Tag Archives: Lord

In God we Trust?

30 Nov
Do you trust God… really?  The truth is, a lot of people might say yes, but they don’t act like it.  And worse, because they don’t trust Him, they might actually steal from Him! “Come on!” you say, “No one would steal or embezzle money from God.”  But God’s shocking message to His people is, “Ye have robbed me” (Malachi 3:8). Real records prove that billions of people steal from God, and as amazing as it may seem, they use that stolen money to subsidize their own reckless spending!  Yet many are unaware of their larceny, and in this Study Guide, we’ll show you how to avoid that same mistake and how to prosper financially through real faith in God.
One tenth of a person's income belongs to God.

One tenth of a person’s income belongs to God.

1. According to the Bible, what portion of our income belongs to the Lord?

“And all the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s.” Leviticus 27:30.

Answer:   The tithe belongs to God.

The word

The word “tithe” literally means “tenth.”

2. What is the “tithe”?

“I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance.” “The tithes of the children of Israel … I have given to the Levites to inherit.” Numbers 18:21, 24.

Answer:   The tithe is one-tenth of a person’s income.  The word “tithe” literally means “tenth.”  The tithe belongs to God.  It is His.  I have no right to keep it.  When I tithe, I am not making a gift; I am simply returning to God what is already His.  Unless I am returning one-tenth of my income to God, I am not tithing.

The tithe is to be brought into God's storehouse, or church.

The tithe is to be brought into God’s storehouse, or church.

3. Where does the Lord ask His people to bring the tithe?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse.”  Malachi 3:10.

Answer:   He asks us to bring the tithe into His storehouse.

4. To what does the Lord refer when He speaks of His storehouse?

“Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.” Nehemiah 13:12. (The marginal reference calls treasuries “storehouses.”)

Answer:   In Malachi 3:10, God refers to the storehouse as “mine house,” which means His temple or church.  Nehemiah 13:12 further points out that the tithe is to be brought to the temple treasury, which is God’s storehouse.  Other texts that refer to the storehouse as the temple treasuries, or chambers, include 1 Chronicles 9:26 (see margin); 2 Chronicles 31:11, 12 (see margin); and Nehemiah 10:37, 38.  In Old Testament times, God’s people brought 10 percent of all their increase–including crops and animals–to the storehouse.

5. Some have thought that tithing was part of Moses’ system of rites and ceremonies that ended at the cross.  How does the Bible help us understand that this is not so?

“And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all.”  Genesis 14:20.  And in Genesis 28:22, Jacob said, “And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”

Answer:   These passages reveal that both Abraham and Jacob, who lived long before Moses’ day, tithed their income.  We can therefore conclude that God’s plan of tithing preceded Moses’ law.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that although they should tithe, they must not neglect the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees that although they should tithe, they must not neglect the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness.

6. But didn’t Jesus abolish the plan of tithing?

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Matthew 23:23.

Answer:   No! On the contrary, He endorsed it.  Jesus was rebuking the Jews for omitting the more important matters of the law–“judgment, mercy, and faith”–even though they were meticulous tithers.  He then plainly told them they should continue tithing, but should also be just and merciful and faithful.

In Old Testament days, the tithe was used to pay the priests.

In Old Testament days, the tithe was used to pay the priests.

7. For what was tithe used in Old Testament days?

“I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” Numbers 18:21.

Answer:   The tithe in Old Testament days was used for the income of the priests.  The tribe of Levi (the priests) received no portion of land for crop-growing and business operatons, while the other 11 tribes did.  The Levites worked full-time taking care of the temple and ministering to God’s people.  So God’s plan was that the tithe support the priests and their families.

Today, tithe is to be used to pay the salaries of God's ministers.

Today, tithe is to be used to pay the salaries of God’s ministers.

8. Did God change His plan for tithe usage in New Testament days?

“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?  Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14.

Answer:   No! He continued it. His plan today is that tithe be used to support those who work solely in gospel ministry.  If all people tithed and the tithe were used strictly for the support of gospel workers, there would be more than enough money to reach the entire earth very quickly with God’s end-time gospel message.

God promises that faithful tithe payers will receive blessings so great that they will not have room enough to receive them.

God promises that faithful tithe payers will receive blessings so great that they will not have room enough to receive them.

9. What startling proposal does God make to people who feel uncertain about tithing?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10.

Answer:   He says, “Prove me now” and see if I will not “pour you out a blessing” too big to receive.  This is the only time in the Bible that God makes such a proposal.  He is saying, “Give it a try. It will work. I promise you.” Hundreds of thousands of tithers the world over will gladly testify to the truth of God’s tithing promise.  They have all learned the truth of the words: “You can’t out-give God.”

10. When we tithe, who really receives our money?

“And here men that die receive tithes; but there he [Jesus] receiveth them.” Hebrews 7:8.

Answer:   Jesus, our heavenly High Priest, receives our tithes.

When I take God's tithe and use it for myself, I repeat the sin of Adam and Eve.

When I take God’s tithe and use it for myself, I repeat the sin of Adam and Eve.

11. What test did Adam and Eve fail, which all of us must pass if we would inherit His heavenly kingdom?

Answer:   They took things that God said were not theirs.  God gave Adam and Eve the fruit of all the trees in the garden of Eden except one – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16, 17). The fruit of that tree was not theirs to eat.  They were to leave it alone. Eve said they were not even to touch it (Genesis 3:3).  But they did not trust God.  They ate the fruit and fell – and the long, horrendous, wrenching sojourn in sin began.  To people today, God gives His riches, wisdom, and all of the other assets and blessings of heaven.
Everything is ours – except one-tenth of our income, which is His (Leviticus 27:30).  But as with Adam and Eve, He does not take it by force.  He leaves it within our reach but warns, “Don’t take that. It is holy. It is mine.”  When we knowingly take God’s tithe and appropriate it for our own use, we repeat the sin of Adam and Eve and thus display a tragic lack of trust in our Redeemer.  God does not need our money, but He deserves our loyalty and trust.
Make God Your Partner When I return God’s tithe, I make Him a partner in everything I undertake.  What a fantastic, blessed privilege: God and I – partners!  With Him as my partner, I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  It is an awesomely dangerous venture to take God’s own money, which He has earmarked for the saving of souls, and use it for our own personal budgets.

God's people gladly give offerings as an expression of their love for Him.

God’s people gladly give offerings as an expression of their love for Him.

12. In addition to the tithe, which belongs to God, what else does God ask of His people?

“Bring an offering, and come into his courts.” Psalms 96:8.

Answer:   The Lord asks us to give offerings for His work as an expression of our love for Him and our thanksgiving for His blessings.

The Bible does not specify the amount to be given for offerings.

The Bible does not specify the amount to be given for offerings.

13. How much shall I give to God as offerings?

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Answer:   The Bible does not specify a set amount for offerings.  Each person decides (as God impresses) how much to give and then gives it cheerfully.

14. What additional Bible principles does God share with us regarding giving?

Answer:   A. My first priority should be to give myself to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5).
B. I should give God my very best (Proverbs 3:9).
C. God blesses the generous giver (Proverbs 11:24, 25).
D. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
E. When stingy, I am not rightly using my God-given blessings (Luke 12:16-21).
F. God returns more than I give (Luke 6:38).
G. I should give in proportion to how God has prospered and blessed me (1 Corinthians 16:2).
H. I should give as I am able (Deuteronomy 16:17).
We return tithe to God, to whom it already belongs. We give offerings.  Offerings are voluntary and should be given joyously.

The world and everything in it belong to God.

The world and everything in it belong to God.

15. What does the Lord own?

Answer:   A. All the silver and gold in the world (Haggai 2:8).
B. The earth and all its people (Psalms 24:1).
C. The Lord owns the world and everything in it (Psalms 50:10-12). But He permits people to use His great riches. He also gives them the wisdom and power to prosper and to accumulate wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).  In return for furnishing everything, all God asks is that we return to Him 10 percent as our acknowledgement of His great investment in our business affairs, plus offerings as an expression of our love and gratitude.

God considers people robbers who do not tithe and give offerings.

God considers people robbers who do not tithe and give offerings.

16. How does the Lord refer to people who do not return His 10 percent and give offerings?

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8.

Answer:   He refers to them as robbers.  Can you imagine people stealing from God?

Those who rob God by withholding tithes and offerings will not be permitted to enter heaven.

Those who rob God by withholding tithes and offerings will not be permitted to enter heaven.

17. What does God say will happen to those who knowingly continue to rob Him in tithes and offerings?

“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.”  Malachi 3:9.  “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:10.

Answer:   The curse of God will rest upon them.  They will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

A preoccupation with accumulating money makes one grasping and proud.

A preoccupation with accumulating money makes one grasping and proud.

18. God warns us against covetousness.  Why is it so extremely dangerous?

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34.

Answer:   Because our hearts follow our investments.  If my focus is on accumulating more and more money, my heart becomes covetous, grasping, and proud.  But if my focus is on sharing and helping others and blessing God’s work, then my heart becomes caring, loving, liberal, and humble.  Covetousness is one of the 20 terrible sins of the last days that will shut people out of heaven (2 Timothy 3:1-7).

To steal from Jesus grieves Him much.

To steal from Jesus grieves Him much.

19. How does Jesus feel when we rob Him of His sacred tithe and love offerings?

“Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart.” Hebrews 3:10.

Answer:   He probably feels much as a parent whose child steals money from him.  The money itself is not the big thing.  It is the child’s lack of integrity, love, and trust that is deeply disappointing.

Love caused God's people in Macedonia to give very liberally to the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem.

Love caused God’s people in Macedonia to give very liberally to the famine-stricken Christians in Jerusalem.

20. What thrilling points does Paul stress about the stewardship of the believers in Macedonia?

Answer:   Paul had written the churches in Macedonia asking them to please lay aside some funds for God’s people in Jerusalem, who were suffering terribly from an extended famine.  He told them he would pick up these gifts when he came to their cities on his next visit.  The thrilling response from the churches in Macedonia, described in 2 Corinthians chapter 8, is most heartening:
A. Verse 5A is a first step, they rededicated their lives to Jesus Christ.
B. Verses 2, 3 Though in “deep poverty” themselves, they gave “beyond their power” to give.
C. Verse 4 They urged Paul to come and pick up their gifts.
D. Verse 9 Their gifts followed the sacrificial example of Jesus.
Note: If we truly love Jesus, giving sacrificially for His work will never be a burden, but rather a glorious privilege that we will perform with great joy and satisfaction.

When a person tithes, God stretches the remaining nine-tenths so there is always enough.

When a person tithes, God stretches the remaining nine-tenths so there is always enough.

21. What does God promise to do for those who are faithful in returning tithes and giving offerings?

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.  And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:10-12.

Answer:   God promises to prosper His faithful financial stewards, and they will be a blessing to those around them.
Consider the Following Ways God Blesses:
A. God promises that your nine-tenths will go further with His blessing than your total income would go without it.  If you doubt this, ask any faithful tither.
B. Blessings are not always financial.  They may include health, peace of mind, answered prayers, protection, a close-knit and loving family, added physical strength, ability to make wise decisions, a spirit of thankfulness, a closer relationship with Jesus, success in soul-winning, an old car kept running longer, etc.
C. He becomes your partner in everything. No one except God could ever structure a plan so utterly fantastic.

22. Are you willing to begin tithing your income and giving offerings to demonstrate your love and thankfulness?

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Is Obedience Legalism?

26 Nov
People might feel like they can get away with violating a traffic law or cheating on their taxes, but God and His laws work much differently.  God sees everything we do, hears everything we say, and He really does care about how we behave.  While the Lord offers forgiveness for our sins, there still are deadly consequences for breaking God’s law.  Amazingly, some Christians say any attempt to obey God’s law amounts to legalism.  Yet Jesus said if you really love God, you’ll do what He asks.  So is obedience legalism? Take time to read this Study Guide carefully… eternal consequences are at stake!
God knows and cares for YOU personally.

God knows and cares for YOU personally.

1. Does God really see and take note of me personally?

“Thou God seest me.” Genesis 16:13. “O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou … art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Psalms 139:1-4. “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Luke 12:7.

Answer:   Yes, God knows each one of us (every person on earth) better than we know ourselves. He takes a personal interest in every human being and carefully watches all that we do. Not one word, thought, or deed is hidden from Him.

Search the Bible for God's will.  It is your only safety.

Search the Bible for God’s will.  It is your only safety.

2. Can I be saved in His kingdom without obeying His Word, as found in the Holy Bible?

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21. “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. ” Matthew 19:17. “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 5:9.

Answer:   No! Scripture is very clear on this point. Salvation and the kingdom of heaven are for those who obey the Lord’s commands. God does not promise eternal life to those who merely make a profession of faith or are church members or are baptized, but rather to those who do His will, which is revealed in Scripture. Of course, this obedience is possible only through Christ (Acts 4:12).

Only one path leads to heaven.  The Bible is the map that shows us the way.

Only one path leads to heaven.  The Bible is the map that shows us the way.

3. Why does God require obedience? Why is it necessary?

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:14. ” But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” Proverbs 8:36. “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive.” Deuteronomy 6:24.

Answer:   Because there is only one narrow path that leads to godlikeness, and thus to His kingdom. All roads do not lead to the same place. The Bible is the map and guidebook with full instructions, warnings, and information on how to safely reach that kingdom. To disregard any part of it leads away from God and His kingdom. The universe of God is a universe of law and order. Natural, moral, and spiritual laws are involved. Breaking any of these laws always has certain fixed results. If the Bible had not been given, people would sooner or later have discovered (by trial and error) that the great principles of the Bible exist and are true.
These Bible principles are written in our nervous systems, glands, and minds. When ignored, they result in shattered nerves, disease, and unhappiness of every kind. So the words of the Bible are not merely advice which we can accept or ignore without consequences. The Bible tells what these consequences are and explains how to avoid them. A person cannot live any way he wishes and still become godlike any more than a builder can ignore the blueprints for a house without running into trouble. This is why God asks all to follow the blueprint of the Holy Scripture. There is no other way to become like Him and thus be fitted for a place in His kingdom. And there is no other way to true happiness.

Sin can be safely destroyed by God only after all people understand and admit that He is just, loving, and merciful.

Sin can be safely destroyed by God only after all people understand and admit that He is just, loving, and merciful.

4. Why does God permit disobedience to continue? Why not destroy sin and sinners now?

“Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14, 15. “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:11.

Answer:   God permits disobedience and sin to continue until all people everywhere are at last fully convinced of God’s justice, love, and mercy. All will finally realize that God, by requiring obedience, is not trying to force His will upon us, but rather is trying to keep us from hurting and destroying ourselves. The sin problem is not settled until even the most cynical and hardened sinners are convinced of God’s love and confess that He is just. It will take perhaps a major catastrophe or worse to convince some, but the horrible results of sinful living will finally convince all that God is just and right. Then, and only then, can sin and disobedience be safely brought to an end by the Lord.

All who knowingly choose not to follow Christ will finally be destroyed with the sin they love.

All who knowingly choose not to follow Christ will finally be destroyed with the sin they love.

5. Will God actually destroy the disobedient?

“God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4. “All the wicked will he destroy.” Psalms 145:20. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

Answer:   No question about it. The disobedient, including the devil and his angels who sinned, will be destroyed. This being true, surely it is high time to abandon all fuzziness regarding what is right or wrong. People had better stop letting their own foolish whims and egotistical notions guide them and pay attention to God’s great book. And they had better do it now–there is not much time left!

God promises that if I seek His Word for truth and sincerely follow it, I will not end up in error.

God promises that if I seek His Word for truth and sincerely follow it, I will not end up in error.

6. I want to obey all of God’s rules. How can I be certain I will not overlook one?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, … rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” John 7:17. “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35. “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me.” Psalms 18:44.

Answer:   God leaves no room for doubt. He promises to keep me from error and lead me safely to all truth if I: (1) pray earnestly for guidance, (2) sincerely study God’s Word, and (3) follow truth as soon as I am shown.

Playing ostrich in spiritual matters leads to tragedy and destruction.

Playing ostrich in spiritual matters leads to tragedy and destruction.

7. Does God count me guilty for disobeying Bible truth that has never been made clear to me?

“If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41. “To him that knoweth to do good,and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” Hosea 4:6. “Seek, and ye shall find.” Matthew 7:7.

Answer:   If I have had no opportunity to learn a certain Bible truth, God does not hold me accountable. But the Bible teaches that I am responsible to God for all the light (knowledge of right) I have and all I can have! Many people who refuse or neglect to study, seek, learn, and listen will be destroyed by God because they have “rejected knowledge.” To play ostrich in these exceedingly crucial matters is fatal. It is my responsibility to hunt diligently for truth.

Only two of the thousands of Israelites who left Egypt followed God fully and were able to enter the promised land of Canaan.

Only two of the thousands of Israelites who left Egypt followed God fully and were able to enter the promised land of Canaan.

8. But God isn’t particular about obedience on every point and in small details, is He?

“Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt … shall see the land … because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb … and Joshua … for they have wholly followed the Lord.” Numbers 32:11, 12. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

Answer:   Indeed, He is particular. God’s people in Old Testament times learned this the hard way. Those who left Egypt for the promised land of Canaan were 603,550 in number. Of this group, only two (Caleb and Joshua) fully followed the Lord, and they alone entered Canaan. The other 603,548 died in the wilderness. Jesus says we are to live by “every word” of the Bible. There is not one word too many or one word too few. They are all important.

Unless I follow light as soon as it is revealed, it eventually turns to darkness.

Unless I follow light as soon as it is revealed, it eventually turns to darkness.

9. When I discover new truth, I wait until all obstacles are removed before embracing it. This is best, isn’t it?

“Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you.” John 12:35. “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” Psalms 119:60. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me.” Psalms 18:44.

Answer:   No, once you are clear on a Bible truth, it is never best to wait. In fact, procrastination is the devil’s most dangerous trap. It seems so harmless to wait, but the Bible teaches that unless a person acts immediately upon light, it quickly turns to darkness. Obstacles to obedience are not removed while we stand and wait; instead, they usually increase in size. Man says to God, “Open up the way, and I’ll go forward.” But God’s way is just the opposite. He says, “You go forward, and I will open up the way.”

Satan invented the lie that obedience is impossible.

Satan invented the lie that obedience is impossible.

10. But isn’t full obedience an impossibility for a human being?

“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14. “He that abideth in me, and I in him, … bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19.

Answer:   None of us can obey in our own power, but through Christ we can and must. Satan, in order to make God’s requests appear unreasonable, invented the falsehood that obedience is impossible.

If I ignore God's loving warnings, I will perish.

If I ignore God’s loving warnings, I will perish.

11. What will happen to a person who willfully and knowingly continues in disobedience?

“If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26, 27. “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” John 12:35.

Answer:   The Bible leaves no room for doubt. The answer is sobering and shocking, but true. When a person knowingly rejects light and continues in disobedience, the light eventually goes out, and he is left in total darkness. A person who rejects truth receives a “strong delusion” to believe that falsehood is truth (2 Thessalonians 2:11). When this happens, he is lost from that moment.

No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them.

No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them.

12. I thought love was more important than obedience. Isn’t it?

“Jesus answered … If a man love me, he will keep my words. … He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” John 14:23, 24. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3.

Answer:   No, not at all! In fact, the Bible teaches that true love to God cannot exist without obedience. Nor can a person be truly obedient without love. No child will fully obey his parents unless he loves them, nor will he love his parents if he does not obey. True love and obedience are like Siamese twins. When separated, they die.

Only the citizen who obeys the law has freedom.  Likewise, true Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience.

Only the citizen who obeys the law has freedom.  Likewise, true Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience.

13. But I always thought that true freedom in Christ released me from obedience. Doesn’t it?

“If ye continue in my word, … ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:31, 32, 34. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” Romans 6:17, 18. “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” Psalms 119:44, 45.

Answer:   No. True freedom comes only from obedience. It means freedom “from sin” (Romans 6:18), or disobedience, which is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). The citizens who obey the law have freedom. The disobedient are caught and lose their freedom. Freedom without obedience is like the false freedom of the drifting balloon or the driverless car. It leads to confusion and anarchy. True Christian freedom means freedom from disobedience. Disobedience always hurts a person and leads into the cruel slavery of the devil.

Loving children obey their parents even though they may not always understand their request.  The same is true of children of God.

Loving children obey their parents even though they may not always understand their request.  The same is true of children of God.

14. When I believe God requires a certain thing, should I obey even though I do not understand why He requires it?

“Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord … so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.” Jeremiah 38:20. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Proverbs 28:26. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9. “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Romans 11:33, 34. “I will lead them in paths that they have not known.” Isaiah 42:16. “Thou wilt shew me the path of life.” Psalms 16:11.

Answer:   Most assuredly! We must give God credit for being wise enough to require some things of us we may not understand. Good children obey their parents even when the reasons for their commands are not clear. Simple faith and trust in God will cause us to believe that He knows what is best for us and will never lead us in any wrong path. It is folly for us, in our ignorance, to question God’s leadership, even when we may not fully understand all His reasons.

The devil wants you to disobey God because he hates you and wants you to be lost.

The devil wants you to disobey God because he hates you and wants you to be lost.

15. Who is really behind all disobedience, and why?

“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” 1 John 3:8, 10. Satan … deceiveth the whole world.” Revelation 12:9.

Answer:   The devil is responsible. He knows that all disobedience is sin and that sin brings unhappiness, tragedy, alienation from God, and eventual destruction. With bitter hatred he tries desperately to lead every person into disobedience. You are involved. You must face the facts and make a decision. Disobey and be lost, or accept Christ and obey and be saved. Your decision regarding obedience is a decision regarding Christ. You cannot separate Him from truth, because He says, “I am … the truth.” John 14:6. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Joshua 24:15.

Following the miracle of the new birth (conversion), God continues working miracles to bring us Christian growth.

Following the miracle of the new birth (conversion), God continues working miracles to bring us Christian growth.

16. What glorious promise regarding a super-miracle does the Bible give God’s children?

“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.

Answer:   Praise God! He promises that just as He worked a miracle to bring us the new birth, He will also continue to work needed miracles in our lives (as we gladly follow Him) until we are safe in His kingdom.

17. It brings me joy to know that Jesus not only provides the new birth to those who accept and follow Him, but He also continues to work needed miracles in their lives until they are safe in His kingdom.  I want to begin lovingly obeying and following Jesus fully at once

God Drew The Plans

19 Nov
We all know that 4,000 years ago, on the grand summit of Mt. Sinai, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.  But most people don’t know that at the same time, the Lord gave Moses the blueprints for one of the most mysterious structures ever built – the sanctuary. It must have been important, because the Israelites could not enter the Promised Land until it was completed. This unique portable temple represented God’s dwelling place among His people, and its services showed the nation of freed slaves a three-dimensional panorama of the plan of salvation.  A careful look into the secrets of the sanctuary will crystallize your understanding of how Jesus saves the lost and leads the church. The sanctuary is also a key to understand several prophecies. This awesome Study Guide lets you explore the sanctuary and discover its hidden meanings. An exciting adventure awaits you!
God Himself gave Moses the plans for the sanctuary.

God Himself gave Moses the plans for the sanctuary.

1. What did God ask Moses to build?

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”  Exodus 25:8.

Answer:   The Lord asked Moses to erect a sanctuary, a special building that would serve as a dwelling place for the great God of heaven.
A Brief Description of the Sanctuary The sanctuary was an elegant, tent-type structure (15′ x 45′ based on an 18-inch cubit) where the supernatural presence of God dwelt and special services were conducted.
The walls were made of upright acacia (wooden) boards, set in silver sockets and overlaid with gold (Exodus 26:15-19, 29).  The roof was made of four layers of coverings: linen, goat’s hair, ram’s skin, and badger skin (Exodus 26:1, 6-14).  It had two rooms:  the holy place and the most holy place.  A thick, heavy veil or curtain separated the rooms.  The courtyard, the area around the sanctuary, was 75′ x 150′ (Exodus 27:18).  It was fenced with fine linen cloth supported by 60 pillars of brass (Exodus 27:9-16).

2. What did God expect His people to learn from the sanctuary?

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?”  Psalms 77:13.

Answer:   God’s way, or plan of salvation, is revealed in the earthly sanctuary.  The Bible teaches that everything in the sanctuary or connected with its service was a symbol of something Jesus would do in saving us.  This means we cannot fully comprehend the plan of salvation until we understand the symbolism connected with the sanctuary.  Thus, the importance of this Study Guide can hardly be overstated.

The sanctuary and its services were to demonstrate the plan of salvation.

The sanctuary and its services were to demonstrate the plan of salvation.

3. From what source did Moses obtain the blueprints for the sanctuary?  Of what was the building a copy?

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.”  “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”  Hebrews 8:1, 2, 5.

Answer:   The sanctuary blueprints and full specifications for its construction were given to Moses by God.  They were a copy of the original sanctuary in heaven, which was the pattern for Moses’ sanctuary.

4. What furniture was in the courtyard?

4. What furniture was in the courtyard?

Answer:   A. The altar of burnt offerings where animals were sacrificed was located in the courtyard, just inside its entrance (Exodus 27:1-8).  This altar represented the cross of Christ.  The animal represented Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice (John 1:29).
B. The laver, located between the altar and the entrance of the sanctuary, was a large washbasin made of brass.  Here priests washed their hands and feet before offering a sacrifice or entering the sanctuary (Exodus 30:17-21 38:8).
The water represented cleansing from sin, or the new birth (Titus 3:5).

5. What furniture was in the holy place?

5. What furniture was in the holy place?

Answer:   A.  The table of shewbread (Exodus 25:23-30) represented Jesus, the living bread (John 6:51).
B.  The seven-branch candlestick (Exodus 25:31-40) represented Jesus, the light of the world (John 9:5 1:9).  The oil represented the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:1-6 Revelation 4:5).
C.  The altar of incense (Exodus 30:7, 8) represented the prayers of God’s people (Revelation 5:8).

The mercy seat represents God's throne in heaven, which is also located between two angels.

The mercy seat represents God’s throne in heaven, which is also located between two angels.

6. What furniture was in the most holy place?

Answer:   The ark of the covenant, the only piece of furniture in the most holy place (Exodus 25:10-22), was a box or chest of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Standing atop the chest were two angels made of solid gold.  Between these angels was the mercy seat (Exodus 25:17-22), where the supernatural presence of God dwelt.  This symbolized God’s throne in heaven, which is likewise located between two angels
(Psalms 80:1).

The Ten Commandments were inside the ark. They represent God's character, which He implants within His people.

The Ten Commandments were inside the ark. They represent God’s character, which He implants within His people.

7. What was inside the ark?

Answer:   The Ten Commandments, which God wrote on tables of stone with His own finger, and which His people will always obey (Revelation 14:12), were inside the ark (Deuteronomy 10:4, 5).  But the mercy seat was above them, which signified that as long as God’s people confessed and forsook sin (Proverbs 28:13), mercy would be extended to them through the blood which was sprinkled on the mercy seat by the priest (Leviticus 16:15, 16).  The blood of the animal represents Jesus’ blood that was shed for us to bring us forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:22).

The animals sacrificed represented Jesus, who sacrificed His life for all people.

The animals sacrificed represented Jesus, who sacrificed His life for all people.

8. Why did animals need to be sacrificed in the Old Testament sanctuary services?

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”  Hebrews 9:22.  “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:28.

Answer:   The sacrificing of animals was necessary to help people understand that without the shedding of Jesus’ blood, their sins could never be forgiven.  The ugly, shocking truth is that the punishment for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23).  Since all of us have sinned, all of us should die.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they would have died at once except for Jesus, who stepped forward and offered to give His perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the death penalty for all people (Revelation 13:8).  After sin, God required the sinner to bring an animal sacrifice (Genesis 4:3-7).  The sinner was to kill the animal with his own hand (Leviticus 1:4, 5).  It was bloody and shocking.  And it indelibly impressed the sinner with the solemn reality of sin’s awful consequences (eternal death) and the desperate need of a Saviour and a substitute.  Without a Saviour, no one had any hope for salvation.
The sacrificial system taught, through the symbol of the slain animal, that God would give His Son to die for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus would become not only their Saviour, but also their substitute (Hebrews 9:28).  When John the Baptist met Jesus, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29.  In the Old Testament, people looked forward to the cross for salvation.  We look backward to Calvary for salvation.  There is no other source of salvation (Acts 4:12).

Animal sacrifices taught the shocking truth that sin would cost the death of Jesus.

Animal sacrifices taught the shocking truth that sin would cost the death of Jesus.

9. How were animals sacrificed in the sanctuary service, and with  what meaning?

“And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” “And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward.”  Leviticus 1:4, 11.

Answer:   When a sinner brought a sacrificial animal to the door of the courtyard, a priest handed him a knife and a basin.  The sinner laid his hands on the animal’s head and confessed his sins.  This symbolized the transfer of sin from the sinner to the animal.  At that point, the sinner was considered innocent and the animal guilty.  Since the animal was now symbolically guilty, it had to pay sin’s wage–death.  By slaying the animal with his own hand, the sinner was thus graphically taught that sin caused the innocent animal’s death and that his sin would cause the death of innocent Jesus.

10. When a sacrificial animal was offered for the entire congregation, what did the priest do with the blood? What does this symbolize?

“And the priest that is anointed shall bring of the bullock’s blood to the tabernacle of the congregation: And the priest shall dip his finger in some of the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the vail.”  Leviticus 4:16, 17.

Answer:   When a sacrifice was offered for the sins of the entire congregation, the blood was taken by the priest, who represented Jesus (Hebrews 3:1), into the sanctuary and sprinkled before the veil which separated the two rooms.  The presence of God dwelt on the other side of the veil.  Thus, the sins of the people were removed and symbolically transferred to the sanctuary.  This ministry of the blood by the priest foreshadowed Jesus’ present blood-ministry for us in heaven.  After Jesus died on the cross as our sacrifice for sin, He arose and went to heaven as our Priest to minister His blood in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:11, 12).  The blood ministered by the earthly priest represents Jesus applying His blood to our record of sins in the sanctuary above, showing that they are forgiven when we confess them in His name (1 John 1:9).

As our sacrifice, Jesus brings us a completely transformed life with all sins forgiven.

As our sacrifice, Jesus brings us a completely transformed life with all sins forgiven.

11. Based on the sanctuary services, in what two major capacities does Jesus serve His people?  What fantastic benefits do we receive from His loving ministry?

“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.”  1 Corinthians 5:7.  “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:14-16.

Answer:   Jesus serves as the sacrifice for our sins and as our heavenly Priest.  Jesus’ death as our sacrificial lamb and substitute, and His continual powerful ministry as our heavenly Priest, accomplish two incredible miracles for us:
A. A complete life change called the new birth, with all the sins of the past forgiven (John 3:3-6 Romans 3:25).
B. Power to live right in the present and future (Titus 2:14 Philippians 2:13).
These two miracles make a person righteous – which means a right relationship exists between the person and God.  There is no possible way for a person to become righteous by works (his own efforts), because righteousness requires miracles which only Jesus can accomplish (Acts 4:12).  A person becomes righteous by trusting Jesus to do for him what he cannot do for himself.
This is what is meant by the biblical term “righteousness by faith.”  I ask Jesus to become the ruler of my life and trust Him to work the needed miracles as I cooperate fully with Him.  This righteousness, which is miraculously accomplished for me and in me by Jesus, is the only true righteousness that exists.  Every other kind is a counterfeit.

Jesus, by His miracles, will cause us happily to do only the things that please God.

Jesus, by His miracles, will cause us happily to do only the things that please God.

12. What six sublime promises does the Bible give us about the righteousness offered to us through Jesus?

Answer:   A. He will cover our past sins and count us as guiltless (Isaiah 44:22 John 1:9).
B. We were created in God’s image in the beginning (Genesis 1:26, 27).  Jesus promises to restore us to God’s image (Romans 8:29).
C. Jesus gives us the desire to live right and then grants us His power to actually accomplish it (Philippians 2:13).
D. Jesus, by His miracles, will cause us to happily do only the things that please God (Hebrews 13:20- 21, John 15:11).
E. He removes the death sentence from us by crediting us for His sinless life and atoning death (2 Corinthians 5:21).
F. Jesus assumes responsibility for keeping us faithful until He returns to take us to heaven (Philippians 1:6 Jude 1:24).
Jesus is ready to fulfill all these glorious promises in your life. Are you ready?  Kneel down now and ask Him to take control of your life.  He will not fail you.

Our role in salvation is to lovingly and willingly follow where Jesus leads.

Our role in salvation is to lovingly and willingly follow where Jesus leads.

13. Does a person have any role at all to play in becoming righteous by faith?

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 7:21.

Answer:   Yes, Jesus says we must do His Father’s will.  In Old Testament days, a person who truly had been converted kept bringing lambs to sacrifice, indicating his sorrow for sin and his whole-hearted desire to let the Lord totally lead in his life.
Today, though we cannot work the miracles needed to become righteous, we must daily recommit to Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:31), inviting Him to control our lives so those miracles can take place.  We must be willing to be obedient and to follow where Jesus leads (John 12:26 Isaiah 1:18-20).
Sin causes us to want to have our own way (Isaiah 53:6) and, thus, rebel against the Lord as Satan did in the beginning (Isaiah 14:12-14).  Permitting Jesus to rule our lives is sometimes as wrenchingly difficult as having an eye plucked out or an arm torn off (Matthew 5:29, 30), because sin is addictive and can be overcome only by God’s miraculous power (Mark 10:27).
Many believe that Jesus will take all who profess salvation to heaven, regardless of their conduct.  But this is not so.  It is a fabrication of Satan.  A Christian must follow Jesus’ lifestyle (1 Peter 2:21).  The powerful blood of Jesus can accomplish this for us all (Hebrews 13:12), but only if we give Jesus full control of our lives and happily follow where He leads, even though the path may sometimes be stony and rough (Matthew 7:13, 14, 21).

The Lord's goat represented Jesus, who would die for our sins.

The Lord’s goat represented Jesus, who would die for our sins.

14. Can you help me understand the day of atonement?

Answer:   A.  Once each year, on the day of atonement, a solemn day of judgment took place in Israel (Leviticus 23:27).  All were to confess every sin.  Those who refused were that very day cut off forever from the camp of Israel (Leviticus 23:29).
B.  Two goats were selected: One, the Lord’s goat the other, the scapegoat, representing Satan (Leviticus 16:8).  The Lord’s goat was slain and offered for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:9).  But on this day the blood was taken into the most holy place and sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14).  Only on this special judgment day did the high priest enter the most holy place to meet God at the mercy seat.
The sprinkled blood (representing Jesus’ sacrifice) was accepted by God, and the confessed sins of the people were transferred from the sanctuary to the high priest.  He then transferred these confessed sins to the scapegoat, which was led into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:16, 20-22).  In this manner, the sanctuary was cleansed of the sins of the people, which had been transferred there by the blood sprinkled before the veil and had been accumulating for a year.

Israel's day of atonement was a symbol of the final judgment, which will forever settle the sin question throughout the universe.

Israel’s day of atonement was a symbol of the final judgment, which will forever settle the sin question throughout the universe.

15. Does the day of atonement symbolize or foreshadow a part of God’s great plan of salvation, as did the other facets of the earthly sanctuary and its services?

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”  Hebrews 9:23.

Answer:   Yes.  That day’s services pointed to the blotting out of sin by the real High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.  Through His shed blood applied to those written in the book of life, Christ would confirm the decisions of His people to serve Him eternally.  This special judgment day, like that of Israel’s Yom Kippur, foreshadowed the final atonement to be made for planet Earth.  From the yearly type of the ancient day of atonement, all of humanity is assured that our faithful High Priest, Jesus, still mediates in heaven for His people and stands ready to blot out the sins of all who will exercise faith in His shed blood.  The final atonement leads to the final judgment, which settles the sin question in the life of every individual, culminating in either life or death.

 

Determining the Will of God

17 Nov

By Doug Batchelor

Determining the Will of God
“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.” —John 6:38-40
In 1692, the city of Port Royal, Jamaica, literally slid into the sea when it was struck by a massive earthquake. Many had predicted that this corrupt city of pirates and cutthroats would one day suffer God’s judgment. Therefore, the disaster surprised no one, least of all the handful of religious men who were swept to their doom along with the wicked. One such man was Lewis Galdy, who was born in France but left for the New World in search of religious freedom. When the first violent shock came, Galdy was buried deep beneath the earth. Amazingly, he remained conscious and understood what had happened. He resigned himself to the will of God. But much like Jonah in the belly of the sea monster, a few moments later, the ground shook a second time and exploded, throwing Galdy flying high through the air and out over the churning sea. He landed unhurt in the water and swam until a boat picked him up. Galdy lived for 47 years after his miraculous escape. He died in 1739 and today his tombstone still tells the story of his amazing experience.
The safest place in the world to be is in the middle of God’s will.  It doesn’t matter if you are surrounded by war, typhoons, tornadoes, volcanoes, or earthquakes; if you’re in the middle of God’s will, you have nothing to worry about. The Bible says, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17 NKJV). If you are following God’s will, you have eternal life.
David Livingstone said, “I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God than on the throne of England out of His will.” If being in the will of God means that you’re working in some lonely, distant, mosquito-infested mission field, you are still in the best place you could possibly be.
As a pastor, I often hear the questions: “How do I know that I’m doing what God wants me to do? How do I determine the will of God for my life?” These are very good questions. In fact, they’re the most important questions you can ask as a Christian. Why? Because Jesus taught us to say “Thy will be done.”
Of course, we all must abide by the general principles regarding the will of God, which are universal. It is God’s will for everyone to be holy, loving, and true. But at the same time, the Lord has individual plans for each person that are as varied and unique as snowflakes.
This short book is going to focus on the biblical principles that will help you find God’s will for your life. Not a Chance?  Before getting into a list of ways we can apply biblical principles to determine the will of God, let’s first address some of the dubious methods people often use.
To start with, Christians should avoid resorting to methods that amount to flipping a coin. I’m not saying God cannot speak through a coin, but coin tossing is something they do in football games. It might work for the NFL, but if I’m making a life decision, I want more direction than heads or tails.
Of course, in the Bible, some issues were decided by casting lots. Normally, a group would take a clay jar with a narrow opening and put in a number of stones of one color and one odd stone of a different color. The stone mouth was just big enough to shake out one stone at a time. The jar would go around from person to person, each shaking the vessel and dropping out a stone. If the off-color lot fell on you, it meant that you were chosen as a leader. (They also cast lots for Jesus’ clothing and on Jonah’s “fishing” trip.)
You might flip a coin when the family is trying to decide whether to eat Mexican or Chinese for dinner. However, casting lots when making big decisions for your life is not advisable. God wants you to use your brain. He even says, “Come now, let us reason together.” You should never say, “Whom shall I marry? Well, I’ll cast lots.” That system won’t impress your potential in-laws. Rather, you want to be using a number of biblical criteria, which we’ll discuss a little later.)
When the priests picked the two goats on the Day of Atonement, they selected two perfect specimens. One would be chosen as the Lord’s goat, and one would be the scapegoat. They cast lots to determine the scapegoat. The point is that they were choosing between two goats that were identical in nature. (It could be that God did not wish for humans to be proud they decided the final outcome.) In that sense, casting lots is okay. But when making big decisions, be thoughtful and don’t leave it to chance.
And sometimes when flipping a coin, a person doesn’t get the side they want, so they say, “Let’s do two out of three.” They just keep on flipping the coin until they get the result they want. I also know someone who was praying about a big decision, and he wasn’t sure whether or not he was to flip a coin to choose between the available options. He flipped the coin, and the coin rolled over against the wall and stood up on its end! It’s like God was saying, “Don’t do that! You’re giving me just two options. I might have a thousand options you know nothing about.” Don’t corner the Lord by using this kind of method. You’re trying to limit how God is going to answer you. So use your brain and pray for divine wisdom instead.
Getting Fleeced
When Gideon was trying to get reassurance that he was supposed to go into battle against the Amalekites and the Midianites, he put out a fleece—a sheepskin for a kind of sleeping bag—in the field. He said, “If I wake up in the morning and there’s dew on the fleece but not on the ground, that will be a sign.” Well, that happened. Then he thought, “Well, maybe that’s a natural occurrence. Lord, let’s try this one more time. Tomorrow let the fleece be dry and the dew on the ground.” That’s how it happened, and finally Gideon felt reassured. Some people have all kinds of different fleeces that they put out for the Lord, and sometimes it’s not bad to say, “All right, Lord. I’m going to look for providential evidence.” But we can get into a pattern of throwing out fleeces to test God’s will, never willing to go with the answer from the fleece the night before. Nothing will give you assurance in God’s will like the list below. There might be a time for it, but avoid getting yourself into the habit of throwing out fleeces.
Bible Roulette
The daughter of a famous evangelist once told me the story of when her mother was praying about whether or not to marry a young, handsome evangelist. She said, “Lord, I have to know this is your will.” She prayed and agonized, needing reassurance that this was the right man. So she took her Bible and flipped it open. She was praying with her eyes closed by her bed, and she put her finger down on a verse—when she opened her eyes, it was on Genesis 24:58, which says, “They called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go.” When you pray about whom to marry and you flip the Bible open and this is the place where your finger lands—that’s a pretty strong indicator.  You’ve probably met someone who makes decisions by quickly flipping through the Bible and, wherever their finger lands, he says, “That must be God’s message to me.” Once again, be very careful about using your Bible like an Ouija board. I’m not saying that God is incapable of leading in this way; sometimes the Lord winks at our ignorance (Acts 17:30). But I don’t think it’s advisable if you lack a strong relationship with God. You might flip your Bible open and plop your finger down where it says Isaiah walked naked and barefoot three years (Isaiah 20:3). That’s obviously not His will for your life, so be careful.
Dreams, Visions, or Hallucinations?
Can God guide us through a dream? He can, but the majority of your dreams are just gibberish that comes when your brain is defragmenting the things you’ve experienced through the day, kicking all sorts of bizarre things through your mind (Ecclesiastes 5:3). Some people have weird dreams, so they visit a psychoanalyst who helps them try to understand if there is any hidden meaning in them. But sometimes it’s just too much pizza before bedtime. Don’t put a lot of emphasis on making a life decision based on your wacky dreams.
And finally, regarding visions, you’ve might have heard about the farmer who was hoeing in the field on an extremely hot day. He was a young farmer, and he wondered if he was supposed to spend his life doing this work. As he was pondering, he looked up in the sky and saw that the wind was moving the clouds around. All of a sudden, he distinctly saw the letters “P” and “C” in the sky. He thought it was a message from God to “Preach Christ,” so he threw down his farm equipment, cleaned up, got his Sunday suit on, and started going around the community preaching. Stunned, people asked, “Zeb, what’s going on?” He said, “God showed me in a vision I’m supposed to be a preacher.” So he spent several months preaching, but experienced dismal results. His family was getting hungry, so about eight months later, Zeb is back out in the field hoeing corn. Someone asked, “Zeb, what’s up? I thought God gave you a vision that you’re to preach Christ.” He answered, “Well, I’ve concluded ‘PC’ really meant Plant Corn.”
Be careful about allowing dreams and visions to be primary criteria. If you’re going to base decisions on dreams and visions, make sure there is reinforcing evidence. A lot of these extraordinary methods that people use to determine God’s will are reserved for when He speaks to chosen prophets. If that’s not you just yet, take a moment now to discover some biblical and common-sense ways to discern the will of our Creator.
Okay … Now Where Do We Begin?
We face a lot of big decisions in our lifetimes. When young people get out of high school, they need to ask: “What college will I attend? What will I study? Will I even go?” Then they must decide about a job and a spouse. “What job should I pursue? Who am I going to marry? Do I say yes to the first person who asks? Should I marry at all?”
Before we get into determining what God would have you do in any given circumstance, let’s deal with some basics. First and foremost, it is God’s will for you to be saved. The Lord is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). What you are doing in life as a vocation should take a back seat if you don’t yet have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Second, when some natural disaster strikes and destroys houses, we often hear insurance companies refer to it as “an act of God.” That’s not always true. Not everything that happens is the will of God. As we read, God is not willing that any should perish, but some are going to perish. Obviously, you and I have also done some things in our lives that were out of God’s will.
So we can’t always say it’s “an act of God” when a typhoon strikes and thousands die. Remember, it was the devil who brought trouble in the story of Job. I think we’ll be surprised when we get to heaven and God pulls back the veil; we’ll be a witness to the cosmic battle between good and evil and see that God didn’t always get what He wanted.
Besides, why would He tell us to pray that His will be done if it is always done anyway? That’s why we should be pursuing the will of God in our lives. If God’s will always happens, we wouldn’t have to do anything to figure it out. But it doesn’t always happen, so we have to do our best to search out—and be in—God’s will for the sake of His kingdom.
So I’m going to give you a brief list that will help you determine God’s will in your life. This list comes from those whom I respect the most: the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible, great Bible scholars and commentators, and friends and fellow pastors. I believe this list is both grounded in the Word of God and everyday common sense.
Be Willing and Surrendered
Someone once determined that in the United States, a person has more than 23,000 ways to make a living. The odds are not in your favor to simply guess about what you’re supposed to do as a career. Instead, you want divine leading in your life. You want God to give you wisdom on how to discern His plan for you.
The first step is also the most important and often the most difficult: Be fully surrendered and willing. John 7:17 says, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (NKJV). God will let you know His will—if you are truly willing to do it once you understand what it is.
Ask God to give you a submissive and willing heart when trying to discern His will. Plus, surrender yourself to Jesus before expecting Him to lead you some place to work on His behalf. If your heart is in a state of rebellion and you’re not surrendered, why would God show you His will? All He would do is add to your compounded guilt.
“The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way” (Psalm 25:9 NKJV). I once heard about a simple man in the Congo who prayed, “Lord, you be the needle, I’ll be the thread. You go first, and I’ll follow wherever you lead.” That’s the kind of humble attitude we need to discern God’s will. You might not like what He’s about to show you, but make up your mind that by His grace you will do it before you even know what it is.
Be Guided by His Word
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). When you are searching for God’s will, you need to open the Bible even more than you normally would. Ask God to help you find specific guidance for your life in His Word.
Sometimes, it’s even possible to find out what the Bible says on the exact options you’re considering. Indeed, the Word has a lot of practical things to say about God’s will. For starters, the law of God can help you discern whether He wants you to do one thing or another. That can mean an emphatic yes or no found right in the commandments.
As a pastor, I’m still a bit surprised that a lot of married Christians wonder, “Should I leave my spouse and go off with another person?” They might even say, “It just feels so right. We can see God’s blessing. We’ve got so much peace. We see this as God’s will for us.” But this isn’t something you need to pray about. The answer is right there in the Ten Commandments. God has clearly stated His people are never to do this kind of thing.
Okay, you want something more challenging? What if someone says, “In order to get an incredible career opportunity, I just need to work during two Sabbaths for one month until I get tenure”? Well, you don’t really need to pray about that either. If God says to do no common work during the Sabbath, you already have His clearly stated will for your life concerning that job. It’s a slam-dunk. “I delight to do thy will: … thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). Consider Christian Counsel
“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). When searching for God’s will, find others who have good judgment and will be honest with you.
What kind of counsellors? “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV). In other words, don’t get counsel from people whose lives are a disaster; they’re probably not in the best position to give you advice. The local tavern is also not the best place to get counsel on God’s will either.
Instead, find people who are doing God’s will themselves. Do they have a consistent spiritual witness? If they’re blessed like Joseph in Egypt and you can see the hand of God is over them, they’re probably good picks for counselors. Plus, be sure to get a few different opinions—the verse says “counsellors.” If a doctor says you have a life-threatening disease and you feel fine, you might consider a second opinion. Maybe you can even find a third opinion if this is something really important.
Godly friends can help you take honest inventory of yourself and discover your gifts and talents. They might point you in a direction you weren’t even considering. Growing up, no one thought I was going to be a pastor. It didn’t even occur to me when I became a believer. But when I started giving Bible studies to friends, more and more people I respected said, “Doug, have you considered the ministry?” They said, “You need to pray about it. We think you have gifts in those areas.” So through collective counsel of godly people, I moved in this direction. God will do the same for you through good counsel, if you ask Him.
Observe Providence
“I came … to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). God will often show you what He wants you to do through providential events that happen around you. So when seeking His will, keep your eyes open.
As in the case of the Apostle Paul above, look for doors that open and close. God often guides us in His will by closing doors to some opportunities and opening doors to others.
If God closes a door, don’t try to kick it down just because it’s what you really wanted. Some of us don’t want to admit that doors can be closed. Like Balaam, we’re beating our donkey to go somewhere, and we don’t know that an angel in standing in our way. You might even miss the wide-open door full of blessings that’s just around the corner. You won’t see it because of your stubborn tunnel vision.
In fact, God will often permit you to do something that is not His will because you’re pushing for it. It’s like an overweight man at the office who says, “I’m going on a diet; I’m giving up donuts!” But the next day, he shows up with a big box of them. His co-workers ask, “Wait! We thought you swore off donuts!” He replies, “Well, it was God’s will that I get these donuts. You see, before I left for work, I drove by the donut shop. That place is always packed, and it’s hard to find a parking place. So I said, ‘Lord, if there is a parking place right in front of the door, then I’ll know it’s your will for me to get some donuts.’ And you know, I only had to drive around the block 10 times for a parking space to open up. I knew it was God’s will!”
Be careful. Everything can go wrong when we’re kicking against God’s will to do our own. Remember, Balaam lost his life for this tragic mistake. Make sure you’re following God’s will by only going through the open doors in harmony with His Word. And He will open doors—for ministry, for opportunity, for careers, for relationships—you just need to ask.
Pray (and Fast)
“This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14, 15). When you want to know God’s will, you need to pray He will guide you. But you also need to harmonize your requests with His will.
In John 15:15, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” (NKJV).
If you want to know the will of God, be a friend of God. How do you become His friend? You talk to Him—all the time. When the angels were on their way to destroy Sodom, they stopped by to visit Abraham. God asks, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (Genesis 18:17). Friends talk about their plans together, so spend time praying and talking to the Lord. God reveals His will to His friends and servants.
In addition to prayer, your discernment of God’s will might include fasting, which is a deeper level of seeking clarity regarding God’s will. In 2 Chronicles 20, when Israel was surrounded by her enemies, Jehoshaphat commanded the people to fast and pray. In response to their obedience, God gave the nation guidance and deliverance.
And in Acts 13, when the disciples were wondering what their next missionary endeavor was to be, the Bible says, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” I’m sure they applied other criteria, but notice that they knew the direction God wanted them to go as they fasted and listened.
Fasting often clears the mind and helps us separate the carnal desires from spiritual priorities. Put more simply, the radio reception improves. Have Faith, But Don’t Be Foolhardy.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6). In determining the will of God, you need faith. If you’re going to pray and fast to know His will, then believe that He’ll show you His will. The Bible says the just shall live by faith, so trust that God has a plan for you and that He’s going to show it to you in His time.
One Bible scholar wrote, “When you’ve sought to know His will, your part in the operation with God is to believe that you will be led and guided and blessed in the doing of His will.” Think about that for a moment. If you’re willing to do His will, then God is responsible to reveal His will to you. But you must believe.
Yet while having faith is crucial, we shouldn’t be foolhardy. Sometimes the road we need to take is the safe one. When you’re pondering all the options in your life, if one of them is risky when it comes to living the Christian life, don’t tempt the devil to see how close to the edge of sin you can get. That’s the last move you want to make. Get as far away from that edge as you can get.  Sometimes when I’m preparing an illustration for a sermon, I think, “Boy, this illustration is a little on the edge, Lord. Should I share it?” A little voice says, “Doug, do the safe thing—don’t share it. I will give you something else to make this point clear.”
Be faithful and cautious when seeking His will. Don’t take unnecessary risks with your soul.
Glorify God and Don’t Be Selfish
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). When you are seek-ing after God’s will, make sure that the option you choose will glorify Him.
If one of your options is going to harm His kingdom, then it is the wrong option. Never forget to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
In every decision, ask yourself, “Lord, is this going to reach more people for you? What will make the biggest impact for your kingdom? How will I be the best advertising for your glory?” This is a vital factor in your decision process. It is part of loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
And much like trying to consider God’s glory in our decisions, we need to remember the effect it will have on our neighbors—whether that’s our spouse, parents, children, or whoever. “None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7).
I’m always saddened when I’m helping people trying to make a decision about their life, and all they’re thinking about is, “What is this going to mean for me? How much will I get paid? Will I like the climate?” Instead, they need to be thinking of their families and how their decision is going to affect those around them.
Galatians 5:14 says, “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Christians should be governed by love—not just for God, but for others too. Sometimes I’m amazed by the simple faith of those I work with in ministry. They get job offers with better pay and hours, but they realize that where they are touches so many people’s lives. They realize that God’s will for them is to stay in His service where they already are.  The mature Christian doesn’t need to know what’s in it for himself. It’s a sign of true conversion when someone isn’t always saying, “What’s in it for me?”
Be Guided by the Holy Spirit
“Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). In searching for God’s will, you need to listen for that still, small voice.
Of course, that’s sometimes a very hard thing to hear. But it’s a very important one to search out. How else did Abraham know when he was supposed to take his son to the altar? God will speak to you, and He will send His Holy Spirit to guide you. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling led by God’s Spirit?”
Years ago, Arabs often found themselves crossing vast deserts. Frequently, someone in the caravan would have a dove. If a sandstorm came through and the caravan lost its bearings, the person would release the dove after the storm. Because of the dove’s homing instincts, it would begin to fly straight home and the caravan would follow.  The Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to a dove in the Bible. Many times, the Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit said” go here; other times it said, “Don’t go” (Acts 16:7). He was really in touch with the Spirit of God. And you can actually test whether it’s the Spirit of God, because the Holy Spirit will never lead you contrary to the Word of God.
You want to have the tug of the Holy Spirit guiding you. The Bible says the Holy Spirit will show us the way we should go. Mature Christians will have a certain peace when God’s Spirit is telling them what to do.
Be Patient and Be Faithful to Where You Are
“We count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11). In deciding the will of God, you must determine to be patient.
Sometimes we become restless and want to do just about anything but keep guessing at what we should do. We want to act sooner than later, but sometimes God wants you to wait.
You say, “But I’ve already been waiting so long!” Be glad. You’re better off waiting for God’s will having the right job, the right spouse, or the right school than rushing ahead of the Lord and having the wrong job, the wrong spouse, or the wrong school. You’re going to be miserable if you aren’t patient. “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19).
Moses wanted to deliver the Israelites doing it his way and in his time. It backfired in murder, and he waited 40 years before he got another opportunity. He learned his lesson. In Exodus 14:13, he says, “Fear ye not, stand still.” Often God’s people didn’t know what to do or where to go, but God said for them to just stand still. “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17).
Sometimes, God’s will for you is simply to be patient. (See Psalm 90:4.) Apparent delays could mean that rather than you pick-ing an option, God’s will is coming to you special delivery. You just need to stay where you are and watch what happens. God could be saying, “Stay right there. I’m going to change everything without you doing anything.”  “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). But while you’re waiting patiently for new directions, continue to do the work at hand with all your heart. Many fail to fulfill the present will of God for their lives because they are longing for something different.
I heard that one time, the king of Bavaria got tired of all of his responsibility in the monarchy and began to long for the life of a monk. He went to a monastery and told the head monk, “I’ve decided to join the monastery.” The monk replied, “Are you sure?” The king said, “I am.” The monk asked, “Are you willing to submit to the discipline of the monastic life? It is very vigorous.” The king answered, “I am. I’m longing for that peace.” The monk warned, “You must obey absolutely.” The king agreed. The monk then said, “Your first order is to go back to the palace and be king.” From that point, the king knew it was his calling to be a king.
Determine Your Heart’s Desire
“May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose” (Psalm 20:4 NKJV). When exploring God’s will for your life, don’t forget to consider what you want. Don’t be ashamed of including this in your list of criteria.
Sometimes God will place things on your heart because He wants you to do that thing—and because it is in your heart, you want to do it too.
Most everyone assumes that they need to follow a traditional route in life—get married and get a job. They are so certain it’s the right thing to do that they’ll marry someone they don’t like and become a dentist even though teeth give them the willies. But it’s a myth to believe that God’s will automatically means doing something we don’t really want to do. If you’re truly converted, He can and will often implant within your heart a burning desire to do the very thing He wants you to do. By your converted nature, your desires will begin to align with the Lord’s.
Many times, you’ll pray about something that you want, and God’s answer will be, “You know I love you. I want to give you what you want.” But the key to this is found in Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” If your delight is God and His will, you’ll be finding out He’s giving you the desires of your heart. That’s exciting when you think about it. He’ll surprise you!
Tally the Evidence
“In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). Have you ever used a GPS device in your car? When you first turn one on, it can’t tell you immediately your location or which way you need to go. You need to wait a moment as the device begins to acquire satellites. But you’ll notice that it will often say “awaiting more satellites” or “awaiting better accuracy” even though it has already given you a direction to go. As it picks up another satellite, it will give you more accurate directions because of its ability to triangulate your position.
It should work that way when you are trying to discover God’s will. We’ve looked at a number of criteria from the Bible and common sense of how you can determine the will of God in any aspect of your life. Sometimes you are going to need a number of these criteria to overlap, to “triangulate,” before you can truly see where God is pointing you. You need to do a little math—add things up—and make your decision.
Make a list. Ask yourself, “What does God’s Word say.” If the answer isn’t as obvious as you think you need, ask, “What do my counselors say?” and “Which one of my choices truly glorifies God?” Keep tallying the results until you have a decision you can stand on firmly.
When I was courting my wife, we each made a list of the pros and cons about marrying. (I hope she still remembers all the pros.) We were able to ask all these same questions, and we each ultimately made a decision based on the preponderance of evidence. Perhaps you think making a list isn’t very romantic when choosing a spouse? Think it tosses out passion? Prayerfully evaluating compatibility does so much to ensure many years of blissful romance.
Are You Already There?
You might be wondering, “This is all great advice. But I’m supposed to be where I am. I believe I am in the middle of God’s will right now.” That is indeed a wonderful place to be, but chances are that at some point in your life, you will need a course adjustment.  Oceanic oil drilling used to consist only of platforms that would be anchored deep into the seafloor. Drilling from these floating barges didn’t work efficiently because drill lines and pipes would crack under the constant motion and undulation of the ocean currents. But now they can drill from sophisticated ships that make constant corrections for the motion. They have computer-controlled propellers all the way around them and they are no longer anchored in one place. The ships can actually modify their position constantly through microsecond adjustments from the computer, so they can keep drilling on the exact center.
That’s how it should be with a Christian. We need to be consistently measuring that we’re in the middle of God’s will based on the criteria listed in this book. Once you stop calibrating, it’s very easy for us to begin drifting. (Of course, you always want to be tethered to Jesus Christ, but you always need to be sure that you are!) You might be in the right vicinity of God’s will, but you still might not be in the middle of God’s will. Keep reviewing the list until you find exactly where God can use you most effectively. Conclusion
Romans 12:2 says, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”—why?—“that ye may prove [test] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Many otherwise faithful Christians are finding themselves doing the imperfect will of God. They are restless and unhappy. Sometimes that means they aren’t being the consistent witness God knows they could be.
Each one of us needs to strive for that good and acceptable, perfect will of God. Even though man is separated from God because of sin, He has given us a way to discover His will—and He has given us the power to do it. Be pliable clay in the Potter’s hands and keep calibrating. Not only will you have joy in heaven; you’ll have it right here on earth.
Is your life off track? Are you struggling to make the right decision? Are you afraid of where God might lead you—out of your comfort zone and into a strange land? Remember always that God doesn’t want what’s worst for you; He wants what’s best for you. You’ve got to trust Him that in the end, you’ll always be happier being in the middle of His will.
“Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Eventually, everyone in heaven will be doing the perfect will of God. If we want to be there, we must start practicing right now!

Purity & Power!

13 Nov
Are you tired of hurting your loved ones and wounding your conscience?  Do you live in constant regret for your past mistakes?  Have you ever wished you could take a bath and come out clean inside and out?  Then we have great news for you… you can! God has a plan that can totally wash all your sins away and supercharge your character – preposterous? Not at all! Christ says, “We are buried with him by baptism” (Romans 6:4). When you accept Christ, the old life dies and the Lord promises to forget all our sins!  Not only that, He can help you overcome every sinful habit in your life. Did you know the cross is mentioned 28 times in the Bible, but baptism is mentioned 97 times? It must be pretty important then, and no wonder, because it signifies a new life with the haunting, sinful past buried and forgotten forever.  Read the Bible’s amazing facts on this incredible subject… you’ll never be the same!
This verse makes it clear that baptism is necessary for salvation.

1. Is baptism really essential?

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16.

Answer:   Yes, indeed! How could any language or words make it plainer?

Circumstances made it a human impossibility for the thief on the cross to be baptized.

2. But the thief on the cross was not baptized, so why should I be?

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Psalms 103:14.

Answer:   Neither did he restore what he had stolen, as the Lord specifically directs in Ezekiel 33:15. God holds us accountable for what we can do, but He also recognizes the limitations of “dust.” He will not require a physical impossibility. Could the thief have come down from the cross, he immediately would have been baptized. This is the only example in the Bible of an exception to this rule. God wanted to make certain that no one would be presumptuous in refusing baptism.

Only ONE method of baptism is biblical, not 14.

3. There are many ordinances called baptism. Isn’t any one of these acceptable, provided a person is sincere and earnest about it?

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:5.

Answer:   No! There is only one true baptism. All other so-called baptisms are counterfeits.
Note: The devil’s “buffet” plan for baptism says, “Take your pick. The method of baptism doesn’t matter. It is the spirit that counts.” But the Bible says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Ephesians 4:5. It also says, “Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the Lord.” Jeremiah 38:20.

Jesus was baptized by immersion.

4. How was Jesus baptized?

“Jesus … was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened.” Mark 1:9, 10.

Answer:   By immersion! Notice that after the ordinance, He came “up out of the water.” Jesus was baptized “in Jordan,” not on the bank, as many believe. John always found a place to baptize where “there was much water” (John 3:23), so it would be deep enough. The Bible commands us to follow Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2:21). Any baptism other than immersion breaks this command. The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptizo.” It means “to dip under or submerge or immerse.” There are eight different Greek words in the New Testament used to describe the application of liquids. But among these various words–meaning to sprinkle, to pour, or to immerse–only the one meaning “to immerse” (baptizo) is used to describe baptism.

Philip baptized the Ethiopian by immersion.

5. But didn’t the disciples or the apostles change the method of baptism?

“They went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip.” Acts 8:38, 39.

Answer:   No! Please notice that Philip, a leader in the early church, baptized the treasurer of Ethiopia by immersion precisely as John baptized Jesus. And the apostle Paul warned that any who teach contrary to what Jesus taught should be “accursed.” Galatians 1:8. No person–no matter how godly–is authorized to change God’s words and commands.

All forms of baptism other than immersion come from people rather than Scripture.

6. Since Jesus and the disciples baptized by immersion, who introduced these other so-called baptisms which exist today?

“In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.

Answer:   Misguided men introduced other forms of baptism in direct contradiction of God’s Word. Jesus says, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” Matthew 15:3, 6. Worship that follows human teaching is “vain.” Just think of it! The sacred ordinance of baptism has been changed and made of little consequence during truth’s hazardous journey through the centuries. No wonder the Bible exhorts us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3.

There are three simple things a person must do prior to baptism.

7. What must a person do to prepare for baptism?

Answer:
A. Learn God’s requirements. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them … Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19, 20.
B. Believe the truth of God’s Word. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Mark 16:16.
C. Repent of and turn away from his sins and experience conversion. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Acts 2:38. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Acts 3:19.

When I am baptized, I affirm my belief in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

8. What is the meaning of baptism?

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:4-6.

Answer:   It represents the believer following Christ into His death, burial, and resurrection. The symbolism is perfect and filled with deep meaning. In baptism the eyes are closed, hands are folded, and breath is suspended as in death. Then comes burial in the water and resurrection from the watery grave to a new life in Christ. When raised from the water, the eyes open and the candidate begins breathing again and mingles with friends, a complete likeness of resurrection. The great difference between Christianity and every other religion is simply the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In these three acts is made possible all that God desires to do for us. To keep these three vital acts alive in the minds of Christians until the end of time, the Lord instituted baptism by immersion as a memorial. There is no symbolism of death, burial, and resurrection in other forms of baptism. Only immersion fulfills the meaning of Romans 6:4-6.

 Death to sin.  Old life buried in the waters.  Raised a new person in Christ.

New Christians are like toddlers learning to walk.  They sometimes slip and fall.

9. But a person shouldn’t be baptized until he is certain he will never slip and fall, should he?

“If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12.

Answer:   This is like saying a baby should never try to walk until certain that he will never slip and fall. A Christian is a newborn “babe” in Christ. This is why the experience of conversion is called “the new birth.” The ugly, sinful past no longer exists for a child of God. A person’s sinful past is forgiven and forgotten by God at conversion. And baptism symbolizes the burial of that old life. We begin the Christian life as babies, rather than adults, and God judges us on our attitude and the trend of our life, rather than on a few slips and falls that we may experience as immature Christians.

Baptism is a glorious event because it symbolizes the burial of the old life of sin and the beginning of a new life in Christ.

10. Why is baptism an urgent matter for a converted sinner?

“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16.

Answer:   Baptism is a public testimony that the repentant sinner has been forgiven and cleansed by Jesus (1 John 1:9) and that his sinful, traitorous past is behind him. No incriminating evidence against a person exists after conversion.
Men and women today stagger and struggle along under heavy loads of guilt and sin. This contamination and burden is so devastating to the human personality that people will go to almost any length to achieve a sense of forgiveness and cleansing. Many have been driven to the psychiatrist’s couch, where human beings earnestly attempt to assist other human beings. But the real help is found in coming to Christ, who says to all who approach Him, “I will be thou clean.” Matthew 8:3. Not only does He cleanse, but He crucifies the old nature of sin within you. Burial in the water of baptism symbolizes the burial of the ugly corpse of the old sinful life. The ordinance is of utmost importance because it publicly represents the most stupendous provisions ever made for people.

Philip baptized the Ethiopian treasurer the same day he accepted Christ as his Saviour.

11. How long does it take to prepare for baptism?

Answer:   That depends on the person. Some grasp things more quickly than others. But in most cases, preparation can be made in short order. Here are some Bible examples:
A. Ethiopian treasurer (Acts 8:26-39)baptized same day he heard truth.
B. Philippian jailer and his family (Acts 16:23-34)baptized same night they heard truth.
C. Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-18)baptized three days after Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus.
D. Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48)baptized same day he heard truth.
At conversion, God:
1. Forgives and forgets our past.
2. Miraculously transforms us into new spiritual beings.
3. Adopts us as His own sons and daughters.
Certainly no truly converted person would want to delay baptism, which publicly pays tribute to Jesus for working all these miracles.

God is pleased with people who are baptized by immersion.  Is He pleased with your baptism?

12. How does God feel about the baptism of a converted person?

Answer:   He said at His Son’s baptism, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17. So, today, God is well pleased when a person is baptized by immersion in harmony with His command. Those who love the Lord will always strive to please Him (1 John 3:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:1). Is God pleased with your baptism?

Baptism is the official entry into God’s church. Being baptized without joining God’s church is unbiblical.

13. Can a person experience true baptism without becoming a member of God’s church?

Answer:   No! God clearly outlines this. Notice the steps:
A. All are called into one body. “Ye are called in one body.” Colossians 3:15.
B. The church is the body. “He is the head of the body, the church.” Colossians 1:18.
C. We enter that body by baptism. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:13.
D. God’s converted people are added to the church. “The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47.

If Jesus is speaking to you about baptism, do not put it off.  Baptism is a public expression of your desire to follow God fully.

14. Notice four things that baptism does not do:

Answer:

First Baptism itself does not change the heart of man it is a symbol of the change that has taken place. A man might be baptized without faith, without repentance, and without a new heart. He might even be immersed after the example of Jesus, but he would simply come up a wet sinner instead of a dry one, still without faith, without repentance, without a new heart. Baptism cannot make a new person. Neither can it change or regenerate anyone. It is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that changes the heart in conversion. One must be born of the Spirit as well as born of water.
Second Baptism does not necessarily make a person feel better. It doesn’t necessarily change his feelings. Some people are disappointed because they do not feel different after baptism. Salvation is a matter not of feeling, but of faith and obedience.
Third Baptism does not remove temptations. The devil is not through with a person when he is baptized. But Jesus is the helper of every believer. He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5. No temptation will come without a way of escape. This is the promise of Scripture (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Fourth Baptism does not guarantee salvation. It is not a magical rite. Salvation comes only as a free gift from Jesus Christ when one experiences the new birth. Baptism is a symbol of true conversion, and unless conversion precedes baptism, the ceremony is meaningless.

 

Thieves in the Church

4 Nov
By Joe Crews
Introduction
     Do you know about the sin nobody admits? It’s a sin we’re afraid to mention. We must be afraid to mention it, because nobody ever mentions it about himself, anyway. Now people have confessed to me that they’ve committed some terrible, dark sins. I can recall people who have admitted being drunkards, who confessed to stealing, breaking up another’s home, murder, taking the Lord’s name in vain, trifling on the marriage partner, Sabbath breaking – all the rest – but as far as I can remember in all my time in the ministry, nobody has ever admitted to me that he was guilty of the sin we’re going to talk about now. And I suppose the reason for it is that it’s the root sin; the basic sin; the very foundation sin.
The Lord Jesus Himself solemnly warned us of this sin in Luke 12:15: “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a men’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” You see, the sin that nobody admits is covetousness.
People just simply don’t say “Well, I’m a covetous person. I want to get hold of that extra dollar. I want to reach out and grab and pull in everything I can get hold of.” And people never come to you and say, “I want to admit something. Greediness is my problem. I’m just a covetous person.” It has always amazed me just a little bit. People don’t mind at all admitting some of those grosser, blacker sins; but when it comes right down to those refined sins like covetousness, I guess it is just too humiliating. Of course, it is a sin that’s not condemned very much by our materialistic age, either. It is not even condemned very much by the church, it seems. You break any of the other commandments and immediately you get into trouble, but coveting — well, nobody knows whether you’re coveting or not. But there it is — it is a commandment of the Lord, and it is one that most people seem to overlook; yet in God’s sight it’s one of the blackest of all sins because it’s the root of every other sin. Remember what the apostle Paul said in Romans 7:7. He said, “I had not known sin … except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” The point he was trying to get across was this: Every single sin has its roots in the sin of covetousness, and that’s why God thought it was important enough to include in the Ten Commandments. It’s the sin that comes before and leads to every other sin that you could possible commit.
God Called a Man a “Fool”
      Now I may as well warn you ahead of time that there’s no possible way of getting rid of coveting except through the Lord Jesus Christ – absolutely no way at all. It takes special power from heaven to overcome this sin. But now let’s go back to Luke 12 for a moment. After Jesus said “Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” He told a story to illustrate the point a little bit further. Let me read it to you, beginning with verse 16: “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Now, notice something. God calls this man a fool. Now I may call a man a fool and be entirely mistaken, but when God calls a man a fool, he’s a fool. Now this man was a fool. Why? Well, because he was concerned only about himself – “I,” “I,” “I,” – and he forgot all about the solemn fact that one of these days we all have to stand before the Lord in judgment. So God said, “You’re a fool. Tonight your soul will be required of you. Then whose will all these things be?”
This is a very solemn story. Every single Christian should give it very earnest attention and heed its message. The Lord is just saying here, “You go ahead. If that’s the way you want it, get anything you want. Keep the things that are not yours. Make provisions for more and more sins. You have the right to choose, but when the day of reckoning comes and your soul will be required of you, then whose will these things be?”
You know, a lot of people think they are getting by with secret sins – things that are on the inside; things that don’t show up – like coveting, for example. A person can go along and be quite a respectable Christian as far as other people are concerned, and yet be guilty of coveting. It just doesn’t show up like many of the grosser, outward sins. But mark you this: On the great judgment day when the light from the judgment throne of God shines into every life, all of those things are going to be revealed and people are going to see them in all their rotten, disgusting fullness. And one of the worst sins to be shown upon the judgment day will be the sin of coveting.
Coveting Another’s Praise, Honor, or Position
     I’m afraid we don’t realize just how far this thing reaches. Take for example, professional jealousy. Have you ever heard that expression? I want to tell you, it’s not limited to just the professions, either. It’s a term that we ought to use loosely, because it can apply to everybody, everywhere. Wives are jealous of other wives; husbands of other husbands; workmen of other workmen; and it’s covetousness – this professional jealousy – coveting another person’s praise, or his honor, or his position. It’s so widespread that there is hardly a place anywhere that it’s not named. It even exists among preachers, and here’s where the thing comes home.
A person could build a very beautiful home and I could go look at it one day and say, “You know, this is a lovely home. It’s a masterpiece. You’ve done a very beautiful job.” And that wouldn’t take anything out of me – it would be easy for me to say that, because I’m not a builder. A person could paint a beautiful masterpiece – delightful, exquisite – and I could say, “Listen, that’s beautiful; it’s superb; never have I seen anything like it.” I could just lavish praise on that man and it could be nothing to me because I’m not a painter. But when somebody stands up and preaches a better sermon than I can preach – then for me to say honestly and truly from the heart, “It’s a masterpiece; the Lord was with you” – then that is something else.
Do you see what I mean? Now that is what we’re talking about today. This matter of coveting somebody else’s praise, somebody else’s success, somebody else’s prestige, is one of the greatest sins mentioned in the Book of God. It is my prayer that as we go further into this study, every person will determine in his heart to begin right now laying hold of God for victory. It’s a very terrible thing for a Christian to be guilty of coveting. It is bad enough for a worldling, but it’s an awful thing for a person who names the name of Christ to be guilty of coveting something. We need to learn to give God the praise for everything; then we will stop worrying about credit-who deserves credit for that. We will give it all to God, where it belongs in the first place.
Another place where many of God’s people seem to be crippled by the sin of coveting is the area of giving. Far too many of God’s professed people are guilty of embezzling God’s money.
Every Day We Handle Someone Else’s Money
     We often read in newspapers about individuals who misappropriated millions of dollars. These embezzlers often skip the country, taking the money, and leaving financial ruin for scores of people who lost all they had. We secretly hope the law will catch up with them, and throw the book at them. But now, wait a minute. Let’s not move too fast here. All of us handle money.
Furthermore, regardless of who you are-you handle money that is not yours. You handle money that belongs to God. Could it be that someone reading this is guilty of embezzling heavenly funds? Did you know the greatest holder of lands and good in the world has been chiseled and robbed repeatedly without going out of business? God is that great Owner of whom I speak. I’m referring specifically to tithes and offerings. In Leviticus 27:30 the Scripture says that the tithe is the Lord’s. There is just no possible way to miss it.
Perhaps I should read that verse. This is what it says: “All the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.” All the tithe is the Lord’s; that is specific.
Then in Malachi 3 we find something added. Verse 8 says: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Now notice: A person who does not tithe is a robber, but in addition, a person who does not give offerings is guilty before God of robbing Him; so, your tithes and your offerings belong to God. Oh , may it be engraved upon every heart with a pen of fire: These things do not belong to us; they are God’s. We are handling sacred funds, and the question is – how are we handling them? Could it be that some of us are guilty of misusing God’s money?
What is a tithe anyway? Read Leviticus 27:32: “And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” This means that one-tenth of all our increase belongs to God. We may not have thought of it before, but ten percent of our income is holy for the Lord. We can’t keep it for ourselves without actually breaking that eighth commandment again and stealing what is not ours. If a man earns $1,000 a month, $100 is not really his own. Of course only the profit, or increase, is subject to the tithe. In other words, a businessman might realize an increase of $5,000 a month but $4,000 would be needed to pay the salaries of his helpers and other overhead expense. In such a case, he would only have to pay $100 tithe on the $1,000 profit for that month.
Somebody is bound to object that tithing belongs to the Mosaic Law, the Old Testament, and doesn’t apply to us in the New Testament. But the fact is that this plan of tithing antedates the time of Moses by hundreds of years. Abraham paid tithe at the Lord’s own direction long before the days of Moses. Jacob also tithed on all that he had. It was an obligation before either the Jewish race or the ceremonial law had even come into existence.
But now let’s read what Jesus had to say about tithing. After all, He’s the great guide and example for all of us in spiritual things. In Matthew 23:23: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” That word “ought” denotes obligation and immediately creates a moral basis for the doctrine. It is moral because it involved stealing from God, as we have already read.
Tithe Is to Be Used for Only One Purpose
     Let’s ask this question before we go further. What is the tithe money to be used for in the Lord’s work? Please turn to 1 Corinthians 9:13: “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?” Here Paul is referring to the priesthood of the Old Testament and how they received a livelihood for their work of ministry at the ancient altar. But now read the very next verse: “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Verse 14. This text clearly teaches that the gospel minister is to be supported exactly the same way as the priests of the Old Testament.
We now turn to the Scriptures to find out what God’s plan was for the support of the ministry, both in the Old Testament and in the New. In Numbers 18:21 we read, “And behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” The tribe of Levi was not given any inheritance as the other Israelites were. They had no herds, or business ventures. All the other tribes paid tithe and that one-tenth was used to pay the priests, the Levites.
All right, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” so Paul said. The tithe is not to be used for an education fund, a church expense fund, or even a poor fund. It is ordained of God only to pay the ministry. This is the biblical way for preachers to be supported.
I heard of one preacher who closed all the doors of the church and refused to preach until the offering goal of a certain sum was reached. Other churches have resorted to religious fairs, lotteries, bingo, etc. to meet their pastoral financial obligations. Is this the plan of God? Is this the way He had ordained for churches to meet the deficit in their budgets? This is not according to God’s plan. Something is desperately wrong with a church which has to bring the world into its operating plan. If Christ should walk into some of these temples and cathedrals of our day, He would be just as indignant as He was in days of old. He would say once more, “Take these things hence. You have made my house of prayer a den of thieves.” What a tragedy it is that many young people have learned to be expert in gambling inside the walls of their own church. What a sad commentary on the state of modern religious leaders who encourage such demonstrations. Is this what God expects from the people who are called by His name?
Some Preachers Fear to Preach Truth Because of Money
     God never intended for preachers to dabble in real estate, car sales, or some side business. A man called of God should give his whole time to the Word of God. His livelihood, in other words, should be supplied by the divine plan of the tithing system. This system eliminates one of the greatest temptations facing the modern minister of the gospel. Some preachers are actually afraid to preach the plain truth for fear of cutting off their own salary.
When a pastor is paid directly by the local congregation and has to depend solely upon the liberality of one church group, he is in an anxious dilemma. If he rebukes sin as it should be rebuked, he may offend the very ones who may stop giving offerings, and thus his own salary will be jeopardized.
Now I know that no true pastor would preach smooth things just for worldly gain; nevertheless, many are actually afraid to preach plainly under the conditions I’ve just described. God’s plan eliminates that temptation to soften the truth. A local congregation shouldn’t be directly paying the man who preaches to them, and this would eliminate that great danger. His method of tithing eliminates the temptation for a pastor to soften the truth.
Some people complain that they can’t pay the tithe because there’s nothing left after all the bills are paid. But, are we doing the right thing by waiting until every- thing else is paid before we give God the tithe? In Proverbs 3:9 we read: “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase.” In other words, pay the tithe first. Even the ministers – who themselves are paid from the tithe fund – pay one-tenth of their salary in tithe. After all, everything belongs to God, doesn’t it? All the silver and gold and the cattle on a thousand hills – we are simply stewards of these things. He has let us use them. We pay the rent on a house in order to acknowledge that the house is not really ours. We just use it. In the same way, we give the tenth back to God to acknowledge that all our possessions are just given to us to use. They really belong to God, the great Creator, and Owner of all things.
Now, a great many people say, “I go to church and I pay my tithe,” when what they really mean is that they go to church and give offerings; because nobody is a tithe payer who does not give one-tenth of his income. Tithe means one-tenth. And that is what the Bible is speaking of, one-tenth of a person’s increase.
Some people say, “Isn’t that a great deal to give, one-tenth?” Suppose somebody came to you and said, “I would like to set you up in business. I would like to furnish the capital, the buildings, the equipment-everything. I want you to run it. Then at the close of the month I want you to figure up the profit. When you have found the profit, I want you to keep nine-tenths and give me one-tenth.” Would you say, “Whew, you mean you want a whole tenth?” No, you would look at the man and say, “You’ve made a mistake, haven’t you? You mean you want nine-tenths and give me one-tenth.”
Why, you have never heard of an offer like that. People don’t make offers like that today – not at all – but that is the offer God has made. There is no question about it. This world and everything in it belongs to God. He made the whole thing and everything here is His. The Bible is so clear on it. I read from Psalms 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” Psalms 50:10-12: “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” Haggai 2:8 says, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.” We forget that sometimes, but he says, “It is mine.” Now notice Deuteronomy 8:18: “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.”
When we add that all up and put it together, the Bible is simply saying this: Everything is God’s. If you have anything at all, it is because God gave you the power, the strength, and the intelligence to obtain it. And then He says to you, “Now, ten percent of what you receive is mine. I want you to give it to me.” Is that a fair offer? I submit to you today, you have never heard a more fair, generous offer anywhere. Remember the text, Leviticus 27:30, that says the tithe is the Lord’s. Oh, may God impress us with that point. It isn’t a question of our deciding whether we ought to turn it over to Him, whether it should become His, or will become His; it already is the Lord’s. That has been settled. The tithe is the Lord’s, and so one-tenth of every man’s income belongs to God. He may be a complete heathen and knows nothing of our God, but still one-tenth belongs to the Lord God of heaven.
Finally, we come to that very important text in Malachi 3:8-11: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground.”
There it is, people robbing God! In one year the FBI records revealed that there were 111,750 cases of robbery in the United States and more than a million cases of burglary. But this is only a fraction of the true picture. How many million church members have been guilty of the worst type of stealing – and from God, at that? Probably there are more thieves in the church, on this basis, than outside the church. In fact, there’s no question about it; God says if we take the tithe, we are stealing from Him.
Incidentally, have you noticed the amazing parallel between the tithing tenth and the tenth commandment of the Decalogue? The command against coveting is the tenth one, and the command to give a tenth is God’s remedy for covetousness. The root reason for breaking either one of these basic biblical laws is selfishness. The opposite of self is love, and all obedience should be based on loving God more than ourselves.
Love means giving, as we learn from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave.” We could never match the love-gift of God in surrendering His Son, but we should love him enough that the surrender of 10 or 50 percent of all we possess should not be counted a sacrifice. God’s challenge to “prove me” has always produced the same results in those who took Him at His word. The promise is literal that “there shall not be room enough to receive” the blessing as it returns to us “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
Never underestimate the blessings and benefits of turning away from the robbing business. When we rob God we are, in reality, robbing ourselves. We lose the blessings which are a part of the package called obedience. Unbelievable promises of protection and prosperity are made to those who go into partnership with God through faithful giving. The fruits of unselfish stewardship, based upon love, are fantastic to contemplate. “Prove me,” says the Owner of everything. Will you dare to do it right now by making a covenant with God to be an honest steward in both tithes and offerings?
What Is Time Worth?
     A few days ago I wasted thirty minutes of valuable time waiting for a shoe repairman to finish a job that had been promised earlier. Mentally I did some rough computations and concluded that my thirty minutes of time was worth much more than the cost of the shoe repair. I can assure you that the results of my arithmetic did not relieve my frustration in the least degree, but it did start me thinking more about the worth of minutes and hours.
Unfortunately, we equate the value of time with a certain number of dollars and cents. People are paid so much an hour, or so many dollars a month. On the basis that one is paid $10 an hour for his work, let’s try to evaluate the true worth of that 60 minutes. The equation would go something like this: one hour of time equals $10 in cash money.
Having translated the hour into money, and assuming that the money is fully equivalent to the 60 minutes of time, we can determine the true value of the hour of time as we trace the value of the $10. How valuable is that $10 to the person who exchanged his time for it? How much good will it perform for him, and how much will it contribute to his quality of life? If the $10 adds more happiness, longer life, and greater security, then we must conclude that the man’s time was easily worth the amount and perhaps even more.
But suppose the $10 is spent for liquor, which leads to alcoholism or disease? Instead of having any real worth, the money would have a negative value, and the hour’s time would also really be worth less than nothing. In other words, our time is worth only as much as we are able to squeeze out of the money we are paid for our time. If the things we spend the money for result in better living and longer, happier life, our time may be worth infinitely more than any amount of money. On the other hand, if we spend the money for things which create disease, cheapen the moral worth, and prevent our receiving eternal life, then our time has a negative worth.
If this principle is true, the world’s standard of evaluating time is totally wrong. Some men who are paid over a million dollars a year are using their wealth to defile body and mind, and destroy spiritual perceptions. Society can say what it will, but those men are wasting their time, because they waste the money which their time purchased.
Other men are paid little in dollars, but they invest that little in things which contribute to peace of mind, building a strong moral character, and preparing for eternal life. They are the people whose time is really valuable; in fact, more valuable than the highest paid executive in the corporate structure who is misusing his wealth.
Do you get the picture clearly in mind, that your money represents your time? What you do with your money, then, is the same as what you do with your time. The benefits drawn from your money represent the true value of your time.      Think about it for a moment. How are you using those dollars? Are they invested in ways that will lead to your eternal happiness and security? Are you making it possible for others to reap the blessing of God’s saving grace? As a result of your use of money, will souls be able to rejoice with you in Heaven?
The imprudent, wasteful manner of treating money will lead millions to lose eternal life. Not only are their years of earthly time lost, but the endless time of afuture eternity is also forfeited. All the money purchased by a lifetime of labor is worthless unless it contributes to building up the true quality of life. Sorrowfully we observe how billions of dollars are spent for selfish indulgence, drug addiction, and destructive purposes. How many wasted lives are represented in those wasted dollars!
Much has been written about Howard Hughes, the eccentric millionaire, whose limitless wealth became the ultimate cause of his horrible and dehumanized death. Suspicious of everyone, he isolated himself from friends and society for fear of being exploited for his money. After his death additional animosities and selfishness were stirred among those who fought like animals to acquire a portion for themselves.
Was Howard Hughes’ time really that important and valuable? His time produced money that produced misery which finally brought death. Make no mistake about it, it is better for a man never to be born than to live for self and to lose eternal life in the end. It is better for a man to be a pauper than to earn millions which cause himself or others to be lost.
At the risk of sounding redundant I come back to the question, How are you spending your money? The years of your life are tied up in that money. Disposing of it is disposing of years of your time. When your life is over, all your years of remunerated time will be reflected in your estate. It may be small, but it is important, because it represents the value of all the time you exchanged for it.
How do you value that time? How do you appraise those years that made up so much of your life? The answer to those questions will be revealed by the way you relate to your possessions. If that money now ministers to your deepest priority needs, then the time it took to acquire the money was well spent. And if the money becomes a vehicle for reaching souls for God’s Kingdom, the value of the time in earning it is far beyond the computation. Why so? Let me illustrate.
If your money can be used to turn just one soul to Christ, how much would the time investment be worth? Try to understand it in these terms: one soul saved for eternity will live longer than all the combined years of all the people who ever lived and died on this earth. Can you grasp that fact? Eventually that one person’s life in eternity will outstrip the total number of years that all the millionaires, corporation presidents and world thought leaders lived out in their lifetimes. And if those millionaires and famous personalities are not saved, then the time of that one redeemed soul will have been more valuable than the time of all those leaders combined.
What I’m really saying is this: money, success, and all that goes with it are less than worthless unless those things are used to prepare for eternity, and to help others prepare. Our time is valuable, but it is only valuable in proportion to the eternal benefits we derive from the money we receive in exchange for our time. If our money is wasted, our time has gone down the drain in earning the money. How true the saying of Jesus, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26.
Even Christ spoke of a trade-off. There is an investing of one thing to get another. We exchange our time for money. Then we trade off the money – for what? For things that unfit us for heaven? If so, our time as well as our money is misspent and worthless. I repeat, it would be better never to be born than to live and die without Christ. It would be a thousandfold better to live as a pauper than to be a billionaire oilman who fell one step short of heaven.
Analyze that statement carefully. The Christian pauper had to live with physical want and deprivation, but he had peace of mind and joy in his heart. The rich man lived with all the creature comforts, but his mind was distressed and unhappy. Even if there were no eternal life beyond the grave, the Christian pauper had a better life in this world than the unsaved billionaire.
But think about those two men in terms of eternity. For a sextillion times longer than the rich man had life, that redeemed pauper will live in a mansion more magnificent than the oilman could have imagined. When his years finally exceed the life span of earth’s total population, the saved poor man will still be in the bloom of radiant health and immortal youth.
And what of the man who had everything? (Well, almost everything! He really lacked only one thing – a simple, saving faith in Jesus.) What will happen to him? Just before being cast into the lake of fire he will have opportunity to look through the transparent walls of the New Jerusalem. In the total recall of that moment the miserable Midas will recognize the utter emptiness of a life lived without God. The time which had been worth a million dollars a year will be seen in retrospect as vainly squandered. The agonizing remorse of that instant in eternity will overpower the mind and constitute the most sensitive and supreme punishment that anyone will ever have to suffer.
Now, aren’t you thankful that we are still living in the realm of time where things can be changed? Eternity is at the door, but we have a fragment of time left in which every one of us will be exchanging minutes for money. But then what? The money will be exchanged for something else. That something else will either help fit us for heaven or condition us to be lost. Which will it be for you?
One more important truth about money: since it really is the equivalent of the time you invested in earning it, as long as your accrued money remains, your influence can still be felt in time. Even after your death your money will be representing hours, months, and years that you spent in gathering it. Many are abdicating all responsibility for the influence of that time after they die. The accumulative result of an entire lifetime is casually left in the hands of disinterested relatives or even unscrupulous lawyers. It is used often to tear down and disannul the very cause for which the deceased gave his life. His invested time, in the form of money, now turns against the investor, and is employed to blot out the results of carefully planned years.
All men and women should have a will which can protect the interest of their time investment. Just as they did not want their time wasted in life, they do not want their money, representing their time, squandered after life is over. By designating in a will exactly how the estate should be divided, an individual can guarantee that his influence will still be extended in time. The value of those invested years can still be revealed through the spiritual benefits of his bequeathed wealth, whether small or great.
Even those who have been fearful of making expenditures while living need have no fear of boldly assigning, in a will to be executed after death, the fruits of their lifetime investment.
Many have a legitimate fear of depleting their saving and becoming dependent on others. But after death they have nothing to fear. They can accomplish for Christ what circumstances never permitted while they were alive. Souls can still be won for the Kingdom. Their means can prepare people for heaven. Many a Christian who never had the personal joy of winning a soul for Christ, will meet souls in the kingdom who will thank them for their post-humous provisions, which made it possible for them to hear the truth and be saved.
Perhaps you are now in this category. You dare not give largely to God’s cause for fear future disease and hospital costs will require all your savings. You long for Jesus to come, and the gospel to be proclaimed everywhere, but you dare not invest the nest-egg which might be your only buffer against dire need. You do well to make provision and retain that nest-egg for future eventualities. I think God wants us to be wise in planning for economic independence and security. But if, through His blessing and protection, those funds are not needed, they can be directed into the winning of souls; but only by the one who makes the careful, deliberate decision beforehand.
Many souls have been won to Christ just because people cared enough, and designated their funds to keep working after their death. What a thrill it will be for those committed Christians, in the resurrection of the righteous, to learn the wonderful results of their dedicated means which continued speaking for them long after their departure.

Why Trails?

30 Oct

BY ELLEN G WHITE

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Mal. 3: 3.

Here is the process, the refining, purifying process, to be carried on by the Lord of hosts. The work is most trying to the soul, but it is only through this process that the rubbish and defiling impurities can be removed. Our trials are all necessary to bring us close to our heavenly Father, in obedience to His will, that we may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. God has given each of us capabilities, talents to improve. We need a new and living experience in the divine life, in order to do the will of God. No amount of past experience will suffice for the present, or will strengthen us to overcome the difficulties in our path. We must have new grace and fresh strength daily in order to be victorious. . . .

Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and many others, were all sorely tried, but not in the same way. Everyone has his individual tests and trials in the drama of life, but the very same trial seldom comes twice. Each has his own experience, peculiar in its character and circumstances, to accomplish a certain work. God has a work, a purpose, in the life of each and all of us. Every act, however small, has its place. . . .

Would that all might feel that every step they take may have a lasting and controlling influence upon their own lives and the characters of others. Oh, how much need, then, of communion with God! What need of divine grace to direct every step, and show us how to perfect Christian characters!

Christians will have new scenes and new trials to pass through, where their past experience cannot be a sufficient guide. We need to learn of the divine Teacher as much now as at any period of our lives, and even more. And the more experience we gain, the nearer we draw toward the pure light of heaven, the more shall we discern in ourselves that needs reforming. . . . The path of the just is a progressive one, from strength to strength, from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. The divine illumination will increase more and more, corresponding with our onward movements, qualifying us to meet the responsibilities and emergencies before us.

From God’s Amazing Grace – Page 310

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