Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Have We Lost Our Fear of God?

It's painful to watch our nation go from proudly pledging "one nation under God" to demonstrating that we are really just "one nation ignoring God."
I can think of no more horrible truth of this reality than the condoning of abortion and the support of gay marriages or the homosexual lifestyle. But what is really frighteningly sobering is to see members of the Church demonstrating that same 'ignoring-God' mindset.
Again, I can think of no clearer example of this than members of the Church placing economic strategies and party politics above the Word of God by casting their influence in a manner that supports both abortion and homosexuality.
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their practice of homosexuality. We all know that there is no sinless city or nation but God sent brimstone and fire only upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely the message is clear that some sins are so grievous as to cause the Lord to act in a swift and severe manner (Genesis 19).
Have we forgotten that God determines the times and the bounds of our habitation and that he also sets up kingdoms and takes down kingdoms (Acts 17:26)? It would appear that we have forgotten, for how else could we cast our influence in such a way as to ask God to come in judgment against our own nation?
Do we believe that God no longer works in the world today? God forbid!
Do we now believe that God has repented from destroying Sodom and Gomorrah?
Do we believe that God loves our nation more than he loves His own will? Just because there are so-called Christians that place temporal things above the eternal purpose of God doesn't mean God is going to move heaven and earth for our own shortsightedness. How can the Christian knowingly give his influence in support of killing innocent babies and not expect to be held accountable?
The apostle Paul did not stone Stephen but was held accountable for casting his vote against him and holding the coats of those that did stone him (Acts 7:58-8:1, 26:10).
In the Old Testament there were those that killed innocent children by burning them in offering unto Molech. That horrible practice is no worse than the practice of abortion where supposed doctors jab sharp vacuum hoses into the base of the head of babies and suck their brains out as they are being born. Nor is it worse than any of the other forms of abortion where essentially the baby is chopped up into pieces and then reassembled on the operating table to make sure they got all of the pieces of the baby.
Leviticus 20:4-5 says, "And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off..."
God not only required the death of those that practiced such he also cut off those who willingly hid their eyes from those who did it. Yet we somehow think that we can get by when we hide our eyes from abortion when we cast our lot for those who believe in such? What does it mean to be "cut off" from God? Can we be saved without God?
In Exodus 1:16-21 when the king of Egypt commanded midwives to kill the male children as they were born, the midwives didn't because they feared God and God blessed them with houses because of it. God will bless us too if we show proper fear of him.
God determines the times and the bounds of our habitation (Acts 17:26), and he gives power to the nations (Romans 13:1). What the Lord has given the Lord can take away. We are stewards of what God has given us and as stewards we shall give an account unto the Lord. "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (I Cor. 4:2).
Proverbs 14:34 states, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." Either we believe God still works and blesses us or we don't. If we don't believe then we fall short of Hebrews 11:6 which states, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
My only conclusion is that we have lost our fear of God. Even the condemned thief on the cross had enough fear of God to rebuke the other malefactor when he railed against Christ in Luke 23:39-40. How can we feel justified in our religion when a condemned criminal shows more faith and fear of God than we do?
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:26-31). The devils tremble with fear (James 2:19), and their fate is sealed but we seem to have lost the ability to tremble and our eternal destiny hangs in the balance!
If we don't love the truth enough to allow it to alter our lives then what do we do more than unbelievers? Let us not profess to know God but deny him in works (II Thess. 2:10-12 and Titus 1:16).
Let us retain God in our knowledge while we have the ability to help bring about righteousness lest God gives us up to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28).
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Mike Wheeler

Learning from Song - Living for Jesus

Paul wrote that in our singing we are “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16). Due to being quarantined I was unable to attend worship on Sunday. I watched a couple of programs produced and paid for by our brothers in Christ. I heard a song that I don’t ever remember hearing before, and it immediately struck me as being a great song. It was “Living For Jesus” written by Thomas Obadiah Chisholm in 1917. Let’s look at the words of this song and be instructed by it.
Verse 1: “Living for Jesus, a life that is true, Striving to please Him in all that I do; Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free, This is the pathway of blessing for me.” The only life that is a life that is true requires me to live for Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). The second line reminds me of what Paul said in Colossians 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. And when we “yield allegiance, glad-hearted and free” we will say, “Speak Lord, thy servant heareth” (I Sam. 3:9). The pathway of blessings is only found in this way, because yielding in obedience to “that form of doctrine delivered you, you became servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). We are baptized into Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23) where all spiritual blessings are found (Eph. 1:3; Rev. 22:14).
Verse 2: “Living for Jesus Who died in my place, Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace; Such love constrains me to answer His call, Follow His leading and give Him my all.” Take time to read Isaiah 53 again. The Hebrew writer wrote of Jesus, ”who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). And the shame included “being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). How can anyone not be led to Jesus in humble adoration and obedience when he truly concentrates on these truths?
Verse 3: “Living for Jesus, wherever I am, Doing each duty in His holy Name; Willing to suffer affliction and loss, Deeming each trial a part of my cross.” Living for Jesus is an all-time responsibility. It is a 7 day, 24 hour religion. Time, place, and circumstances still require that we live for Jesus. We do each duty in His holy name as Colossians 3:17 teaches. As a Christian we must be willing to suffer affliction and loss, even to the point of “if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (I Pet. 4:16 ASV). We must regard each trial as a part of our cross. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”. Have you taken up your cross for Jesus?

Paul M. Wilmoth

Crucifixion

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him...” (Luke 23:23). “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” No words were more dreaded by the criminals of Jesus' day than were these (Mark 15:6-14). No death was so thorough; no shame so complete. When Paul tells us of the humiliation of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8, culminating in the statement, “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” he is announcing the most loving act of God toward man. As John stated, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Modern man may find it difficult to appreciate the ancient attitude toward this method of capital punishment. Paul said,”cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Gal. 3:13). It was a wretched way to die. It was reserved for the worst of criminals. Cicero once described it as “the most cruel and terrifying punishment.” The Hebrew writer said that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).
Before Jesus was crucified, the Bible says, “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him” (John 19:1). Scourging was called the “little death.” It preceded the “big death,” crucifixion. At this time Jesus was severely whipped. Although the severity of the scourging is not discussed in the four gospel accounts, it is implied in one of the epistles (I Pet. 2:24). It is not known whether the number of lashes was limited to 39 in accordance with Jewish law. When a man was scourged, there was pain beyond the memory of pain. Only the Son of God could hold back the high-pitched screams of unbearable pain; and we are not told that He did or did not. When you contemplate these things, perhaps these words of Isaiah will have deeper meaning: “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
Following the scourging, there was a parade to the execution grounds. Roman politicians liked to make an example of condemned men. The parade was long and slow through public streets; this was designed to serve as a warning to others that Rome dealt quickly and mercilessly. It was also a time when taunting and mocking of the condemned would take place. The Bible says, “And after they had mocked Him, they led Him away to crucify Him” (Matt. 27:1). “And there followed Him a great company of people” (Luke 23:27). “And He, bearing His cross, went forth into a place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha” (John 19:17).
Next Jesus was fastened to the cross. Historians of this type of punishment tell us that the condemned was held by four soldiers, and a centurion (who served as the executioner) would drive 5-inch to 7-inch iron spikes into both the hands and feet. The wounds in the hands would send fire down through the arms; fainting only relieved the pain temporarily; it was darkness and pain; then pain and darkness. The pain in the back, arms, hands, feet, and crotch was a dull, throbbing, terrible, endless pain. The pain builds up; it multiplies; there is not a moment of relief.
Below the cross the curious wait, fascinated by the torture. Like vultures, they are eager for blood! This gruesome scene is played out slowly. Dying should be a private thing, not a public spectacle. There is something obscene about being watched by a mob of people standing around waiting for you to die.
On the cross, thirst sets in; water is denied! What has happened up until now is child's play. One by one the muscles of the back gather in tight knotty cramps. There is no escaping them, no pulling out of them, no gentle massaging hands to ease them away. After two hours on a cross, every muscle in the body is locked in solid knots. Many men shrieked themselves into insanity on the cross.
Can you now appreciate His cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). “It is finished” (John 18:30) are beautiful words. Now, there is nothing more that they can do to My Lord! CHRIST WAS CRUCIFIED! He took your place and mine; we were all lost, doomed, hopeless; but He bought us back and there on the cross, obtained eternal redemption for us (I Pet. 1:18-25; I John 2:2). It was our sins that sent Him to the cross; it was His boundless love that held Him there. As we sing, “Jesus paid it all, ALL to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Have you taken advantage of what Jesus did for you by becoming obedient from the heart to His commands? (Rom. 6:17-18).

Paul M. Wilmoth

More on Contending for the Faith (Jude 3)

In last week’s article we discussed Jude’s statement that we are to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3). We pointed out that this contending for the faith must be done earnestly, and that we must use the weapons at our disposal (Eph. 6:13-18). Before leaving this subject we want to mention a few other things.
This call to “contend earnestly for the faith” is not a license to engage in contentions and outbursts of wrath. Paul wrote to the churches of Asia telling them, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21 NKJV).
He also had something important to say to the strife-torn church at Corinth: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (I Cor. 3:1-3 NKJV).
It is a call to vigorously contend with all the weapons at our disposal—first and foremost with the Word of God, applied first to ourselves and then to others. But also with the Christ-like qualities that are “mighty through God” to win people over to obedience to Christ. Just being “continuous” is not contending for the faith once delivered. It is the fact that many are not obeying the instructions of Christ our Lord, but perverting His teaching, or have set themselves up as their own authority.
That makes it even more necessary that we heed Jude's instruction to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.”
“The faith once delivered” is the “one faith” of Ephesians 4:5. It has been delivered to the saints once for all time. All are to “speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11). We are forbidden to tamper with it in any way (Gal. 1:6-10; Rev. 22:18-19). Only when we follow these divine injunctions will we ever become “one as Thou Father art in Me and I in You” as prayed by our Saviour in sight of the cross (John 17:20-21).
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Whose side of the battle are
you on? Have you submitted to Him whom God has made both Lord and Christ? Are you continuing in the apostles' doctrine, including this instruction in Jude 3-4?

Paul M. Wilmoth