Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting Used To The Dark


And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  (Ephesians 5:11)
  
One of the amazing things in this country is that our fine restaurants love darkness rather than light.  I have on many occasions stumbled into the dimly lit rooms, fumbled for a chair, and complained that I needed a flashlight in order to read the menu.  When the food came I ate it by faith and not by sight.  I have also observed that the longer I’m there I began to make out the objects around me more clearly.  Funny, isn’t it, how we get used to the dark?

We are living in the dark.  The prince and power of darkness dominates the final chapter of this age.  Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.  The night is far spent; the blackness is more extensive and more excessive as it deepens just before the dawn.  The darkness of Mammoth Cave is not limited to Kentucky it is universal.

Strangely enough, man never has more artificial illumination and less true light.  Man walks in unprecedented brilliance, while his soul dwells in unmitigated night.  He can put satellites in the sky, and left to himself, he is a wandering star to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

The depths of present-day human depravity are too vile for any word in our language to describe.  We are seeing not ordinary moral corruption, but evil double-distilled and compounded in weird uncanny, and demonic combinations and concoctions of iniquity never heard of a generation ago.  This putrefaction of the carcass of civilization awaiting the vultures of judgment is not confined to the ghettos of our cities but it shows up in the top brackets of society.  Plenty of prodigals live morally among the swine while garbed in purple and fine linen.  There is no difference between the idle poor and idle rich, between the crowds who loaf in gorgeous hotels and the crowds who tramp the sidewalks in rags, the only difference is in the cost of their wardrobes and the price of their meals.

Man lives in the dark and even his nuclear flashlight cannot pierce it.  We not only live in darkness we have gotten used to it.  There is a slow subtle sinister brainwashing process going on and it we are gradually being desensitized to evil.  Little by little sin is made to appear less sinful until the light within us becomes darkness—and how great is that darkness.  The danger we will find ourselves in is we no longer have fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Everyday we are bombarded by the news media with accounts of sordid crimes, corruption, and evil.  We are engulfed in a tidal wave of immorality.  We have gotten used to the darkness of Sodom and Gomorrah—right in the living room.  We have acclimated to it.  We accept it as a matter of course, its art, its literature, its music, its language.  We learn to live with it without an inner protest.

Lot was a righteous man, but he moved to Sodom, lived in it, and probably became the mayor.  His soul was vexed from the day-to-day actions of the Sodomites’ unlawful deeds, but he lost his influence with his family and had to flee for his life.  He died in disgrace.  I have in my life met many Lots. “ . . . as it was in the days of Lot, .  .  . Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.  Modern Lots tell us that we should get to know those from Sodom and Gomorrah in order to convert them.  But the ends does not justify the means.  Such people do not turn the light on in Sodom--- they merely get used to the dark.

The worst of all is that such people get so used to the dark they think it is growing brighter.  Sit long enough in a dark room and you will imagine that more light is breaking in.  Men who dwell too long in darkness fancy the day is dawning.  You can call it broadminded tolerance but it is no more than a peaceful existence with evil.  It is an effort to establish communion between light and darkness.

This condition extends into the religious world even into the evangelical Christians.  It is possible to fraternize with unbelievers until false doctrine becomes less and less objectionable.  We come to terms with it and would incorporate it into the fellowship of truth.   We begin opening our doors to sects who “believe almost as we do”.  We try to bring together the “best of all faiths”.

Synergy is only a big word for hash.  The theological chefs who are busing mixing Mulligan stews think the darkness is lifting, the truth is that they are merely getting use to it.

The same danger exists with regards to worldliness.  One may live in the twilight zone, in conditions of low visibility, until he finds the practice of this world less repulsive.  He mistakes the stretching of his conscience for the broadening of his mind. 

Here is how it works first we began to tolerate sin.  We don’t approve but we won’t fight against it.  Next we condone the sin.  Everyone has the right to live their own life without someone telling them how to live it.  We find ways to justify why it is acceptable to do wrong.  We buy into the lie I’m not hurting anyone but myself.  Finally, we begin to practice the very things we once called sin, and in the practice we move into the darkness.

One of the signs of getting used to the darkness is the way we excuse sin.  We give sin new names that are not so repulsive.   The world lives in darkness because it rejects Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.  And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness better rather than light because their deeds were evil.  The word condemnation translates in the original to crisis.   The Light that lighteth every man that comes in to the world brings with it a crisis.  Men will be compelled to walk in the Light or retreat farther into the darkness.

Our duty as Christians is to let our light shine. . . have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them.  13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Expose them to the Light.  We expose them not so much by denunciation, although that has its place, but by the contrast of our godly living.  We have become so afraid of being offensive that we are not effective.  Jesus said not to hide our candlelight but hold it high to give light to everyone.  Today, we are so fearful that we have shielded our lights so other are unable to see.

The early Christians did not shade their lights to match the times.  They set the world aglow, because absolute light will overcome absolute darkness.

We need to get our lights out from under the bushels and beds, take off the shades of compromise and let them shine in our heart, our homes, our places of work, and our communities with that Light the shine in the darkness and changes the lives of men and women.  We have been changed by the power of the Light.
 
It is our duty to let the light shine into the darkness, to uphold the name of Jesus, to exposed the lost to brilliance of the Light.

The Quaker Truitt-- Posterity of George

"Someone has said that the reason that the United States has become the greatest of all nations is that its early colonists came here seeking God while those to other countries went seeking gold. Thus it was that to the shores of Eastern Virginia came a family of Friends hoping to find in a new country the right to worship in a way, which had been denied to them in the land they had left behind. Of this little band many had endured sufferings, persecutions and imprisonment because of their faith, and the marks of their hardships were plainly written in their gaunt frames and hollow cheeks.

Almost two hundred years before Hugh and Sarah Moffitt gathered a small group of Quakers in their home for worship, here in Boone County, my (12th) great-grandfather George Truitt was worshiping in the manner of Friends on the Eastern Shores of Virginia.  Under his guidance a Friends' meeting was held at his home.  A meetinghouse was erected on ground, which he had donated. The meetinghouse was small and plain, built, it is said, of logs. It had nothing in common with the great cathedrals of Europe.

The Quakers had first assembled in a ten-foot building in Northampton County, Virginia.  However, by this date there was standing near Guilford Creek in Accomack County a small meetinghouse.  At this time the owners of the remainder of tract A112 confirmed with George Truitt and five other trustees the conveyance of an acre of land "where now there is a small house standing by the name of the meeting house ... that the People of God commonly called Quakers shall have right and privilege from time to time to meet upon said ground and in the aforesaid meeting house and there at pleasure to meet and bury their dead."  A later deed for the balance of the patent definitely placed the lot on the branch of Guilford Creek in the extreme northwest corner of the tract.

"It was here that George Truitt instilled in his family the principles of honest, upright living, which his descendants, now numbering many thousand, have carried to the remote places of the world.

I’m not writing this so much to commemorate a man long dead, nor a meetinghouse long forgotten, as I am to acknowledge that principles for which they labored are still a living force in our daily lives.

George Truitt was the first of his name to come to America, as has often been stated. Truitts are known to have been in New England, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia at later dates.

In 1660 the Virginia Assembly passed a strict law against Quakers, describing them as "an unreasonable and turbulent sort of people, who daily gather together unlawful assemblies of people, teaching lies, false visions, prophecies, and doctrines tending to disturb the peace, disorganize Society, and destroy all law, government, and religion."

Shortly after this date and the resulting persecutions, many Quakers looked kindly upon the religious freedom offered by the Maryland proprietors and moved up the peninsula across the state line.

Due to an epidemic of smallpox during the next few years following 1666, the mortality was great.  Large numbers of whites died during the plague, and the disease became general among the Indians, who had been driven together upon reservations in remote sections of the peninsula.  Panic-stricken, the Indians sought relief among the whites, thus spreading the disease with the most disastrous effects.  At last the epidemic abated, having ravaged the land for several years, but not until the population had been seriously reduced and numbers of the best citizens had perished.  As a Quaker, the Indians respected George Truitt and in their time of distress it is thought they sought him out for help, which may have led to his death perhaps from smallpox.

Not too much is known of the ancestry of George Truitt. Early history indicates all Truitts in America descended from George Truitt, who came to America from England about 1640.  He is listed in Virginia Immigrants, Volume 5, State Land Office 20, in 1652.  He initially settled in Northampton County, Virginia, but later moved to Accomack County.  He was a Quaker and leading spirit among the people of that faith on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland.  He was a prominent citizen of considerable means.  George and his family were persecuted for their religious beliefs and so about the time of his death in 1670 and to escape persecution, some moved to an area of Somerset County, Maryland, which later became Worcester (and still later Wicomico) county while others moved into southern Delaware, which later became Sussex county.

This was the beginning of my family in America.  I am sure that George had no idea, that over four hundred years later, and over 700 miles from where he held his first meeting of worship, that a direct descendent would be worshipping in a small rural Quaker meetinghouse as pastor.

I am thankful for the convictions of my early ancestors who help to establish freedom of religion in this county.  The persecutions they endured, the meetinghouses they helped to establish, and the early missionary endeavors they supported all contributed to my heritage.  The heritage that I will proudly pass to my descendents will also include Sugar Plain Friends Church, Thorntown Indiana.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I Believe---


Often when you read the opinions of a writer you often would like to know what they believe on other issues.  I am sharing what I believe about several areas of life.  I am not writing this to change your mind or even to challenge you to consider other beliefs.  I am doing this so you know what I believe.  This is almost like a mission statement for life.  I would encourage each person to write out what they believe and not necessarily what you have been told you are to believe.  More often than not, most individuals have not taken the time to establish their own personal belief system.    

Quakers, over the years have changed from what is sound doctrine according to the Scriptures to a standard that is relativistic and changing.  The absolute standard or Scriptural teachings have over the course of time been consumed by the secular liberal teachings of a universalist doctrine.  This universalist doctrine has triumphed over the absolutes of the Scripture among many who call themselves Quaker.

The deep-seated convictions of early Quakers were founded upon the teaching of the Scriptures. Through immediate revelation (not continuing revelation) Quakers found the absolute set of standards, which were rooted in the character of God.  From this revelation Quakers were able to know Him who created us and redeem us.  Only from the revelation of scriptures by the Holy Spirit do we find the absolute standard on which we base our lives and carry out our obligations to God, family, church, and state. 

God’s absolute standards are not up for private interpretation.  These absolutes not only reflect the character of God but also define our duty as humans.  God instructs us to love Him and love our neighbor as ourselves.  The ethical standard set forth by the scripture contains our duty to God and our duty to man.  They define what is right, just and perfect.  They define what makes our action right and what actions are wrong.  It is God that sets the standard of ethical conduct, He alone--the Creator of all things.  That is why all behavior and conduct must be measured by the standards He has established.

Progressive socialist, Universalist Quakers do not know how to evaluate Christian ethics or conduct in the light of the Scriptures.  Instead they sit back and allow non-Christians or even atheist to dictate what is to be the ethical standard by which the followers of Christ are to conduct their spiritual lives.  Non-believers who deny the authority of the scripture have established the ethical standards for abortion, human sexuality, the role of the state, issues concerning the taking of life, bioethics and even the environment.  There are very few Quakers who are willing to give a scriptural defense of the absolute standards of God’s written Word.  

The constant temptation for Quakers is to blend in. Quaker no longer  want to be thought of as being “different.” We had no problems in the beginning of being viewed as different. Today, the thought of living a godly life different from the rest of the “Christian” family where we might be looked upon with contempt by our neighbors is very disagreeable. Such thoughts make us feel very uncomfortable, and although we know the Scripture calls upon us to be pilgrims in our own culture (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13), we do not enjoy feeling like pilgrims. Satan, our enemy, by reason of his experience with the human race, knows our weaknesses very well and is not slack in exploiting them. Realizing that he would probably fail in a full frontal attack, he attempts to convince us that Christianity is a relaxing, easy-going religion tolerant of diverse views. He tries to convince us that we do not need to keep our minds razor-sharp (I Peter 1:13). He tries to tell us that we do not need to be careful.  Nothing could be further from the truth taught in God's word! 

If my behavior is not radically different from the world, then I can be certain that I am not pleasing to our Lord and Savior. If I am being conformed to this world instead of to the image of Christ, then I can be sure that God is displeased with me. If my mind has not been transformed from what it once was when I served my own lusts, then I am  not proving to the world what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is (Romans 12:2). 

I have taken the time to cover areas that I feel are important for me to write down concerning what I believe.  Here are some of the areas I feel important.  I have not included every area of my faith and practice in life.

MARRIAGE                                                                                                                        
 I believe marriage is a solemn contract made only between a man and a women made in the spiritual presence of God.
FAITH IN GOD
I believe God is the Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos, whose creative work provides the basis for order, beauty, purpose, and rationality. God is holy and eternal; He is loving, almighty, and all-wise. He reveals Himself and His will to His creation. He illuminates humankind through rational understanding, experience, and direct revelation. He speaks through the Scriptures.

I believe that in redeeming humanity, God is bringing the universe into a glorious expression of His purpose. In joy of this hope we offer Him honor and praise.

I believe as essential Christian truths the following teachings of the apostolic church the sovereignty of God; the deity and humanity of Jesus Christ; the atonement through Jesus Christ by which persons are reconciled to God; the resurrection of Jesus, which assures the resurrection of all true worshipers; the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers; and the authority of the Holy Scriptures.

I believe in an inward encounter with God, a worship of communion without ritual, an individual responsibility for ministry and service, and a striving for peace and justice. In addition, I believe the Believer speaks to contemporary issues concerning morality, human relationships, and Christian commitment.

I believe that an authentic Christian belief includes both an inward faith and an outward expression of that belief.

I believe that we may experience Christ directly and immediately without the necessity of priestly or ceremonial intervention and that this experience is available to every person. The Holy Spirit, who teaches and guides us both individually and corporately according to His commandments, nourishes the spiritual life.

I believe in a spiritual communion, which is an inward feeding on Christ by faith in response to His broken body and shed blood.

I believe that the word of God spoken into every heart was supremely manifest in Jesus Christ, who in His virgin birth and sinless life was true God and perfect man. Christ is the Word. He is the Light that exposes our sin and brings us into the righteousness of God. He is the Redeemer through whose atoning death and resurrection we receive the forgiveness of God. He is Lord and to Him we give our obedience. Christ is the first and last word of divine wisdom by which God is drawing His creation into a new covenant of peace.

I believe Jesus Christ is the source of truth, that there are no spiritual insights or principles independent of His revelation. God's Spirit teaches us through the Scriptures and through the creation. He convicts and instructs conscience, testifies to salvation through Christ, and gives wisdom and power for holy living. The Spirit gives discernment concerning the purposes of God through natural and social history. The Spirit enlightens reason and quickens human creativity that we might share in the work of the Creator.

I believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God. They are the divinely authorized record of the doctrines that we as Christians are bound to accept, and of the moral principles that are to regulate our lives and actions. By their own declaration, the Scriptures are able to make us "wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15 NIV). Interpreted by the Holy Spirit, they are an unfailing source of truth. I believe the Spirit will not lead persons or groups contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures.

I believe that God created the human being, male and female, in His own image; but that when Adam and Eve fell from a state of holy obedience, the human race lost a perfect relationship to God, and self instead of the Creator became the center of life. Through the blood of Christ our Savior we may be recovered from the fall and made right (justified) before God. To those who put their faith in Christ, God offers forgiveness of sins, regeneration of affections and actions, and final glorification of the resurrected body.

I believe Christ's baptism to be the inward receiving of the promised Holy Spirit, whereby the believer is immersed in Jesus' power, purity, and wisdom. This baptism is the essential Christian baptism: an experience of cleansing from sin that supplants old covenant rituals. The sanctification that is initiated with this experience is a continuing work of the Holy Spirit in which we are instructed into righteous living and perfected in love. Thus sanctification is the work of God's grace by which our affections are purified and exalted to a supreme love of God.

THE COMMISSION TO EVANGELIZE

I believe when a Christian possesses an inward passion to see souls saved such as Christ possessed, it will lead him or her to live like Christ lived, act like Christ acted, pray as Christ prayed, and weep over the lost as Christ wept over the lost.  It will prompt the Christian to go out and seek the lost as Christ sought the lost. 

I further believe, the anointing of the Spirit on the believer is essential for the Christian to work for Christ.  This anointing will cause the believer to employ kindness, compassion, empathy, and tact. 

CHRISTIAN SERVICE

I believe the Christian life is characterized by disciplined devotion and commitment, by a hunger for God and a thirst for righteousness. This commitment is strengthened by habits of prayer and Bible reading.

I believe this Christian faith involves commitment to the work of God. Although we respect freedom of conscience and honor diversity in the family of God, we believe our covenant with God as Christians to be a peculiar people.  Therefore, we aim to be faithful to those structures of our denominational life through which our Gospel witness is made clear.

I believe that the Holy Spirit bestows gifts on the followers of Christ for them to use on behalf of church and society and that these gifts should be exercised in all of life, not just at religious gatherings.

I believe God calls the Church to encourage the general ministry of all Christians and to facilitate the special work of the men and women He ordains for public ministry. Believers desiring to be of service should remain open to the leading of the Spirit. Service and ministry should spring from a devotion to the will of God.

THE STATE                           
I respect government as an instrument of God to restrain evil and promote justice, and I submit to it in matters that do not interfere with obedience to Christ my Lord. When conflicts arise among persons, I will resolve them in a spirit of humility, with love for those who oppose me, and in accordance with biblical methods of peacemaking.

I believe that integrity of speech and action honors Christ as it advances truth and, therefore, should characterize our social and business relationships. In allegiance to Christ's command, we refrain from swearing oaths and from profanity of speech. I consider integrity a mark of Christian holiness.

I reject the unchristian preempting of God's authority over human life. Because we trust God as the righteous and final judge before whom we spend our lives in probation, I oppose any government that violates the principles of the Kingdom of God.

I believe the Church is called to demonstrate in this life the righteous character of Christ's present and coming Kingdom. The Kingdom is present now to the extent that the people of God hear His voice and obey it. The coming Kingdom will be initiated by the second appearing of Jesus Christ and by the resurrection of the dead. Jesus Christ will then judge the world righteously and there will come everlasting punishment for the finally unrepentant wicked and everlasting blessedness for the righteous. At that time the world will be freed from the grip of evil and satanic power, and Christ will reign over a restored universe.

THE ENVIRONMENT
I believe in adhering to scriptural injunctions for plain living. In this respect, we are encouraged to work toward transforming the values of our culture rather than conforming without question.

I believe our responsibility for the care and use of the earth and, therefore, our obligation to maintain a style of living that will conserve resources for future generations.

JUSTICE
I believe in the dignity and worth of all persons before God.

I deplore the use of selfish ends to gain unfair advantage, and I urge political, economic, and social justice for all peoples. I consider civil order just when the conscience is free and religious faith unforced.
 CAPITAL PUNISHMENT                                                                                                            I believe a central principle of a just society is that every person has an equal right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
 I believe a community founded on moral principles has certain requirements. The right to belong to a community is not unconditional. The privilege of living and pursuing the good life in society is not absolute. It may be negated by behavior that undermines the nature of a moral community.

I believe the essential basis on which community is built requires each citizen to honor the rightful claims of others. The utter and deliberate denial of life and opportunity to others forfeits ones own claim to continued membership in the community, whose standards have been so flagrantly violated.

I believe the preservation of a moral community demands that the shattering of the foundation of its existence must be taken with utmost seriousness. The preciousness of life in a moral community must be so highly honored that those who do not honor the life of others make null and void their own right to life. Those who violate the life of others, especially if this is done persistently as a habit must pay the ultimate penalty.

I believe this punishment must be inflicted for the sake of maintaining the community whose foundation has been violated.

SELF DEFENSE
I oppose a morality, which requires the poor to sacrifice for the rich, the sick to sacrifice for the healthy, and the oppressed to sacrifice for the oppressor. I oppose a morality, which allows the neighbor to be terrorized, brutalized, and slaughtered, because restraint of the aggressor is forbidden. All this is indefensible on moral grounds.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Continuing Revelation

One of the vexations of my Quaker soul is that Quakers have a bad name among conservative Christians because of the lack of information on orthodox/evangelical Quakers. About the only things most people think about Quaker is that you can do just about whatever you want to do and be a good Quaker. (Oh, yeah we don’t fight.)   There are even Non-theist Quakers--- they do not have a faith in God.  These “Quakers” are atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, pantheists and wiccaists.  The “revelation” for this group of Quaker just appeared from out of the “inner light”.

 When I speak with “Quakers” who talk of the Inner Light they feel following the “light” is all that is important on their spiritual journey, I wonder if they have forgotten this is a “Christ centered” Christian journey?  Some have gone so far as to disregard the scriptures altogether.  They follow a “continuing revelation”.  It is almost as if you must become a physic to be a Christian. I read a nationwide poll sponsored by the University of Chicago which showed 67 percent of the public claiming to have psychic experiences. I am sure there were some Quakers in that group.  Today almost anyone who has a "revelation" from a supernatural source quickly becomes an authority on spiritual matters.  It seems to be "open season" for a continuing revelation without a bench mark to measure the truthfulness of the revelation.  Personal experience may not be denied, but to be accepted there must be an accepted rule by which to judge the experience.  We are cautioned not to believe every spirit.  "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but [try the spirits] whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."(1 John 4:1)  What guide or rule do we have to judge the validity of someone's personal revelation if the Scriptures are denied or not accepted as an authority or foundation of our faith?

It is not difficult to understand the blindness in which those who deny portions of the Scriptures, like the doctrine of atonement, for Paul also wrote concerning those who walk in blindness, "For I bear them record that they have a [zeal of God], but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

Denying the teaching of a “continuing revelation” is not an argument  with the Christocentric believer   (Christocentric is a word I learned from non-Christ centered Quakers) but rather with God.  It is not the words of Christocentric which are being denied but rather the words of God.  The revelation early Friends taught was the revelation of Truth in God's word---the Scriptures.  The revelations we hear today are supplements to the Bible and must be accepted by the church as the key for unity.

The new revelations, which the Friends allegedly need in order to move on to maturity, come through a class of "Quakers with standing" who are not to be judged.  And since judging is out of order, only these self-appointed prophets can decide what is good for the community of Friends.  Individuals not on their spiritual level are not competent to make a judgment.  Of course the chief proponents of this teaching considers themselves to have "special standing" with God.  This dangerous and destructive teaching contradicts numerous Scriptures.  Paul was not afraid to have his teaching judged in fact he encouraged it.  If the apostle Paul's teaching were to be judged then so must the teachings of any "prophet" or church leader today, no matter what their standing.  Those who fail to do so will not be able to plead ignorance for embracing the false teaching being propagated by those who seem to be proud to be, "biblically unsound, "non-Christocentric Universalist.

If there is to be a return to biblical primitive Christianity, then no one in the church can claim immunity from correction. There is, unfortunately, a form of Christian “guruism” that has placed certain leaders within the Christian church, on a pedestal of infallibility.  To question anything they say or do is considered to be "touching" the "anointed of the Lord." which was forbidden in the Old Testament.  They forget if they are wrong, we get to stone them---well that is the Law.  If we are going to keep part of the Law let’s keep it all.

The basis of our spiritual knowledge is from the Scripture as taught by the Holy Spirit.  There can be no contradiction of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.  Anyone who denies this is a false-teacher.  "These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:26-28)

Orthodox/Evangelicals or Christocentrics have a right to be upset about the new messages coming from a “continuing revelation. A prominent Quaker was asked if we need a new mythology.  She thought not, but that we need to revitalize the old myths.  “I believe that only a new mythology can save us now.  The myths by which we live are destroying us: myths that convince us we have dominion over the earth, that give a hierarchical, dualistic, anthropocentric conceptualization of reality, myths that scapegoat women and belittle their possible contribution to solving our problems.  Unfortunately, these myths are rooted in the Bible."  

The issues facing not only Friends but others in the Christian faith is far more reaching than seeking new revelations from God.  The issue is accepting the authority of God in our lives, and the message of this authority in the Bible.  The rejection has been cloaked in the pious pretense of religious zeal and devotion.  As though they have obeyed the message they protest the judgment which has been against them, "But, Lord, we did it all for the good of mankind"--- progressive Christianity.  They have selfishly contrived to place the limits of God in their own "continuing revelation," rather than what God intended in the Scriptural revelation.

The religion of Jesus Christ aims at nothing less than utter overthrow of all other systems of religions of the world; denouncing them as inadequate to the wants of man, false in their foundations, and dangerous in their tendency.  If this seems narrow-minded, bigoted, and dogmatic it is the course which I have chosen it was the course of early Quakers--- it is the plan of Jesus Christ.

The clear issue is maturity and stability in the faith, soundness of doctrine, and the proclamation of the truth, all which are based in the Scriptures.  What it all comes down to in the final analysis is a matter of one's personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  Whether we really know God or not makes the difference between eternal life and eternal death.

The reason many are spiritually weak, is because we have allowed our hearts to conform to the "spirit of this age" we are no longer the primitive voice of Biblical Christianity as were the early Friends, but we have become the "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals" of our day.  Let us return to the days of primitive Christianity by repentance and revival.  "If [my people], which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."    -- 2 Chronicles 7:14

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spiritual Lessons From the Wilderness



Background
The people of Israel would enter the land promised to them. However, this would not happen until a series of events led the nation into slavery with Egypt. Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons became second in command in Egypt and would provide his people a home in the land of Pharaoh. Yet after his death, they would fall out of favor with Pharaoh and become harshly enslaved for 400 years. God raised up a deliverer from among them to eventually free them from Egyptian bondage. Moses, was used by God in a powerful and supernatural manner free the Hebrew people from Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. The struggle of the Hebrews is similar to the Christians spiritual struggle with the nature of sin.

Hebrews 4:1-6 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. {2} For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it {3} For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. {4} For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. {5} And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. {6} Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

The children of Israel had been traveling for two year in the wilderness. God had been instructing them in the ways of worship, government, community living, and family living. They are now ready to leave the wilderness and enter into the land of Promise. They have put Egypt behind them or have they?

God has directed Moses to find twelve men to spy out the land. They were to find out the conditions the children of Israel would be facing. The men traveled though the mountains spying out the land."And they returned from searching of the land after forty days."

The report they brought back went something like this, "We have just returned from the land of Promise and look at what we have, grapes, that require two men to carry one cluster. The land is flowing with milk and honey. But... the people are strong, the cities are walled, and there are giants in the land. The Amalekites dwell in the south, the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites dwell in the mountains, and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and the coast of Jordan."

The ten spies confirmed everything that Moses had said about the Promise Land. But they terrified the people with the great difficultly in obtaining it; the rivers are so deep you can cross, the mountains so high you cannot climb, the cities so strong you cannot conquer; in fact these difficulties are far greater than anything we have face since coming out of Egypt.

There are people who will tell you that you cannot surrender you life, and yield you soul to Jesus Christ, and live free from sin. The whole purpose of the wilderness experience is for God to determine if you will keep His commandments. Jesus says, If you love me you will keep my commandments. This is how we know that the love of God dwells in us. John writes to us saying, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. {2} Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. {3} And every man that hath this hope in him.

It is time in our Christian experience to start living the life of victory. It is time to put the life of Egypt behind and find victory. This victory is found in the experience of sanctification. Called by John Wesley, Christian Perfection. By Quakers the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Holiness and cleanliness go together. The Lord must have clean vessels through which to work and to pour out His blessings. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is twofold in its nature; namely, it is a cleansing from the nature of sin, and spiritual power to live the Christian life. Some stress the power, but deny the cleansing. Others emphasize the cleansing but do not see the importance of the power. Power without holiness is dangerous.

The Egyptian heart in the believer defeats, hinders, and blights their spiritual journey. There is nothing that blesses, inspires, helps, and enriches the spiritual personality as much as the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This infilling cannot come about until the Christian moves to a higher level of spiritual life. You are no longer in the wilderness at the Mount of the Law but you have come to Mount Zion.

Why would you want to wander in a bare and wasted land? Why would you choose to suffer defeat when you can have victory? You have dwelt here long enough! It is time to move out. I can hear the whiners. “I can't. It requires to much. I need to be in control of my life. I need to be in control of others life as well. I need to be able to plan the life of those around me. So, if I surrender my life I loose control.”

I am here to tell you never had control. You have been deceived in thinking you were in control. The enemy of you soul has you where he wants you. Rebelling against the will of God. Refusing to accept the victory that God had declared for you. It does not require any more than reasonable service. Rom. 12:1

Apart from the infilling of the Holy Spirit, people are self-centered. Their interest are largely centered in themselves. They look out for number one. Human nature desires to have things nice and easy. When the Christian surrenders his life to the Lord, an outpouring of the Spirit will take place. This is essential that each believer follow the way of the cross and yield themselves to Jesus Christ. We can now walk by faith.

The children of Israel had the revelation of the power of God. But revelation is not enough. It take illumination. (Good Quaker doctrine) I may hold the inspired Word of God in my hand, I may have memorized passages of the Word, but that is not enough. I must have the inspired truth in my heart. Truth is more than words.

The children of Israel had the revelation but they lacked the power. Revelation cannot save. Revelation is the ground on which we build our faith. It is what I know to be true in my personal experience with God; but it is not the personal experience of accepting Jesus Christ, and surrendering my will to a life of faith.

You can live the life of a professed Christian. You may join the church, believe the Bible, be faithful in serving the church. Then, one day, under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, you suddenly feel the terribly need of God in your life, forgetting all your past you fall to you knees and pour out your soul to God.

What happened? You found you were trusting the dead body of truth. The dead body of truth lacks the life of faith. We live and walk only by faith. Moses is not coming down from the Mountain. We are now on our own. It is time to enter the land of Promise and claim the benefits that God has for the victorious Christian life.

Knowledge is not enough. You can quote scripture, discuss doctrine, have all the theological understanding about salvation and yet not be a true child of God. You must first experience repentance---this is where the Light becomes faith. When we decide to follow and do the will of God our true journey into the Promise Land has started.

Why must people continually live in the past? They want to act like Egyptians. You know who they are. They are disruptive, persistently defiant, demanding, unmotivated. They defy authority cause stress, frustration, and anger. They have severe spiritual behavioral problems. Many have come from a spiritual environment, but this has had minimal, if any influence over their behavior.

In Number chapter sixteen when have one with the heart of and Egyptian. Korah got together two hundred and fifty princes. Famous in the congregation, men of renown. He got them together for the expressed purpose of bringing frustration and stress in the life of Moses. And when Moses heard it he fell upon his face. A spiritual challenge was given. If you are a child of God then we will see how God reacts to you tomorrow.

The contest is set and the challenge given. Moses is ready for his trial by faith. He must trust the Lord. “If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.”

Well, it was goodbye Korah, and hello Aaron.

Let me just say, the individuals with the Egyptian hearts are not those who occasionally bring frustration and stress into your life. They are the ones who always bring stress, frustration, disruption, and confusion into the life of those wanting to get into the Promise Land. How can you identify them? They are the ones who on the days they are absent from your life leave you feeling happy. These people literally can break your spiritual life. It doesn't matter if it is a frail 90-pound grandmother, or a six-foot two-inch spiritual bully. The outcome is the same. Egyptian heart-ed people keep you from having your spiritual needs met.

Christians can become very frustrated from the insensitivity of these Egyptians. The spiritually deficit disorder Egyptians tend to make you forget the confidence you once had in your salvation. They have gained the potential power over your life to adversely affect your salvation.
Frustrating, no-win confrontations with the Egyptians are not good for you. Your faith is shaken. Think about it. How do you feel about your spiritual life after having confronted an Egyptian? In a moment of anger we know what Moses did. But Jesus warns us that we cannot harbor hatred in our hearts, or we are the same as murders. What do we do?

Get out of the Egypt mentality. Stay away from Egyptians. And move to the Promise Land. The more spiritual you become the less the “Egyptians” will bother you.

What kinds of problems do pastors face while trying to faithfully carry out the message of God in the church? Put any group of pastors together to brainstorm that question and they will come up with a list of behavioral descriptions that look like this: rude, don't care, defiant attitude, highly emotional, verbally abusive, demanding of attention, unmotivated, unloving, unkind, stirring up strife, impatient, hatred, wrath, envying... well you can find the complete list in Galatians chapter five verses nineteen to twenty-one.

Moses had his problems daily with this type of person. The end result was they provoked him to the point he was not permitted to enter the land of Promise with the children of Israel. Moses did however enter the Promise Land. On the Mount of Transfiguration, with Jesus and Elijah.

How much better the trip would have been if all the “Egyptians” were left in Egypt. Jesus tells the story of the sower who after having sown good seed, later found that an enemy had sown tares. He could not remove the tares without damaging some of the wheat. He chose to let them grow together until the harvest. There the wheat and tares will be separated. The same is with our spiritual journey. There are those whom the enemy of our soul places around us and will be here until the Great Harvest, when God separates the Believer for the non-believer. You cannot change or cure these individuals, but you can create an environment so difficult they will not choose to remain.

It is a sad commentary on the life of an individual who has been raised in the church, heard the message of salvation, seen the mighty working of God, and how God has changed the lives of individuals, only to loose their own joy of salvation because of someone else.

We are not exempt from spiritual trials and tribulations. Into each of our lives a little rain will fall--- some more than others. You may feel at time that you are experiencing flood conditions, but you must remain true to Jesus Christ. Remember, He is not the one who is bringing grief into you life it is Satan. The Enemy of your soul. It is his job to bring you down to his level. To allow him to defeat your spiritual life is to defeat Christ as well.