Tag: unbelief

“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.

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The Most Difficult Thing in the World – T. Austin-Sparks

READING: Heb. 4:1-13; 11:5-6.

I am going to speak for a little while on the most difficult thing in the world, that is, faith. So far as the Lord’s people are concerned, it can be truly said that the whole of their life in every aspect – salvation in its first step and every subsequent step, spiritual growth, spiritual sustenance, spiritual victory, spiritual work and service, fellowship with the Lord and ultimate glory is all resolved into one thing and that one thing is faith. Faith is the key to everything in our relationship to the Lord. It is all just a question of faith – not faith as something in itself, but faith in God. That is something which has to be faced and as far as possible at any point, settled; but it is not a thing which is settled once and for all. There has to be a settlement made again and again on this point. We are really continually confronted with this question; in the presence of new situations and trials and perplexities and seeming contradictions, am I going to believe God or not, am I going to repose faith in Him or not, am I going to trust the Lord or not? That is true all the way along, and it always will be so. And sometimes those testings are very, very acute and severe. A brother wrote to me this week, one who has been greatly used of the Lord in other lands as well as in this one, who knows the Lord, and has a very real walk with the Lord, and he just put this in his letter. “It sometimes seems as though the Lord is a thousand miles away and has no interest whatever in me. It sometimes seems as though He has just cut me off”. You may think that is very extreme, but some of you will not. You know quite well that such experiences are true to the life of a child of God. I was saying that this is something that has to be faced. That is the life to which we are called. The Lord has not covered it, has not veiled it, hidden it from us. We are called unto a life of faith, and we had better face it; and then we must, as far as possible, if we are going to get through, settle it, for I repeat there is no step or stage or aspect of the life of the child of God from first to last, from the beginning to the end that is not a matter of faith. Well, that is a fact, and let us be quite honest about it, and quite frank with ourselves. That is the situation. It will help to a very large extent if we have looked this thing straight in the face and not shelved it, not tried to evade it, but accepted it.

A Key to Faith

But we want to get inside of this matter of faith, and here in this letter to the Hebrews which is, as you know, from start to finish, a letter on the matter of faith, we have amongst others one very helpful clue and key to faith. It is in this fourth chapter. You may not think that it really is a matter of faith for it does not seem to lie on the face of it, but when you examine it, you find that that is the thing that it is touching – this strange, somewhat technical language – “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit”. You will notice that that statement begins with a ‘for’, and that ‘for’ links you with Israel in the wilderness failing to enter into rest. It is said that they had the Gospel preached to them, but the word spoken did not profit, not being mixed or united by FAITH. It did not profit, not being united by FAITH. Then there follows, “I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest”. They could not enter in because of unbelief. Then more about the rest and their failure to enter in, and then – ‘FOR the word of God divides between soul and spirit’. This is the key to faith, or a key to faith. What is it? It is the conquest of the soul, and that is said to explain the whole of the wilderness failure and the subsequent not entering into the rest.

You know what soul is. I am not going to stay with soul and spirit very much. We know in this matter that the soul is the self-conscious life. By our souls we are conscious of ourselves and other people and all that world of things here. Spirit is just the God-conscious life. By our spirit we are conscious of God Who is Spirit, and all that realm. Self-conscious and God-conscious life, and because those two things were not defined, put apart and recognised in their difference, but allowed to overlap and bring about a state of confusion, they did not enter in. They failed because of unbelief. Well, what does that amount to? The self-conscious life predominated, and the God-conscious life did not predominate, was made subject and subservient. In other words, for them, everything was a matter of how self was affected by the situation and by the prospect. You find them again and again full of enthusiasm, full of zeal, full of what looked like real interest in the things of the Lord. Oh yes, they were going on, they were full of apparently real devotion to the Lord. But that was when the situation was pleasing them and when the prospect was presented so that it brought a great sense of possibilities for them, prospects for them, and their gratification. Oh, this is fine, this is good; tell us more about this wonderful land to which we are going, keep telling us about all its glorious wonders, and resources; go on, we are most interested in this, we are in for that! But it was all soul, self-conscious self-interest, self-gratification. And when there arose some situation, either present or in relation to that prospect which made it a matter of denying, sacrificing self, letting go self-interests, and having to face up to a very difficult situation which was going to be very costly to them, they were not so interested; their zeal went, and unbelief rose up; it was there and it rose up. They were not so concerned about this thing now, it was not now for them. What was it for? It was for the Lord ONLY first, and their interests were entirely eclipsed. They would only come into their inheritance when the Lord got His. The Lord first; “Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33), and that putting first often meant a letting go of everything personal.

LIVINGWALK NOTE: Readers are strongly encouraged to read “What is Man?” by T. Austin-Sparks; to gain a practical understanding of the tripartite nature of humanity (spirit, soul and body), and how these pertain to man’s complete (past, present future / spirit, soul, body) salvation. It is very likely that you have never been exposed to such essential truths, as contemporary Christendom has largely been influenced by Freudian (id, ego, super-ego) psychology and humanistic notions of the perfection of the self.

Does not that get right to the heart of this thing? What is disappointment to us? Can we always say that disappointment which we think is disappointment with the Lord and over His things is because we did so much want the Lord to have what He wanted irrespective of our interests at all; we were prepared to let everything go, WE were not mixed up in this thing somehow? In the Lord getting what He wants, we see ourselves figuring in some way. It has to be a very sharp instrument that gets in between those two things and defines them because they are so mixed up. Is it not true that faith wavers, weakens and ofttimes goes right down and under when in the way of the Lord’s interests OURSELVES are entirely shut out?

What is the key to faith then? The key to faith is this dividing of soul and spirit, or, in other words, it is the complete abnegation of self-interests – not in the Buddhist sense of annihilation, but in the sense of God’s interests becoming positive and predominant. That is where the battle of faith rages; it rages upon that ground always. If we were so utterly – and not one of us really is – if we were so utterly consumed for the Lord’s interests alone that no other interest in our lives had any precedence or power to govern us, we would be in victory all the time. It is this completely disinterested concern for what the Lord wants that is the key to faith. If Israel in the wilderness had taken this attitude – Well, this is a very difficult experience, but the Lord is after something, the Lord wants something, and He evidently knows that that is the best way to get it; all right, I am with Him, I may lose everything, I may suffer the loss of all things, but it is what the Lord wants that matters. The Lord wants us in that land; well, if it means everything, to be there for the Lord’s pleasure, that is the thing that matters – if that had been their attitude, do you think they would have journeyed forty years in the wilderness round and round, do you think at the border of the land they would have been turned back to perish in the wilderness? You can see in the consummation, that next generation which did go in, went in on this matter of faith only. The whole story is based upon faith.

There is the faith of Rahab the harlot; her faith was the key to the land – Jericho. Then there was the faith of going round six days in silence and on the seventh the shout of faith, without drawing a sword or turning a hand to do anything but go round – ridiculous! It is all such utter faith. They went up and possessed on that basis. That generation did enter in because of faith, whereas the generation before did not enter in because of unbelief. But this generation went up because Joshua and Caleb had said, If the Lord delight in us, He will bring us in (Num. 14:8). That is the matter – it is the delight of the Lord, perfectly disinterested concern for what the Lord wants, and that is one of the most difficult things in life, to get this self out of the way.

The Result of Faith

(a) Rest

So, just finally, a little word on the result of faith. First of all, of course, it is rest. We are not now thinking of some future rest, some future land, whatever our hymn writers have to say about it. You read again this fourth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, and you see “We who have believed do enter into that rest”. Some of us have already entered in, says the Apostle. God defines a day – it is not the future – and some of us do enter in. This rest is not a time period, it is a state, and the Apostle says here so clearly that entering into rest is simply a matter of entering into a settled faith in God. You know quite well that however doctrinal and technical this may seem, it is very true. We can prove it almost any day of our lives. When we get to the place where we put ourselves and what we would like on one side and accept the Lord’s will – not just resignedly saying Well, if that is what the Lord wants, I capitulate; if I could have it otherwise, I would, but this is evidently what the Lord wants: but if with all our heart we accept it and enter into this with the Lord to co-operate with Him, when we come there, rest enters into our souls, our souls come to rest, on all sorts of things, small and great.

(b) Power with God

Then victory comes because faith is power. If the Word of God is strong and clear about one thing, it is about this. Oh, faith is power. First of all, it is power with God. What is more powerful with God than to be well-pleasing to Him, and that is why I read about Enoch. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not found because God translated him: for he hath had witness borne to him that before his translation he had been well-pleasing unto God”. That is all centred in, and made to rest upon, faith. “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him”. Surely that is our ambition above all – to be well-pleasing unto Him. How? – to believe Him, to trust Him, to repose faith in Him, to be well-pleasing unto Him. It is power with God. We can consider that along the other line, that our weakness with the Lord is always found in our reservation, our question, our doubt, our uncertainty. That is our weakness with God, and the Lord waits.

(c) Power over Satan

It is victory over the Devil because, if there is one thing that is the playground of the Devil, it is unbelief, and if there is one thing that the Devil is always seeking to promote and maintain, it is unfaith. The hallmark of the Devil’s work from the Garden to the end is unbelief, doubt of God, to question about God and God’s ways – and God’s motives. That is where the Devil is coming all the time – with an ‘if’. If this and if that. If God were what He says He is, then this would not be. You know the thousands of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ of the Devil. The only power of victory over the Devil is faith in God. We can use the language of victory and power over Satan and it counts for nothing. We must have a new position of power over the enemy. The key is faith; it may be faith in the Blood, or in the Name, or in the Lord, but it is faith.

(d) Power over the World

It is power over the world. “This is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). The world in this sense is that whole system and order and atmosphere and attitude of things which must have the seen, and the present. What is the mark of the world? It must see, it must have now. Anything that is unseen and not present is utterly outside of the mentality of the world, and we know how much of the world there is in our nature and the battle is there. Faith overcomes that world that is in our own natures and around us. “The things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). Faith has to do with those things.

We could talk for many hours on the matter of faith. Please do not think I am laying down the law to you. God knows the battle in all of our hearts on this matter and how true we know this to be in our own experience. We simply talk to one another solemnly. We shall always have to fall down before Him and say, Lord, increase our faith! There will be many times when we shall say, Lord, I have not faith for that, I have not faith to face this, to accept this. It is a matter of a new dealing with the Lord on this question of faith. There is the fact, it has to be faced, to be settled, to be resolved again and again. Everything depends upon it – the Victory in every realm, going on with the Lord, getting through to what God has purposed. It is all this matter of faith in God, and thereby being well-pleasing unto Him. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11:6). Lord, increase our faith!

The Peril of Unbelief – W.E. Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Faith that Follows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Bad is it Really?

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

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

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

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

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

Is This the End Then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dark and Difficult Times – W.E. Smith

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

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

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Paul, when he spoke of those who were –

…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And to this we also add this exhortation from Hebrews –

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

And Jude –

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

And again, the words of James –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unbelief – Plain and Simple! – W.E. Smith

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent;
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by. ” (Ecclesiastes 3:14-15)

“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10)

“May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
“THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS,
AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” ” (Romans 3:4)

“…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,” (Titus 1:2)

Dear saints, lest we forget in this hour – the God we serve is no mere mortal! He cannot lie! His Word cannot fail! His plans are perfect and He will never repent of any of them! NOT ONE! If He has said it! He will do it! PERIOD!

Whether it relates to blessing or cursing, judgment, prophecy, past, present or future events –

HIS WORD WILL NOT FALL TO THE GROUND EMPTY! HIS PURPOSES WILL BE ESTABLISHED PRECISELY AS HE HAS DETERMINED!

Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. (Joshua 23:14, emphasis ours)

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matt. 5:18)

It will perform all and everything it was intended to do! NO EXCEPTIONS OR EXCLUSIONS! Every stroke, jot and tittle will be fulfilled! And all will be done according to His divine and perfect schedule; without delay or interruption; whether your or I or the devil himself agrees with it or not!

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power (Acts 1:7)

Now your friends, family and loved ones can and will let you down. Your pastor or teacher can disappoint you or lead you astray! All are flesh! All subject to weakness and corruption! All imperfect and inconstant!

But the God of All Creation; the Architect of All Life will never disappoint you! He who is OMNIPOTENT, OMNIPRESENT, and OMNISCIENT! He who holds all the universe in the hollow of His hand! It is impossible!

He knows your frame; that you are dust! BUT THE LORD  OF ALL LIFE brings forth life from out of the dust. Glorious Life! Eternal Life! God-blessed and God-breathed life!

Why do we limit Him then? Why do we reduce Him so; He who sits above the circle of the earth and rules from on high?

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isa 40:22)

earth

Why then do our needs and situations become magnified beyond His reach and help? Why do we fear and grow anxious, and let circumstances melt our hearts? Why do we worry about tomorrow or next week when He is already there? If He carries us today will He not carry us  then also?

Why do we love this present world and invest ourselves in it, when He has already judged and condemned it? It is as good as over already!

If He has spoken it dear saints, will He not also perform it?

Why do we limit Him so, and doubt His Word?

Why is it that what our eyes see and our hands touch is somehow more real, more reliable, more trustworthy than what the Creator of All Life has said?

Why brethren, why?

His Word says it is UNBELIEF! Plain and simple! And it is in all of us dear saints (myself more than anyone), and is far more terminal than any cancer that plagues the body!

If His Word is not enough for us; then I fear NOTHING WILL EVER BE ENOUGH, and I dare say we may not enter into His Glorious Kingdom if this is where we stand!

To reject His Word is to reject Him! To reject the Son is to reject the Father! To reduce His Word is to magnify the creation above all that He is, and this is nothing less than idolatry, and it will not stand – in you or me or any creature!

Read the passages above again and ask the Lord that they become rooted in your very spirit! Do not let them go. Do not put them down. Do not let the ‘birds of the air’ pluck them out of your heart. And these are only a sample of so many others declaring the preeminence and uncompromising fidelity of our God!

Our great and glorious God has been reduced and limited for far too long – not by his enemies even, but by those who claim to love Him. His Word has been suppressed and eclipsed by human experience, and human thought, and human ideas, and human philosophy, and human self-determination and human religion and human will – FOR LONG ENOUGH, and it is high time the people of God started believing Him again!

It is high time we start taking Him at His Word!

It is high time we started trembling at His Word!

It is high time we started closing our eyes to everything that contradicts His Word!

It is high time that we started fearing the Lord and taking His Word seriously again!

The nation of Israel, begotten, redeemed and  blessed of the Lord,  began to look upon their enemies and their place in the world as their only reality, and so when the very LIVING WORD OF GOD clothed in flesh stood before them and reached out to them, and pleaded with them to receive Him – they shrunk back in pitiful and inexcusable unbelief!

Beware brethren, lest the same be said of you, and you suffer a similar fate! And make no mistake –

Persistent unbelief (subsequent to coming to Christ in faith and being born spiritually from above) will prevent you from receiving the Lord’s commendation at the judgment seat, from entering the Father’s rest, from entering into the Lamb’s wedding feast, from partaking of His millennial kingdom (and glory), from ruling with Him for a thousands years, and most importantly, from bestowing upon our God the honor and dignity that He so richly deserves!

Note how Robert Govett associates unbelief with unreadiness, in his commentary on the parable of the faithful servant (Matthew 24:42) –

govettAs faith is the principle that brings to Jesus, so does it keep us abiding in Him; and unbelief, on the contrary, separates from Him. This unbelief of the heart soon manifests itself in the conduct. The sense of his responsibility and of account soon to be rendered would have made him diligent, humble, separate from evil. But, with unbelief, every other sin is connected, and he becomes proud, faithless, persecuting, and worldly.

He begins to beat the men-servants and the maidens. He ought to feed them; but he administers blows instead of food. He ought moderately to exercise his Master’s power; but he lords it over God’s heritage.

… He eats and drinks with the drunken. He is partaker then with other men’s sins. He is worldly with the worldly. They are taken up with eating and drinking, disbelieving the tidings of the Lord’s return. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. xv. 32). His secret unbelief consorts well with their own incredulity. For in these day are scoffers, denying the promise of the Saviour’s coming.

“Secret unbelief”. To men perhaps, but not to the Lord who searches the hearts of his servants. And when He descends into His Presence, and begins to plan His thief-like snatching away of the treasures within the house, what will be the state of our heart? Will we be a scoffer, or undecided? Will we be playing it safe and hedging our bets; with one foot in this world and one finger in His Kingdom? If so, then deep down we really don’t believe Him, do we?

Dear Christian, it all comes down to whether we trust His Word or not; whether we actually take Him seriously. Yet the time is running out and I do believe the hour is soon upon us. And so do we truly and deeply believe Him and all that He has proclaimed? This is what each of us has to determine for ourselves.

For He is God and there is no other! He is God and there is no other like Him!

And…

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb 10:31)

A word delivered in Jesus’ Name,

Do with it as the Spirit leads.

Oh Gracious and Faithful Father, please help our unbelief, that we would be found watchful and faithful at the coming of our Lord. Please help us Father. Help us.

In Jesus’ name. Amen

The Scab of Unbelief – W.E. Smith

Only a soul fed with pure truth accepts each new phase of it, and thereby grows in intelligence and confidence towards God. The soul that refuses truth is hindered in its course, stunted in its spiritual growth, and moves farther toward the flesh and the world with each rejection. (R. Govett)

Dear friends, precious to our Lord and Shepherd and King…

To walk by faith is everything, and yet it is that which is least amenable to this old man who lives persistently by his will, desires and worldly wisdom (all entering his being through the eyes primarily). Notice here what Robert Govett has written about this –

“There are many wrong motives and states of the heart, but there is only one right motive. Whatsoever is not of faith – is sin.” (emphasis added)

As the Lord, through His Spirit in the Word, reveals His treasures to us (especially those related to our heavenly inheritance as adopted sons and co-heirs in His Kingdom), He expects us to be perfectly obedient to that truth, wherever that obedience might lead. As the Lord forewarned all those contemplating allegiance to Him –

“Count the Cost!”

…for the costs are high – rejection, hardship, false accusations, sacrifice, loneliness, the forsaking of all that people of the world take for granted, the waiting indefinitely for a home and a place where you truly belong.

govettFor Robert Govett, it meant the abandonment of all the security, honor, worldly esteem, and privilege bound up in a career with the Anglican Church. And yet our Lord blessed this faithful servant mightily in the priceless revelation of His Word, perhaps unrivaled since the time of Paul the Apostle (and I choose this comparison carefully).

If we however, are disobedient to that which our Lord and Teacher reveals to us, this scab of unbelief will fester and thicken upon our hearts. He will no doubt persist with us for a time, as He is ever gracious and longsuffering with His students. But if this pattern of unfaithfulness and disobedience persists, this dullness of hearing and hardness of heart will develop into what well may be an irreversible condition of blindness and unprofitableness, such that He no longer reveals His treasures to us at all. This happened to the children of Israel, and it can happen to twice-born followers of the Lord’s Anointed as well!

How pitiful and tragic!

At that point, although birthed spiritually from above, at a most precious cost (in the blood of His Beloved Son) to Himself, we are (or become over time) good for nothing. Our salvation (the regeneration to life of the spirit within us making it at once possible to receive spiritual food) has thereby become cheapened and wasted. We have become what the scripture refers to as a vessel of dishonor and vomit for the spittle –

So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth (Rev 3:16)

Dear ones, please let the enormity of all of this settle deep into your hearts for as long as it takes. These are His own He is referring to here, so please do not be deceived into thinking that these are the lost. Here the Prince of Peace is actually spewing from His mouth those to whom He gave His precious and perfect blood to redeem. Astounding and terrifying!

“Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Cor 5:11)

Now it was said of the children of Israel after being brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand, that they failed to understand the Lord’s wonders wrought on their behalf –

Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea-the Red Sea. (Psalm 107:7)

After this it is revealed that they actually forgot these very wonders, but before this they failed to comprehend what the Lord was doing in saving and redeeming them. I considered this prayerfully for some time and I believe the Lord was impressing on me how vitally important it is that I comprehend (as the Spirit leads me) what my spiritual birth means in the larger context of His Glorious Purpose in Christ and His Kingdom.

To be saved or born again is indeed a marvelous and mighty thing dear saints, no less a miracle than when the Creator brought forth Adam from the dust and breathed life into him, or the Lord delivered Israel mightily out of the land of death, through the sea. Yet, we also, as His elect in this age can fail to understand the Lord’s ultimate and age-lasting intent in showing forth His life-giving power on our behalf.

For Adam, it was that he would exercise dominion over that which the Lord God had restored, in consort with the queen that was to come from his very body.

For the nation of Israel, it was that they, as His First Born Son would first meet Him in the wilderness, become a holy and enlightened people, then subsequently inherit the earthly and heavenly promises given to Abraham, and ultimately be a light of salvation and blessing to the gentiles.

And for us, it is precisely the same, that we might rule and reign, from the heavens, over the dominions of the earth, with our King on His Eternal Throne, in all holiness, justice and wisdom, for a thousand years.

And so to first understand what is involved and at stake is everything isn’t it? Then to trust Him and obey Him and follow Him as he leads us the long way home to the promised inheritance by One greater than Moses is essential. The lessons preserved for us are more than clear for those with eyes to see them, and a heart to receive them.

Oh that we would learn such lessons from former times and people; that there is in fact no good (none whatsoever) in ourselves; that, quite apart from how enlightened or fit to rule we think we are, there is no light in our eyes, and that to think we can attain the prize without first being trained and tested and brought to holiness and wisdom, is a delusion straight from the serpent. Indeed, this is the first lie isn’t it – that we can exercise the intended dominion without the requisite wisdom of God (fruit of the tree of life) to do so. To reign over God’s domain, apart from Himself – His blessing and provision, such that He receives no glory whatsoever? This is preposterous! For we were born anew solely that we might display His pre-eminent glory among those who have no knowledge of Him and His ways!

“I will set My glory among the nations; all the nations shall see My judgment which I have executed, and My hand which I have laid on them. (Ezekiel 39:21)

Fellow saints and brethren in the Lord, I must follow Him and be faithful to Him wherever that leads, and to be perfectly honest at this point, I am not sure where or what this is. Yet He who authored my faith (when I was born in Him) will also finish (or perfect) it as His coming. I believe this with all my heart and mind and spirit! It is truly all I have to hold fast to! And yet it is enough to be sure.

(Though on far too many days, more than I care to admit, I do not live up to these high sounding ideals, and become fearful, self-willed and small, distracted and hesitant to accept the full cost of obedience – forgive me and cleanse me dear Lord, for my heart so often dreams that which I cannot live up to).

But oh that He would enlighten my eyes, and help my unbelief, and bring me further into the wisdom of His Kingdom, into the mature knowledge of His Word, into a more perfect and complete understanding of the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus! Oh that I would enter deeper into His fullness, that will one day fill all things! That I would trust him completely and absolutely and without equivocation! For it is not He or His Word that is untrustworthy and faithless but I! I have failed Him many, many, many times, but it is impossible for Him to fail me!

Impossible dear ones –

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess 5:24)

But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (2 Thess 3:3)

God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor 1:9)

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut 7:9)

Please pray for me my friends, and all of His little ones who hear His voice from outside the door of this Laodicean age, that we would hear Him and follow Him, whatever the cost; that we would be found faithful at His Coming, that we would follow Him alone as the Way and Truth and Life, through this wilderness onward to perfection, maturity and glory!

All is by faith! All we have and need is to be found faithful to His Word (Read all of Psalm 119 – on your knees preferably). Though everything seen and all evidences known may contradict His Word and His Promises, we must grip tightly to all that He has “breathed” into the world, lest this scab of unbelief leads us away from Him and we die in this wilderness, not having received the promised inheritance. The threat is real and tangible, and the many in this generation will (tragically) fall away. But let it not be said of us, that we did not endure to the end, that we did not keep the word of His patience with steadfastness, that we failed to overcome, that we did not trust the good report of the land out ahead of us, and the Lord’s ability to establish us therein.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev 3:22)

Oh Gracious and Loving Father, Lord of all Life and Glory –

Please complete that mighty work which you began in us, and lead us to the ultimate purpose for our being created anew in Your Beloved Son – to reign with Him in His Kingdom such that You alone might receive all the Glory Father! Help us Lord to walk by faith alone, and to abide by every word which you have breathed into this world. Teach us and feed us with your glorious and precious scriptures Lord, and lead us in all things by your Most Holy Spirit. In patience correct us, and help us to lay down all and anything that is revealed to be false or incomplete, regardless of the price to be paid – the approval of men, church membership, security in this world, job and salary, even family and friends – whatever the cost, however high Oh Lord, help us to be willing to pay it in faith and love to everything you have commanded us. Thank you Father that all of your promises are AMEN, and that your word will not and cannot ever fall to the ground; that everything that we have set our hopes on will be fulfilled. Lead us home to the place you have prepared for us dear Lord, such that we might serve you and love you forever!

In Jesus Precious Name. Amen

Note: for my readers who are not familiar with the writings of Robert Govett, I encourage you to visit the web site of Schoettle Publishing, and review the many offerings there. His books are rare, so this is the best place to get started. You will not be disappointed my friends. I dare say, that in in my most humble opinion, there has not been a servant of the Lord since Paul the Apostle who has so fully brought forth the whole counsel of God, past present and future. (WES)