Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: October 22, 1844--A Date That Will Never Die

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

October 22, 1844, is a date that will never die in the world's memory. Scores of thousands of Christians in Europe and the United States had been studying the book of Daniel, thanking God that at last the book which had been sealed for many centuries (12:4) had now at the end of the Dark Ages of papal persecution and oppression been "opened" for understanding. It was now "a little book open" in the hands of a "mighty angel" (Rev. 10:1, 2) who was a "messenger," attracting worldwide attention.

Its message had riveted on Daniel 8:14; serious readers of the Bible were drawn to Daniel's prophecies. The year-day principle was established so clearly that they saw the 2300 years of that prophecy reaching fulfillment on that date in 1844. "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," said the Word. They borrowed from the commentaries the idea that "the sanctuary" was this earth, and the "cleansing" therefore would be the fire of the last day at the coming of Jesus.

But the commentators were wrong; there is a sanctuary in Heaven--the real one, and that's where the world's great High Priest, Jesus, ministers. The "cleansing" is His great Day of Atonement, His final work of preparing a people to be ready when Jesus comes the second time. They were woefully uninformed about what that preparation entailed! It was to be nothing short of "self" being "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20), and "the world [being] crucified to me, and I to the world" (6:14). A tremendous work!

The fascinating story of the "Great Disappointment" and its aftermath is told in Revelation chapter 10. Verse 11 describes the worldwide work that must (that will!) be done before Jesus can be happy to come again--every person must have a chance to hear the Good News and respond in heart. The angel said, "You must prophesy again" before the world! And that's the work that is going on now all over the world. Listen!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 23, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Is This Thing Called Justification?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many people ask: "What is this thing called justification? It's a word that's over my head. Please help me!" The Bible is God's word; He wants us to understand; He puts the feeding trough down low so lambs can eat. Surely He will respond to our plea.

The idea is simply making something crooked straight; something bad, good; something wrong, right. So, it ends up making something unjust, just--and there's the root of the word. Justification means making them right again.

The source of all this evil is sin. Justification is therefore the opposite of sin. It reverses the evil that sin has caused, it un-does what sin has done, it untangles the knot that sin has tied in the universe of God, and especially on this planet.

Sin has caused an alienated sense of separation from God. It has left us strangers in the universe, our very home. The alienation actually causes "enmity" against God. Justification has bridged the chasm that has separated us from "home," which is the throne of God. This bridging of the chasm is "at-one-ment," a heart-reconciliation with the One whom we have thought was our enemy. He turns out to have been our Friend all along. The root of the problem has been eradicated: justification has made us friends with God again, like we used to be at Creation.

Justification is what One has done whom the Bible calls "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). He untied the knot, reversed the evil, brought good in place of the bad, reconciled enemies into being friends with God, made everything crooked straight, and made everything wrong to become right. This was infinitely more wonderful than if He had wiped us out in one fell swoop and started from scratch creating everything new again.

Changing alienated hearts, winning enemies to be friends--this was the Miracle of the ages. It required a cross on which the Creator gave up His very life in a total sacrifice known in the Bible as "the second death"--an embracing of hell itself in love for us (Heb. 2:9; Isa. 53:12).

This act which He performed did it for all humanity; legally, He saved His lost world, yes, redeemed His threatened universe. That is justification.

But what you didn't ask is what's important: "What is justification by faith?" That's when our sinful, alienated heart appreciates the justification He accomplished for us; and that is a totally changed heart and life. You're now a new you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 29, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: If Sabbath-Keeping Is "Boring," Here's Good News for You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Keeping the Sabbath day is not a matter of cold obedience motivated by fear if we don't keep it, nor hope of reward if we do. That is Old Covenant day-keeping.

New Covenant Sabbath-keeping is heart-to-heart companionship with the One who is "the Lord of the Sabbath." He said to Moses, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex. 33:14), thus teaching us that the "rest" that is in the Sabbath is enjoying His "presence." It is recognizing and believing that you are spending the day with your Savior, personally.

But one might say, "Keeping the Sabbath is boring! I can't wait until the 'sacred hours' are over so I can live again--turn on the TV, play games, go to the mall." If this is your "Sabbath-keeping," here is Good News for you:

"The Lord of the Sabbath" will totally transform your experience, if you don't interpose a rebellious will to stop Him (He is the High Priest cleansing His sanctuary--He does the work). Of course, He feels wounded, slighted, and insulted by resentment of His presence. You'd feel terrible to visit a friend and he avoids you and insults you. But "the Lord of the Sabbath" isn't there to take revenge. He's not mad at you; He feels terribly sorry for you. You are missing the joy of life itself, and on the way to miss eternity.

So now what do you do? Jesus tells clearly what your "job" is: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:29).

"But I don't know how to believe!" Then make a choice to stop dis-believing. Let the first sacred moments of the Sabbath find you using some sanctified common sense: the Lord of the Sabbath comes with it. Be decent to Him. Tell Him of your frustrations. Be honest: tell Him, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24; you can never go wrong if you pray that prayer).

Be courteous to your Guest, who is unseen but not unknown. Don't drive Him away. Give your Guest a chance to say something to your heart during these 24 holy hours.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 1, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Battle in Paul's Heart

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul stands out as totally consecrated to God, a rare character who could dare to tell people to "follow" him as he followed the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7). The Lord honored him highly, so that in vision he "was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:3-7).

But he was not a monk alone in a monastery; he was in the thick of life everywhere. As the Bible tells us that Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15, King James Version), so Paul confides in us, confessing that he has been heavily tempted like everybody else. He is not some self-righteous man who doesn't know what sexual temptation is! He was as susceptible as anyone else.

In Romans, he confesses that he had never understood what the real definition of "sin" is until he discovered what it's like to be tempted by a woman who was not, and could never be, his! He says, "I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, You shall not covet" (Rom. 7:7). (The original says, "your neighbor's wife," Ex. 20:17.)

But again, temptation is not to be equated with sin; the sin comes only in yielding to the temptation. The battle in Paul's heart was severe: "I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do" (Rom. 7: 14, 15). He kept seeing someone in his dreams that he knew he should not see. It's "sin that dwells in me," he said (vs. 17). "The evil that I will not to do, that I practice" (vs. 19).

But read chapter 8--Paul discovers the glorious secret of victory over this kind of temptation. The "secret"? "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (vs. 2).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 12, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus' Mission—"Call Sinners to Repentance"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus announced that His mission was to "call … sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9:13). Such an experience is a personal change of mind, a turning around to go in the opposite direction. It includes deep heart sorrow for sin, a sense of shame and self-abhorrence for a life of rebellion against one's Creator and Redeemer. As such, it can be a cataclysmic upheaval of soul.

The way repentance works is clearly taught in the Bible. Jesus' call to repent is to all, for "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). "The knowledge of sin" comes through "the law" (3:20). Thanks to the beneficent work of the Holy Spirit, this wholesome "knowledge" is imparted to "every man" as a "Light" that passes no one by (John 1:9).

This knowledge is imparted by a conviction that there is a standard of perfect righteousness in Christ. The sinner may as yet have never heard the name of Christ, but he knows deep in his heart that he has "sinned and fall[en] short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). The awareness of a perfect standard embodied in the law and in Christ may be ever so dim to consciousness, but Christ assured His disciples that as the result of His going to His Father and "you see Me no more," the Holy Spirit would bring to people's hearts a conviction of sin, and of righteousness" (John 16:8-10).

This potential for the conviction of sin is as universal as is the capacity for pain built into every human body. It is a signal that something is wrong. Thus the Lord Himself who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" has prepared the way for the preaching of His gospel, which is complementary to this conviction of sin communicated by the Holy Spirit to "every man." When Jesus went forth after His baptism "preaching the gospel of the kingdom," His message was, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14, 15).

Teaching legalism or an adulterated "gospel" short-circuits this work of the Holy Spirit in human hearts, and millions as a consequence are never able to receive the gift of repentance, which alone can heal the "hurt" they feel.

But Scripture foretells a time when the gospel will be restored and presented in its pristine purity and the earth will be "lightened" with its glory (Rev. 18:1-4). In millions of human lives it will be like restoring a broken electronic connection. The circuit will be complete--the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin will be complemented by the pure gospel, and the current of heaven's forgiveness will flow through the soul, working miracles of grace.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Bible Repentance: Path to Love.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Christ's Last Great Struggle

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks extensively about the end of the world and of His second coming (see, for example, verses 12-15, 24, 29-31). Of all the books of the Bible, He selected one which He urged us to "read" and "understand"--Daniel. Yet seldom do pastors or teachers study this book. People go to church for years and hear no sermon explaining it.

Daniel's key prophecy says: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (8:14). In Bible prophecy, a day is a year. In the early 19th century Bible-loving Christians awakened as from a centuries-long sleep to realize that those 2300 years would end in 1844, on October 22. The Holy Spirit impressed many with this stupendous conviction; to this day, millions around the world recognize how history and Bible prophecy converge to render that point of time significant in God's plan for salvation.

We are living in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary; in simple language that means we are living in the time when Christ as our great High Priest is preparing a people to be ready for His second coming--a greater work than preparing His people to die and come up in the first resurrection, wonderful as that work has been. It means that His people must live on earth during the cataclysmic last days when they will meet head-on the last temptations of Satan, but will overcome "even as [Christ] also overcame." They will honor Him, and share with Him His throne. They will demonstrate His righteousness (Rev. 3:21).

But Revelation also discloses that Christ's last great struggle is with the blindness and lukewarmness of His own people who can't seem to grasp the seriousness of the time in which they live (3:15-19). Urgent as never before He says, "Watch therefore" (Matt. 24:42).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 20, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Profound Good News in Romans

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Romans tells some News so profoundly Good that we humans can hardly take it in. Even theologians stumble over it, like the builders stumbled over the great stone that was quarried to be the headstone of Solomon's Temple (Matt. 21:42; Psalm 118:22).

The problem is what Paul says: Christ became the "last" or Second Adam, reversing the condemnation that the first Adam brought on the entire human race. For "all men" He turned Adam's condemnation into justification, or a legal acquittal. "That News is too Good to be true," some objectors say.

Well, here's what Paul says:

"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 [Greek, "all"], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many [Greek, "all"] by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace ... resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... As the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (5:15-18, The Revised English Bible). The King James Version says, "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

Someone asks, "We need 'justification by faith,' but isn't this 'justification by birth'?" No more than Adam's condemnation comes upon us all "by birth." Jesus took it all upon Himself, so that His title is, "Savior of the world" (John 4:42). The same "all [who] have sinned" are "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23, 24). This is why He sends His rain and sunshine on the just and the unjust alike. It's why we live.

One very wise writer says, "The sinner may resist this love, may refuse; ... but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; ... to the foot of the cross in repentance." The only reason why Esau was lost is that "for one morsel of food [he] sold his birthright" that God gave him (Heb. 12:16, 17). Jesus does not merely want to be your Savior; He is your Savior. Don't resist Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."