Monday, June 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Much Does God Love You, Personally?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How much does God love you, personally? Your happiness (here and forever) depends on how you believe it. None of us was born already believing; we all have had to learn how to believe; and for that we need the Good News in the Bible.

You may say that "God so loving the world that He gave His only begotten Son" sounds too far away--2000 years ago. But the Bible reveals His ongoing love for you. For example:

(1) Your Savior takes you by the arm to lead you "in the paths of righteousness." He actually takes you by your hand and says, Come, let's go to happiness! He loves you like a father loves a little son or daughter who is just learning to walk. Read it in Hosea 11:3, 4: "I taught Ephraim [My people] to walk, taking them by their arms; ... I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love." No, He doesn't force you; but He does everything possible short of it. If you don't refuse, He will be to you the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23.

(2) Isaiah says that He actually takes you by the hand to lead you to heaven: "I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you'" (41:13).

(3) If you make a mistake and take a wrong path, He does not forsake you. He will do for you what He did for Saul of Tarsus who was bent on taking the wrong path. The Lord put obstacles in his path to make the wrong way seem like kicking against the goads (see Acts 26:14). Yes, the Lord made it "hard" for Saul to be lost! Isn't that personal love?

(4) And the Savior continually reminds you that He has made His yoke easy and His burden light (Matt. 11:28-30).

You believe it, or you dis-believe it; but if you are having trouble believing it, He "helps [your] unbelief" if you will let Him (Mark 9:24). In fact, ask Him to; you can never perish if you pray that prayer.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 20, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Paul Tells Us in Galatians

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many of you are beginning to study the new Sabbath School quarterly on "The Gospel in Galatians." 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, some of which 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.

We hope this little Bible study on Galatians will be useful in your study.


What Paul Tells Us in Galatians

(A Bible Study)

1. He warns against a false gospel opposed to "the truth of the gospel" (1:6-12; 2:5, 14).

2. Paul's understanding of that "truth" forced him to contend with the leadership of the church of his day. His understanding was more clear than that of the apostle Peter, or James (1:16-20; 2:12-14).

3. The "all men" who are sinners are not put right with God by any good thing they can do, but "by the faith of Jesus" (2:15-19).

4. Honest human hearts identify with Christ on His cross. As with Him, the natural result is: self is crucified. The slightest taint of legalism "frustrates the grace of God" and denies the cross (2:20, 21).

5. The alternative to "the truth of the gospel" has to become a form of Spiritualism. "The hearing of faith" is a heart-appreciation of the Good News in the gospel; it works miracles (2:1-5).

6. All believing humans repeat the experience of Abraham's unbelief followed by his learning to believe (2:6-14).

7. "The curse" of the law is not obedience to it but disobedience. Christ's experience on His cross was that "curse," the horror of our second death (3:10-14).

8. The law was written in stone because of Israel's old covenant unbelief; but that does not invalidate God's promise in the new covenant to write it in the heart (3:16-21).

9. The law written in old covenant stone served as a policeman driving Israel under legalism until they should come back to Abraham's experience of justification by faith (3:22-29).

10. All who live under a sense of condemnation and fear are like the barefoot boy bossed about by slaves on the ranch, while born to be the heir of the estate (4:1-3).

11. The dogma of the immaculate conception denies the truth of Christ's full genetic identity with our fallen human race, which is necessary for true redemption from sin (4:4-7).

12. "The third angel's message in verity" is the full liberating truth of the new covenant (4:16-31).

13. Salvation by faith cannot be understood unless faith is understood as that which "works by love [agape]" (5:1-6).

14. Proclaiming "the truth of the gospel" always brings persecution on its proclaimer (5:11, 12).

15. The genuine liberty inherent in true faith never produces license (5:13, 14).

16. The Holy Spirit is stronger than the "flesh" with all its sinful addictions. Therefore, if one understands and believes Paul's "truth of the gospel," he finds it easy to be saved and hard to be lost (5:16-18; compare Matt. 11:28-30; Acts 26:14).

17. To "walk in the Spirit" is to believe He is holding on to your hand, not vice versa (5:18-25; compare Isa. 41:10, 13).

18. We cannot truly help someone else unless we can sincerely put ourselves in his place ("there but for the grace of God go I") (6:1-6).

19. The final mark of the beast will be "persecution for the cross of Christ." "The truth of the gospel" as it is in Galatians will therefore be part of the final "loud cry" that will lighten the earth with glory (6:12, 13).

20. To understand and believe this gospel of the cross delivers one from captivity to worldliness in all its forms (6:14).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 15, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Lesson of Isaiah 53 Will Be Learned at Last

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we study Isaiah 53, we cannot help being impressed that the Son of God has given Himself to die the world's second death, "poured out His soul unto death" (vs. 12) as you would turn a bottle upside down to drain the last drop, and yet God's people two millennia ago would not "believe our report" (God sent).

Isaiah's idea is that when the Savior of the world should come, His lowly form would be so unlike His people's proud expectations that they would make Him "despised and rejected by men" (vs. 3). They would interpret the humble birth of Jesus and His gentle demeanor as reason to treat Him with disdain. The rejection and murder of the Son of God by the best people on earth has become the scandal of the ages!

It has been this way always. God sends "messengers," and His people reject them. Jesus complained that His chosen people had always "scourged and persecuted" the "prophets" He had sent them, even killed them and crucified them, and "stones those who are sent to [you]." He told it to them straight (Matt. 23:34-37).

True to form, the Jews then proceeded to persecute and kill the apostles God sent to them. Often through history, God's prophets have been treated better by the Gentiles than by His own people. Elijah had to find refuge in a Gentile nation from the persecution of the king and queen of Israel, and Jesus called this to the attention of His own people (which they didn't like and tried to kill Him, Luke 4:24-29).

"Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" asks Isaiah (53:1). To human eyes, the Sent of God is always misunderstood, "despised and rejected by men" (vs. 3). The world's Redeemer and Savior seemed to His own people to be "a root out of a dry ground [with] no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (vs. 2).

But must this "unchristlike persecution" go on and on through all centuries right up to the very end of time? Must there never come a repentance on the part of God's people? Must the lessons of history forever be disregarded?

There must and there will come a repentance, for the Bride of Christ will at last "make herself ready" for the "marriage of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7, 8). The lesson of Isaiah 53 will be learned at last.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 3, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Don't Fire Your "Defense Lawyer"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is Good News, not Bad News. God is not a stern Lawgiver dishing out a series of impossible-to-obey rules with the penalty of death hanging over our heads; He is a Savior from breaking those commandments.

He wants to deliver us from death; He has purposed that every human being shall enjoy eternal life, "for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). Christ is already "the Savior of all men," according to 1 Timothy 4:10, "especially of those who believe."

When God the Father sent Jesus Christ to this earth, He gave Him a special job description--go down to that lost world and save it. Says Jesus: "[I came] to save the world" (John 12:47). He is not trying to find a way to shut us out of heaven; rather, He is trying to prepare us to enter in. God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, ... having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Eph. 1:4, 5).

"But isn't there a terrible judgment coming when we shall all come under the stern scrutiny of God's law?"

Yes, but "if any one sins, we have an Advocate [defense lawyer!] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1, 2). And if anyone reading is afraid that this great "Defense Lawyer" won't take his case, John adds, "and not for ours [our sins] only but also for [the sins of] the whole world." He is already your Defense Lawyer if you don't push Him away. Some criminals on trial fire their lawyers and then lose their cases. Don't fire Jesus! Let Him hold on to your case.

Jesus has become the new Head of humanity. He fired Adam, our first head who led us into sin, and has taken his place.

Thus you and I have a birthright given to us in Him, just like Isaac's son Esau had the birthright already given to him. Nobody in heaven or earth could have deprived Esau of that birthright except his own act of discarding it. When he sold it for a mere dinner entree, we read, "Thus Esau despised his birthright" (Gen. 25:34). Paul warns us, don't give in to the subtle temptation to be a "fornicator or profane person, like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright" (Heb. 12:16).

Wouldn't it be heartrending in the final judgment as we stand before the Great White Throne of God, to realize that He actually gave us the gift of eternal life like He gave the birthright to Esau, but we sold it for some of this world's flashy treasures! To save us from that ultimate agony, He is today sending us the message of the pure gospel as very Good News.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: A New Look at God's Law, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A "Mighty Angel" and the Millstone

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, 'Thus with
violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down,and shall not be found anymore'" (Rev. 18:21).

For some important reason the Lord has devoted the entire 18th chapter of Revelation to a heart-moving description of the financial and economic ruin of the most prosperous civilizations of all time.

Note two important lessons: (1) This ruin follows speedily on the national abandonment of the principles of religious liberty which have made it possible for the progressive nations to become so prosperous and secure. (2) Our present economic and cultural securities are dependant on the continued blessing of God, holding back that tornado of passion symbolized by the loosing of the "four winds."

Babylon's sin has been pride in her wealth, and a growing selfishness. Selfish human nature has been the same through all ages, and now at last judgment comes upon this pride. Revelation 18 is God's comment upon the rampant materialism of our modern "civilized" world.

Babylon has always been the enemy of God's truth and of His people. It is not a petty, selfish vengeance that causes those who inhabit heaven to rejoice over her fall. Every right-minded man and woman is glad when evildoers are finally brought to justice, and principles of right are upheld.

No figure could be more vivid than that of a mighty angel taking up a great millstone and casting it into the sea. No more will the music of her choirs and pipe organs be heard in her giant buildings; no more will master craftsmen labor to build her ornate cathedrals; no more will soft candles flicker in the mysterious shadows of her altars. What an astonishing disclosure! The source of all evil in the world has been Babylon.

Satan has done his most successful work when he has professed to be "an angel of light," attempting to misrepresent and impersonate Christ Himself. The vast majority of earth's inhabitants will in future confuse Satan for their God. What will lead them to make this tragic choice? Love of self!

Only in the light of the cross can man learn what to do with his natural-born selfishness. There self is crucified with Christ, accomplished by faith. But because Babylon has professed to honor the sign of the cross and yet has denied the reality of the truth of the cross, the world will have been deceived to its eternal ruin. Thus Revelation depicts the great battle between the principles of its Hero, the Lamb, and those of the world's hero, Satan.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: The Gospel in Revelation, 1989.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Lord Reminds Us That He Is Still in Control

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a clear-cut message in the Bible where the Lord reminds us that He is still in control of all the events of this world; and He says that if His people will do what He says and proclaim the Good News message that He wants them to proclaim, He will hold back world distress and war. The idea is that the devil can't wait to unleash another world war, but God has promised that He will send "four angels" to "hold" the "four winds" from letting loose with their universal cyclone of human hatred and passion:

"I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God [in] their foreheads'" (Rev. 7:1-3).

By using symbolic language in Revelation, God can say an immense amount in a few words. "Four winds" throughout the Bible are a symbol of universal distress and violence; an "angel" is a symbol of a message to be proclaimed; the "sea" is a symbol of world population; God's "seal" is a symbol of a message that prepares a people to be ready for the second coming of Jesus (John 14:1-3).

Only if that "another angel" can proclaim his message and the "four winds" can be calmed down, can people be able to listen to what God has to say. Lord, please strengthen the grip of those "four angels"! And wake your people up!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 17, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is Jesus Really Coming Back Soon?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You can't deny that it's a temptation: for well over 150 years [170 years now] "we" have been preaching that Jesus is coming "soon," "it's the eleventh hour," "time is almost finished," etc. Now, many are wondering, because they are tempted to doubt: "Is Jesus really coming back again soon, as we humans are forced to understand the word "soon"?

And some who have long believed that Jesus promised to return visibly, personally, in the clouds, are beginning to try to redefine "the second coming" so it won't be personal and visible. (That means they are repeating the arguments of 170+ years ago, while telling us they still believe in the Second Coming!)

If you are tempted to doubt the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, let me suggest one simple observation you can make that will clarify your vision: consider how our modern world is fast becoming like Jesus described the days of Noah before the Flood.

Look at Matthew 24:37-39 (these are the simple, direct words of Jesus Himself): "As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." Genesis 6 describes those "days" as "corrupt ... and filled with violence" (vs. 11). All the people cared about was pleasure. And Genesis says that God repented that He had made man (vs. 7).

Think of how we are living today in a time of solemn judgment, and contrast the irresponsible, pleasure-driven, yes, corrupt spirit that prevails, and you can't help but see that it's as it was in the days of Noah before the Flood. It's time for solemn, serious, sober thinking! Nothing in this world makes sense except the truth as it is in Jesus! God give us grace to believe it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 22, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread.