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."

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Superficially, the Most Terrorizing Message Ever Proclaimed

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When God promised to send us "Elijah the prophet" just before the second coming of Christ ("the great and dreadful day of the Lord"), his message is not to be a thunder-and-lightning denunciation of mankind, reminiscent of his slaying the 450 prophets of Baal at the Kishon River (1 Kings 18:40).

Rather, "Elijah's" message will perform the most effective reconciliation of alienated peoples the world has ever known: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). That is the last message of much more abounding grace this world will hear--that of the fourth great "angel" in Revelation 18 that lightens the earth with glory (vss. 1-4).

Only one Bible message can close the great gospel commission with such glorious success--the lifting up of Christ on His cross as He predicted: "'When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Me.' (In saying this He indicated the kind of death He was going to suffer)" (John 12:32, 33; Good News Bible).

The message of the three great angels of Revelation 14 appears superficially to be the most terrorizing ever proclaimed, the scariest fear possible for human hearts (whoever receives the "mark of the beast" "shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God ... poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation ... tormented with fire and brimstone ... in the presence of the Lamb ... forever and ever ... no rest day or night" (vss. 9-11). Could any message be more blood-curdling?

But wait a moment: it's introduced as "the everlasting gospel" of Good News (vss. 6, 7). Look more closely! It's the last effective call: "Be reconciled to God"! (2 Cor. 5:19, 20). How? By His love at last fully revealed at His cross (vss. 14, 15)!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 24, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Judas Iscariot--An Illustration of the "Shaking"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

All during the time that Judas Iscariot was one of the Twelve, he was constantly spreading among them subtle opposition to Jesus. He had a great personality; the Eleven thought he was just the one qualified to become Prime Minister of the new kingdom Jesus would establish.

An example of his resistance of the Holy Spirit was his condemnation of Mary Magdalene for her offering when she washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. Judas despised her for that, and the Eleven knew no better than to follow his lead and despise her also (Matt. 26:6-13; John 12:1-7; an illustration of how the final "shaking" can take place in the remnant church of the last days--many following some great apostate personality).

Judas sincerely thought that in betraying Jesus he could force Him to follow his lead in setting up His kingdom. He was so wise! But when he realized that he had betrayed the Messiah to His death, he was "remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver, ... saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood'" (Matt. 27:4). Then he committed suicide.

In the day of final judgment when the resurrected lost (Rev. 20:5) gather before the Great White Throne and the book of record is opened for all to see what they have done with the life that God gave them, they too will be "remorseful." Jesus never said one word of reproach to Judas; he condemned himself. So at last the lost will condemn themselves, "will welcome destruction," and will choose to jump into the Lake of Fire (20:11-15).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 22, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Job--A Prototype of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a phenomenon that it seems every sincere believer in Christ must experience. You must learn what to do when it seems that God is against you. Many in the Bible had to wrestle with that problem. One of the most prominent is Job (he has a whole book). Everything went against him: he lost his children, his possessions, his health, his friends, and even his dear wife turned against him and told him to "curse God and die."

His case was so serious that he became a prototype of Christ, who also had to go through the experience of feeling forsaken by God. As He hung on His cross, everything was against Him: His friends had all forsaken Him, one had betrayed Him, another had denied Him, and His own people were crucifying Him, and it appeared as though the Father in heaven had turned a deaf ear against Him.

And there have been others, all through history: Abel served God faithfully, yet had to endure murder for it by his own brother; Noah had to endure 120 years of unrelenting sunshine without a cloud in the sky because he believed what God had said--a rain flood was coming. Finally, in that last week as he and his family were inside the ark, his faith was severely tried as the people outside were laughing and ridiculing him--"where's the rain, you fool?"

Abraham waits 25 long years for the fulfillment of God's promise to give him a son through whom "all families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:1), and then when the boy grows up a bit, he is told to offer him as a sacrifice. David, anointed by the prophet Samuel to be king of Israel, for 10 years is driven into the wilderness by an insane king Saul, David apparently forsaken by God; on one occasion his own loyal followers threatened to stone him. Jeremiah has to endure 40 plus years of continual rejection, only at the end to see his beloved Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed; more than once he was tempted to give up in despair.

Paul has a "thorn in the flesh" that troubles him; three times he begs the Lord to deliver him from it, and He says, No, Paul, don't pray about it any more; "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:8, 9). And let's not forget Stephen: he realized the blessing of the Holy Spirit as he preached his last sermon only to have to kneel down and feel those stones pelting him. And there are the Waldenses and other faithful Christians in the Dark Ages who served God and had to die as martyrs.

What do you do when it seems God has forsaken you? You still believe Him, like Job, in the darkness: "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" (13:15). A wise writer wrote, "Fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor" a human can be blessed with. Don't turn away from it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 29, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Pray for "Kings and All Who Are in Authority"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why did the apostle Paul urge us to pray with “supplications” for “kings and all who are in authority” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2)? The “all” must mean of whatever political party our sympathies are enlisted; and yes, of whatever nation, too. It must also include the embattled police who are trying desperately to “hold” the tornado-winds of wild human passion that are blowing throughout the earth.

“All in authority” means that we should pray for leaders of other countries as well as for the president of the United States. These men and women are human beings of flesh, blood, and nerves like us all. They are finite men and women subject to deception.

As those who reverence the Bible and its Author, we have a holy duty we must not sinfully neglect--to put ourselves in their place as we pray. To bear the responsibilities of state could drive any “rulers” to distress, especially if they are immature: “Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child” (Eccl. 10:16). The Savior has told us that in these last days leaders’ “hearts [will be] failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth,” because “powers” that have always been a solid foundation beneath us “will be shaken” (Luke 21:26).

God has promised to send us “Elijah the prophet” (Mal. 4:4, 5) who will proclaim powerful New Covenant gospel truth to the world (cf. Rev. 18:1-4)--a final message of grace and mercy.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 8, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Redeemed From Being an Orphan

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever woke up at night from a bad dream in which you felt lonely, not knowing who you were or where? Then in a few moments as your mental faculties were re-activated, you began to remember good things about yourself. It was like turning your computer on, and in a few moments the software in the "lifeless" machine restores itself to what it was when you went to sleep that night. It regains its identity.

The Holy Spirit permits us to have these fleeting moments of being "orphans," a taste of what it means to "perish." Then He reminds us of John 3:16: the heavenly Father loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you. He did it; it's been done, "that whoever [that's you] believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He has redeemed you from being an orphan; by election you are a member of His family, a child of God. As you recover from your bad dream, all this glorious Reality is conveyed to you by the renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8 was being demonstrated before your eyes: "You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ ... " (vss. 15-17).

The Holy Spirit convicts you that you can call the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ your Father! You can pray the 23rd Psalm--He is your Shepherd. Do you remember when you were a child how secure you felt if your father was with you? He never threatened to disown you with curses if you should make a mistake! You never got the idea he was planning for you to fail. You never had a sense that he had you on probation. No, you were his beloved child.

That's how Abraham "believed in the Lord" when his faith was counted for righteousness. God had no plans for him to fail! That's why He never threatened him with curses, never asked him to promise anything. It was Father-Son business, "heart religion," not "under law."

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Old and New Covenant Revival and Reformation--What's the Difference?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

What's the difference between a revival and reformation in a church that is Old Covenant in nature and one that is New Covenant? Suppose the world church today experiences a grand revival and reformation that is Old Covenant, would that hasten the coming of Jesus, or further delay Him?

What are the differences?

Old Covenant reformation is decidedly temporary. Take the case of King Josiah: The moment he was dead, his sons began leading the people back to rebellion against the Lord and the people willingly, mindlessly followed like sheep going astray. No root, no foundation. From then on it was disaster all the way to total national ruin. They had learned no long-lasting gospel truth under King Josiah. That wasn't the poor man's fault: he had simply inherited the Old Covenant yoke, which the nation of Israel had fastened upon themselves at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:8; Heb. 9:1).

The apostle Paul was probably the first Israelite to discern clearly the significance of their Old Covenant history when he said, "The law was our schoolmaster [slave driver?] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (as Abraham was, under the New Covenant; see Gal. 3:16-25).

Numerous Old Covenant revivals and reformations have come and gone in the world church for the past 150 plus years; King Josiah all over again. They have often been inspired by and imported from the popular ecumenical movements, the Keswick Movement in the 19th century, and now, revivalism.

Old Covenant revival and reformation is motivated by a desire to receive God's blessings; New Covenant revival and reformation is motivated by heart-thankfulness and appreciation for God's blessings already realized and received.

Old Covenant revival is therefore egocentric in nature; and whatever is egocentric in motivation has to be legalistic in its origin. In contrast, New Covenant revival and reformation is based on an experience of identity with Christ that transcends fear of being lost, or hope of reward (1 John 4:16-18).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 12, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: When God Spoke to the World in an Earthquake

Dear Friend of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Europe has suffered many tragic disasters, both natural and man-made--mostly the latter. Through the centuries it has suffered bloody, cruel, religious, even "Christian," persecutions. The papacy severely oppressed Bible-loving Christians (and there were Protestant persecutions, too). Europe also has suffered endless wars, including two World Wars and the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust. Man's inhumanity toward man has been terrible. The most enlightened continent suffered the greatest man-made cruelty.

But there was one outstanding natural disaster that came upon Europe--the Lisbon (Portugal) Earthquake of November 1, 1755. It was the Roman Catholic All Saints' Day, which followed Halloween. Extending 700 miles in radius (some reports said 1800--even to Norway), it shook Europe severely, even England. Followed by a tsunami of about 20 feet, some 30,000 perished, and Lisbon's 12,000 homes were destroyed.

Bible believing Christians recognized it as the "great earthquake" that ushered in the "sixth seal" of Revelation 6:12. Multitudes were sobered; the wealthy and the royal saw there was something more to live for than decadent parties and festivals. John Wesley was moved to devote his life to saving England from the horrors that became the French Revolution. The deeper thinking that became the great Advent Movement began to spread. Daniel's "time of the end" was about to begin (in 1798).

Did God speak to the world in the Lisbon Earthquake? Yes! He is calling the world to Day of Atonement living. He deserves our attention. Let's listen for His Voice.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 7, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Are You Longing for Some Solid Truth You Can Trust?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are you longing for some solid truth, firm as a rock, that you can trust, that's also good news? Here it is in Titus 2:11-14:

It's truth taught by the "grace of God that brings salvation ... to all men" (vs. 11). It's not a fear motivation. The "grace" is that "much more abounding" kind that's greater than all our sin (Rom. 5:20). And it's given, not merely offered, to "all men." It overwhelms you when you think about it. "Every man" does one of two things: he either receives it or he rejects it.

That grace (not fear!) teaches us to "say No!" to every temptation to sin that Satan can fling at us (Titus 2:11, NIV). That's where our problems are--"worldly lusts." We don't naturally know how to do it, but that "grace" teaches us to "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age" right where we are (vs. 12). The worst sinner learns under that tutelage. It's being in school with Christ as the Teacher. (That's a great privilege!)

We cherish "the blessed hope" of seeing Him come again--we believe His literal second coming is that soon! (vs. 13). That otherwise impossibility is accomplished by comprehending how He "gave Himself for us" (vs. 14). It's looking, beholding, grasping, absorbing, the four grand dimensions of a love (agape) that passes knowledge (Eph. 3:16-19). When you gaze at His cross, the lethal bites of the "serpent" are healed (John 3:14, 15).

Why did He "give Himself for us"? To save us "in sin"? No, to save us from it (Titus 2:14). You see yourself as the believing thief crucified with Him. Self dies with Him. You share His cross, by living faith.

What He's doing is to "purify for Himself" 144,000 people in a time when the Enemy says it's impossible to happen (vs. 14 again; see also Rev. 7:1-4; 14:1-5). Whether that's a literal or symbolic number is not the point. What you must believe is that the Savior loves you so much that He invites you to be among them, to "overcome ... as I also overcame" (Rev. 3:21). He wouldn't invite you if it were not possible.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 3, 2012.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Two Bible Books That Fit Together Like a Glove

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We know that Jesus calls us to study the book of Daniel (Matt. 24:15), and He gives a special blessing to those who read the book of Revelation (1:1-3); but why does He call His last-days' church to study the Song of Solomon? Or does He?

Yes, He does; it's in His last words to the seventh church, "the Lukewarm Church," Laodicea (there is no eighth): "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone [a certain one, tis, original] hears My voice ..." It's a Voice that has something arresting to say--quoted from this strange book.

For centuries, reverent scholars have seen that this is a quote from the Song of Solomon (5:2-8). It's the sad story of a man deeply in love who gets his heart broken. In the beginning, the Lord God said it's "not good that man should be alone," and that's true especially after he falls in love (Gen. 2:18). Jesus is a "man." Why does He put Himself in the middle of that painful story?

Shocking as it may seem, the Man who gets stranded is the Lord Jesus. The story is not about the cross--that happened long ago; it's about the end of time, just before the second coming. Jesus is ready to be "married," and the one "woman" whom He loves truly has rebuffed Him. "Women" figuratively (plural) don't appeal to Him; there's a "one and only" (Rev. 12:17).

There is something vastly heart-arresting in this story. It comes together in these two books--Song of Solomon and Revelation; they fit like a glove. The church is to be the Bride of Christ, and lukewarmness has led her to rebuff the only One who loves "her" truly.

His disappointment is beyond description. Can we understand it?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 14, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Why Is the Song of Solomon in the Bible?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It has been a fascinating mystery for those who love the Bible: why is the Song of Solomon there? Is it just a personal love poem worthy to be forgotten? Or could it be buried truth yet to enlighten the world?

Solid New Testament scholarship has discovered that none less than the Lord Jesus Christ has set our course in understanding. Contrary to the assumptions of theologians who have said that this book is never quoted in the New Testament, it is quoted by Jesus Himself; but the problem has been that He quoted the Septuagint (LXX) version, the Greek translation that He and the apostles often used.

It's especially in two prominent places:

"Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37, 38).

"The Scripture"? Where?

The only place one can find it is in Song of Solomon 4:9-15, "You have ravished my heart, ... a garden enclosed, ... a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, ... a well of living waters." This is the New Covenant joy that fulfills God's promise to Abraham (and us) that wherever we go, "You shall be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2). A promise to redeem any life from boredom!

Again, in the words of Jesus to the leadership of the last-days' remnant church He quotes Song of Solomon: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone [tis, a certain one, Greek] hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in ..." (Rev. 3:19, 20). It's the Greek of Song of Solomon 5:2 (the Hebrew doesn't have "at the door"): the unfeeling girl has gone to bed, is in that twilight zone between sleep and waking, "I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks ..." And here the LXX adds, epi ten thuran, "at the door." Jesus saw Himself there!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 13, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."