, and through whom He will reveal Himself to all creation, it will be necessary that we become nothing, THAT HE MIGHT BECOME ALL THINGS. Yes, what manner of man is this?
When the vision we profess is reality possessed,
And the working of His grace is fully known,
Then we'll find our heart's desire that once burned a living fire,
Has become the radiant glory of His throne.
Earth in wonderment shall stand to survey what God hath planned,
Scarce believing what they long have searched to see,
A creation fully new, with the image of the true,
A new man possessing perfect liberty.
To the glory of our God who transforms this earthy clod,
Though the vision seems to tarry yet awhile,
He shall every part fulfill, the full counsel of His will,
Bringing forth a man in whom there is no guile.
A Brief History Of The Church (33 AD - 600 AD)
This study will "touch" on the high points of the history of the Church. Since a comprehensive study of the Church would take many sessions, the purpose of this study will be to introduce to our readers a "taste" of Church History, encouraging the student to do research in areas of interest on their own. This history of the church will deal with the formation of the church, the deformation of the church and the reformation of the church.
The three areas which we shall discuss will be the Early Church (33 AD - 600 AD); the Middle Ages (600 AD - 1500 AD) and the modern Church (1500 AD - 1980's). We trace the beginnings of the Church to the event called Pentecost. This outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the assembled believers so empowered them that they began to speak with languages of that day, declaring the mighty works of God in the languages of the assembled Jewish people who had gathered at Jerusalem for that Old Testament Feast of Pentecost. Peter, filled with God's spirit, boldly declared that the Jesus whom they had crucified was the Messiah and to enter into His Kingdom, they must repent of the sin of unbelief, be Baptized into the Name of Jesus and receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2.) This Jesus whom Peter preached was the Jesus confessed by Peter in Matthew 16 as the Son of the living God. (See Matthew 16:16-19). 3000 souls were born into the Kingdom with that Pentecost Sermon. Thus the church was born!
Wonderful was the experience of believers during the succeeding days. The early Christians held the true doctrine, were faithful in prayer, partook frequently of the Lord's Supper, enjoyed each other's fellowship, were in one accord and lived joyous lives. People who met these new Christians were strangely moved and awed; many believed daily (Acts 2:42-47). Soon the number of Church members swelled to about 5000 men; in addition, there were probably women and children (Acts 4:4).
Persecution initiated by the temple priests came soon (Acts 4) and persecution came with increasing frequency and intensity. Stephen was the first martyr (Acts 7:54-60). (70 AD - Roman General Titus captures Jerusalem.)
But persecution had the opposite of the desired effect -- members of the Church scattered all over Judea and Samaria, preaching as they went. Saul of Tarsus, a devout Pharisee who had participated in the persecution of Christians and of Stephen, was "arrested" in his tracks by the Lord Jesus on his way to Damascus. Saul was converted to Jesus, went on to Damascus, was filled with the Holy Spirit and was Baptized by a man named Ananias. (Acts 9).
The Book of Acts is all Peter from Chapter 2 to 11; it is Paul from Chapter 12 to 28. The Lord Jesus told Peter that the "Keys of the Kingdom" were given to him. Peter was the one who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom first to the Jews on the Day of Pentecost and it was Peter who brought the same Gospel to the Gentiles as mentioned in Acts 10. Paul embellished that ministry to the Gentiles with his many travels; Paul was given deeper revelations of the Gospel after he had spent time with his Lord in Arabia. Paul broadened the concept of Grace in the Gospel and was the instrument to unite Jews and Gentiles after the brethren saw how that Grace worked in the lives of the Gentiles. (See Acts 15:13-18.)
Mention should be made of the other Apostles. Tradition has it that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, Thomas in Parthia, Persia and India; Matthew in Ethiopia, James the Less in Egypt, Jude in Assyria and Persia, Mark (not one of the Apostles but associated with them) in Alexandria and Peter wrote from Babylon (I Peter 5:13), the Babylon on the Euphrates instead of a symbolical representation of Rome.
If there is any truth in these traditions concerning the Apostles, the Gospel through these men and their converts penetrated to most of the more important inhabited areas of Europe, Asia and Africa by the end of the first century. If India was evangelized during the first century, it is reasonable to suppose that believers reached China with the Christian message too. Remember, also, that on the day of Pentecost a large number of lands were represented -- Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Panphylia, Eqypt, Libya, Crete, Arabia and Rome (Acts 2:9-11). It is no wonder that Paul wrote in Colossians 1:6, "THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL WHICH IS COME UNTO YOU, AS IT IS IN ALL THE WORLD." KJV.
This may be the only time that the entire world was evangelized; that is in the first 100 years. Tertullian wrote later these words: "We are of yesterday, yet we have filled your empire, your cities, your towns, your islands, your tribes, your camps, your castles, your palaces, your assemblies, your senate, and even the household of Caesar." At the end of the Imperial persecutions, Christians numbered one half of the population of the Roman Empire.
From 100 to 300 AD was a time of persecutions. Some have referred to this period of time as the Smyrna Period (Rev. 2:8-1). There were these persecutions: Nero (64 AD), Paul and Peter may have died then, Domitian in 96 AD charging Christians as atheists, Trajan 98 - 117 AD, Hadrian 117 - 138 AD, Antoninus Pius 138 - 161 AD, Marcus Aurelius 161 - 180 AD, Septimius Severus 193 - 211, Maximin 235 - 238 AD, Decius 249 - 251 AD, Valerian 253 - 260 AD, Diocletian 284 - 305 AD -- ten days in prison could be symbolic of ten major persecutions, excluding Nero.
The catacombs of Rome were vast subterranean galleries beneath the city of Rome. These galleries were about 8 to 10 feet wide, 4 to 6 feet high and hundreds of miles long. They were used by Christians as places for refuge worship and burial during the persecutions; Christian graves are estimated to be from 2,000,000 to 7,000,000.
CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE. (272 - 337 AD). When his father died in 306 AD, Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus was named emperor by his troops and his father's troops. But Constantine had a number of rivals, he defeated his strongest rival, Maxentius, at the famous battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. According to legend, he saw a vision of the Christian cross before the battle and written on the cross was, "BY THIS SIGN THOU SHALT CONQUER." The cross became Constantine's battle symbol and Christians began to receive favored treatment among religions of the empire. From 312 to 324, Constantine ruled as Emperor of the West. In 324, after he defeated Licinius, Emperor of the East, Constantine become sole ruler of the Roman Empire. In 330, he moved his capital from Rome to the site of the ancient Byzantium. The city that he built was called Constantinople. In 1930, the name was changed to Istanbul. (The Empire divided in 395 AD, the West fell in 476 AD and the East fell in 1453 AD. After Rome fell, the Papal Empire arose. The Council of Sardica (343 AD) was composed of Western churchmen only! The first council to recognize the authority of Roman Bishop as Head of the Western Church.)
In time serious disputes arose in the new powerful church, and Constantine called for the Nicaea Council to settle the question of the Trinity. Out of that Council came the Nicene Creed in the year of 325 AD. Constantine was popular with the people and reform marked his administration. After his death in 337, his empire was divided among his three sons.
Edict of Toleration - 313 AD. After his major battle was won, Constantine granted to all Christians full liberty; the first edict of its kind in history. He went further -- he favored Christians in every way, filled offices with them, exempted Christian ministers from taxes and military service, made Christianity the religion of his court, encouraged and helped build church buildings, and in 325 AD encouraged his subjects to embrace Christianity. He made Sunday a rest day, forbidding ordinary work. He stopped slavery, gladiatorial fighting's, killing of unwelcomed children, and crucifixion as a form of execution was abolished.
Constantine ordered for the churches of Constantinople, 50 Bibles to be prepared under the direction of Eusebius on the finest vellum by skillful artists. It is possible that the Sinaitic and Vatican MSS are of this group. During Constantine's rule, houses of worship were encouraged. The first church building was erected during the reign of Alexander Severus (222 - 235 AD). After the edict of 313, they were built everywhere. Up to this time, worship services were held in the homes or catacombs, but not elaborate buildings. Worship at first was simple but soon during this time became stately, imposing and elaborate ceremonies having all the outward splendor that had belonged to heathen temples.
The Imperial Church of the 4th and 5th centuries became an entirely different institution from the persecuted church of the first three centuries. So strong became this Imperial Church that Emperor Theodosius (378 - 395) made the church a state institution and thus, this Emperor undertook the destruction of heathen temples. Under his decrees, 375 - 400 AD, heathen temples were torn down by mobs of Christians and there was much bloodshed.
The term "priest" was not applied to Christian ministers before 200 AD. By the time of Bishop Leo in 440, the term priest was used; borrowed from the Jewish system and from the example of heathen priesthood. Celibacy became a law about this time in the Church.
The Goths, Vandals and Huns who overthrew the Roman Empire in the latter part of the fifth century had accepted Christianity but to a large extent their conversion was nominal and this further filled the church with pagan practices. Rome fell in the year 476 AD.
HERESIES, CHURCH FATHERS AND FORMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
(Heresies) -- Paul had mentioned in Acts 20:29 that grievous wolves would come into the flock. And in the first part of the early church period many heresies came into the church.
Gnostics -- comes from the Greek word "to know". The Gnostics believed that matter is evil, Jesus was only a phantom and salvation is by the inner "mystic" enlightenment. Akin to the C.S. philosophy -- denial of matter because of being evil, search for knowledge. This system promoted the monastic life.
Manichaeism -- a religious system based on the teaching of Manes, a Persian born about 215 AD. Manes combined the Christian theory of salvation and the Zoroastrian concept of dualism, or the belief that two opposing principles govern the universe. According to this system, the world originated as a mixture of light and darkness -- good and evil. The body represents the kingdom of darkness and the soul the kingdom of light. The soul wants to escape from the body . Release comes from wisdom and a Saviour will provide the wisdom necessary for release! This system did much to separate clergy and laity.
Montanism -- Montanus was the leader. Taught that the end of the world was "at hand" and that he was introducing the age of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the end and for the new future. Montanus asserted that he was the Paraclete promised in John 14 and had special revelations. The Montanists laid emphasis on special spiritual gifts and those in North Africa required strict moral discipline; fasting, celibacy and asceticism. This was in "view of the end of the world"; a reaction also to deadness and worldliness of the Church. The good effects were nullified by the extremes. Though orthodox, its emphasis on spiritual gifts as a continuance of prophetic revelation and requirement of ascetic practices as if truths of revelation caused this movement to be condemned. The church declared that Biblical revelation had come to an end and that special gifts were no longer operative.
Ebonism -- second century heresy. This heresy was a continuation and amplification of the Judaistic opposition of the Apostle Paul. In Galatians, Paul rebukes those who taught salvation through law keeping. Human nature as it is wanted a religious system that promised salvation by means of good works and Ebonism was such a system. Most denied the deity of Christ, His virgin birth, and the efficacy of His sufferings and death for sin. They held to a true monotheism. To them, Christ was rewarded with Messiahship because of His legal piety. They stressed the Law, circumcision and sabbath keeping in particular. This sect disappeared in the fifth century; having little effect on the church.
Monarchianism -- a heresy that put the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the same person. They were the early Unitarians. The man Jesus had the power of God gradually penetrating Him and defied His humanity. But Jesus was not considered "God" in our sense, they viewed the Three Persons in the Godhead as mere modes of expression or ways of describing God. They were not distinct, divine persons.
Novatianism -- Novatian was Bishop of Rome (251 - 253 AD) and able defender of the doctrine of the Trinity, but he fell out with the hierarchy over the treatment of those who had renounced their faith in the face of persecution and later sought to renew their fellowship with the Church. He denied the right of the Church to restore the lapsed and advocated a purist concept of Church membership that smacked of Montanistic legalism. A schism resulted but later the effect of Novatian's decision disappeared in the sixth century.
Arianism -- a heresy taught by Arius (250 - 336 AD), taught that Christ had no divinity and regarded Him as merely a superior creature. St. Athanasius was the greatest opponent of Arianism. The Council at 325 AD condemned this belief and in the 700's this force ended. (See the Creed of St. Athanasius). The Jehovah Witnesses are modern Arianism adherents.
Appollinarianism -- a heresy that denied the human nature of Christ. This group so emphasized the divine nature of Christ that there was no room for His human nature. Thus Christ did not suffer physically, did not experience physical temptations, etc.
Eutychianism -- taught that Christ's two natures were united into just one nature. Christ was so divine that he had no real human nature -- only the outward appearance of man.
Monophysites -- Christ had only one nature -- His divine nature even though He was both human and divine.
EARLY CHURCH FATHERS OF RECOGNITION
Polycarp (69 - 156 AD). Bishop of Smyrna, pupil of Apostle John. During a persecution, he was arrested and ordered to curse Christ. If he did so, he could have his freedom. He chose to be true to Christ. At his death, he said, "Eighty and six years I have served Christ and He has done me nothing but good; how could I curse Him, my Lord and Saviour?" He was burned alive.
Ignatius (67 - 110 AD). Arrested by Emperor Trajan, tried and sentenced to be thrown to wild beasts in Roman arena. Enroute to his death, he wrote, "May the wild beasts be eager to rush upon me, come cruel tortures of the devil; only let me attain Christ."
Justin Martyr (100 - 167 AD). One of the most able men to defend the Christian faith. He wrote a brilliant defense of the Gospel to the Emperor, ending with these words in that defense -- "there is no race of men where prayers are not offered up in the Name of Jesus." He died a martyr in Rome.
Irenaeus (140 - 202 AD). Brought up in Smyrna, pupil of Polycarp, bishop of Lyons, noted for his books against the Gnostics. He died a martyr.
Origen (185 - 254 AD). A learned man of the ancient Church, traveler, voluminous writer employing at times 20 copyists. Two-thirds of the New Testament is quoted in his writings. He lived in Alexandria and died as a result of imprisonment and torture under the emperor.
Tertuillian (160 - 220 AD). From Carthage; the father of Latin Christianity. A Roman lawyer, a pagan and after conversion became a distinguished defender of the faith.
Eusebius (260 - 339 AD). He is considered the Father of Church History because of his book, "Ecclesiastical History" -- from Christ to the Council of Nicaea. Had great influence on Emperor Constantine.
John Chrysostom (345 - 407). The "golden mouth" orator, greatest preacher of his day, an expository preacher, a reformer, he preached to large crowds in church at St. Sophia, he displeased the emperor and died in exile.
Jerome (340 - 420 AD). Most learned of the Latin fathers, translated the Bible into the Latin language, the authorized Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.
Augustine (354 - 430 AD). A great theologian of the early Church, Bishop of Hippo, North Africa. More than any other, he molded the doctrines of the Church which became dogma in the Middle Ages. He was a brilliant scholar, who wrote the essay, "The City of God." This essay was a defense of the Catholic Church and Christianity. His book was the basis for the development of the Vatican and erecting a headquarters for the pope to exert his rule throughout the world. Augustine's writings would establish the idea of the millennium being established in this age with the pope ruling the world in Christ's stead. Thus the evil millennium came into being when the Roman Church ruled the world by influencing kings for almost 1000 years, 500 - 1500 AD. Augustine wrote another work, "Confessions" which is the story of his life and his conversion to Christ. Augustine laid the foundation for much in the Latin Church. Many scholars rank him first among the church fathers.
Columba (521 - 597). Missionary to Scotland, opened this country to the Gospel.
THE FIVE PATRIARCHS. By the end of the fourth century, the churches and bishops of Christendom had come to be very largely dominated from FIVE centers: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. The bishops had come to be called Patriarchs of equal authority but giving each of them full authority over their own province. After the division of the Empire in 395 AD, into the East and the West, the Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria acknowledged the leadership of Constantinople. Henceforth, the struggle for leadership of Christendom was between Rome and Constantinople. This relationship was to make a final break in the 11th century. A historic visit of the pope of the West and the leader of the East took place in Jerusalem in the 1970's. Thus, a union could take place again.
THE SCRIPTURES. Eusebius, 264 - 340 AD, lived in the reign of Constantine and he ordered 50 Bibles to be prepared under the direction of Eusebius. Skillful copyists were employed and the finest vellum was used. The emperor directed that these copies be delivered to Constinople from Caearea by royal carriages. The books which constituted the New Testament are the same as we have today. Eusebius by careful research informed himself as to what books were generally accepted in the churches. In his church history, he speaks of four classes of the books:
1. Those universally accepted.
2. The disputed books -- James, II Peter, Jude, II & III John were doubted by some.
3. The "spurious" books among them are the Acts of Paul, Shepherd of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter, Epistle of Barnabas and Didache.
4. The "forgeries of heretics:" Gospel of Peter, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Matthias, Acts of Andrew, Acts of John.
The Council of Carthage, 397 AD, gave formal ratification to the 27 books of the New Testament. It did not make the N.T. canon, but merely expressed what had already become the unanimous judgment of the churches and accepted for itself THE BOOK which was destined to become our most precious heritage. The Bible has been the "anvil" which has worn out many hammers.
To be continued................. Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
Consider The Lilies
Consider the lilies and how they grow,
with no effort or struggle,
they neither toil, nor do they spin,
The secret to the lilies growth,
is the power of an endless life,
silently yet powerfully ... at work ... deep within.
The Law with all of it's "thou shalt nots",
and all of it's commands,
could not and has not brought to maturity nor perfection,
not one ... no not one ... single fallen man.
So, consider the lilies, and how they grow,
for so it is with man,
it is the Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus,
that alone can accomplish ... My eternal plan.
My plan with respect to restoration,
full and complete recovery,
Oh, how I dance and rejoice in the knowing ...
that at the end of the ages, every man, and all of creation,
shall experience and celebrate ... THE YEAR OF JUBILEE!
I would have you to know My beloved,
that within you a child has been born,
and as you consider the lily, and how it grows,
Remember ... you are My lily .. sown .. among the thorns.
.............Bruce A. Gosey