Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Looking for the New Jerusalem

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Our "father" Abraham was an unusual person. His neighbors and relatives and friends were mystified by him. They all knew that he was immensely wealthy, that he could well afford to build himself a magnificent palace to live in; but instead, he chose to spend the rest of his life living in a tent!

The Bible story is this: "By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise" (Heb. 11:9). That's a surprising thing for any fabulously wealthy man to do--choose to live in a tent all his life!

What was the "promise"?" "He waited for the City which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (vs. 10). Abraham wanted to bear witness to the world of his day, and yes to the world of all ages since, of two truths:

(1) There is not a city in the world today that has "foundations" like the New Jerusalem. No city but that one will be left standing after the seven last plagues.

(2) Abraham anticipated what the Lord Jesus later said, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life" (John 6:27).

So, why waste your life energies investing in what at the last will prove to be worthless? Does this mean that the Lord wants all of us to live in tents today, because our "father Abraham" chose to live that way?

No, for Abraham's choice was symbolic; he was "the father of the faithful." But the dear Lord wants us to use sanctified common sense: knowing that we are living in the last days of Christ's ministry in the Most Holy, it's good common sense that we live simply and economically. Jesus loves the wealthy believers, but He also dwells in the modest, humble home where His name is revered.

We want Him to feel at home as a Guest of honor in our homes today. "Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:8).

Let's keep our eyes open, looking for the New Jerusalem "which has foundations."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 23, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Judgment Day

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many people have the idea that God is a vengeful Deity just waiting for a chance to strike them with His lightning bolts of retribution for their sins. And if God is indeed like this, a judgment with Him on the bench would certainly be a fearful prospect. The Bible, however, describes a God and a judgment that differs startling from this common misconception.

God is not looking for an excuse to punish us. We sometimes picture a loving Jesus who stands between us and a harsh Father. But according to the Bible, the Father loves us and is just as anxious for our eternal salvation as is the Son: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16); "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not [counting] their trespasses [against] them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

Jesus declared that the condemnation of the judgment--"eternal fire"--was specifically "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). If any human being finds himself sharing Satan's fate, it will not be because God has willed it. Those who are destroyed along with the devil and his angels will have spurned and beaten back repeated efforts by God to save them.

The Father has turned over to Christ the task of judging men: "The Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son," "and has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:22, 27). Our judge, then, is Jesus Himself. No one more friendly to us could be found! The Son of Man will do for us what no earthly friend can do when we are in trouble. John says, "I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He Himself is the [atoning sacrifice] for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world!" (1 John 2:1, 2).

How can Jesus be our Advocate in a law case if He is also our Judge? God puts all the odds in our favor. Jesus is both Judge and Defense Attorney. He can defend us because He has already suffered the condemnation we deserve in the judgment. The death that Jesus died on the cross was the condemnation sin requires carried to its ultimate degree. "[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus died as the eternally lost sinner will die--"forsaken" by His Father--because He "Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed" (1 Peter 2:24). Since He is the second Adam, we are "in Him" corporately if we choose to believe it. The idea is that when Jesus died, we also died. "I have been crucified with Christ," said Paul (Gal. 2:20). Any lightning bolts of hot wrath that should fall on sinners already fell on Christ at the cross.

By accepting Jesus as our Savior by faith, we are identified with Him. There is not the slightest reason why anyone should have to duplicate Jesus' experience of dying for sin unless that person rejects his identity with Christ. What Jesus did on the cross is far more than a legal maneuver to satisfy the statutory claims of the broken law. It does that, of course, but it involves more--our personal identification with Him and His death. By faith the believing sinner accepts that he is "in Christ," accepts the divine judgment on his sins, but actually suffers it "in Christ." Justice makes no further claims against him. This is why he "does not come up for judgment." And everyone can have this advantage if they will accept it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Signs of the Times, March 1985.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: "ALL Have Sinned"--One Grand Exception!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In the centuries since the apostles, there has been a constant underground tendency among professed Christians to doubt or to underplay the reality of Christ's full humanity. This has been justified on the assumption that if we believe that Jesus took our full humanity as it is, then we must believe that He was a sinner (which is blasphemy), for Paul says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

But that "all" has the One grand exception: Jesus Christ, who "condemned sin in the flesh"; the common flesh that all humans have inherited from the fallen Adam (Rom. 8:3).

Paul's next verse says that He did this so "that the righteousness of the law [dikaioma] might be fulfilled in us." That is a rare word; it appears again in Rev. 19:8 where the we read that the bride-to-be of the Lamb will be "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, ... the dikaioma of saints."

The reason for the denials of the full humanity of the Savior is the shying away from the reality of our overcoming completely. Biblical "perfection" has often been misunderstood, it being assumed that it means physical perfection, but that is not biblical perfection; it's character perfection--and that is never to be a matter of "works" but only of faith.

The Enemy in the "great controversy between Christ and Satan" has his most violent hatred bottled up in this idea of human beings overcoming sin through the faith "of Jesus," because this Reality of the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16) will constitute his final defeat and eternal condemnation.

If a corporate body of believers in Christ so "overcome," they will "judge" all humankind for the 6000 years (plus) of life on earth; and Christ will stand vindicated for all eternity. It will be seen by the universe that Christ has defeated Satan in his last lair where he has holed up for his last great conflict--the fallen, sinful flesh of humanity. People living in the same sinful flesh that Adam has passed on to us all, will themselves trample Satan underfoot in their overcoming, "even as [Christ] overcame" (cf. Rev. 3:20).

Oh the joy of victory over Satan! Not through self-righteousness (not a whiff of it!); but "in Christ." The stories and the news will be flashed over the universe; at last the wound of sin will have been healed, and the Lord's prayer will be answered, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 10, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Job and the 144,000

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

This week, millions of Christians will begin studying the story of Mr. and Mrs. Job--probably the oldest book in the world, written by Moses when he was exiled in Midian for 40 years. There is similarity between this story and the last book of the Bible, the Revelation.

The story of Job tells of a man who was "blameless," a man whom God declared several times as "upright," who refused evil. Revelation climaxes with the story of a corporate group of people who are likewise described as "without fault before the throne of God" who "follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ] wherever He goes" (14:5, 4).

This idea of perfection of character is intriguing; the entire human race as the descendants of the fallen Adam are repeatedly described as by-nature sinners ("all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Rom. 3:23; "there is none righteous, no, not one," vs. 10, KJV).

The idea is not that Job was immaculately sinless, sinless in nature; the idea is that God accepted him as blameless in character. Likewise, the Bible idea is not that the "144,000" are sinless in nature or immaculately, physically perfect (for example, who claims that Jesus Christ when He was a carpenter never bent a nail?). But they are "upright," they still have a sinful nature but they have "overcome even as [Christ] overcame" while burdened with a sinful nature inherited from Adam.

In other words, Job and the 144,000 share the joy of learning to surrender self to be "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). As such, they are privileged to honor God in a cosmic crisis when He is on trial in the most severe litigation imaginable in the universe: the issue is whether He, the Lord, is worthy to continue as the sovereign Ruler of the universe.

We have long understood "the hour of [God's] judgment" in Revelation 14:6, 7 as the hour when He judges you and me; now enters the book of Job with the idea that it is God Himself who is on trial before the universe. And poor humble Job ends up with the task of defending Him in court.

He succeeds; he defends the Lord of glory. But now in the end of time, the great controversy between Christ and Satan can not be successfully concluded until this corporate body of people from the last weak end of the human race, after 6000 years of desperate sin and moral failure, again defend Him on the witness stand by demonstrating the same "blamelessness" that Job demonstrated. Again they prove Satan wrong! Come, join them in court.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 30, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."



This week many of you are beginning to study the new Sabbath School quarterly on "The book of Job." 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 the essays are prepared from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, author of "Dial Daily Bread."

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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus, "The Friend of Sinners"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus Christ said that God is His Father; that's easy for us to believe. But He also said that God is our Father, too; and that's our problem to believe. Can everybody in the world, the bad as well as the good, call God their Father? Or does He bear that relationship only to the righteous?

When you think you've been very good it's easy to pray the Lord's prayer which begins, "Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name ..." and you go on through it, "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us ... , ... and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one ..." (Matt. 6:6ff.).

But when you have made a mess of your life, done wrong, and you know you are condemned as a selfish sinner, and as an "unprofitable servant," and you deserve to be "cast ... into the outer darkness" (25:30), can you pray the Lord's prayer? Can you say "My Father who is in heaven ..."?

That is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from heaven to teach us to say: He came as the "friend of ... sinners" (11:19), and He invites "all" of us to "come to [Him]" and find the relief which is salvation from ourselves (11:28-30).

There is a cosmic Enemy who would deter us from coming and from praying the Lord's prayer. Perhaps you are sitting somewhere in prison, you know why; you even sense the condemnation of all humanity. You know "they" would "cast [you] into the outer darkness" and hope you stay there forever. Now you face the greatest battle of your life, your battle of eternity. Will you believe that the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is your Father, that "out of the depths [you] have cried to [Him], O Lord. ... If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You" (Psalm 130:1-4). Yes; and it's your job (and our job) to believe it!

Pray the Lord's prayer from your heart, and that will prove that you have been adopted as a child of God. Read Rom. 8:15!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 12, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: If It's the Word of God, Stand!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Jews of old waited long for their Messiah to come, and many said, "The days are prolonged, and every vision fails" (Ezek. 12:22).

But their Messiah came, precisely on time according to the prophecy of Daniel (9:24-26). Furthermore, Daniel had foretold His rejection and crucifixion (vs. 26). Some precious few in Jerusalem were "awake" and ready to welcome Him (Simeon, Anna; Luke 2:25-36). All might have been!

Now we have again come to a time when many say, "Every vision fails"! Ezekiel describes our time: "Son of man, look, the house of Israel is saying, 'The vision that he sees is for many days from now, and he prophesies of times far off'" (12:27). What is "the house of Israel"? The "angel of the church of the Laodiceans" (Rev. 3:14-21). The "times afar off?" The coming of the Lord Jesus the second time.

It used to be that those who reverence the books of Daniel and Revelation expected that the "this generation [that] will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled" was the generation that recognized the "signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars" (Matt. 24:34; Luke 21:25); they followed the chronology of Archbishop Usher who worked out the "time" of world existence to be some "6000 years." But, confused and perplexed because it seems that "every vision fails," many are trying to work out some kind of synthesis between the "short chronology" of the earth and the indefinite time periods apparently dictated by "science." Result: faith in the nearness of the Lord's return wanes.

To abandon that faith is like jumping off a precipice into a fearful black hole of despair. Let's let Ezekiel finish his paragraph: "Thus says the Lord God: '... in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it, ... the word which I speak will be done'" (12:23-28). It may be lonely standing atop a precipice; but if it's the word of God, stand!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 20, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Waiting for the Second Coming of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most popular beliefs that many people have on their lips, even the most righteous who say they wait for the second coming of Christ, is this: "Death awaits all of us, everybody has to die." You see the statement over and over in church publications. It's taken for granted everywhere.

But the Bible squarely and directly contradicts it. "We shall not all sleep [die]," says the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Then he explains more minutely what will happen, in 1 Thessalonians 4: "We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (vss. 15-17).

Yes, there will be some people who will be "alive and remain" at the coming of Christ, who will be ready to meet Him, and who will be translated. They will have overcome, "as I [Christ] also overcame" (Rev. 3:21). Although they are living in the same "flesh" and "nature" all of Adam's descendants have always lived in, they will have "condemned sin in the flesh," even as Christ did (cf. Rom. 8:3).

If everybody has to die on and on, century after century, and millennium after millennium, how could Christ win the "great controversy" with Satan? We must never abandon the fundamental gospel (Good News) truth that "we shall not all die"!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 30, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Hero of the Book of Revelation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The grand Hero of the Book of Revelation is not the beast, or the dragon, or the serpent, although all three figure prominently. No, its real Hero is "the Lamb" mentioned more than twenty-five times. He is described in "the law of first mention" as "a Lamb as though it had been slain," to whom at last "every creature ... in heaven and on the earth" will sing, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain ..." (5:6, 13, 12).

With dramatic skill John identifies "the Lamb" only as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" (vs. 5). Not until chapter 11 does the author let an identification slip through--He is "our Lord [who] was crucified" (vs. 8). And not until verse 15 (midpoint in the Book of Revelation) does John relax the intensity of his drama and permit "the seventh angel" finally to disclose whom the "Lamb" is--"Christ." No playwright has ever captured dramatic intensity as John has.

The reader glimpses heaven and earth all breathless in anxiety as "no one in heaven, or on the earth ... was able to open the scroll" containing the destiny of the universe. John himself "wept much," crying uncontrollably (have you, ever? 5:1-5). Finally a voice says, don't cry; we've found someone who can "open ... the scroll," "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." John strains his eyes to see this magnificent King walk on stage, and then, lo, he sees only a bloody, mangled "Lamb."

Thus in Revelation the Holy Spirit calls the attention of Christ's world church to the Savior's sacrifice on His cross. It's time to wake up and look. The light that will eventually "lighten the earth with glory" will be a revelation of the "width and length and depth and height" of the agape-love displayed by the Lamb at His cross, motivating every honest heart to total gratitude and dedication to Him, forever annihilating lukewarmness.

We can be sure of one thing: at this time "the serpent [will] spew water out of his mouth ... a flood" of falsehood intended to disparage what the Lamb accomplished by His sacrifice, so the enemy can lock in forever our half-hearted lukewarmness (cf. 12:15). Behind the scenes, here is "the great controversy between Christ and Satan."

Can lukewarmness ever be healed? Satan says, No. What do you say?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 3, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The NEWS Behind the News

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What is the top news story for today? Every morning you can get a glimpse of what your Internet browser considers the most important or most spectacular news item of the day (or it's the biggest headline in your morning paper). But back of it all, what does that heavenly Father of us all, the God who says He is "love" (agape), tell us is the great News behind the news? It's the central message of the Book of Revelation, "the everlasting gospel" being proclaimed to every "nation, tribe, tongue, and people" (14:6, 7). And what is the purpose of this most highly acclaimed activity? To prepare people for the most climactic event of all history--the second coming of Jesus (vss. 15, 16).

Is this message getting through to the people of the world, or is it being buried under an overwhelming mass of confusion published by the media, or even by a similar mass of confusion known as "organized religion"?

The answer does not depend on mere human observation, for Jesus said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation" (Luke 17:20). In His day, what served as "the media" tried to ignore the greatest News of all time, but the Holy Spirit was working quietly, surely, in what Jesus was doing. So today, the "everlasting gospel" proclaimed by those three angels of Revelation 14 is getting through in different ways.

The best way to know for sure is to consider the character of God Himself--He is "love" (agape); that is, He will not permit the final, cataclysmic events of earth's history ("the seven last plagues" of Revelation 16) to come, until people have had a reasonable chance to prepare. And that means, they must hear the message of Good News, of His "much more abounding grace." You can't believe that "God is love" (agape) if you think He has gone to sleep. You must recognize that every angel in heaven is intensely active, moving upon the hearts of human beings everywhere.

God's "office" in heaven is the central command post of the vast worldwide war between Christ and Satan, as real as the war between them when Jesus was here on earth 2000 years ago. It will not be recognized "by observation," but it's the most real newsworthy story happening today. Read about it in Revelation 14-19; let the same Holy Spirit that inspired the Book speak to your heart in its pages.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 25, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What the Holy Spirit Did at Pentecost

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How the Holy Spirit works can best be seen at Pentecost. If Jesus' story had ended at Calvary, His life would have seemed a virtual failure. All His miracles and teachings would merely offer us an impossible ideal. Even on that last night of His life, His disciples were still arguing among themselves as to "which of them should be considered the greatest" (Luke 22:24).

And even after the Lord's Supper and the remarkable display of the Savior's love in washing their feet and serving them, the disciples were such cowards that at Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion, "all the disciples forsook Him and fled" (Matt. 26:56). After the cross, these "brave" men holed up in an upper room with the door tightly bolted "for fear of the Jews" (John 20:19). If the story had ended there, where would Christianity be today?

Even the disciples, who witnessed the crucifixion, didn't understand until the resurrection. Then everything came into focus. Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). The most amazing reality of time and eternity had transpired before their eyes, and from then on they were constrained to tell what they had seen and heard with their own eyes and ears of the Word of life (see 1 John 1:1). Their pride, ambition, strife for supremacy, love of the world--all were crucified now with Christ.

This mysterious melting of soul was what the Holy Spirit did, setting the apostles free to cooperate with God. Always, when human souls are feed from the tyranny of self, it is as much a miracle as was Pentecost. Hammers and dynamite may blast rocks into slivers, but you can't grow a garden in gravel chips. Something must melt rock into fertile soil. The Cross, validated by the resurrection, alone can do it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Signs of the Times, November 1989.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Mysterious Miracle in the Seed

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

God must have a terrific sense of humor. All the while that people created in His image arrogantly deny His existence and the record of His Creation, they are eating bread that constantly proclaims anew the miracle of creation. Each tiny seed with its embryo and endosperm sustains the very life of God's enemies.

Try to imagine yourself a single seed cast into the darkness of the earth. The soil around you is dry and powdery so that your bed becomes your tomb unless some precious rain from heaven falls. Only then can you awaken to fruit-bearing life.

In pre-scientific ages, people marveled at the mysterious miracle in the seed. The Creation story in Genesis tells four times of the divine miracle in every seed, renewed and extended in uncounted trillions of germinations since day three of Creation. Even today, the totality of scientific knowledge is powerless to invent one such life-giving seed.

A favorite theme of Scripture compares seeds to the spoken words of God: "As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and ... waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give ... bread to the eater; so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth" (Isa. 55:10, 11). Jesus built on this concept in His parable of the sower: "The seed is the word of God," He said (Luke 8:11).

Without moisture in the soil, changes in the permeability of the seed coat and inner layers cannot take place. And when the embryo germinates, the little plant must have rain if its searching roots are to absorb nutrients for growth. The Bible compares the Holy Spirit's action in the Christian life to showers of rain falling on thirsty plants. In other words, even Jesus' brilliant sermons cannot germinate into new life in human hearts without the gift of the Holy Spirit. Mountains of seed sown in a dust bowl would be wasted.

What can really change the hard hearts of men, women, and young people? Only that gift which is just as miraculous as the life imprisoned inside the seed--heaven's Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit, all the preaching in the world is like sowing seeds on a parking lot.

God wants to pour out His Spirit here at the end of the world as He did at Pentecost when the gospel began to be preached. Why can't it happen now?

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Signs of the Times, November 1989.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Learning to Believe--Years of Listening!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you ask the Lord to give you some "bread," can you believe that He will? Or will He deceive you and give you a serpent or a stone? You say "that's an easy answer," but for some it may be a difficult leap of faith to believe the Lord actually loves them that much. Jesus says His yoke is "easy" but it may not always be easy to learn to believe! It may take years of listening.

If you know your pantry is empty and you ask Him to give you bread for your starving guest, will He bother even at an uncomfortable hour to get up and give you what you ask for? Well, you know the answer: you can't be a Christian unless you believe that He is kind, merciful, and loves you too much to disappoint you, even at "midnight." You must believe that He keeps His promises.

That parable in Luke 11 does not say that He will give you enough bread to stock your pantry for years to come, or enough to feed "five thousand" as Jesus fed them in His day; it says specifically, "He will rise and give [you] as many as [you] need" (vss. 5-8). He answers your prayer for understanding of Bible truth, but it will not make you suddenly omniscient, nor wise enough to hold thousands spellbound with your wisdom. But He will give you all the "bread" you need. So be humble; you will need more understanding tomorrow. Don't be proud of the little He graciously gives you today. That is precious enough but not good enough.

And He has promised that you will never lose the Bible study you do today, even if you may be tempted to think it has been boring. "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). Many testify that truths they thought they have forgotten pop up even years later. So your continual "hunger and thirst for righteousness" that drives you again and again to the Word keeps that precious memory alive.

Many can give their testimony that when they have asked the Lord to teach them truth, the answer came when they least expected it--a sudden flash of understanding when they needed it the most. His promise is in Matthew 10:19: "It will be given to you in that hour what you should speak."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 3, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Why of Apostolic Success

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The secret of the early church’s success was an understanding that “ye crucified Christ,” and then true repentance followed. Christ crucified became the central appeal of all the apostles’ ministry. The Book of Acts would never have been written unless the members of the early church realized their share of the guilt of the murder of the Son of God, and likewise shared in the joyful experience of appropriate repentance.

From Acts 10 onward we read of how others besides Jews partook of the same experience. The apostles marveled that the Gentiles should experience the same phenomenal response to the cross that the believing Jews did, and thus receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44-47).

The Holy Spirit sent their words closer home than they expected. Their contrite hearers identified themselves with the Jews and recognized their share of the guilt. In other words, the Gentiles experienced a corporate repentance. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the full reception of the Holy Spirit in the last days will be any different.

Would we have done better? Let us picture ourselves in the crowd that gathered before Pilate that Friday morning. The strange Prisoner stands bound. It is popular to join in condemning Him. Not a voice is raised in His defense.

Suppose you are connected with Pilate’s government, or are in the employ of Caiaphas, the High Priest. You support your family with your wages. Would you have the courage to stand up alone and say, “We are making a terrible mistake here! This man is not guilty of these charges. He is what He claims--He is the divine Son of God! I appeal to you, Pilate and Caiaphas, accept this Man as the Messiah!”

Suppose your own close circle of friends have already joined the mockery and abuse of Jesus; would any of us have the nerve to face them alone and rebuke them for what they were doing? Realizing how easily a defense of Jesus might put us on the cross too, would we dare speak out? The answer is obvious.

We dare not say that the church as a world body cannot know this repentance, lest when we survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, we pour contempt on His loving sacrifice by implying that it was in vain.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love": Christ's Call to Laodicea, 1986.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Beautiful Lesson in the Story of Cain

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most beautiful lessons to tell us how kind God is can be found in the story of the world's first murderer--Cain (it's in Genesis 4). He was the oldest of two brothers with different ideas about God. Abel believed that God so loves us that He gave His only Son to become one of us to pay "the wages of sin" in Himself, which is death. In other words, Abel understood the sacrifice of Christ, who was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).

Cain was the world's first pagan. His idea of God was different. He believed that God is angry with us and needs to be appeased or propitiated with some gift. So he brought to the altar a bouquet of beautiful flowers, and fruits and vegetables, he had grown in his garden. Surely, he thought, God will say, "Thank you, Cain, for your gift!" and accept it.

Abel brought a lamb that he sacrificed--a confession of his faith that no "gift" can enrich God, but Abel's offering said that in his heart he appreciated the Unspeakable Gift God was giving for our salvation. Genesis 4:4 says that God "respected Abel and his offering." God was happy for evidence that Abel was someone with a melted heart, someone who said, "Thank You, God!" for the cross of Christ.

When Cain saw that his splendid bouquet, and fruits and vegetables, were wilting on the altar unaccepted, he got into the world's first rage and murdered his brother. (If he could have gotten his hands on God, he would have murdered Him too--thus he was the world's first crucifier of Christ.)

But here's the beautiful lesson. Verses 6-12 tell how, although the Lord could not accept his offering, He reasoned with Cain, talked with him, told him what was wrong, did all He could to help Cain understand. And this was a cold-blooded murderer the Lord talked with!

No matter how much you have sinned, and your prayers have not been answered, the dear Lord is ready to talk with you, to convict you of your sin, to reason with you, and to teach you. Meet with Him on your knees.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 25, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Is God Content for All This Human Suffering to Continue?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Has God made the world in such a way that evil has to flourish in it? Many Christian people have all but resigned themselves to believe that the devil just has to have his way in this sinful earth. Wars have to come, and all we can do is pick up the pieces by massive humanitarian relief efforts.

But maybe this fatalistic idea is not biblical. In Genesis 12, 13, and 15, God made promises to Abraham that in his descendants, that is, in Israel, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). And the New Testament makes clear that Abraham's true descendants are those who believe in the Messiah, in Christ, the church (Gal. 3:29). And in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses makes equally clear that God's plan for Israel was that they be the greatest nation on earth, "the head and not the tail" (Deut. 28:13).

There was to be no need in God's plan for the rise of such cruel world empires as Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome, no need for World Wars. The influence emanating from God's people through the Holy Spirit would restrain the evil that is in the world. "The remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, in the midst of many peoples, ... like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass," Micah said, and even Israel would be a disciplinary force among the nations--not because of political or military superiority but because of a genuine, highly respected moral authority (see Micah 5:7-9). To some extent this vision was realized in the time of Kings David and Solomon, and even afterward occasionally in the reign of Hezekiah or Josiah.

Let's not give in to the terrible conclusion that Heaven is content for all this massive human suffering to continue! Revelation 7:1-4 indicates that if God's people were to awaken and humble their hearts and proclaim the sealing message, "four angels" could restrain these evil passions let loose in the "four winds."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 1, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Remembering 9/11

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that terrible disasters can turn the heart of a nation to God? After 9/11, for a few weeks, people in America were solemn. Even Disneyland closed briefly. Like ancient King Ahab who "walked softly" after Elijah's stern rebuke, the nation seemed to walk softly for a time. Talk shows became a bit subdued in tone; comedians were more serious for a time; and sales of luxury items slacked off.

The media reported a year later that New Yorkers were still in a state of "humility." The horror was unspeakable. Thoughtful people everywhere couldn't help but think of Revelation's description of the final fall of modern "Babylon": "'Alas, alas that great city ... for in one hour such great riches came to nothing.' ... 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'" (18:16-21).

"God bless America!" we sing. "Stand beside her, and guide her." And all this time since 1776, God has done so (except for a skirmish in 1812 when the British burned the White House). God has "stood beside" us and saved us from invasion within our own shores. He has responded to our National Hymn, "Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King!" Now we still wonder why He "stood back" and permitted (for the first time!) that horrendous incursion of 9/11. Will Heaven ever be forced to judge, "There's nothing of moral rectitude left in this nation worth divinely protecting"?

No, disasters are not God's method of turning a nation's heart to Him. Ahab's "repentance" lasted only a short time, as do all repentances induced by fear. Only the "Elijah" message of "turning hearts," of much more abounding grace, can effect a permanent conversion. It's time for it, on this great cosmic Day of Atonement!

Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 10, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Following Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why is that when you decide to follow Christ, it seems you have so many heartaches and disappointments? Often everything goes wrong. If God is with you, why all this?

Job wondered that also. He did what was right, but suffered terribly. He was also "disfellowshipped" by his "church" of his day--his three "wise" friends who made his pain worse. He was sorely tempted to give up as his wife urged him to do, to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). But someday you will thank Job for writing his book--it's a blessing to us all.

David believed that "the Lord is my Shepherd," yet look at the sufferings he had to endure. His "church" also virtually disfellowshipped him--"the anointed of the Lord," Saul, tried to kill him. Again, David wrote psalms that have been a blessing to us all. Thank you, David!

The Lord called Jeremiah to be His special messenger even before he was born (Jer. 1:5). Endless pain and sorrow were his lot, it seems right to the day of his death. But again, thank you, Jeremiah, for that book you wrote.

And so it has been all through history, right down to our time.

Meanwhile, God is in His heaven, omnipotent, infinitely wealthy. In Isaiah 66 He tells us that the wide universe is His "house." We can't add a feather's weight to His wealth. But--He doesn't have all He wants. He is looking for something special to satisfy His heart-yearning: a man or woman "who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles [thrills] at My word" (vss. 1, 2).

What's behind the scenes is this great cosmic controversy between Christ and Satan. It's a grueling struggle; and unless God can "find" that man or woman, He could lose the contest. We are the gladiators down in the arena fighting for His victory. "Fight the good fight [not of works! but] of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). Hang on to faith--that is, believing that He is holding on to your hand (Isa. 41:13; vice versa doesn't work!).

"Believe also in Me," says Jesus (John 14:1-3). He loves you, but not like you love your dog and pity it; the Father honors you, respects you, and yes, He is proud of you as you hang on to your faith like Job, David, Jeremiah, and countless others have done. You honor and glorify Him! (Rev. 14:6, 7).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 13, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: The World Has to Decide--Who Is the True Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Christianity is competing with the great non-Christian religions of humanity--Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, paganism. Which system of belief can capture the good will and devotion of the human race?

Christianity has the disadvantage of a serious scandal: it is fractured into innumerable sects, philosophies, and denominations. Hence the constant effort to reunite them all into "one church." The Roman Church professes to be the best equipped to accomplish this objective; during the Middle Ages it "was given" the supreme power of the state to enforce conformity to its version of "one body, … one faith, one baptism" (see Eph. 4:4, 5), even to the point of imprisonment and sentence to martyred death of those who conscientiously dissented.

There are basically two versions of Christianity that center in two views of Christ, the Founder of Christianity. The two contrasting views clash as far back as the time of ancient Iraq's Babylon. There was the then-popular idea of divinity "whose dwelling is not with flesh" (Dan. 2:11). This concept of "God" was confronted with the opposing view supported in principle by the prophet Daniel that "the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them" (see Rev. 21:3). Daniel believed the biblical concept of divinity, who enters the stream of humanity in the form of an incarnated Savior whose "name [is] Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us'" (Matt. 1:23).

So the world has to decide: who is the true Christ? The One who has taken upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, who became truly human, one with us, "in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15), living a righteous life in sinful flesh, saving humanity from sin instead of in it, condemning sin in our sinful flesh (see Rom. 8:3, 4), dying humanity's "second death" and justifying the fallen human race in Himself?

Or is the true christ "the christ" of the great Immaculate Conception dogma that cancels his descent from the fallen Adam, that provides him an "exemption" from the DNA inheritance of "all men," that excuses him from our temptations in the flesh, that separates him from us?

On this clear-cut distinction hinges the great final issue that will confront humanity.

Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 22, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Never Think That You Are Alone

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it ever possible to follow Jesus Christ faithfully and not meet with opposition and even persecution? The Wise Man said that "when a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Prov. 16:7); that sounds like if you suffer opposition and persecution your ways don't "please the Lord." But Paul said that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Tim. 3:12). And Jesus said that He sends us all out as "sheep in the midst of wolves, ... and you will be hated by all for My name's sake" (Matt. 10:16, 22).

That can be a lonesome life, especially if you are enduring by yourself. Therefore Jesus hastens to assure you that in your lonely pain you have His companionship: "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. ... Not one [sparrow] falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. ... He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me" (Matt. 10:24-40).

As you kneel in prayer asking for strength to endure, you will have the assurance that the Lord Jesus is enduring with you. The Holy Spirit will prod you to "endure all things" and to be "faithful until death" (1 Cor. 13:7; Rev. 2:10).

Beg the Lord to save you from inviting censure on yourself by ill-tempered ways, by what gives reasonable people the idea that you are extreme or fanatical. A true follower of Jesus Christ will always "love [his] enemies, bless those who curse [him], do good to those who hate [him], and pray for those who spitefully use ... and persecute [him]" (Matt. 5:44).

Never think that you are alone; Christ is with you through the Holy Spirit. And in every struggle when truth contends with error, there are people watching who are honest in heart. Good will come.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 3, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, September 05, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Comprehension, A Key Idea in Paul's Writings

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Understanding" has "eyes" that must be "enlightened" (Eph. 1:18). A key idea that pervades Paul's writings is "comprehension," seeing things, grasping truth. In Ephesians chapter 3 he prays for them, bowing his knees "to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... [that you] may be able to comprehend with all saints" the glorious dimensions of the love [agape] of Christ (vss. 14, 18).

Often Jesus lamented the dullness of the Twelve to comprehend what He tried to tell them. That dullness may have been forgivable two millennia ago, but is it so for us today? On us "the ends of the ages have come"! (1 Cor. 10:11). Good works that we do can make God happy, but let's not forget that a teacher is most gratified when his pupils comprehend what he communicates to them!

If you go through life with the vague feeling that you are only another number responding to a universal invitation, Paul wants you to sense to the full that the Father is calling you as an individual specially and individually. No one else can fulfill as well as you some special mission in life. That's "the hope" embedded in your "calling" that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:18.

When at last you meet the Lord face to face, He will give you "a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it" (Rev. 2:17). This will be no cold presentation ceremony like a university president handing out hundreds of diplomas at Commencement; you will have an intimate meeting with the Father and a knowing glance from Jesus. You will look into His eyes and see a recognition that tells you that He understands all about you and your life and all the mysterious things you've never been able to unravel. That "white stone" will be a little computer memory special to you!

"The exceeding greatness of His power toward us" (Eph. 1:19) is the power to conquer sin in our "sinful flesh" through the faith of Jesus. He Himself condemned sin and did it "in the likeness of [our] sinful flesh" (Rom. 8:3). Paul strains feeble words almost to their bursting point!

This "power" includes all that was in the power that raised up Christ from His tomb. Think of the power that was needed to resurrect that one Man who so fully suffered the curse of God! More power was needed to raise Him than all the power that will be exercised in resurrecting the billions in the coming "first resurrection"! And that is the power that is given to you by which we will overcome sin in our sinful flesh!

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Ephesians: You've Been "Adopted," 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Learn Something From Mother Teresa?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Dear Mother Teresa poured out her life in doing good works for the poor and downtrodden of the Calcutta slums, all "in the name of Jesus Christ," and yet she has left us her diary notes that say she was at the end of her life bereft of a personal joy in the Lord.

Can we learn something from her sad experience? Her religion was devout Roman Catholicism; she was the most notable "saint," or at least one of their most notable saints in modern times. She had renounced the joys of love and marriage, homemaking and motherhood, and ended life with no children of her own to comfort her in old age, no personal family. What more self-denial could the Lord have demanded of her? You would expect that He whom she served so very earnestly in repeated self-denial would give her assurance of His personal presence in "the joy of the Lord."

But no, her diary is filled with laments of spiritual aloneness that a thoughtful atheist might sympathize with. Is it possible that we Protestants may also live a "Day of Atonement" life of self-denial filled with even painful good works, and we end up dreadfully alone spiritually?

Jesus has cautioned us to think carefully: "Many will say to Me in that [final] day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you'" (Matt. 7:22-23).

We have long been told that the remedy for a sluggish spiritual experience is "get out and work for the Lord." Hence mission trips have become very popular; a few weeks of doing good in a needy foreign land perk us up for another year and give us lots of photos to show and stories to tell.

But is a multitude of good works a substitute for a living faith in a real Christ? Can we learn something from dear Mother Teresa?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 7, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: How Does One Get to Know Jesus Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that the difference between eternal life and eternal death can be boiled down to a simple matter of knowing something? Jesus says, Yes! It's in John 17:3: "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

How does one get to know Him?

First, one must learn how to distinguish the true God from false gods; and that also requires distinguishing the true Christ from "false christs." Jesus warns us that in these last days, "false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:24).

The "false christ" is the "Antichrist" that John speaks of in 1 John 4:1-3: "Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. ... this is the spirit of the Antichrist." Hebrews makes clear that "as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He [Christ] likewise shared in the same, ... Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren" (2:14, 17).

Paul makes clear what it means for the true Christ to "come in the flesh": "God [sent] His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). The word "likeness" in the Greek is homoióma, from which we derive a number of English words that mean "sameness," "identical."

Therefore, to "know Jesus Christ" is to know the reality of His taking upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might "in all points [be] tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). In His human nature He had to deny self, to deny His own will, that He might "not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). This self-denial extended throughout His life on earth right up to His cross.

Would you like to follow Him? "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me," He says (Luke 9:23). Yes, you will know Him intimately!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 27, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, September 02, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus "Lived" in the Book of Psalms

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many of the Psalms of David are intensely interesting because they are prophetic of the life experience of "the Son of David"--Jesus. The Psalms of David have "inside stories" about the personal life of Jesus that the four New Testament gospels don't tell us.

One is Psalm 22 that tells us of His secret prayer He uttered while He was hanging on His cross; another is Psalm 69, likewise. The Holy Spirit inspired David to write these Psalms that enable us to "see" Jesus like He was our next-door neighbor. They help us realize how human He was as well as divine (His name is "'Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us'"; Matt. 1:23).

Reading Psalm 55 has become a revelation: it tells about Judas Iscariot! Here we have intimate glimpses of Jesus wrestling with a pain almost unbearable. He has come to save His own people, and their leaders hate Him and make His days keenly painful.

John's Gospel tells us of the deep underground hatred that Jesus had to contend with in Jerusalem that broke His heart; but Psalm 55 opens a window into how Jesus felt when one of His close Twelve secretly sided with the scribes and Pharisees and day by day was preparing to betray Him. "Get Me out of here on dove wings; I want some peace and quiet," we hear Jesus praying (vs. 6). "This isn't the neighborhood bully mocking Me--I could take that. ... It's you! My best friend! ... And this, My best friend, betrayed his best friends [the Eleven]; ... His words, which were music to My ears, turned to daggers in My heart" (vss. 12-14, Peterson, The Message).

Did Jesus love Judas? Of course; He loved all Twelve. Was this cancer of disloyalty and betrayal growing within the Twelve, painful for Jesus? Of course! Christ's divine foreknowledge did not lessen the pain of His human suffering.

You can be sure that today as your High Priest Jesus feels the pain you know when someone close to you turns against you! He "lived" in the Book of Psalms; you must do so, too.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 23, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."