Perilous times are coming, wrote the apostle Paul. Are we equipped to cope?
Bill Faith: We are living in the days to which the apostle referred. If we are to survive that chaotic time we must be grounded in the.faith that was 'once delivered to the saints'.
Our adversary, Satan, is doing his best to separate each of us from the truth of God. There is an old saying, "Divide and conquer," and it is probably Satan who knows it best. If we are not well grounded in the faith, he may succeed in turning our hearts from God and His truth. After all, it was Jesus who asked, "When the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). It evidently is a question that we need to seriously consider.
A Key of Truth
Often the first thing a person learns when he or she is led to God's truth is the observance of the Bible Sabbath. It's a tool God uses to challenge people to see whether or not they will obey Him. For many, it is an obstacle that must be overcome before God reveals more truth to them.
In the book of Exodus we find that God made a special covenant with Israel concerning the Sabbath. He spoke to Moses saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people ...Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever...' "(Exodus 31:13-17).
That word 'sign' can also mean a signal such as a 'beacon' (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance). A beacon is a light such as is used at airports to help pilots locate the airfield in the darkness. Likewise, in this world of spiritual darkness, the weekly Sabbath helps us to locate God's true church - because it will be observing it. A footnote in the Ryrie Study Bible reads, "The importance of this sign is seen in the insistence of later prophets that Sabbath-keeping was an indication of the spiritual condition of the people." Hence, if people are lax about how they keep the Sabbath it is a good indication that their spiritual condition is not as sound as it should be.
After accepting the knowledge of the Sabbath, God then proceeds to open our minds to understand the truth concerning heaven, hell, immortality, trinity, death, life, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, holy days, etc. Once we understand the truth of God, we then realize how deceived the world is.
A world famous evangelist once said that it's not for us to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. But is that what the Bible teaches? What did Jesus tell His disciples? "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables" (Mark 4:11).
People often look to signs or miracles to help them confirm their beliefs. However, these can be very deceptive. Jesus warned that in the latter days false christs (messiahs) and false prophets would arise and show great signs and wonders that would deceive if possible even the very elect o God (Matthew 24:24). And in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 is stated, "The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders." How effective will he be? "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life..." (Revelation 13:8).
God wants us to look to Him. He expects us to give our whole heart, mind and soul in obedience to His way of life. Jesus warned, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?' And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness"' (Mt. 7:21-23)!
The key is "lawlessness." God's laws are holy and righteous and He expects us to live by them. Notice what Paul wrote, "But this I confess to you, that according to the way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets" (Acts 24:14).
All religions claim to know God and to represent Him so how do we know if we know Him? Let the Bible answer that question. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:3-4). John went on to say, "He who says he abides in him [Christ] ought himself also to walk just as he walked" (ch 2:6).
How did Christ walk? In righteousness without committing sin. In the same letter John states that sin is lawlessness (the transgression of the Law - I John 3:4). He then concluded "...all unrighteousness is sin" (ch 5:17).
In conclusion, how can we stay grounded in the faith? By making it a priority to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. And that includes living by every word of God as well as staying in contact with God through studying the Scriptures, meditation and prayer.
Remember that God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). And it is His Spirit in us that identifies that we are His. As the apostle Paul wrote: "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his" (Rom. 8:8).
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 25, January/February 2001. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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