Saturday, September 23, 2017

Section 2: THE DARK LIGHT: Exposing The Antichrist Virus

God’s Expectations:

            Perhaps we should begin by simply considering the Creator’s expectations for humanity.  Certainly, this is a primary awareness that is obviously necessary to a successful friendship with Him.  The following scriptural glimpses easily demonstrate the kind of response that God has always sought from mankind and the response that He continues to look for today.  We can clearly see, in these excerpts, His expectation of a relationship that is faith-expressive, that consistently results in a humble obedience from an elevated people. 

            Also, we should note that the following excerpts from scripture are by no means the only ones available to us.  But, this small sampling will be more than adequate to demonstrate God’s vision of relationship, a high and noble vision, indeed.

In The Old Testament

             Genesis 2:15 "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.   And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;   but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.' '' 

            So obviously, from the very beginning, God placed man in a daily reality of responsibility and accountability.

             Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.  

           "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.   None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.  Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die, says the Lord God, and not that he should turn from his ways and live?  

        "But, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.   

     "Yet you say,  'The way of the Lord is not fair. '  Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

            "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.   Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.  Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  

            "Yet the house of Israel says, `The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?   Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God.   Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.

            "Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?   For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore turn and live! '' 

            These verses indicate God’s very straight forward way of accounting.  It is a way that obviously keys on a personal accountability.

             Ezekiel 36: 23  "‘And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,’'' says the Lord God, "‘when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.   For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.

            " 'Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.   I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.’"

            Here, God gives us a very inspiring glimpse of His vision for His people.  It is clear that He intends to have a very elevating impact upon His people. 

In The New Testament

            Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
            Obviously, this verse demonstrates the clear redemptive expectation of faith-expressive works and a reality based righteousness as a result of the believer’s renewal in Christ.

            Matthew 5: 17- 20 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.    For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

            "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.   For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

            These words of Christ bring emphasis to God’s intention for a Christ-empowered, reality-based righteous.  And, they call to mind His promise in the Old Testament for these New Testament times, to no longer write his laws on tablets of stone, but rather, now, in Christ to write them in our heart so that His values are truly and naturally shared by us.

            Romans 8:3 (KJV)  "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

            In this juxtaposition of those who are flesh driven and those who are Spirit driven, we are shown, not only the source, but also the extent of Christ’s renewing impact – the righteous essence of God’s value system is now empowered in the believer by the indwelling Spirit of Christ.   

            Ephesians 4:11 (KJV)  "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect [mature] man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. "  

            These verses paint a beautiful picture of God’s anticipation of our maturity in Christ – the here-and-now of a life empowered and directed by His Spirit.

             Galatians 5:19 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,   Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying’s, murders, drunkenness, raveling’s, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. " 

            Again, we see a no-nonsense, straightforward, Godly accounting and the simple expectation that sinfulness will be expunged from the life of the believer.

            Matthew 22:8 "Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.  Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.'   So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

            "But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.    So he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.   Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness;’ there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  For many are called, but few are chosen.''
            This parable indicates that the universal invitation offered to humanity through Christ does not absolve those who respond of the obligation to participate in a responsible way.  The opportunity portrayed here is obviously universal; but, it is also obvious that it is not without requirements for those who respond.

Summary and Conclusions:

            All of these references indicate the Father’s expectation of a people who are truly responsive and faith-expressive.  From the very beginning, God has anticipated and called to a people who are willing to experience a truly renewing friendship with Him.  

            Realizing this, we should also realize something else.  God did not start out looking for a people who would truly and thoroughly embrace his values and directions, only to abandon that desire out of frustration.  The redemptive workings of the New Testament do not represent some divine fallback position, where God suddenly becomes willing to embrace an “acceptable brokenness” in His people in exchange for a statement of faith. 

            And, Christ is not an after-thought, a Band Aid to cover the unsightly boo-boo of humanity’s chronic waywardness.  He represents God’s carefully planned and very effective remedy for that waywardness.  He is the cornerstone of a redemptive process which gives final reality to God’s oringinal vision of a deeply intimate and completely fulfilling friendship with His consistently faith-expressive people.     

                                  [Continue to Section 3]