Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Announcement of a Gift

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Soon it will be Christmas Eve and many millions will anticipate opening their gifts in the morning; but mainly, they are materialistic gifts.

The Bible speaks of "spiritual gifts," and they are the ones that are valuable beyond estimate. To covet such gifts is not being sinful, although it is sinful to "covet" material "gifts" (the last of the Ten Commandments says, "Thou shalt not covet ...").

There was a truth written once by E. J. Waggoner that is so obvious that I marvel that I never thought of it. Many sermons should be preached about it: "The new birth completely supersedes the old. 'If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. ...' He who takes God for the portion of his inheritance [there's your coveting the best gifts!], has a power working in him for righteousness, as much stronger than the power of inherited tendencies to evil, as our heavenly Father is greater than our earthly parents."

Simple, but simply, profoundly true!

Rejoice in your new heavenly Father! He is infinitely more powerful in lifting you above sin than your earthly father was in passing on to you the condemnation he had received from the fallen Adam. In other words, the righteousness you now receive from your new heavenly Father (you have now chosen to believe in Him!), is stronger than your addiction to evil--of any kind.

When the angel sang his chorus over the hills of Bethlehem when Christ was born, that was his message: "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10, KJV).

(1) It's good news. (2) It brings "great joy." Not a trace of sadness in it! (3) It's for "all people," a blessing universal. (4) It announces a gift that Christ gives to "all people." Paul explains it in Romans 5: he says five times that it is "a free gift" for the same "all who "sinned," reversing that "condemnation" that the fallen Adam brought on the entire human race (vss. 15-18). Deliverance from all addictions!

The true story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is great good news! It will finally be told with "great power" to "lighten the earth with glory," and it will prepare all who believe with all their hearts; it will prepare them for meeting Jesus when He returns (Rev. 14:1-5). That time is now.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 24, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Angel's Message Still Goes On

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The angel told the shepherds camping outdoors near Bethlehem, "Do not be afraid, ... I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people!" (Luke 2:10).

This caught their attention so that they scrambled off to town to see for themselves. But just what was the substance of the "good tidings"?

After more than 2000 years, we are still arguing about it. There is probably not one church body on earth totally united in their understanding of it.

Some (many!) believe that the "good tidings" are that if we do this or that, then the Savior born in Bethlehem will save us. In other words, it's "good tidings" to those who do the right thing, but terror to those who don't. "Has to be!" these people say. "We must tell it faithfully!" They say we are born lost, under condemnation; we must do something to get out from under the curse. Jesus has come to show us how, but He hasn't really saved anyone until that person does those right things. A very popular teaching.

But the angel said it's "tidings of great joy ... to all people!" So the angel did not differentiate; and right here is the reason why Christian people worldwide still can't agree on what the "good tidings" are.

The angel said, "There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (vs. 11). He didn't say, "born to some of you ..." Years later the Samaritans seem to have gotten the right idea when they said He is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42).

Christianity says "Yes!" In dying for us, Christ took on Himself our curse, our condemnation, and has given "all men" the actual gift of eternal salvation; but many refuse it and throw it away. But the angel's message still goes on.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 25, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Luke's Heart-Burden in Telling the Story of the Birth of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Joyous thanks for the birth of Jesus that fills our minds and hearts 365 days a year--not just in the weeks following Thanksgiving. If that Story of stories thrills your soul, you will be wearied by the extreme materialism that permeates our atmosphere this time of year. One wonders, Is Jesus wearied by it? How does He feel talking to the children who sit on Santa's lap? What could He say if He met them in the shopping mall?

Have you ever wondered why Luke surpasses Matthew, Mark, and John in telling the most detailed stories of His birth? Those three were Jewish writers; Luke was a Gentile. He was writing for us, presenting Jesus in a light especially appealing to us "outsiders."

Luke alone tells of the angel's message to the world, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." He alone tells of the lowliness of Jesus' birth in a cattle-shed--a priceless encouragement to all of us who live in humble places. Luke alone tells of the Baby being wrapped in "swaddling clothes," possibly the rags Mary was able to scrounge at the last moment. Luke alone tells us several times that Mary was a quiet, shy, maybe retiring sort of lady who was good at keeping still (2:19, 51).

Luke must have gone his Gentile way as a "reporter" from outside and interviewed Mary after Christ's resurrection. He had what we would call a "scoop." He tells us of her strange "lowly state" (tapeinosis, Greek; 1:48). He leaves us wondering what it was, why she felt drawn so closely to the broken-hearted Hannah of 1 Samuel 1. Mary's poem of praise and thanksgiving (after Gabriel's visit) is patterned after Hannah's praise poem (2:1-10). The two had something in common! Only Luke lets us see this priceless gem.

Luke's heart-burden is to reveal Jesus to us as One so close to us that no one else, not even family or spouse can be closer. Almost everything this season will try to entice you away from Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 15, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: "Messiah"--The Most Thrilling Choral Anthem Ever Composed

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Amidst the tinsel and glitter of "Christmas," there is a little refuge of sober, quiet peace: the annual performances almost everywhere of Handel's Messiah. When we used to perform it in Nairobi, Kenya, Hindus and Muslims would join Christians at the great cathedral to revel in its sheer musical grandeur. "O pause beside the weary way, And hear the angels sing" is its appeal to us all.

Its lyrics are strictly from the Bible and nowhere else. Messiah conveys the gospel through the grandest musical language ever "spoken." Millions this Season will again hear "Behold the Lamb of God!" and "Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs, and Carried Our Sorrows," and the contralto aria, "He was Despised and Rejected of Men, a Man of Sorrows and Acquainted With Grief." Each aria, recitative, or chorus is an inspired gem. Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, all have their grand works of literature, but has any of them given the world such a gift? Does atheism? Or paganism?

When I have watched non-Christians in Kenya come to hear Messiah year after year, I have wondered if I am seeing a partial fulfillment of what David said in Psalm 19, "How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! ... It shows what He has done! ... No speech or words are used, no sound is heard; yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth" (vss. 1-4, Good News Bible).

"Speech," "words," "sound" are all employed in Messiah. To deaf ears it may "say" no more than what Tchaikovsky or Mozart "say," but some human hearts are touched by the portrayal of the gospel finale of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. When the choir and orchestra perform the "Hallelujah" Chorus, and the final numbers, "Worthy is the Lamb" and the "Amen"--that one little word constitutes the lyrics for what must be the most thrilling choral anthem ever composed. Higher and higher rises that one-word message. Your heart must be stone if you are not moved. Listen! Get ready to hear it again at the end of the real Millennium.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 19, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: "Messiah"--The Most Thrilling Choral Anthem Ever Composed

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Amidst the tinsel and glitter of "Christmas," there is a little refuge of sober, quiet peace: the annual performances almost everywhere of Handel's Messiah. When we used to perform it in Nairobi, Kenya, Hindus and Muslims would join Christians at the great cathedral to revel in its sheer musical grandeur. "O pause beside the weary way, And hear the angels sing" is its appeal to us all.

Its lyrics are strictly from the Bible and nowhere else. Messiah conveys the gospel through the grandest musical language ever "spoken." Millions this Season will again hear "Behold the Lamb of God!" and "Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs, and Carried Our Sorrows," and the contralto aria, "He was Despised and Rejected of Men, a Man of Sorrows and Acquainted With Grief." Each aria, recitative, or chorus is an inspired gem. Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism, all have their grand works of literature, but has any of them given the world such a gift? Does atheism? Or paganism?

When I have watched non-Christians in Kenya come to hear Messiah year after year, I have wondered if I am seeing a partial fulfillment of what David said in Psalm 19, "How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! ... It shows what He has done! ... No speech or words are used, no sound is heard; yet their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth" (vss. 1-4, Good News Bible).

"Speech," "words," "sound" are all employed in Messiah. To deaf ears it may "say" no more than what Tchaikovsky or Mozart "say," but some human hearts are touched by the portrayal of the gospel finale of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. When the choir and orchestra perform the "Hallelujah" Chorus, and the final numbers, "Worthy is the Lamb" and the "Amen"--that one little word constitutes the lyrics for what must be the most thrilling choral anthem ever composed. Higher and higher rises that one-word message. Your heart must be stone if you are not moved. Listen! Get ready to hear it again at the end of the real Millennium.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 19, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Probably the most beloved of Christmas hymns is Phillips Brooks' "O Little Town of Bethlehem." A precious gem of inspired poetry, it is within itself an evangelistic sermon, groping to reach our human hearts. Hymns have always been an important part of true worship all through our "Christian era," and even as far back as the time of ancient Israel. (Our Bible Book of Psalms was the Hebrew hymnbook.)

Brooks was a powerful preacher in the "cultural oases" of Philadelphia and Boston, so greatly loved that his early death in 1893 was mourned more widely only by the death of Abraham Lincoln. The beautiful melody composed especially for this poem was an inspirational idea that came one Christmas Eve during sleep to Lewis Redner, Brooks' organist. The hymn is a perfect "marriage" of words and music. It must be sung reverently. If prayer must always be thoughtfully expressed, so hymns likewise should be thoughtfully sung, otherwise we bring upon ourselves Christ's rebuke for "vain repetition," a pseudo-worship He will not accept.

Brilliant as he was, Phillips Brooks did not in his day fully understand the gospel of righteousness by faith. There is embedded in his hymn a flaw that can have a painful effect upon our spiritual journey. His last stanza becomes a prayer, "O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us today." Good, so far; but then Brooks prays, "Cast out our sin, and enter in ..." And there we pause: Christ is indeed an Almighty Savior, but there is one thing He will not do--He will not cast out our sin. That is our job! He will come in to abide with us, yes, thank God; but as our Guest, it's not His job to throw out the garbage. "The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself," says one wise writer.

Over and over Scripture tells us that the power of choice is ours to exercise. We "cast out" the sin and then He "enters in." Let us sing the hymn correctly: "Forgive our sin and enter in, Be born in us today." And then finally to bring Philips Brooks' lyric into full Bible harmony let us sing, "We hear the holy angels the great glad tidings tell."

The word "Christmas" is not in the Bible, neither the idea of observing any day for Christ's birth (He wisely never revealed to us the day). All through the year we are to "hear the holy angels the great glad tidings tell; Oh, come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 24, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Your Prayer Is Being Heard—Be Patient, Trust, and Believe

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Suppose one of the greatest angels of heaven were to come to you, and encourage you by telling you that you are “greatly beloved” by the angels in heaven! Your fellow human beings on earth have tried to kill you by throwing you into a den of hungry lions, but there’s a real Life beyond this world of persecution, and there your reputation is high! Good news!

That was Daniel; we don’t read that he ever made a mistake. “O Daniel, man greatly beloved!” is what the angel told him (Dan. 9:23; 10:11). I have never had an angel tell me that, and I know myself to be “less than the least” of all God’s servants; but the Bible tells me that “God so loved me that He gave His only begotten Son that I might not perish.” That is better than having a thousand angels tell me! The Bible is God’s message book to my soul.

An angel may meet with me for a few minutes and tell me that, but then he is gone. The Bible tells me that 24/7. In a special way Jesus says that “blessed” are the people who have never seen Him resurrected physically as Thomas did “and yet have believed” on the testimony of His apostles (John 20:26-29).

But did you know that the good man Daniel’s prayers were “hindered”? He couldn’t understand! He wondered, why wasn’t God listening to Him? He became so concerned about the apparent indifference of Heaven to his heart request (he was praying for God’s people, not for himself!) that he voluntarily fasted for three whole weeks (Dan. 10:2, 3). Jesus once fasted twice that long (Matt. 4:1, 2), but He did not work hard physically during that time, but apparently Daniel did keep on working during his partial fast.

Then Daniel tells us why his prayers were apparently not answered--Christ Himself joined the angel in “fighting” with the “prince of Persia” and then with “the prince of Greece” (Dan. 10:20), until they did what God wanted them to do--release His people. “From the first day” Daniel’s prayer had been heard (vs. 12), and was in the process of being answered!

Your prayers also are being heard and are in the process of being answered. Be patient, trust, and believe.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 18, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Pentecost—The Real Second Coming of Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Some suggest that the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the real second coming of Christ. They say that it has been going on ever since. The longer the great delay continues, the stronger will be the temptation to restructure the doctrine of the second coming and abandon belief in a personal, literal, imminent return of Jesus.

Implicit in this lurks a virtual charge against God Himself. “My Lord delayeth His coming” (Matt. 24:48, KJV) is the re-echoing theme. It is assumed that He has mocked the prayers of a sincere people who have stood loyal to His commandments and the faith of Jesus. He has disappointed His people. The question at issue is the faithfulness of God!

If our Lord has delayed His coming, He has deceived us and we cannot trust Him. If we have delayed the Lord’s return, then there is hope. Something can be done. Our impenitence can be healed. Insisting that our Lord has delayed His coming virtually destroys the Advent hope; recognizing that we have delayed it can validate and confirm our hope.

Our historical parallel with the ancient Jewish nation is striking. They were God’s true denominated people, enjoying as much evidence of His favor as we. Their pride in their denominational structure and organization was shown by their attitude, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these” (Jer. 7:4). The “temple” today is a worldwide organization, which is as much a source of pride as was the temple to the ancient Jews. The Lord did indeed establish and bless the ancient temple, but the Jews’ refusal of national repentance nullified its significance.

A wise writer has said that the same disobedience and failure which were seen in the Jewish church have characterized in a greater degree the people who have had this great light from Heaven in the last messages of warning. She also says that there is a terrible amount of guilt for which the church is responsible

Whatever that guilt may be, the church is still the one object of the Lord’s supreme regard. Without the atonement of Christ, it is devastating to any individual’s self-respect to face the reality of his or her guilt. It is the same with the church body. In order to face this terrible amount of guilt without discouragement, we also must see how God’s love for the church as a body is unchanging. This involves recognizing the creative aspect of God’s agape love.

Critics who are ready to abandon hope for the church are unwittingly at war with the fundamental truth of God’s character—“God is agape” (1 John 4:8). The “final atonement” must include a final reconciliation with the reality of His divine character in the setting of the antitypical Day of Atonement. Where the Jews failed, the church must overcome in response to grace, which does “much more abound.”

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love ... ," 1986.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Has Christ's Second Coming Been Delayed?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Has Christ's second coming been delayed?

(1) Has the Father fixed the time of His coming so that His people can neither hasten nor delay it? Or, (2) can His people hasten His return as 2 Peter 3:12 suggests, "Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God ..."? The Greek can be understood as either (a) longing for its coming or (b) as hastening its coming. Those who believe the Father has fixed the date hold to (a). Those who believe we can delay His coming hold to (b).

Jesus makes clear that the Father alone knows the time of His second coming (Mark 13:32), but that does not mean that He has fixed the time as Calvinist predestination. He has "appointed" the time in the sense that it is contingent on the completion of the gospel commission: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14). The "when" is up to us.

The character of God is implicated in this question. If He has fixed the time, then He has deceived His people by repeated messages telling them that it is "near." Some argue that when He says, "know that it is near, at the very doors" (vs. 33), He means something different than all human language means by "near," but again that implies deception. If I tell a hungry person that lunch is "near" when I mean next week, I have deceived him.

What is clear is that the second coming of Christ cannot take place until the "marriage of the Lamb is come." And Revelation 19:1-9 makes clear that the only reason that "marriage" has not taken place is that His Bride "has [not] made herself ready," for when she does make herself "ready," the heavenly Bridegroom will not tarry.

Thus our question involves the character of Christ Himself. Does He love that Bride-to-be? And does He want to come?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 5, 2002-1.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Blessed Is the Child ...

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Little children remember for their lifetime the lessons they learn in early childhood. "Christmas" is an important chapter. Blessed is the child who learns the true story of Jesus when He said that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

The usual promotion of "Christmas" brings about a powerful motivation of materialism that is not lost on the little ones. This materialism becomes mingled with the stories of Jesus, and sets our chart for life as being fundamentally self-seeking, unless the much more abounding grace of the Lord can get through to our consciousness.

We do not serve Jesus because of a hope for reward; neither is our motivation a fear of being lost in hell; but these motivations are heavily promoted in "Babylon."

In this time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary ("unto 2300 days [years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," Dan. 8:14) the Holy Spirit wants to purify our motives and deliver us from self-seeking. We are often counseled by sincere people to "seek" Real Estate in heaven; materialism becomes the motivation, mingled into the Christian experience.

Jesus was not motivated by materialism, although it may be easy to understand Hebrews 12:2 as saying that He was so motivated because "for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross, etc."; but the original language can also be understood as saying that "instead of the earthly joy set before Him" that He "endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

As a young man of 33-1/2 years of age He was the divine Son of God but He was also incarnate, He had taken upon Himself our humanity fully; at that age a young man has just left his youth and as a full-fledged adult he is facing his life--so did Jesus experience our young manhood. It was evident that He was marvelously gifted--a very bright future lay before Him. The story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness is clear (Matt. 4:1-11)--Satan offered Him the wealth and praise of the world if He would only accept the principle of materialism for His life.

People who say that we must let "Christ" into "Christmas" speak wisdom they do not realize.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 12, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: How Can You Distinguish Between Faith and Presumption?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

How can you distinguish between faith and presumption? Between "obeying the voice of the Lord" and fanaticism? Everything depends on the answer, because if you don't have "faith," you will "perish" (John 3:16).

Noah had it, building a boat on dry land "at the word of the Lord." Abraham had it, leaving his "luxury" home in Ur of the Chaldeans to live in a tent the rest of his life. David had it, a mere stripling armed with a slingshot and five pebbles facing "in the name of the Lord" the well-armored Goliath. Elijah had it, drenching with water the altar on Mount Carmel, facing certain death at the hands of Ahab if the Lord let him down with no fire to consume his sacrifice.

Was Elijah a man of great physical stature and personality, or was he a shy, retiring, trembling human--like one of us? It would be interesting to see a video actually shot on location on Mount Carmel, but the best we have is what the Bible says about him, and that is that he was like us: "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [the same kind of person as we are]" (James 5:17). Tempted to be afraid to stand alone? Yes!

The faith of Elijah is a million miles away from presumption; he trembled a long time before the Lord, knelt to pray about the situation, day after day, year after year, until finally the Lord strengthened his conviction to distinguish between Baal and Jehovah (precious few in Israel had that discernment!), and then courage enough to go to Ahab and give him the Lord's ultimatum--take your choice, O king: Baal worship and famine, or repentance and God's blessing.

And all during those 3-1/2 years he had to "pray earnestly" (James 5:17) continually every day or he could never have taken the stand he did on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). There were "7000" who had "not bowed the knee to Baal," yet not one had the courage to stand up when Elijah made his challenge, Who is on the Lord's side? "The people answered him not a word" (vs. 21). Blessed be the "7000," yet all apparently still had some cowardice deep in their souls!

Revelation tells us "144,000" Elijahs will each "bloom" alone where he or she is "planted" in the last days. O Lord, give us discernment to distinguish between fanaticism and faith, and then courage to stand for the right though the heavens fall!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 7, 2009.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Power of "Much More Abounding Grace"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Who is stronger?
Christ, or the angel who fell from heaven--Satan?

Which is stronger?
• Light or darkness?

• Love (agape), or hatred?

• That "much more abounding grace" of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 5:20, 21), or the power of our evil appetites and habits and obsessions and addictions?

• The power of death (that held Jesus Christ captive in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea), or the resurrection power of the Father that raised Him up after three days?

We can't say it often enough: that much more abounding grace is stronger than all the power of sin the devil can invent. In fact, there is in that grace "much more" power! "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more."

Let's not try to serve God with anything less than the full power of that much more abounding grace that is revealed in Christ. That grace is the enemy of sin; it condemns it, defeats it, conquers it, annihilates it, so that we might be free indeed. Then the grace of God will be manifested in us in "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). That grace "reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Then we discover something precious: it is easy to be saved and it is hard to be lost, when we begin to appreciate that much more abounding grace! We must not conclude that the upward path is the "hard path" and the downward path is the "easy one;" it's the opposite. All the way that leads to hell there are impediments and obstacles to hinder us; God is constantly trying to tell us this.

It's like we are driving on the freeway, you're at the wheel, but the Holy Spirit is sitting beside you in the front seat. He is saying, Don't stay on this freeway to hell; take this exit to the kingdom of God! That's what Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would do when He gave Him the name "Parakletos," the One called to sit down beside you and never leave you (John 16:7, 8; "para" = beside you; "kletos" = called).

Don't misunderstand. You do have something to do: it's to make the constant choice to let the Holy Spirit guide you. But please remember, you are not your own Savior: let the Lord save you. It is you who turns the wheel on to the blessed Exit coming up that leads to eternal life. But He guided you to do it; and you praise the Lord forever and ever.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 27, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: How Do You Remain Faithful to God When You Are All Alone?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever thought of Abraham as a lonely man? You remember, he is “the father of all those who believe” (Rom. 4:11), and therefore your “father” in the faith. If Abraham was a lonely man, and yet God was with him, there is encouragement that the Lord can be with you even if you serve Him as a lonely person.

In Isaiah 51:2 the Lord says, “I called [Abraham] alone,” or as the Hebrew says, “I called him when he was but one, and blessed him, and increased him.” Thus it appears that Abram (his name at first) was the only person in the world who worshipped the true God when God called him.

We know that his father Terah worshipped idols (Joshua 24:2) while living in a community that worshipped the moon (Ur of the Chaldeans). Maybe we should revise that, and say that Abram was the only person of his generation who worshipped the true God, because Shem was still living, somewhere. But being hundreds of years old, maybe Shem was no longer able to do the kind of witnessing work that God was calling Abram (later named Abraham) to do.

Evidently from a very early age, Abram knew that it was wrong to worship the moon, and probably tried to persuade his brother Haran and his father Terah to recognize the one true God who created the moon (with some success it seems, for Terah’s family always had some knowledge of the truth).

But how do you remain faithful to God when you are all alone? And how do you worship an invisible God when everybody around you wants some idol or heavenly body to be His presence, to represent Him? Get acquainted with your “father” Abraham!

Today, you may be alone (or as the Hebrew says, “but one”) in your family or your village, or your school, or (God forbid!) even in your church (if that’s true, your church needs you as a witness for Him!). Well, God specifically says, “Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you” (Isa. 51:2). Let your faith demonstrate that you are indeed a child of Abraham. He “believed in the Lord” (Gen. 15:6). Now, you do the same. Then you won’t remain alone (“but one”) for Isaiah says that “[God] increased him.”

Evidently it’s impossible to remain alone.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 4, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Sobering Effect

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There are some very bad people in the world, rulers who have done great evil to their people and have threatened the world. It is popular to hate them; and unless one does hate them it is possible that some will consider that he is not "patriotic."

But we have a problem with the words of Jesus, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, ... do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matt. 5:43, 44).

Is that hopelessly wrong political and military wisdom?

Are we to say that there are some people so very bad that Christ did not die for them? That John 3:16 does not include them ("whosoever ...")? One of the world's most autocratic and cruel rulers was Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; but because God had a few loyal and truly converted young people who had learned the gospel, God was able to convert that cruel, unfeeling ruler (Daniel 4). Something they did and said touched his hard-as-granite heart, and he was changed.

God told His people that "fear and dread" would "fall" on the unbelieving Egyptians (Ex. 15:16), and "I will send My fear before you ... among all the people" (23:27). God will send "four angels" to "hold" the terrible hatred of the enemies of God if His people will proclaim to the world His "sealing" message (cf. Rev. 7:1-4).

It was surely God's will that the new nation of America with their Constitution that guaranteed freedom and liberty of conscience should command something worldwide akin to that "fear and dread." That does not mean that very bad people would necessarily be converted, but the Bible picture is clear that the demonstration of the truth of God can have a sobering effect on evil people in the world.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 20, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Human Guilt From A to Z

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Could Jesus accuse people of a crime when they were innocent?

Yes! Jesus accused the Jewish leaders of His day of guilt for a crime committed before any of them were born. His charge against them sounds unreasonable.

The story is in Matthew 23. Jesus has just upbraided the scribes and Pharisees with a series of "woes" accompanied by vivid flashes of irony and indignation. He concludes by springing on them this charge of murdering a certain Zechariah: "That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (vs. 35).

For years I assumed that this Zechariah was a victim whom Christ's hearers had personally murdered in the temple during their lifetime, not more than 30 or 40 years previous. It was a shock to discover that this man was murdered some 800 years earlier. (The story is recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:20, 21.) Why did Jesus charge the guilt of this crime on the Jews of His day?

When we see the principle of corporate guilt, the picture becomes clear. Jesus was not unfair. In rejecting Him, the Jewish leaders were acting out all human guilt from A to Z (Abel to Zechariah), even though they may not as yet have personally committed a single act of murder. They were in spirit one body with their fathers who had actually shed the blood of the innocent Zechariah in the temple. In other words, they would do it again, and they did do it--to Jesus.

Now, by refusing the call to repentance which John the Baptist and Jesus had sent them, they had chosen to acquire the guilt of all murders of innocent victims ever since the days of Abel. One who could not err fastened the entire load on them.

In order to understand how Jesus was thinking, we need to see clearly the Hebrew idea of corporate personality. The church is the "Isaac" of faith, Abraham's true descendant, "one body" with him and with all true believers of all ages. To Jewish and Gentile believers alike, Paul says Abraham is "our father" (Rom. 4:1-13). To the Gentile believers he says, "Our fathers were ... all baptized into Moses." "We were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks" (1 Cor. 10:1, 2; 12:13). We "all" means past generations and the present generation.

Christ's body is all who have ever believed in Him from Adam down to the last remnant who welcome Him at His return. In the pattern of Paul's thinking, "all" are one individual.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love ...," 1986.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does the Prodigal Son Story Contradict God?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Since childhood we have all heard of the Good Shepherd who leaves His "ninety and nine" on that wild stormy night and seeks His one lost sheep "until He finds it" (Luke 15:4-6). Its salvation depends entirely on the initiative of the Shepherd. The lost animal knows it's lost, but cannot "arise and go" on its own to find salvation. So, the Lord Jesus Christ "seeks" it. The lost sheep is you and I who are rescued by a love totally outside of us.

And we remember the lost coin, how the lady turns her house upside down until she finds that precious piece of silver. The coin is different from the sheep; it doesn't know it's lost. It represents you and me who were "dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, ... fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, ... children of wrath" (Eph. 2:1-3). But Someone found us, buried in the dust and trash of this dark world, unconscious of our condition.

But how does this common theme of God seeking and finding us work out in practical day-by-day living? Does the idea encourage us to be spiritually lazy, doing nothing?

The Prodigal Son story seems on the superficial surface to contradict God's love seeking us, rather than vice versa. The lost son seems to take the initiative in his own salvation. "I will arise and go," he says to himself, and gets up out of the pigsty and goes--on his own (Luke 15:18). The Father does not come seeking him, to "find" him. Forever after the boy can congratulate himself: "Yes, I was lost; but I found my way back! I'm saved because I 'sought' and 'found' salvation. I exerted the effort. I forced myself to take step after step. I did it. I'm saved by grace, but I'm also saved by my own obedience."

But wait a moment, Mr. Prodigal Son, Mr. Laodicean. This parable illustrates how the Holy Spirit seeks and saves us lost ones. It was He who gave the boy sitting with the pigs the conviction that his Father loved him. The Holy Spirit inspired him with the motivation, because as the Comforter whom Jesus promised to send us, He, not self, convicted the boy of "sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, ... because the ruler of this world is judged [condemned]" (John 16:7-11).

Yes, we're "home," but only because the Good Shepherd sought and found us, and His Holy Spirit did not abandon us. By grace we are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God. And it's specifically and emphatically "not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9).

So, Mr. Laodicean, be humble; you're not rich and increased with goods.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 10, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Turning "Little Feet" Toward the Kingdom of God

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Children are very important people who need Good News, not Bad. Jesus is very severe with people who harm children spiritually--that is, pastors, or parents, or teachers who tell them Bad News instead of the pure, true “gospel” that He commanded us to tell everybody (Matt. 18:6).

When it’s our turn to tell the children’s story in the church service, we must beg Him to help us do it right, to tell them something that will turn their little feet toward the kingdom of God, and not vice versa.

Sometimes I would make it into a game that a child could play with me. Here's what would happen: I would tell the child that all I want him to do is to go for a walk with me down the aisle of the church, and hold on to my hand. That’s all!

So, the trusting child, smiling a bit sheepishly, stands with me there in front of everybody and holds my hand. Then I take off in high gear down the aisle with the child left behind, not having taken a step, because of course there was no hanging on.

Then, after “chiding” the child for not holding on to my hand as I told him to do, I say, “Now let’s try it again; and this time instead of you holding on to my hand as we go for a walk, let me hold you by the hand. Then we take off and I hold on tight.

The point is, being saved in God’s kingdom does not depend on you holding on to God’s hand, because you and I and all of us are too weak to hang on. But it depends on us believing that He is holding tight to our hand.

He says so: “I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not; I will help you’” (Isa. 41:13).

The idea is not that we must take the initiative in our salvation and start the process going; we must believe that His love for us takes the initiative; it’s an important point that must not be twisted or distorted. It’s “God [who] so loved the world that He gave …” It’s not we who persuaded Him to love us!

You and He are crossing this busy street of worldly traffic and you are the little child. Your Father is not going to let you run across the street on your own. He is going to hold you tightly by His hand. (True, if you are perverse, you can wriggle yourself out of His hand; a child can do that, and then the consequences could be severe.)

You don’t want to do that, do you? Respond to His constant gripping of your hand.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 27, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you had been living in the time of Jesus, do you think you would have felt worthy to be called as one of His disciples? The honest truth is that those twelve men were not outstanding personalities, at least most were not. Only three or four give evidence of gifts of leadership. In fact they were not called to be "leaders." They were called to be witnesses. And it doesn't take a great personality to be a witness!

Among the three or four who were leaders is John. When we read his sweet, gentle, gracious three letters written near the end of his life, we can't imagine what he was like at first. A wise writer tells us that at first he was harsh, ambitious, combative, critical, impetuous, outspoken, proud, resentful, revengeful, self-assertive, and violent in spirit. That's the kind of man that John was when the Lord invited him to leave his fishing business and follow Him in that special three-year "university training" course.

Several times in his Gospel, John speaks of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). Sounds strange. Was he boasting, telling everybody that he (John) was sort of "teacher's pet"? If so, how do you think the other disciples felt? Didn't Jesus love them too? (Of course they may all have been dead by the time John wrote his Gospel; but that wouldn't forgive his apparent arrogance.)

Remember that the word John used when he said Jesus loved him was agape; and agape is the kind of love that loves bad people, ugly people, arrogant, harsh, rude, violent people. I think John may be saying, "The agape of Jesus singled me out simply because I was the most violent, harsh, combative, unworthy of the lot! No, he was not being proud when he said, speaking even after the resurrection, that he was the disciple whom Jesus especially loved. He meant that he was the one who needed that love the most! And look what it did to him. Receive that love yourself--that's all you can do and that's all that John did.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 30, 1997.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Paul Means by the Word "Faith"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you sense that your heart is dry as dust, like the valley of dry bones Ezekiel saw, and you want to come alive, the answer is to see what Paul saw in his Letter to the Galatians. He mentions one word almost 20 times--evidently it must be the most important idea he has. You must understand it! That word is "faith."

Now the most astute Bible student in the world is Satan himself; he fears the Bible. If people can learn to understand and love it, Satan knows his hold on them is broken. He does not like this Letter to the Galatians, so he has done his best to confuse the idea of faith. He doesn't mind if Paul talks about it many times here and in Romans, and you read it for 100 years so long as you don't know what Paul means by the word "faith."

The key definition is found in chapter 3, where Paul links the experience of faith with the crucifixion of Christ (vss. 1, 2). He calls it "the hearing of faith," the listening, the experience of understanding, perceiving, appreciating. Paul sees the cross as not only a legalistic maneuver on God's part to satisfy the judicial claims of the broken law (it is that, for the law demands punishment). But Paul sees far more in the crucifixion of Christ than that.

The idea behind all those uses of the word "faith" is a heart-melting, heart-humbling, awe-inspiring appreciation for what led the Son of God to sacrifice Himself for us. There were many Roman crucifixions that went on all the time, but this was different. Paul was awe-struck that the infinite, divine Son of God had been murdered by humanity, and yet it was love for us that led Him to surrender to humanity's bitter hatred like that. Christ was ascending the throne of His people's hearts by the avenue of crucified love.

Life can no longer be the same for Paul. He cries out, "I have been crucified with Christ!" From now on, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (2:20; 6:14). That is what Paul means by his word "faith." Unless your human heart is made of stone, it will be captivated by such love, and such faith will be yours.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 11, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: God Always Has a Message of Hope for You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

This is shocking to many people, but it is true: God never tells anybody Bad News, only Good News, or if He can't tell you Good News, He keeps still. You may object, "Well, didn't He tell King Saul Bad News just before his death?" (1 Samuel 28). No, the one who told Saul the Bad News that discouraged the apostate king and drove him to suicide, was Satan, not God.

"Well, didn't God tell Bad News to the people destroyed in the Flood in the time of Noah? Or to King Pharaoh of Egypt? Or to Achan, who was stoned? Or to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram?" (Genesis 6; Exodus 4-14; Joshua 7; Numbers 16, etc.). I think if you will read the stories carefully you will see that in each instance, God gave those people opportunity to repent; He never wanted to discourage anyone, or drive anyone to suicide. Did Jesus drive Judas Iscariot to suicide? No, not at all; when Judas betrayed Him, He called him "Friend" (Matt. 26:50), but never said another word to him.

When we come to the New Testament, again an angel says to the world, "I bring you good tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10); and Paul says for all the apostles, "We declare to you glad tidings" (Acts 13:32); and the last message God will send to the world will be "the everlasting Good News" (Rev. 14:6-12).

Since sin came into the world, God has been in the business night and day, with never a holiday, of being a Savior. That is His relationship to you, as of this moment, even though you may have sinned grievously. He always has a message of hope for you, and as long as you have ears to hear it, He will declare it to you in some way, even if you are facing execution.

Even if you must die, there is a whisper of Good News as you draw your last breath--please repent, He says: believe My love, appreciate My sacrifice for you, My gift of justification, receive My gift of forgiveness, My eternal life that I share with you. You only "sleep in Jesus" until the "morning" of the resurrection. From where you stand at this moment, there is a path of hope, of Good News, for you. Respond to that Good News, believe it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 16, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does Grace Program You to Do Good Things?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Let's consider these questions: Does grace program you to do good things? Does it control you? Where does free will come into the picture? God is Almighty, but there is something He cannot do: He cannot force us to believe and obey. But He reveals His grace to every human being.

What is grace? It is God treating every human being as though he were righteous when in fact he is not. He has done that since the world began, all because Christ became our second Adam, the new head of the human race, and just as we are all by nature "in Adam," having a common sinful nature. So now, since Christ gave Himself for us, the Father generously, graciously treats us all as His own Son, "in His name," because He adopted us "in Him," as though we had never sinned. This is His grace--totally undeserved, unmerited favor.

But this "amazing grace" does not force us to be good; we are free to reject it. We can choose to despise it as Esau chose "to despise his birthright" (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16, 17). Those who do so will discover in the Judgment Day that they have "trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which [they were] sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29). That "Spirit of grace" was given to every one of them; God is no respecter of persons. They were given, not merely offered, "the birthright." God gave them, not merely offered them, "the Spirit of grace."

That is an important point to grasp: God's grace is given to "every man," it's as real as the atmosphere that encircles the globe that "every man" has breathed. The Lord's Supper teaches that "every man" enjoys physical life because in eating his daily food he is nourished by the body and blood of the Son of God. No lost person will accuse God at the end; "You didn't give me as much as you gave the people who are saved!" Every child of Adam was equally given the "birthright" to eternal life, "in Christ." You cherish it, love it, clasp it to your heart; or you "despise" it, cast it away.

If you cherish and love it, then you "believe." And when you believe, that faith begins to work immediately. But not without your consent. You have something to do--you choose to receive the atonement (Rom. 5:8, 9). "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No!!' to ungodliness and worldly passions [all of Satan's temptations]" (Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version). No, grace does not force or program you; but it teaches you. Make a choice to learn!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 29, 1999-2.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Sanctification Is God's Work

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Anybody who is justified by New Testament faith is automatically in the process of sanctification. He never has to change gears from salvation by faith to salvation by works. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, ... established in the faith" (Col. 2:6, 7). By his expression "the faith" Paul does not mean a creed or a set of doctrines, but the phenomenon of a heart-appreciation of Christ's cross. The method remains the same: by faith.

"Having been justified by faith, ... we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom. 5:1, 2). Or perhaps the same passage can be rendered more clearly, "Now that we have been put right with God through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live" (Good News Bible). In sanctification, it is the Lord who brings us along our way, as He did in justification. Faith keeps on working by love, always in the present tense.

In no way does the Lord leave us to fly on our own, to keep up our speed or crash. Sanctification is never by works; neither is it a mixture of faith and works in the sense of self-motivated efforts to chalk up merit so we can earn a reward. Clearly, Christ told Paul that He was sending him to open people's eyes and "turn them from darkness to light, ... that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:18). We do not read anywhere in the New Testament that it is our job to sanctify ourselves. Instead, we are "sanctified ... by the Spirit of our God" (1 cor. 6:11). Jesus prays the Father to sanctify us (see John 17:17); and Christ also sanctifies and cleanses His church (see Eph. 5:26).

It is all summed up in Paul's comprehensive statement: "May the God of peace Himself, sanctify you completely, ... blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thess. 5:23, 24).

The Lord doesn't give up easily. "He who has begun a good work in you will [carry it on to completion] until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). This work that He does is sanctification.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Gold Tried in the Fire, 1983.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: There Will Always be an England!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We used to hear it said, "There will always be an England!" And we wonder if the "England" to come will be filled with people of other cultures who will transform the grand old buildings and Houses of Parliament.

The prophecy of Daniel 2 describes seven nations that were once the Roman Empire as still in existence when the great Stone strikes the image on its clay-mixed-with-iron feet. There'll be an "England" until the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation meet their end-time fulfillment before the world.

But another serious question: will there always be a "remnant" church of Revelation 12:17 and 14:12 that relates to the true Holy Spirit in this Day of Atonement truth? Could it be that beautiful church buildings will be filled with people who do not believe they are living in the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary; that our reason for being has quietly vanished while we've slept?

The question ceases to be a hypothetical future issue; even now there are sincere people whose hearts are moved by the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, who treasure the unpopular truth of Christ's righteousness, who don't know where to go for fellowship in the Holy Spirit on the Sabbath day.

The true Holy Spirit's first work is always conviction of sin, for example, "you are lukewarm," Rev. 3:16); and there is a counterfeit who ministers corporate and individual self-esteem and worldly self-satisfaction ("I am rich, ... have need of nothing," vs. 17).

The true one ministers self-respect, a heart appreciation for the Price paid by the Son of God who has redeemed and saved you through His cross. Your individual faith in Him ("which works through love [agape]," Gal. 5:6) will sustain you with the bread and water of life, even if the local church is "desolate." But now, don't stay home; you can bring the true Holy Spirit with you when you come to the Bible study and worship services.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 29, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does Your Heart Offer "Thanksgiving"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he cried out, "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!" He was talking about "the exceeding grace of God in you," the believers in Macedonia, and their giving themselves to "the gospel of Christ" (2 Cor. 9:13-15). What was that "unspeakable gift"?

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Not a loan, not an offer in some kind of mutual bargain struck between the two--God and man; nothing in any way temporary, exalting human merit. It was a permanent abandonment of the "high and holy place" Christ held in the vast government of God (cf. Isa. 57:15). He "emptied Himself" is the way Paul describes His condescension (Phil. 2:5-7, New American Standard Version). It was a progressive turning Himself inside out, in seven steps:

First, the giving up of all His heavenly prerogatives (vs. 6). Then, "being found in appearance as a man" (a remarkable description of how He came to realize in His humanity who He was and what He had done with Himself thus far--perhaps at the age of 12?), "He humbled Himself" still further.

When He witnessed His first Passover, the Holy Spirit impressed upon His soul the conviction: He was that real "Lamb of God"! And that Boy of 12 surrendered Himself to be just that, for He told His parents, "I must be about My Father's business" (Luke 2:49). Here was no teenager resisting and fighting duty, but One surrendered to it!

Witnessing the bloodshed of the innocent lamb, He knew what His commitment entailed: from that day the cross was His destiny, freely embraced. He "became obedient" to it. Paul described it as "even the death of the cross," which everybody in that day understood to be the death that involved "the curse" of God (cf. Gal. 3:13; Deut. 21:22, 23). Scripture is clear: His enemies who watched Him die assumed that God had cursed Him and He was lost forever; even He Himself confessed it! (Matt. 27:46).

Does your heart offer "thanksgiving"?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 23, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Most Effective Soul-winning “Body” History Has Ever Seen

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A wise writer has said that God knows every thought, purpose, plan, and motive. "The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity."

So, do the books of heaven record sins that do not in fact exist deep down in our hearts? If so, God is terribly unfair, "imputing" to the world "trespasses" of which they are not guilty, the opposite of what Paul says He does. (2 Corinthians 5:19 states that God does not impute the world's trespasses to them. There is no need for Him to do so; they are already lodged in human hearts.) There is abundant forgiveness and heart-cleansing with Jesus the Savior, but He cannot "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" unless we "confess" it with understanding and repent of it (1 John 1:9).

Those sins "that would have been committed had there been opportunity" represent our unrealized guilt. Other people have committed them, and we have been thankful that we have not been pressured sufficiently by temptation to do them ourselves; but as Luther wisely says, we are all made of the same dough, "alike." It follows that corporate repentance is repenting of such sins that we would have committed had we had the opportunity, that is, been sufficiently tempted.

John Wesley said of a drunk lying in the gutter, "There but for the grace of Christ am I." Suppose we had been born on the "wrong side" of the railroad tracks, had a prostitute for a mother and an alcoholic for a father, and had never been inside a church or heard a sermon; what could we be today? How can we truly help another soul unless we sense this corporate relationship that we sustain with Him?

When the church learns to appreciate what this is, Christ's love will course through its veins and transform it into the most effective soul-winning "body" history has ever seen. This is because such repentance alone can enable one to love his neighbor as himself, not in the sense of excusing or diminishing his sin in that we know we could be as guilty as he, but because such repentance includes an effective cleansing from the defilement of the sin itself.

Such love for one's neighbor goes far beyond a sentimental sympathy; it becomes an effective cooperation with Christ in reaching the heart with redemptive power. The Head at last finds members of the body prepared to be His effective agents.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: A Thought Paper on Corporate Repentance.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Last Lair Where the Dragon of Sin Lurks

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we study about "the origin of sin," we don't find much Good News there; but when we study about the "eradication of sin," there's the Good News. The very first page of the New Testament declares that Jesus came to "save His people from their sins" (not in them; Matt. 1:21).

God cannot eradicate sin from His universe until first He eradicates it from human hearts. That is where sin has taken root; the human heart is the last lair where the dragon of sin lurks. Sin's roots go down to our toes. Can sin be overcome, eradicated? The outcome of the great controversy between Christ and Satan depends on the answer.

Some say that sin itself will never be conquered until Christ comes the second time, zaps His saints and gives them holy flesh, removing temptation from them, the implication being that as long as we have our "sinful flesh," sin will still win out. But the Bible is clear:

Rom. 6:13, 14--Even though we still have sinful flesh or a sinful nature, "sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace."

Rom. 5:20--"Grace abounded much more" than "sin abounded." In other words, the idea is clear: grace is stronger than sin. If that is not true, the great controversy must end in defeat for God.

2 Cor. 5:14, 15--This grace of God operates through the revelation of the love of God (agape). Therefore, "the agape of Christ constrains us ... [henceforth, KJV]" to live not for self, but "for Him who died for [us] and rose again." The love of self is the very essence of sin, its quintessential element that filled Lucifer's heart in the beginning and which here at the very end of time forces the "church of the Laodiceans" to be lukewarm in heart.

John 12:31-33--Christ did not only conquer the problem of sin by His sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross. In order for the great controversy to come to an end, He must have a people whose faith demonstrates that such agape will "constrain" them also to overcome "as [He] also overcame" (Rev. 3:21).

Rev. 15:2--The bright picture at the end of the Bible is Heaven's spotlight on a group who stand on "a sea of glass mingled with fire" who have "the victory" over sin, "having harps of God." That wasn't accomplished by zapping them with sinless flesh, but by giving them grace to "overcome" in sinful flesh.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 29, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does God Long for a "Sabbath" of Rest for His Soul?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does God ever become tired? Weary? You may say No, because Isaiah 40:28 says He "neither faints nor is weary." But look again: that is speaking of His holding up the worlds, suns, galaxies, and of His comforting and strengthening us who "have no might" (vs. 29). Directly in context, the Lord says, "You have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities" (43:24). And Malachi agrees: "You have wearied the Lord with your words" (2:17).

Do you suppose He is "weary" of human beings re-crucifying Christ century after century, millennium after millennium? Could He be tired of having to endure all the suffering of innocent people down through the ages? He says: "In all their affliction He was afflicted" (Isa. 63:9). We can turn off the TV news and the horrendous pictures, and go to sleep; but God can't go to sleep. He "will not slumber" (Psalm 121:3). He has to stay awake all night and share the sufferings of people whom He has created and redeemed.

The dear Lord gave us His seventh-day Sabbath so we can "rest," and it's a precious joy for us to turn off the TV when the Sabbath comes in at sunset Friday, and spend a quiet day of heaven on earth, "a day of rest and gladness." But the world doesn't keep the Sabbath; the suffering goes on. Can God keep the Sabbath with us? Hardly. Think of how He had to endure those 1260 years of persecution of His people (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:6, 14), and the almost incredible suffering of millions during the 20th century of "marvelous human progress"! Does God long for a "Sabbath" of rest for His soul?

The Bible says that such a "Sabbath" is to come for Him: the millennium of Revelation 20. In the meantime, it gives us pause to consider that the Lord may be weary with our continued spiritual infidelity, our worldliness while we profess to worship Him, like a wife who "treacherously departs from her husband" (Jer. 3:20). In Jeremiah's day the Lord's patience gave out, and He had to abandon His people to the mercies of Babylon because "there was no remedy" (2 Chron. 36:16). Yes, God is infinite; but His patience is not! As individuals we need to remember that, and also as a corporate "body," His church.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 23, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Gift From God That Has Become an Alienation From Him

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why is it that when we pray and pray we find that sin still lingers in us? In fact, when we become aware of the great controversy raging between Christ and Satan, we see how its roots are entwined in every cell of our being, as the prophet says: "From head to foot there is not a healthy spot on your body. You are covered with bruises and sores and open wounds. ... No medicine has been put on them" (Isa. 1:6, Good News Bible). Paul cries out, "O wretched man that I am!" "Evil is present in me, the one who wills to do good (Rom. 7:24, 21). Each of us is a microcosm of that "controversy."

Human beings are universally caught in a maelstrom of irresistible seduction that began as "war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7). A third of the angels joined Lucifer in rebellion, and now he claims that it's impossible for humans to break free from the steel tether of his master-diabolical invention--sexual sin. Even a U. S. president was brought to the brink of ruin by it.

What has made the human race Lucifer's prime exhibit to justify his invention of sin is the God-given capacity for procreation that He has entrusted to us. Sin has turned it into a monster of ruin: infidelity, divorce, broken homes, adultery. The lure seems irresistible. The gift of procreation that was intended for us to share the joy of our Lord has become an alienation from Him.

Is there "medicine" for us? asks Isaiah. Yes: love. But it's not the self-centered counterfeit--it's agape, what John says God is (1 John 4:8). No one is born with it--it must be imported and installed in the heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It's the most glorious truth of divine revelation. And "Babylon" doesn't know it, for she is "fallen," seduced by the counterfeit.

Are you "hungry" for the genuine agape? If so, Jesus says you are "blessed" (Matt. 5:6). And that's Good News to start making you truly happy.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 14, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Massive Case of Mistaken Identity

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When God's long-promised "Elijah" comes, just before Christ's second coming, his first task in "turning hearts" will be reconciling those that are alienated from God. The means that "Elijah" will use will be the full revelation of "Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2): (a) the Son of God "made Himself of no reputation" ["emptied Himself"] in giving Himself for the world (Phil. 2:5-7); (b) He died the world's second death (Heb. 2:9)--"what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:18, 19). The world will take a fresh look.

The lesson that Job learned will be the lesson God's people worldwide learn, at last. Job thought that the abuse that Satan was pouring on him was coming from God. He didn't know the behind-the-scenes disclosure of chapter 1. "The great controversy between Christ and Satan" was being worked out in Job himself. Thus the afflicted man poured out his truly righteous indignation against God for His perceived or apparent injustice. Job didn't take Satan's cruelty lying down; he eloquently screamed his protest in God's ears. It was a massive case of mistaken identity. And God honored him for speaking up (42:8).

In spite of all the apparent evidence of "God's" cruelty, with no revelation in a Bible to guide him (he had none!), Job reasoned himself into what the Bible calls "the atonement": "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (13:15).

In "turning hearts," "Elijah" will accomplish for the honest-hearted people in the world, as a corporate "body," a resolvement of all the mistaken identity in mankind's view of God. In the truest sense, we are living in the antitypical "Day of Atonement," the day of at-oneness with God. The history of the world will at last be seen in the light of Christ's sacrifice, and people will understand.

We have always thought all this will have to await the future life, but the "at-one-ment" must take place before Christ can come! Otherwise no one could face Christ personally, in His glory. Only "the pure in heart [can] see God" (Matt. 5:8). Father, please send "Elijah" soon!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 20, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Keep Close to Jesus in His Closing Hours

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible tells us over and over to "fear not" as we get closer to the final events of time. "I will fear no evil," says the person who believes that the "the Lord is [his] Shepherd" (Psalm 23). "Do not fear, little flock," says Jesus, "for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). In common language it means the Father enjoys giving you the inheritance of His kingdom while the world has despised you.

All who believe the Good News of the gospel of Jesus will be tested as Daniel and his faithful friends were tested by the fiery furnace, the challenge of Belshazzar, and the lions' den (chapters 3, 5, 6). There will be those who believe the 23rd Psalm, and there will be those who don't. "All who dwell on the earth will worship [the beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). But the Lord Jesus will have a people true to Him!

For such faith in "the Lamb of God" to be established in us will mean an appreciation of what it cost Him to save us by His death on His cross. Those "who follow [Him] wherever He goes" (14:4) will indeed be a "little flock" compared to the majority; Jesus is jealous for His honor. He says, "Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. ... He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt. 10:32-34, 38, 39).

Does it make you tremble? Don't fear! Keep close to Jesus in His closing hours; let self be "crucified with Him" and then "perfect love [agape] will cast out [your] fear" (1 John 4:18).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 1, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."