Observance of prophecy being fulfilled is most interesting, but it is a complicated process to understand and watch. It is seeing mankind in a continual slide away from God, and the principles of what is right to embrace those of selfishness and sensuality. But these have been long described as monuments of the end of the age. In the words of Psalm 2:1, “Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing?” What they produce is indeed vanity, and the sinful imaginations of a people in full scale rejection of their Creator. Satanic influence leads them as blind men down the road of false promise to an apex of depraved fulfillment that can never be. In the process, wholesale numbers in the human sea press onward, presenting a formidable challenge to authority. Numbered among the human sea are those who desire to remain in authority. It is the kings and rulers who then take counsel together. Their counsel is against the LORD (Jesus) and His anointed (His bride, the church, the pillar and ground of the truth). Their consensus is to break away from Judeo/Christian ethics, and the teachings of the Word, the same Word by which they have authority in the first place, (Rom. 13). As they cast away all attachments to the LORD and His anointed, the proverbial tail wags the dog, so that there remain no standards by which right and wrong are discriminated, and wrongdoing justly rewarded due punishment. The latest step in the process of authority rejection gained impetus in the unjust death of one George Floyd of Minnesota. The sea of humanity who did not know or have empathy for the murdered man seized upon the act to advance the lawless process. They rioted and looted in major cities to clamor for the dismantling of police departments. They will succeed in increments. It is a slow, but methodical process, and one more step toward a human quagmire is accomplished. God will laugh, having them in their derision. In the LORD’S wrath, He will vex them in His sore displeasure. Psalm 2:4-5. We have been there before. Just note Judges 17 and 21, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” It did not work out well then, and it will never do so in the future. Although Satan is the god of this present evil world system, God remains in control of its ultimate outcome. Solomon said in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes. . . “ Wise men learn from history.
There it goes again, waddling down the corridors of my mind. I do not refer to the proverbial chicken that crossed the road, or the chicken that must die because three or more Baptists got together. I do not refer to a particular breed of chicken such as Leghorn, Bantam, Dominique, Minorca, Corrnish, Rhode Island Red, or a dozen other varieties. Just any chicken will do. Aside from picky demands of KFC, a chicken is, after all, just a chicken. I know where chickens came from: any chicken, all chickens. God made chickens in creation long ago. Now evolutionists say not so. But there is no such thing as a chicken evolving from a fruit fly, duck, or mosquito. Regardless of how men have manipulated chickens, they are still chickens, and legitimate offspring of what God created originally. If that is not received as proof, well, tough! It is still true. Do I have anyone who want to argue to the contrary about the chicken? Of course the same would be true of any other species. The evolution of created beings within their species is evident from the manipulation of men, but one species does not become a different species, never! Chickens are still chickens! So what is the deal with the chicken? The point is understandably true enough, but it applies to something much more important. Reference is now made to the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan, the master counterfeiter has done much to bury the identity of the Lord’s church over the last nearly two thousand years. His purpose is to turn men away from it, but the predestination of the church is more sure that that of the survival of the chicken. There are multiplied hundreds of churches, so called, that mix a little truth with falsehood (making them the biggest lies). They say the church is universal and visible. Others say the church is universal and invisible. Still others tell us the church ceased somewhere in the dark ages and men are now in the process of renewing it. The lies go on and on. But, the church Jesus started is still here, and has never ceased to exist since its beginning,. “Prove it,” they say. That is when the chicken runs by. The truth is that Jesus forthrightly promised His church perpetuity, and it has been kept by the power of the Holy Spirit throughout the many attempts to kill it. There is kinship in the false churches of religious iniquity, and none of them want the core doctrines of old fashioned Baptists. Moreover, such would not make sense to Baptists either except for the presence and tutorial consistency of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful for the help and grace of God for understanding His Word, and . . . yes. . . I am thankful for that chicken that won’t go away!
Ranking high among the pleasures of reading God’s Word is vicariously identifying with its cast of characters. Perhaps it is the unshakable focus and patience of Noah that inspires us or the unwavering faith of Abraham. Isaac brings calmness to the soul, while adventuresome excitement flows from trickster Jacob. Joseph inspires us in all our troubles as does Job, but what could be more of an emotional roller coaster than the life of Moses. On and on the chronicles of life itself in so many contexts speak loudly to us of what is right or wrong, good and bad. Who could have had a greater storybook life than David or Solomon, or the austerity, faithfulness, and fortitude of the impressive prophets. But some largely prefer to identify with the apostles. John was so trusting and loving. Peter was so impulsive and often wrong. Paul was a trail-blazing evangelist and doctrinal instructor. But there is another that claims a lion’s share of connection in many disciples in every generation. It is Thomas who is more often than not referred to as “Doubting Thomas.” Often pushed into the back recesses of heart and mind, the more open doubts of our “Thomas” are hidden away. Out of view by others, he will command the mental easy chair of meditation or the center stage of a mind unwilling to surrender to nightly rest, calling into question some things deeply embedded as unchangeable truth. Our personal “Thomas” seems to strongly raise questions, affirm denial, and cause one to flounder in the pool of amazement over what is long known to be truth in the absolute. The biblical Thomas knew the Lord, he received heaven’s baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, and positively responded to the call of Jesus. He loved the Lord and soaked up so much of Jesus’ teachings. The crucifixion threw him for a loop as it did most of the apostles. But not being present at the early appearances of the resurrected Christ, his knowledge consisted of the reports of the others who had seen Him. But no one rises from the dead. Four thousand years of consistent history proved it. But his brethren were not given to false statements. He wanted so much for it to be so, but determined he would not believe it until he had personally seen Him himself. What a time that was when Jesus appeared to them all inside a locked room, and he was bidden both to see and to feel the body of Jesus. A new level of solidification enveloped him as the turbulence gave way to tranquility. That process of turbulence to tranquility is the prospective joy for every disciple who will stop long enough to meet with Jesus in the room of His Holy Word. When your “Thomas” finds his way to center stage, allow Jesus to speak as He did so long ago: “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27.
In His tremendous “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus taught His the newly formed nucleus of His church to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This admonition is a stopper, a virtual brick wall to disciples who pass around it, leaving it in the bin of incomprehensible possibilities. Much of the problem with the statement is that of accepted, or colloquial, assignment of word definition to the contrary. In modern day preachments and personal castigations, “Perfect” is implied and inferred as meaning without sin or error. In many modern contexts as well as in biblical usage, the term means “Complete.” Jesus wanted His disciples to grow in knowledge and grace to be complete in their understanding of God’s will and way for human life. A brief look at how the term is used in the Bible is in order. Noah was perfect [compete] in his generations, and walked with God, Genesis 6:9. When God appeared unto Abraham He said, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou [complete, whole, not fragmented] perfect.” Genesis 17:1. God Himself testified of Job to Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect [complete] and an upright man. . . “ Job. 1:1. Such usages continue. The apostle Paul reminded the church at Ephesus that Jesus upon His resurrection and ascension gave gifts unto men “For the perfecting of the saints. . . till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, . . . “ Eph. 4:12-13. In keeping with that, Paul prayed in ceaseless thanksgiving for the church that God would give to them “A spirit of wisdom and of revelation in full knowledge of Him.” Eph.1: 17 That spirit would bring the church at Ephesus and every other New Testament church into a state of maturity known as perfect or complete. The world, even the religious world cannot comprehend the faith once delivered unto the saints. Salvation by grace through faith plus nothing else is totally foreign to their thinking, and it simply cannot be apprehended by the carnal mind. The same is true with other cardinal doctrines of the Word, especially including the doctrines of the church. So Paul made such prayers for the church which are similar to Jesus’ prayer for the church in John 17:23, “. . . That they may be made perfect in one. . . “ The churches and pastors who may be treading water, so to speak, by engaging in religious activity without any plan to impart the tenants of the faith once delivered to the saints fail in bringing disciples to that biblically enjoined state of perfection and its subsequent peace and rest. It seems there is time for everything but prayer and meditation in the Word. But even the ancient prophet Isaiah wrote, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect [complete] peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isa. 26:3. Yes, saints may arrive at that blessed state of maturity in the faith that is called “Perfect,” but even then there is no stopping to the learning process. How wonderful!
William Andrew Dillard In the discipline of math, much is made of binary expressions. Moreover, since God is the author of all truth, including that of math, we may glean a lot of understanding of spiritual truth from it as well. Consider the binary diagram above. It is not meant to produce a headache, but to give you rejoicing as you understand it. Out of the universe of all men only a fraction of them have any relationship with God. Circle 1. represents all men who are saved. Circle 2. represents all men who are baptized. Circle 3. represents active church members. Now notice how the lines overlap or bind. Some saved men are active church members, but have never been baptized, 1 & 3. Some baptized men are active church members but have never been saved, 2 & 3. Some are saved and baptized, but not active church members, 1 & 2. While God wants all men to trust Him and thereby be saved, He also wants saved people to follow Him in scriptural baptism. But it does not stop there. He wants all saved, scripturally baptized people to be active and learning in the fellowship of His New Testament church. Therefore of all the possible positions that men may find themselves in spiritually, there is only one position that is totally compliant, and submissive to the will of God. That is the area where all three circles intersect noted as 1, 2, and 3. Where do you fit?
That mankind is made in the image and likeness of his Creator: body, mind, and spirit, has been a major preachment in ministry, both of myself, and of others who were studied, Bible preachers. It was therefore a special joy to me to hear Brother Don McCutcheon deliver a strong message on this point from Matthew 22:15-21. How many times have I read the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, and simply passed on with a visualization of what is right to offer to God from our material blessings. Of course, it is right to do that, but so much more is brought home here, and I feel certain the Pharisees and Herodians got the point. There, on the coin, the tempters presented to Jesus in their attempt to entangle Him in his talk, was exactly what one might expect: a line-drawing likeness of Caesar with letters above identifying him as the emperor and authority of the Roman empire. The question posed was, “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, or not?” In addition to calling them what they were (nothing wrong with that), Jesus asked for a piece of the tribute they were talking about. When a coin was produced, Jesus simply asked whose image and superscription was upon it. When Caesar was so identified, the answer was brilliant and obvious: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s: and unto God the things that are God’s.” But are not all things God’s? “All things were made by Him; and without him was not anything made that was made,” John 1:3 tells us. But this was a pitting of material things vs spiritual things, and the answer of Jesus turned it back on the hypocrites. The producer of the coin was Caesar, and the Roman Empire as attested by the image and superscription. So render such to him. Then what is to be rendered to God? The same thing! That is, render to God the bearer of His image and superscription which is yourself: the crowning act of creation as noted in Genesis 1:26-27: mankind! To be in the image of God necessitates a trinity: mind, body, and spirit. This is what Paul affirmed in I Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Every person is to give himself to God! Friends, when that is done, there will be no dilemma or argumentation of what else should be given to God. Think about it! You are the image and superscription of God! Then, render unto God the things that are God’s!
“What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would give Him a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part.—- But what I can, I give Him, Give my heart.” Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
William Andrew Dillard In communication exchanges with my dear cousin, ______________ of __________, she mentioned the idea of a chisel in life. I cannot get this off my mind, mainly because it makes so much sense. Accordingly, I attempt to expand on that idea for my own analysis, and I hope it may make some sense to others who read these lines. How prone we are to live life to the fullest, but as much as humanly possible within our comfort zone. When something invades our comfort zone, it is always by an external force, and not of our own making. We are secure in who we are. We identify ourselves by the peripheral things and people around us, especially those we have known for a lifetime. When a parent, sibling, or child dies, we feel ourselves chiseled. But we must understand that we really are as a sculptured work of art, fashioned by the Master Artist, and fully realize that He is not done with those of us who remain. When one of my children was still-born, it was as a chisel strike that I would have avoided at all cost, but one that brought more clearly into focus the fashioning of my life by my loving and righteous Creator-God. When deep depression struck in 1984, the chisel had never struck so hard and so painfully to shape my life to solely depend on my loving Sculptor. Then, dad died in 1987. The chisel struck again; painfully, but masterfully, further defining what I am to ultimately become. When mom died in 1988, it was a chisel blow. When my sister died in 2000, the chisel struck again. She was the first of my siblings to cross the bar, and I felt so vulnerable; that there was less of me than before. This week, my brother just older than I, succumbed to a massive stroke, and I am again feeling the strike of a chisel. Now, my oldest brother has gone to be with the Lord. There was love between us, even though we were not so close in later years as we had been as youngsters growing up. Still, all the precious people were there, and I knew it, and to some degree depended upon it. That was my comforting, self-definition of life. I feel the chisel from which no one is immune, even ministers of the gospel. I do not seek immunity from the chisel, nor do I lament each blow as it may appear that I do. It is just that life is ever changing, and those who love the Lord will feel the chisel as He uses the events of life to channel us into complete trust and comfort in Him rather than the people and things that surround us. One day the Master Sculptor will be done with the chisel, and changes will cease to occur for we shall see Him as He is because, at last, we shall be like Him. Until then, may God give each of us the strength and grace to be still, and to cherish each blow of the chisel in the comforting knowledge of what He is doing to and for each one of us.
There are times when certain verses of scripture appear somewhat strange to the modern reader. An example is Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” Think with me about this verse for a moment. It means something far different to the practice of those who spread their germs by repeatedly kissing a statue. The context of the second Psalm has as its subject matter the raging of heathen, vain imaginations of people, and kings and rulers of the earth taking counsel together against the LORD (Jehovah), and against His anointed (His Covenant People). They want to break their bands, and cast away their cords. (Moral and spiritual attachments). It is a word picture of modern man in his determination to achieve an ill-conceived utopia apart from any acknowledgment of God. The grace of God allows them to continue to do this for a limited time. Meanwhile, God shall laugh, and have them in derision, and shall vex them in his sore displeasure. The Son of God is given the heathen for inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for possession. He shall indeed break the nations with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. In view of that fact, the admonition and instruction of wisdom is written in the eternal Word: “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” To kiss is to join with the mouth. “Kiss” is the translation of the Hebrew word, “Nashaq.” In Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, the Hebrew term is defined as “to kiss by joining the mouth to the mouth or hand of another in token of the friendly, affectionate union of hearts or of reverence and subjection.” (Page 239). Two really important accomplishments with the mouth are ingestion for nourishment, and projection of communication of the thoughts of the mind. Then one should discern from the terminology that to kiss the Son implies one should ingest in subjection the Word and Will of the Son. Furthermore, that one should then project from the mouth that which is sanctified and holy, even such as becomes the Son. Applied to modern day judges and governmental leaders, it seems a tall expectation indeed. In fact, it might just be considered such when applied to ministers and other church members. But all may rest assured that wisdom and life lies in the Son. He will be kissed in subjection and affection or those who refuse will be dashed in pieces in irrevocable judgment.
William Andrew Dillard “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3 It is interesting to note that both the beginning, and ending of man’s allotted work time on this planet is marked by a day of rest. The first day of rest was a literal solar day (since all the days in Genesis One are marked by an evening and a morning). The last day of rest will be a millennial (1,000 years) day. Consider how they are connected. The initial day of rest which God hallowed, was virtually ignored for 2500 years. Then, God put it into the Mosaic Law with teeth, that it should be adamantly observed. That the purpose of the Law was to teach, and to bring God’s people to the age of Grace is plainly identified. Notice further that the culmination of man’s work, and history on earth will be a day of rest. This is promised in Hebrews Chapter Four, and is otherwise spoken of as the “Day of the Lord.” Now notice that the Apostle Peter explains that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as a day, 2 Peter 3:8. The principle to understand is: God gives man six days to labor on earth (6,000 years) and the seventh day of rest is the day of the Lord (the millennial reign of Jesus). Adam and Eve were created 4,000 B.C. Additionally, it is certain that we are very close to 2,000 years since Jesus’ time. That adds up to 6,000 years. The coming of Jesus effected a change in the reckoning of time from B.C. to A.D. (Anno Domini, the year of the Lord). History has suffered through the Roman, Julian, and Gregorian calendars, one counting a year as ten months of 30 days each to the others being 12 months of varying days, then every fourth year an extra day added to February. So, it is unclear just what precise year we are really living in, but Another possibility of time computation is that of covenants. God has worked with His people in terms of covenants, especially since Abraham. If the 4,000 years B.C. were completed when Messiah was cut off, fulfilling the Law Covenant, and empowering the New Covenant, ( 33 A.D.), then, if modern calendars are correct, this is actually 1987 (2020 minus 33 years). The last seven years of this age is the tribulation period, so that would make it to be almost on top of us. Conclusion: We have had our six days of labor. It is time for the seventh day, the 1,000-year Day of the Lord, to begin. It is coming right on time. Are you ready for it?
( I am not a date setter, but this is interesting to roll around, unless, of course, you already know it all!)
The multiple facets of life which men choose to follow amazes the keen observer. Some are meek and humble; others are haughty and proud; some are weak and fearful; others are bold and aggressive; some are quick to inquire while others already know it all; some are consumed with power and authority while others are content to fulfill their tasks of life, leaving the authority worries to others, It goes on! Here is a graphic illustration. Think with me about it! Once upon a time on a hill far away were raised three cruel crosses. Upon these were men, still alive, badly beaten and abused, whose fate was to die in intense agony for crimes allegedly committed. The cross on one end contained a convicted thief. The cross on the other end also contained a convicted thief and/or robber or insurrectionist. The cross in the middle contained the unrecognizable figure who without sin admitted the sins of the entire world upon Himself: Our altogether lovely, Wonderful, Precious Savior: Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. He was unrecognizable because the heavily wielded, Roman cat of nine-tails has laid upon his flesh to expose His bones. His beard had been pulled off His face with its flesh. His vestige was marred more than any man (Psalm 22, Isa. 52), and interestingly enough, a brief dialogue of the three dying men occurred. The thief on one end of the three-cross line spoke sarcastically to the man on the middle cross. “If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” Luke 23:39. He neither knew nor cared that the greatest single event in all of human history was occurring, and he was also a part of that monumental scene. He thoughts were not of the world beyond in which he would soon find himself, or that he was beside the resurrection and the life who could pardon his wicked soul of the sins for which he was dying. How typical of the world of sinful men. On the other side of the middle cross the second thief rebuked the first, saying, “Doest not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Luke 23:40-41 It was then that he turned his head to the middle cross and said, “Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” Jesus said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Let it then be shouted to the darkest regions of the universe: Jesus is Lord, and there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. I want to be remembered by the Man of the Middle /Cross, and I am, and I shall be. Men in every generation should follow the undeniably successful attitude of the second thief. It is just this simple, and there is no plan “B.” In repentance from sin, and singular trust in the Savior, let prayers ascend, “Lord, remember me!”
There is, today, a move away from the deep endearing knowledge of God and what He wants us to know. We are shallow in knowledge, relationship and living. We can no longer call our selves Christians because we do not pass the test of "Christ like." We want what we want and tend to move through the buffet line of the Bible, picking and choosing our desires. By this we allow our selves to indulge in worldly thought and actions.
We are called to be a separate people, distinct from the world and its practices. Those that call themselves Christians today practice worldly things and are no longer identifiable as Christians.