Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The "Sheep" and the "Goats"--Did They Have It Backward?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone asked a very thoughtful question about the final Day of Judgment.

In that last Day the "righteous" express surprise that the Lord praises them and says, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in." They respond in genuine humility, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?" You must be telling someone else, "Come!" This must be a mistake--we have never thought ourselves worthy to enter Your kingdom.

But the King will assure them, No, it's you I mean, "Come!" because whenever you demonstrated love for someone else, it was Me you were blessing! (Matt. 25:31-40). These are the "[sheep] gathered before Him."

Then Jesus tells how the goats will respond when He tells them, "Depart from Me" (vs. 41). They will argue, protesting that they deserve to enter in, He has made a mistake in His judgment. Look at all the good things we have done!

As Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, the "goats" will argue, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, ... and done many wonders in Your name?" (7:21-23). Again, the "goats" will have it backward as much as the "sheep" had it backward!

Now for the question that was asked: "If it's so wise for us to walk softly and not talk with a false assurance, why does Paul say so confidently, 'There is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day'"? (2 Tim. 4:8). Doesn't that sound a little like some pride similar to what the "goats" will express on that "Day"?

Superficially that is true. But remember, these words were written just hours or minutes before Paul was beheaded for the sake of Jesus. Nero has condemned him; any moment now the soldier will walk in and say, Follow me; I must behead you! Paul was not reviewing all the good works he had done; all he said was, "I have kept the faith" (vs. 7).

If you will keep the faith until your last hour, you can have that same confidence. But meanwhile, until then, walk and talk "softly" (see 1 Kings 21:27, King James Version, which says Ahab in his repentance after a terribly sinful life "went softly").

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 14, 2003.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Sin Has No "Home" in the Vast Universe of God!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Our Savior "condemned sin in the flesh," the fallen, sinful flesh that all of us have inherited from our fallen father, Adam. In so doing, Christ has saved the human race! He forever outlawed sin in the vast universe of God by defeating it in its last lair. Sin has no "home," no refuge now, in the vast universe of God!

Sin does not reside in things; it resides in human hearts. Satan as the fallen Lucifer had tempted the other worlds to join him in rebellion, but they refused. (Temptation is not sin; what's sin, is giving in.) Only our first parents, Adam and Eve, believed the fallen Lucifer's lies against God.

No way could Christ have defeated sin if the dogma of the Immaculate Conception were true: if in His incarnation Christ had taken upon Himself the unfallen, sinless nature of Adam in the Garden, sin would have been forever enshrined and crowned in our human flesh and then Satan would have forever won the great controversy between Christ and Satan.

Doubtless there are many sincere people who have never thought this through; they don't realize that their dogma proclaimed in 1854, and required of all to believe, is a stroke of victory in favor of the enemy in the great controversy.

In mercy to the remnant church and the world, the Lord sent a most precious message to His people over 120 years ago that told the saving truth in a clear way so simple that a child could understand. Christ took on His sinless nature our fallen, sinful nature, so that He might save the human race from sin. "Tempted in all points like as we are [tempted], yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15, King James Version), He has delivered the whole human race from captivity to sin.

Most do not understand it, or believe it; but nonetheless it is true. And the Lord has promised in Revelation 18:1-4 that the full beautiful truth will yet "lighten the earth with glory."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 11, 2008.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: A Fresh New Revelation of Grace

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The most precious message of Christ's righteousness exalts the cross of Christ and what He accomplished there for the world. He reversed the judicial "condemnation" that our fallen father Adam brought upon the human race and as the second Adam pronounced upon us instead a "judicial ... verdict of acquittal " (Rom. 5:15-18; The Revised English Bible). By His sacrifice upon His cross He gave the Father the legal right to treat "every one" in the world as though he has never sinned!

You may have thought about this a thousand times, but each new morning it's a fresh new revelation of grace. The Father demonstrates what "you shall be perfect" means by "mak[ing] His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and send[ing] rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:48, 45). And so, by His much more abounding grace (Rom. 5:20) which He bestows on us "in Christ," He enables us to treat others the same way; and to our amazement, we discover that we begin to win souls! We discover in the most unforeseen places someone who is hungry and thirsty for the bread of life and the water of life that we can now share, and what a joy it is to meet that person.

When you know yourself and confess yourself to be empty, that you are eternally hungry and thirsty, you are prepared to be "filled" (Matt. 5:6), and no one is ever "filled," without at the same time his "cup runs over" (Psalm 23:5). Then everybody who comes in contact with you is blessed. You are continually exuding that much more abounding grace; there's no end to it. You've found a new life.

What's happening is that God's New Covenant is playing itself out in you; all the promises He made to Abraham are being kept and fulfilled in you as a child of Abraham. (You know, of course, that not one human soul will enter any of the gates of the New Jerusalem except as a child of Abraham [cf. Rom. 4:1-16], and that is what you are if your heart has just begun to "comprehend ... the width and length and depth and height [of the] love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God"; Eph. 3:17-19.)

It's real! You are not the water of life but you are a channel through which it can flow.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 6, 2007.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Must the Triumph of the Gospel Await a Future Generation?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Some day, somewhere, someone, will understand the "everlasting gospel" of Jesus Christ so clearly that "another angel" will come down from heaven "having great power" and will "lighten the earth" with the glory of that full-orbed truth. Multitudes who now sit in darkness will see a great light and will come to it (Rev. 18:1-4, King James Version; Matt. 4:16).

It won't be only "some one" who understands; there will be many who are in heartfelt union around the world, of "every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" (Rev. 14:6). No more theological squabbles! That unity will be as much a miracle as the insight of that "some one" who will see crystal clear what the gospel is with no contradicting confusion.

That unity will be in fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus in John 17, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word: that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I [am] in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (vss. 20, 21). "The world" will not believe until they see that "one-ness."

Those who will understand the gospel and be in union will receive "the seal of God in their foreheads" (Rev. 7:1-4), obviously a symbol of a heart understanding of truth that has also gripped the understanding of the mind. They will have pondered and studied; and they will believe Jesus' promise, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

They will graduate out of Old Covenant living into the bright sunlight of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant will no longer produce "bondage" in them, but they will "stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free" (Gal. 5:1). They will overcome where ancient Israel stumbled and fell. Instead of crucifying Christ "again" and "put[ting] Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6), they will surrender self to be "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).

As soon as they receive "the seal of God" and "follow the Lamb" (the crucified and risen "Savior of the world"), the enemy will launch against them his "mark of the beast" in an attempt to frighten them into submission (Rev. 13:16, 17). But "perfect love" (agape) has at last "cast out fear" (1 John 4:18) and they are seated with Christ on His throne to bring to a triumphant close "the great controversy" with Satan (Rev. 3:21).

But must this glorious triumph of the gospel await a future generation? Are there some out there who long to see the victory come now?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 11, 2007.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: "Blessing" or "To Bless"—What's the Difference?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The noun "blessing" means something that gives happiness. The verb "to bless" means to make someone happy. But in Psalm 103 it all seems turned around: we are told to "bless the Lord, O my soul" (vs. 1). How could any of us mere mortals, sinful at that, make the great Lord of heaven and earth happy?

The Psalm tells us how--remember all the wonderful things He constantly does for us: "forget not all His benefits" (vs. 2). We were created in the image of Him; we are created to be like Him, and He is therefore like us in this particular: it makes Him happy when we appreciate Him for what He is.

The story of Barzillai in 2 Samuel, chapter 19, is one of the happiest little narratives in the Bible. King David had sinned and ruined his own security and happiness; Absalom had rebelled against him; and the king had to flee for his life.

Barzillai did all he could to care for King David during this crisis. "Barzillai was a very aged man, 80 years old. And he had provided the king with supplies" while the king was in flight from his enemy. The old man said he could no longer "discern between the good and bad," or "taste what I eat or what I drink," or "hear any longer the voice of singing" (vss. 32, 35).

But Barzillai found for himself forever an honorable place in the Holy Bible because he chose to be unselfish and to help "the Lord's anointed" in a time of need. This old man was living under the glorious New Covenant, for God had promised that under it, wherever you go throughout the world, "you shall be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2, 3).

Yes, under the New Covenant, everywhere you go you will leave behind the memory of making people happy (in the eternal sense). That in itself is reward enough for anybody.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 8, 2008.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Thank God for Love!

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

When somebody important loves you and tells you so, you are flooded with happiness. As a wise writer once said, such love is a precious gift from Jesus. It begins with mother and father loving you; but we are to "leave ... father and ... mother, and cleave" to that other somebody important. Thank God for love!

But can you imagine how the biblical Daniel felt when a holy angel from heaven addressed him, "O Daniel, man greatly beloved," individually, especially (9:23; 10:11, 19). At this time, it was Medo-Persian rule. Likely, his three loyal friends of youth, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, were no longer around (we never hear of them again). He was lonely, still in exile, engulfed with perpetual paganism all around him, hated, envied by the leadership of the nation; he probably had no family; he had suffered an intimate personal violence unspeakable for a Hebrew—castrated in his teenage youth, apparently abandoned of heaven as a deserved spoil of divine national retribution.

But now an angel as a personal friend (unusual!?) throws into a conversation parenthetically this tidbit of information—the intelligences of heaven, what Paul calls "the whole family in heaven and earth" (Eph. 3:15), talk about him behind his back in endearing terms. He means something special at the headquarters of God. They love him as an individual!

Daniel's "works" did not evoke this special affection; it was his faith. He was respected as a kind of hero; when he had prayed with “his windows open toward Jerusalem” he had risked his life for devotion to this "family in heaven" (Dan. 6:10). When he went into the lions' den it was with a committed resignation, partly in trust that the Lord might deliver him, partly as surrender in case his being devoured by beasts might somehow honor God (as with Christians later in the days of pagan Rome). This reliance on God as "Father in heaven" knit Daniel's soul with that of the Son of God who from eternity had committed Himself to be one with us. He was "greatly beloved" by Him, and the angel realized it.

Wait on your knees, "Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14). The same angel has a word for you, too. Your happiness will lead you to total obedience to all God's commandments, to loving service (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 14, 2006.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Only Man in Eternity Who Can Say, "Look to Me ..."

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus of Nazareth is the only Man in eternity who can say to everyone, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!" (Isa. 45:22).

To "look" means the same as "behold." John the Baptist lifted his voice and "cried" saying, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). To "look" in the sense of "behold" is to look earnestly with faith, which is a heart appreciation of who Jesus is and what He has done and what He has given to "every man."

The apostle Paul was at his keenest in his thinking when he wrote Romans chapter five: "God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many, its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ" (see Rom. 5:15-21, The Revised English Bible).

Salvation is totally by the grace of the Lord Jesus, yes, and by the grace of the Father. The sacrifice of Christ has made it possible for the Father to treat "every man" as though he has never sinned! This is monumental grace!

To "believe" in Jesus is not the same as believing that 2 + 2 = 4; it is the human heart appreciating what it cost the Son of God to save us--He died our second death. He looked ahead of Himself down a tunnel that had no light at the end of it. Jesus did not simply go to sleep for a weekend. No, He went to hell and suffered the agony of hell--that was what it meant to die our second death!

We are just little children, all of us, in our understanding! May the Lord be gracious and permit us to grow! Not one person in God's eternal kingdom will feel or will say that he deserves to be there.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 13, 2009.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."