Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Happens to Someone Who Is "Alienated From the Life of God"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What happens to someone who is “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18)? The resultant “ignorance” produces naturally that “hardening of their heart.” It happens all the time, as it did long ago in Paul’s day. Gentiles went to the games in the amphitheaters to watch men kill each other, and they enjoyed watching Christians, men and women, thrown to the lions. The people loved the excitement and the flirting with death, so they would watch it. Human hearts today have become so hard that they could someday watch Christ being crucified and laugh.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24).

Thank God, here comes that wonderful word, “But …” God so loved the world that He sent His Son into this cesspool of iniquity. We “learned Christ” like we learn a new language. It is He Himself who has been teaching us. Like a tree shedding leaves in autumn, we drop these worldly ways one by one as the Holy Spirit convicts us of this and that. Hearts as hard as granite are “renewed” and become human again. The very mind has a new life; you stop and think a moment and you realize, you are a new creation! You discover that “true holiness” is the only way to live a happy life. You repent that you so often shied away from it, and resisted it.

Let’s count up what Paul is asking these people to remember:

1. Stop walking like the other Gentiles do. You have a new heart now.

2. Put off your former conduct, like you put off a worn-out, shabby, last year’s coat. Just put it off! Don’t pull it out of the garbage can again.

3. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” In other words, stop resisting the Holy Spirit as He renews your mind. Constantly He is trying to give you “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5).

4. “Put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.” Put off your old, put on the new. Putting on the new is easy once you have put off the old; that’s the only struggle you have. Once you see how “the world” crucifies Christ afresh, you can’t be enticed any longer to follow its ways.

Jesus tells us that He is sending the Holy Spirit to us, each one, individually and personally. The Lord has untold billions of people (and angels) to care about, but no matter, He attends to you as if you were the only one He has on earth. He is infinite; but because He is, He can attend to the finite, which is you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Ephesians: You've Been "Adopted," 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Invitation From "Dial Daily Bread"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Next week many of you will begin studying the new Sabbath School quarterly on First and Second Peter: “Feed My Sheep.” For those who are not already receiving "Sabbath School Today" (SST) we would like to invite you to subscribe (SST is free). You will receive weekly essays on the lessons in the context of the "most precious" 1888 message. Some of the essays are prepared from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, author of "Dial Daily Bread."

To begin a new subscription please reply to this e-mail with the words "Subscribe SST" in the body of the e-mail or in the heading. If you are already receiving "Sabbath School Today" THERE IS NO NEED TO RESUBSCRIBE; your subscription will continue.

Sincerely,

The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff

Dial Daily Bread: One of the Most Common-Sense Suggestions in the Bible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most common-sense suggestions in the Bible is in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul has been discussing the Lord's Supper (vss. 23ff); the bread is a symbol of the body of the Lord Jesus "which is broken for [us]." We are to observe this ordinance "in remembrance of [Him]."

But then he warns us against eating "this bread or [drinking] this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," for such careless, thoughtless irreverence makes us "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord," in other words, guilty of crucifying "again" for ourselves "the Son of God, and put[ting] Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).

Then the apostle says "let [someone] examine himself," for "he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." This guilt can even cause sickness, and "many sleep" (die prematurely). The reason is that the Lord's Supper teaches us that "every meal becomes a sacrament." If we eat our daily food without discerning and recognizing that all we have comes because of the sacrifice of the Son of God we "eat and drink judgment to ourselves."

Then comes the eminent common sense: "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged" (vs. 31). Why wait until the final judgment to face judgment? Wouldn't it make sense to do a self-judging process first, and get it over with before the final condemnation?

The Holy Spirit's job is to "convict of sin" (John 16:8), and enable us to do the self-judging now. It's all on a friendly basis, though it feels severe. The primary sin at the bottom of everything is, we do "not believe in" Him (vs. 9).

If we do believe, not only will those "rivers of living water" flow out of our inmost soul, but we will see righteousness in Jesus going to His Father, and we will know that "the ruler of this world" has been cast out of our lives (vs. 11). We will "trample" upon that enemy! (cf. Luke 10:19).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 25, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Makes the Difference Between “A Pure Heart” and a Heart That Sins?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

What makes the difference between “a pure heart” and a heart that sins? We answer glibly, “Jesus.” Yes, of course; but why does He purify some people’s hearts and not everybody’s? What is the anatomy of sin? When we want “a pure heart” but end up again committing the horrible sin that we hate, what’s gone wrong? “If, while we seek to be justified by Christ we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin?” (Gal. 2:17). Is there some fine print in the “contract” we haven’t noticed?

A thoughtful writer said something way back in 1900 that we can’t say any better: We “are not saved by being delivered utterly from the flesh, but by receiving power to conquer and rule over all the evil tendencies and the desires of the flesh. ... If [we] were to be saved by being delivered from all temptation, and set in a realm of no temptation, then Jesus need not have come into the world. But never, by any such deliverance as that, could [we] have developed character. Therefore ... Jesus came to the world, and put Himself in the flesh just where [we] are; and met that flesh just as it is, with all its tendencies and desires; and by the divine power which He brought by faith, He ‘conquered sin in the flesh,’ and thus brought to all mankind that divine faith which brings the divine power ... to deliver ... from the power of the flesh. ... Instead of Jesus’ trying to save men in a way in which they would be limp and characterless, by setting them in a realm of no temptation, He came to man ... in the midst of all his temptations, ... and by that conquest brought victory to every soul in the world. ...

“Adultery begins in the unclean thought, the lascivious desire. ... [Jesus] was ‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities’ because He ‘was in all points tempted like as we are.’ ... ‘Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts [his own desires and inclinations of the flesh] and enticed’ (James 1:14). All this Jesus could experience without sin, because to be tempted is not sin. It is only ‘when lust hath conceived,’ when the desire is cherished, when the inclination is sanctioned,--only then it is that ‘it bringeth forth sin.’ And Jesus never even in a thought cherished a desire, or sanctioned an inclination, of the flesh. ... In so doing, He brought complete victory, and divine power to maintain it, to every soul in the world.” *

If the 1900 language bothers you, here is the point: Now receive what He has given you.

--Robert J. Wieland

* Alonzo T. Jones, Review and Herald, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, 1900.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Story of Esau--Two Points for Teens to Ponder

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Just because the gospel is "Good News" doesn't mean it doesn't warn us against sin. Hebrews is the only book in the New Testament that is permeated with special Good News of our Savior as the Lamb of God, as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, as our faithful High Priest.

In Hebrews our attention is focused on the love of Christ who "tasted death [the second] for everyone" (2:9). With the "shedding" of His blood is "remission" of sin (9:22). The sacrifice of the Son of God is infinite. However, the word "love" or agape is nowhere in Hebrews, but, by the drama of massive understatement, His blood-sacrifice on His cross permeates Hebrews as the eloquent revelation of the love (agape) of Christ.

Suppose Christ's brilliant light shines on someone's pathway, only to be ridiculed and forsaken: the rejecter brings on himself the abhorrent judgment not only of God--but of the universe of God (hence, the dire warnings in Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29).

There is one more: 12:14-17, the story of Esau. He "fell short of the grace of God." A "root of bitterness" sprang up in his young heart; he became "defiled." Like too many teens, he steeled his heart against the solemn worship of God, resented Isaac's and Rebekah's calls to family worship, hated Sabbath study, chose to be worldly in spirit, "profane," rebellious.

But all this while he still "had" the glorious "birthright"--given him when he was born. God Himself could not wrest it from him. Jacob marveled that his brother could be so nonchalant, so irreverent, so lacking in appreciation for the trust that was given him. And then the time came when he "sold" that precious birthright--all for some momentary gratification.

Teens can ponder two outstanding points:

(1) They have the birthright as surely as Esau had it; Christ's sacrifice has bestowed upon them a "judicial ... verdict of acquittal" (Rom. 5:15-18, New English Bible). For teenage folly they are forgiven just like those who crucified Christ the first time (Luke 23:34).

(2) Indulge our natural born "enmity against God" (we all have it; Rom. 8:7), we are still forgiven. But choose to despise, to "sell" that forgiveness in exchange for sinful indulgence--think about Esau. He cried buckets of tears--and never found a way back.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Character Perfection--Is It Possible?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that sinners (like all of us) can overcome sin and become truly Christlike in character? Can "the righteousness of the law" (perfect obedience, perfect loyalty) ever be achieved in this life? The Bible quite clearly says: "all have sinned and fall short [present tense] of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Our very nature is sinful; and even "saints" can't help showing that they are sinners. Nobody is perfect. So, is perfection of character just a dream?

The Bible insists on a Good News answer. God sent His beloved Son into the world on the special mission to "save His people from their sins," not in them (Matt. 1:21). Romans 8:3, 4 says that "He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us ..." The word "righteousness" used there means the righteous character of those who walk "according to the Spirit."

Hebrews 13:21 says that the Savior will "make you complete ["perfect," KJV] in every good work to do His will." And Revelation 14:1-5 describes a people at the close of time who "are without fault before the throne of God," who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Not part way, but totally. They will refuse "the mark of the beast" and will receive "the seal of God" (Rev. 13:16, 17; 7:1-4).

Are they fanatics or extremists? No! Jesus got in on the perfection debate Himself on the Good News side. He said: "Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). In saying so, He gives us the key to unlock the mystery. His context is learning to love like the Father loves, who sends His rain and sunshine on the just and on the unjust, who loves bad people, even His enemies. Jesus' idea of "perfection" is simple: learning to love like that!

John learned the idea from Him, for he also says that if you've learned to love like that, you "know God," you're "born of God," He "abides in" you, you have "His Spirit," and you yourself "dwell in God." Furthermore, you overcome fear (which goes along with sin), and you end up "perfect" (see 1 John 4:7-18).

True, you and I were born totally lacking such love (agape); but there's a filling station where the Holy Spirit "[pours it] out in our hearts" (Rom. 5:5). Or to change the metaphor, it's the simple matter of going to school to learn it, "the school of Christ," where the "student" must have been enrolled since kindergarten.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 12, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Sin God Cannot Forgive

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a sin that God cannot forgive--not because He doesn't want to, but because it's impossible to. And the only reason why is because the sinner doesn't want it to be forgiven. He has made the decision to cling to his sin forever. That is why it is called "unpardonable." The Savior cannot force him to let go of it.

Is such a person happy after he has committed it? The common idea may be that no, he is very miserable. But it is more likely that he is remarkably carefree and lighthearted. He could be forever smiling, even have a sparkling personality. The Holy Spirit is no longer convicting him of sin!

Jesus said that His first work with any of us is this: "When He is come, He will convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). The holy nerve of conscience has been severed, and the sinner goes on through life with no voice getting through to reprove him of wrongdoing.

If the result of committing the unpardonable sin were a feeling of destitution, of woe, the sinner might desire reconciliation with God--which is what the Lord wants for him. The True Witness says to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," "I wish you were cold or hot" (Rev. 3:15). If the "angel" were "hot," he would be cooperating with the Lord Jesus; if he were "cold," he would be shivering with extreme discomfort and would seek the heat.

The Laodicean "angel" cannot go on forever in a lukewarm state; something somewhere, sometime, will have to change. For the "angel" to remain insensitive and lukewarm, is perilously close to a sin against the Holy Spirit.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: We Don't Need Another Long Detour

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why did God deliver the Ten Commandments at Sinai with fear-inducing thunder, lightning, an earthquake, fire, an ominous trumpet blast, and a death boundary around the mountain (Ex. 19:16-19)?

Did He frighten Abraham when He delivered to him the New Covenant? We read that He melted Abraham's heart with the revelation of His love and wrote the Ten Commandments upon his believing heart (Gen. 12:2, 3; 15:1-7; Gal. 3:8). Why this awesome display at Sinai?

Before Israel left Egypt He gave them the same Good News He had given Abraham 430 years earlier, but the people didn't listen (Ex. 6:2-9). Then at Sinai He renewed the promise He had made to Abraham (19:4-6). But the people in unbelief invented for themselves the Old Covenant idea of disregarding God's promise to them and substituting their own to Him (vss. 7, 8).

Paul in his Letter to the Galatians appears as the first Israelite to discern the meaning of Israel's history: "the law ... was added [or emphasized or underlined] because of [their] transgressions, till the Seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made" (3:19). They thought they were able to do everything the Lord said to do, so now He had to impress on their minds their helplessness to obey and their need of His much more abounding grace.

In Paul's words, "the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came [in everybody's personal experience], we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the [Ten Commandment] law was our tutor ["schoolmaster," KJV) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" as Abraham was (vss. 22-24).

Thus "the law" led Israel on that long detour of ups and downs in their history after Sinai. Finally, instead of believing as Abraham did, they crucified their Messiah; but now we have the opportunity to believe!

We don't need another long detour; let's "believe" today as God intends we shall!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 29, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."