Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Knocking at the Door"

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Have you ever been despised and rejected by someone important in your life, whom you deeply loved? You remember the pain was wrenching.

Can we conceive of Jesus Christ experiencing that? On an infinitely grander scale? For millennia our human souls have been concerned for our own salvation; in my youth I remember sincere, grey-haired ordained elders declaring to me that the most important issue in life is the salvation of our own souls. This is almost universally accepted as the essence of orthodoxy. "Evangelism" is crafted on that premise. But there's a more important issue.

In undertaking the salvation of this world, Jesus took our humanity upon Himself; He knows how we can love; the “one” so deeply loved by Him as His bride-to-be is His church.

Has He known the bitterness of unrequited love, as we can know it--only on a cosmic scale? Can the companionship of multitudes of holy angels compensate for what His heart yearns for in the absence of His church's response to His love?

The pain of Calvary was for only a few hours (we think); indeed, it was intense. But the Hosea-like pain of extended nuptial alienation is Calvary's pain extended.

Christ declares Himself as endlessly "knocking on the door" of His Beloved (Rev. 3:20), waiting for a "certain one" (tis, Gr.) to respond as a satisfaction to His own lonely divine-human soul. He is still the One "despised and rejected." He wants to be with His people on earth, even though earth rejected and expelled Him; heaven is simply no longer "home" for Him.

On this grand Day of Atonement, a change has come: the most important question in life is now for us to honor and vindicate Him. He deserves His reward; it is He who must be "crowned," no longer we who seek that honor.

 —Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 15, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God’s Richest Blessing May Be in the Disappointment We Suffer

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Many times we tell stories to the children about wonderful answers to prayer. We tell them about Daniel in the lions' den, of David fighting Goliath, of Peter saved from prison, and of course many modern stories of people's marvelous answers to prayer.

That's all good, and I do not doubt the truth of those stories. But I am concerned about something else--sometimes there are children who have prayed for something but did not get it. I knew one little boy whose grandmother was very sick, and he prayed that she might get well; but she did not get well. She died. When children ask the Lord for something, but don't get it, then hear all these wonderful stories, they wonder what's wrong with them. Why doesn't the Lord answer their prayers too?

Well, we must think about this. We must be honest. Not all prayers get a marvelous “Yes” answer. If you don't get what you asked for, that does not mean that God does not love you, or that He did not hear your prayer. He said “No” instead of “Yes.” And often His “No” is more loving toward us than a “Yes” would be. If a young child asks for a sharp knife, a loving father or mother will say “No.”

God's richest blessing may be in the disappointment that we suffer. If God is like a Santa Claus to Christians, giving them everything they ask for, many people would join the church who are not at all converted, and that would not be good at all.

God's people suffer in this world along with those who are not His people. When they suffer, God suffers with them. He never forsakes them. We must remember Jesus on His cross--He prayed to the Father but He says God did not hear Him (that's in Psalm 22). Jesus felt that His Father had turned His back on Him, because He prayed, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). There are many people in the world who have to suffer, not because God doesn't love them, but because they are faithful servants of Jesus, who honor Him by enduring their suffering.

The Good News is that God will never forsake you; He does hear every prayer you pray; and He will give you what is best for you and what is best for others. Even the little boy's grandmother who died--someday we will know why the Lord permitted that--and we will love the Lord more because we will know that His answer was because He loves us. We can trust Him, because He died for us on His cross.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Grafting" Back Into the Vine

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The world is in turmoil. Fear of terrorism is everywhere. And what's the main root cause of this terrible fear? Basically, America's fervent support of the state of Israel. This has been encouraged, almost dictated, by Protestant Christians who believe that the Bible teaches that God's promises to Abraham will be fulfilled by His blessings on a literal, political modern Israel.

Such a vision encouraged President Truman's initial endorsement. That state must eventually recover the boundaries of ancient Israel in the time of Kings David and Solomon, yes, achieve world domination. Theology, true or false, has immense consequences.

But for many centuries Bible-reading Christians also have believed that Abraham's true descendants have always been (and still are) those who have his faith, not just his DNA. They see in the Bible how ancient national Israel rejected their political nationhood when they rejected their true Messiah. "We have no king but Caesar!" they proclaimed officially (John 19:15).

God's New Covenant promises to Israel will be fulfilled by "grafting" individuals back into the Vine, along with believing Gentiles who are "grafted" in--all by faith in Christ, who is the true Vine. "And so," in this way, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:1-26).

Just now, on this grand cosmic Day of Atonement, the Holy Spirit is working diligently "grafting in" repentant sinners from the ranks of literal Jews and from the myriads of "Gentiles" everywhere. "Therefore consider," says Paul, "the goodness and severity of God" (vs. 22). Let the Holy Spirit "graft" you in; don't "resist Him in His office work."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 14, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Find Some Good News in the Southern California Fires?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

[This "Dial Daily Bread" was written during the October 2007 wildfires in Southern California, so evacuation numbers are for 2007 (if interested, you may find details at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2007_California_wildfires

Similar weather conditions were in place then as with the current situation in Southern California. This "DDB" seems relevant today.]

___________________________________________________                       

This daily mini-Bible study likes to concentrate on happy subjects, and find good things to say about discouraging topics. But we're struggling to find something good to say about the calamity in Southern California.

Imagine--over 350,000 people evacuated from their homes! Imagine what "evacuation" means--how do you "evacuate" without getting on the freeway to get out, and can you imagine 350,000 people clogging the freeways? They can be one vast parking lot.

I used to live in the San Diego area; I never dreamed I would see things like this before the Bible's "seven last plagues" of Revelation 16. Can we find some good news? Yes:

(1) Innumerable acts of kindness are being done by people, even strangers; the Holy Spirit has not yet been withdrawn completely from the earth!

(2) There is evidence that the love of God is still active; in wrath He has remembered mercy (Hab. 3:2).

(3) In the disasters described by the prophet Ezekiel his "woes" usually ended with the promise, "you shall know that I am the Lord" (35:9, for example).

(4) It's always, yes always, good news to learn to "know the Lord." Even the final "lake of fire" at the end of the millennium (the 1000 years of Revelation 20:11-15) demonstrates the mercy of the Lord. The lost will say "Thank You" for that "Lake" rather than exist forever in tortured consciousness of their own utter self-condemnation. They will "welcome destruction," says a very wise writer.

(5) Is God sending these terrible disasters? Is Southern California more wicked than any place else, thus deserves them? This same question was asked Jesus after a local disaster: "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?" He answered: "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2). Jesus didn't bring that disaster but He brought good out of it, for all the world to learn.

(6) There is precious good news in this remark of Jesus: it's possible for all of us to "repent" because repentance is a universal gift that the Holy Spirit tries to give us (if we will believe and receive the gift; John 16:8).

(7) This painful disaster, with world news coverage, educates us all in a happy lesson about Reality; it's another proof of God's love: "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out [when we "evacuate" we probably won't even carry our important personal papers with us]. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim 6:7, 8). Precious contentment! Enjoy it today.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 23, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What God Wants More Than Anything to Give You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we read Matthew 24 or Luke 21, the conviction is overwhelming that we're living in what Daniel says is "the time of the end" (Dan. 11:35; 12:4).

At the same time, the conviction overwhelms us that the last message Revelation says must "lighten the earth with glory" will be the lifting up of Christ on His cross (18:1-4; John 12:32, 33). God has honest-hearted people all over the world. Lifting up their Savior on the cross will "draw" them all to Him.

"The Lord will make a short work upon the earth" (Rom. 9:28). It won't take a long time for the Lord to "finish the work" once He has a people whose hearts are moved and melted by His agape-love seen at the cross.

That "short work" will accomplish not only the proclamation of "the truth of the gospel" to all the world in one generation (Gal. 2:5; Matt. 24:34), what we have thought must take decades or even centuries to prepare God's people to meet Christ when He returns. First Thessalonians 4:16, 17 will be completely fulfilled. God's people will get ready to be "translated" as Hebrews 11:5 describes Enoch's experience. All done in "a short work"!

Now is the time when the Lord's "beatitude" is being fulfilled: "Blessed [happy] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).

Are you hungry and thirsty? There's nothing the God of heaven wants more than to give you that hunger and thirst. Ask for it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 4, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Ancient Struggle Between Esau and Isaac

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When the Titanic plowed into the jagged edge of an iceberg, everybody on board suddenly realized his corporate involvement in the ship. No little group or individual could go on feasting and partying to the jazz music; a common fate now faced everyone.

What the captain and crew had done intimately involved everyone--captain, crew, millionaire and steerage passenger. Flooded compartments below deck meant your first class stateroom would soon be flooded. The lights were going out.

Some of us live in lands of peace and prosperity. Can we go on partying while the Middle East is locked in a human struggle that involves an "old covenant" bondage universal in principle? Abraham's family was in reality the human race, for in an "everlasting covenant" God gave him the whole world as "an everlasting possession" (Rom. 4:13; Gen. 17:8, 7).

The Israelis and Arabs epitomize the ancient struggle between Esau and Isaac, both sons of Abraham--one by "the flesh," the other by "promise." But fleshly Jews or Arabs are not Abraham's true "seed": "Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted as the seed" (Rom 9:8).

"If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise [covenant]" (Gal. 3:29). That is: neither fleshly "Isaac" nor "Esau" has a divine advantage over the other. The Israelis and Arabs contend for a land and a Temple Mount too small for both; their conflict points to the universal struggle for the domination of this planet. Of the common father both claim, Acts 7:5 says, "God gave him no inheritance in [Canaan], not even enough to set his foot on."

If the Lord and Master of us all had also "nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20), it's time we should each realize that by right we don't "own" even a "foot" of this present earth. Real security is only "in Christ," "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). Below decks are already flooded; don't set your heart on a stateroom.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 21, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Look to Me"--Too Easy and Simple to Be True

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It seems too easy and simple to be true, but there it is in Isaiah 45:22. The Lord says, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Could we have misunderstood? Verse 21 confirms it: "There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior." If He were only just, we would all perish; but He is also a Savior! And there is our hope.

Could the translation be wrong, it seems so simple? The Hebrew word panah means to "turn the face" and is translated as "look" over 40 times in the Old Testament, and the idea of "turn the face" over 50 times. It involves a choice to face reality, not merely a passing, involuntary glimpse. Is it possible that there is salvation in turning your face towards God? That's what Isaiah says!

In Numbers 21 we find the story of the snakes that bit the murmuring Israelites. The Lord told Moses to make a snake out of brass and lift it up on a pole so that those who looked at it earnestly would be healed. And Jesus tells us in John 3:14, 15 that Christ crucified on His cross is the fulfillment of that type. And in the familiar 16th verse He explains further, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish [from the bite of the serpent of sin] but have everlasting life." In other words, to "believe" and to "look" are the same--a choice to face reality.

In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul explains that the looking and the believing are the same as "comprehending with all the saints" the grand dimensions of the love (agape) of Christ. This is true, because John says that God is agape (1 John 4:8).

So our text, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth" means, comprehend the amazing character of God, who could destroy us because of His justice, but who is our Savior because of His agape. Yes, comprehending that character of unearthly love will heal you of the poisonous bite of sin. It will change you, from the inside out. "Look!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 5, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus' Solution to John 6:28

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

After 2000+ years, how much progress have "we" made as God's people? Think of them then: expecting their Messiah to come “almost any time,” just as we are expecting the same Messiah to return "almost any time now." At least, "soon." They knew 2000 years ago, just as we know now, that there must come a great reformatory movement among God's people in order to be ready for the Messiah.

There was an atmosphere of expectancy among God's people then, as there is now. And uppermost in their minds was a question that, frankly speaking, is in ours today: "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (John 6:28).

Today there are seminars and sermons presented in the churches that are variations of that question. "What program, what duty, what plan, shall we do that we might have that great reformatory movement of revival in preparation for the return of our Messiah?"

There is diligent study in the Bible and inspired writings that yield a multitude of quotations about duties to "do"--about health reform, diet, good works, tithes, offerings, witnessing, devotionals--ad infinitum. And some sincere people are brilliant and have re-phrased the question, so it reads: "What shall we not do, to work the works of God?" "What worldly habit must we give up in order to have that great reformation?”

Each "expert" has a new program that this time will "work," if only we will "do" it, or give up doing this or that which is "worldly." There must be something we can "do" (or not do) to cure the worldwide disease of lukewarmness that everybody agrees afflicts the church. We long for some program, some new idea, some plan from some fertile minds.

Could it be that Jesus had the solution 2000 years ago? "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom [God] sent" (vs. 29). The solution is not doing something, but seeing something.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 1, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Can "The Whole World" Be Deceived?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we wake up each new morning, we find bewilderment and confusion all over the earth. We humans cover the earth like little ants running around when you disturb them, and yet we are the family of God. We are created in His image. The glorious Creator of the vast universe left His high and holy place and became one of us. But we are not "ants"; we are sons and daughters of God "in Him." We are fellow-saints with Him engaged in the greatest struggle that has ever been waged in the universe--the controversy between Christ and Satan. We are not spectators at the arena; we are players on the field.

What's happening around us is the closing scene of this titanic war between two "spirits"--the One designated in the Bible as "Holy," and "the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience" who is inspired by "the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9).

How can "the whole world" be deceived? Jesus says that so terrible will be the deception that it will come "on the face of the whole earth" like "a snare" (Luke 21:35). It's happening now. But thank God, not everyone will be deceived.

Think what it was like when Jesus was born; the masses knew the inspired prophecies of the Old Testament, yet how many recognized the Messiah when He came as a humble Baby in Bethlehem? Some did, but only a few.

So today, there is for sure a "remnant" (Rom. 9:27): "few who are saved" (Luke 13:23) who have learned the lesson of Bethlehem; who walk "softly" (1 Kings 21:27, KJV); who respond to "the still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12) that calls them in God's word, who choose to believe every truth that the Holy Spirit teaches as "He guides you into all truth" (John 16:13); who "follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ] wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4, 5); who are "with Him" as He takes His final stand in the struggle of the nations of earth (Rev. 17:14); who identify with "the Lamb" so closely that they penetrate His thinking and His feelings.

Amid earth's clash of arms and the din of its endless traffic, listen!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 12, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Welcome" Signs are Up, the "Keep Out" Signs are Gone

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Why is the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament? Does it say anything to us now that it didn't say to its readers in the first century A.D.? Immediately we are struck with one outstanding fact: nowhere else in the New Testament is Jesus described as being a "high priest" or even a "priest." Only in Hebrews does Jesus take on this added dimension. It must mean much to us because an entire book is devoted to explaining it. But what does this new identity mean to us?

Jesus is the true Original of which the ancient high priest in Israel was merely a shadow. Hebrews makes clear that the sanctuary in old Israel was only a shadow that represented the great original in heaven where Jesus ministers. Closed doors or drawn veils characterized the old earthly sanctuary; there were no "Welcome" signs, only those that said sternly, "Keep Out!" No one but the high priest himself was ever permitted to step foot inside the Most Holy Apartment that represented the throne of God. Fear and exclusion permeated the atmosphere the closer you came to the sanctuary.

The same idea dominates the thinking of multitudes today: they are afraid of God and afraid to pray; they think they see the "Keep Out" signs everywhere. They are afraid even to step inside a church. But to all, the Book of Hebrews says loudly, the "Welcome" signs are up, the "Keep Out" signs are gone. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16, KJV). Walk right in past all the holy angels. You are now the elite; they are "ministering spirits" assigned to serve you (1:14)!

Why do you now have this new prestige that every angel in heaven recognizes? Because you are good? No; the fact is you are a sinner. The reason is that you are now royalty; royal blood flows in your veins because the Son of God "took part of the same" "flesh and blood" that you have so that "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto [you] His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (2:14, 17).

The angels worship the great High Priest; they don't worship us, but they respect us! So, what should we do? "Come boldly"! Realize who we are! Let this thought lift your mind from preoccupation with the trifles on this earth.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 18, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Saints" Who Have Forgotten That They Are Sinners

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The question is often asked, How does Jesus Christ as the world's great High Priest cleanse His heavenly sanctuary?

The "cleansing" idea comes from Daniel 8:14 which says that "unto two thousand and three hundred days [in literal time, years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (it's going on now). Christ is the antitypical High Priest, of whom Aaron and the Levitical priests of Israel were the type; His antitypical "sanctuary" is the heavenly one of which the earthly Levitical was the type. Once a year "the day of atonement" was its "cleansing," the type of the antitypical Day of Atonement in which the world is now living (but most people don't know it). The ultra-special work of "cleansing" the ancient high priest did on that one day was a type of what Christ is doing now (Lev. 23:27-32).

But what is it that He is doing? What Christ is doing now is searching the hearts of His people on earth through the Holy Spirit; He told us long ago that's His first work, to "convict of sin" (John 16:8).

What is so special about current "Day of Atonement conviction of sin" that is different from past ages? He is now convicting His people of unknown sin, sin lying so deeply buried in human hearts that it is unrealized.

A prime example is the apostle Peter. He was so sure that he could never fall so low as to "deny" Christ; that awful sin was there all the while but beyond his knowledge. Another example: King David. He was blessed with inspiration to write our beloved 23rd Psalm, and he has slain Goliath and done many grand works, but he stumbles headlong into the "pit" of adultery and an awful cover-up of murder.

Another prime example of tragically "unknown sin" is the very "angel of the church of the Laodiceans" who does "not know" the pathetic poverty and blindness that characterizes Christ's church today, which hinders His saving work for which the world suffers deprivation.

The high priestly ministry of Christ in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary brings conviction of known sin; a wonderful work! Thank God for it.

His high priestly ministry in the Most Holy Apartment goes deeper; unknown, unrealized sin--the great curse in the lives of "saints" who have forgotten that they are sinners.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 31, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Two Great Systems of Thought

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Two great systems of thought contend in almost all Protestant churches. One is Calvinism--which maintains that if God purposes something, it's going to happen whether or no. In other words, if God elects someone to be saved, that person is going to be saved! But this system is forced to recognize that many will be lost at last; therefore it requires the belief that God has not elected "all men" to be saved, but has chosen some to be lost. It means Christ died only for "the elect," and, actually, loves only "the elect." Pretty discouraging if you're not sure God has elected you, and you're not sure Christ died for you!

The other great system of thought is Arminianism, a reaction against Calvinism. It maintains Christ died for everyone, that His sacrifice is sufficient to save everyone, but it is only provisional. It's a maybe, perhaps, possible salvation which is true only if the sinner succeeds in doing his part properly, that is, believes and keeps His law. Otherwise, the sacrifice of Christ does you no good; it's as if He had never died for you. This system appears to be much better Good News, but it leaves also a nagging fear: how can one be sure he is doing everything just right, has believed enough, or repented enough?

A wise author expressed an idea that transcends both Calvinism and Arminianism, in her book The Desire of Ages (p. 660). She maintains that when the Son of God said "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53), He was speaking to every human being in the world. "Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and blood of Christ." This is true, she says, both of our physical and our spiritual nature.

And she comes full circle: "The sinner may resist this love, he may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus" (Steps to Christ, p. 27). Thus when Christ died on His cross, He "elected" "every man" to be saved; He purchased the gift and has given it to him; but the lost deliberately reject that which Christ has given them in the gift of Himself (John 3:16-19). Let's stop resisting Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 5, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What in the New Covenant Impacts Your Personal Life Today?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What is in the truth of the New Covenant that has an impact on your personal life today?

All seven promises God made to Abraham (Gen. 12:2, 3) are made to you, for Abraham is your "father" by faith. God promises (1) to make of you "a great nation," that is, make your life important; (2) "bless you," that is, make your life happy; (3) make your "name great," that is, people will respect you highly; (4) you "shall be a blessing," that is, to others--out of your inmost soul will "flow rivers of living water" as Jesus said in John 7:37-39; (5) God will "bless those who bless you," that is, He will honor you among your acquaintances; (6) He will "curse" anyone who "curses" you, that is, people will learn to respect you; (7) and in you, through your life, He will bring happiness to "all the families" who know you, for they will be enriched with your "blessings."

Sound impossible? Well, it sounded so to Abraham, and to Sarah especially who just couldn't give birth to the boy baby "heir" that was included in those seven promises. So, it meant waiting a quarter century for the birth of Isaac, "the child of promise," when everyone said it was hopeless. Sarah just couldn't bring herself to believe, so she and her husband invented the Old Covenant in the Hagar/Ishmael episode.

If you have been wrestling with unbelief in the darkness of discouragement, that is what can be expected as a "child of Abraham." (His descendants served for centuries in Egypt, thinking they were born to be slaves! They lacked Abraham's faith.) But you can learn to believe!

Can one learn to be happy as Sarah was at the birth of Isaac, even when your life has been ruined by divorce, illness, accident, loss of job, poverty, disgrace, or prison? Yes; choose to believe the promises of the New Covenant, for that's what Sarah finally did when "by faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised" (Heb. 11:11).

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). "Judge Him faithful"! That's the first step.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 1, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Elijah's Message—The Most Effective Reconciliation the World Has Ever Known

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 shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart 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 greatest fear possible for human hearts: whoever takes 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. ... He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone ... in the presence of the Lamb ... forever and ever; and they have 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 © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Man of Romans 7, and 8

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In reading Romans 7 and 8, you will see that in chapter 7 Paul is sad. He tells how he is "the purchased slave of sin. ... What I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest. ... I agree with the law [of God] and hold it to be admirable. But as things are, it is no longer I who perform the action, but sin that lodges in me. ... Nothing good lodges in me--in my unspiritual nature, I mean--for though the will to do good is there, the deed is not. The good which I want to do, I fail to do; but what I do is the wrong which is against my will; and if what I do is against my will, clearly it is no longer I who am the agent, but sin that has its lodging in me.

"I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves and making me a prisoner under the law that is in my members, the law of sin. Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me?" (vss. 14-25, The New English Bible).

People have argued for many years as to who Paul is talking about. Does he mean he himself before he was converted? Or is he talking about himself while converted? Well, he ends the chapter by saying, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (vs. 25, King James Version).

It's difficult to believe that while Paul was writing those words he could still be wallowing in alcoholism, adultery, envy, jealousy, or hatred. No, at this time Paul was living a life of victory in Christ. Therefore it is clear that Paul is describing himself as a representative of the entire human race. His "I" is the corporate "I" of humanity in general--anybody who wants to do what is right but who realizes that his nature prompts him to do wrong. That is all of us, by nature!

But in chapter 8 Paul answers his own question. There is somebody to rescue him, and that is Christ Jesus. There is a new law in Him, a new principle at work--of triumph over sin and evil. And as a human being you are a part of His purchased possession--the freedom and victory are already yours. Now believe it, and act upon that faith.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Bible Thanksgiving

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Suppose you were hungry, homeless, and sleeping under a bridge or in a cardboard box; could you celebrate Thanksgiving? Many of us tell how we say thanks for nice homes, cars, food, jobs, friends, and fun. Can those who have none of this have Thanksgiving? Don't say yes if only the Red Cross or Salvation Army gives them a turkey dinner. That lasts only one day, then back under the bridge again.

There's a Bible Thanksgiving that gets lost in the normal celebrations: thanksgiving that you don't have to die the second death; thanksgiving that you have actually been given eternal life "in Christ." That refuge under a bridge may be very uncomfortable, but it's your privilege to rejoice that "in Christ" you have already been redeemed from hell itself.

The Son of God also was homeless, had nowhere to lay His head, He says; but He was resurrected to eternal life, and "in Him" you too inherit the same. Welcome to sharing your living space with Him!

It's astounding, but it's Bible truth: you have already been "elected" to eternal life "in Christ," not that you deserve the gift for which you celebrate such transcendent Thanksgiving. Paul says, "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9; when it says "not of works" it means not of your own volition).

Face reality: if Christ had not died for you, you would most certainly have been eternally lost. But He did die for you, and rose again; the "you" in Ephesians 1 and 2 is the "you" of the entire human race. All have been redeemed. Your seat at the heavenly banquet has your place card on it with your name.

Now, don't through away everything by choosing to disbelieve this gospel truth. Yes, you can be lost, and many will be; but not because they weren't elected or were overlooked. John 3:16-19 says the problem is unbelief. Believing the Good News will give you a Thanksgiving Day 365 times a year; and such faith will enable you to find a way out from under that bridge.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 26, 1997.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 20, 2017

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Dial Daily Bread: Have We Misunderstood the Gospel?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Galatians 5:16, 17 has spiritual nuclear energy within it. It says that if we have made the choice to walk with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold us by the hand (isn't that what baptism is?), He strives night and day 24/7 against our fallen, sinful "flesh," our sinful nature. Yes--personally, individually. The result? The text says we "cannot do the things that [we] would" (King James Version).

There are two ways we can read that: (1) We cannot do the good things the Holy Spirit prompts us to do. If the mighty power of the Holy Spirit is striving against our "flesh" and we still can't do the good things we'd like to do, that looks like the worst bad news we could imagine. That would mean that sin is stronger than God. In other words, He has lost the great controversy--in principle. That's an Old Covenant way to read Galatians 5:16, 17, popular but questionable.

(2) The other possibility is: if we choose to let the Holy Spirit hold us by the hand we cannot do the evil things that "the flesh" would prompt us to do. Paul goes on to detail "the works of the flesh" that the Holy Spirit saves us from doing: adultery, idolatry, hatred, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, envy, to name a few (vss. 19-21). A good list of things to be delivered from! But too often we seem to get entangled in them. Why? Have we misunderstood the gospel?

Then the apostle details some of the good things that the Holy Spirit prompts us (and enables us) to do if we "walk" with Him: "Love [agape], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," etc. (vss. 22-24). That's the best good news we could imagine; it's New Covenant news.

The traditional way to understand Paul is that we can't do the good things we'd like to do, so Jesus just has to "cover" for our continued sinning, which is nice of Him to do but leaves Him ashamed before the universe for the failure of His gospel to save from sin. In Romans 1:16 Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes."

[Incidentally, we may have thought that Romans 7:15 is parallel to our text in Galatians, but it doesn't talk about a Spirit-consecrated life, but a pre-Romans 8:1-4 life.]

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Daniel "Saw" in God's Plan of Salvation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The only light that shone in the darkness of the ancient world was that from the prophets of the Old Testament. The God of heaven had endowed Abraham and his descendants with the only message of salvation ("in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," Gen. 12:3). But Israel and Judah failed miserably, and became worse than the pagans whom they were sent to evangelize (Eze. 16). The honor of God as Creator and Redeemer of the world was dragged into the mire; Israel blocked His plan of salvation. In a desperate last chance to appeal to the hearts of His people and because of His love for the dark world, God permitted them to be dragged into Babylonian captivity.

Then it was that finally one of the captives saw God's plan of salvation made plain. But even Daniel could not "see" it until he grasped the principle of corporate guilt and repentance. When, like Jesus later at His baptism by John the Baptist, Daniel took upon himself personally the guilt of Israel (Dan. 9:3-20), the fog rolled away and he was able to receive "skill to understand" (vs. 22). Only then could he "see" what the Savior of the world would accomplish: (1) "finish the transgression, ... (2) make an end of sins, ... (3) make reconciliation for iniquity, ... [and] (4) bring in everlasting righteousness" (vs. 24). No superficial band-aids here!

Jesus would "condemn sin" "in the likeness of sinful flesh," get down to its roots and outlaw it forever (Rom. 8:3, 4). No more offerings of animals to only perpetuate egotism. No more Old Covenant blindness. Abraham's "Seed," that is, "One, ... who is Christ" (Gal. 3:16), would deliver the human race from the iron grip of egotism. God's New Covenant promise would no longer be sabotaged by rebellious Israel. The crucified Lamb would become "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Rev. 5:5, 6). But all that "the Lamb" accomplished in Himself must be demonstrated finally before the world and the universe in those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (14:4).

The success of God's grand plan of salvation must ultimately depend on its final hour, and it is there that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" truth comes into its own. Christ must be able to demonstrate to the universe that He has indeed "finished transgression," "made an end of sins," "made reconciliation for iniquity" (not reconciled to iniquity--Satan's counterfeit!), and "brought in everlasting righteousness." God grant us grace to cooperate with Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 11, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Special Message for Youth--Why Was Christ Punished for Our Sins?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Today's "Dial Daily Bread" is a special message for youth (but adults are invited to read too).

Why was Christ punished for our sins? He was innocent.

In school, Billy does something wrong and must be punished. But the teacher decides to punish Johnny instead of Billy, when Johnny is innocent. He has done nothing wrong. Is this fair?

Youth have a keen sense of justice. Somehow they get the idea that God the Father is angry with sinners, but He knows that if He punishes them for their sins, they will perish. So, the common idea is that He lets His hot wrath fall on an innocent man instead, on Jesus. So Jesus dies on the cross instead of us sinners. That way, God can forgive us. Is this fair?

The answer is important:

(1) God did not kill His Son Jesus; people did.

(2) God was not angry with His Son Jesus, neither was He angry with us. He was angry because sin brings misery, agony, and death.

(3) God does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sin.

(4) When God forgives a sin, He does not merely pardon it and excuse it so that we go on doing it again and again. True forgiveness means taking the sin away so the sinner won't do it again. Therefore true forgiveness is what teaches us to actually hate sin.

(5) While it is true that Christ died to satisfy the claims of the law, which says that death is the punishment for sin, His death does more than that: it shows us how sinful we are by nature, and it shows us what sin can do--it can murder the Son of God. That's terrible! When we see this, our selfish human hearts are actually changed. We are reconciled to God, that is, our enmity is changed to true friendship. We become members of a new family--the family of God.

(6) When we see the cross of Christ we see that He not only died instead of us, He died as us. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul says, "If One died for all, then all died." You identify with Christ as He dies on that cross.

And (7), from then on you want to live for Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Ravens" of the Bible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We don't pay much attention to them for they are lowly creatures--ordinary blackbirds, crows: the "ravens" of the Bible.

But the Great Ruler of the universe has noticed them and immortalized them in His holy Book, the Bible, because on one special occasion these humble creatures were obedient to His "commands."

Elijah had served the Lord faithfully as His prophet when he appeared in King Ahab's office suddenly and proclaimed that "there shall be neither dew nor rain these coming years unless I [that is, Elijah] give the word" (1 Kings 17:1, The New English Bible). The Lord told His faithful servant to "leave this place, ... go into hiding in the ravine of Kerith east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the stream, and I [the Lord] have commanded the ravens [the humble blackbirds] to feed you there."

Blackbirds are born thieves; anything they see and want, they simply take and fly off. It's amazing that the Lord has honored these pilferers by mention in His holy Word, but they obeyed the "command" of the Lord by bringing lonely, exiled Elijah his daily food, "bread and meat morning and evening" (vss. 5, 6).

There's a lesson for us here: the Lord did not want these birds to bring His prophet scraps of moldy bread and stale crackers; the Lord takes better care of His beloved servants, and here is where we can learn a lesson of the Lord's loving watch care over us.

It was famine time in Israel; "bread and meat" were not readily available. So where would the ravens, having been "commanded" by the Lord to care for His lonely prophet, go to pilfer some "bread and meat" for him? With the windows being open for the summer-time warmth, where better than from King Ahab's own royal table on which the greatest chefs of Israel were serving the king his royal cuisine?

Now I don't know for sure where the ravens went to do their pilfering; but I do know that when the Bible says that "God is love" (1 John 4:8) it includes the Lord's care for our daily food; He doesn't want to feed us moldy bread and stale crackers! Let's let Elijah remind us of the Lord's loving care for us, His unworthy servants!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 4, 2009.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What God Promised in the Third Commandment

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

For hundreds of years people have thought of the Ten Commandments as ten prohibitions, stern warnings not to do what we naturally feel like doing, ten "don'ts" set in hard, menacing stone. As most people usually read them or hear them preached, they come across as discouraging. But now people are discovering that there are assurances of salvation in them, and that God has some great Good News for us in the Ten Commandments.

The third commandment, for example, is a promise of happiness deep within our hearts. It reads: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7).

Not only does it speak of saying a wrong word with our lips, but it goes deeper within. It says: don't pretend to be a follower of God when in your soul you know you aren't. Don't let people think of you as a great person when you know it's a lie. God has put into this commandment an assurance that He will give you authenticity of character. No deceptive veneer on the outside with cheapness underneath; no paint covering up flaws within.

We're talking about the kind of character God wants to see in us. If you become a billionaire, but in the end realize that your character is only an imitation, you can't be happy. So, in order to save us from that embarrassment now and in the end, the dear Lord has given us this third commandment--an assurance that if we will believe His Good News, He will guarantee to make us into a wonderful character of truth, uprightness, and purity. We will become a beacon of light in a dark world, a refuge where people will come for rescue out of the storm. Nothing can bring you such happiness as to know that both God and man honor you for being genuine through-and-through.

But God's great third commandment contains a warning that we dare not disregard. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." His name is holy, no matter how many times in ignorance your lips have taken it in vain. When you "see" what happened on the cross, how the Son of God took your place, died your second death, endured the hiding of His Father's face--then something begins to happen in your hard heart. It is melted; tears come into your eyes. Never again will you want to take that holy name upon your lips in anger or in jest! Now you have begun to get acquainted with the One whose "name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).

Now your lips, your speech, are different. Like the disciples who spent time with Jesus, the crowd understood they were "different." The people said, "The way you speak gives you away!" (Matt. 26:73, Good News Bible). The proud person becomes humble, the profligate becomes pure, the filthy language becomes clean. This is Jesus saving us from sin, now!

God has promised in the third commandment that He will hold you "guiltless" forever. "Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned. ... whom the Lord does not accuse of doing wrong" (Psalm 32:1, 2, GNB). That happiness is especially precious in these last days as we prepare for the return of Jesus as He has promised (John 14:1-3).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Sinful Humans Overcome Sin?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can we sinful humans overcome sin? Or are we hopelessly entangled in continued sin? It's nice to say that Jesus is our Savior, He overcame, so we can overcome, too; but what did He actually accomplish?

If He came to fight our battle against sin with equipment that we don't have, the "victory" He claims is irrelevant to us. The only conclusion has to be that He saves us in our sins; and that is exactly the basic thesis of "Babylon's" false gospel. You can't avoid continued sinning is the idea. You are still a slave in "Egypt's" darkness.

But "the everlasting gospel" is better Good News than that; Jesus came to fight our battle with the same equipment that He has given to us, not merely offered us (that is, if we do the right thing first, which we don't have the strength to do!). He was the Son of God, but the Father has adopted us "as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, ... to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:5, 6).

It's not a "maybe," "perhaps," "if you do the impossible first." He tells us, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt [past tense], out of the house of bondage" (Ex. 20:2).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 12, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Steps That Lead Straight to the New Jerusalem

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that we have never really known who we are? When we learn the answer, we discover the happiness we've always yearned for.

Everyone who at last walks through the gates into the New Jerusalem, and eats of the tree of life and drinks the water of life, will be a child of two people--of Abraham, and of Sarah his wife. In Romans he is said to be "the father of all those who believe" (4:11), and God said that his wife Sarah "shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her" (Gen. 17:16). But of course the idea is not that "all who believe" must be of literal genetic descent; it's they "who walk in the steps of the faith [of] our father Abraham, ... who is the father of us all" (Rom. 4:12, 16).

But did Abraham and Sarah always have a perfect faith? No! And here's where you come in, because you have not always had a perfect faith, either. It took both of them years and years before they learned how to truly believe. (It's not necessary that you take that long; you can be "born again" today if you will choose to believe the truth.) But Mr. and Mrs. Abraham had an experience together that all true children of God go through--passing from the darkness of unbelief into the glorious light of believing the gospel.

The one who dragged her heels the longest was Mrs. Abraham. When God promised her childless husband he would have children in number as the stars, that meant that she would be their mother. Of course! But even though she was not able to be with child, the supreme "desire of [her] heart" was to have children of her own (see Psalm 37:4). So what did she do? Blamed God for her infertility (see Gen. 16:2).

You say you would never do that? That's why you may not know who you really are. Just like those two, you were born an unbeliever who needs to learn to be reconciled to God. Bitter old Sarah finally humbled her heart and was reconciled when she believed the Good News of the gospel (see Heb. 11:11). Now, follow her steps into the light. They lead straight to the New Jerusalem.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Christ's Humanity--We Dare Not Limit It

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone asks, "Jesus couldn't be tempted to be selfish, could He? We don't want to make Him too human, do we?" In response we need to note several things.

To be tempted is not the same as to sin. Temptation is not sin; a thousand temptations do not equal one sin. Therefore Jesus could "in all points [be] tempted like as we are," yet never once give in to commit sin (Heb. 4:15; King James Version throughout).

Jesus did for sure become human; and we dare not limit His humanity, for John tells us that if we do, we end up being antichrist (1 John 4:1-3). He was "in all things ... made like unto His brethren" (Heb. 2:17). His name is "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt. 1:23)--humanity combined with divinity.

Further, we must remember that the humanity which Christ became, Himself to be [or assumed], was not the sinless, unfallen humanity of Adam in Eden. He came from heaven specifically to solve the problem of sin where it dwells in fallen, sinful human nature. If He sidesteps taking that same humanity where the problem is for all of us, He opens Himself up to the charge of being unfair in the contest. Who could believe a dishonest Savior?

We must remember that temptation to indulge self was as strong for Him as it is for us--stronger in fact. Nobody could have more fervently abhorred being crucified, than was Jesus. His whole soul shrunk from the ordeal. Listen to Him pray, "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matt. 26:39). Sweet, mild prayer? No, read on: He screamed, He shook like in an earthquake, David says He "cried out" (Psalm 22:1, 2; 69:3). He sweat actual drops of blood (Luke 22:44; Have you, ever?).

This perfect "likeness" of His nature with yours and mine, His humanity being formed with a self as is ours--a self which had to be denied if He should follow His Father's will--all this makes Jesus our perfect Savior, "able … to save them to the uttermost [perfectly] that come unto God by Him" (Heb. 7:25).

Are you having a battle with self? So did He! Have you ever given in to self? He did not! But the reason why He "ever liveth" is to give us forgiveness and victory.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 15, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Why Didn't Paul Stop Enduring Terrible Sacrifices?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 he had become a rather old man, and he had endured terrible sacrifices, having been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, starved, cold--times without number. His friends tell him, "Paul, why don't you stop? You've done your duty. Look at all you have suffered. Let others bear the burden and the sacrifices. You've earned a rest!"

Paul replies: People may think I'm crazy, but I can't stop! "The love of Christ constrains us."

Let's pause a moment to understand what he is saying. Paul is not going to tell us, "You ought to be constrained by the love of Christ!" If he said that, it would be legalism all over again. No, Paul tells us exactly why the love of Christ constrains him; and if you have a believing heart, the result will be exactly the same for you as soon as you learn this lesson. Paul goes on to say: "The love of Christ constrains us because we thus judge, that if One died for all," then all would be dead if He had not died for them (vs. 14). What does he mean?

Whether or not you believe the gospel, the fact is that Christ died in your place when He died for "all." Therefore, if He had not died for us, you would now at this moment be dead and in your grave. When Paul realized that, he took a deep breath. "I don't belong to myself! I don't possess anything that is mine by right--even my physical life I owe to Christ who died for me. My money, my house, my land, my education, my time, my strength--not one of these things I have called "mine" is really mine at all. I am infinitely and eternally in debt, a debt imposed by the grace of Christ."

 Paul continues and explains to us how this mighty motivation works in our hearts. "And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (vs. 15). In the original language the idea is clear that those who understand and believe this great truth of grace will "henceforth" find it impossible to live self-centered lives. No more gritting your teeth and clenching your fists and trying to force yourself to work hard for the Lord; it is automatic. An appreciation of the love of Christ has transformed you into a slave forever, a slave "under grace," a free person of Christ's.

The key word there, and of course throughout the Bible, is "love." You cannot truly live under grace unless you appreciate that love revealed at the cross. When the sinner sees that cross, and appreciates that kind of love poured out, all for him, the tears come in his eyes. His heart is melted.

That is true New Testament faith--a heart-appreciation of that tremendous love. That is why we shall keep on learning to glory in the cross of Christ. And more and more that "under grace" motivation will crowd out the old self-centered hope-of-reward or fear-of-punishment motivation, and we shall walk at liberty, the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God.

Let us come out of the shadows into the sunshine of living "under grace," and work for Christ because His love "constrains us."

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "His Cross Constrains Me!," 1984.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Clearest Definition of "Legalism"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Here is the clearest definition of "legalism" I have ever found. When the Apostle Paul talks about being "under the law" in Romans 6:14, he means that our motive for serving the Lord is a self-centered one; you go to church, you are baptized, you pay your tithe, you become a minister, because you hope to go to heaven someday, and have eternal life.

You are under a constraint imposed by a sense of "ought"; you feel the constant obligation of the law. The threat of being lost hangs over you; and the enticement of a great reward in heaven beckons you on to deeds of sacrifice and service. Yes, this is what it means to be "under the law."

But, says Romans 6:14, "You are not under the law but under grace." What does it mean to be under grace? Now you feel a new constraint imposed by a deep heart-appreciation of the grace of God revealed in the sacrifice of Christ. Grace imposes on you a new and different kind of obligation.

When you are under the law, you are a slave to an egocentric motivation, although of a spiritual kind. You are working for an eternal reward. When you are under the law, you are a clever bargainer, an opportunist. You sacrifice the pleasures of sin and of this materialistic world to reap a better reward by and by.

But when you are under grace, the new constraint imposed by God's love delivers you from all egocentric concern or insecurity. You are no longer serving the Lord because you fear the fires of hell if you don't, nor do you serve Him because you want a great reward in heaven. You serve Him because you appreciate that Christ died in your place. Grace has become your new blessed taskmaster.

Could it be, though, that many of us are still "under the law"? [More tomorrow.]

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "His Cross Constrains Me!," 1984.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 06, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Made" or "Constituted" in Romans 5?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What does Paul's use of the word "constituted" mean in Young's Literal Translation of Romans 5:15-19, instead of the word "made" in the King James Version?

Here's what Young renders Paul as saying: "So, then, as through one offense to all men it is to condemnation, so also through one declaration of 'Righteous' it is to all men to justification of life; for as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam], the many [all men] were constituted sinners: so also through the obedience of the One [Christ], shall the many [the same all men] be constituted righteous" (vss. 18, 19, Young's Literal).

The sin of Adam did not make "all men" to be actual sinners--that would be "original sin." Adam's fatherhood has not forced anyone to sin! (It could be that the KJV rendering as "made" has led some to think the Bible does teach original sin; but Young's Literal makes clear that we still have freedom of choice. Thank God!)

But it is true that "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23), except Christ. But He took upon Himself the DNA descent from Adam, yet He proves that inheriting a sinful nature does not force one necessarily to be a sinner in character. Christ was tempted like as we are tempted, but He said "No!" to every temptation (Heb. 4:15; Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version). Adam's sin constituted "all men" under the legal condemnation of sin. Jesus "took" it upon Himself, so He could die.

Likewise, according to Young's Literal, the cross of Christ did not make the same "all men" to be experientially "righteous." It constituted them "righteous" in a legal sense so the Father could send His rain on the just and the unjust alike--so He could treat every person as though he had not sinned. Some call this a "second probation." But God means what He says: no one can keep you out of heaven, except your own perverse choice.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 25, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: He Who Does Not Speak in Love Cannot Be Speaking Truth

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus had no fear of the multitudes. He had faithfully preached the truth--so faithfully, in fact, that His path was leading Him directly to His own death. Why then need He fear to present the cross to the multitudes and to call for their decision? Only the man who himself bears the cross dare summon others to do so. What need had Christ to resort to any psychological subterfuge? The way of the cross had delivered Him from any such helpless vanity.

Since it is clear that a decision to accept the gospel is a decision to accept the cross, and since that decision can be made only by the inner heart of hearts, it follows that there must be confusing pressure in true soul-winning work. Simple truth needs no alluring embellishments to make it attractive to the honest heart.

In fact, such embellishments serve only to repulse the sincere seeker for truth who fails to discern the voice of the True Shepherd in the confusing appeals to "self" voiced by the would-be soul winner. Psychological tricks and egocentric inducements to "decision" can be the tool only of one who knows not the strength of the cross.

The reason the cross is the "power of God unto salvation" is that love alone has true drawing power. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you" (Jer. 31:3).

The converts who come by way of the cross are those whom the Father draws. In His mysterious process of drawing, He doesn't want mere lip servers to be sought, but disciples who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes. The power of the drawing is in the truth, for Christ is the Truth. If truth is made unmistakable, the power will prove to be invincible. Another way of saying the same thing is that the truth-seeker and truth are made for each other and when they meet, they unite.

On the other hand, the use of psychological and emotional techniques designed to force "decision" may attract an entirely wrong class of adherents who are neither disciples nor followers of the Lamb. If "decision" is secured on the basis of blatant self-interest, it cannot be of faith. And "whatever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). In the resultant confusion, the True Shepherd's "sheep" may be turned away completely because "they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers" (John 10:5). This may be one reason why sometimes so few people respond to gospel invitations.

Jesus said that His own sheep hear His voice. "The sheep follow Him, for they know His voice"; "My own know Me, as the Father knows Me and I know the Father" (John 10:3, 4, 14, 15, Revised Standard Version). Those "other sheep" of Christ's fold therefore need not be persuaded to accept gospel truth; once the truth (made known by the voice of Christ) is clearly presented to them, no power in earth or hell can possibly dissuade them from following that Voice!

The winsomeness is in the truth itself because love and truth are inseparable. He who thinks he is speaking right doctrine but does not speak in love cannot be speaking truth.

--Robert J. Wieland

From In Search of the Cross, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Portrait of Christ and of His "Body"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Marvelous will be the results when God's people as a church learn to love sinners as Christ loves them. The only way He has to show that love to them is through His church on earth. Therefore "God has appointed ... in the church" the various gifts of His Spirit (1 Cor. 12:28) so that the church may become His efficient "body" for expressing Himself to the world in the same way that a healthy person expresses through the "members" of his physical body the thoughts and intent of his mind.

These "gifts" lead up to the supreme gift of love, which Paul says is "a more excellent way" (vs. 31). 1 Corinthians chapter 12 discusses the corporate relationship of the "many members" with one another and with Christ in the church, "the body" (vs. 12). The "more excellent way" of love is revealed in chapter 13 as the normal function of the "body," its corporate effectiveness in service. The two chapters must not be separated.

Many have seen in chapter 13 a "portrait" of Christ. But in its full context the portrait really is of the church. Paul added the 13th chapter to demonstrate how the union of the "many members" in "one body" in Christ becomes the actual body of Christ on earth for the great purpose of expressing His love to a world that is dark with misapprehension of God. And every member is needed for this glorious work to be effective!

Here is a picture of the church in the time of the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Every individual church becomes in its respective community what Christ would be to that community if He were living there in the flesh. Thus His love is communicated effectively to the world, and the lines will be clearly drawn. All men will decide for or against this final revelation. And thus the Lord's prophecy will be completely fulfilled: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14).

When the members of the body perform naturally the intents and feelings of the head, there is perfect bliss. Each organ of the body cooperates in perfect unity; the combination of physical and mental joy is indescribable. "So also is Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12). The perfect joy the human personality experiences is a symbol of the perfect joy the church experiences. "There should be no schism [paralysis] in the body, ... the members should have the same care for one another" (vss. 25, 26).

There is no breakdown of the vital system of nerve pathways conveying communication between the "Head" and the "body." Repentance is this nerve pathway that will communicate this effective love to every member of Christ's body.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Bible Repentance: Path to Love.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Do the "Books of Heaven" Record?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A wise lady once wrote: "God knows every thought, every purpose, every plan, every motive. The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity."

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. (But 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 said, 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." How can I truly help another soul unless I sense this corporate relationship 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 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.

Criticism of leaders might be less severe and more efficient for reformation if God's people understood the principle of corporate guilt and repentance. Ignorance has locked many into helpless frustration in their efforts to encourage reformation. But this truth produces empathy and compassion.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "Corporate Repentance Is Silly: IF You Don't Understand What It Means," A Thought Paper.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."