Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Final Atonement--Let's Not Miss Out

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When people ask, "What is Jesus doing now?" the standard answer is, "I go to prepare a place for you. ... that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2, 3). Nailing boards and laying brick to build "houses" for us? He must have something more meaningful to do.

He is working 24 hours a day seven days a week as our great High Priest. But what does that mean? A priest's job is to go between sinful people and God; so is Jesus a Lawyer "fixing" our tickets with the Judge? "I know how sinful you are; you can't help it, so just go on sinning. Trust Me as your Lawyer; I'll get you through the wrath of God"? But that may be immature.

Jesus Christ has no mind for make-believe. Not now on this cosmic Day of Atonement, His final work just before He returns personally. A living people must be prepared to meet Him face to face, to look in His eyes with no shelter in between. Since His personal presence "is a consuming fire" to sin (Heb. 12:29), it makes sense that He is "cleansing" a people of all sin.

Cherishing sin deep in the heart is lethal! Zechariah 13:1 has the idea--a "fountain shall be opened ... for sin and for uncleanness" from all the selfish filth stashed away in the closet of our minds and hearts. Through Christ's true Vicar on earth, His Holy Spirit, He is working to "convict," to make His people aware of what is hidden unknown in the heart (see Jer. 17:9), so it can be confessed and renounced. It's a joyous work motivated not by craven fear, but by a heart appreciation of His much more abounding grace. Zechariah understood it: that "grace" opens our blinded eyes to see Him on His cross as One whom we have "pierced" (12:10). Sin deeper than we have ever imagined!

The result? A total heart-reconciliation with Him, the "final atonement." Let's not miss out on what He is doing.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Unimaginable Joy of Living in "Heavenly Places"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's a strange but delightful promise that God makes to us--that our Lord Jesus Christ will dwell with us, live with us, share our abode with us: He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Imagine living in such "places"!

We may live in a shack--but the Lord Jesus says He will live with us there, share our humble abode, partake of our lowly hospitality as our permanent Guest. His holy presence with us makes our shack become a Palace. It is transformed into a "heavenly place," the loftiest abode in the universe. Never again are we to be lonely. Life each new day becomes a fresh adventure, for we never can anticipate the new and unimagined joy that becomes ours, dwelling with Jesus in a divine intimacy.

Even Jesus Himself shares with us the unimaginable joy of living in "heavenly places," for in verse 20 we read that the Father "raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the [same] heavenly places." In the case of Jesus there is a super magnificent heavenly joy involved, for Jesus was "dead," and no one can ever appreciate life like someone who was "dead"--the only such Man so far is Jesus, and now it's we also through living faith in Him.

Our brother and fellow-believer in Christ, the beloved apostle Paul, has a glimpse of what it all means. He has a unique insight: he sees us as having been "dead," but he also sees our present life therefore as being a "resurrection" from death. Interesting insight! This transforms life for us: it makes our present ordinary existence to be transformed into a magnificent resurrection of life.

Your eternal life "in Christ" has already begun; you may yet go to sleep a bit, but if your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life, nothing can ever take it out (aside from your own choice, which, God forbid!).

"I have come," says Jesus, "that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). That's your life today; it transforms what you thought was your mere existence into the most glorious life in all the universe--life with Christ, its Creator, its Sustainer, and the Savior of it all. And there's no end to it, ever! Thank Him that it's true, and then serve Him gladly forever.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 3, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Disaster Survivors--What Can We Tell Them?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If there is a God of love, of compassion, of mercy, why does He permit natural disasters? The TV images are etched in our memory as vividly as if the horror were next door. The atheist simply says, "There is no God! Forget him." The Muslim says quite likely, "It's the will of Allah that this happen! Somehow it pleases him. Submit." The Calvinist will say: "God predestined this to happen. It was his will," much the same as the Muslim's view. The materialist will shrug his shoulders, and say, "I'm glad I don't have to suffer like that!" and go on seeking pleasure. The Bible transcribes his thoughts, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32).

One flood survivor was reported to say, "It's like the gods have abandoned us." What can the Christian say? It's not so much saying something as doing something. He will give generously to help send relief. He will also give, and go if possible, to tell the people the truth of God's character of love, in other words, the gospel.

But what can one tell them? There is both good and evil in this world of sin; God created a perfect world, but sin has ruined it. Therefore, plagues have come and will come. But God has shared the sorrow that sin has brought to our once-perfect world, became One with us, and suffered the most intense agony that sin could bring to anyone--crucifixion. He is Lord of lords and King of kings, but not yet has the time come for Him to re-create this earth into the new earth because "the course of this world" is still in rebellion against God, and Satan is still "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2).

Tell the suffering people that we can cherish a "blessed hope" in the second coming of Christ, that He will wipe away all tears. And if any of us have survived floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, plane or car crashes, crime, cancer, etc., we should remember what life we have left and what little we may have, and do what we can to lessen the suffering of someone else.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ..." (Phil. 2:5).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 8, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Does the "Savior of the World" Save the World From?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord Jesus Christ is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). But what does He save the world from? What is salvation? Is it merely a physical resurrection, carrying on the same existence which we now have, with new bodies? Or can we say that salvation is deliverance from the sin that plagues our present life? And if we have not known what that deliverance from sin is now, will we be able to enjoy any kind of a "resurrection"?

We humans are not "saved" by being delivered utterly from "the flesh," but by receiving power to rule over the clamors of our "flesh." The "[much more abounding] grace of God" actually "teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version). This is to rule over all the evil tendencies and desires of "the flesh" which we have inherited from the fallen head of our human race, Adam. We humans do not develop character by being delivered from the realm of temptation, but by receiving power to conquer all the temptation. That is salvation!

The Savior does not try to save us in a way that would leave us limp and characterless, by putting us in a place of no temptation; no, He came to us humans just where we are, in the midst of all our temptations. He came in the very flesh as we have, and in that flesh He met all the temptations known to that flesh, and conquered every one of them right up to the moment when He cried "It is finished!" on His cross and bowed His head and died.

By means of that conquest, He has brought victory over the flesh to every soul in the world who will open his heart to receive that "faith of Jesus." Hot-house tree plants that have never been outdoors and never known cold and wind are helpless to endure real life and can never develop into strong trees; the Savior of the world is busy as our great High Priest "saving" a people who will be happy meeting Him face to face when He returns, who will not be ashamed in His personal presence. They must not be surprised that temptations assail them, or that trials plague them. That is evidence that the High Priest is actually working on their case!

Good news! Let Him work!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 28, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Bible Teaches Genuine Self-Respect

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible does not encourage self-esteem, but it does teach genuine self-respect--the solid kind that all the devils in hell can't undo. It's learned from believing the following story:

At the age of 30, Jesus of Nazareth got the news that John the Baptist was preaching repentance at the Jordan River. He told His mother Mary, "Mother, I've got to go. I'm laying down my saws, hammers, and chisels, and I'll never touch them again; I'm going on the mission My Father told me of, that I've told you about since I was twelve" (see Luke 2:49).

John refused to baptize Him. "I am ordained to baptize only people who have repented, and You have no sins to repent of." Then Jesus told him how He was taking the sins of the whole world upon Himself, making Himself guilty of them all, "made ... to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). "And yes, I have repented of them all." So John relented (see Matt. 3:13-17).

When Jesus came out of the water, He knelt on the Jordan's banks and prayed such a prayer as the world had never heard before, nor had the angels in heaven. And something wonderful happened: the Father Himself answered Jesus verbally and audibly so the whole world could hear Him (except they didn't recognize the Voice): "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). And, you remember, the dove descended, as the visible Holy Spirit.

As the Father put His arms around Jesus before the whole world, He also put His arms around you, and said those same words. "But I am a sinner," you say; "He wouldn't do that for me!"

When you go to a shop and buy something for $10, you exchange your $10 for an item which you believe is equivalent in value. We read that the Father "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ... " You are "the world." In other words, when the Father thinks of you with all your sins and unworthiness, He thinks of you as of equivalent value with His Son; He loves you both equally.

You'll spend the rest of your life here on earth, and in heaven eternally, trying to understand this.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 24, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Priceless Counsel From the Apostle Paul

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul has given us priceless counsel: "I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom. 12:3). None of us are excused from listening.

But if he stops there in the middle of his sentence, he leaves us in such a state of self-depreciation and unworthiness, that life could become a hell on earth. How highly should I "think of myself"? I have sinned (Rom. 3:23); I "am less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8); I have no "righteousness of my own" (Phil. 3:9); not only am I a sinner, I "am the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15); my natural-born unbelief merits for me "condemnation" because I "have loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:18, 19); "woe is me, for I am undone" (Isa. 6:5).

But Paul doesn't stop halfway through that sentence. He continues: while I am to think of myself in a humble way, I am also to "think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). No matter how much I have sinned, how unworthy I am, God has given me an appropriate personal gift of faith. He respects and honors my personality (Psalm 139:5-18).

He has already died my second death (Heb. 2:9), thus He has elected me to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:4-6), not willing that I should perish (1 Tim. 2:4). If I simply tell the truth, Christ is already my "Savior, ... especially" if I "believe" (1 Tim. 4:10; John 4:42). Therefore I am invited to the great banquet of "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9) where there is a place card with my name on it--all by virtue of Christ's sacrifice on His cross when He went to hell to find me.

Does this mean that I shall continue living in sin, rebellion, and transgression of God's holy law? If the love (agape) of Christ constrains and motivates me, I can't live for self (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), for the Holy Spirit is stronger than my own sinful nature that I was born with (Gal. 5:16, 17), and the much more abounding grace of Christ is stronger than the world's abounding sin (Rom. 5:20).

Yes, if I get a glimpse of the cross of Christ, I know that I belong there instead of Him, I deserve what He suffered; I confess it, and lo, "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).

And that "measure of faith" that God has given me makes me live "risen with Christ" (Rom. 6:5).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 4, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Whatever the Crushing Blow in Your Life, the Savior Says, "Come to Me"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The happiness and peace that Christ promises are infinite in scope. But please remember that those blessings are all "in Him." If you have suffered a bad deal in life--a heart-breaking divorce, disappointment in love, failure in business or career, rejection by peers, or a battle with cancer (we could go on and on)--as Savior of the world, Christ opens His arms and says "Come," "I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Personified as Wisdom, He cries out, "Blessed is the [person] who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors, for whoever finds Me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord" (Prov. 8:34, 35). Joel says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls" (2:32; remember, Mount Zion and Jerusalem, the remnant, mean the church).

Whatever the crushing blow, either emotionally or physically, the Savior says, "Come to Me, ... I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Your heart will sing again, for these words apply: "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay [the mud], and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth ..." (Psalm 40:1-3).

But all these blessings are "in Him." That is, you receive them in fellowship with Christ. Your soul is knit with His soul; His thoughts become your thoughts; His aspirations are your aspirations; you live "in Him." His cross becomes your cross; His presence is manifested with you in your loneliness and pain. As He is "made ... who knew no sin to be sin for us," you sense that the sin that weighs Him down is your sin. You identify with Him. You sense that oneness continually; and lo and behold, the "burden" that you carry and the "yoke" you thought was "hard" becomes "light" and "easy" (Matt. 11:30).

The reason is, identifying with Him, being "in Him," He is sharing your "yoke" with you, carrying the heavy part. You have a wholly new perspective on your life. And yes, you sing a "new song."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 5, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."