I have been in good Bible preaching churches since I got out of the service. The churches I have been in and have been on the staff have been the very peak of fundamental churches in the areas where they were located. I have noticed and discussed a problem over and over.
I knew two men who would sit in the service, one in the choir and the other in the congregation toward the back of the room. The preacher would get wound up and preach hard on something like maybe against abortion, (murder), against extra-marital affairs, fornication, etc., and these men would stand to their feet, wave their Bibles in the air and shout "AMEN" or "PREACH IT BROTHER!" They would get up at mens meetings and with tears in their eyes seeming as genuine as could be tell of their love for God and their desire to serve Him in everything. Even talk about suffering and dieing for their stand for the Lord.
The pastor and I would go to lunch and I would ask, "How can this be? These two men were the most inconsistent men we have."
We would go to preacher's meetings and a preacher would preach against pornography against preachers running off with their secretary, or for S.W. and the preachers there would go hysterical with agreement to where you couldn't even hear the speaker. In fact, if the speaker would just stamp his foot, the hearers would shout "amen brother".
On the way home I would ask the pastor, "How can this be. The very ones who get excited the most over the preaching are the very ones who have linked up with the state and sought state approval for the Lord's work." I use the word "Lord" loosely here because if it were the Lord's work they don't need state approval. Who can approve the LORD OF ALL CREATION? HIs work doesn't depend on some man or group of mens approval. Can't you see him getting a building permit for the six day of creation.
We would discuss this time after time. We have had this question asked by some of our own people as have all pastors. We have heard people give us the answer over and over but it never clicked until I read this passage. How can people sit under good sound hell, fire and damnation preaching? How can people sit under the preaching of the truth and not line up with the truth?
These people are as serious as a heart attack. These people are convinced they want to hear God's Word, and these people are convinced that they are DOING GOD'S WORD. They are so convinced that they are able to sit under the preaching of the whole counsel of God and only apply a small (or large) portion to theirselves and they can do it with a clear conscience, while ignoring the rest.
As we were considering this passage in Jer. 42:19 - 43:4, it all seemed to fall together with just a few words. Here we see a beautiful, sincere prayer request and their refusal to obey the answer.
Even though it was a hypocritical request probably did not know was and believed they were being honest with themselves, Jeremiah and the Lord. Jeremiah gives them the answer from the Lord, and notice his answer. Jer. 42:20, "For ye dissembled in your heart." This request was the height of hypocrisy and those that made the request had no intention of obeying it. but look what is indicated here.
Notice the margin of your Bibles says, "ye have used deceit against your souls." As we look at this end of the request and answer from God it appears that these men were as honest and sincere as they knew how to be. They came to Jeremiah to sit under the preaching of the Word of God with sincere desire to know what the Lord had to say concerning the situation they faced, but because "that when they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful but, became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." They thought it wise in their flight toward the security of Egypt.
They became fools and unable to see what they were doing. Rom. 1:21-22; I Cor. 3:19, for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written He taketh the wise in their own craftiness and again the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, (Jer. 40:20) that they are vain.
We notice many of God's people who are in this very situation.
In their wisdom they seek the ways of Egypt. They will sit under the preaching of the Word of God and believe they are hearing and obeying when nothing could be further from the truth. It's sad to see them move on over into the destruction of Egypt, all the time sincerely believing they are obeying God's Word. Thinking they are being wise in their decision to go to Egypt and becoming fools, not seeing what they are doing nor believing the end results. These men seem to be completely convinced that they really did want God's will but notice the margin, "used deceit against their own soul."
They had deceived their own selves and they honestly believed they were doing right when they went to Egypt. This is a perfect illustration of Ja. 1:22 "Be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only deceiving your own selves." God gives facts and information, that it might transform lives, not that we might add it to our note books as we see so many do.
These men felt so strongly that they were obeying God that they became hostile against Jeremiah when he told them they weren't and were actually obeying their own lusts and desires and fears.
How many of God's people today have such strong desires for the security of Egypt and the approval of others that they mistake this for God's leading?
These men were so convinced that they were doing what God wanted as they headed to Egypt for security that they wouldn't even entertain anything contrary.
Now why were they so deceived? How could they be so sincere and yet be so wrong?
First, they were already moving contrary to God's Word as revealed over and over by Jeremiah. Rom. 1:21 "Because that when they knew God they glorified Him not as God." As they went to him here they thought God would reverse Himself. (But He won't no matter how much prayer and attention we put into it.)
We need to search our hearts and the Word of God for hidden motives contrary to His will. Heb. 4:12, "For the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow and is a discerned of the thoughts and intents of the heart". It sure did here as the Lord, through Jeremiah, put His finger right on the problem that these men didn't even realize was there, they were so deceived. Because they weren't honoring God as God already.
They search God's Word for His way and God once again reveal the truth to them yet they still refuse it (43:2).
Now the question arises. How can they avoid obeying God, yet, still want to sit under the strong preaching (kept Jeremiah with them) and be able to with a clear conscience. Jeremiah gives God's message but because it did not agree with their desire to go to Egypt for their security, they rejected it.
Here these people test the doctrine by their feelings and desires and emotions rather than let God's Word stand on its own and subject all else to it. These were proud men in the leadership. Pride prevented their hearing and acting on the truth. Now notice the instrument used to justify their pride.
V. 3 "But Baruch". They attributed the message to a man. He was a good man. He was the scribe which had written the scroll for Jeremiah and delivered it to the elders who took it to the king who cut it up with a pen knife and threw it into the fire (36:4).
He was also a trusted man. He was the witness when Jeremiah bought the piece of land in the court of the prison, 32:12. He was a respected man in the community. His name means blessed.
These people knew that Jeremiah spoke for the Lord. He was God's man, 42:1-6. They knew that disobedience to the Lord meant trouble. They were leaders of God's people, and respected. The people expected them to obey God. Therefore, they not only had to convenience theirselves, but those around and under them that they could go on with their plans without reaping the curse of 42:18.
So look what they did (43:3 "But Baruch"). They blamed Baruch for the message that they did not agree with. They said, "It isn't really God speaking, it is just some man. A good, faithful trusted man and we love him, but, this man Baruch is trying to force his convictions and standards on us." "It isn't really God speaking to us or we would be convicted about this also. It is really Baruch speaking."
How like human nature.
God placed that desire in us to know and do His will, yet, when someone tries to point out HIS WORD to us which disagrees with our own desires we dismiss it as just someone's opinion. "That's just what the preacher believes. That's the way he sees it. I don't agree with him on that point. I don't think God says that on that subject. I'm not convicted about that."
So they dismiss the warnings from God's Word as just being someone elses convictions that they are trying to force on them. "But Baruch setteth thee on against us." Baruch is trying to force his convictions and interpretations of God's Word on us and he is not God so we don't need to obey." They knew that to disobey God would bring judgment but they dismiss the warning as being someone's (Baruch's) opinion rather than God's Word.
Back to our men who stood up in the service during the preaching and waved their Bibles-- "Preach it brother, that's God's Word, let us have it and we'll do it." But when the preacher preached about having their families under subjection and being the spiritual head, they sat quietly with "That's the preachers conviction. that's not really God's Word because I'm not convicted about it." By doing this they could sit under the strong preaching of the scriptures with a clear conscience. We have heard this about every issue there is which people don't want to accept, 43:2.
Their pride causes them to say, "We know God's Word and will just as well and as sure as you do, Jeremiah, and what you said doesn't line up with what we believe and have convictions about so it must not be the Word of the Lord speaking. It must surely be Baruch or we would be convicted about it also."
This causes us to wonder here:
1. Why did they bring Jeremiah with them in the first place if they were so sure of what God's Word was and said?
a. Why do they even need an Inspired Divine Revelation or preachers and teachers of God's Word if they already know what God wants?
2. Why did they ask His advice and sit wait for it and then listen to it if they were going to dismiss it as some man's opinion?
3. Why did they keep him with them as they went on their way into Egypt if he was speaking and trying to force Baruch's convictions upon them?
a. Again, did they come to get God's stamp of approval upon their plans? God's Word would not approve their plans to go to Egypt (world) so they had to dismiss it some way and Baruch was handy.
God's people will not dismiss God's Word and authority over them as such, but, they will sure make it some man's personal convictions in their mind if they don't want to obey it.
Again, the indication here is they were very sincere. They actually felt and believed they were doing right and by bringing Baruch into this it only confirmed they were right and could continue on into Egypt with a clear conscience. God saw this back up in 42:20. "Used deceit against their own souls."
By convincing theirselves this was Baruch's conviction and not God's Word then it was okay in their conscience to:
1. Serve the gods of the world (Egypt).
2. Date the worlds boys and girls and inter-marry (with the Egyptians).
3. Take part in the world's activities.
4. Seek the world's approval. As well as the world's security and education.
a. I have wondered how so many good men can seek the state's approval for the Lord's work. This is how many of them do it--". That's the convictions of that pastor over there, it's not really God's Word or I would be convicted about it also."
b. Another pastor and myself were discussing this matter of breaking the tie and the state and coming out from under the authority of the state into the Lord's authority and he said, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. I'm not fully persuaded so I'm not going to break the tie." What did he say here? "That is that pastor's convictions which he is trying to force on us. That's Baruch speaking. Not God's Word because I am not fully persuaded on this."
Personal persuasion does not determine which doctrines we will obey. What if our people would say such things or this? In fact, many do and we preach hard against it.
5. Dress like the world by convincing theirselves this is Baruch speaking and not God's Word.
6. Act like the world.
How could they do this with a clear conscience? Because of 43:2.
All the proud men said, "it isn't actually the Lord speaking to us. This isn't actually God's Word, it's only some man's idea (Baruch). He's just trying to force his convictions and standards on us when he tells us not to go to Egypt. He's just a man, a good man, a good teacher, but he's just a man named Baruch so there's no need to let him force his standards on us."
This is how good sincere people who believe they loved God and will stake their lives on their sincerity, can hear the Word of God preached, yet, avoid what it says with a clear conscience. They can even stand up and say, "We are obeying God's Word" (wave their Bibles as they say, "Amen" to what they agree with) yet, go on in their own ways to Egypt with a clear conscience.
They love God and would turn on anyone who would indicate different as they did on Jeremiah here. Maybe not turn on you, but dismiss you as a man with a strange idea. These men can stand up in men's meetings and weep as they tell how much they love God and might have to die for him some day. Yet dismiss the preaching of God's word with, "We aren't convicted about this. We don't see it that way Jeremiah, so it must be just a man's idea. It must be Baruch speaking and not God's Word." Their conscience frees them to go on in their own way.
These proud men set the direction for God's people even more than did the Word of God as they convince God's people that it's not really God's Word speaking but some man's personal convictions. They lead God's people on into Egypt and sure destruction (43:7; 44:7, 8).
The very things they sought to escape as they crossed over with "that's not our conviction" follows them; war, bondage, and the very thing that they were searching for they left behind, peace, prosperity. When young Christians, hear the "older wise" Christians start saying "that's just his convictions (preachers) not mine" flee from them. It's the proud men speaking.
There is nothing as blinding on God's people as pride and nothing as destructive. For example, we had a young lady who God dealt with about pants without any preaching about them. "Older" Christians said, "That's just the pastors convictions not mine" as they justified their own desires. It destroyed the young lady's desire to get rid of her own pants.
Now, even in Egypt their was a chance of turning back to the peace and prosperity promised by the Lord. Up until a person dies there is the chance of returning back to the Lord. All they needed to do was repent and submit to the Word of the Lord through Jeremiah but their pride blinded them, yet, when Jeremiah preached to them his warnings, they dismissed it as Baruch's convictions and not the teaching of God's Word.
God gave us men who will lay aside their pride and listen to the authority of God's Word without saying, "That's his opinion". "He's trying to force his convictions on us." Poor old Baruch, he sure gets blamed for a lot of things-- so people don't have to come face to face with truth and sin.
Now what's the answer, We have an advantage which Jeremiah did not have. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit, (Jn. 16:7-14). We have more hope than even the disciples had while Jesus was here. If God's people will only listen to the instructions of the Word of God and then lay aside their pride and pray, "Lord is this truth for me," the Holy Spirit will bear witness as to that truth, II Cor. 4:1-18 (1-6).
If God's people would only ask the Holy Spirit to remove their blindness and show them the truth, He would. but this requires an admission of being one of "all the proud men" and the flesh reacts very strongly against that.
Baruch sure gets blamed for a lot of things.
1. God's people want to enjoy all the world has to offer.
a. The preacher preaches against it and they say, "That's not God's Word. That's the preachers conviction, that's his personal ideas that he's trying to push on us." We have had many tell us this as we point out something preached on which they avoided. They blamed Baruch for the message instead of accepting it as God's Word.
b. They go on into Egypt, serve the gods of Egypt and pay the price and then after it's too late they realize their error.
2. The unsaved man also, he knows baruch.
a. The preacher stands up and says, "you won't get to heaven because you asked Jesus to save you" or, "because you asked Jesus into your heart. Because you confessed you are a sinner and asked forgiveness and confessed he is Lord."
The unsaved says, "that's Baruch talking!" That's this preachers opinion, because it all means the same thing. ACE told us this as they answered our concern about their plan of salvation as presented in their material.
Child Evangelims said, "Trusting in the substitutionary death of Christ" is to hard for people to understand so we tell them, "Ask Jesus into your heart. It means the same things." NO, it isn't.
Do we dismiss God's Word with "That's just his conviction. The way he interprets the Bible. I'm not convicted that way so it's okay."
Have we bought the lie that these proud men gave to others. "That's Baruch talking, not God's Word." These men were as sincere as a heart attack. These men were saying "Lord, Lord", (Matt. 7:22). The Lord answer back, "Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things that I say," (Lk. 6:46).
These proud men are alive and well today and leading God's people right into Egypt and to death and instruction with "That's just some man's convictions. That isn't what the Bible says." Poor old Baruch, getting blamed for many things that he has nothing to do with. So the proud men will not have to submit to the authority of the Lord God over them or over their every activity.
RENDER UNTO CAESAR
This passage in Matt. 22:15-22 is a much discussed as well as misused passage in our day. The context is quite important in order to understand what our Lord is teaching. Our Lord is still involved in the confrontation which started in 21:23. Within this confrontation he had upset them so badly, that they had already sought to lay hands on him, 21:46.
Christ has been speaking to the Jewish religious leaders, the "builders" of a nation, 21:42; Acts 4:11. These builders, in their grand design, absolutely rejected the true Stone. When they were told that he was this Stone, they tried to crush the Stone. When confronted with the truth, they grew more hostile, chp. 22. Our Lord spoke two more parables to them which caused even more hostility. Then in v. 15, they counsel together (Ps. 2) to overthrow the Lord with their words. They must turn public opinion against him in order to re-establish their hold on the people.
Rather than the word of God bringing repentance (as he told them they were to be destroyed for their hardness and rebellion against the King) they take further steps to entangle him with his words. Sinful men just won't give up in their efforts to overthrow God unless God intervenes in their heart, Rom. 3:11.
They get together and pool all of their wisdom. Their goal is to discredit the Son of God. They would have a better chance at trying to empty the ocean with a gallon bucket than to trap the Wisdom of the Ages with the wisdom of men.
Master, we know---. Slick words used by the best minds they had to offer to cause the Lord to stumble. Oh, how foolish men are to think they can get around the
wisdom of God. But men will make many plans just to avoid the fact of their rebellion against the word of God. V. 16 was probably said in a mocking way. Regardless, v. 16 was said to cover the true thought and intent of the heart.
V. 17. Mercy, how this verse is misused today. Remember the context. First, Christ is involved in a very hot discussion with the religious leaders, the builders of a nation. This nation prided itself in its independence although not independent. Second, He had started out driving the money changers out of the temple. This did not make friends of those in charge (again, the builders). Third, He let it rest overnight and came back. The rulers did not forget and confronted him with, "Who, gave you the authority to do these things? We didn't." This started this very heated confrontation. Fourth, Christ gives them two parables: a) The sinners going into the kingdom of God before them because of their hardness. b) The vineyard. They, the husbandmen, usurped the vineyard, killed the servants, then killed the Son. All done in their REBELLION and hardness against the owner. Then terrible judgment called down on them. They considered themselves the elite builders, yet they were rebelling against the authority of the Owner. Then he goes on. c) The parable of the wedding. The king bidding them and again, they refuse the kings offer to come. Then he ends this one the same as he did the previous parable with the destruction of these builders and their (the Jewish) nation. Why? Because of their rebellion against their rightful king. They rejected His authority over them. He adds another point to this one as he points out the refusal to put on the wedding garment.
Now we come to the fifth point. These men are exceedingly hostile. They knew he was talking about them, 21:45. All of the multitude also know he is talking about them. The word of God is exposing their rebellious heart. A heart hardened in total rebellion against the landowner, against the King and against the Son. They are absolutely refusing to give the fruit to the owner; absolutely refusing to recognize His authority over them. Then they are covering it all with smooth deceitful words, v. 16.
Verse 18, our Lord again strips away every false cover. He lays out the very though and intent of their heart before the on-looking world. Their goal is to trap him. The reason is because he has exposed their hardness and rebellion. Their desire is to discredit him enough before the people that they can kill him. Anything to get him out of their midst. He is undermining their power and authority. He even calls them hypocrites.
Verses 20-22. Our Lord answers all of their craftiness with, "Give unto Caesar the things that are his and unto God the things that are His". This not only answered them but caused them to marvel and they left him and went their way (not his way). He had been confronting these leaders with their rebellion against the King (Jehovah God). They sought to avoid facing up to their rebellion with this trick question. In fact, they tried to get him to join in rebellion with them.
They were protesting the yearly tax levied against the Jewish nation by the Roman conquerors. Needless to say, it was a very unpopular tax. It reminded the people that they were not indeed, free, but servants to the Romans. They knew if they could get Christ to say, "Pay the tax," he would also become unpopular. They also knew if they could get him to say, "Don't pay the tax," Rome would be down on him for insurrection, Acts. 5:37.
He called for a piece of money, a days wages for a labouring man. As he had already done (21:40), he got these wicked men to answer their own question. They had to admit that the money belonged to Rome. "The Jewish Rabbies taught that "If a king's coin is current in a country, then the men of the country do thereby evidence that they acknowledge him for their Lord (C.H.S.)."" Whether they liked it or not, this was proof that they were Roman subjects, and Caesar was their Lord. The logical conclusion then must be that they had to pay to Caesar what he demanded.
We cannot emphasize enough what our Lord is doing. He is confronting them with their hardness of heart and rebellion against the King, Jehovah God. They are doing their best to escape from under the pressure which he is placing on them. In fact, he is telling them of the destruction which is coming upon them for that rebellion and they are trying to discredit him in order to avoid that pressure.
He confronts them with a piece of Roman money with Caesar's image and superscription on it. Why?
This is unavoidable evidence which was in every ones possession of their rebellion against their rightful King, Jehovah God.
These men were experts in the OT law. In showing them this coin, they would have been immediately reminded of I Sam. 8. There God told Israel that if they rejected Him as their King they would have a very oppressive human king over them.
Absolutely every objection which they would have against the oppressive civil authority of Rome was destroyed. God had promised that the oppressive king would take their sons and daughters for himself, he would take their land as well as their harvest, he would take their money in oppressive taxation, and worse of all, they would be no better than servants to this oppressive civil authority. He even pointed out to them that the oppressed people would cry out to God under their oppressors and God would not hear them. Even knowing this, they still rejected Jehovah God as their King. In doing so they chose servitude to oppressive men over freedom in service to Jehovah God. There is no neutral ground. Men either activity serve the King of kings or serve evil men.
This is exactly what our Lord is dealing with. These men, over and over, had rejected Jehovah God as their King and now they were complaining about oppressive servitude. God said he would not hear their complaint.
Verse 21 gives the answer. Because of their rebellion against their rightful king they had oppression. They had no right to even complain about this oppression because I Sam. 8 clearly told them that it was a result of rebellion against their King. In v. 21, Christ tells them to give to God what is His. Referring back to 21:34, 41. "Give to God His fruits and God will free you from the oppression. In the meantime, He will not hear your cry under that oppression (I Sam. 8)."
This caught them completely off guard. This amazed them and caused them to marvel. But rather than return to the King and deal with their rebellion, they went their way. They, knowing the answer for the oppressive taxation, continued in their own way. And no doubt, continuing in their complaint against the oppressive civil authority. It is so much easier to get a group together against oppression than it is to get a group together to return the fruit to the landowner.
We must be very careful about trying to make this passage (Matt. 22:15-22) stand alone apart from its context. Christ is dealing with rebellion against the King of kings.
The application is quite obvious for our day. There is absolutely no way around it. God's people are choosing servitude to an oppressive tyrant over servitude to the King of kings. When the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ over every area of life is ignored, then God will raise up oppressive men. The law-word of God cannot be laid aside, ignored or avoided without oppressive men being exalted. It is impossible to press back the darkness of evil and oppressive men without re-lighting the candle of submission to the authority of the King of kings.
Any offer of freedom from oppression apart from a return to the total law-word of God and His authority over everything (church, law, civil government, the arts, science, education, social programs, etc.) is doomed to result in only more servitude. The law of cause and effect, sowing and reaping demands this.
As people turn to God in obedience to the principles contained in His law and in submission to His total authority over everything, then He will give back the freedom which He removed as men departed from Him. Christ gave the answer to oppression, Matt. 22:21. All He did was remind them of what they already knew, I Sam. 8. Yet these men, even knowing the cause of the oppression, went their own way. They would rather have the oppression of and be servants to an oppressive civil authority than to admit that the return to Jehovah God the King and His Son was the answer. MEN WOULD RATHER DIE IN THEIR SINS THAN ADMIT THEY CANNOT HANDLE IT ON THEIR OWN.
This principle will stand forever. Any message against oppression must be balanced with responsibility to God's law. We cannot have one (freedom from oppression) with the other (submission to His authority and responsibility toward His law).
Actually, as men fulfill this responsibility and submit to his authority, God will provide the freedom to serve him.
The ISSUE HERE (v. 21) IS SUBMISSION TO THE KING. IT IS AN ISSUE OF AUTHORITY. SINFUL MEN HAD REJECTED THE TOTAL CROWN RIGHTS OF KING JESUS AND SERVITUDE RESULTED.
The cause of servitude is refusal to submit to the King. The answer toward freedom is submitting to Him and doing Matt. 21:34 and 41. The reason for servitude must be dealt with or there can be no freedom. My, how men hate to hear this.
To make this passage (vv. 15-22) say more can lead to some dangerous false conclusions as well as some false hopes. We must always keep in mind. True freedom is freedom to serve God and to obey His every law-word. This is the only freedom which our God will support and provide. When this freedom is misused in order to serve the world, flesh and/or the devil, this freedom will be replaced with oppressive men and laws.
FAITH AND DEBT
We received a letter from a missionary which we support. In this letter this statement is made. "The 12,000 diaries we sent out were warmly received. We presently have plans to do the same again next year, but I will need a better printing machine. The one used does not have adequate registration for such a detailed job. We have, therefore, decided to make this our mission project for the year. A reasonable used one will cost about $3,000 dollars. I will have to buy one by faith as it will be needed within the next few months. If God should lead you to help in this project, it would be greatly appreciated."
This is a quite amazing statement. We are going to take something for granted without checking with this missionary. That is his word faith. No doubt he means by credit, and then depend on God to pay the bill.
This attitude is very prevalent among those who profess to be Bible-believing Christians. We have even heard of pastors, teachers saying that credit is God's way to build His work in our day.
Is this true? Has God given a new revelation for our day and new methods to do His work?
There is quite a large number of principles from God's inspired word which deal with this very thing, "by faith (credit)". Let's look at a few of them and trace this through the scriptures.
Probably the best known and most often used verse would be Prov. 22:7, "the rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."
This principle is not restricted to the OT but carried over into the new as Paul says in Rom. 13:8, "Owe no man anything, but to love one another:" and proceeds to define love through v. 10.
The most basic idea of servant (Prov. 22:7) is that of a slave. In Israel slavery was not so irksome, since this status involved rights and often positions of trust.
Actually this group of OT words which speak of this servitude in the OT is avoided in the NT except for one passage.
That passage being Rom. 15:16, "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit."
(The thought of this slavery though is used when speaking of slavery or servitude to the OT rites and rituals, Heb. 9:21, 10:11; Lk. 1:23.)
Paul's usage in Rom. 15:16 shows us we are to be servants to God, not to man. Debt prohibits this service because it's impossible to serve both, Matt. 6:24; Lk. 16:13. Our Lord carries it further in Matt. 16:24 (Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9:23). "Then said Jesus unto his disciples. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
Here we see that the follower (servant) of Christ is called on to deny his own desires and wishes and to submit all to God's will, God's word. Therefore, clearly we have a choice. Serve God or be servant to a lender. Bondage to a lender requires that decisions be made with the responsibility to the lender foremost in our mind.
The justification used no doubt would be, "We borrow to meet a need which God has allowed to arise. We will borrow and then have faith for God to send the funds to repay."
Jimmy Swaggart as he came back in defiance of the church body which ("defrocked" him said, "For every dollar we get, we spend a dollar and a dime and we spend it before we get it because the world needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, (Crawfords Courier-Journal, 5/23/88)." Of course he didn't mention his mansion he lives in, etc.. He said that the gospel is important enough to disobey God in another area in. This is common among, "Bible-believers".
Let's address this in the light of the basic principle of "Owe no man anything" as well as "The borrower is servant to the lender". The principle then would be AVOID DEBT. We see clearly from the scriptures that debt is not God's way of doing business.
It would be safe to say that at no time in Scripture did the Lord tell His people to go borrow in order to meet a need. You will find that when the need arose, the Lord supplied the CASH to meet that need. Can't you see our Lord now in Matt. 17:24-27.
Peter says, "Lord, the tax collector wants his money." The Lord says, "Okay Peter, go to the money lenders and borrow enough to pay it and then we will pray in the funds to repay the principle and usury."
The attitude of "borrow, then depend on God to repay", strongly suggests of presumption. We come across presumption in the NT in Matt. 4:6. Here the devil took Christ to the pennacle of the temple. This is significant in that it shows us: 1) The devil chose the place to present the temptation, and, 2) it was at the temple, the Lord's house.
This would indicate to us that one of the more dangerous places for this offer to presume upon God is in, at, or around the temple.
Notice what the devil did. He quoted Ps. 91:11-12, "For he shall give his angels charge over thee (to keep thee in all thy ways). They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."
In quoting this psalm, notice he left out a little. TO KEEP THEE IN ALL THY WAYS. He left this right out of the middle of the passage. "Thy ways" here in this Psalm is referring to the ways of the Lord. Walking according to His every law-word. The Psalm is saying that as we allow God's word to direct our every step, His angels will have charge over us and will bear us up in their hands lest we dash our foot against a stone. We will be protected by the angels of God.
But notice the devil's offer, "Here is what you can do and God will protect you. It doesn't really matter if it is according to HIS WAYS or not, He will take care of you." Our Lord said that to act in such an attitude was to "tempt God", Matt. 4:7.
Lets trace presumption back into the OT. The main usage of presumption is found in Deut. 1:43; 17:12, 13. "So I spoke unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, and went presumptuously up into the hill."
Deut. 17:12-13, "and the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that stand to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel, and all the people shall hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously."
Jer. 43:2, "Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, go not into Egypt to sojourn there:"
Presumption would be to act proudly, rebellion. Even includes rebellion against the Priest or Judge (Deut. 17:12-13) as the Priest or Judge would use God's word to instruct the people. This would have been the situation in Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a priest and his hearers didn't like his message from God.
Prov. 11:2, "When pride cometh then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom" (Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom, Prov. 13:10).
Here we see pride contrasted with humility and wisdom. Pride is an exaggerated view of self-importance and this would lead to defiance and rebellion against God's word.
There are three things included here: First, because a person is proud he presumes too much in his favor, especially in the since of authority (Deut. 18:20, 22 -- The prophet speaking in the Lord's name yet is not from the Lord).
Second, because a person is proud he asserts his own will to the point of rebellion against the one in authority over him, (Deut. 1:43, -- The people went to battle when the Lord told them not to).
Third, this also carries with it a willful decision, Deut. 17:12-13. A willful decision to go against God's word, (Deut. 17:12-13 -- The person refuses to follow the instructions of a godly priest or judge).
Presumption. It is very prevalent today. We get lifted up with pride. We get an inflated view of self-importance. Then we move on in defiance of God's word. Acting contrary to His word because we feel we are important. More important than even the word of God as we act contrary to its principles.
God tells us if we will act according to His word we will prosper. Do it His way and He will take care of our every need. Yet, in our presumption we even claim Ph. 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
The devil tells us, "Go ahead, do what you think you need to do. No need to consider what God's word says. Go ahead, you can be like God and He will still supply all of your needs. Isn't that what Ph. 4:19 says?" Let us not think for a moment that our enemy doesn't have Ph. 4:19 memorized. He used it on our Lord with no success. He uses it against the servants of the Lord with huge success.
It is the sin of presumption to try to claim Ph. 4:13 without Ph. 4:11 and 12. Being content with what God has provide us with as well as where He has us. If He wants us to have more He will provide IT. This goes into every area.
We meet people quite regularly who will say, "God will take care of it," yet they don't attend church, they don't study their scriptures or spend time with the Lord to find out how His word tells us to handle it. They ignore His principles of finance yet expect Him to take care of their finances. This is presumption.
But this is those outside of the "Church". Christ's offer was sitting on top of the temple and the offer was to Christ. This shows us that the offer is presented to those within the church who are trying to please God. This offer is beautifully packaged and effectively presented. The more committed the servant the more attractive the offer.
"Look how important you are."
"Look how important your job is to God."
"Here is a way you can do it more effectively."
"It is so important that the violation of this one little point isn't really important to God."
Yet he misses a very important point. "He promises to keep us in all of HIS WAYS". To lay aside the principles of God's word and still expect Him to supply all our needs is presumption.
He told Israel NOT to go. They went anyway.
He told the proud men in Jeremiah NOT to go. They didn't want to hear that, they went anyway.
He has established His principles for us to live by. He told us how to do His work. To live contrary to His principles and expect His blessings anyway is to act in presumption.
Back to our letter.
"I'll go out and borrow the money and depend on God to provide the payments". "I will have to buy one by faith as it will be needed within the next few months." It should say, I will have to buy it by presumption. Presume that God will take care of it even though I am violating His word."
Now, naturally, there may be times when debt is required but it isn't God's way. It is the world's way. God's way is to supply the need. If there is a need of a new press, God will supply, either the funds or the press. Borrowing and debt are a sign of God's curse against those who are living contary to His law-word, Deut. 51:3-6; 28:(vv. 12, 44, 45).
Let,s consider this point. The used press is $3,000. The person only has $3,000 worth of faith to only buy a $3,000 press on credit. Why doesn't he buy R.R. Donnelley's if he needs a press? Debt is debt, Won't God supply? If debt is equal to faith then the bigger the debt, the greater the faith.
Another point. What right do we have to take what belongs to God (a church, or any ministry we claim belongs to God) and make that ministry a servant to a lender?
Presumption. Comes from pride which says that we are important enough for God to permit the violation of His word for.
Presumption. Violating the principles as established in His Word and still expecting Him to supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. No, He supplies all of our need by (in accordance with) the principles of the WORD OF GOD.
(Pastor Ovid E. Need Jr.)
SPIRIT OF FEAR
This recent commotion over a little book sent out by a pastor down in Florida calls for a comment or two. In our comments we are NOT even considering the rightness or wrongness of the doctrine he presented. What we do want to look at is something brought about by this doctrine.
We had someone call us one day from a town about twenty miles to the North. They had some questions concerning our church. We offered to go by and answer the questions, which we did.
As we were discussing different points, one of those present brought up the subject about the book [u]"88 reasons[r]---". Then they said, "Whether it (the rapture) takes place as the book says, or not, at least two of my Grandsons got saved out of it."
I'm sure many of us have heard this several times and this is what we want to look at. We want to address a question and that question being, "Does the spirit of fear [u]over what will happen to this mortal body lead to salvation[r]?"
This is a difficult question to say the least. No doubt some will not agree with the conclusion but we at least should examine the question and the Biblical implications involved.
II Tim. 1:7. [i]For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind[r]. Note the context here. It is talking of fear, or ashamed of the testimony of the Lord (v. 8). This context of II Tim. 1, is very closely paralleled to what we are discussing here and the principle is clear. [i]God hath not given us the spirit of fear. The spirit of fear[r] is not of God. His Spirit is one of conviction over sin. His spirit is one of liberty, freedom from fear. Would He use fear to deal with fear?
Now, let's look at this. What catches our attention as we think on this is the motivation which causes a person to go forward. Was that motivating force [u]fear[r]? This indeed presents an interesting point. Since God hath not given us the spirit of fear, [i]where did that spirit of fear[r] come from? If that spirit of fear did not come from God then can there be salvation?
At the onset here we should make it clear that God uses all kinds of people and circumstances for His purpose and glory, Ps. 76:10, (this could include fear) in order to get a person's attention. They may be so busy in their sin that they just don't have time to listen to God. The divine providence of God can place them in some exceedingly fearful circumstances to get them to listen to His still small voice of conviction.
Yet, let us not mistake this fear for conviction. These things will come to pass but they are used to make the person receptive to the conviction over his sinful, lost condition.
A decision based in fear should not be confused with a decision based in conviction over sin. Let us be reminded that the devil is a expert deceiver and he has many imitations. Let us not be deceived by his false teaching spirits, II Cor. 2:11.
The sinner must come to Christ because he sees himself lost and undone under the cruse for his sin, and without any shred of hope on his own. No doubt, many things are used by God to "clear the way" so this conviction can be brought about.
The Spirit of God which brings salvation is the Spirit of Conviction, not a spirit of fear. Conviction of sin. Conviction over our lost condition. Conviction over rebellion against a Holy God and His standards, II Cor. 7:1-11. V. 10, [i]for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death[r]. Here we have two spirits of sorrow. First, the godly sorrow which worketh repentance. Second, the sorrow which is of the world. Is sorrow (fear) over what might happen to our mortal body godly sorrow?
Rom. 2:4, [i]or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and the forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance[r]?
II Tim. 2:25. [i]In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will[r].
Rev. 9:21. [i]Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts[r].
As we see from just these few verses, the overwhelming call in the Scriptures is a call for repentance of wickedness. Repentance over rebellion against the God of the universe.
Salvation is the result of realizing we are sinners; that the penalty for that sin is eternal separation from God; that Christ died in our place as our substitute to pay the price for our sin; that He endured what we ought to endure; then placing our total trust and confidence in Him to do that. We repent by turning from our way of salvation to His way, Jn. 3.18. 36.
A person who use to come to church here called us late one night. As we talked to them, we heard this statement. "Well, at least so-and- so may get right with God out of this whether anything comes of it or not." (Referring to the book "[u]88 Reasons[r]", and the fear it caused concerning the terrible things it said were soon to take place)."
Let us point this out. If they responded to a spirit of fear brought on by a preacher painting a terrible picture of tribulation here on this earth if they don't get saved, is that what is called for in Scripture? Is this not a gospel of escapism which says, "Get saved, and you will not have to face tribulation. You will have no more problems. You will escape before anything really bad happens."?
What will happen when verses such as: Rom. 5:3; 12:12; II Cor. 1:4; I Thess. 3:4; II Thess. 1:4, come to pass? And they will. Did we give them a false hope which will cause them to fall away?
We will find overwhelming evidence that the spirit which leads to salvation is the Spirit of Conviction over sin. The Holy Spirit shows us our sinful, lost condition and we flee to Christ to take care of that sin problem.
We would challenge anyone to show a Scripture, in its context, that would identify the Spirit of God, which draws men to Christ as a spirit of fear over what might happen to this mortal body.
God is not and will not be a fire escape. He is not in the insurance policy business. The purpose of His Spirit of Grace is to give us the desire and power to do His will here on this earth in the face of all the world, flesh and the devil can throw at His people, Phil. 2:13.
His spirit is a Spirit of victory and power over the things of this world, I Jn. 5:4. His Spirit of boldness and confidence, I Tim. 1:19; Prov. 28:1. There is no place in the Holy Scripture that identifies His Spirit with fear of physical circumstances or conditions.
The person who goes forward under a spirit of fear, we should be concerned about them. The word of God just gives no room for this kind of a salvation experience.
The word of God only condones a Spirit of Conviction, over sin and rebellion against a Holy God and His standards. Our Lord was clear on this as He said, "[i]And when he is come he will reprove the world of sin,---of sin, because they believe not on me[r], Jn. 16:8, 9;" This would seem to be quite obvious. That the Spirit of God convicts men of their refusal to turn from their way to Him, Jn. 3:18, 36.
The Work of the Holy Spirit of God upon a sinner is conviction of sin, [u]not[r] creating a fear in him of "terrible things to come". And, really, not even a fear of hell as we look at this. His job is conviction of sin and drawing the sinner to Christ and His finished work as the curse for his sin, Jn. 6:44, etc..
This doctrine will be consistent through Scripture. David would be a beautiful example. His sorrow (fear, if you please) was [u]not[r] over the results of his sin. Ps. 51, is very clear. His conviction was over the fact that he had sin against a Holy God.
God's word only gives room for repentance, turning from that rebellion against Him, not a response to the spirit of fear. [b]ANYTHING SHORT OF THIS IS NOT SCRIPTURAL[r]. Therefore, cannot be of God.
Now, of course, we have no idea what takes place in that person's heart. All we know is what they tell us. When they tell us that they go forward out of fear of what the preacher said was going to take place here on this earth, then they say that they are going forward to escape what they were told was about to take place. [b]IS THAT SALVATION[r]?
The word of God abounds with warnings. It is indeed sad that these warnings are ignored today. A few of the warnings are: II Cor. 11:13 (speaking of persons, also includes spirits). II Pet. 2:1. In I Jn. 4:1-4 , 16, the Apostle places the emphasis upon the false spirits which are [u]now[r] gone into the world. V. 3 (II Jn. 7, also) clearly identifies these spirits as the spirit of anti-christ.
This spirit of anti-christ stands against the things that are of Christ. We are told to try the spirit, I Jn. 4:1. How do we try the spirits? According to the word of God. If the "spirit" is not "[u]acting[r]" according to the word of God it is not of God. If it is not [u]teaching[r] according to the word of God, it is not of God.
It is a false spirit. It is dangerous. It will lead to destruction, no matter how good it sounds or feels. God's word alone is our only source of truth. His word alone is our standard. Phil. 3:15, tell us that the Holy Spirit will show where that teaching is wrong if we really want to know.
Which brings us back to this. The Spirit of God brings conviction of sin. The Spirit of God reveals the sinful condition of the heart. The Spirit of God reveals the sinful condition of the things around us. The Spirit of God shows us CHRIST and all things in relationship to Him and His Word, Jn. 15:26.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD GIVES SCRIPTURAL ANSWERS TO THE SITUATIONS HE REVEALS. He guides in all truth, II Cor. 2:10-16.
One of the marks of the false spirit of anti-christ would be fear. Now for the difficult question. If a person responds to that spirit of fear, are they saved?
We will not give an answer to this other than to direct our attention to Jn. 6:37, 65 (the book of John is full of passages like these).
Christ makes it clear that a person can only be saved as they are drawn by the Spirit of God. And [i]God hath not given us the spirit of fear[r].
I will give my personal opinion and I know where I am coming from. Not too many years ago, I also did the same thing. I would preach about the terrible things to come to excite fear in people so they would respond and make a profession. I preached "GET SAVED AND YOU WILL ESCAPE FROM THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS."
I know what Jude 23 says, [i]and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh[r]. This must be taken with II Cor. 5:10-11, where Paul talks of the final judgment. [i]Knowing the terror of the Lord[r] in the final judgment both against the lazy Christian and the unsaved, he does all he can to [i]persuade men[r] to follow God. Either in salvation or in service.
Personally, I feel there is no salvation when a person responds out of fear of what will happen here on this earth. The scriptures are quite clear. [b]ONLY A CONVICTION OF SIN[r] (sin is rebellion against God), can lead to salvation. The Holy Spirit of God [u]convicts[r] of sin. And that sin is the sin of not believing on the Son, Jn. 3:18, 36.
How about preaching activity which stirs up fear? The conclusion would be that ANY PREACHING which does not stir up Holy Spirit conviction over sin cannot be of God. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin and draw men to Christ to take care of that sin.
If [i]God hath not given us the spirit of fear[r], then how can we justify using [i]the spirit of fear[r] to "get people saved" or right with God? Can a person genuinely be saved (or converted, whether from his unsaved or from his carnal Christian life condition) apart from the convicting power of the Spirit of God?
God help us to examine the Scriptural implications to what we teach and practice.
THE GATHERING OF THE NATIONS
We are seeing all the nations gathering together in their rebellion against God. The nations which have professed to be Christians (U.S.A.) are very rapidly going socialistic. Every nation under the sun today is doing all they possibly can to stamp out Christian liberty and with this, the individuals liberty. The Adult Protection Act here in Indiana ia a perfect example of what is taking place very quietly, WORLD-WIDE (see the AXE, Do We Need Protection?).
As we see the heathens rage it would be exceptionally easy for us as Christians, to wring our hands and say, "Woe is us". But I just don't think the Scriptures permit this attitude at all.
Zephaniah is a little book in the minor prophets. Really, Habakkuk and Zephaniah both cover the same line of thought, with Zephaniah picking up where Habakkuk leaves off.
We see in Zephaniah God pronouncing judgment (1:1-3) against the whole world for their sin. He goes on in v. 4 to include Judah, His people in this judgment. The reason for this judgment against Judah is found in v. 5. They are attempting to serve both the Lord and Malcham, the state. They are trying to please both the Lord and the state. The promised destruction is upon all for their sin, yet He is more explicit as He exposes the sins of His people.
In 1:12 we see the feeling that things will continue on as they are. Then in v. 14, we see the great day of the Lord spoken of, and the nearness of it. This day is the day of His judgment against sin and wickedness, both in His people and in the world. ALL NATIONS are included in this.
In 2:1-3 is a call to repentance. Verses 4-15 again calls for judgment against the whole world. No nation will avoid this judgment. Then in 3:1-7, we have the threats resumed against apostate Jerusalem. She is filthy and polluted from her head down. (V. 3, her princes, judges, prophets, priests) and is headed for destruction. She refuses to hear and turn back to her God, yet the Lord has left a remnant, the "poor and afflicted". Compare 3:12 with Matt. 5:3, and Mk. 12:37.
We noticed from 2:4-15 that the Lord takes great care to include the total of the known Gentile world within this judgment against sin, showing us that this judgment is a total judgment, not just a corner of the world. It doesn't matter where the sinner might hide this judgment will reach the furthest island, (See Ezek. 39:6). It doesn't matter how much silver and gold is stored up for this day, of the Lord's wrath, it will be useless, Zeph. 1:18. The person can hide to the best of human ability and they will be found, 1:12. They can build their strong fenced houses and high walls but they will be useless in this day. And might we add, all the deals in the world can be made with the state by His people for protection, yet they will be judged only more severe for those deals, 1:5. NOTHING will hide those who have turned from God's authority and His law-word from the face of the Lamb as He judges sin world-wide.
Now, check Isa. 26:9, "For when thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness". We see both from Isa. 26:9 and from Zeph., that as God breaks the pride of the Gentile world, this brings about their conversion; and the converted Gentiles will bring back to Jerusalem the scattered congregation. yet this bringing back IS NOT to a physical location. Men shall worship Him from wherever they are located in the world, Zeph. 2:10, 11.
As we look at Zephaniah, we see the heathen world reproaching God's people, 2:8. They are gathering together in a world-wide effort to stamp out His people once and for all. They are assured in their own mind of victory because His loyal people are such a small number, just a remnant. And, no doubt, His people see the situation as hopeless. They are overwhelmingly out numbered by the huge multitude of the anti-christ crowd as this crowd pools all of their world-wide resources to oppress His people. Everything, world-wide resources, media, financial institutions, all advertising, seems to be united in this effort.
In all of this total united effort by the anti-christ crowd against His faithful remnant, we see that their effort is not escaping God's notice I have heard, 2:8. He makes a promise, "As I live, saith the Lord of hosts (a name for battle), the God of Israel, surely---." There is no doubt that their possessions will be turned over to the remnant of my people, 2:9.
Zephaniah is consistent in his call for a total world-wide judgment against ALL SIN (both in Gentiles and in the unfaithful of His people) with the result being righteousness exalted. Compare with Rom. 1:18-21 and Rom. chp. 2. The world being purified by judgment will enjoy the full mercies of the Lord.
This brings us to Zephaniah 3:8-13. A powerful passage indeed. V. 8 starts with a "Therefore". Why? Back to v. 1, the people refused to turn back to God. They refused correction. They refused to obey His word, therefore, they have nothing but destructive punishment. Of course, He is speaking of His people, yet we have already seen, it includes the WHOLE of the nations of the world. God is promising His wrath against sin. The destruction of the sinner, not of His faithful remnant. To them He promises protection, 2:3.
There is an abundance of references here. One would be Hab. 2:3. Habakkuk looked around and saw the total apostasy of God's people. He saw the total anti-god activities of the heathen. The heathen seemed to be winning out so whats the use of remaining faithful? It is all hopeless. Chapter one gives the outline.
Then in chp. 2 God tells Habakkuk to write down what he has seen because when the time is right, God will move against this world-wide wickedness. The purpose of writing it down is so the faithful of His people can read it and continue on in the face of the total apostasy. The just are to live by faith and patiently wait for the appointed time when God will overturn evil.
Zephaniah says exactly the same thing. The day is coming when God will gather all of the anti-god nations together. The purpose of this gathering is to pour out upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealous, 3:8.
He doesn't stop with v. 8, but continues on with, "Then will I turn---." We see, first: "Wait, for I will judge the nations". Second, "Watch, as I judge them the result will be their pride destroyed, their hardness of heart broken and then their conversion." Third: "I will cause my people, Zion, to be exalted and they shall rejoice, v. 19". See Heb. 12:22, 23.
Zephaniah goes to great lengths to tell us that all of the Gentile (heathen) world will be converted as the result of this judgment. See also Isa. 19:23-25. We are told by Zephaniah that a result of this conversion will be that the people of God will no longer be despised or a reproach to the nations, 3:8-20.
Let's look at this for our day. We are seeing an unparallel world-wide effort of the nations to gather together. There probably hasn't been such a unity of purpose since Nimrod built his tower. This world-wide desire which is bringing all the nations together is to remove all evidence of Christianity from their midst; to turn over the whole world to the wicked one. And, let us say, it sure seems to be succeeding.
As this one-world, anti-christ crowd gains strength many of those professing to be God's people are joining with them. Not really joining, but making deals so they can continue on in their "work for the Lord". Making agreements so they can continue to "win souls". Their compromise on the Lord's authority with Malcham is only making the judgment against their sin more severe.
Both these compromising people and the one-world, anti-christ crowd have forgotten one thing, Ps. 2, is still in effect. Zephaniah shows us a behind the scene look at this activity which we see going on. 3:8, clearly tells us that God's determination is to gather the nations, to assemble the kingdoms that He might pour upon them His indignation and fierce anger. This is strong but true.
As we see the WHOLE WORLD uniting with a single purpose, to overthrow God, His Christ and His Church, we see the purpose of God behind it. THAT HE MIGHT OVERTHROW THEM in His wrath, and the result will be world-wide righteousness, Isa. 26:9.
Some would say, no doubt, "But they are uniting together for peace. This is a godly goal." Hog-wash. They are attempting peace apart from the price of peace. Therefore it is an antichrist effort. There can be no peace apart from the inner peace found in Christ.
Self-control, brought about by the Holy Spirit is the only thing which can bring peace. Any other kind of peace will have to be enforced from the outside. As long as there are sinful men inthese places of power, that power will be used for sinful purposes.
Also let me add here. Lenin made this statement, "Negotiations are just another tool of war to gain advantage over your enemy." No doubt this is their most effective tool right now. [Remember Pearl Harbor was bombed while the negotiators were at the bargaining table.]
Any peace plan apart from Christ, the Prince of Peace WILL BEYOND ALL DOUBT result in more war and slavery. True peace is a fruit of the spirit. When that spirit is denied then any peace is a lie.
Yes, we have world-wide anti-christ laws such as the Adult Protection Services. These are as anti-christ, socialistic and Communistic as they can be. Yet, they are leading to the wrath of God against those who do these things.
As we see the whole world being turned over to socialism, Communism and being placed under a one world leader who is against every thing even remotely resembling God, let us labor to be part of the faithful remnant of His people.
Notice the promise of Zeph. 2:1-3. As all the nations gather together in their efforts to overthrow God, we have a promise placed right in the midst of all of this effort. This is the promise by God to hide His faithful remnant. The money cannot hide them. The holes in the rocks cannot hide them. The strong walled cities cannot hide them. The only thing which can hide them in this day of His fierce anger against all nations is Him.
As the nations gather to overthrow God's people (much like took place in the book of Esther), God will protect His faithful people. The one world, anti-christ crowd can have Christian sniffing (like drug sniffing) dogs, yet God will protect His faithful remnant. All of their efforts combined will be no better than was Jezebel's as God kept 7,000 faithful in Israel unto Himself, I Ki. 19:18.
If one hair on the head of one of His faithful people is touched by the anti-christ, Communistic, socialistic crowd, it will only be because God permitted it and it is for His greater glory.
This one world gathering which we see today is called for. God Himself is gathering the nations that He might pour out His wrath upon them. He will break their pride and turn it all over to the very ones which they all gathered together against, Zeph. 2:9.
Let us add this as an interesting note. Why didn't the Puritan dream of a world-wide righteousness come to pass through the U.S. A.? Were they wrong in their hope? I believe Zephaniah 3:8 gives us at least three reason. There were three things which yet had to take place when the Puritans sought to establish God's Kingdom here in America.
First, there had to be the establishment of all the nations of the world, the U.S.A. included. Second, there had to be the world-wide revolt of all nations against God and His people. Again, America would have to be included. Third, there has to be God's judgment and wrath against this world-wide revolt before righteousness can be exalted, Isa. 26:9.
Therefore, the warfare against God's people must be world-wide and total because it is against God. The implication is that God's people must become a world-wide reproach, mush like it is in the Communist nations today, before God's wrath is poured out upon the wicked. Yet through all of this, Zeph. 2:9 says those who seek righteousness, the faithful remnant, will be preserved, exalted and given the possessions of those who rebelled against God's authority over them.
The call to God's faithful remnant of both Habakkuk and Zephaniah is quite significant. As they see the wicked overrunning the world, don't give up hope. Patiently wait on the Lord, remain faithful in the work of the Lord (the just shall live by faith) in the face of total world-wide apostasy and when His time is right, His fierce anger will be poured out against those who are in rebellion. Zeph. 2:9 will be the result.
To further confirm this look at Isa. 42:1-4, as well as the whole chapter. This whole chapter speaks of God's fury, wrath, and judgment against all of those who have turned from His law, v. 24. This message of judgment is especially for His people who have turned from His law, yet includes all of mankind. He will not give His glory to another, v. 8 (compare with Rom. 1:21). Those who do, unsaved and/or saved, will be judged.
God is going to move in world-wide judgment against sin, even into the islands, v. 4. Those who have ignored and are ignoring His law will face His wrath even though He has held His peace for a long time. vv. 14-15. His law will be exalted, v. 21.
Now, with this tremendous pronouncement of total judgment against the lawless we find an interesting statement. Isa. 42:3, A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth (Matt. 12:20).
With this we see that in God's fierce anger and judgment against the law breaker, He will exalt the law. As He exalts the law, the people of the law will be not only protected but exalted also. His judgment against the world-wide wickedness and rebellion will not be as we think of a harvest, everything mowed down. Rather in this judgment the "bruised reed and the smoking flax" will not be harmed.
The person living in the law of God will be protected. The one seeking righteousness will be hid. No matter how bruised or weak he may be, if he is remaining faithful in the face of apostasy, the Son Himself will be his protection.
God's law will be magnified. It will be made honorable. The people of the covenant (in Christ, Isa. 42:6; v. 6; Isa. 49:8) who have remained faithful to the law of the covenant (Ex. 34:28), and have remained true to His authority over them (Zeph. 1:5) will be exalted with the law no matter how few in number, (Zeph. 2:9) when God breaks the pride of the law breakers (Zeph. 2:10).
Do we feel like a bruised reed. Does it seem like we are a smoking flax (wick of a candle) in this day of total darkness? If so, Isa. 42:3 (Matt. 12:20) is ours in the day of judgment which we see coming.
We have not yet seen this gathering of all nations against His people in history, but it sure looks like we are seeing it today. Yet, the victory is already promised for His people. Let's be faithful to the death if need be, as we stand against wickedness. Let us even REJOICE as we see the nations gathering together in their efforts; as we see the judgment coming upon those who refuse to glorify God as God. God has given to those who believe and trust His word the secret of protection in the terrible days ahead. All nations face His fierce wrath, yet we can be hid, Zeph. 2:3.
Great days lie ahead for the faithful remnant, the poor and despised of this world. We may be living in the day prophesied of by Zephaniah 3:8-20 when righteousness will be exalted and cover the earth. Wouldn't this be great. If we are not living in this day, we could easily be laying a foundation for it.
Let us look at something which we should be greatly concerned about as well as sound an alarm. I overheard a conversation the other day in which the speaker was telling of a woman converted from witchcraft to Jesus. During the course of this conversation I heard this person who was speaking tell of this witch assigned to kill someone. As this witch went to the person's house, there were spirits there guarding the house.
They were horrible looking, monstrously large spirits with friendly looking faces and very soothing voices. As the witch attempted to enter into the house these spirits stood against her and prevented her from entering the house. Not in a rough manner but gently prevented her from carrying out her assignment.
The speaker then quoted the witch who, in her testimony, said that one of the horrible looking monstrous spirit had turned to her and said in a pleasing, pleasant voice, "Why don't you ask Jesus to save you?"
The person who was relating this story was very exited as the witch saw these spirits as the representation of God and fled from the scene. Later the witch made a profession and is now going around telling her story.
99% of professing Christians of our day would rejoice in this story. They would rejoice just as much as this person did. They would be as excited as was this person who could not contain theirselves as they overflowed with that excitement.
Now, there is no doubt this took place. No doubt this was used to greatly influence this witch to "change her ways." No doubt, this former witch, is now traveling the country telling what God has done for her. Evidently she is pointing to her changed life to prove that the Lord God of heaven wrought that change.
It is also quite certain that she is influencing multitudes of others to follow her in her decision and changed life.
Maybe we look at things too closely. The person relating the story said something which caught my attention and that was the statement made by the terrible looking beasts which surrounded the house.
That statement being, "Why don't you ask Jesus to save you"? Maybe the person relating the story misquoted the one they heard it from. Maybe they heard what they wanted to hear. We all hear things we want to hear regardless of what is said.
We are going to assume the person heard right and quoted it right. What is there about this statement which should set off red lights and alarm bells in the heart of EVERY CHRISTIAN?
Let's add up the story.
1) This witch was serving the devil from her youth.
a) Her parents had unknowningly dedicated her as a baby to his service.
2) She was on a death assignment.
3) The friendly beasts told her something which caught her attention.
a) This influenced her tremendously in her decision to change.
4) She is now traveling the country to influence others to follow her in her decision.
The problem arises with the word of God. Very seldom are we either able or willing to look past the results (or feelings, emotions) to the root which brought about the results. The "better" the results the harder it is to look past them.
Everyone that looks at her will say, "Boy, look at the change in her life, 180 degrees. It surely must be the working of God. The Bible says if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. She certainly is a new creation. Therefore, beyond any doubt she is in Christ." We use the results to support a false doctrine ("By their fruits ye shall know them" --The Word of God exposes the root).
Our Lord, in Matt. 7:20 said, "Wherefore by their fruit ye shall know them". Yet, to use this verse in this manner is to overlook the basic root or foundation and to pull it completely out of context. Our Lord went on to give the parable of the foundation on the rock and sand. That rock is hearing and doing the word of God. Notice in Matt. 7:21-23, He condemned those who fled to their fruit as proof that their root was right. Then He proceeded to tell His disciples of the necessity of the root, foundation being right.
In other words, the house can look right above the ground (fruit), yet be built (rooted) on the sand. Although, if it is rooted properly on the rock the house will also be right above the ground. Many times only the builder knows what he built on and some times he doesn't even know.
To try to make Matt. 7:20 stand without vv. 21-29, the proper root or foundation, is heresy, and NO BETTER than what the devil offered to our Lord in Matt. 4:6. Christ identified this as tempting God.
But let's look past the results and look at the scripture. Let us point something out and see if you can recognize the problem.
Gal. 1:6. "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be accursed. (Follow this passage on to v. 13)."
Of course, the context of this passage is Paul presenting the gospel of the total, completed, substitutionary life and death of the Lord Jesus Christ. His gospel told that Christ completely did away with all of the rites and rituals demanded under the Jews religion, Gal. 1:14.
Paul presented the completed work of Christ contrary to the Jewish religion and it created great contention among the Jews. Paul would start a church founded on Christ's completed work. The Judizars would follow right behind him and attempt to place the new converts back under those old rites and rituals for access to the Father which had been done away with in Christ. We have two letters written back by Paul to these new Christians to counter this heresy, Galatians and Hebrews. Of course he also takes ever opportunity in many of his other letters to correct this heresy.
Paul, in Gal. 1:8, tells these Christians at Galatia that even if an angel from heaven appears to them and tries to tell them the importance of still observing the old Jewish rites and rituals, that angel is to be accursed. Or anyone else for that matter.
As we follow Paul through this letter we will find this thought consistent as he tells of the folly of circumcision according to the rites and rituals prescribed by the Jewish law. Remember though, the Jews taught their laws (including the moral law) as the way to God the Father for justification, chp. 2. Their hostility toward Christ was over the fact that He taught that He was the only way to the Father and for justification, Jn., chp. 4.
Now, let's look at this principle which Paul clearly establishes here. This principle being that no matter who (person) or what (spiritual, supernatural being) presents the doctrine, if it is not founded upon the finished work of Christ, it is a lie. It is a false doctrine. It has the curse of God against it as well as against the promoter of it.
If you think we get hostile against those who try to present a gospel apart from the finished work of Christ, how about Paul? In Gal. 5:12 he says, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you." (Cut off as you would a member of the body, Mk. 9:43, 45; Jn. 18:10, 16. Barnes' and Vine's calls for CUT here to speak of church discipline against such a teacher, cut off from the church. While Thayer calls for mutilation. Vencent, in his words studies (Eerdmans, 1946), Vol. IV, pg. 162 says, "Perhaps the severest expression in Paul's Epistle. It turns on the practice of circumcision. Paul says in effect: These people are disturbing you by insisting on circumcision. I would that they would make thorough work of it in their own case, and, instead of merely amputating the foreskin, would castrate themselves, as heathen priest do. Perhaps that would be even a more powerful help to salvation.--)"
Regardless of exactly what Paul meant here, he reveals his hostility toward those who will not recognize the finished work of Christ.
We will take the milder understanding of cut off and say those who teach any thing other than the finished work of Christ should be thrown out of the church and avoided like the plague which they represent.
Let's go back to our witch. Notice what she said the horrible beast told her. "Why don't you ask Jesus to save you?" This then influenced her decision.
Also notice what is missing. There is no mention of Christ's atoning substitutionary work for her sins. Therefore, what was presented by these beasts WAS NOT THE GOSPEL. The gospel is not, "Ask Jesus to save you".
What did Paul say? Even though an angel from heaven might preach, if that message is not grounded in the finished work of Christ, it is a false doctrine.
Let us pursue this case a little. These "gentle monsters" told this witch to "ask Jesus to save her." This influenced this witch, and let's suppose she followed through with their plea and "ask Jesus to save her". Her life changed. She now has the changed life to prove that Jesus saved her. This changed life also persuades MULTITUDES of others to, "Ask Jesus to save them".
"Great", you say.
Paul says that he wishes that such teachers were cut off. Why? Because they are not accepting and preaching the finished work of Christ for the sinner.
Let's reason this out for a moment. Back to our witch. How will she influence more people for the devil, (the liar and deceiver) and away from the finish work of Christ? By going around trying to kill people? By going around living like the devil himself?
No, we don't think so. In fact, those kind of actions would influence people to flee to Christ for the freedom from the fear of the devil which Christ offers.
Any reasonable person can see that she will influence many more people away from Christ with a plan of salvation which avoids the necessity of the redemptive, substitutionary work of Christ, yet sounds like the truth.
The good works and the changed life which accompanies this false gospel will only confirm the truth of this lie, and many will be swept in.
One of the most powerful letters which we have received back from our book (The Gospel Perverted) was from a pastor in Kansas. He said, "We have been trying to train workers, re-program the church, and to reach those who have been misled into a false salvation with a false Jesus. It is like an addiction. Its hold is so strong that even those who are convinced find it difficult to get the phrase out their vocabulary. Others hold on so strongly because to admit that inviting Jesus to "come into one's heart" is false, is to admit that they are lost."
Let us add that one of the things which make this false gospel (any gospel which fails to emphasize the finished work of Christ is a false gospel) so addictive and strong is the changed life which it brings with it. Don't think for a moment the devil won't give a changed life and and new desires if it will strengthen his position.
Another letter we received back was from a young lady who was saved out of the false gospel. She said in her letter, "We've talked to a lot of people about salvation and the number one thing standing in their way of being saved is, "Well, I already asked Jesus to save me", or, "I ask him to come into my heart.""
This former witch is now going around the country influencing multitudes for the devil. She hasn't changed her master if she is depending on, "Ask Jesus to save you", or, "Turn your life over to the Lord" as her hope for heaven.
All she has done is changed her tactics used to influence others away from the Father and the Redeemer. The sad thing would be that she now thinks she is right, yet she is as deceived as she was when she openly served the devil. Now she is far more effective for the devil and more dangerous to the kingdom of God.
A church will have her in and at the conclusion the pastor will stand up and say something like this, "If you haven't ask Jesus to save you from your sins, do it now," or, "Turn your life over to the Lord". Scores of folks will then follow her into her rebellion against the finished work of Christ, because it sounds so good.
We talked to someone not long ago who was in desperate problems to say the least. This person said to us, "At least one good thing has come of this. A person I was concerned about has received Christ into their life now."
Once again, the "hair on the back of my neck stood up, bells rang and lights flashed" as I thought to myself, "Too bad they didn't get saved. Now they will be hardened even more in their rebellion against the finished work of Christ." When a pastor encourage that kind of a profession he is nothing but a tool of the devil, II Cor. 11:15.
Another response from our book was a letter from Chaplain Ray, and a book titled, "God's Prison Gang". Naturally this book is full of testimonies. This is typical of all of them as an inmate wrote (pg. 121), "Four days ago today, I gave myself to Christ the Lord! And let me tell you, I am happy I did--."
Another response to our book, was from a pastor, with a DR. on his name, who should know better. "To summarize, you are not wrong to emphasize the atonement. You are wrong to insist on indoctrination prior to salvation."
This is no better than the witch who is running around the country telling people to "Ask Jesus to save them".
There is NO SALVATION apart from a clear, plain instruction in the Atonement. The sinner probably will not even identify with the word Atonement. Yet, the instruction prior to salvation MUST include the lost condition of the sinner; the finished work of Christ for the sinner and the absolute necessity of trust in, reliance on, receiving of (etc.) that substitutionary work of Christ. OR THERE CAN BE NO SALVATION, Eph. 1:13.
For anyone or anything to offer anything else for salvation is a lie of the devil and that person or thing making that offer is a tool of the devil; sent to deceive the sincere seeking sinner away from Christ's atoning work.
With that message will come a changed life, both from the disciple of the evil one and into the life of the one deceived by the message. This changed life will only strengthen the deception so when the truth is presented it will be dismissed or ignored.
The principle is what must be looked at. Any doctrine which is based on any teaching other than complete trust in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ is a false doctrine. Any works built upon any plan of salvation which emphasizes such things as, "Ask Jesus into your heart", or, "Turn your life over to Him", etc., must of necessity be FALSE WORKS, no matter how good they look, II Cor. 11.
The wind of this false doctrine of salvation is blowing at hurricane force. Pastors and whole churches are being swept before it. And in that day, many will say to Him, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then HE will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Pastor Ovid E. Need Jr.