Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Mind of Christ" Triumphs Over All Sin

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul writes about the gospel. Some good Christian people say we rely too heavily on him, but the Lord inspired him to write fourteen of our twenty-one New Testament "epistles." The Lord inspired dear Peter to write two (he had shamefully denied Christ on that fateful Friday and then repented): "Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind" (1 Peter 4:1; Paul put it this way, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," Phil. 2:5).

Both apostles are concerned with our "flesh" which we all have by natural birth, and "the mind" of Christ, which we have to acquire. The latter is to rule over the former. "The mind of Christ" is much stronger; the lusts and passions and depravity and selfishness that "the flesh" would impose on us are more than cancelled by a "new mind" that we are willing to receive--the process is that simple. Peter says "arm yourselves" with that "mind." Paul says, "let this mind" come in when it knocks at your door. It's as though God stands by you like a valet holding this "armor" for you to put on like a policeman "arms" himself with a bullet-proof vest.

But Peter says something else: Christ's sufferings were in the same "flesh" that we have by nature. Ours is sinful to the core. When Christ was "sent" from heaven, He came with a sinless nature. He did not "have" our sinful nature naturally; He had to "take" it onto His sinless nature if He was to save us from our ongoing sin in the "flesh."

Therefore we read that God "sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: [but] He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). He "shared in the same" which we have, "made like [not unlike] His brethren" (Heb. 2:14, 17). The King James Version is more vivid: He "took part of the same."

The glorious result? That we "no longer should live the rest of [our] time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:2). "Flesh" is what Jesus "took" and it's the same "flesh" we have by nature. That "mind of Christ," if you open the door to "let" it in, triumphs over all the sin the devil can tempt you to fall into.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 22, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: The Most Intimate Glimpses of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's in Isaiah that we find the most intimate glimpses of Jesus to be found anywhere in the Bible. At least 40 times the prophet calls upon us to "behold" Him as He is--as in 42:1, "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him," the words the Father said of Him at His baptism (Matt. 3:16, 17).

Now "behold" how tempted Jesus was to utter discouragement. It's a sin to be discouraged, but it's not a sin to be tempted: "Listen to Me, ... you people who live far away! Before I was born, the Lord chose Me and appointed Me to be His servant. He made My words as sharp as a sword. ... He made Me like an arrow, sharp and ready for use" (Isa. 49:1-3, Good News Bible).

This glorious sense of divine destiny was ever before Him since He was a child of 12 when He sensed that He must be "the Lamb of God" (cf. Luke 2:41-49). But now "behold" His temptation to despair: "I said, 'I have worked, but how hopeless it is! I have used up My strength, but have accomplished nothing'" (Isa. 49:4). Here He was, the divine Son of God, the true Messiah, "the Savior of the world," yet He was snubbed as a despised and rejected fool from the small town of Nazareth. Only a mere handful seemed to believe Him.

Day by day this temptation pressed upon Him; but never did it assail Him with such tremendous force as when He hung on His cross and the crowd mocked Him: "People passing by shook their heads and hurled insults at Jesus: 'You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up ... ! Save yourself if you are God's Son! Come on down from the cross!' In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and the elders [the nation He had come to save!] made fun of Him" (Matt. 27:39-40). Tempted terribly! But was He a fool?

"Behold" what the Father said "to the One who is deeply despised, who is hated by the nations and is the Servant of rulers: 'Kings ... will rise to show their respect; princes also will see it.' ... This will happen because the Lord has chosen His Servant; the holy God of Israel keeps His promises" (Isa. 49:7). Jesus died gloriously triumphant (cf. Psalm 22:24-31)!

Now, as one who believes in Him, these same promises are for you. The Father honors you, too; He will lift this heavy heart-burden of many years that may lie upon your soul.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 27, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Bright Future for God's Work

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A beautiful experience is on the program of coming events, unique in history. Zechariah, Christ-centered prophet of last-day events, tells us that there will come to the last-day church and its leadership a heart-response to Calvary that will completely transform the church. Speaking of the final events, the prophet says:

"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; and they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, ... In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 12:10-13:1).

Who are the "inhabitants of Jerusalem"? Jerusalem is a "city" of Abraham's descendants, the organized body of God's people. In Zechariah's day, Jerusalem meant a distinct group of people called to represent the true God to the nations of the world. Jerusalem was a corporate, denominated body of professed worshippers.

"The Spirit of grace and supplication" is not to be poured out on scattered individual descendants of Abraham, but on the inhabitants of the "city," a visible body of God's denominated people on earth. It is implied that no descendant of Abraham choosing to dwell outside Jerusalem can share in it. Those Jews were indeed lost to history who chose to remain in the nations where they were scattered, refusing to move back to the ancestral nation in Palestine.

Who is "the house of David"? It was anciently the government of the denominated people of God. Zechariah refers to the leadership of the last-day church, or "the angel of the church," or "the king and his nobles," to borrow Jonah's terminology. They are "the men of Judah" whom Daniel distinguishes from "the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Dan. 9:7). "The house of David" includes all levels of leadership in the organized church.

Does it seem impossible that a spirit of contrition shall be poured out on a leadership congested by organizational complexity? The more involved the church becomes with its multitudinous entities, the greater is the danger of its huge collective self choking the simple, direct promptings of the Holy Spirit. Each individual catching a vision is tempted to feel that his hands are tied--what can he do? The great organizational monolith, permeated with formalism and lukewarmness, seems to move only at a snail's pace. Aside from this "Spirit of grace and supplication," the nearer we come to the end of time and the bigger the church becomes, the more complex and congested is its movement, and the more remote appears the prospect of repentance.

But let us not overlook what the Bible says. We need to remember that long before we developed our intricate systems of church organization, the Lord created infinitely more complex systems of organization, and yet "the spirit ... was in the wheels" (Ezek. 1:20). Our problem is not the complexity of organization; it is the collective love of self. And the message of the cross can take care of that!

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love": Christ's Call to Laodicea, 1986.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Only Thing That Can Avert a Global "Curse"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's not pretty, but there it is--the last word of the Old Testament is "a curse" (Mal. 4:6), not so much a threat as it is the inevitable Bad News of disaster as the unavoidable consequence of sin. It's the "curse" that came in the flood of Noah when the earth was destroyed, only this one is to be fire (vs. 1). It's something God Himself cannot avoid, for "the wages of [our] sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). The human race brought it upon themselves "in the days of Noah," and will do so again, unless somehow help can come.

The "help" that God promises is a totally impossible miracle for humans: God will "send ... Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:5, 6). That domestic "turning-of-heart" is the only thing that can avert a global "curse." It concerns marital fidelity and families.

Malachi's context is the "curse" of marital infidelity, for God says "I hate divorce" (Mal. 2:11-16, Good News Bible). The only remedy for heart alienation is a "turning-of-heart." Marital infidelity was a prime factor in the wickedness before the flood ("they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose," Gen. 6:2).

No one can "turn" his or her own "heart." Jesus predicted that "the love [yes, marital] of many will grow cold" and "lawlessness will abound" (Matt. 24:12). When love turns cold and the fire in the coals has gone out and hearts are estranged, only "Elijah's message" can reconcile the desolated hearts and cleanse the pollution.

And it can! God has promised to "send him" before the "seven last plagues" shall be poured out. The story of sinful humanity in the last book of the New Testament tells how the curse will come (Revelation 15 and 16). But the Elijah message must come first; perhaps it has come to you already. It's more than old covenant resolutions and works; it's a heart-turning "faith-which-works" proclamation of the cross of Jesus, of grace which abounds more than sin.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 26, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: You See Them All Through the Bible ...

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You see them, all through the Bible--individuals who cared more for the cause of God in the "great controversy between Christ and Satan," than for their own lives (and that meant in their context, their eternal lives).

Probably the first is Job, the unknown man who worshipped the LORD, the Hebrew name for the God of Israel. Job's "LORD" was the God whose character is agape, the One who would die the world's second death. You can see intimations of agape in Job (try 6:14; 13:14, 15; 19:25-27). In those early days, life after a "first" resurrection was not generally understood; Job had to battle his way by faith. He was willing to sacrifice himself to defend the honor and stability of the government of God. He proved that Satan was wrong, who charged that God had no one who served Him "for nothing" (1:9) and thus he helped to save the government of God.

Did Noah understand? He proclaimed the "righteousness which is of faith" (Rom. 10:5-8, KJV), which you can't do meaningfully unless you understand agape.

Did David understand? At least sometimes (cf. Psalms 22 and 69).

Isaiah? How could he write chapter 53 otherwise?

Jesus Himself? (John 5:30; 6:38; Matt. 26:39, 42). He is agape; He died the world's second death; He endured the curse of God, which is the second death (Gal. 3:13).

Paul? At least he loved Israel more than he loved his own salvation (Rom. 9:3).

The great controversy between Christ and Satan, the battle of the universe, cannot be ended and won until God has 144,000 Job-like people who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes," in whose mouth there is "no guile" (Rev. 14:1-5). Their story is inserted at that precise point in the Bible where a last-days proclamation of the "everlasting gospel" grows to become a message that "lightens the earth with glory" (vss. 6, 7; 18:1-4).

Don't say the fulfillment of that prophecy lies maybe centuries away. The Holy Spirit is working, and around the world there are some (maybe few) who are responding to Him without resisting Him further. Join them!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 29, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Is There Any Word From the Lord?"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In the darkest days of God's people, just before the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of Solomon's Temple (586 B.C.), poor distraught King Zedekiah fetched Jeremiah the prophet out of his dungeon cell. "Is there any word from the Lord?" he pleaded. "There is," he was told; up almost to the last moment, the king could have humbled his soul, gone out to the king of Babylon, humbled himself prostrate before him, and though he would not have saved his own life he would have saved the city, the Temple, and the people.

For King Zedekiah that would have been the conscious equivalent of dying his second death. Such a move was the only recourse left that agape (the love of Christ) could have taken, had his heart been filled with agape. If King Zedekiah had read and understood Moses, he would have learned that most precious lesson, for Moses had sacrificed himself that way. In Exodus 32 he asks that his name be blotted out of God's Book of Life so as to save his people Israel (vss. 30-32). King Zedekiah could have gone down in history as a hero. The lack of agape left him a hopeless coward.

The horror of contemporary daily news is reminiscent of those days before the fall of Jerusalem. Everywhere desponding leaders should be asking (in heart) if there is any word from the Lord. "There is," says the Bible--the fall of Babylon, which is the key to the final outcome of world history.

But the fall of Babylon also requires another complementary development in world history--the proclamation of a message from heaven that must lighten the earth with glory (Rev. 18:1-4). The message will make sense of what "Babylon" is, and why it "falls."

Also, there must be a people prepared to proclaim the message; they are identified as "the remnant," the successors to the true church, which Christ established on His apostles (12:17). They are distinguished as those who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." But no way can that truthfully be said of them unless they understand and believe "the everlasting gospel" of Revelation 14:6. It's the pure, true gospel, which makes them "obedient to all the commandments of God."

Therefore, "the word from the Lord" just now while the world is in turmoil is that the Holy Spirit is revealing to God's people the essence of that "third angel's message," which is "the everlasting gospel," not everlasting legalism.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 15, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Do We Overcome Worldly Temptations?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many sincere Christians have a terrible time wrestling with the temptation to love the world. We are commanded, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). Quite straightforward! Further, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom.12:2). And Jesus prayed for us to be kept from the evil that is in the world (John 17:15).

But how do we overcome this temptation? By super-will power? If the attractions of the world are tugging at your heart, it is quite possible that you have never understood what Paul says is "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5, 14). "I have been crucified with Christ," he says (2:20).

Jesus wanted His disciples to "watch" with Him "one hour," but they were too sleepy to stay awake (Matt. 26:40). It will take you an hour to be "crucified" with Christ; you are on your knees, every other "voice" hushed, you are absorbing Psalm 22 or Psalm 69, or the story in the Gospels; you have turned away from videos and movies that distort the cross; you let the Word speak to you.

You are now "seeing" things far more vividly than any movie. You see yourself crucified with Jesus. Paul says what you "see" on your knees has power to change you forever. "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14). It's truth: once you've "seen" that cross as in the Word, the world's attractions lose their appeal for you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 15, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Most Earth-shaking Letter Ever Written

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Probably the most earth-shaking letter ever written in history was dashed off by hand by a man with poor eyesight--God's apostle Paul. The impassioned epistle was sent to the Galatians to correct a fatal error threatening to poison the young church that Christ and His apostles had just raised up. The subtle deception came from the then-headquarters of the church in Jerusalem. The idea was that the gospel of Christ is a revival of Old Covenant "righteousness," supposedly by faith, but in reality by a counterfeit of it. The problem has plagued Christianity ever since.

The principal idea Paul made was that "God ... preached the gospel to Abraham" (Gal. 3:8). Still today a suspect doctrine! The usual concept is that the gospel came later than Abraham--430 years later at Mount Sinai.

Paul's idea is that Abraham's unusual response to God's New Covenant promises (Gen. 12:2, 3) was genuine faith--the kind that appropriates the much more abounding grace that saves us (Gen. 15:6; Eph. 2:8, 9). Abraham's faith therefore was like turning on a switch that allows the electricity to flow through the house. It's a simple idea: faith doesn't save us, but it opens the circuit so that God's grace is free to flow through us and save us. That idea has created theological explosions all through history.

Abraham's descendants at Sinai were the first of countless generations to brush off the gospel truth. They wanted the Old Covenant as their belief: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8), they promised vainly.

The great Day of Atonement is now--when it's time for God's people to overcome every trace of Old Covenant confusion and recover the pure love for the gospel that Abraham knew when he "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it [his faith] to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).

True obedience to God's law is possible only through the New Covenant. Thank God He has given you a "hunger and thirst" to understand it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 11, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."