I heard a message at the November, 1986, ACUC meeting by John Weaver. It was concerning the present truth as found in II Pet. 1:2. There he established the principle that the present truth is that truth that is being preached by God's man in God's time. Divine providence brings about a situation then God gives the present truth to his man to deal with that situation.
Present truth either in individual counsel or in the preaching of the word of God.
He explained that there was only one total and complete revelation of the word of God. that being Christ [there is no new truth], Heb. 1:1-2. Then we have progressive illumination as in Mk. 4:33. Some folks are unable to hear certain truth. The truth from God's word can be staring them in the face, confronting them at ever turn, yet they are completely unable to see it.
This would be the principle as found in Ph. 3:15, 16.
1.) Our goal is to have a Christ-like mind (outside then we'll also be Christ-like).
2.) We can take it for granted that we have not obtained that goal.
3.) Therefore, our prayer should be that God would reveal where we are short and then give us the grace to see and correct that short fall.
Then as we have mentioned in the past, Jer. 17:9, 10-Ps. 51 (6). The heart deceives us into thinking all is okay. We are a fool if we do not realize this.
Ja. 1:22 gives the sum total. Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
The word of God clearly gives the principle that if a person heaps the truth yet refuses to believe and act on that truth, they are deceived.
Then in Nehemiah 8:5-9 we have:
1.) The word of God read.
2.) It is interrupted.
3.) It is applied by God's men.
Notice in the scripture, God chose who would be the teachers of His word. Nehemiah did not stand up and say, "Everyone go home and read your Bible, then do what it says. (Although this is excellent instruction)." Rather they gathered the congregation of the Lord together and instructed them in the word of God and applied it to their situation. They [the men God had chosen to do this], caused the people to understand. They taught the people.
When a person reaches the point where they feel they do not need teaching or that they have it all established, there is a problem.
1.) "I know these basic things, I don't need anything
2.) "I've believed these same things for thirty-years," is nothing to brag about.
Both attitudes show they have refused to grow in the Lord and his word. These people have refused further illumination.
In his message, Brother Weaver mentioned Amos 3:6-7 in passing. With his topic, the present truth, on my mind, I looked at Amos 3:6-7. What is mentioned here in Amos stood out to me as though it had flashing lights on it. Therefore, we must look at it.
Amos 3:1-8, we have used this passage before but not this fully. We will look at the outline of this principle then look at the NT conformation of this.
I. First, notice who Amos is directed to. O children of Israel-- which I brought up out of Egypt.
It is directed to God's people who he redeemed out of Egypt, out of bondage to the world. We can follow that these were God's chosen people so one will not spend any time establishing this.
II. Second, notice what god is going to do. I will punish you for all your iniquities. The alternate reading is, visit upon. In other words the results of their iniquities are going to return to them.
In fact, it is God who is going to see that the results of their iniquities catches up with his people.
III. Thirdly, we see why he is going to do this. God gives us the definition of iniquities. Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
He explains who doesn't agree; God and his people--. He explains what they don't agree on, 2:4, Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
God and his people are departing because his people refuse to walk in the law of God. (Isa. 30:21, And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Then Isaiah goes on do describe the blessings of walking in the way [law] of the Lord.
When his people fail to walk in the way of the Lord then there is destruction ahead. As Isaiah said, a fire is ahead when we walk in our own way.
Now, let me emphasize some thing. This failure to walk in his way could be caused by several things.
1.) Absolute refusal, "I know what God's word says. I don't agree, therefore I'm not going to obey." (Pride, rebellion, stubbornness, etc.)
2.) A sincere misunderstanding or misinterruption. There are vast multitudes of sincere people of God following false teachers. We could think of illustration after illustration of this. Even if warned, these folks would not heed the warning. They are committed to men, institutions, idea, programs, over the word of God. "My mind is made up--"
3.) Then we would have folks who are just uninformed. They have every desire under the sun to obey God's every word, yet they haven't been told. When they are told the way of the Lord they joyfully walk in it. They don't argue or try to justify why they are in violation of scriptural principles. They examine t and move on in obedience.
I'm sure there are other reasons for not walking in his way, but this gives us a good idea. Regardless of the reason for not walking in his law, the result is always the same. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death, Prov. 14:12.
Destruction awaits those who have departed from his authority and law.
IV. This brings us to the next point.
God always has a watchman for his people. Whether his people are a group, such as a church, or a nation as in the OT or an individual.
Watchman-a lookout, spy or to keep watch. Here we have a lookout. A man looking out for approaching judgment for evil.
There are a vast multitude of verses which shows us this. Probably the best known would be Ezek. 3 and chp. 33. (Others, Isa. 52:8; 56:10, His watchmen (are) blind---. Jer. 6:17, etc.)
The responsibility of this watchman is to sound the trumpet for war, Num. 10:1-9. In Ezek. we see the responsibility of the watchman was to sound the alarm of approaching danger.
If the man of God saw a righteous man turn from his righteousness and commit iniquity, he was toward that person of what he was doing and the result of his iniquity which wa ahead.
God has established a watchman over his people, the pastor. This watchman's job is to sound the cry of alarm or warning. This is especially true concerning those God has made him responsible for.
V. Bring us to the fifth point. Here in Amos (3:6), God says, "Shall a trumpet (of warning) be blown in the city (city of God, the church, Heb. 12:22, might we add), and the people not be afraid?"
The responsibility of the watchman is to blow the trumpet of warning or of alarm at the approach of danger to God's people.
God says with amazement, "Will the alarm be sounded by my servant and the people not take action to counter the danger?"
THE ALARM IS SOUNDED, YET THE PEOPLE IN DANGER WON'T HEAR.
To this, let us add, "Yes, more often than not, they will hear and ignore the alarm."
VI. The sixth thing here, v. 6. IT IS THE LORD WHO IS THE ONE BRINGING the evil against them. Evil in the sense of judgment against sin in this case. But could be 'evil' in the sense of trials or testings of faith. Here in this context, vv. 1-5. This evil id judgment because the people have departed from the word of God.
The people departed from God, therefore the lion of judgment is roaring. The trumpet is sounding for the coming judgment. But the bird steps in the snare anyway. The man doesn't flee the lion.
VII. The next thing (v. 4), the Lord God will do nothing unless he first reveals it to his servants.
This is as blunt and clear as it can be. No judgment against sin will come against God's people UNLESS He first reveals it to his servants. GOD WILL NOT JUDGE WITHOUT WARNING, giving a chance to turn from that sin.
No judgment will come against his people without a warning. Primarily, the warning will come through their pastor.
If their pastor is sold out to the world, flesh and devil, and doesn't warn, God will see to it that the warning gets to them from another source. The clear principle here is that HE WILL WARN. Where his people have departed from God's law, v. 3.
To me, the saddest things of this passage is v. 8. The lion roared as he prepared to pounce (God warned as he prepared to judge). This gave the pray (victim or sinner in this case), time to turn and flee from their sin, yet they did not. They feared not and the lion overtook them.
The principle here?
1.) God will not judge his people without sounding a warning. The warning does not necessarily have to come from other Christians. God alone decides how to give this warning. (Although I believe we will find the predominate scriptural principle is that the warning will come through the authority over us, physical, civil or spiritual authority.)
2.) This warning comes primarily through their pastor.
a. The preaching from the pulpit the truth which God has laid upon his heart at that time.
b. Or from individual counselling.
God will get the warning to them. But neither the pastor nor God can force His people to believe the warning or act upon it. Most preaching [if not all] and even personal instruction is accepted with [My, that's interesting," then they go ahead and go their own way.
When God's people dismiss the warning of God's man they are ignoring the roaring of the lion, before he pounces. (Remember the disobedient prophet, I Ki. 13:24. He ignored the warning of God and the lion met and killed him.)
We know of people, even today, who are ignoring the warning which God has and is sending. The lion of destruction lies ahead. A vast majority of God's people refuse to take the warnings of God's servants, pastors, as the warning from God. They continue on in their way and the lion meets them. Then they wonder what happened or where they went wrong.
Even then, they still will not accept the warnings of God's man. Total destruction comes. The truth that God had for them at that time was ignored.
The NT conformation of this principle is found in I Thess. 2:13. People refuse to accept the preaching of the word of God as the word of God.
> God's people fail to realize that God is the one who raises up his men, his servants.
> They fail to realize that God is the one who lays the message from his word on the heart.
> They fail to realize that what God's man is saying is God's truth for the present need in their life (now, of course, there are many compromising pastors and false prophets around. This is why we must know the word of God. Most folks don't know God's word, therefore must take the word of others. This really lays open for false prophets, see Ezek. 13.)
These people (I Thess. 2:13), accepted the preached word as the word of God, the truth of God for the present time.
Most folks receive the instruction of their pastor as the word of men. Therefore, leaves them open for the lion to devour them and their families.
Many won't receive the exposition of the word of God as the truth of God, the illumination of God's word for them at that time.
People get up and walk out of a service and never consider that it was God's truth for them. They are opposite of the ones in I Thess. 2:13. They view the instructions of the pastor either from the pulpit or from individual instructions as the word of men to be accepted or ignored as they feel convicted about it.
Ezek. 33:30-33, describes these kind of people. Human nature has not changed. Grace (the NT coming of Christ and his indwelling holy spirit), does not change the old nature. It gives power over the old nature.
Here we see (found in Jer. 42-43, also):
1.) They say they want to go hear God.
2.) They go hear what the servant of God says.
3.) They hear, yet don't agree with what they hear, therefore refuse to do it.
4.) Their mouth speaks of much love but their heart is hardened in covetousness, idolatry (Eph. 5:5).
5.) They refuse to believe that what they heard was God's truth for them, rather, they want to believe that what they heard was as the word of men.
6.) They get u and go their way, considering the truth they heard as a lovely song, a pleasant voice and a well played instrument.
7.) V. 33, not until it comes to pass as the servant of God spoke that it would will they believe. Yet even in this, we must keep in mind other scriptures which point out that these folks many times will dismiss that judgment as some thing else. Maybe a trial of their faith.
They have accepted the instruction from the servant of God as information, to be accepted or rejected. They fail to see it as instruction from God for them.
There seems to be a built in theological sieve. It strains out a message which they hear. It strains out a message which they hear. It places any scripture used as the word of God, yet it places any illumination which the teacher might give as information about that passage. That information placed in a file to be used or discarded, at the discretion of the hearer.
That instruction very seldom is received as instruction from God, or as a warning from God.
The conclusion of this whole lengthy matter.
1.) Sin will be judged. The departure from the principles of his law has a result. Whether as a society, institution, church or individual. All men everywhere are covered in this principle.
This is well enough established that we all know it and take it for granted.
2.) Yet that judgment will not come without warning. With that warning will be the opportunity to turn from that sin and claim God's mercy and grace.
3.) Here in Amos we see that this warning comes from God's servants which he has sent to his people. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets.
This servant, more often than not, is a pastor but it may be an evangelist or any other means which a soverening God might chose to us.
4.) Now his people have a choice.
a. Receive the instruction from God. Turn from where they have departed from, God's law-word and return to him. He will abundantly pardon and forgive. His mercy is overwhelming.
b. Dismiss that warning as just the words of a man and continue on in stubbornness, covetousness and idolatry. (See I Sam. 15:23, compare with Amos 3:1-8 and I Thess. 2:13.
We should mention here that many times because people see that God's servant who He is sending the warning through, has feet of clay. They dismiss the warning.
5.) Lastly, no person has the total mind of Christ. Therefore we should be praying that God would let us see his warnings then that we would have the grace to turn toward his mind and claim his mercy.
Are we sensitive to that warning from God or are we hardened like the folks in Amos?
I have in my margin here. Any time evils comes on a person, people, they need to stop and look if they did (or didn't), do something to bring it on or allow it to happen. Not only check with ho word, but check with his servant. They will know things which are hidden from the people. God will reveal to his servants what the cause is.
Let me close with this:
1.) God in his justice must judge sin.
2.) God in his mercy warns us.
3.) God in his love (proved that love in Christ), provided the meals. If we will heed the warning and turn from our wicked ways we can have his judgment turned back and replaced with forgiveness and mercy as well as wisdom to deal with the situation.