Monday, March 7, 2016

 By Pastor Max Solbrekken, D.D.
     “And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath...” (1 Sam. 17: 3)
     The historical account of David's outstanding victory over Goliath is a picture of Christ's victory over Satan and our victory over the world! It is also a picture of the two opposing camps, the Philistines against Israel and the Church against the World, and the VALLEY that is between us!
     It also shows the differences in the natural size and strength of each side in the battle! Goliath was a seasoned warrior about 9 feet 9 inches tall, armed with the best weapons and protected with the finest armour, while David was a young shepherd boy without any protective gear and armed only with a sling shot and five stones!
    Goliath had faith in himself and his pagan gods, while David had faith in the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Goliath had a long list of victories in battle going back to his youth which had catapulted him to hero status on the battlefield. David also had very impressive victories in destroying both a lion and a bear while protecting his sheep!
      The battle between the World and the Church has similar statistics in where our sentiments lie and in whom we have faith. The world has their gods and the glory of their accomplishments, while the Church has a great legacy of supernatural events and miraculous happenings going back nearly 2,000 years!
     The world has only the promises of flawed human beings often mired in scandals, conspiracies, lies, false narratives and conflict. And no guarantee for the future and a sad and dismal ending! On the other hand, while the Church has great numbers of faithful members, we have a Supreme Leader Jesus Christ our Lord, Who is perfect in all respects and has purchased our eternal salvation at the cost of His pure and holy blood!
       Well known atheist and lawyer Clarence Darrow, who was responsible for bringing the Evolution Theory into the US Educational System by his victory over William Bryan Jennings during the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, said it best: “Many honors have come my way but there is a line in the Bible that best describes how I feel; We have toiled all night and taken nothing.” 
      The atheist had to resort to God's Word to describe the emptiness and depression he experienced near the end of his life!
     According to God's Word, there are three enemies of spirituality, three enemies of power with God! These enemies are listed as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life!
     St. John declared: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
    The Apostle of Love was straight forward in his condemnation of the world, saying that these three enemies are not of God, but of the world which stands in direct opposition to God and righteousness! Our Saviour repeatedly warned His followers of the world:
     “If the WORLD hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the WORLD, the WORLD would love his own: but because ye are not of the WORLD, but I have chosen you out of the WORLD, therefore, the WORLD hated you.” (John 15: 16-18)
      In His teaching about God's love and mercy which He had come to earth to give sinful man through His works of Compassion, Healing and Deliverance, He identifies the demonic opposition of Hatred exhibited by the World against the Scriptures of Truth and His Ministry!
      Our Lord warned that if the World had persecuted Him, it would also persecute His followers. He then explains why that had happened: “But all these things will they do unto you, for My Name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. He that hated Me, hateth My Father also.
     “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin. But now have they both seen and HATED both Me and My Father. But this cometh to pass, that the Word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They HATED Me without a cause.” (John 21-25)
     Jesus declared: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth GOOD fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth EVIL fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth EVIL fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth GOOD fruit.” (Matt.7: 16-18)
                     A DIVIDING OF THE WAYS!
    There has been and always will be 'a dividing of the ways' between those who love righteousness and those who hate righteousness, between those who serve God and those who serve the devil, between those who are saved and those who are not saved!
     The Holy Scriptures says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
     “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
     “Wherefore COME OUT from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6: 14-18)
     The Word of God asks: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3: 3)  The answer is: No, they cannot! All through the Scriptures we find that God hates a Mixture! And St. Paul warned:
     “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy; Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good; Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. From such TURN AWAY.” (2 Tim. 3: 1-5)
      Here are Seven Teachings of Christ which emphasis the phenomenon: ‘There was a Valley between them.’

    “Enter ye in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and may there be which go in thereat. Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7: 13,14)
      Here is the dividing of the Ways!  
       Jesus Christ spoke of the two roads leading to eternity; the wide gate and the broad way versus the straight gate and the narrow way. He made a very strong argument for travelling on the narrow road which leads to Heaven and home and rejecting the wide and the broad road which leads to Hell.
      He was sending us a message that the path we take in life will determine our final destination, the one leads to destruction and the other to life! The broad road is a picture of a life with no restraints, doing your own thing, obeying the lust, greed, carnal and rebellious out-of-control lifestyle, while the narrow road depicts the morally sound, balanced, in-control and disciplined lifestyle.

     “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt. 6: 24)
      Here we see the valley between them!
      Jesus could not have been more plain in His position on the choosing of allegiances .It is about following a leader and giving allegiance to a master! It is also about the devotion to that master, the love and hate that is generated between the two opposites!
    The choice is between God and mammon! Mammon is a Chaldee or Syriac word meaning wealth, earthly goods or riches, also by personification, 'the god of riches'. The implication is that riches and wealth is often connected with powerful land owners and the World System.
      The BIBLE says: “For the love of MONEY is the root of all evil; which while some have coveted after they have erred from the truth, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
    “Fight the good fight of FAITH, lay hold on Eternal Life, where unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:10-12)
      St. James comes down strong on respect of persons, zeroing in on wealthy people: “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?
    “But ye have despised the poor. Do not RICH MEN oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy NAME by which ye are called? (James 2: 5-8)
    WHO is the 'god of riches'? SATAN, of course! Did he not offer the Lord Jesus Christ the kingdoms of this world, when he temped our Saviour? (Matt.4: 8-10). The two masters are God and the evil, wicked Liar called Satan, the enemy of God and man! When you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour you will love Him forever, and despise and resist the hateful devil!

    “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
     “And everyone that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matt. 7: 24,25)
      Here we see the two very different approaches to life; one of wisdom and the other of stupidity!
     Jesus reveals the wisdom of obeying His teachings, and the ramifications of disobeying them. There is no middle ground! The blessings of hearing and obeying Jesus' Words is likened to a man building his House on a solid ROCK that would withstand the storms of life.
    The flip side is the utter folly of rejecting His instructions and building his house on the sinking, shifting SAND! Living your life according to the philosophies of carnal, proud, humanistic Christ rejecters and following the precepts of the 'enemies of the cross' is tantamount to building your house on the sand!
    St. James warned: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4: 4)

    “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6: 19-21)
    Jesus makes it abundantly clear that there is a huge difference between those who live for themselves only and those who care about eternal things!
    Our Lord said: “Well hath Esaias prophesied if you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7: 6,7)
      The Bible says: “Will a man rob God? Yet, ye have robbed Me. But ye say, Wherein have ye 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; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Mal. 3:8-11);
      “And here (on earth) men that die receive tithes: but there (in Heaven) He (Jesus) receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.” (Heb.7: 8)
      Is tithing still God's will for us today? Some Bible scholars argue that it is not, however, this Scripture states that Jesus Christ our Heavenly High Priest receives our tithes! That settled the debate for me, because I bow to the Word of God and so should everyone else!
     Jesus said: “Give and it shall be given you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For with the same measure that ye meet, it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6: 38)

     “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall SEPARATE them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
      “And He shall set the sheep on the His right side but the goats on His left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, COME, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world:
    “Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, DEPART from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into Life Eternal.” (Matt. 25: 31-34, 41, 46)
       Jesus made it very plain that at the end of our lives we must all appear before the Lord and that there will be a separation and a dividing between the righteous and the unrighteous and that there will be rewards and consequences for our actions that are eternal in duration!
      The BIBLE states: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap Life Everlasting.” (Gal. 6: 7,8)
     In this Scripture, our precious Lord Jesus Christ uttered a very solemn warning. He warned of everlasting fire and everlasting punishment. This is very serious, indeed, and should be heeded by each one of us. He made it clear that this everlasting fire was prepared for the DEVIL and his angels who had sinned against Almighty God.
      IS HELL REAL? Jesus said that it is, and that's good enough for me! C.S. Lewis wrote: “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” He realized, of course, that he had no power to remove that doctrine or any other doctrine which God has declared to be. That is not within our jurisdiction!
      He warns: “Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you.” (Deut.4: 2); “Every Word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. Add thou NOT unto His Words lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Prov.29: 5,6);
     “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book; If any man shall ADD unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall TAKE AWAY from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22: 18,19)
     There are two Judgments: The Great White Throne Judgment for unbelievers, and the (Bema) Judgment Seat of Christ for Believers:
(1). Great White Throne Judgment:
      “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the Books were opened: and another Book was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
     “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death. And whosoever was not found written in the BOOK OF LIFE was cast into the Lake of Fire.” (Rev.20: 11-15)
(11.) The Judgment Seat of Christ:
       “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
       Knowing therefore the TERROR of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God.” (2 Cor. 5: 9-10).
     St. Paul was concerned about communicating the Gospel to his fellowmen and fulfilling his call from Jesus Christ to do so! We will not be judged for our sins as they have already been judged. Christ Himself took our place when He bore our sins on the cross. He has made us, “accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph.1: 7)
      The Judgment Seat of Christ is for Believers only. While all unbelievers must stand for judgment before the Great White Throne Judgment, we will be judged for our works. It will be a time of receiving commendations from our Lord Jesus for the work we have done for His Kingdom. It is a thorough evaluation of our Christian lives:
     The Bible says: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of DARKNESS, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” (1 Cor. 4:5)
      “Now if any man build upon this foundation (Jesus Christ) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed BY FIRE:
      “And the Fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a REWARD. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
     “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the SPIRIT OF GOD dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, Whose temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3: 11-17); “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” (Rom.14: 12)

        There will be two Resurrections: one for the Righteous and the other for the unrighteous! The Resurrection of the Just is for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. This will also include Old Testament saints that through the Sacrificial System believed in the Coming Messiah, Who would shed His blood for their sins. The lambs, goats and bullocks that were slain were types of Christ, Who would die as God's paschal Lamb for the sins of the world!
    The Resurrection of the Unjust is for those who have not received God's Gift of Eternal Life through the sacrifice of His Son. They will be resurrected to stand in the presence of God to be sentenced to eternal damnation!
      The Bible states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
     “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he HATH NOT believed on the Only Begotten Son of God.” (John 3: 16-18)
      “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12: 2,3)
       “So is also the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
     “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Behold I show you a MYSTERY; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be CHANGED, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be changed incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
   “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on IMMORTALITY. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in Victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
      The sting of death is SIN; and the strength of sin is the Law; But thanks be to God, which giveth us the Victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 15: 42-57)
    Christ was RAISED first and we will follow at His Coming: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came DEATH, by man came also the RESURRECTION of the dead.
     “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made ALIVE. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming.” (1 Cor. 20: 23)
      St Paul preached Christ's Death and Resurrection: “And though they found no cause of death in Him; yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre.
     “But God RAISED HIM from the dead. And He was seen many days of them that came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses unto the people.
     “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise that was made unto the fathers. God hath fulfilled the same unto us, their children, in that He raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” (Acts 13: 28-32)
      While preaching to the philosophers on Mars Hill, St. Paul introduced them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection and the Day of Judgment:
    “And the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commanded all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a DAY, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath RAISED Him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 30)
       In his defense before Governor Felix, St. Paul declared: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets; And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:14, 15)
   JOB, the oldest of the Patriarchs believed in the Resurrection of the Dead. He stated: “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the Latter Day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh, I shall see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 20: 25-27)
      ABRAHAM: As a type of what Almighty God would do to save a world of sinners by sacrificing His Only Begotten Son, He asked Abraham to do with his only son. After a night of soul searching Abraham obeyed believing that if he must do it, God would raise his son from the dead. Of course God would not let it happen and had a ram nearby as a substitute. (Heb. 11:19)
       DAVID said: “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades); neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps. 16: 8-10).
     The Psalmist prophesied Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead! And here, he shares his own belief: “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with Thy likeness.” (Ps. 17: 15)
     ST. JOHN says: “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.” (1 John 3: 1-3) Hallelujah!
      Jesus declared: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice , and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done EVIL unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5: 28,29)
    “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the Bottomless Pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should DECEIVE the nations NO MORE till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that he must be loosed a little season.
     “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the FIRST RESURRECTION Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”
      “And I saw a Great White Throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the DEAD, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the DEAD were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
     “And the sea gave up the DEAD which were in it: and Death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works'
     “And Death and Hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the Second Death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” (Rev. 20: 11-15)
    My dear friend, your decision now will determine your eternal destiny! The Bible says: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath; but is passed from death unto life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
      “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming and NOW is, when the dead shall hear the Voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5: 24,25)
     All sinners are dead in trespasses and sins, however, Jesus Christ has purchased our eternal salvation through His shed blood, meeting the Demands of Divine Justice for a world of sinners: Here is His Offer to us all!
       His Word says: “All have sinned and come short of the Kingdom of God.” (Rom.3:23). We were all sinners by birth, by nature and by choice. As you read these words, God is speaking to you to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour!
     His Word states: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom.6:23)
     “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath Everlasting Life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
     “Verily, verily I say unto you, the Hour is coming, and NOW is, when the dead (spiritually) shall hear the Voice of the Son of God and Live.” (John 5:24, 25)
      If you refuse, however, His Word declares that one day you will hear the Voice of God again, but it will then be too late:
      “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and they shall come forth; they that have done good unto the RESURRECTION OF LIFE; and they that have done evil, unto the Resurrection of Damnation.” (John 5:28, 29).
        May no-one reading these words fail to cry unto the Lord for His mercy and grace which He gives freely to all who believe and receive Him as Lord and Saviour! Amen.