Tag: Loving His Appearing

Loving His Appearing – W.E. Smith

Dear brethren, beloved of our Precious Lord, I pray for all of you always, that He might find you waiting and watching in this hour; for His appearing for His little ones. Be strong and of great courage, for our King is coming! That which is held in mystery in the present will soon be manifest; and let all who name the name of Christ Jesus be found standing fast in the faith when He comes to fulfill all of His promises.

Now there is a night and day difference between loving our Lord’s “appearing” and loving this present world. I draw your attention to 2 Timothy, where the Apostle Paul makes this vital distinction –

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (2 Tim. 4:6-10)

Here we see that crowns (reward in His soon coming Kingdom) are destined for all those who love His appearing, and yet those who love this present world forsake the will of God. Early in this epistle, Paul prophetically declares the state of the Christian testimony “in the last days” –

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)

Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”; yet still wanting to appear very much righteous and christian-like, they hold to a “form of godliness”, yet deny the true spiritual power of this new life in Christ Jesus. I humbly ask you brethren – does this not most accurately describe the current state of the testimony of Christ in this hour? Indeed, maybe you may feel tempted to attribute this state of things to the unsaved world at large, yet this cannot be so. For the children of the devil have always fit this description. What the Lord is revealing through Paul here is the abominable state of the popular and professing church just prior to His appearing. And just like Demas, many Christians will abandon the true testimony of their King for the things of the world – pleasure, money, the glory of men, and a powerless religion that will never produce true godliness or peace in this world.

What about you my brother or sister? What is it right at this moment that you love first and most. Are you like the believers in Ephesus that seemed to have all things together but let slip their first love?

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Rev. 2:4-5)

Are you so caught up in your buying and selling, and arranging your little space in this world that you will be found unworthy and unapproved when the thief comes at night to take away His precious things? Is our Lord your first and deepest love? And does His coming for His saints pervade your hope and attention in this last hour?

And yet what does this mean to “love His appearing”? It would seem, my brethren that this is precisely what the message to Timothy is primarily about (and indeed many others as well). Here you will find a continuing exhortation to endurance, patience, and holding fast to the faith and to the Lord when seemingly everyone else abandons Him for the world, its things and its god. Hardship and discouragement may be the result, and deep confusion, as all things Christian seem to be turned inside out and upside down. The command by our Lord in the letters to the churches, written for precisely this time, is –

TO WATCH!

TO OVERCOME!

TO STRENGTHEN THE THINGS THAT REMAIN!

TO HOLD FAST WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL HE COMES!

TO PERSEVERE!

TO RETURN AND REPENT IF NECESSARY!

TO KEEP THE WORD OF HIS PATIENCE!

Now if this sounds something like a siege, then may we suggest that this is precisely what it is, and we have but a little strength (Rev. 3:8) until our Liberator comes. In the meantime, we are not to give in or give up;  we are not to lose hope. Yet our faith and resolve must be tested by He who must know He can trust us; that we are faithful and true to the One Who is the rightful heir and king.

Consider the definition of the word “persevere” –

To persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly. (Dictionary.com)

Indeed, the counter influences of the flesh and the world, and even the false testimony of Christ that is all around us besiege the child of God daily. Its opposition flows from the enemy himself; the god of this present age who knows he has but a short time. Only in Christ Jesus, only in the Spirit that keeps us, can we truly hope to maintain our purpose and not abandon our present course. He will never abandon us certainly (for He is coming quickly as a thief in the night), but the question remains – will we, as Demas, abandon Him for this present age and its empty promises?

Dear saints, if you have not done so recently, I would encourage you to prayerfully review all of these letters to the churches in Revelation, as well as Titus, James, 1st and 2nd Peter, 2nd Timothy and 2nd Thessalonians. For this admonition is directed to us today, and whether we are a Demas (a lover of the present world) or a Paul (a lover of His appearing) depends on whether our hearts receive it or not.

In his letter to Titus, Paul once again draws this distinction between the Lord’s appearing and this present age.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you. (Titus 2:11-15)

Rather than love (and be caught up and conformed by) this present age as Demas, we are to stand against it as a living testimony by living “sensibly, righteously and godly”, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. For we are a new creation in Christ and a heavenly people. We are not of this world but of His Holy Kingdom that will soon subsume all kingdoms of this present age. All that remains is for the Father to put all of His enemies beneath the feet of His Beloved Son – Jesus Christ. He has been anointed and He is currently marshaling all of His “mighty men” (consider David wandering in the wilderness prior to actually assuming the throne over a united Israel) to serve with Him in His kingdom.

The injunction for us is to STAND FAST, as this false and lifeless  testimony of Jesus pervades the church and the world like a cancer, and as our Lord allows all iniquity, in Israel, the church and the gentile world, to flourish unto judgment. And what was yet future when Paul and John wrote these epistles, is now the present for us. Those with eyes wide open in the spirit know this to be true. It is not merely one man’s opinion or perspective, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit of truth and the eyes of our Lord as He surveys His flock just prior to His appearing.

HE IS COMING!

And the prophetic witness borne of the Spirit indicates that the hour is imminent!

“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.” (Rev. 22:7)

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thess. 3:3-5)

Go to Him now, my friends, and ask that this might be so. And we must also ask Him to reveal our hearts to us most fully, that the love of this present world might be replaced by the love of His appearing; and that we might have patience until He comes.

Then pray for one another dear children; that our hearts might 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)

This is our sincere prayer for all of you; and may our Lord encourage and establish you in this hour, in all watchfulness and readiness, in all faithfulness and hope; that He might preserve you for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:8), and that He might not come as a thief unexpectedly and find us distracted by worldly things.

We are further admonished in Ephesians to be “making the most of the time because the days are evil” –

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)

One way we do this is by allowing the Holy Spirit full reign within our hearts to fully sanctify us – spirit, soul and body – before the coming of the Lord. This is nothing less than the complete reproduction of the nature (or image) of Jesus Christ in our human spirit (in fulfillment of Genesis 1:26).

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

While we are here in 1 Thessalonians, let us back up a bit and include the verses that proceed those above, for they speak of this very subject, and the dark and difficult times in which we live –

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)

Again, do not presume that those caught asleep and unaware are children of darkness, for it is readily apparent that these words are written for Christians (whatever their condition) and not the children of the evil one. That these (like Demas) are sleeping saints is obvious once you comprehend this and other such admonitions given to the servants of the Lord throughout the New Testament. To allow oneself, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, to become intoxicated by the pleasures of this present age, is to invite shame, loss and devastation at His appearing. A strong message indeed my brethren, but these are the times in which we live, and again, all of this was foreseen by the Spirit at the inspiration of these apostolic epistles. Jesus Himself asked –

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

That there are indeed such back-sliding and ill-equipped Christians (then and now) is further confirmed in Paul’s letter to the Philippians –

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:17-21)

So do we set our minds on earthly things to the neglect of our heavenly inheritance in His kingdom? Have we determined that these few fleeting and hollow moments of sensual gratification and earthly glory are worth more than sharing in our Lord’s glorious inheritance of the Kingdom? Have we so quickly forgotten His command to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” and effectively forsaken our first love? Have we allowed our belly to become our god, and to lead us away from our Lord’s table? Are we little more than the Israelite scoffers in the wilderness, pining for a return to the delicacies of Egypt?

Dear children, this cannot be, for the time is at hand, and our Lord will come with eyes of fire to judge His people, and who can stand in that day?

Again, James encourages us to –

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. (Jam. 5:7-8)

Then Peter reminds us of the glory of the heavenly inheritance that is as sure and certain as our Lord Himself –

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.  (1 Pet. 1:3-9)

Oh that we would pray for one another always that we would be kept in this awful hour by His mighty power, and that the proof of our faith might be fully proven and realized. I pray this for all of you dear readers, if indeed you have this hope within you, and you are one who loves His appearing for His saints.

Peter continues, echoing the end-time exhortation of the Apostle Paul –

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours  in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Pet. 1:13-16)

Are you ready therefore brethren, for the time will come and indeed is here already, when many (even those professing Christ) will scoff at His appearing, as though it were some kind of impossible dream.

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their  mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the  heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, (2 Pet. 3:3-14)

We see then, brethren, that the admonition for those truly seeking the Lord and loving His appearing in this final hour before the Thief’s coming is consistent among all of the apostles, as the Holy Spirit inspired them all. He alone can keep us, and help us to stand fast in the hope of our salvation, and the coming of His righteous and eternal kingdom, of which we are to share in His inheritance. Only He can establish our hearts against all of the impending unbelief and earthly wisdom pervading the testimony of Christ on the earth at the end of this present age.

Now I realize fully that this is a hard message to bear, but the time for ear-tickling, soul-gratifying and flesh-affirming words is long past. Dark and difficult times are upon us, and we may well be that final generation on the earth before the commencement of the final days of tribulation yet to come.

There is much here, brethren, to inform our prayers, and I beseech all of you to go to Him now, in supplication and fasting to plead for His grace and help in this time of need. I also solicit your prayers on our behalf, for we are all one in Him dear ones.

In Jesus’ Precious and Mighty Name. Amen.

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From the Wilderness to the Land – Entry Into the Land – by T. Austin-Sparks

From the Wilderness to the Land
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 – The Entry Into The Land

Reading: Deut. 1:2-3, 8:2; Heb. 3:19, 4:1.

We have been thinking of the distance of difference between Christ and ourselves. In virtue of the shed and sprinkled blood, Israel had been brought out of Egypt and made the people of God; they were the Lord’s redeemed ones. But even so a fact existed which could not be overlooked, ignored or made light of, a fact which had to be recognised, and fully so. That fact was, and is, that even when we are the Lord’s, in ourselves there is a vast distance of difference between ourselves as ourselves and Himself. Eleven days and forty years — not a fixed period, a period fixed by God; that is, not of necessity forty years. The distance is determined, not by geography or time, but entirely by the appropriation of faith.

Entering into God’s Rest

What is the end of the journey, the goal? What is it all unto? God calls it “My rest”. Rest, God’s rest, that is the end of the journey, and how soon we reach the end of the journey entirely depends upon our apprehension of the meaning of rest, our faith’s apprehension of the meaning of rest. You can be out of Egypt and into the end of the journey in no time where faith is large enough for it. But “we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief”. The end of the journey is always immediately present to faith. It is not distant. It is nearer or farther according to faith.

Faith’s Foundation for Entering into God’s Rest

But we want to understand what the basis of this faith is, and therefore what the meaning of God’s rest is. We have said that it is the apprehending of Christ. This letter to the Hebrews, which brings the journey and its end so much into view, is entirely given up to laying the foundation of faith unto God’s rest. Chapter by chapter or stage by stage, it presents us with that foundation, or those foundations. We might just look at one or two of them, but we begin with the all-inclusive and comprehensive one, the presentation of Christ at the beginning of the letter. There the whole background of all the rest is presented to us, the foundation of all that follows.

a) God given to us in Sonship

It is that Christ is God given to us in Sonship: “the express image”, “the effulgence”; to use the words of the prophet, “unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6). Not only “a child is born”, but “a son is given.” It is God manifest in the flesh, Christ is God. Again, referring to the prophet’s words, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Father of Eternity” or Everlasting Father. This Son is called that, the Father of Eternity.

What is the value of that for rest, for faith unto rest? Oh, surely it must appeal to our hearts as being of supreme and infinite significance. You see what the apostle is saying here. In the past the great revelations of God Himself were mediated through angels. What mighty and marvellous things were done through angels! The greatest things in that dispensation were done through angels. God came to men through angels. God communicated Himself through angels, revealed His mind through angels, and exercised His power through angels. The angels of God were constantly ascending and descending in that dispensation, to carry on the purpose of God amongst men. The highest form of God’s manifestation was through angels.

But here the apostle says: not unto angels, not through angels, but better than angels, higher than angels, Son-wise. God has given Himself in terms of Sonship. It is a great word of the prophet, “Jehovah has become my salvation” (Is. 12:2). Yes, the Name, the highest Name of all, Jehovah, the Lord Jehovah has become my salvation. Not a representative of the Lord, not even an angelic representative, but Jehovah Himself has become my salvation. The Lord Himself has come forth in this matter of our salvation, and if that is true, well, we must believe, our faith must go the whole way and believe either that Jehovah can fail or that He cannot, that Jehovah can do His work or He cannot, Jehovah can see this through or He cannot. If Jehovah cannot, it cannot be seen through. It is ultimate, final. It is no less than the Lord Himself.

That is the significance bound up with this first presentation in the letter to the Hebrews — the effulgence of His glory, the express image of His Person. God in Christ in terms of Sonship (the significance of which we shall note again in a moment) has come forth. That is the foundation of everything. The Lord personally, directly, immediately and absolutely, has taken this thing in hand. He has not committed it to the hands of angels or men, but has said, I Myself will accomplish this thing, I will go down and do it! “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). That is the full foundation for faith that can lead us into rest, and immediately the journey is shorter or longer according to our apprehension of that; whether we are able to stand alongside of the apostle, even when the gale is blowing, the storm is as a blast, and say, I believe God! (Acts 27:25). I say the journey to rest is shorter or longer according to our ability to take that position. If Israel in the wilderness had taken that position, it would not have been forty years; but they did not believe God.

b) God in Christ our Kinsman

Then you pass on in this letter and you find that is broken up, expressed in different forms. In the next place, God is revealed in Christ as having come to us in kinship. Passing into chapter 2 from verse 10, you know that sublime section about “I and the children whom God hath given me”; I and the brethren — “I will declare thy name unto my brethren”. Or again, “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same.” And then about the sons — “bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Children, brethren, sons: God has come forth in terms of sonship to bring about a kinship, to be the redeeming kinsman Himself. It is God Who is redeeming in Christ. Heirship — “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17), and so on. He is redeeming the lost inheritance, He is the redeeming kinsman. If redemption is to be at all, it must be by somebody Who Himself has a right to redeem because He is in the family, and Who Himself can and will make the family’s condition His responsibility.

The family has lost its inheritance, has lost its all. Somebody has to take responsibility for recovering, and God in Christ has come down to take responsibility for our lost heritage, to recover it all in terms of kinship. The Father through the Son has done it. The point that I want specially to emphasize is that it is God Who has assumed this form of a kinsman to redeem, and if it is God Who has taken responsibility for it — and He has — that is the basis of faith unto rest.

You see how impossible it would be, because of the utterness of the situation, for anyone to enter into rest and deny God. You cannot enter into rest if you deny God. We are not dealing with truth, we are not dealing with doctrine, we are not dealing with things, we are not dealing even with angels, great as they are. We are dealing with God, and here He is coming to us in and through His Son in terms of kinship, so that in Christ He is to us our brother, our brother to redeem, taking responsibility. Usually even in earthly families, the elder brother is looked up to and trusted. So often he is the most wonderful person in the family for the rest of the family. There is nothing he cannot do. It is not always so, but so often it is. That is the idea brought in here. It is a family of sons that God has constituted, with the eldest Son, Who was able and willing to take full responsibility for the family’s title, the family’s heritage, the family’s destiny, the family’s honour, and to secure it all in Himself. That is what is being said here. He has done that. What could we do? Nothing! But He has done it, and faith apprehending that can enter into rest, God’s rest.

c) God in Christ His own Priest

But then we pass on and find the next phase, God in Christ becoming His own priest. Priests have failed, failed to carry things through to finality. They all failed, they made nothing perfect — that is the argument here. So God Himself became His own priest. It is God in Christ in priestly activity carrying out all the functions of priesthood, and the functions of priesthood are just to satisfy God in all His requirements. This is where the subtle fascination and attraction and power of Rome lurks. The Roman system is built upon the idea of priesthood. The priest stands between you and God, and stands for you, and all you have to do is to pass everything over to him and take no responsibility yourself; you need not take any responsibility, the priest will take all responsibility for you. That, of course, has degenerated into this kind of saying: Do as you like, pay the priest and he will clear it up with God. But behind that there is this fact that man craves to have the responsibility God-ward taken off himself by somebody, to be freed from that responsibility for himself, and to come to that absolute rest where the responsibility is not his at all. The Roman system has provided a false answer to that craving of man and put man in a false position. But the craving remains. You and I have it. Our deepest longing and need is for a priest, somebody to take responsibility for us, so that we do not have to take that responsibility. Oh, that I might be free from an evil conscience, may be perfectly at rest because someone all the time is standing and answering to God for me. And here it is: God has said, I will answer to Myself for you, I will be My own priest to satisfy Myself on your behalf.

We find it such a difficult lesson to learn, just what the High Priestly function and ministry of our Lord Jesus is. “Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). You notice what the apostle says about His being able to sympathize because He Himself has been here, been where we are, been along our road, knows all about it, been tempted in all points as we are, although without sin. He has been here and He is a sympathetic High Priest, He understands it all. He is not a stranger, and He ever liveth to make intercession in perfect sympathy, and He is there taking responsibility for us before God. Is not that a ground of rest? Ought we not to be at the journey’s end much more quickly if only faith could grasp that. Apart from faith, we shall all the time be trying to put ourselves right with God and be stuck on the road, going round in the wilderness. Progress waits upon faith’s apprehension of this thing. Cast the responsibility for your salvation and sanctification upon the One Who has taken that responsibility.

Listen again to words in this letter about being saved from an evil conscience. How? Through faith (Heb. 10:22). Not cleansing our own consciences, but by faith in Him. God has come in the Person of His Son to be the priest that He requires, that is, to satisfy Himself.

d) God in Christ His own sacrifice

What is true of the priesthood is next shown to be true of the sacrifice. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I am come” (Heb. 10:5-7). God in Christ has come to be His own sacrifice. You notice a whole section is given up to pointing out the futility and weakness and failure of the sacrifices of the Jewish system, how they broke down and came short, and how it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. But then, after the millions and millions of sacrifices offered on Jewish altars, one sacrifice, one for ever, did the work, and God provided Himself the sacrifice. In His Son He became His own sacrifice; and what more perfect than that? That is final surely; one offering for ever. This is the basis of rest, His own sacrifice once for all.

The Journey Longer or Shorter According to Faith’s Appropriation

We cannot take all the aspects of this revelation, of this unfolding of the ground of rest, but what I want you to see is this, that this was all present in type in the wilderness for forty years. It was all there in type, and yet they went on for forty years. It was there very early in their wilderness history, and if only faith had grasped the significance of what was present at that moment, the forty years would have been cut down to perhaps eleven days; eleven days’ straight journey if faith had grasped what was present all the time.

What I want to emphasize is this, that you and I are not of necessity bound to make a long journey and go over years in this matter. It entirely depends upon our appropriation of what is here today whether we enter into rest. The end of the journey is here now. It was there all the time. Those types that they had of Christ were the end of the journey in spiritual essence and value. There is nothing more at the end of the forty years. When they go over into the land there was nothing more, it was still the same basis. God has not to do anything further, has not to do anything; it is all there right at the beginning. We can come into rest now if we take hold of what God has given us now.

The Power of a People in Rest

But oh, how important it is that you and I should seek to exercise this faith; because you can see quite well that it was not just a matter of entering into a spiritual state of blessing and enjoyment for themselves. Their very vocation hung upon their being in rest. The object of their calling and election was at stake. All God’s purposes in them were bound up with their entering into rest. They were ineffective and unfruitful until they were in rest. They were defeated and weak until they were in rest, but when they went over into what typified God’s rest, they were mightily effective. You see what can happen by a people in rest. See Jericho’s mighty walls going down by a people in rest. They march round the wall, just going round once, and that is the day’s work; and again tomorrow; not very hard work. I do not know how long it took them to march round; a good healthy walk, quietly walking round once a day for a week. It was more strenuous on the seventh day, seven times round. And how much energy it takes to shout, I do not know. That was the way; a people in rest in type, and down came Jericho. And as they went on the seven nations mightier than they came down one after another because typically they were a people in rest.

And do you know that one of the great strategies of the devil, in order to hold his own against us, is to get us into unrest. One of the great triumphs of Satan against the church is to get it robbed of its rest, its quiet assurance. Satan can do little against a people in assurance, in rest. He can do anything with people who are not sure, not certain, distracted, restless, fretful, anxious, questioning, doubting. You have no power against him when you are like that, always in the unrest of uncertainty of a tomorrow that never comes, a future that never arrives to keep us from rest today. I do feel that you and I must seek very much to enter every day with a very fervent prayer that that day in itself shall be in the rest of God, so far as our hearts are concerned. Whatever it may hold, whatever storms, in our hearts we are quietly at rest with God, being still and knowing that He is God. There is a tremendous power in that. There is no power in a fretful life, there is no strength where there is doubt, but there is a mighty power where there is a quiet confidence in God; and that is the point. Satan would postpone that and keep us going round in this everlasting circle, a wilderness state, because it is to his gain, and to our loss; it is to the defeat of the Lord in His purpose. “They could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Now may the Lord at least lay emphasis in our hearts upon the necessity for giving diligence to enter His rest for every purpose of His glory. Above all things may we seek the rest of faith, because of its tremendous potency against the enemy and in the realization of God’s purpose.

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“Today If You Hear His Voice” – W.E. Smith

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb. 10-25)

Dear followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; all those who are patiently waiting and preparing for His imminent appearance – our sense in the spirit at this time, is that these are indeed the waning hours of this age. And it is vital for all of us that we know what the Lord is doing, what He is saying by His Spirit and His Word, and what He is impressing on our hearts in this momentous time. The world is poised to be judged by He who wields the scepter (see Psalm 45:6; Rev. 2:27, 12:5) and we know that it is hastening toward that judgment. We are watching with great anticipation as all things are being concentrated and intensified, in terms of the wickedness of this world, the spirit of this world and the prince of this world that is soon to be revealed. We know that our place in this world, and our approach and attachment to it, as end-of-the-age followers of our Lord Jesus Christ is so vitally important. And our ever-gracious Lord, in anticipation of all these things, has so graciously provided us with all we need in this hour in terms of spiritual instruction and exhortation. The Book of Hebrews, for example, is absolutely packed with such if we have eyes to see it, and a heart to receive such an urgent and important message.

We will begin by taking note of this particular verse that is talking about fellowship, real spirit-touching-bone fellowship – “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some”  Apparently, some addressed by Paul here were isolating themselves when the very opposite was needed – “but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” This encouraging of one another, the edifying of one another, we believe, is becoming so much more urgent as events advance. This exhortation is directed at all of us, and it is something that is most important to God. This is something that we need, something that the bride will need to make herself ready. We are to be doing this all the more as we see “the day drawing near.

So just what is this day? What is the day that is approaching or drawing near? If I read this verse correctly, there appears to be an assumption that those at that yet future time would be able to determine that the day is drawing near, that there will be indications that this day is imminent.

Now in terms of what this day might be, a few things might come readily to mind. Is this the day of the Lord? Is this the day of Christ? Is this as the days of Noah? These are all possibilities, to be sure, but I believe the most likely answer is found back in the third chapter of 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, while it is said,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.” (Heb. 3:12-15)

Here Paul is quoting from Psalm 95, where we read –

For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice,  Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,

“When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.

“Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” (Psalm 95:7-11)

This is obviously referring to Israel, and that wilderness generation that came miraculously out of Egypt and tested the Lord on the journey to the promised land. They were subsequently prohibited from entering into the land of promise and rest. If you recall, only Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter, based on their faith in Jehovah’s provision and victory. Now this entrance through the Jordan into Canaan, into the land of promise, was called the Lord’s “rest”.

Now, as end-of-the-age, wilderness Christians, as those who are chasing hard after their God at the close of this sixth day (2 Peter 3:8), we need to know that this new “day” is approaching. We need to know what this “day” is and we need to be sure that our hearts are receiving the strong exhortation contained in this letter to the Hebrews. We also need to have eyes to see what the Lord is doing, and ears to hear what He is saying in this hour. We also need to have a spiritual discernment that is deeper than any political or economic sense that this present world is reaching its end. If we back up to Chapter 4 of this book, we will find even more timely exhortation for us –

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.

For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said,

“AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world.

For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; and again in this passage, “THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.” (Heb. 4:1-5)

That these were Jehovah’s redeemed people, there is no question. They were among those saved by the blood, those who were baptized in the sea, who beheld miracle and wonder and evidences great of the Lord’s deliverance and power. They were His people. They were not unbelievers. Nor were they strangers.

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience,

He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, (verses 6-7)

So he repeats it again, further emphasizing this point. Back in Hebrews 10, we have a people who are to see the day approaching, to have that special sense that the day is drawing near. Because of that, there is the exhortation to come together more so than usual for the building up and encouragement of one another.

He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,

“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. (verses 7-9)

So now it is starting to become clear just what this day actually is – it is the Sabbath day. It is typified by the Creator’s seventh day rest from the creation (or restoration) of the earth. It is called a rest for the people of God and there is definitely some prophetic significance attached to this particular day. It is a type therefore. Like so many things in the Old Covenant, it pointed to some greater fulfillment in the future. It remained unfulfilled. Those originally intended to enter this rest failed because of a hardened heart of unbelief; a refusal to believe the Lord and to go all the way with Him. Now this, brethren, is extremely important, and it gets right to the heart of this exhortation to us in the letter to the Hebrews.

Let us return to Psalm 95 for a moment. There, the people in the wilderness, those who came out of Egypt, that miracle-witnessing generation, they are said to have tested the Lord. Though they had personally experienced His marvelous works over and over; though they had seen His great and mighty wonders; though He had proven Himself faithful and able to deliver them and to fulfill every one of His promises –

“For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.” (Psalm 95:10)

Clearly, that generation coming our of Egypt did not have the heart to go all the way with the Lord, and to enter fully into His plans and purposes for them as a people. And this is a most serious object lesson for Christians living at the end of the age. I believe we will find some further evidence for this in 1 Corinthians 10, where we read –

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. (1 Cor. 10:1-5)

It is as painfully clear then, that this is a precedent and an example for us. This is a living and breathing exhortation of what will befall us if our hearts are hardened and we fail to enter fully into the purposes and plans of the Lord.

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, (verses 6-9)

Remember back in Psalm 95, we are told that they tempted the Lord; they tested Him for 40 years “as some of them did.” Remember that only Joshua and Caleb possessed the trusting faith to enter into the land of rest and promise (elsewhere referred to as an inheritance and a reward).

Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (verses 9-11)

Now, I am not exactly sure what that last phrase means – “upon whom the ends of the ages have come”, but perhaps in some manner it links back to Hebrews 10, where we have an exhortation for the generation of saints found on the earth just prior to God’s judgment being poured out on the nations. Oh dear saints; where should our focused attention be right now in the time in which we are living? Oh, pray the Holy Spirit will make us ready in every way. Here again, is another warning in verse 12 –

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. (verse 12)

Coming Soon - The Prophetic Urgency!Perhaps we feel we are alright then; that we are standing firm; that we have a faith and a commitment able to withstand the adversary’s fiery darts (Eph. 6:16), and the Lord’s testing at the end of this age. Perhaps we feel that we are a Joshua or a Caleb and not a Korah; that the life of the world and the passing pleasures of sin in this present world (Heb. 11:25) are far behind us. Oh dear Lord, please make it known what is truly in our hearts!

Now to be clear, this is not referring to our standing in Christ as being covered with His blood and born in the Spirit; that initial saving experience; that is a free and unmerited gift and it is unequivocal. That was resolved once and for all. What Paul is saying here is –  let those who think that they are worthy of reward, that they have the faith that will lead them into the rest and into the day of God, into the kingdom, into the millennial rest of God, the seventh day, let them be careful not to take anything for granted. Let them remember the first people that were chosen, that elect generation, how they failed because of unbelief. They did not enter.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (verses 13-14)

What was it that snared the majority of those who came out of Egypt? It is made so very plain right here in this letter – “The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play.” Does this sound like a people who were conscious in their spirit of a higher calling, to be a light to the nations of the world, to be a people of God, to be representatives of the righteousness of God? Does this sound like a heavenly people, a people so called that the Lord might manifest His holiness through them? Or does this sound like an earthly, worldly people, who were bound up in the lusts of the flesh, in the appeasement of appetites, in the gratification of sensual pleasure? “The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play”. To many of them, Jehovah was simply a means to an end – their very own Egypt where they could be in charge.

It was idolatry, plain and simple. It was a hardening of their hearts. It was a dullness of hearing caused by worldliness and unbelief. It was a looking to God merely as the purveyor of earthly blessing, when the Lord wanted them to know His ways, to enter into His presence and His will for the salvation of the nations; and they failed. They failed terribly and tragically. And they represent a very penetrating example for all those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ in this present age.

Now I am going to speak somewhat pointedly here. I certainly do not mean to intentionally offend anyone. Yet, as I look out on the landscape, out on the body of Christ as it currently stands; as I look at those who claim the name and testimony of Jesus Christ, I see generally people who are sitting down to eat, who are sitting down to drink, who are standing up to play, who rather than fleeing the idolatry of the world and overcoming the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, as the Scriptures convey, are being enraptured, and given over to idols. I see quite generally a people who are blindly oblivious to the heavenly plans and purposes of the God who saved them at so great a price.

Remember, dear saints, the blood; the blood spread over the posts and lintels, the blood that pointed to the blood of the Lamb, to the blood of the Eternal Father’s Beloved Son. At what cost were they redeemed? And then they were baptized in the sea, and death encompassed them; yet they came up and out, through the grave, and unto newness of life (Rom. 6:4). They came forth, they burst forth, almost like a birth. You can almost picture these people coming out of the Red Sea as it closed in behind them, and they issued forth like a new child coming into the world. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians, makes no bones about it. It is unmistakable that the lesson of their failure is for us. And the exhortation is sharply pointed and severe. If this elect people of God failed, though in every way they were redeemed and delivered; if they were washed in the blood and in the sea; if they were claimed by the Lord as His own; if they were saved, in that initial saving experience, the beginning of a new life, and yet in the end, they failed to enter into the rest, what does that say to every single Christian alive in this world today?

Dear saints, this exhortation to us is powerfully clear – we will only partake of Christ and His Millennial Kingdom of rest and reward if we “hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” If, while we are still in the sixth day (while it is still called “Today”) we do not hear His voice because our hearts have been hardened, then we, like that generation coming out of Egypt, will most likely come up short up in terms of entering the Lord’s promised rest and reward.

The promised outcome for the overcomer is that of quintessential rest; it is the unparalleled joy, peace and blessing of coming into a new and better home. Only then will we come to a place of true belonging. Until then, however, we must trust the Lord and press on patiently with Him until every single one of His plans and promises come to fruition. We must endure through hardship and testing, such that the Lord alone will represent our hope and salvation. We must let the life of Egypt die in us and to us, for this ultimately is what the wilderness is for. We must live only by every word that proceeds the mouth of our God. We must walk only by faith and not by sight, for natural wisdom or experience cannot serve us here in this wilderness of testing. We must let the life of the spirit prevail, such that the life of the soul – the mind, the will, and the feelings in man – will be made subservient. We must live and abide wholly in Christ – the Life of the Living God – so that the enemy cannot distract, deceive or destroy us. We must, in the end, be made ready as only the Lord through His Spirit can make us ready.

It was for this very reason that the Holy Spirit was dispatched to this planet, and came to abide within our human spirit at our new beginning in Christ. He was sent down by the Lord Himself for a very specific purpose, and only if He is permitted to accomplish this purpose will we be deemed worthy to enter in the promised rest of the Lord.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you (John 16:13-14)

Dear saints, only as the Spirit takes what is the Master’s and discloses it to us, can we be truly ready for His appearing and His kingdom. Only as He conveys to us all the truth, and the things to come, can we hope to survive in these perilous times (see 2 Tim. 3:1-5), when lying spirits animate the air. By all accounts and evidence, we have indeed entered a day when every form of wickedness and offense is being increased – false teachers and false prophets spouting doctrines of demons, scoffers denying the Lord Jesus Christ and His promised coming, lukewarm and pleasure-loving professors of Christ holding a form of godliness but denying its power. It is rapidly becoming the time of the hired servant, only seeking wages, not the bond-servant, who cares only for the interests and pleasure of his Master. It is clearly not too difficult to appreciate just how absolutely vital it is to be hearing the Lord in this dreadful hour, and casting all else aside. Again, we are exhorted – “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

Oh Lord, let it be so! Let your people, your precious sheep, hear your voice and surrender their hearts and lives to Thee in this present hour, Oh Lord!

Before closing this message, let us double-back to Hebrews (chapters 3 and 10) to consider briefly this whole aspect of encouraging one another all the more as we see this day drawing near.

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. (Heb. 3:13)

…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb. 10-25)

Oh how great is the need in this hour for encouragement, comfort, instruction, material provision, exhortation and prophetic utterance, dear brothers and sisters. Oh, that His brotherly love for His body would fill us and work in us for the edification and preparedness of the saints, as we await His imminent appearing. I am quite convinced actually, that endurance is not possible without such encouragement, for in each of us the will to surrender and let go is strong. The encourager is always reminding his friends to –

STAND FIRM! HOLD FAST! BE ALERT! DIG IN YOUR HEALS! DON’T SHRINK BACK! FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT! KEEP YOUR EYES FIXED ON THE KING AND HIS COMING! DON’T GIVE UP – WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER AND I AM WITH YOU! DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE LOSS OF THINGS IN THIS WORLD!  BE STRONG IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS! WHAT IS IT YOU NEED MY BROTHER, FOR WHAT IS MINE IS YOURS!

This important and timely message is further conveyed by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians, where he writes –

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, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Eph.5 :15-21)

So it is vitally important that we are encouraging one another and emboldening each other’s faith in the Lord, especially as so much around us threatens to discourage us and fill us with fear and dread. This is most serious, dear brethren, and we would all do well to heed this exhortation just as it has been given. There are many ways to do this to be sure –  letters and email, blogs, journals, these are all wonderful. I thank God for them. But that whole aspect of spirit-touching-bone fellowship; being able to sit down together, being able to share the Word together, being able to let the Lord and the Spirit exhort and encourage each other, especially as we see the day approaching.

The question that presents itself to us then is this – Are we being careful how we walk in this ominous time leading up to the consummation of this age? Are we making the very most of the time we have, as long as it is still called “Today”? Are we investing ourselves spiritually and materially, as we are able, in the well-being and preparedness of others in the body of Christ?

Or are we effectively doing the opposite? We recall that when the spies came back from surveying the land, ten of them gave a most unfavorable impression of their prospects in the land, as they were consumed by a flood of unbelief and fear that blinded them to their real condition. Rather than encourage the people to go forth in the power and provision of the Lord and to advance in faith, as did Joshua and Caleb, they persuaded the people that all was hopeless; that the situation before them was greater than their God. Brethren, this lesson is most serious for all of us, and we would do well to allow the Holy Spirit to apply it to our lives as He deems necessary.

Now perhaps you may be wondering, what is the Lord saying to us now? What does He want us to focus on as we are beginning to see these dark prophetic clouds gathering over the nations? I believe, for the record, dear saints, that it is not so much a matter of months or weeks or days, but rather hours. I could be wrong, but my sense in the Spirit is that the events of the “last days” are imminent and that there is actually very little time remaining. This being so, I just want to encourage all of you, that as much as you are able, that  you come together, and speak the word, and exhort and encourage and edify one another, build each other, help each other to get our minds off the worries and anxieties and concerns of the world, and to focus on entering into that promised rest that is so very close.

BE STRONG MY BRETHREN, IN THE GRACE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS! HOLD FAST TO THE KING IN THIS HOUR! FIX THE EYES AND EARS OF YOUR HEART ON JESUS OUR MASTER! HEAR HIM AND DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO IS SPEAKING! PURSUE THE PRIZE WITH ALL SPIRITUAL VIGOR! BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL IN ALL SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING! WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE GOD WHO CALLS YOU INTO HIS KINGDOM AND GLORY!

Note here again in Matthew, how being actively ready is linked with the provision of food in the proper time on the part of those who are deemed faithful (knowing and then carrying out the will of the Lord) and sensible (aware of the urgency of the moment) –

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:42-51)

How then should we be spending the time that remains while He tarries (redeeming or making the most of the time)? There are many responses to this question, to be sure, but one answer certainly is that we are each exercising the spiritual gifts we have been granted to the edification and provision of the body.

“Kindle afresh the gift of God”, said Paul to Timothy. Don’t let it lie idle, in other words, but actively attend to it, asking the Lord for the measure of grace to exercise it for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7). He then exhorts Timothy to “guard this treasure which has been entrusted to him” (2 Tim. 1:14). Then there is the Master’s parable of the virgins and the talents (Matt. 25), which expressly concern this whole matter of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and our accountability before the Lord who bestows them.

Dear saints, how tremendously vital it is in this dark and difficult hour, while it is still today, that we are actively hearing the voice of our God and mutually strengthening the hearts and hands of our fellow saints in this wilderness. How vital it is that we are found constantly on the alert and at the ready, and watching over one another, and encouraging each others’ faith and confidence in the only One who can deliver us and bring us into His promised rest.

Our prayer is that our Beloved Father would bless this message and help us to bring forth these things as He has given them in this word of exhortation to His people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.