Month: April 2010

Hold Fast to the Lord – W.E. Smith

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Rom. 13:11-14)

Oh dear saints, what dark times are upon us, what dark, foreboding times indeed! And yet so many asleep; so many blind and distracted by other things; so many of the Lord’s heavenly people drunk with the bitter wine of this world. Staggering really! Oh Lord help us in this hour, help us to truly hear what You are saying through your Spirit, and to see what You are doing by Your Spirit, and to enter into Your eternal plans and purposes for this world – for Israel, the Church and the Nations. Oh Lord, you promised long ago that the Comforter would teach us all things, and abide with us forever. Oh Lord, let it be so that we might thereby be made ready and remain watchful. For our only Hope is Your coming into Your Presence for us. Our only Hope is You Lord. Only You. Please come Lord Jesus, come.

Oh Lord, though the times be perilous and fearful, let us not be anxious or afraid. Though there is abounding confusion and perplexity, let us not be confounded, for You told us what would happen long before it actually does. Lord, though there is growing distress and unrest everywhere, though all earthly things are unraveling at great speed, let us be at peace in Thee Oh Lord, just as You have promised. Though the nations rage against Thee Oh Lord, and the kings of the earth take counsel with the fallen ones on high, let us hold fast to our God. And even though You bruise us and train us, may we trust You forever, and know that You can do no wrong; that Your counsel remains steadfast and perfect forever.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Psa. 33:8-11)

Brethren, the world as we have known it, the world in which we have grown up, is speedily drawing to an end. All that remains is for it to run its God-ordained course to destruction. If you are still holding on to this world, and being conformed to it, then my word for you is to be prepared to be sorely and grievously disappointed; to suffer supreme loss.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2)

There is no future for this present world system and if you have any lingering expectations in it then these will be dashed to pieces in the days to come. If you love things and money and worldly security, your little plastic house, or just the easy life that we have come to know in the West, then be prepared to be shaken along with everything else. Our future is in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, not in this world of confusion and enmity against the Maker of All Things!

We are aware that many in the body are suffering great loss at the moment, and a time of tremendous testing is upon the people of God. The Lord must know what is in our hearts; whether we love Him more than everything else, including our own lives. He must have a Bride worthy of His love and glory. We will need Him more than ever dear saints, and we will increasingly need each other, as the darkness advances, and we begin to see the foundations collapsing – in the governments of this world, and the economies, and the food supply, and the climate; and as war erupts once again on this planet, spanning all continents and peoples. There is a violent convergence of calamities threatening all aspects of life in this world, like nothing ever seen, and all of the pundits and experts and scientists don’t have a clue what it actually happening, let alone solutions to advance. Rest assured, there is nothing cyclical or fixable in this present crisis – the stage is being set for the false one to arrive on the world scene, and to initiate all of the events that we know will bring about the end of this present age of gentile dominion over the earth.

My friends, I dare say that the USA, by all evidences and accounts, is in a state of free fall. What was positively unimaginable just a generation ago, is materializing before our very eyes. Although the recipient of such grace and blessing by the Lord, she has aligned herself with devils, and made herself an enemy of the Most High. This has long been true of other so-called Christian nations, and we see in the Psalms the Lord’s point of view regarding this present hour –

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?

The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.

‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish {in} the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psa. 2)

There is only one place to hide in this present time of tumult and trouble brethren; there is only place of refuge – “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” So I ask each of you, as you look out there at the gathering storm, the dark clouds rising, the echoes of war on the wind, the imminent collapse of once-considered inviolate systems and institutions, the very ideas and presumptions upon which the modern world is founded. It is a babel of humanism my brethren, nothing more or less, and its destruction has already been decreed from the highest heaven by He who scoffs at the sophisticated ideas of puny little men. He has been silent for a long time, yet soon, very soon He will speak to them in His anger and wrath. The ashes and smoke of Sodom will rise once more, as the Father’s Son stands up to receive His rightful inheritance as His possession.

Yet before that there will be a final shaking of all that which can be shaken, both in heaven and on the earth –

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned {them} on earth, much less {will} we {escape} who turn away from Him who {warns} from heaven.

And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”

“Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:25-28)

All this being so, the question that remains for each one of us is what part do we have in it – Will we be as Lot’s wife, or Demas, or Ananias and Sapphira, stubbornly clinging to our little earthly treasures like they were precious to us? Or are we already releasing them from our hearts, such that we can grip ever tighter the only One who can bring us through the gathering storm?

My heartfelt exhortation in the spirit for all of you brethren is that you would Hold fast to the Lord! Hold Fast Until He comes!

Hold fast to Him even though all the evidence of sight and sound and touch and smell screams otherwise. Remain steadfast though the world and its hob-kneed god relentlessly urges us to return to it, and to seek its fill, to seek the easy way of men and devils. Be content in this life with what He chooses to give you, sometimes plenty and sometimes much less. Remember that He will provide; and that He has so many ways at His disposal to do so. Assume nothing. Let the wisdom of the world and its ways melt away, for you are a servant in the King’s House, and He has His own way of doing things. Ask for eyes wide open in the Spirit to see the deep things in all that is happening in and around you; ask then wait and believe. You will see. You will see that the work He is working in your heart is an eternal one, wrought from the ages past, when He first conceived of His plans for men, and the dominion of His Kingdom. Having or not having – these are unimportant in the larger scheme of things; for we have access to the King, and He is our friend and advocate. We are forever one with Him in life and purpose.

I too am learning to take one day at a time; to pray over every little detail. The phone rings and I ask Him what I should do. Every significant expense too, for we have only so much and it is all His anyway. They are His books and He is keeping them. I have made and will continue to make many missteps, but my Lord is gracious and kind; He knows that I am but a hobbled child learning to walk with these new legs of faith and trust. Oh that one day I would run, and leap over a hedge. But for now I walk and stumble, for this way is all new, and strange, and my sense of faith is largely untried and untested. I have so much to learn and discover and hear and see. So many questions always, and so often silence. Or so it seems. Perhaps the answer is there yet I don’t yet perceive it in the spirit as I ought.

I often wonder this as I read how our Lord seemed to live on another plane of existence from His disciples as He walked among them. He was always vitally connected with His Father in heaven, and He wants to draw us out of our realm and into theirs, so be conscious of this as you begin to feel estranged from all around you. This is the reality, the consciousness and divine fellowship our Lord enjoyed as He walked on those dusty roads 2000 years ago. This world still weighs heavy under the curse, yet the Kingdom of God is so very much blessing and light. Soon, very soon, the former will be subsumed in the latter. In this we hope and His word will not fail. Indeed it cannot fail.

Hold on my brethren and hold fast to Him and to one another in the spirit. We are one.

I thank all of you for your prayers and thoughts. I am, at the moment, very much out of my element in terms of the world and making a living and taking care of myself and my family. Although I am being reduced in so many ways, he is augmenting me in other ways. I just want to see Jesus Christ in all His glory and power and wonder. This is all I live for now, and though this is so I have so much of the world and the flesh in me that prevents Him from more fully revealing Himself to me. In order to have more of Him there has to be less of me. It must go, that is all there is to it. I want His joy in me to be made full. I want the peace that passes all understanding. I want to be a faithful and profitable steward that He can rely on come what may to serve Him at the end of this age. I want to be decreased such that He alone might be increased. I want to be faithfully watching for the return of the King and to hear what He is saying to us now. I want to be where He is, and where the Father is, with eyes wide open in the Spirit. I want to share in the joy they have and always have had together. I want to be a source of blessing and encouragement to all those whom he puts on my heart; to faithfully express this gift of exhortation that He has granted to me. I want to confound the devil at every turn, and reject the urge to seek a place in this world, appeasing the lust of the flesh, and the eye and the pride of life. I want to see truly and deeply what the Scriptures are saying to us in this hour, in this time of prophetic urgency. I want nothing less than the Lord Himself, in all is His fullness and life!

Hang in there my brethren. Actually I will use a better phrase from the Bible – HOLD FAST! Hold on to our Lord in other words, and don’t let Him go, regardless of whatever does or does not happen, regardless of whether you have direction or relief at the moment or do not. Grip ever tighter to the only one who can save us! The image offered is that of Jacob gripping tightly to the Lord until He blessed him (Genesis 32:26). True faith is clinging to God long after we have given up on ourselves and everybody and everything else. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and the direction will come. I, too, am learning this very slowly and very painfully to be sure.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Rom. 5:3-5)

He will not ultimately disappoint us in the end because He cannot disappoint. Though we often fail to comprehend His ways and His wisdom, our hope is based on His love, and His love is ever constant and unfailing. Our faith cleaves to Him (and His word) in the spirit even when our soul cleaves to the dust ­–

My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. (Psa. 119-25)

Our lives in the world and in this body of death, such as it is or is not, means only as much as it prepares us for the Appearing of the King. He is preparing to judge this world of which we have all grown up in. All of it – all the of the governments, the nations, the wisdom of it – even the fallen hosts who rule over it presently. It is a finished thing. So it avails little to worry too much about our place in it or our future in it – even that of our children – for the Lord will have to save them each personally out of it just as He did for us. They will have to make a choice, and as much as we all want our loved ones to choose life, the fact is that only a remnant will be saved; only a few will be willing to choose the narrow gate; only a select number will love the Lord more than themselves and all that the world has to offer. The price is high and only a few will remain (see John 6:67)

Stay with Him dear ones, for where else have you to go? Chase hard after your God for He wants to know how much you want Him and how precious He is to you. He will test this always, to be sure your love is the love of a bride for her groom; where He alone is most precious and worthy. Fix your eyes and your heart on Him alone, so that all else dims out of focus. Grab hold and never let Him go, like the woman who attached herself to Jesus in the crowd, and caught His attention though there was a swarm of people around Him. Be as Simeon and Anna who devoted their lives to the appearing of their blessed Messiah, and never let go until that day when they held the babe in their arms, and looked down into the face of God. They held on, they waited, they persevered with all hope, always revived by the word of His patience (Rev. 3:10).

Use the time that remains to make yourself ready, to redeem the time you have, to be always prepared should He call you into active service. But do not despise the day of small things, as did the Jews when they beheld the second temple, for the Lord works mightily in the smallest of things, in a word or message, in a single touch, in an insignificant gesture. The big things belong to the world and to self-willed servants who are intent on running out ahead of the Lord in their own wisdom and power. The Lord, as with Elijah, is not (at this moment; this will change soon) in the BIG things, but in the still small voice. This is the time of the bride making herself ready (in the bridal chamber out of sight), and she is not all of the body, but only a small part taken out of it. Hear what these types are saying my brethren; please, please don’t hear me but hear what the Spirit is saying in this hour! Then all will be well I assure you.

Here are some further Scriptures, exhorting us to hold fast to the Lord and His word until the end –

“But the {seed} in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”  (Luke  8:15)

…by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor. 15:2)

… but Christ {was faithful} as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Heb 3:6)

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,  (Heb. 3:14)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Heb. 4:14)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; (Heb. 10:23)

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Rev. 2:13 )

‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.’ (Rev. 2:25 )

‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Rev. 3:11)

Now, in the original Greek, this phrase ‘hold fast’ is da-bak, which means –

to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.

We will conclude this message with a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians and Thessalonians, conveying the imperative for us to walk as those who have been removed from the spiritual darkness of the world’s system –

For this reason also, since the day we heard {of it,} we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please {Him} in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – (Col. 1:9-14)

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of {the} day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thess. 5:1-11)

We also feel compelled to remind you that we must not be tempted, in this evil hour, to resort to man’s resistance of the governing authorities set in place by God, however corrupt they become –

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Rom. 13:1-2)

I realize that it is most natural and difficult, my brethren, but civil defiance or disobedience is not of God. Our Lord, when on the earth, did not resist one of the most violent and corrupt regimes in the history of men, and neither should we. Rest assured, our Lord will supplant all things, but not before He comes in power and glory to establish His Divine Kingdom –

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that  kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Dan. 2:44)

Be blessed by these words my fellow saints and bond-slaves, in Jesus’ Great Power and Name. Oh Mighty Father, that You might in Your grace send forth these words with great power into the hearts of Your beloved children that they might be made ready in this hour. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.

Related Posts by Austin-Sparks:

The Removing of Those Things that are Shaken

This Present Evil World

Advertisements

Power With God (Samuel) – T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 5 – Power With God Exemplified in Samuel

A Personal Knowledge Of The Lord

“Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind would not be toward this people” (Jer. 15:1).

“Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among them that call upon His name; they called upon the Lord, and He answered them” (Psa. 99:6).

“And the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not; for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have indeed done all this evil; yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart: and turn ye not aside; for then would ye go after vain things which cannot profit nor deliver, for they are vain… Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will instruct you in the good and the right way” (I Sam. 12:19-21,23).

We come now to the fifth and, for the time being, the last of these representative men who stand in that relationship with God which is acknowledged by Him to be one which has great weight and great power with Him. In our previous meditation we were seeing what Moses represents as to the ground of God’s power put into operation. Moses stood at the beginning of Israel’s national life. His work was mainly the shaping of the rough material, the raw clay, into a vessel for God, and he found it hard work.

The Situation Which Confronted Samuel

When we come to Samuel, we come to the point where that vessel is marred in the hand of the potter, and there are extra and even more difficult conditions. Samuel’s work was with a vessel which was not being made from the beginning, but with a lot of material that had gone all wrong. It is important for us to recognize exactly where Samuel stood, and that with which he was confronted, in order to see the specific and peculiar significance of his ministry, and therefore in what way he represents power with God.

There were many features which made Samuel’s time very much like our own, and therefore many features in our own time which are very much like his time. His was a time when the people and the work of God were not upon God’s essential basis. They were on a secondary line and basis, which was only accepted by the Divine sovereignty. It was being governed and ruled, and, as far as possible, blessed, in the sovereignty of God; but it was not immediately in the thought of God. Taking Saul as an illustration of that as a part of a much greater whole, it is perfectly obvious that Saul was not God’s essential thought. But God went as far as He could in the acceptance, the recognition, and the blessing of Saul, and in using Saul and that order of things which obtained in his days. God just did the best He could. But it was not His real mind. It was secondary, and it only came within His purview at all on the ground of His sovereignty. God sovereignly uses and, so far as He can, blesses whatever there is in existence – but, oh! that it might be otherwise! That is His attitude, and that is clearly seen as to the Lord’s and Samuel’s attitude toward the whole order of things in those days.

A Situation Akin To That Of Our Day

It does not require a great deal of spiritual understanding, perception, enlightenment and education to see how akin to that time is our own. There is, so far as what is of God on this earth is concerned, something of which God is taking account, is allowing, is accepting in a sense; He is using it, He is blessing it, He is going as far as He can, but it is only just as far as He can. He cannot wholly commit Himself to it. It is a secondary idea. He has His own thought, but His people are not in the good of that. I cannot very well go further than that statement. It is a general statement, but I say that you do not need a great deal of perception to see that God is limited, and if you are at all exercised and concerned about the situation – that is, about the effectiveness, the fruitfulness, the permanence, the purity, the power of what is related to God on this earth – and troubled that it does not go further, then you should look into it from this standpoint: is it on a secondary line, or does it correspond to God’s original and full thought as to His way, His means and His purpose? Well, read about the times of Samuel and you see how restrained, limited and straitened God was, and, therefore, what an unsatisfactory state – to say the least of it – existed amongst the Lord’s own people. That is the setting of Samuel, and that really is the key to the whole situation: something which God uses as far as He can because there is nothing else, and because the real thing has been lost.

There are a lot of things in the whole course of the Christian era, from those early New Testament days, which are not God’s thought as to how the work of God should be done, by what means, on what basis, according to what principles, which He has blessed and used, and is still doing so, but they represent a limitation to the Lord because they are secondary. And that is where we are! There is no doubt about it. That is Samuel’s situation, and because he had to contend with such a situation we see the significance of his life.

Samuel Against The Secondary And For The Primary

What was that significance? Samuel came in at a time like that to stand in the midst of it; on the one hand against something secondary, and on the other hand for something primary. I think his life is summed up in that. Samuel did not wholly accept Saul, and he was inclined to have absolutely nothing to do with the idea of a king, so that the Lord had to say to him: ‘Samuel, they have not rejected you; they have rejected Me‘ (I Sam. 8:7). Samuel was not going to have anything to do with this, and the Lord had, in other words, to say sovereignly: ‘We cannot have what we would have, but we will allow this. We know how it will work out; nevertheless, give it a chance, facilitate it as far as you can.‘ Samuel had that secret with the Lord all the time. He knew how it would work out, and he was not accepting it. He was there to hold things for God’s primary, full thought amongst His people. That is what he represents.

Now we are going to break that up, and I want to do so very simply. I do want that the Lord should get this across in very definite ways, in simple ways. When things are like that, when there is a lot of history in the background, a lot of tradition, and the things of God and the people of God have become very mixed and confused, and are not clear, precise, definite, distinct in relation to God, what does God have to do if He is going to be true to Himself, to His Own thought, to His Own intention, and go on without committing Himself to a lower level, a lower standard, and wholly compromising and surrendering? If He is going to react again to His full intention, what will He do in such a day? He will do exactly what He did with Samuel – and I do hope you are not just following this with an objective mentality, thinking back to Samuel and his day, or looking out in a sort of nebulous, abstract way. I do hope that as we go on, step by step, you are putting yourself right into this. If it is true that the situation in our day is very similar to the situation in Samuel’s day, so far as the Lord’s people and the Lord’s work are concerned, that represents a loss to the Lord, something other than the Lord intended to have at the beginning of the dispensation, and we have to come to some position about it and ask ourselves: Is God going to accept that as final? Is He going to settle down and just take that attitude, saying: ‘Well, we can have no more. We will be thankful if we can have half a loaf if not a whole one, so we will leave the other.’ We do not believe that is God’s attitude.

A New Beginning

If it is like that, then in such a time God must react to the situation. His reaction will be on the same line as it was in the case of Samuel – and what was it in his case? Well, firstly, Samuel was a new start in himself. That is a simple way of putting it, but it is very precise. He was a new start in himself. Samuel was not a child of tradition. He could not be; it was impossible. A miracle from heaven had to be worked to bring Samuel into this world at all. There was no open way for Samuel to come into this world. He began at a grave, a place of death. You know what I am referring to in the case of Hannah. Oh no, this is not a succession, this is not taking up a tradition, this is not just following on something that has been. This is a new beginning. Right from zero, right from death, he in himself is a new beginning. He does not take things up with a background of inheritance. God has taken precaution against that in His sovereignty again. The impossibility of Hannah having that child was God’s sovereignty in relation to His purpose. Nothing could have been at all but by a special act of God. There is no carry-over from the past, no link at all. It is a clean-cut, new beginning.

You are wondering how that is going to be applied. It can be applied in various ways, and quite simply, too. Perhaps most of you have a tradition. You say: ‘Well, I am out of it. I do not come into this, for I have a tradition.’ Yes, many of us had a tradition. I suppose everyone who comes into Christianity comes into a tradition; but, you know, God can do something in a life with a very big tradition to cut them clean off from their tradition and bring them to an end of it. They can make a completely new start, and if He is going to do the kind of thing that He did with Samuel, He is going to do that. But is He not doing it? Some of you young people have been born into Christian homes and have been brought up in godly surroundings, and you have received a great deal of your Christianity secondhand. How you view that, I do not know. I used to think that if only I had had a long line of godly people behind me, it would be a tremendous asset. I have changed my mind about that. I used to think that the men who were ‘sons of the manse‘ had all the advantages. I was not a ‘son of the manse’, and therefore I was handicapped. I have changed my mind about that. Your tradition, even your Christian home, may be a handicap to you. You may have got a lot secondhand and it may not be yours at all; it may be your parent’s. You have taken it over. It may have become just a straitjacket to you, or it may be an altogether false position where you are concerned and it is not yours right from the beginning. What is God doing with you? Is He not putting you into positions and situations and taking you through experiences where father’s or mother’s religion is no use and you have to have your own? The knowledge of God which has been given to you and which may have helped you in the matter of counsel and influence in your childhood does not stand up to the situation now. You have to know God for yourself, and unless you do, you are not going through. You know quite well that if you are going to be of real value to God you must not be just a child of tradition; you have to be born right ‘out of the blue’ and know God right there from zero. That is the application of this.

That application, I say, is made in various ways and various stages. The trouble with a lot of people is that they will not hand up their tradition to God and let Him transcend all that is merely secondhand and bring them from zero into something of Himself. They are clinging to their accepted, already-made beliefs and doctrines, and God has His great difficulty there. He has to say, in effect: ‘All right, I cannot do anything here. I must go and work where I have a chance.‘ If God is going to do today what He did in Samuel’s day, somehow there has got to be that clean cut in between what is merely tradition and what is experience, what is secondhand and what is firsthand, what has come to us from the outside and what has come to us inside.

You can see how true this was with such men as Paul. What a tradition! What an inheritance! What a history! Ah, but what a break right down to death and starting all over again! He said: “It was the good pleasure of God… to reveal His Son in me” (Gal. 1:15-16). That is the beginning. We need not enlarge upon it. This is the very first thing. God needs men and women, a vessel which is not constituted upon something secondhand, although that something may be true and right and of Himself. Do not despise it, but remember that is not good enough. You have got to have it from the beginning in yourself, and God would do that. He can do it, and some of us know how drastically He can do it. We have had a big tradition; we have had it all and been in that whole history and realm, and then an end was brought, and so complete that it was beginning all over again, even although we were preachers and in the full flood of Christian work and activity – an end, and a new beginning, everything born right out from God in a new way. Well, something like that is necessary. The Lord will have His own way of doing it. You ask Him to do it. Your transaction with the Lord must be this: ‘Lord, give me firsthand knowledge of Yourself. Bring me into the place where everything is living between You and myself, and where I know You for myself.‘ You may go through it, but God will do it. It is essential.

Do you brethren – those of you who have had years of experience – agree with me that one of the paralysing handicaps today is a fully-fledged, established system of Christian doctrine which is taken up in a secondhand way and propagated? Put that round the other way. Is not the weakness of today the inability of men to come forth and say: ‘Thus saith the Lord! The Lord has spoken to me and He has spoken to me today! I am not speaking about stuff that I have been collecting, gathering up from books and libraries. God has spoken to me, and this is what He is saying.‘? Do you not feel there is a need of men to come out with a message straight from God? What is being given? So much that is secondhand, so much tradition, so much long-established truth, but it is not alive and crucial in the hearts of the preachers. That is the situation. God must begin again. Samuel represents a new start, and a new start in himself.

A Personal Life With The Lord

And going hand-in-hand with that is this: Samuel represents a personal life with the Lord; not only a new start in himself, but a personal life with the Lord. The Lord did not let him off. He did not say to Eli: ‘Go and tell Samuel. Samuel does not understand. He is a little child and you must teach him.’ God called SAMUEL. It was one of those double calls of God which made it emphatically personal: “Samuel, Samuel”. The only thing that Eli, with his long experience, could do was to tell Samuel to get personally into touch with the Lord – ‘You say, “Speak, Lord!”‘. Samuel is just that. It is very simple, but it is a wonderful and mighty thing – a personal life with God. No one will bring God in power to meet and to change situations which are not according to His mind and satisfying His heart who has not a personal life with God. Have you a personal life with God, so that you are outgrowing a lot of things? There was a time when you picked up a spiritual book and got a lot of help from it. You now always think of that book as a wonderful book, for it meant so much to you. After a year or two you pull that book down again. Where has it all gone to? There is nothing to bite on! Where did you get all that help from? You have outgrown it. Yes, it belonged to a certain stage, but not now. I use that only as an illustration. Have you that personal life with God which means that you are outgrowing your spiritual clothes all the time? The clothes that were all right at one point are no use any longer. Have you a growing personal life with the Lord? Are you living upon the past – even of your own experience? Are you living upon meetings, upon conferences, upon addresses, upon someone else’s help? All these things are good, but if you live on these things and they are the beginning and the end – well, conferences will soon fade out. You see, the very strength and value of a conference is that there are living people together, people who are moving with God and who are growing. It is a living thing. Is it like that with you? Are you sure you have a personal life with God, that God is speaking to you, dealing with you in your own life, that He has His hand upon you and He is doing something in you? It may be a painful thing – perhaps one or more of a whole lot of things – but you know that God is active in your life and is doing something.

On the one hand, He is undoing, He is weakening, taking away your own strength and stripping you of your own sufficiency, but, on the other hand, He is making Himself known. Oh, young people, let me beg of you to take this to heart. It is so wonderfully and gloriously possible for every one of you, the youngest and the simplest, the one who has the greatest complex of inferiority, to know the Spirit of God working and speaking in your own life so that you can say: ‘The Lord would not allow me to do that. The Lord checked me up on that. I know the Lord spoke to me about that.’ That is Samuel! It is simple, I say, but it is essential if God is going to do something effective. He must have a people walking with Himself. That does not admit of any independence and unrelatedness and freelance line of things where you say: ‘God has spoken to me and I therefore brush aside all that others have to say about it and I recognize no authority in the Church.’ God will never do that. Because you have a personal walk with God, it does not mean that He makes you a law unto yourself spiritually. That is a misapplication of this principle. Well, do please take this to heart. Do have very definite dealings with the Lord. ‘Lord, I must know You dealing with me, speaking to me.’ There are times in your life when God allows you to do certain things, but as you move on with Him you know that no longer does He allow that. God overlooked it in the times of your ignorance, but now He is not accepting it, and you know it.

Fellowship With God In His Dissatisfaction

Samuel had a personal life with God. These two things – an absolutely new beginning in himself and a personal life with God – led to Samuel being a link with God in the Divine discontent, the Divine dissatisfaction and the Divine reaction. God was not satisfied. What does Eli know about that? What do the other people know about that? They are going on; they have no registration of God’s dissatisfaction and discontent. God is not having it and is reacting, but they are insensitive to His feelings. That is the state of things. They simply go on with the form of things. Yes, they are having their services in the tent of Shiloh, they are still carrying on their round of meetings and sacrifices and priestly orders, but they are not troubled or disturbed with a disturbance of God in their hearts. They simply go on, and, I say again, there is a lot like that today. Samuel, because of the things which we have mentioned, came immediately into a sensitive, conscious, intelligent union with the dissatisfied heart of God, and that night in the temple God made known to him that dissatisfaction. It involved him in difficulties and in most painful courses. It was no easy thing for a young one like that to go and have to tell the old what God thought about the situation. But Samuel was brought so much into the heart of God that he was able to be perfectly loyal to God and hold nothing back. We will give Eli credit for this: that he compelled Samuel to tell him what God had said, and Eli accepted it, though tragically.

Ministry Out Of A Burdened Heart

But here the point is this: when God gets that foundation with Himself, then there begins to arise in those concerned a sense of things not being right. It is not just that outward discontentedness, “agin the Government” kind of thing – criticizing and judging and superiority. Oh, dear friends, anything of the pedestal judgment is foreign to what I am talking about. It is utterly in a different world. But there is that deep heart pang, the echo of God’s disappointment, dissatisfaction, something that you feel God’s Spirit is grieved about: it is suffering. It is out of that that ministry is born. It was from that time that Samuel began his ministry. When he came into heart union with God’s anguish and disappointment and dissatisfaction, and that had its echo in his heart, then his ministry began. Effective ministry from God must spring out of something like that. Oh, you are not just going to MAKE addresses, no matter what the subject, however high the truth may be. It comes out of something that God has done inside and you have a burdened heart about the state of things; you have seen what God wants, and you have seen what exists, and out of a burdened heart ministry begins. You need not go and become an official in ministry for that. You have not to go into what is called ‘ministry’ and don a certain kind of attire and join some society. You will just be where you are until God moves you somewhere else. Samuel started there where he was, with his burdened heart. Later on he went in circuit from Ramah round in his ministry. The extension of ministry may come later, but it is just where you are that your ministry begins. Where you meet God, where you come into the personal experience of Him, where you have your own personal life with Him – that is where your ministry begins.

And what is your ministry? To be there in relation to God’s desire, God’s thought, as one standing against the tide of what is contrary to God, and even if that tide will break over you, you stand against it. That is the essence of ministry.

In that ministry Samuel became a bridge. He and his ministry were a bridge for God, a bridge for God’s transition – Saul to David, from this kingdom to that, from this state of things to that. The first book of Samuel is called the book of transition, and that is what it is. You know the issue – the transfer of the kingdom from Saul to David. That is the issue of Samuel’s life, and he and his ministry were that bridge over which God could pass, leaving one order behind and bringing in another. Yes, it may in our case only be in measure, in a limited way, but God needs the bridge to be the link – one side rejecting, and the other side standing for.

You see, all that just comprises this ground for God. You say: How is God going to work, move, commit Himself, come in? It is just on those lines. He must have a beginning which is a beginning with Himself and not a secondhand thing at all, not something of the past, not something from someone else, but with YOU from the ‘A’ of the alphabet of spiritual life and experience between you and God. He must have a walk with Him on your part. Yes, in fellowship with His people, having all that there is available of spiritual help in a related way, but, nevertheless, in the midst of it all, you are walking with God. It is only in that way that the Holy Spirit says the same thing and safeguards what He is saying to you, because He will say the same thing in all who are walking with Him and that will be a great safeguard. But the point is – a personal knowledge of and walk with God is His way; then coming steadily, quietly to know what God does not want, what He really does seek and what He really must have to be a link with His heart in that way. And then a bridge for God – that is, God is able to reach His object in measure through us individually and through us collectively. Oh, that it might be like that with the Church as a whole! Perhaps it is too much to expect. Because the whole is not like that, are we just going to capitulate and say that NOTHING can be like that? If Samuel had taken that attitude, it would be a very different story, but he did not. Samuel will be a bridge for God between all that is not, and what God could have.

Do take this to heart! I do not want to leave anyone out. I do not want to seem to be despising anybody. I am not doing that when I especially appeal to my young friends in this matter. Of course, it may be that some who have been on the way a long time need a word like this as a safeguard, or a deliverance from things, even their own experience becoming a tradition, something that was many years ago but is not right up to date with God. Young people, you can be saved from so much like that. You need not have many years of undoing. You can come so quickly into this if you will be very definite with the Lord. Say: ‘Now, Lord, as for me, I want everything to be firsthand. I do not despise what I have been taught, what I hear, or people who know, but, Lord, I must have it firsthand, I must know it for myself. You must begin in my case as though I were the first that ever knew You. You must bring me into a life where I am just walking with You, where I am learning, where I am knowing You in a growing, progressive way. Then, getting that, You bring me into fellowship with Your heart, what You feel about the situation, to constitute me a servant, a useful instrument in relation thereto. Whether You want to call me out into full-time service or not is not the point; the thing is that I should be here standing for God and influencing the situation according to Your mind.’ God commits Himself to that; that counts with God, and that has power with God.

The great thing said about Samuel is: “God… let none of his words fall to the ground” (I Sam. 3:19). That is God committing Himself to Samuel. Just think of a man speaking and not one of his words falling to the ground, not one being in vain or ineffective! That is tremendous! The point is that God commits Himself, and that has power with God.

The entire book, Power With God (by T. Austin-Sparks) is linked here.

Power With God (Noah) – T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 1 – Power With God Exemplified in Noah

“Righteousness Which Is According To Faith”

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, when a land sinneth against Me by committing a trespass, and I stretch out My hand upon it, and break the staff of the bread thereof, and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast; though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord Jehovah…. Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out My wrath upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast; though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, they should deliver neither son nor daughter; they should but deliver their own souls by their righteousness” (Eze. 14:12-14,19-20).

“Then said the Lord to me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind would not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth” (Jer. 15:1).

God Takes Account Of Those Who Have Power With Him

It is a remarkable thing that the Lord is doing when, in this way, He selects certain names and brings them to the fore over against such a very dark and hopeless situation, and says of them: ‘Although these men were there, and although these men stood before Me, it would make no difference; they alone, by themselves, would be saved.’ In doing this, He has selected from all the men who had ever prevailed with Him those who, more than any others, had power with God. If anything could be done, if God could be influenced, persuaded to intervene, to change the situation which was so desperate, these men would do it, and would be the ones who would have power with God. The very first thing that strikes us is just that – God taking account of men who had power with Him. The Lord carries that a very long way. He says, in effect: ‘I take that right to the very limit of possibility – where possibility ends these men go; if anything could be done, however desperate the situation, these are the men who will bring it about.’ It is something to note that God takes account of men who have power with Him. God knows them; He knows what He has had to do, what He has been compelled to do because of such men.

God Puts Himself Into The Hands Of Men

By inference, this carries the truth that God puts Himself into the hands of men. God is not going to move unless there are those who prevail with Him, and the inference is: ‘I am your hands, if you will press the matter far enough, if you will learn how to prevail.’ God will, or will not, move according to knowledge of how to prevail with Him in a situation or a matter. That is something to think about. If a situation could be altered God says: ‘Such and such are the men through whom I would do it.’ Of course, I am not dealing with the situations in the contexts of these two passages in Ezekiel and Jeremiah. That is not the point. I am not taking up the situation in Israel, which had become an impossible situation, and its handling and solution was one which could only be done through judgment, and the terrible judgment of the seventy years’ captivity. God would deal with it in that way. But He had reached the point where no man could ask the Lord to deal with it on the spot, and it would happen. That is not our concern at the moment.

It is this: That there are situations which do go a very long way, as we shall see, which are still open to be dealt with by heaven, but which never will be dealt with unless there are those who know how to prevail with God. God offers Himself to be prevailed with, to yield Himself in all His sovereign power, in all His grace, in all His mercy, to men and people who know the secret of prevailing.

Now let us note at this very point, lest our hearts begin to lose assurance and hope, that the men here mentioned as being the most outstanding examples of prevailing with God were not taken account of for what they were in themselves. There were two things which made it possible for the Lord to take account of them.

A Heart Relationship With The Lord

One was their heart relationship to the Lord. Look at the men: Noah, Daniel, Job, Moses, Samuel. Well, there are some grand things about those men. The Lord has not covered up the other side. You are sometimes a little surprised at what the Lord does say about some of them. If you read the whole story, you do feel that there may be some ground of contradiction here in these men. You know the end of Noah – a very sad picture. You hear a New Testament Apostle saying: “Ye have heard of the patience of Job” (James 5:11), but when you read the Book of Job, you sometimes feel that if ever there was a man without patience, it is Job. We know about Moses, and even Samuel seems to have passed out almost under a cloud. Well, I think it is clear that in their case, as in the case of so many of the others who are held up by God as examples of this or that, it was not because of what they were in themselves that God singled them out, but in every case you do see this: that in spite of their humanity, their weaknesses, their failures, their lapses, there was a heart relationship to the Lord which cannot be questioned, and when you look at the context of these very passages, that is the thing which first of all is impressed upon you – the heart of these people. God is troubled about the heart of this people. The prophetic word about Israel at this time was: ‘The heart of this people is turned away from Me, and turned to idols.’ “This people draw nigh unto Me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me” (Isa. 29:13). It is a heart question, and it was that state of heart which at length brought about this impasse – that God could do nothing. Over against that, men are mentioned who, despite their human weaknesses, were men whose hearts were in a very utter place with the Lord.

But that is not all. That is a beginning point, but there is another reason why the Lord singled out these men. It was because of certain spiritual factors which were the great characteristics of their very life, factors which do count with God. When you look at each of these men, read their story and sum it all up, you have to say: That is the thing that marks that man’s life, and that, and that. Each one of them is the embodiment of something, and it is that thing which counts with God and which was the basis of their having power with God. That is what we are after at this time – that which makes for power with God.

Two Ways Of Estimating Men

May I just stay here, after what I have just said, to add this. There are two ways in which we may estimate men, by which we may judge them and their history and arrive at a conclusion about them. There is the natural side, the way in which men naturally look at men. When the world reads the story of some of these men, such as David, and others, well, they sum it all up with a sneer and pass it all out as utterly unworthy. It is the natural way of judging men and appraising their value, and that was the point upon which the Lord came down with Job’s friends. They judged Job naturally, by the sight of the eye, by what appeared on the surface, and summed him up as a bad lot. You can look on men of God like that, just taking account of the flaws, the weaknesses and all that human side, which is, after all, poor stuff in the best. Very few men, if any, have ever come out of the judgments of men completely free of that sort of thing. But there is another way, and that is as to their spiritual values, to judge spiritually. It is just here that the Lord says: “Touch not Mine anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm” (I Chron. 16:22). Why should they touch the Lord’s anointed? Only because they have misjudged them and had come to wrong conclusions about them. The Lord will not let us touch any one of His, however much they may be at fault in our judgment. It is a very solemn thing to remember that: that our hand must not come down upon any of the Lord’s own in judgment; that has to be left with the Lord. It may be that there is plenty from our point of view and to our judgment that would justify our taking such an antagonistic or opposed attitude, but the Lord will not have it. That comes out in the case of Job. Moses was a frail human vessel capable of making mistakes, but see what the Lord will do with those who assail Moses, and touch his acceptance with God, his standing before the Lord! I do feel it is necessary for us to remember that, because who belongs to the Lord is very precious and must not be touched. There are always two ways of looking at and judging men and people of God. There is this natural side which has plenty to criticize, but the Lord will disapprove if we do it. There is the spiritual way of judging, and it is necessary to look further and see how far these count for God, whether there is not something there that is of the Lord.

Noah Singled Out By God

Having said that – and it is only introductory – we can come to the first of these men, Noah. This is not a study of the life of Noah, and certainly not of the deluge, but just this particular point – power with God. God singled Noah out from amongst a great host of men and said: ‘If I could be prevailed upon, if I could be persuaded, Noah would do it; of all men, he could do it.’ Noah is amongst the few. Perhaps you have not thought of Noah as being so important as that, and all that you know about him is that he made an ark. You always associate the ark and the deluge with Noah, and that is all it amounts to. But here the dispensation is closing, the whole existing order of things is passing, the antediluvians, patriarchs, the Mosaic economy, the whole monarchy, the prophetic ministry in the old dispensation are coming to a close. God looks over the whole and sees men who have prevailed with Him, and brings five out from amongst them. The first one He mentions is Noah – a man who stands over a great extent of time. God says: ‘If I could be moved, Noah would move Me. I would have to yield to him.’ Well, that surely forces us to look to see what it is in Noah’s case that represents that which prevails with God.

I think the key is in Hebrews 11:7: “By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” That is the summary of it, but it wants breaking up.

Noah Stood Alone For God

First of all, we go back to Noah’s time. You read chapters 6 and 7 of Genesis and this whole situation concerning Noah is introduced. The statement is that God looked and saw, and what did He see? A whole race of men, in every imagination of their hearts corrupt, evil, a universal state of iniquity and departure from God, of godlessness and of positive iniquity so utter, so terrible, that God repented that He had made man on the earth, and He said: “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.” God has said that, and then the next sentence is: ‘But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.’ But Noah...” – the exception. Then at the beginning of the seventh chapter you have the reason why: “… for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation”.

Well, the first thing about Noah is that: that he stood true to God as one solitary, lonely man in a universe of iniquity, one man amongst all men, distinguished from them by righteousness over against utter unrighteousness. One man true to God when all others had departed. How easy it would have been for Noah to have been carried away, not only by the sin and the atmosphere and the general course of things, but by this: “Well, everything has gone. God has not got anything, and what is the good of trying to stand true? What is the use of MY trying to hold on when everything has gone?” So often the Lord’s people have given up, not because there were no other people of the Lord on the earth, nor because there were no other righteous people, nor because there was not another Christian in all the world, but because things have gone so largely astray, have departed so extensively from the Lord’s revealed mind, and have got into such an appalling condition that they say: ‘Is it any use trying to stand for what is of God in any full sense? We may as well accept things as they are and capitulate, and make the best of a bad job.’ – the kind of argument which is the result of the seemingly impossible situation, prospect, and outlook. Death and departure: what is the good of our trying to stand up to this? Probably you, as an individual Christian, placed in a setting of so much that is contrary to God, often ask your heart: Is it any use trying to hold on, to stand for God? You see, the question of power with God does immediately arise. It is a tremendous thing that God is saying: ‘Here is one man in the whole human race, one man in the whole world, alone who will not capitulate, and that is the basis of power with Me. If anything can be done, that is the kind of man who will bring it about.’

May we not be tested by the situation in which God places us, so difficult, so contrary, as to whether we are going to stand with God so that we come to a place where we do know the secret of prevailing with God and are able to say: ‘I have been in very difficult situations where the whole thing seemed hopeless and impossible, but I have learned that it is possible to prevail, to triumph, to bring God in, and I have seen those hopeless, impossible situations touched by God and dealt with by Him. I have come to know the Lord over against a very dark and seemingly impossible background.‘ God needs men and women like that. Alone – yes, desperately alone!

Noah Had No Precedent

Moved with godly fear, prepared an ark.” He built an ark, as the context shows, without a precedent. That, I think, is the point here. “Things not seen as yet.” First of all, it is fairly generally concluded that rain had never been seen up to this time. “There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground” (Gen. 2:6), but rain was an unknown thing up to Noah’s time. They had never seen it, so he had not a precedent for this. Probably there are other things covered by that little statement: “Things not seen as yet.” The point is that nothing in history up to this point gave any ground of justification for taking the course that he did. He could never say: ‘You see, this happened at such and such a time; this happened there; we have examples of this.’ We, today, have examples of almost anything and everything that may come, but Noah had no examples, no evidence, no precedent, nothing to give point. He was simply told by God that it was going to happen, and he could not in the realm of his whole knowledge say: ‘Well, I know what that means!‘ There was nothing like that at all. It was going to be something altogether new, something that had never happened before.

Every individual life with God is something so much by itself. Ten thousand, or a million, may have gone that way before, but when it comes to us, we always feel that no one in all God’s universe has ever had this experience before. We feel that we are the only one who has ever gone this way. People can say to us: ‘I know all about it. I have been that way.‘ ‘Yes,’ we say, ‘but you don’t understand. You have never really been in my position.’ That is our immediate reaction. It is like that – the utter loneliness of a personal walk with God. Noah had no precedent, nothing to go upon. Faith is tested like that. Noah, “moved with godly fear” – and you know what that word means in the Scriptures: fear of the Lord, that is, just believing God and obeying Him because He is God; not because of any proofs or evidence, but because He is God – “prepared an ark“.

A Prolonged Test Of Faith

But then, remember the duration of it. He did not start this thing, get so far and say: ‘Well, I have been at this for a good long time now. Month passes into month, the months are mounting up and it is getting into years now and nothing has happened. No one takes any notice, no one is influenced and I am making no impression at all. I think there must have been a mistake. Surely there ought by now to be something that indicates that I am on the right line and that I have not taken the wrong course!‘ One hundred and twenty years! Of course, that was not much out of his whole life of nine hundred and fifty, but a hundred and twenty is enough to test faith. Now the point is that for one hundred and twenty years he went on with it without anything coming in. He went the whole of that time of required, demanded activity with nothing whatever to prove that he was right or to support him in his way, with nothing that looked like some effect of his message (because one writer speaks of Noah as a “preacher of righteousness” (II Pet. 2:5)), with nothing happening through all his preaching, whether it was by word or act – but what was happening really? There was something happening, but it was one of those things that you and I do not ever feel happy about. It says that he condemned the world. By his faith and his works of faith, he put everybody else in the wrong and prepared them for judgment. In Paul’s words, he was “a savour unto death” (II Cor. 2:16). There is always that effect of faithfulness. It is not ineffective and neutral. It does have an effect, although it is a very disheartening kind; nevertheless it counts, is effective, is tremendous. His work of faith just prepared the world for judgment. God has to do that to be justified.

For A Time To Come

But over it all there is this element – and you see we are getting at the question of faith and analyzing it – this element of the future aspect of ministry, of service to the Lord. It was for a time to come, and I think there is nothing so testing as that. If only we are going to live to see the result of our ministry! If only it is all going to come about in our lifetime! If only we are going to know here our vindication! If only something is coming to us before we pass from this scene to prove that we have been right, well, we can go on. But note: This, with all the rest, is summed up by the writer to the Hebrews in this: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises” (Heb. 11:13). Oh yes, Noah saw the flood, he went through it and came out on the other side, and made a sorry mess of things afterward. Is that all? No, not a little bit of it, really, there is something very much deeper and greater than that about this whole matter.

But I want to emphasize that it is this ‘for a time to come’ feature which is so testing to faith. We are told, and as frankly as Jeremiah was, that we give our lives, spend our strength and go through all the travail and sorrow and suffering and see very little. We go home to the Lord and do not see all that we hoped for. There is the ultimate test. How far do we come into the picture? What place do we have in it all? Can we eliminate ourselves altogether and go right on without any reservation, and give ourselves for that which we shall never see, for a time to come?

There is a lot of that in the Old Testament. You remember that Jeremiah gave his prophecy. We read in II Chronicles 36:22: “That the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,” but Jeremiah did not live to see it. His word was fulfilled, and people did go back from Babylon according to his word, but he did not live to see it. He worked for a time to come in which he had no place, so far as this earth is concerned, other than a spiritual place. The spiritual values of his life and work were there. It is a test of faith, because we do, humanly and naturally, crave so much to see something for it all before we pass hence, just to know that it has been worth while. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.” Noah was really living and working for a time to come.

Now let us get right to this thing. By this kind of faith which, to begin with, would not capitulate to what was practically universal departure from God, but, in effect, said: ‘Although I may be the only one left standing for God, and for God’s full rights, and God’s full place, I have that faith in God that it is worth my standing alone for Him. God has something bound up with my aloneness for Him.’ That is faith, tremendous faith, the faith which would not surrender, to begin with, a faith which was not passive in standing in a world which was so contrary, a faith which was active, and went on, seeing nothing, with no precedent to work upon, went on building for one hundred and twenty years, and a faith which believed that, although he saw no converts or anyone coming over to the side of righteousness, something was happening. ‘This is not all for nothing. Something is happening even now. These people are being brought under the effect of my stand and my ministry and my preaching, even if it is to take all ground from under their feet and leave them condemned, without an argument, without an excuse.’ That is something which God must have before He can judge, and that is why He has sent us to preach. He is going to judge the world, but He cannot judge those who have never had an opportunity, those who have had no light and have had no witness. He must be justified. That was Noah’s faith. It was not a happy side of faith, but again the faith which believed that this thing related to something very much more somewhere ahead in the future. That was the kind of faith that Noah had, and it says: “he… became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith“.

‘He became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.’ Now we can link up with that Hebrews 11:39-40: “And these all, having had witness borne to them through their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect (the word is ‘complete’).” Here is the great, future, prospective factor in Noah’s faith. He, with the rest of these men, was not made complete. Why? Because completeness belongs to our time, to this dispensation. It is the whole argument of the Letter to the Hebrews: “nothing perfect” (Heb. 7:19). But now that which is perfect is come. This is the age of completeness, perfectness. Noah’s faith looked on, and he had to die in faith, not receiving BECAUSE this perfectness, this completeness, belongs to OUR dispensation, the day in which we live.

You come over to Hebrews 12:22-23: “Ye are come… to the spirits of just men made perfect” (complete). Noah’s spirit is amongst them. What has happened? The Lord Jesus has perfected the work of righteousness, the Son has fulfilled all righteousness. Noah’s faith linked him with Christ, with this dispensation, with us, in perfect righteousness. Peter talks about Noah and the flood in chapter three of his first letter: “The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” John the Baptist would have refrained from baptizing the Lord Jesus, but Jesus said: “Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). The flood, the deluge, says Peter, is a figure of baptism in which all righteousness is fulfilled. But all righteousness stood AGAINST the men of Noah’s day, but all righteousness stood FOR him through his faith. Baptism was not his doom, but his way into life, a new creation. “All righteousness”; “the spirits of just men made perfect.” So Noah in faith came right into this age of perfect righteousness and inherited it. We are come to the spirits of these just men, Noah and all the rest, made complete.

Now what does it amount to in this particular connection? His life work, after all, was not just that incident of the flood. It ran right on to Christ, and on to the Church. “They“; “we“; these are the two words here. ‘They without us.’ “They“, “us“, brought together in the perfect work of Christ in fulfilling all righteousness.

Righteousness According To Faith

‘Though Noah stood before Me.’ What is the first mighty ground of power with God? It is the ground of righteousness which is according to faith, and you can test it any day that you like, because power with God is not just a matter of somehow persuading God to do something you think ought to be done. Let us get this right over. Power with God is not cajoling God into moving, getting a God, who is reluctant to come in and help, to change His mind and to be kind and intervene. That is all wrong, completely wrong. We have a magnificent picture of this whole thing in Zechariah 3: “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.” Satan has established himself there in the place of power, which the right hand always represents. Christ is now at the right hand of the Majesty in the heaven (Col. 3:1), the place of power and honour, but here Satan is getting honour and has power because Joshua “was clothed with filthy garments.” One who stood by said: “Take the filthy garments from off him… I will clothe thee with rich apparel… let them set a clean mitre upon his head.” Now the scene has changed. Righteousness like filthy rags (Isaiah 64.6) have been put away; righteousness which is power has been placed upon him, and: “The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan; yea, the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee.” Satan’s rebuke, his dethronement, and his removal from the place of power and getting the honour is related to a change of condition from unrighteousness to righteousness. It is only this that can move God.

That is the background of those passages in Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Why did there come deadlock and impasse? God said it was because unrighteousness had become so universal and absolute that ‘I cannot do anything. I just cannot. Even though these men stepped in, it is only righteousness that would save THEM. If there was righteousness here, they would be saved, but there are none righteous and I can do nothing. Remove unrighteousness and I am released. I can repent and come in. You who want to prevail with Me must provide Me with a ground of righteousness.’

That is very practical. We are paralyzed so often and Satan is so often getting the glory, the honour and the power, because he gets us to move off this ground of the righteousness which is according to faith, bringing us under condemnation, bringing us back to that old ground outside of Christ, nullifying all this wonderful work of perfect righteousness fulfilled by Christ and our appropriation of it by faith. So often it just heads up to a situation like this. The enemy has got possession, he has fastened upon us and has made all kinds of suggestions and accusations. ‘I do not know whether I am right or wrong, whether I have grieved the Lord, or not. I do not know whether the Lord is for me or against me. I do not know where I am.‘ Satan holds us there until we take positively a position of righteousness in Christ by faith, and put that to the enemy. ‘I do not know in what I am’ – and neither did Noah, nor Job, nor Daniel, nor Moses, nor any of them. Their faith was counted unto them for righteousness. ‘I do not stand on the ground of what I am; I stand on the ground of Christ’s perfect righteousness.’ It is the only way to begin to have power with God, and we are nullified while we have a question on that matter. Oh, for a beginning, a foundation of a mighty settled faith in the righteousness of Christ as ours through faith in Him to put us in a place of power with God! Because it is not just persuading God, it is moral power with God. He must have a moral ground for all He does. If there is a question of unrighteousness, He cannot do it. That unrighteousness is dealt with in the Blood of the Lord Jesus: “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). Therein is our power with God. It is moral power. He is not a reluctant, unwilling God. He is a God who is only too ready, but He is bound by His own nature of righteousness. Have you that ground? Show Him on the ground of righteousness that He should do this, and on the ground of His Son why He should do it. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isa. 1:18). How are you going to reason? Not like Job in the transition stage, reasoning about your own righteousness and why God should do it for YOU. No, let us reason together – on what ground? What is the issue? “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” How? On what ground are you reasoning? In what way are your sins made as white as snow? We know it is by the precious Blood. That is the reasoning ground with God. It speaks, it works with God. Oh, plead the Blood and you have the greatest argument with God and against Satan, the adversary and accuser. I know this is elementary. It is the beginning of things, but, dear friends, it is a thing that follows us through to the end. What is the fear in your own heart that arises so often as to whether right at the end you will be able to hold out and get through triumphantly? Yes, it is the battle right through to the end. The enemy will never leave us alone, but are we just going to be under this condemnation of Satan, with the hand of God paralyzed, because we have taken Satan’s ground instead of God’s? God’s ground is righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Satan’s ground is unrighteousness through doubt, through unbelief.

Well, if Noah begins the great line of examples of power with God, it is that: righteousness which is according to faith, but what a faith! – tested, tried, proved, but faith. I feel that we are in the great test of faith in this day as much as ever the Lord’s people were.

As we close this first chapter, let us be reminded that, for power with God, there must be conduct, behaviour, and “walk”, which is the EXPRESSION of righteousness. If there is practical unrighteousness in behaviour we shall be in weakness with God.

Continue to Chapter 2

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, precious to our Lord Jesus Christ and our Most High and Holy Father in Heaven, grace, peace and patience to all of you in these most troubling times. Oh how we need to pray for one another like never before, as the birth pangs of the end of this age appear to be increasing with each new day; as men’s heart begin to fail at the possibility that our modern, push button age of ease and enlightenment isn’t all that it promised to be. In preparation for this message, I encourage all of you to review John 14 in entirety.

Look around you dear brethren – increasing incidents of earthquakes and fierce storms, looming worldwide famine, fuel prices rising out of control and causing such fearful tumult in this modern, energy-drunken world, the threat of a complete greed-driven meltdown in the financial and banking markets. War and the rumor of war as the kings of this earth seek remaining riches and resources. Disease and pestilence beginning to surface, confounding man’s iron-grip trust in his medicines and technologies. Hundreds of thousands of human lives spent in just the past few months by all of the above. The nominal church seeking its way in the manner and wisdom of the world, reaching new and greater degrees of abandonment from the faith once delivered. Wolves and false prophets, deceivers all of them, spewing Christ-defying things from their mouths all in the name of our Father’s Beloved and Perfect Son. And oh so many in this hour being led away and devoured in their lust for self-gratifying religion and experience.

Oh but all this must be so, little ones, for man must come to the end of himself, and his trust in the great lie must be shattered into a thousand pieces. No, we are not like God. No, we cannot find our own way on this earth. No, our ideas, inventions, imaginations and solutions are not enough to save us from ourselves, the curse or the destroyer at the back of it all. No, greed is in fact not good. No, our modern oil-thirsty world will not last forever (much less than a few generations), and the curse on this earth remains, and will do so until the return of the King, who alone will restore all things. All things are happening just as foretold by our Lord and all His prophets, that we might see and believe; that our faith might grow stronger as the hour grows darker.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.” (John 14:29)

Oh little ones, be not afraid, for He will return just as certainly as He came the first time. The Living Word of God is sure and certain, a rock of salvation beneath our feet, and a rock of destruction to all the enemies of our God and King.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
(John 14:1-3)

Now, more than ever, we need to believe in both the Father and the Son, and look to His appearing as our only hope and deliverance. He does not want us to be anxious or afraid in this time brethren, but to look to Him who supplies all that we need. Only let us pray more urgently in the name of Jesus Christ that He would keep us in this hour, and strengthen our weak hearts. Until that moment when our Master descends to the middle heaven to receive His precious and beautiful Bride, He remains in the Highest Heaven, at the right side of the Father, interceding on our behalf, fulfilling whatever we ask in His name and as His will. He alone is our Faithful and High Priest, who has immediate access to the God of All Life, He who is our Most High and Heavenly Father. Our Savior knows our frame, for He was just as we are in this world, and He understands our natural tendency, as we look around at all of the frightening events in this world, to become fearful and easily shaken.

Brethren, those who are watching soberly for His imminent coming for His own, all is progressing precisely according to His plan and purpose. It should give us great comfort, those who have read the prophecies and are waiting expectantly and patiently for Him, that everything is in the Father’s mighty hands, as He turns all things over to His Beloved Son. All enemies of the Lord must be subdued. All pride must be broken. All lies must be made manifest and all sin must be laid bare. All darkness must be exposed by that great and awesome Light that is the Morning Star soon to break forth on this world.

He who saves us will indeed save us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). Do we truly and deeply believe this dear saints? Oh, but we must, for He is our only hope. His name is Jesus Christ and He alone is the Savior and Deliverer of His people! His words are certain; they cannot fail, for He is truth and all power has been granted to Him.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

He left us most certainly, but He did not leave us alone, left to our own courage and devices, as sheep without a shepherd. He left us His mighty and indwelling Spirit, and the assurance that as He is so we will be in this world. He also assured us that He will in fact return for His precious ones, to receive them to Himself, and to present them pure and spotless to  His Father. Dear saints, all those aspiring to enter into the great wedding supper of the Lamb – it may not seem so, or feel like it at times, but –

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

Our victory is assured, and it is only our faith or lack of it that will determine whether we apprehend it or not. The imperative for us in this dark and difficult hour is most clear. We must wait patiently, enduring however long He takes to fulfill all that He has determined.

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

I know quite honestly, dear brethren, that in the natural part of me, I feel something like an orphan in a world where I don’t really belong; a world gone mad in its lust to live apart from its Maker. The man-led and man-honoring mega-church on the corner is not my home. The greedy, power-hungry kings of this world are not my King. The wisdom of this world, honoring and exalting man and his empty achievements, is not my wisdom. The hopes and dreams of most folks in my neighborhood are not mine. The religion of this world, honoring the god of this world, is certainly not my faith. The fickle and empty life that men live in the body is not my life (for He is my life now). The fleshly limitations to which men are subject do not describe me (for He will perform His works in me). So it is easy to feel something like an abandoned, unwanted orphan isn’t it?

Yet I also have his sure and unshakable word that He will not leave me as a fatherless orphan in this world; that He will return for me to bring me cleansed and sanctified to my own place with my Father in heaven. The question then is, do I really believe this? And do you? My friends, we must, and I encourage all of you now to read John 14 and other parts of His Word which convey such wonderful hope and promise in this hour. Then go to the Father and ask Him in Jesus’ name to help you receive every single word in faith and power; that it would settle in our spirit and establish us in the midst of such terrible times.

Brethren, be supremely comforted and encouraged by the fact that we are not alone, that both the Father and the Son abide within us if indeed we are His children; that we have His Spirit of comfort and help. Now I am aware that to most professing, church-going Christians, this means little in practical terms. Yet I hope better things for each of you reading these words. And indeed, if such assurances spoken by the Lord of Life ring hollow, as mere religious sentiment, then most certainly we know what we must pray for; and I pray all of this for you now in His wondrous name.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27)

Everything offered by this present world is empty and lifeless, as its present ruler has nothing but lies and dust to offer his citizens. Yet our Lord leaves us with peace, heavenly peace, soul-calming peace, fear-quenching peace. Consider David, full of the power of the Spirit, standing before giants calmly stooping down to pick up a few small smooth stones. The prospect of death was all around him and bearing down upon him; yet he was filled with a spirit-granted and courageous peace that was soon to lead to absolute victory for the glory of the Lord. And even so our Lord in human form, consigned to a most brutal and bloody death, yet perfectly resting in the care and purpose of His Loving Father. Oh that this kind of peace would be our own dear saints. Oh, how we desperately need it at the end of this age, as man is brought violently to the very end of himself.

Because I live, you will live also. (John 14:19)

And indeed now more than in any other time, we must be sure we know what the Christian life really means; what it is exactly and what it is not. For most who name the name of Christ I fear that this has become obscured and tainted in a world where religion has more to do with human energy and activity than the divine conception leading to living each moment abiding in He who is the Life of the World.

Here is a spiritual truth for those able to receive it –

There is truly one one life that is pleasing to the Father, and that is His Beloved Son. All those outside of Him are dead already regardless of religious or moral expression designed to simulate real life. Pure and living Christianity is Christ Jesus; it can be nothing less! It is not Adam on his best behavior, all dressed up in his Sunday best. It is not what men imagine it to be.

Be not deceived brethren – To live is Christ (see Gal. 2:20 and Phil. 1:21). It is nothing less and there can be nothing more. The preacher on the street, or the priest in saintly robes, or the slick-haired salesman on the television can promise you something other, but this is a LIE! Indeed, it is the first and only lie! As we look around us in this hour, what we are seeing, in essence, are the fruits of death, nothing more. All that is already dead is starting to rot and reveal its true state – DEATH!

The soul who sins will die. (Ezek. 18:4)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1 John 3:14)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— (Rom. 5:12)

We who are called in the Lord Jesus Christ must choose life and know precisely what this means and what it costs. Do you have a claim or place in this world? Fine, then give it up, for it is nothing compared to the place He is preparing for you now. Are you a somebody in this world? Well my friend, better to become the world’s nobody that you might become a somebody to He who will soon rule all the universe with a rod of iron. Let it all go dear brothers and sisters, whatever it is, that you might gain the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the super-abounding life and light that comes with Him.

Beloved brethren, end-time saints of the Lord Jesus Christ – the time has come to lay down all that we love and cherish and trust in, that we might take up the Lord of Life, and all that He received in this world – ignominy, shame, rejection, a bloody, splintered cross. You each know what this means, and every heart knows what sits in the place of the Lord. It would be so simple and easy if we could love Him in addition to everything else, but it seldom works this way in the human heart. Those born of the Spirit know all too well that to love Him requires the letting go of so many other things. The cost of living in Him and loving Him is nothing short of everything dear saints.

“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:25)

Dear brethren in the Lord, I pray that He would supply all of you with grace and peace in this hour and that you might be encouraged by His Words in John 14 and elsewhere. I also encourage you to join with each other in the Spirit to pray for one another, as indeed the times are growing deathly dark. I know as we look out with our eyes, and see the headlines foretelling grim tidings across this entire world, that it is easy to lose heart and to seek to grab onto something. Yet we must remember that our Lord is holding on to us, and will continue to do so until He comes to claim His reward, and judge this evil generation.

My encouragement to all of you in this hour is to pray and fast constantly, to study the Word, including (and especially) the many prophetic passages related to these latter days and our Lord’s imminent return, lest you be deceived by the false one who is also soon to appear. Remember your fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, who are impacted by the deadly convergence of food shortages, fuel prices, storms and wars, and wickedness in high places. Pray for wisdom, understanding and patience, that He might find us watching soberly for His imminent arrival. Keep the faith! Walk in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will perform all that He has promised by His mighty power. Pray that all things will be done according to His eternal plan and purpose, for His glory alone. Seek His kingdom and not the future or betterment of whatever earthly nation happens to be printed on your birth certificate or passport. And most of all, let us love one another as He has first loved us, that the world might know that we belong to Him, and live only in Him.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)

In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.

The Peril of Unbelief – W.E. Smith

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end  (Heb. 3:12-14)

Dear saints of the Most High God, it is not an overstatement, by any measure, to suggest that so much of the letter to the Hebrews is spirit-touching-bone exhortation pointed straight at us here in the waning hours of this age. Our prayer in the spirit in this hour is that all of you will be heeding this admonition, and actively encouraging one another in the spirit as these dark days advance, and the hope of what lies ahead for all of us draws palpably near.

For the many in this dispensation, as with those delivered out of Egypt, have already fallen away from the faith once delivered and the author and finisher of the faith. The many who name the name of Christ with their lips have perhaps already angered the Lord with an “evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God”; and the “deceitfulness of sin” has borne its rotten fruit. “The soul who sins”, declares the Lord – “will die” (Eze. 18:4), “and whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom.14:23).

Unbelief is no minor thing to our God, and to be hardened in this hour to such things can be deathly serious. Which ever way you choose to take it, Hebrews is a book of forceful precedents and warnings, and to ignore such gracious admonition by the Holy Spirit pertaining to entering into the fullness of salvation can only prove fatal. Hyperbole? Overstatement? We do not think so, brethren.

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Heb. 2:1-3)

Here in a nutshell is a divine principle being conveyed throughout this epistle, that – “every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”. This proved true first to the angels and then to the nation of Israel coming out of Egypt into the land of promise. If it was true for them, and the Lord does not change (1 Sam. 15:29; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17), then it stands that this principle applies to us also.

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME,
AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,
WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me,
AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.
“THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION,
AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART,
AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;
AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH,
‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’ (Heb. 3:7-11)

There is indeed a faith that comes forward and claims the covering of the Lamb’s blood as gift from the God of Grace. Yet salvation is so much more than this, and it is not so great a salvation until we have entered into the fullness of the divine purpose; until we have entered in to possess the land and the fullness of His testimony. The faith deemed worthy to receive the gift, to be delivered from death in Egypt, must lead on to a faith large enough to withstand the rigors of the wilderness and entrance into all of His precious promises. Salvation entails both a gift and prize, and only faith can ensure that we receive both, as intended by the Lord. If the example of the angels who fell, and ancient Israel who forfeited the prize, is not compelling enough for us, then perhaps we too will fall in this wilderness.

Take care brethren” indeed! For the time of either entering or not entering His Rest is imminent, and the many will not, having already gone astray in their heart. And do not allow yourself to be misled, fellow Christian, for this promised rest is not merely going to heaven or eternal life, but involves something far more profound and specific than that. Study the Word carefully, let the Spirit alone teach you, and you will discover the wondrous and sobering truth that the “land” and “rest” out ahead of us in this dispensation is nothing short of entrance into His millennial kingdom of glory. Praise God for His gifts, but also for the glorious prize that await those who are deemed worthy to attain it!

The precedent set before us here reminds us that all of Israel was covered under the paschal blood, that they all passed through the sea of death and deliverance, they all came into the wilderness as led by the pillar of fire and the cloud, and they all received the law by the Law Giver Himself, then stood on the cusp of the land of rest and promise. It was theirs to be had. All that was needed was the enduring faith and obedience to advance and possess it. They were redeemed by the gracious gift of the Lord, but the reward that lay ahead (the land of promise), required enduring faithfulness and obedience. We know this most certainly because that generation did not actually possess it, though in every soteriological (pertaining to salvation) sense, they were a saved and redeemed people.

Note here my friends that, although they were indisputably His ransomed people, purchased at such a price and precious to Him, the Lord was provoked to anger by their unbelief. Their persistent unwillingness to take Him at His word, and to advance in obedience to that word – the “hardening of their hearts” – not only resulted in them not being able to claim the inheritance of the land, but it also elicited the heated anger of the very God who redeemed them with the precious blood of His Son.

For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:16-19)

Note this sobering passage in Ezekiel, in reference to the exile’s worthiness to repossess the land of Israel –

Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, they who live in these waste places in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, yet he possessed the land; so to us who are many the land has been given as a possession.’ “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “You eat meat with the blood in it, lift up your eyes to your idols as you shed blood. Should you then possess the land? “You rely on your sword, you commit abominations and each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Should you then possess the land?”’ “Thus you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “As I live, surely those who are in the waste places will fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and in the caves will die of pestilence. “I will make the land a desolation and a waste, and the pride of her power will cease; and the mountains of Israel will be desolate so that no one will pass through. “Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I make the land a desolation and a waste because of all their abominations which they have committed.” (Ezek. 33:24-29)

Unbelief, willful defiance, rejecting the word of admonition and exhortation given through His prophets – these will prove fatal for any generation of the Lord’s people hoping to enter into the fullness of His salvation.

The Faith that Follows

As the New Testament makes unmistakably clear, the promise stands before us today brethren, and the requirements and the stakes are as high as they ever were. We are exhorted and encouraged to learn the tragic lesson from those redeemed out of Egypt (sin and the world), and to be careful not to let our hearts become hardened with unbelief and the deceitfulness of sin that accompanies it. The Scriptures offer even greater insight into what actually provoked the wrath of Jehovah against that wilderness generation, as they came to Kadesh-barnea and stood on the precipice of the destiny that the Lord had determined for them –

Yet you were not willing to go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; and you grumbled in your tents and said, ‘Because the LORD  hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us. ‘Where can we go up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven. And besides, we saw the sons of the Anakim there.”’ “Then I said to you, ‘Do not be shocked, nor fear them. ‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’ “But for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go. (Deut. 1:26-33)

Now as Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to advance, to trust the Lord in the face of impossible and overwhelming opposition (the giants or “Anakim in the land” – see Deut. 9:2, Num. 13), I also want to encourage and embolden you, to look only to the Lord of All Victory, and to trust Him alone to clear the path before us and to bring us all the way home. Only if we endure to the end, with full assurance, faith, confidence, hope and trust in the Lord alone, will we ultimately partake of the kingdom blessings bound up in Christ Jesus, the King of Glory! (Heb. 3:14). We are to emulate Joshua and Caleb, not the many who scoffed at and challenged the Lord –

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Num. 13:30)

Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Num. 14:6-9)

We shall by all means possess it!” We will surely overcome it” – this is the confidence we need in this dread hour saints of the Lord, and we will surely have it if we go to Him who grants us all things in His Omnipotent and Faithful Son! Notice again what Caleb said 45 years after this –

“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart. “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the LORD my God fully.” (Josh. 14:7-8)

“But I followed the Lord my God fully”. Oh brethren, can we genuinely say that in this hour? Can we honestly confess that we are following the Lord our God fully here at the end of this age; that we have a faith that follows? Are we placing our trust in Him alone, as the only One who can save us, and bring us victoriously into His soon-coming kingdom? What was it that Joshua and Caleb saw; what was it that they possessed, that everyone else in Israel did not? This is a question that is so very important for us in this hour, dear brethren. Pray the Lord will reveal this to us, and help us to enter into the spiritual reality of it.

Is the Lord pleased with us then? Do we truly and ultimately trust Him with all that we are? Will we advance forward against seemingly impossible enemies (the world, the flesh, the devil, fear of the present circumstances and what lay ahead perhaps) such that He alone, in all His strength and glory can give us the victory. Do we, as Joshua and Caleb, behold the Lord in all His irresistible power and glory and provision, or do we see only the giants in the land, and the Hittites and Amalekites? Do we hold fast to His promise that we “can do all thing through Christ who strengthens you” (Phil. 4:13)? Or are we plagued with doubts, divided thoughts, other priorities and plans perhaps? Is the Lord growing grander in our eyes, or smaller, in the face of seemingly impossible conditions and our own weakness in the flesh?

Please remember my friends that immediately prior to the people of Israel rejecting the encouraging report of Joshua and Caleb, their wayward hearts had already drifted back to Egypt (the world), and they had rejected the Lord’s heavenly provision (manna) and direction (Holy Spirit). The rebellion that was rooted in the will and in the heart, was practically complete prior to the spies returning with their report. It was inevitable by this time that they would not take the Lord at His word, or be exhorted to advance and receive the promised inheritance and rest; that which the Scriptures call – so great a salvation. The ultimate end of salvation is to enter fully into the eternal purpose of God; this is what Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians conveys; this is where all beginnings must end!

How Bad is it Really?

Is your heart melting with fear as so much of what our generation has known and trusted in this modern, push-button world is crumbling all around us? Oh it is dreadfully bad out there my friends, far worse than the political and financial elites, and the mainstream media are letting on. The blood letting in the global, greed-driven economy, by all accounts has only just begun. Massive corporations are imploding and entire industries are being shed; millions upon millions are losing their jobs, their livelihoods, health care insurance, nest eggs, homes and any sense of hope in the western dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The daily torrent of news and events washing over people is increasingly apocalyptic in both tone and content. Hundreds of thousands of jobs being shed every month here in the U.S. alone. The inevitability of continued failures, scandals, and bankruptcies in century-old companies persists. Even many nation-size states, like New York and California, appear to be on the brink of utter financial ruin. Folks, the sheer scope and scale of this current crisis sets it apart from anything history has ever presented the human condition. It is systemic in nature, not merely cyclical, as many crises in the past to which it is compared. Its root cause and impetus is as old as the devil himself – pride, greed, covetousness, rebellion, selfishness, licentiousness, scoffing at the revealed wisdom of God, an independent spirit, humanism; in short – the full-bore, unrestrained manifestation of the Adamic flesh in all of its ugliness and corruption.

The entire world, its people and populations, all of the nations, bound and blind in sin under the Pharaoh of this age, reaping the whirlwind of 6,000 years of contemptuous rebellion against the Creator and Author of Life. All of its systems and assumptions, ideas and philosophies, everything that it represents, stands in utter contempt of, and opposition to the Living God, who has every right to judge and destroy it in His infinite wisdom and righteousness.

What we are beholding brethren, before our very eyes, is nothing short of the whole world reaping what it has sown, and coming to the violent and inevitable end of itself. All is imploding from the sheer weight of the lies upon which it is founded – that man can live independently of his Creator; that he can find his own way, that he can solve the inevitable problems caused by his own sin and rebellion; that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that which is “pleasing to the eye” can ever be sanctioned or blessed by God; that man can reject the Savior of the world with divine impunity.

America, for example, fancies itself a Christian nation with a God-ordained and blessed beginning. Church buildings or holy monuments on practically every corner in every community. Public prayers by political notables accompany important events and times of crisis. The invoking of the name of Jesus Christ and familiar Scripture passages is common-place. People uttering “God bless you” almost without comprehending what they are saying or how God’s blessings are actually derived. Numberless prayers being floated into the ether, for every manner of personal endorsement, deliverance, blessing and sentiment. Yet for all of this, consider the absolutely godless and wicked testimony that this so-called God-ordained nation has delivered to all the world – one of unbridled greed and corruption at the highest levels, a political system founded upon and fueled by lies and hypocrisy, and an imperial ambition that rivals and surpasses that of any godless empire that has ever existed.

Is This the End Then?

Like many of you brethren, I am wondering if this current state of things is actually the end or even the beginning of the end, such as I understand it  from the prophetic Scriptures. Although I am generally reluctant to make emphatic statements about such matters, I definitely believe the state of the world is very much positioned such that many of the pivotal events associated with the end of the age and the starting of Daniel’s final week are squarely in place.

Israel is in the land in a condition of blindness and unbelief (the fig tree has started to bring forth leaves – but not fruit), and we are told by the Lord Himself that the generation that lives to see this will not pass away. The unification of the nations of the world, as demonstrated by the cascading impact of the current financial and banking crisis, seems to be very much complete. And this unity is very much a greed-driven and man-glorifying unity under the current god of this age.

And as bad as things truly are, there does not appear to be any new ideas or direction forward. The best and the brightest in the spheres of economics and government are apparently mystified, not knowing the best course of action, or any certain solution (other than to perpetuate their own hold on power, of course). It was, in truth, their failed ideas and lack of foresight and wisdom that brought us to this current situation in the first place.

All has been tried it seems. All has failed. And perhaps the American experiment of broad, representative democracy and unrestrained capitalism (leading to the so-called American Dream) is man’s last hoorah for human ingenuity and self-government. In many respects, it has been the utter failure of the American system that has brought down all of the other nations that have willfully attached themselves to this empty dream. The iniquity of the “Canaanites” is almost full, and the sword of judgment in the Lord’s hand is ready to strike.

As a student of recent history, my sense is that we are entering (or perhaps have already entered) a time of uncertainty, instability, and despair on the part of the working classes that we have not truly seen in the modern sense since the period between the wars. By carefully analyzing the 1930s, we gain a great deal of insight into what will likely occur in the immediate future. And if that period is any guide, we know that what inevitability follows, as men blindly look to any potential deliverance and hope, is extremism, despotism, nationalism, xenophobia, the surrender of civil liberties, and ultimately the rise of pragmatic and charismatic leaders empowered by the spirit and agenda of anti-christ.

This, I believe will be the environment into which the beasts (anti-christ and false prophet) and the ten kings who join him will emerge and assume fascist-like control over the peoples of the world. They will have apparent answers to the seemingly impossible conditions under which humanity will find itself. They will offer hope to the many (although it will be based on a lie), and the lost (spiritually unregenerate humanity) and unwatchful (born again but caught up in the life of the world) will be willing to forsake all else (even the living God) to enter into this hope.

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Dear brethren, I am firm believer in the physical translation of the saints (both the dead and the living) prior to the commencement of Daniel’s 70th momentous week. Yet nowhere in Scripture are we exhorted to look to this singular event as the hope of our calling in this present dispensation. We are, however, admonished to look to the One who has “passed through the heavens” before us (Hebrews 4:14), and to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (verse 16). Further, we are exhorted –

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-2)

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:13)

Dear friends, I would be dishonest to suggest that there are not times when I do in fact take my eyes off my faithful Lord and High Priest and “grow weary and lose heart.” I need this exhortation (and the mercy that follows when we stumble) no less than any one. I also need your love and prayers more than any one, as I know how hard-hearted and faithless I am at the best of times. I know how hard it is not to fixate on the happenings and conditions that surround us in this world. These are certainly dark and difficult days in which we live, and although we know how things will ultimately turn, the immediate impact of daily life under such conditions can be hard to bear.

My sense is that conditions where we live and work will get much, much worse, and that, in addition to our prayers, we will need to actively demonstrate that brotherly love for one another that the Lord said would identify us as His own (see Acts 4:32-37 for a glimpse of what this looks like).

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

The fact of the matter is that we do not know specifically when the Lord will come for His own, and snatch us away to Himself. Things could get a great deal worse before this happens, and as much as we need to be looking to the Lord and to be encouraged by the hope of His Appearing, we also need to be caring for one another with true brotherly love until He comes. We need each other now, little ones, and we will need each other more as the days advance and the temptation to get distracted, deceived or discouraged increases.

I will close this message with some encouraging and confidence-inspiring words reminding us that the Lord is in complete command over all things. His plans are set and His Word cannot fail. He is forever faithful to fulfill His promises on behalf of those who love Him and are willing to take Him unconditionally at His Word. And although (to our eyes and emotions) it may not seem like it at times in this difficult hour, He has not abandoned us, nor has His love failed or faltered. By His very nature He can never leave us nor forsake us! And He won’t!

Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.
They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants. (Psalm 119:89-91)

Gracious and Loving Father, I pray for all those reading these words, that they might be encouraged to believe the good report of the promised rest that lies out ahead of all those who will believe and advance in obedience. Grant us such faith Oh Lord, such as Joshua and Caleb possessed, and help us to look only to the Faithful One, and the absolute certainty of the victory that You have promised. Help us to endure, dear Father, such that we might win the prize and enter into Your precious rest!

And Father, on a very practical level, as many of Your little ones are suffering the loss of jobs and livelihood, help us not to look to the world for relief and assistance, but to one another and to You. As ambassadors of the Kingdom to this present world Father, we know that our sustenance comes from You alone Lord, and that we are not to look to governments and nations in this world to provide for our bodily well-being. Grant us the faith and love to make this so, and that we would not worry about the loss of worldly things, or the spoiling of our goods, or our place and prominence in this world.

Please Father, make the connections necessary in this scattered wilderness such that those who have might meet the needs of those who do not. For all things belong to You dear Father, and we are Yours too, having been bought with the precious blood of Your Beloved and Perfect Son. It is in His Name we pray. Amen.

Dark and Difficult Times – W.E. Smith

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thess. 2:1-7)

Dear saints, the Scriptures declare most boldly and assuredly that Our Lord is coming, and that the overcomers among His own will be gathered together to Him prior to the unfolding of the end of this age.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev. 3:7-13)

Now just prior to this, difficult times will come, as indicated prophetically by the Apostle Paul to Timothy –

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(2 Tim. 3:1-7)

The men mentioned here, quite apart from what is generally taught and believed, are those who profess the name of Christ; those who presume to be born-again Christians who are joined to Him through His Church. Yet in their presumption, profession and life, they are false. And yet, they clearly represent the many who characterize the general spiritual condition of our Lord’s testimony just prior to His return for His own. They are, in the vivid imagery of the Bible, trees without fruit and tares among the wheat.

For those with eyes to see, it is grimly apparent that the Church of Christ, in its almost complete degradation and abandonment, has essentially mirrored the path of the nation of Israel. Consider this tragic passage in Micah, that echoes Paul’s sad prophecy in Second Timothy –

Woe is me! For I am
Like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers.
There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.
The godly person has perished from the land,
And there is no upright person among men.
All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
Each of them hunts the other with a net.
Concerning evil, both hands do it well.
The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,
And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;
So they weave it together.
The best of them is like a briar,
The most upright like a thorn hedge.
The day when you post your watchmen,
Your punishment will come.
Then their confusion will occur.
Do not trust in a neighbor;
Do not have confidence in a friend.
From her who lies in your bosom
Guard your lips.
For son treats father contemptuously,
Daughter rises up against her mother,
Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
A man’s enemies are the men of his own household. (Mic. 7:1-6)

How terribly tragic! All of them, from the greatest to the least, from those of one’s own family, all corrupted, all fallen away to violent self-interest, to the natural life, to outright wickedness. No one to be trusted. No one walking in the spirit, with anything true to offer. Both hands committed to grabbing for all that can be had in this world, with no regard for the things of God, for the heart of God, for the reality of His life and His plans and purposes. All is form, all is mere profession, all is hollow and artificial. All teaching and learning is of the natural man, of the soul (reason, intellect, sentiment, self-will), straight from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“Woe is me” indeed, for there is no fruit to be found on these trees. No grapes or figs, which our Lord craves. Recall, brethren, a similar incident in the earthly life of our Lord, when He was hungry and sought fruit –

On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. (Mark 11:12-14)

“Nothing but leaves”. This is eerily similar is it not, to what we just saw in Micah? And just so we are aware of just how grave this condition was, notice again these ominous words –

“May no one ever eat fruit from you again!”

Oh brethren, if I read this correctly; if I interpret this accurately in the spirit, then this is nothing less than the removal of  the nation of Israel’s testimony as the representative of the Lord God among the nations. He waited patiently and longingly for them to bear fruit, over many generations, and thousands of years. He sent forth his faithful prophets whom He poured out before them. He gave them His Word and His heart. He ultimately sacrificed His Son Whom He loved that they might enter into the life and testimony granted to them.

Our Lord is incredibly longsuffering with His people, yet He also has an age-lasting purpose to be fulfilled. Yes, over time He will attempt to cleanse the leprous house (see Leviticus 14), but at some point if the sickness has not abated, He will declare the house lost, and remove it.

Oh but that cannot possibly happen to the Church, to  Christians in this age of grace!” Oh really! Consider this carefully brethren.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Rev 3:14-16)

Here is rejection of another people, in another age, expressed in the most graphic, almost repugnant, of terms. “I will spit you out of My mouth.” No, dear saints, reaping what one sows is not exclusively an Old Testament concept, as Paul makes clear –

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:7-8)

To persist in living willfully in the flesh and the world after one has been granted newness of spiritual life in Christ Jesus, is to suffer the tragic consequence, which is nothing short of rejection at His coming. Our Lord is immensely patient and gracious to be sure, but He is no fool. If you think for one minute that you can mock the free provision of His mercy and lovingkindness by living on in the fallen life of the flesh, then prepare to be spat out of His mouth!

Those with eyes to see; with eyes wide open in the spirit, those disciples who are listening, will surely be aware that the present times in which we live, are these difficult times conveyed by the Apostle Paul to Timothy. And they are not just difficult in terms of the temporal conditions in which we find ourselves. Yes, everything in the world, among the nations, does indeed appear to be imploding rather quickly. The foundations of modern life and civilization, built upon idealistic humanist notions, are cracking and heaving asunder. All has been tried. All has failed. Clearly there are few if any new ideas or paths left to Adam’s spiritual offspring. All of the familiar ‘isms and ‘ologies of recent times have reached their end, with only failure and misery to show for them. All that remains is for judgment to fall from the One Who made both heaven and earth!.

Yes dear saints, these are truly difficult times in these temporal aspects, but what is most remarkable, and what both Paul and others are addressing, is the deplorable spiritual condition of the Lord’s representative people. This was very much foreknown in the mind of God, as indicated by our Lord’s question –

However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)

The answer is “No, He will not find true and living faith in His people on the earth when He comes”. What He will find rather, is barrenness, trees without fruit, the spiritually blind leading the blind, and the majority of professing believers in a state of delusion and presumption that will soon find them out.

Oh dear brethren, these are dark and difficult times we are in, with evil filling all things, and in the ascendancy to be sure. There is darkness and barrenness everywhere one turns – in the family, in the church, in leadership and among the people who claim the name of Christ and His privileges in this hour. Each day brings with it yet another story, another sordid incident where His Holy Name and testimony is further reproached and dragged through the mire. Unspeakable evil, spiritual wickedness of a kind not even mentioned among the lost is common among those who consider themselves to be in Christ. I dare say that if I hear of yet another incident of the sexual exploitation and abuse of little children in the church, among supposed believers, then I may well lose my will to go on. How can this be, fellow saints? How can those cleansed with the blood of the precious Lamb of God, how can they gratify their own filthy and contemptible desires by hurting the most innocent among us? And what does this do to the pure testimony of our Lord when unbelievers and scoffers hear of such things? Did our Lord not say let the little ones come to Him, that He might be protect them and nourish them and teach them? Lord help us!

Micah was spot on, was he not, when he prophesied a time when the godly have no place to turn, no one they can trust, not even those of their own friends or family; when –

The godly person has perished from the land,
And there is no upright person among men.
All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
Each of them hunts the other with a net.

And Paul, when he spoke of those who were –

…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

Oh saints are you not heart-broken by the shame and contempt brought to our Master by such things; at how the enemies of our Lord are practically licking their lips at all of the  hypocrisy in the visible church of Christ? I dare say by the authority of Jesus Christ that you should be! We all should be horrified by all of this madness!

Have the days mentioned in 2 Peter fallen upon this generation of professing believers? Again, I dare say they have, and these are some of the most harsh and horrifying intimations in all of Scripture. I feel compelled to include this chapter in its entirety, as it further embellishes this grim picture drawn in 2 Timothy and Micah. I suggest you read it out loud, dear reader, to get the full brunt and bore of it –

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their  greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.

Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2)

Now there are many who suggest that for a Christian to become angry or incensed is somehow inappropriate and even sinful. Yet I dare say that if you can read these words without righteous indignation swelling up in you, then you may very well be one of those mentioned here who are patronizing these false ones. To these words, we feel compelled add those of Hebrews 10 –

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE  FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of  two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:26-31)

Oh dear ones, is our precious and beloved Master not worth so much more to us than this? Does it truly matter to us that He is hungry and seeking fruit in His field and there is none? Are we not grieved deep down in our spirit that the great swelling tide of greed and sensuality that is consuming the entire world is seemingly sweeping over His own heavenly people on this earth, just as it did to the nation of Israel, who considered it a casual thing to slight the Lord their God?

My friends, I am terribly weary in the spirit today as I write, for I have written such things before many times. Oh how dark are the days in which we live. How lonely are the times for those who love the Lord their God and seek a pure testimony for Him in this generation. Do you more often than not feel very much like the prophet in Micah 7, who had no one he could turn to; not the best of them, not the princes or the great men, not friend or family, for the godly had perished from the land? Difficult times indeed! So very dark and difficult! And yet what is the godly man to do? What is the pure and simple disciple of Jesus Christ to do?

For the answer to this important question, we return first to the conclusion drawn by Micah after his seemingly hopeless vision –

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord,
I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
(Mic. 7:7)

He will watch in hope for the Lord, and wait for His Savior. And He will pray constantly, knowing that it is the Lord’s good pleasure to grant Him the desire of His heart and bring him through to the end. He takes solace in the fact that His Lord will hear him; for He is all He has left it seems.

In addition, there are numerous passages in the New Testament that are addressed directly to the last generation of grace-born believers, living in such discouraging and perilous times. Consider these words of exhortation from the Master Himself –

Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Further exhortation for the present time is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians –

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph. 5:15-18)

And to this we also add this exhortation from Hebrews –

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. (Heb. 3:12-13)

And Jude –

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. (Jude 17-23)

And again, the words of James –

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:7-11)

Yes, He is coming dear saints! The Judge is standing right at the door, and these dark and difficult times indicate that we are close to  the end of this present age; that the Judge has determined that the tree must be uprooted. The visible church, like the nation of Israel before her, has failed utterly to represent Himself as a testimony of  Christ on this earth.

It is a time of spiritual drunkenness, deception, sensuality, soulishness, greed, covetousness, pleasure-seeking, false teaching, distractions, duplicity, and demonism. Both 2 Timothy 3 and  Micah 7 read like a veritable catalog of contempt for the Lord our God.

And the exhortation is clear for those who love the Lord Jesus Christ; those who seek to live every moment as an expression of His life on this earth; those who represent His bride taken out from the body (larger corporate expression known as the ecclesia); those who seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

This exhortation is urgent and calls all those with ears to hear to patience, perseverance, watchfulness, carefulness, and holding fast to the Lord. We must go to Him directly to be sure that we understand what the will of the Lord is. It is the time to be making ourselves ready by placing our hope in Him alone. Not in men and groups and new things. It is the time to be making the most of the time that remains, and to recognize that time is running out, not only for the unsaved, but also for the backslidden among His own people.

Dear brethren, please hear me very carefully, for I believe the Spirit is speaking directly to us in these times – It is vitally important that we realize that something foundational has taken place; that the Lord has removed His favor from the church as a whole; that He is now concentrating on His Bride, that He (as the Last Adam) might be made complete to assume all dominion given to Him by His Father.

Everything is being put into place and aligned. It is being made ready for the emergence of the serpent’s seed and his false prophet. This is no time for revelry and joy brethren. It is no time for well-wishing and making big plans on this earth. It is a somber time, a dreadful time. A time for constant prayer and seeking, of fasting and pressing into the Lord. Only the Spirit knows what readiness means for each of us, my brethren. Only He can help us to watch and see, to listen and hear what the Lord is saying in this dreadful hour. Only the Lord can prepare each of us.

We must realize also that the stakes are so terribly high, as indicated in this all-too-familiar epistle to the Philadelphia Church –

‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev. 3:10-13)

Now in terms of prophetic context, we believe that after the wave-sheaf offering (see Leviticus 23), the firstfruits of the harvest (two loaves of bread baked with leaven) must then be taken; those ripened grains of wheat that grew tall in the light and warmth of the Lord’s grace and life. These will be relatively few, perhaps even unnoticed among the many, once they are taken into the Lord’s barn. Yet once the last foot leaves this earth, the restraint of their testimony will be lifted, and all evil will rush forth, all lying and warring spirits that will make this world a living nightmare for those that remain and name the name of Christ.

Many will be left behind in this outer darkness, wondering what had just occurred. Some perhaps, will probably not even notice as they are already so much in darkness. And then everything put into place in this present time, will be quickly aggregated under the power and authority of he who comes in his own name (John 5:43).

The modern nation of Israel seeks some kind of lasting political or diplomatic peace among the nations, in their own land. Yet the Lord wants them to fulfill His original purpose for them, and be a light to the gentiles, and Jerusalem to be the shining city of the King. Many Christians in the west, it would seem, want little more than a return to spending and consuming, eating and drinking and so forth. Yet, my sense is that this will not return in quite the manner they desire. Now is the time for letting things go not taking them up and storing them away in this world.

Dear brethren, children of light in dark and difficult times, I do hope and pray that these words will do something in you, and that you will meditate and pray on the Scriptures shared and the message conveyed here. It is absolutely vital that each of us spiritually comprehend the times in which we live and what the Lord is saying to us; that we have ears to hear. That these are the dark and difficult days alluded to in 2 Timothy, Hebrews, 2 Peter, and Jude seems abundantly clear. That so very much of the exhortation in the New Testament is directed at His remnant of overcoming saints in this very time seems also clear.

Brethren, as long as it is still called “Today”, there is time, and how we use this time will determine our destiny in the age to come. How we respond in these dark and difficult days is critical. If we love the darkness; if we love living in the flesh and in the world; if we love pleasure more than our God – then we will not be kept from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Consider these words dear saints, as they are given with great hope that you will follow Him beyond these dark and difficult times that we find ourselves in.

Oh Lord, in Your grace and mercy please help us. Please Lord, for apart from you we cannot endure the times in which we live. In Jesus Name, Amen.