Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: The “Gospel of Self-esteem” vs. the “Gospel of Self-respect”

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

The "gospel of self-esteem" is different from the “gospel of self-respect." The latter is from the Lord; the former is a snare.

Both are mentioned in Romans 12:3 where the inspired apostle pleads with us: "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." In other words, be careful: don't give yourself an overdose of "self-esteem" thinking! Thank God for "the grace" that was given to "our beloved brother Paul" (2 Peter 3:15). He will discourage no one; all he knows how to do is to encourage people like you and me.

So, on the other hand, he says don't dig a hole and crawl into it: you're worth an infinite price. Paul goes on to preach to us the gospel of self-respect: but "through the grace given to me, [I say] to everyone who is among you, … think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure [metron, Greek] of faith."

A good place to start learning is Psalm 139:

Your heavenly Father knows you in and out (but still loves you, amazing! (vss. 1-6).

He "formed [your] inward parts ... in [your] mother's womb" (vss. 13-15). That means He engineered the intricate mechanisms of your conscious and unconscious mental functions, the interplay of your emotions and senses of heart-appreciation.

He put you together from a divinely invented Blueprint (vs. 16). No one else on earth was to be or has been exactly like you. You are something special; that's good.

Run away from Him today and you're back in His school tomorrow (vss. 7-10).

Your moments of deepest depression are not dark with despair; your heavenly Father's "hand" is on you in your darkness where faith is still working (vss. 9-12).

It does you worlds of good to know that a friend is just thinking of you, remembering you, in your hour of deep personal trial. Think of your heavenly Father--thinking a thousand thoughts about you, all of them full of grace (vss. 17, 18).

Now, be happy: stop being afraid to let Him search your heart (vss. 23, 24).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2007.
Copyright © 2019 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: If Your Faith Is Tried to the Utmost

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord loves to "turn the captivity" of people who have suffered, and bring them out of the painful shadows of rejection into the bright sunlight of His favor.

Take Joseph for example. We think of the text that says "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth" (Eccl. 11:9). Boys should be full of fun. But Joseph at the age of 17 or maybe 18 is crying his eyes out one night in an agony worse almost than death--he has just been sold as a slave to some hard-hearted Midianites. A life of torture is before him, when he had thought that God's favor was on him.

And those who sold him? His fellow church-members, his ten brothers in the faith. No, they are more than that--they are the church leadership of his day, for they were all older than he, the heirs of the glorious promises God made to Abraham's descendants. Condemned to Egyptian slavery, Joseph appears to be God-forsaken, and he feels like it except for the little glimmer of faith he has.

His slavery goes from bad to worse and he ends up in a dark Egyptian prison. At least 12 or 13 years of this "chastisement" discipline go on; the Lord must have loved him enormously, for "whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives" (Heb. 12:5-9).

The Lord gave Joseph a little sunlight when he was made prime minister of the realm of Egypt and he realized that his painful suffering had prepared him to become the famine "savior" of the Middle East civilization of his day.

But still the years of soul captivity dragged on; his constant temptation was to think that the prophetic dreams of his boyhood were a deception; no one can suffer a deep, private pain more agonizing than the fear that the Lord truly has betrayed your trust. You can't talk to anyone about it. Not until his ten brothers come and kneel before him in fulfillment of his prophetic childhood dream is Joseph finally led out into the bright sunshine of the heavenly Father's vindication.

There are little Josephs all over the world today, people whose faith is tried to the utmost (it seems to them) when everything seems to shout at them that God has forgotten them. In some cases as in the life of the prophet Jeremiah, the pain goes on and on until death is the final release from it (then the Jews realized that he had been the prince of prophets).

If you must look through tears, remember that "God is love"--your "Abba, Father" (Rom. 8:15-17) who has adopted you into His family. Remembering brings joy.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 12, 2007.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: Have You Ever Thought What Your “Birthright” Is?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Fast forward to the last part of the last book of the Bible—Revelation. In chapter 20 we come upon the last great Judgment, when the second resurrection has already happened, and every human soul who has ever lived finally stands together before the Great White Throne. He who sits thereon is Someone very special before “whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them” (vs. 11).

The opening of the “books” is a simile for the final Judgment that faces every soul.

Every human soul who is savedwill give thanks and praise to the Lamb one hundred percent for his or her salvation.

Every lost soul will face a revelation new to him or her: each will realize too late that Christ has already died for his or her sin—there is no need for them to come into final condemnation except they have treated the sacrifice of Christ in the same way that Esau treated the birthright that was his already. He “despised” it and “sold” it for a tiny, temporary indulgence of “appetite.” When he realized what he had done, he cried buckets of tears (Heb. 12:16, 17), but he could not undo what he had done.

Esau’s judgment is more factually said in the Genesis story: Esau “did eat and drink, and rose up and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright” (25:30-34). All his life he tried to “repent” with his tears, but the birthright was gone forever.

Have you ever thought what your “birthright” is? It’s the eternal salvation that Christ has already purchased for you with His blood. And has given to you already.

The way Romans 5 describes it is this: “The gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man’s sin [Adam’s]; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a [judicial] verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a [judicial] verdict of acquittal. ... It follows, then, that as the result of one misdeed [Adam’s] was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act [at Christ’s cross—the only one ‘righteous act’ ever performed on this planet!] is acquittal and life for all” (Rom. 5:15-18, The Revised English Bible).

At the end of the 1000 years the lost will at last understand this. They had the birthright, it was in their hands, but they threw it away.

Father, save us from ourselves, today!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 6, 2008.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: The Addiction of All Addictions

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

I have always tried to tell people that the Gospel is veryGood News. I tell them that Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). Some don't like to hear those words; they want to emphasize how hard it is to follow Jesus, how much you must give up, how much you must do, your salvation depends on your knowing how difficult it is to be saved.

And I will agree--there is one verydifficult thing about being saved: that is, learning how to believe. Jesus says in John 3:17-19 that notbelieving will keep us out of heaven. Indeed! Serious!

And the truth is that all of us were born in an unbelieving state; believing is never transmitted genetically; unbelief is natural to us; unbelieving is far and above the most difficult thing humans have to learn to overcome. It is the addiction of all addictions, the most insidious, the most pervasive. "He who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (vs. 18).

The distraught father in Mark 9:17-24 shows us how deep the problem is rooted in our human nature. Jesus said to him, almost like tantalizing him, "All things are possible to him who believes." Then the poor man realized how awful his problem was, how every cell of his being was saturated with unbelief: he burst into tears and cried out in anguish, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Now, there is Good News in that story. The moment you realize that unbelief is your real problem, help is on the way. A wise writer said, "you can never perish" if from your heart you pray that man's prayer. The people above all people whom Heaven rushes to help are those who realize the depths of their sin.

Unbelief is the most serious problem in the world church, the source of our lukewarmness, the reason for the delay in the coming of Jesus. We mustlearn to believe how good the Good News is; and the moment we say that, we remember that Christ will have a people who will overcome even as He overcame. He did not die in vain! He will see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied (Isa. 53:11).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 1997.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 18, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: Didn’t Abram’s Obedience Contribute to His Salvation?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

When Abram obeyed God and left Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 11:31-12:1), didn’t his obedience contribute to his salvation? How can we say that his salvation was 100 percent the work of God?

That sounds reasonable, but the promises were not made before he heard God call him out of Ur. It was like Revelation 18 describing our last days: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen. ... Come out of her, My people” (vss. 1-4). Abram’s “coming out” of Ur (ancient Babylon) only put him in a place to hear what God was saying, but did not contribute to his salvation. Further, God made no “bargain” with him, “cut no deal” with him, negotiated no “agreement” with him.

There was nothing of the Old Covenant woven into the New Covenant promises God made to Abram. The New Covenant promises were not a lure to bribe him or entice him into leaving Ur. Abram’s faith was purely a heart appreciation of God’s promises which revealed the truth of His character of love (compare John 8:56). In eternity, Abraham will never claim that his faithful obedience merited his salvation in the least (compare Eph. 2:8, 9).

When we confess our sins and repent, are we not doing something important? Why must we say that our salvation is 100 percent the work of God?

Confession of sin and repentance are just another way of saying exactly what Abram did when we read, “He believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6). Faith does not give us an iota of merit. We receive it 100 percent, yes; but thank God also for the grace He gives you to enable you to exercise it!

We cannot even claim that our faith saves us, for we read, “By graceyou have been saved throughfaith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, notof works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 4:8, 9). No one will ever claim in eternity, “Yes, Jesus saved me; but don’t forget, I confessed and repented of my sins. I helped save myself.” We will all enter heaven 100 percent in debt to the Lamb of God.

The sooner we realize that truth the happier we will be.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 22,2003.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: Is It Easy or Hard to Be Saved?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

The question haunts Christians: "Is it easy or is it hard to be saved? Are we correctly representing the Lord Jesus if we tell people that following Jesus is the difficult way to choose?"

Many people, especially youth, have somehow gained the impression that to be a genuine, true Christian is the hardest thing anyone can do, and for sure Jesus tells us we must "strive to enter through the narrow gate" (Luke 13:24), and we must "compete" as "in athletics" (2 Tim. 2:5), and according to The New King James Versionin Matthew 7:14 Jesus said His way is "difficult " (the King James Versionsays "narrow," and that is the correct meaning of the Greek word there; it is not "difficult").

On the other hand, Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 that His "yoke is easy," and His "burden is light."

Who are we to believe--those who represent Jesus as telling us His way is "difficult," or those who tell us He says His yoke is easy and His burden light? The two positions are as far apart as the east is from the west.

There is a mountain in the West that had a steep road going up. Model T's had trouble climbing it; they found it "difficult." No one could honestly deny that the road up Pike's Peak was "difficult."

But if someone installed a V-8 engine in the Ford, it could zip up the mountain road with "ease." Is the missing factor our lack of understanding what Paul calls "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5, 14)?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 9, 2005.
Copyright © 2019 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Dial Daily Bread: The Gift of Repentance

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Sin is the source of all the suffering and anguish in the world, and everyone is born with the problem in his or her nature. The classic definition is, "Sin is the transgression of the law," the "law" being understood as God's law (1 John 3:4, King James Version). But the Greek is only one little word, anomia, which literally is, "a state of being against the law."

In other words, sin is heart-rebellion against the government of God, not merely outwardly doing things that are unlawful. Another word for it is "alienation." "The carnal mind is enmity against God," heart-alienation (Rom. 8:7). And "enmity" always finds expression.

The ultimate expression of that inner hatred known as anomiais seen when the human race vented that pent-up hatred of God in their murder of the Son of God (see Acts 3:14, 15). The Murder behind all murders! And all of us were implicated (Rom. 3:23, 24; Zech 12:10). It happened because of a deep-seated principle: hatred cherished in the heart always leads to the act: "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer" (1 John 3:15). And of course, "no murderer has eternal life abiding in him," says the same verse.

Can this terrible sin be eradicated? The Bible says Yes! and it will be. But only through repentance for that sin of murdering the Son of God. That's why we read in Revelation 12:11 that God will have a people who "overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb."

Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit, the last gift He will give before He is finally withdrawn from the earth when the seven last plagues must fall (Rev. 15, 16). Repentance is a newly gifted hatred for sin that constrains one "henceforth" (KJV) to deny self and to take up the cross to follow the Lamb of God (2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Luke 9:23). Repentance includes receiving the precious gift of the atonement, that is, of being reconciled to the God whom once we hated (Rom. 5:7-11).

The Good News? It's still not too late to open our hearts and receive that gift of repentance He wants to give.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 30, 1999.
Copyright © 2019 by "Dial Daily Bread."