Category: The World

If God is Love…

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

“So what did you learn in Sunday School today darling?” said the father to his young daughter as they got into the car.

“We learned that God is love. That love is the thing that God is most known for”, she replied.

“A wonderful lesson my dear, so true, so very true. He loves us very much.”

As they drove through the thick, green countryside, there was a period of long silence, as the young girl seemed to be deep in thought.

“Daddy….”

“Yes darling?”

“When we see people who are not Christians acting with love towards each other, does that mean God is there with them?” she asked curiously.

“Hmm.” said the man pensively… “I suppose it does, doesn’t it.”

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What if…?

What if… all the churches and denominations in America liquidated all of their buildings, all their schools, all their real estate, all their TV and media assets, all their publishing houses, and all of their investment holdings, then went out into the street with all that money and fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, comforted the needy, clothed the naked, propped up all the hurting families who just need a leg up?

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What if… every American missionary sent abroad was brought home, and we simply prayed for the Lord to bring His Life and His Love to the poor and needy in this world?

What if all of the parasites and leaches who make a living off of the name of our Lord were exposed, dragged out into the courtyard, and told to “leave and never come back, just leave and never come back”?

What if …. every named “Christian”  group was surreptitiously dissolved, and all badges and labels that divide us were no longer? What if every sign was toppled and stamped into the dust?

What if… we stopped judging sinners and simply started loving and serving them?

What if… the sheep would rise up and turn the tables over, then take back all that was stolen from them in the name of God for over 2,000 years?

What if… if there were no more preachers and priests, no special chairs, no private rooms, no privileged status among God’s little ones? 

What if …men and thieves were to stop making merchandise of the things of our Lord, and simply worshiped Him in Spirit and in Truth?

What if… there were no more high places, no Jerusalem and Rome, only a hillside, and a place where we go to meet the Lord wherever He may be?

What if… the world saw something it has never truly seen before, and experienced a truth borne out of love, and enlightenment borne out of real grace?

What if… we finally realized that the One Narrow Way is a Person – not a religion, not a group, not a system, not a book nor a building?

What if… we rendered to Caesar the things that are his, and we rendered to the Lord everything else? What if every Christian and every group employing Jesus’ Name severed all reciprocal political and business ties? What if the singular ideology and imperative remaining was to simply serve the Lord?

What if Christians stopped pretending, stopped lying to themselves, stopped serving two gods, stopped raising themselves above the rest of humanity, stopped taking up arms to shed the blood of God’s children, stopped playing the harlot with the world?

What if…?

“Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,… (Matt 23)

The Wine of Her Fornication – W.E. Smith

Dear ones –

A drunken man has no discernment. All is haze and confusion. And this is a serious business. Notice the following passages –

“Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between the holy and the unholy, and between the clean and the unclean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.’” (Lev. 10:8-11)

“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and the unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” (Ez. 22:26)

“No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court…and they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ez. 44:21-23)

Now notice this relating to our very day –

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:1-3)

Babylon, at its heart, represents confusion and mixture, where the holy is not distinguished from the unholy. All is worked in together. Tares and wheat, leaven and meal. Babylon is a quasi-religious system where all is mixed together, the natural and the spiritual. And those who are drunken cannot discern the difference; their eyes simply do not see it. They have no spiritual clarity. It has gone long beyond understanding. The “Lie” has worked itself into them deeply, into their heart, their desire; their lives. You cannot convince them otherwise for they are wedded to Babylon and all she represents. Her uncleanness runs far too deep. Like the harlot who cannot merely change her clothes to become other than she is. Her fornication refers to her unholy communion (becoming one spiritual body) with the powers of the world, the political, the economic, anywhere and everywhere the enemy has principalities and strognholds.

The product of the harlot’s illicit union with the world is “the wine of her fornication.” This wine is the intoxicating influence of the mixture of this religious system. The mixed system does not try to sort out the things of God from those not of God. It mixes them all together into one confusing mass. This mixture influences all people on the earth in the realm of religion. All people, including genuine Christians, are put into a stupor, being unable to discern the pure truth concerning knowing, serving and following God. They are influenced by the teachings, and the natural and worldly philosophies, ways and practices of this religious system, Babylon. As a result, people cannot distinguish between the holy and the unholy. (Tom Finley)

The harlot is. perhaps, the very woman who has hidden the leaven in the meal.

Next notice how Austin-Sparks suggests this will only lead to trouble for those attempting to stand outside of this confusion, this mixture –

I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in Me. You will find trouble in the world – but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world! (John 16:33 Phillips)

When the spiritual stands to confront the merely formal, traditional, nominal and “natural,” then there is going to be trouble. This is not now merely the reaction from the world: it is the reaction from religion. I would go further, and say it may be the reaction from Christianity. There is a very great difference between formal, traditional, nominal, “natural” Christianity, on the one side, and spiritual Christianity, on the other; a great deal of difference. So much so, that this also becomes a battlefield – the battlefield of a lot of trouble.

Leave formalism alone, and everything will go on quite quietly. Leave traditionalism alone – that is, the set order of things as it has always been; that framework of things as it has been constituted and set up and established by man; that Christianity which is the fixed, accepted system of things – and you will escape a great deal of trouble. But seek to bring in a truly spiritual order of things, and trouble arises at once. And YOU are the trouble maker! The truth is that the trouble lies in the existing condition, the situation, the state; but it is only brought out by your action. And so spiritual men and women, and spiritual ministry, are called “trouble makers,” because the two things cannot go on together. That is where Israel was. They had the traditions, they had the oracles, they had the ordinances, they had the testimonies; they had the forms, they had the system – they had it all; but, in the days of the prophets, there was ever this vast gap between the “externals” and “internals” of life in relation with God. The heart is far removed from the lips. The spiritual reality is not found in the formal. You may have it all – but then bring in the truly spiritual meaning of things, and trouble begins in that very realm. It is the trouble which arises when what is external and traditional comes into conflict with something which is truly spiritual.

They tolerate us now, but the animus will be loosed soon, the restrainer will be removed, the locusts will swarm out of the pit. And then where does that leave us dear ones, all those who seek the true, the holy, the clean, the pure?

Where are you in your heart? Whose side are you on really? Is there mixture in your life? Are you intoxicated like the priests who brought unholy fire into the temple of the Lord? What do you tolerate, or reason away? What is the Lord Jesus to you anyway, deep down where spirit touches bone and life is revealed for what it truly is?

The time is at an end, and Babylon is rising dear saints. A new epoch is upon us. Babylon is not so much a place but a condition, a delusion appreciated only by those who are drunk with the wine of the harlot’s fornication. It stands for everything opposed to the Kingdom of our God, and her King! Once the seduction begins, it will grow increasingly difficult to resist, as every man knows all too well.

Do we have eyes clear and sound to see such things? Are we drinking the pure water of the Word, and leaning in to hear the Masters voice? Is the Spirit groaning within us in unspeakable ways, in a language only God knows?

Where then are those who will stand apart? Where are those who will resist the seductive wiles of this harlot and the beast she rides? Where are those who love their Lord beyond everything and anything this world has or represents?

Dear saints, it is all under water – America, the nations, the world system – the Lord of All Judgment has declared it, and although He will never flood this earth again, He will bring His fire, oh yes, He will bring down His holy, cleansing flame, to extinguish the chaff.

And so I ask again – where are you? Where are you right now at this very moment?

Dear ones, I appeal to the life of Jesus Christ within you – Choose life, choose Him, Choose the Holy One! Flee Babylon, for her gates are never high enough for the Lord of All Light!

Psalm 88 – W.E. Smith

O Lord, God of my salvation;

I cry out day and night before you.

Let my prayer come before you;

incline your ear to my cry!

For my soul is full of troubles,

and my life draws near to Sheol.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit;

I am a man who has no strength,

like one set loose among the dead,

like the slain that lie in the grave,

like those whom you remember no more,

for they are cut off from your hand.

You have put me in the depths of the pit,

in the regions dark and deep.

Your wrath lies heavy upon me,

and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

You have caused my companions to shun me;

you have made me a horror[b] to them.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape;

my eye grows dim through sorrow.

Every day I call upon you, O Lord;

I spread out my hands to you.

Do you work wonders for the dead?

Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah

Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,

or your faithfulness in Abaddon?

Are your wonders known in the darkness,

or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

But I, O Lord, cry to you;

in the morning my prayer comes before you.

O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?

Why do you hide your face from me?

Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,

I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

Your wrath has swept over me;

your dreadful assaults destroy me.

They surround me like a flood all day long;

they close in on me together.

You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;

my companions have become darkness.[d]

Dear saints, the following is a psalm of instruction, a maskil, designed to teach us something important of the ways of God, something very deep. It is not for those newly born, or with untried and untested legs in the faith.

And so what does it teach exactly? What is it trying to convey? What happy evangelical truth is it presenting?

Oh beloved – how we have been misled by the very source and purveyor of all mixture and corruption.

Where is this man in the psalm? Where is his heart, where is his relationship with God? Is he walking happily along? Is he sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus with a wide grin on his face and a melody in his heart?

Or is the stench of death all over him? Is he grappling with all his strength with the very One who He loves and knows and seeks?

Where is His God in fact? Out in full view? Or hidden? Silent? Does he feel forsaken by the very One he knows can save him?

Is he surrounded by good Christian brothers to cheer him up? A men’s group perhaps? Or maybe he has just returned invigorated from a recent conference or retreat?

Is he full of answers or dark questions?

Is he a backslidden saint – has he turned his back and his heart away from His God?

So what is this trying to teach us? What cheerful truth is it trying to convey? What saintly conclusions does it draw?

I will leave it to you to answer such questions, but be careful, be honest in the spirit.

You see every trial, every test has at its core a fundamental reality, and it is this – the cross as it is applied us personally will cut to the very heart and core of our relationship with the only One who can deliver us from the grave of death. In fact, it is not so much the outward afflictions at all that represent the deepest pain through it all, but the sense that He has indeed hidden Himself, that He is silent, that He has put His right arm back into His cloak. “Father, Father – why have you forsaken me?”. All my friends asleep, the dark cloud of death closing in, and yet the only One who can act on my behalf is hidden away. He is not responding. Note the section which reads – “What good can come when I am dead?” he is saying. What can You teach me when I am in Abaddon? “Oh Lord if only You had come sooner”, said Lazarus’s sister. “If only you had not delayed”

So why do I trouble you so with this psalm? Why do I presume so much to take it upon myself to interrupt your comfortable christian life with such discomforting things? Should I not rather be encouraging you with “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” or resounding a chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers?

Because dear ones, darkness is coming, nay it is already here. And everything we believe, everything we have been taught will be tested in these fires. Everything will be shaken, and men will be forsaken by the very ones they least believed would do so. And everyone of us will be left alone on that dread hill of Gethsemane, alone and crying out to our God through the storm and the silence. Deep and dark questions will flood our soul and spirit, and the very foundations of what we believe will be shaken and tested.

Are you therefore bold enough for this? Are you tough enough? Are you deep enough with the Lord to endure this?

When He not only rocks your little world but also your little faith – will you stand? When Leviathan is unleashed, will you trip and stumble and let Him go?

Dear friends – as I beheld that meteoroid flash across the sky and explode yesterday, then shake the very foundations and windows all around, I thought of only one thing, and it was this –

Satan is coming!

Are you ready? Am I?

Oh Lord, make it so.

Crucified to the Religious World – T. A. Sparks

“But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world”.

It is interesting to notice the particular way in which the apostle speaks of the world here. That term is a very comprehensive term, and includes a very great deal. Here Paul gets right down to the spirit of the thing. You notice the context. It is well for us to take account of it. “For not even they who receive circumcision do themselves keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh” (verse 13).

What does the apostle mean? They want to say, See how many proselytes we are making! See how many followers and disciples we are getting! See how successful our movement is! See what a power we are becoming in the world! See all the marks of divine blessing resting upon us! The apostle says, That is worldliness in principle and spirit; that is the world. He sets over against this his own clear spiritual position. Do I seek glory of men? Do I seek to be well-pleasing to men? No! The world is crucified to me and I to the world. All that sort of thing does not weigh with me. What weighs with me is not whether my movement is successful, whether I am getting a lot of followers, whether there are all the manifestations outwardly of success; what weighs with me is the measure of Christ in those with whom I have to do. It is wonderful how this at the end of the letter comes right back upon these Galatians, and the whole object of the letter. We recall the words in which that object is summed up. “My little children, for whom I am again in travail, until Christ be formed in you”.

Christ formed in you, that is my concern, he says, that is what weighs with me, not extensiveness, not bigness, not popularity, not keeping in with the world so that it is said that this is a successful ministry, and a successful movement. That is worldliness. I am dead to all that. I am crucified with Christ to all that. The thing that matters is Christ, the measure of Christ in you.

You see how the world can creep in, and how worldly we can become almost imperceptibly by taking account of things outwardly; of how men will think and talk, what they will say, the attitude they will take, of the measure of our popularity, the talk of our success. That is all the world, says the apostle, the spirit of the world, that is how the world talks. Those are values in the eyes of the world, but not in the eyes of the risen Christ. In the new creation, on the resurrection side of the cross, one thing alone determines value, and that is, the measure of Christ in everything. Nothing else is of value at all, however big the thing may be, however popular it may be, however men may talk favourably of it; on the resurrection side that does not count a little bit. What counts is how much of Christ there is.

You and I in the cross of the Lord Jesus must come to the place where we are crucified to all those other elements. Ah, you may be unpopular, and the work be very small; there may be no applause, and the world may despise, but in it all there may be something which is of Christ, and that is the thing upon which our hearts must be set. The Lord give us grace for that crucifixion. There are few things more difficult to bear than being despised; but He was despised and rejected of men. What a thing is in God’s sight must be our standard. That is a resurrection standard. Now that is the victory of the cross. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

First published in “A Witness and A Testimony” magazine from “Spiritual Maturity – Chapter 8”, May-Jun 1939, Vol. 17-3

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Beware of the Leaven… (T. A. Sparks)

t_austin_sparksThe Gospel by Matthew, chapter thirteen, and verse thirty-three: “Another parable spake He unto them; ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened'” (ASV). This is the fourth parable on the kingdom, and like the ones before it, it has two interpretations. Bible teachers are quite divided on the meaning of this parable. The most popular interpretation is that the leaven is something good. Indeed, it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Gospel of the Kingdom is going to spread all over the world until there is nothing bad left. Indeed, the world is going to become wholly good in this dispensation, I say, that is the most popular interpretation. It is popular because it is just what we would like it to be. We would very much like that to be true. But is that the true interpretation of the parable?

The much less popular interpretation is that the leaven is something bad. And that evil is going to spread more and more over all the world. Well, that is not a popular interpretation, and it is not popular because we do not like that idea. However, it is never a matter of whether a thing is popular or unpopular. A doctor’s medicine is not a popular thing because we do not like it, but it is the right thing. And there are many quite nice things that are not good for us. So it does not depend upon whether the thing is popular. The thing is, is it true? Which is the right interpretation?

For myself, I come down on the second interpretation; that the leaven is not something good, but something evil. And I am going to tell you why I believe that is the true interpretation. If you look into your Bible, and trace this word leaven all the way through, beginning with the first mention of leaven in the Book of Exodus, chapter twelve, and moving right through the Bible, until you come to the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter five, you will find that with one possible exception, leaven is always something bad. It is always something which God will not allow. In the Old Testament, God gave very, very careful instructions about leaven. The passover bread was to be unleavened bread. In every Jewish household, to this day, on the eve of the passover they light a lamp and the wife or mother takes the broom and sweeps every room and every corner to see if she can find any leaven. This is what they believe to be God’s attitude toward leaven. So that wherever this word is used right through the Bible, it is almost, if not altogether, an evil thing.

You will remember that when we were speaking about the parable of the mustard seed, we pointed to the law of consistency. And we said that Jesus in His teaching never contradicted Himself. Never did He, in one address, use the same thing for two opposite meanings. So when we had the parable of the darnel (the tares), the darnel was the work of the evil one. When we had the parable of the mustard seed, the birds of the air which lodged in that tree are the same birds as in the parable of the sower. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “The birds of the air are the evil ones.” In the parable of the darnel, it was an evil one that did this thing. The law of consistency demands that we interpret this parable of the leaven as being something evil. Jesus is teaching that in this dispensation, we are to expect to find evil things in this world.

Now you notice that these parables all relate to this present age. And in the last parable, the parable of the drag-net, Jesus says, at the end of the age, He will send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that make to stumble. The law of consistency demands that we say, they will gather out all the leaven and destroy it. Now I want to know where you stand on this matter. If these parables relate to this present age, which ends with the coming again of the Lord Jesus, is it true that the whole world is being converted? Is it true that all evil is being taken out of this world in this age? Is it true that the leaven of the Gospel is transforming the whole of this world and nothing evil is left in it? Is there anyone here tonight who believes that? If I ask for a vote, I am quite sure that everybody would say, ‘There is more evil in the world today than ever there was.’

The final argument is this, the Bible does not teach that the whole world is going to be saved in this dispensation. But it does teach that “evil men will wax worse and worse.” It does teach that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” So we are thrown back upon this second interpretation. We come down upon what the Bible says about this. The leaven represents evil, and leaven is everywhere forbidden in relation to the things of God. I can only make that statement, but if you would like to look at your Bible, you will find it is quite true.

So we are going to first of all look at the nature and the effects of leaven. Of course, you know what leaven is and what it is used for. If the brothers do not know, the sisters do. It is that which you put into the dough to make your bread. But what is its nature and what are its effects? First of all, leaven always sets up fermentation. Have you seen the effect of the leaven when it is put into the dough? The dough was a very quiet thing until you put the leaven in. There is no disturbance and no excitement until you put the leaven in the dough. But as soon as you have put the leaven in, you find something begins to work up excitement. Everything becomes disturbed. This leaven stirs up everything. Now you know that this is the same principle of alcoholic liquor. Alcohol is simply another form of leaven. And you know quite well that if you take alcohol, you begin to get excited. There is an inward disturbance. And if you take too much, you lose your senses, and then want to fight, and a lot of disturbance takes place. This thing ruins homes. It ruins lives. It ruins businesses. Indeed, alcohol is a curse. And that is only another name for leaven, for it is the same thing. That is the nature of leaven, and those are the effects of leaven to begin with. Just keep that in mind and we will come back to it.

The next effect of leaven is inflation; it makes things unnaturally big. I have noticed that in your market and outside your churches there are a lot of men selling balloons, hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Well, they are made to look very attractive with many pretty colors, but what are they? Well, you take this very thin skin and you begin to blow into it. You fill it with wind and you make it larger and larger with wind. And then you take a very little pin, and you prick it, and the whole thing is gone. It is an artificial inflation that cannot stand up to anything. It is something which has been made unnaturally big. An artificial increase of size.

When I was a very little child, I was sometimes sent to stay with my grandmother. And on Friday night, in the kitchen, the servants always made the bread for the next week. They made the dough in a big bowl, and having put the leaven in, they worked it with their hands and with their fingers, and then they just put it in the bottom of the bowl and they covered the whole thing over with a cloth, and they went to bed. The next morning I was up early, I went into the kitchen and I lifted the cloth, and the dough had filled the whole basin. In the dark, it had grown and grown. It had become something very big, the leaven made it do that. Hold that and we will come back to it.

Another thing that leaven does, it breaks things up, it disintegrates. You see the holes coming in the bread. The leaven tears the dough asunder. It makes the loaf into a thing with many, many parts and many holes in it. It just breaks things up and divides. Hold that and we will come back to that.

Then the last thing, unleavened bread is not very pleasant to the taste. Leaven is put in to make the bread taste nice. It is something to make an appeal to the natural taste. Unleavened bread is not very nice to taste, and so that we may be very pleased, we put leaven in. It appeals to our natural taste.

Now do you see the meaning, the nature and effects of leaven? There has come into this universe something that disturbs the universe. All these terrible wars, about which you know something, are the result of this disturbing influence which has come into the universe. There is something in this universe that stirs up human nature. Like alcohol, it makes men fight against one another. It keeps the world in unrest. It produces all this excitement of the human evil nature. Then, again, this something that has come into this universe results in an enlargement that is quite unnatural – a false development. That is a thing that we have seen in these last few years. In the case of the wars, there has been an attempt to develop this world in an unnatural way. Anything that results in unnatural development and enlargement is evil.

The Apostle Paul said, “Through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Anything that makes us unnaturally big is evil. Whether it be the individual life, or whether it be what is called the work of God, trying to make it bigger than its real spiritual measure, inflating it beyond its genuine spiritual degree, that is something evil, that is leaven.

Anything that results in divisions and breaking up – disintegration is evil. Do not let us excuse our divisions. Do not let us look favorably upon the divisions amongst the Lord’s people. If there are only two of us who are divided, let us not make excuses for that, let us say, ‘This is wrong, this is evil, this ought not to be, there is some evil at work to divide us.’ And what may be true between just two people, is true amongst all the Lord’s people. We must not look upon divisions as being good, they are bad. And we must know that God is against divisions. He does not accept this working of leaven.

Then what about this leaven that makes things appeal to our natural taste? Paul said to Timothy, “The time will come when they will not endure sound teaching; and they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” And he goes on to say that they will believe the lie instead of the truth. Why is that? Because these teachers appeal to the natural life. These teachers cover over evil. Indeed, they will sometimes call evil good. People do not like the teachers who tell them what is wrong, that this thing and that thing are contrary to God. They like leavened bread, it pleases the flesh.

Well, these are the effects of leaven. And I am quite sure that there is no one here tonight who will argue that any of those things are good. You see, it is all bad. Now let us look at the symbolism of leaven: We will listen to the Lord Jesus and then to the Apostle Paul on this matter. Jesus gave three warnings to His disciples. First, He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” And what did He say was the leaven of the Pharisees? He said, it is hypocrisy – pretending to be something that you are not, something that is quite artificial and unreal. You have only got to watch those Pharisees to see it. They make long prayers in public. They look at a poor sinner and they say, “O God, I thank thee that I am not like that man.” They send somebody in front of them to blow a trumpet and say this wonderful righteous man is coming along; Jesus says, it is all hypocrisy. It is all false and unreal. And if there was one thing that Jesus hated more than another, it was unreality – pretending to be something that you are not, making a lot of noise amongst the people of God with nothing behind it. Indeed, the life behind is quite a contradiction.

Well, that is capable of a very wide application, but that is the principle of the Pharisees. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” I do not know what the word means in your language, but in the Bible language, it means, acting a part. It is the picture of an actor on the stage. He may be dressed up to represent a great king, but he is not a great king. It is only his dress. Or he may be there acting the part of something else, but he is not that something else. He is just pretending to be that. And that is the real meaning of the word hypocrisy. Jesus said, “Beware of play-acting in the things of God.”

The second warning was, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.” Now we are told that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirit or resurrection. They said, ‘There are no such things as angels, there is no such thing as spirit, there is no such thing as resurrection.’ What did that mean? They ruled out the whole reality of the supernatural. They set aside everything that was spiritual. Therefore, they were pure materialists. They lived only for the present time because they did not believe there was anything afterward. They lived only for this world because they did not believe there is another one. For them, there was nothing supernatural, all was now – just material – in this life on the earth.

You see, that is a very convenient philosophy of life. It is very convenient for this reason, that it will not accept future judgment. If there is no resurrection, if there is no life after this one, if there is no other world after this one, then there is no such thing as judgment. Judgment goes, that is a very convenient doctrine. Jesus says, ‘Beware of that’; there is such a thing as the supernatural. God Himself is Spirit, He is the greatest reality in this universe. There is a life after this, for we shall all be raised: “Those that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation, and those that have done good, unto the resurrection of life.” Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything that contradicts those great realities.’

Then He gave a third warning. He said to His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of Herod.” What kind of leaven is the leaven of Herod? Herod was a man who believed in great worldly splendor. He ruled his world by a great show of magnificence. Everything that looked wonderful was Herod’s idea. His was a reign of earthly glory. But this other thing also comes to life with regard to Herod; behind all that outward show, was a life which was absolutely corrupt. John the Baptist told Herod of his corrupt life, and Herod beheaded John the Baptist. Here is a life of outward show, with the inward life absolutely corrupt. Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything like that. That is leaven. It must not come into touch with any of the things of God.’

The scribes and the Pharisees came to Jesus one day, and they said to Him, ‘Be gone, get away, Herod will kill You.’ Of course, they wanted to get rid of Jesus. What did Jesus say? “Go and tell that fox, that I work today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected.” Go and tell that fox. You know what a fox is? Well, he is one who makes a great show, a great pretense. He looks like a very nice animal. But you let him get in amongst your chickens and see what he will do. His nature is a contradiction to his appearance. Jesus says, “Beware of that leaven.”

Now just a word about this that Paul has to say. In 1 Corinthians, chapter five, you have it. Something had happened in the church of Corinth. A man had committed fornication, and by his fornication he had brought evil into the church, and the church had not done anything about it. The church had not taken account of this evil as represented by this man. They let him stay there. They even let him come to the Lord’s Table. A man whose background of life was evil. Now Paul wrote to the church about that man. And he said to the church, ‘You must judge this thing, and you must put that man out and forbid him the Lord’s Table until he repents, because he is leaven, and he defiles the whole church by his presence, and the presence of that evil is robbing the church of its spiritual power.’ So Paul says, “Purge out the old leaven.” Fornication and uncleanness must not come into the house of God. And, it certainly must not come to the Lord’s Table. And Paul says the church is responsible for dealing with that thing. While the church allows that, the church is defiled, God’s blessing cannot be upon it. It will, therefore, lose its spiritual life and its spiritual strength. Purge out the old leaven, all that sort of thing is just the working of evil in the church.

Now we must gather this up and come to a close. In the parable of the leaven, Jesus is saying that right through this present age until He comes again, this thing will be in the world. Evil will spread everywhere like leaven. But as in the other parables, Jesus said about the sower and the seed, that while three parts of it would be bad, there would be a fourth part that would be good. As in the parable of darnel, there was the work of the evil one, but there were also the children of the Kingdom. So in this parable, He says, there will be leaven, will be corruption and defilement everywhere, but the teaching of the New Testament is: Keep yourselves pure. See that your garments are not spotted. Walk in this sinful world as those who do not belong to its nature. Although there is leaven everywhere, you be the unleavened bread. But, the world may not like you, the world will not like unleavened bread. It does not please the flesh, but the bread which is pure is pleasing to God. And in the end, He will gather out all that which offends. He will gather out the offending leaven, and He will burn it with unquenchable fire; but the children of the Kingdom, the unleavened bread of God, the pure in heart and in life, He will gather into His eternal Kingdom.

The Rule of Heaven will divide between the evil and the good, between the leavened and the unleavened bread. I think you will agree that this is the right interpretation of the parable. Because it is true to the Bible, it is true to history, it is true to what we see in the world; but it carries the warning, let us offer to God that which has none of this leaven in it.

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Who Do We Boast in?

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

 

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

 

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–

 

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

 

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

 

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

 

Dear saints – our Savior is faithful. It is this alone that determines who and how many will not bow their knee to Baal in this dark and demonic hour. “None have I lost” – said the faithful Shepherd. It is His prerogative and providence to determine His remnant among the many invited but who fail to follow Him. It is not a question to concern men, even great men. It is not even about justice or fairness, but that the Creator can do what He likes with and in His creation.

 

Why then does your heart burn for His testimony while the many eat and drink and sleep and waddle about in their spiritual diapers? Why do some weep heaven’s tears while the many store up riches for themselves in this life? Why do some seek first the kingdom of God and the King, while others join themselves to earthly leaders, mere men and the putrid politics of the day? Why do some groan under the weight of man’s religion while others question nothing, seek so little spiritual reality, and choose to follow hirelings who care only for themselves and not for the sheep?

 

Because in His great heart He has determined it, before time, before the first grain of sand was ever formed. It was His determination, and He alone will prove faithful in keeping what the Father has given Him to protect and to seal. God’s overarching will is what matters and it will be done. Period!

 

This should give us great comfort in this hour when the birds of the air have made their home in the mustard tree, when the field is filled with tares, and the loaf is puffed up with leaven.

 

The Most High’s plans are not contingent on the fickleness of human commitment or zeal or anything else. So why do we boast in our hearts as though we are any different than the many who care little for His interests or His heart? If you are here it is because He has placed you here, from before the beginning of time, from the foundation of the world. Let all the glory and all the credit go to where it is due – to Him alone, to the Father’s Firstborn Son. To the Faithful Shepherd! To the Lamb of God who laid down His life for the sheep.

 

I am no better than my brothers, yet they toil alone in this empty world, from this to that, looking for something, anything to fill the aching void in their spirit. I am no different or better than the many at my place of work, who have tried to kill themselves or poisoned their soul with all forms of evil and death. The only difference is that, for some reason, a reason I will probably never know, my puny little name has been written in His Book.

 

Glory to God in the Highest, that He would call and choose one like me, the very worst of the worst, an utter failure and reject among men.

 

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. (2 Cor 11:30)

This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom

or the strong man boast of his strength

or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,

justice and righteousness on earth,

for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jer 9)

 

My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. (Psalm 34)