Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Don't Think Your Sufferings Are in Vain or Pointless

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Millions of people don't know what to live for. All they can think of is entertainment, eating, drinking--anything to relieve the boredom and emptiness of life. Paul says in Ephesians 4:18: they "have their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart ..."

Now comes the Good News of Christ, which assures us that there is meaning to the present life--it is the prelude to eternal life in happiness and righteousness. Every day that the Lord gives us is a new opportunity to prepare to meet our Creator, and our Redeemer. If you were to meet the head of a country you would want to prepare; well, you most definitely have an appointment to meet your Creator and Redeemer face to face--the greatest moment of your life, the apex toward which every day of your life has been pointing.

Have you ever thought that the sufferings you have been called to endure are a preparation for that moment? When you at last look into the face of the Son of God, you are going to see a face that registers His experience of suffering endured for your sake. If you have never suffered in union with Him, you will be ashamed in that day.

Do not think that your sufferings are in vain, or are pointless. When you do see Jesus face to face, immediately you will catch in His eyes the recognition you will feel that He has known you every moment of your life--and yes, you have known Him too! There will be an instant recognition of camaraderie--of fellowship. He will say to you, "We have been together in our sufferings; enter into the joy of your Lord." That's going to be your eternal joy! So when you ask about your sufferings, WHY ME? remember that Good News.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Problem of Unrealized Sin

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Committee actions, polished programs, or high-pressure promotion can never truly motivate. Truth must be the vehicle, reaching human hearts, for only truth can penetrate the secret recesses of Laodicea's soul. The Lord has in reserve a means of motivation that will be fully effective. Something happened at Pentecost which fueled the early church with phenomenal spiritual energy. It must and will happen again.

That fantastic motivation flowed naturally out of a unique repentance. No sin in all time was more horrendous than that which those people were guilty of--murdering the Son of God. Mankind's deep-seated "enmity against God" had finally produced its full fruitage (cf. Rom. 8:7). But they were only our surrogates, acting on our behalf. By nature, we are no less guilty simply because by accident we were born many centuries later.

Sin has always been "enmity against God," but no one ever fully understood its dimensions until the Holy Spirit drove the truth home to the hearts of Peter's audience that fiftieth day after the resurrection (Acts 2). The realization of their guilt came over them like a flood. Theirs was no petty seeking for security or reward in heaven, nor was it a craven search to evade punishment. The cross of the ages was towering over them, and their human hearts responded to its reality.

A repentance like that of Pentecost is what Christ calls for from us today. It will come, like a lost vein of gold in the earth that must surface again in another place. Our hazy, indistinct idea of repentance can produce only what we see today--hazy, indistinct devotion, lukewarmness. Like medicine taken in quantity sufficient to produce a concentration in the bloodstream, our repentance must be comprehensive, full-range, in order for the Holy Spirit to do a fully effective work.

This full spectrum of repentance is included in "the everlasting gospel." But its clearest definition has been impossible until now, as history reaches the last of the seven churches. The original word "repentance" means a looking back from the perspective of the end: metanoia, from meta ("after"), and nous ("mind"). Thus, repentance can never be complete until the end of history. Like the great Day of Atonement, its full dimension must be a last-day experience. To that moment in time we have now come.

Unless our veiled eyes can see the depth of our sin as identical to that of Peter's congregation at Pentecost, only a veneer repentance can be possible. This in turn can produce only more generations of lukewarm church members, and thus intensify the Lord's problem. Repenting only of superficial sin leaves a deep stratum of further alienation which remains unrealized, unconfessed, and therefore unhealed. It is not enough that sin be legally forgiven; it must also be blotted out. This problem of unrealized sin pervades the entire church in all lands, and its practical effects weaken the witness of every congregation.

The good news is that the gracious Spirit of God will convict His people of that deep reality. Then He will be able to give the gift of ultimate repentance. His giving only awaits our willingness to receive. The issue is not the assurance of our own personal salvation, but the honor and vindication of the One who purchased our salvation.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love": Christ's Call to Laodicea, 1986.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Domino Effect of Spiritual Maturity

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Millions of Christians have read or heard this statement on the timing of the second coming of Christ: "Jesus came on time the first time, and we can be sure He will come on time the second time." Embedded herein is the Calvinistic idea of pre-determinism. The Father's infinite foreknowledge is thus confused with a supposed iron-clad decision on His part to send Jesus the second time at a fixed point in time, regardless of His people's preparation or lack of it.

In contrast, Scripture says the time of the second coming depends on the spiritual maturity of His corporate "body" on earth--His true church (just before His second coming it is said to "keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus," no idle or superficial designation, Rev. 14:12).

There is a kind of domino effect in a development of spiritual maturity:

(1) The "marriage of the Lamb" comes not at some predetermined triggered-mechanism of celestial time, but when "His wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7, 8).

(2) That "when" is a "harvest" of spiritual maturity becoming "ripe" (Rev. 14:15, 16; Mark 4:26-29).

(3) Christ cannot dare come before "the harvest of the earth is ripe," for it would mean His beloved people would be destroyed (Heb. 12:29).

(4) This in turn means that "the church of the Laodiceans" must first "repent" of pathetic assumptions of being "rich, … wealthy, and have need of nothing," and receive the true message of righteousness and justification by faith (Rev. 3:17-19).

(5) Such an experience of spiritual maturity in turn depends on "the angel of the church" receiving what the "True Witness" has long been more than willing to bestow, for "the angels" of the seven churches are in each instance their human leadership (Rev. 1:20). Throughout 6000 years of human history leadership remains crucial, for "the church" seems unable to rise above it.

(6) This development in turn depends on the reception of the final outpouring of "the latter rain" of the Holy Spirit, a gift that Heaven has long been ready to bestow but which "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans" has apparently been unwilling to receive (see Joel 2 and Zechariah 10). We cannot blame God for being slow to act!

(7) This spiritual experience in turn is needed before the earth-enlightening message of Revelation 18:1-4 can come. Many assume that because the first coming of Christ was at a pinpoint prophetic date (prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9), so the second will occur at such a predetermined point of time.

As "the stars in their appointed courses know no haste and no delay," so the first coming was indeed "on time." But the second coming is different: He will come when His true people really want Him to come. That will require some growing up; a flower girl at the wedding is innocent, but she is not ready to be a bride.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 26, 2000.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: A Precious Insight Into the Grace of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A college professor friend gave me a helpful illustration of how Jesus treats us all by virtue of His sacrifice on His cross. You remember, Jesus said in John 12:47, "I did not come to judge [that is, condemn] the world but to save the world." And Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them." Isaiah 53:6 says: "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." And Romans 5:16-18 reminds us that God has given "all men" not only a grace that abounds much more than sin abounds, but that grace has also given "all men" a "free gift," that is justification.

My friend explained his illustration: "In my classes, I have good students and also some not so good ones. But I pronounce no judgment on their performance until the final test is taken. Then some students pass while others fail. Up to that moment they are all treated as potential successes. This is an illustration of how God treats us 'in Christ.' He treats us all as righteous. The separation between the goats and the sheep will come only in the judgment. Then some will be found to be 'tares,' while others will have been 'wheat.'"

I thank my friend for a precious insight into the grace of Christ. One widely read author says that God has encircled the world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air we breathe.

Are you a sinner? Have you carried a burden of guilt? Do you feel that God does not accept you? Remember the words of Jesus: "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37). Because of Christ's sacrifice, He treats you today as though you were righteous; He accepts you "in Christ"; He has laid your iniquity on Him, imputing your sins to Him.

When He said of Jesus at the Jordan, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17), He was putting His divine arms around you also! Now let your life today sing a song of praise for that great salvation.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 20, 1998.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: "Lukewarmness"--The Universal Disease

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Jesus Himself says that a universal disease, "lukewarmness," afflicts His true church worldwide (see Rev. 3:14-21). It's a spiritual virus that weakens the immune system of the church as a "body," making it susceptible to the alluring (and lethal) temptations the Enemy has devised for these last days.

The result? Its visible symptoms include six-days-a-week absorption in worldly entertainment or labor so that love of the Bible and devotion to Christ are crowded out (and love for one another, too). The nearer we come to what Jesus called "the end," the more invasive and compelling these temptations become.

The Book of Revelation unveils a curtain; "behold, a door opened in heaven" (4:1). And when we look, we see the world's Savior deeply embarrassed before Heaven. "Immanuel ... God with us," He is still human as well as divine. How can He claim success in His mission to "save the world" when His people, His church, remain "lukewarm" century after century? The larger His church becomes, the more serious the problem.

It appears to be the most difficult problem God has had to confront in thousands of years of world history. The solution? Legalism, denunciations, superficial "revivals," fear-induced "conversions" that last only a few weeks?

No, God has a solution--the lifting up of the cross of Christ so that His love is "comprehended" in its full “width and length and depth and height” (Eph. 3:14-21). Then "we judge thus " that when "One died," "all died" (2 Cor. 5:14). We see what He accomplished on His cross. The revelation forever heals lukewarmness. (Leave it to Satan to try to enshroud that cross in foggy confusion.)

But look, behold, see, comprehend what truly happened there!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 22, 2002.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Practical Value of Christ's Nearness to Us

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many are asking, How can I get close to Jesus? The first step is to believe how close He has come to you. Then the next step follows naturally: the honest heart that appreciates that closeness identifies with Him on His cross. The apostle Paul said (according to the original language) that his ego is "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).

Of course, this does not mean that the one who believes in Christ grovels ever after in the dust of self-depredation. His sense of self-respect is never shattered. To be "crucified with Christ" means also to be resurrected with Him; "it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." Now one finds his truest self-respect. David says, "He pulled me out of a dangerous pit, out of the deadly quicksand. He set me safely on a rock and made me secure" (Psalm 40:2, Good News Bible).

And with pouring contempt on all our pride comes the utter repudiation of all "holier-than-thou" feelings. The closer one comes to Christ, the more sinful and unworthy he feels himself to be. We are never to judge ourselves, or give ourselves grade points. We are never to claim to be sinless, for "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." It is only when we continually "confess our sins, [that] He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8, 9).

The proud and arrogant heresy of perfectionism can never rear its ugly head where the truth of Christ's righteousness is appreciated, for the song of every heart will be to glory alone in "CHRIST OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jer. 23:6, 33:16).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Powerful Good News, 1989.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: God Wants Us to Know When “The Time of the End” Will Come

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The year-day prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are fantastic in the accuracy of their fulfillment. They coincide perfectly with the great end-time prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. The Bible recognizes that the God of heaven has foretold events before they happened, and that He wants us to know when "the time of the end" will come and what are the "signs" of Jesus' second coming and of the "end of the age" (cf. Matt. 24:3).

Paul says it is not God's will for His people to be "in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. ... Let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:4-6). How could Jesus warn us, "It will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:35) without His word giving us guidance as to when that day is near?

If it is true that "God is love," then it must follow that He would not want to catch us "unaware." Hence we conclude that the time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are very serious reading and deserve our close attention. It is also true, if God indeed is "love," then He does not want to perpetuate pain and suffering on this planet due to the ravages of sin. Jesus wants to come a second time, not primarily to punish wrongdoing or take vengeance on His enemies, but to rescue people who suffer, and to establish His kingdom of peace and happiness for all.

"The Ancient of days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom, ... an everlasting kingdom" (Dan. 7:22, 27). However, we can be sure that His enemy, Satan, wants to try to prove His prophecies wrong. "Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, 'The days are prolonged, and every vision fails?'" (Eze. 12:22). A good answer is in Habakkuk 2:3: "At the end [the vision] will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

There may appear to be a "tarrying time," and those who have faith in the prophecies may think the vision "fails," and suffer disappointment, yet in immediate context comes the assurance of righteousness by faith: "The just shall live by His faith" (vs. 4). In the Great Disappointment experience in the 1840s, what held the faithful remnant was not so much mathematical calculations of time prophecies (they were true!) but their confidence that the Holy Spirit had worked in the Midnight Cry movement. God's true love was evident.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 5, 2000.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."