Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Gospel Is Not Magic

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A couple of weeks ago (June 13) we sent out a devotional in which the author, Robert J. Wieland, wrote about a book "entitled The Glad Tidings by Ellet J. Waggoner, a verse-by-verse study of Galatians." He said, "The light broke through the clouds when I read [the] little book."

This week many of you are beginning a three-month study of the book of Galatians, so we would like to make you aware of the availability of The Glad Tidings at: http://www.cfibookdivision.com/ This is an excellent companion to the current study.

Following, for today's devotional, is an excerpt from the book.

The Gospel Is Not Magic

There is nothing in this world that can confer grace and righteousness upon men, and there is nothing in the world that any man can do that will bring salvation. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not the power of man.

Any teaching that leads men to trust in any object, whether it be an image, a picture, or anything else, or to trust for salvation in any work or effort of their own, even though that effort be directed toward the most praiseworthy object, is perversion of the truth of the gospel--a false gospel. There are in the church of Christ no "sacraments" that by some sort of magical working confer special grace on the receiver; but there are deeds that a man who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who is thereby justified and saved, may do as an expression of his faith.

"By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before prepared that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10, KJV, margin. This is "the truth of the gospel," and it was for this that Paul stood. It is the gospel for all time. --Ellet J. Waggoner (pp. 33, 34).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: His Grace--Greater Than Our Sin

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul was a gift to the followers of Jesus. He disdained any claim to be called "an apostle," thought of himself as "one born out of due time," "the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:8, 9), "less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8).

He never forgot his hatred of Jesus Christ; he had "persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15:9). This was not a front; he understood corporate guilt. Whatever sin any descendant of the fallen Adam might commit, Paul saw he was capable of the same, for he understood the sinfulness of his natural-born genes inherited from the fallen Adam.

The Holy Spirit taught him, but it's also true that never had a Jew (other than Jesus) studied the Bible as he did, gleaning truth that the Eleven had not understood, yet they were not jealous of him.

Grasping the reality of his sin, he grasped Christ's righteousness. The Father sent "His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (ours; Rom. 8:3). Deep in the human heart are the rootlets of sin (7:7-11; what woke him up was the conviction of breaking the seventh commandment!). The pure law of God had nailed him like the most common sinner.

The Son of God in our human flesh had met the grand Enemy in mortal combat in His human flesh and forever condemned sin there--a victory not one of earth's billions of "saints" had accomplished except by means of "the faith of Jesus." Alone, friendless, persecuted, rejected, Christ spent His entire life rejecting temptations to sin; His final test--the darkness on His cross. One sinful, selfish thought indulged would have cost Him His glorious victory.

He shares His victory with us; if appreciated, "the righteous requirement of the law" becomes "fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the [Holy] Spirit" (Rom. 8:4). Those who so "walk" today are preparing for the soon coming of Jesus. "Unworthy"? Of course; but it's His grace--greater than our sin.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 9, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 26, 2017

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

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Paul Tells Us in Galatians

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many of you are beginning to study the new Sabbath School quarterly on "The Gospel in Galatians." For those who are not already receiving "Sabbath School Today" (SST) we would like to invite you to subscribe (SST is free). You will receive weekly essays on the lessons, some of which are prepared from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, author of "Dial Daily Bread."

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

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

___________________________

What Paul Tells Us in Galatians

(A Bible Study)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, June 24, 2017

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

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

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

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

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

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is Jesus Really Coming Back Soon?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is It Possible to Believe but Not Obey the Truth?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone asked: "Is it possible that some people might believe and yet not obey the truth? James says 'the devils believe and tremble' (2:19). Is that word 'believe' the same one?"

Yes, it is. But the problem with the devils' "believing" is that they "tremble" ("shudder," Greek). Their motivation is fear or horror or hatred. The "love" (agape) which they have seen does not "constrain" them to selfless living (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), but they dread the final judgment and hate those who do appreciate agape. That's why James says their "faith" is "without works" (2:18)--they have gone the utter length of hard-heartedness.

Isaac Watts describes faith: "When I survey the wondrous cross / On which the Prince of glory died, / My richest gain I count but loss, / And pour contempt on all my pride." The devils "believe" their doom is coming but they "pour" hatred on Christ. They don't "survey" the cross with appreciation but with bitterness.

Is it possible for us humans for whom the Son of God died (please remember, He did not die for the fallen angels!)--is it possible for us to "believe" and not obey? No. That's the point of John 3:16, Romans 1:16, Galatians 5:6, etc. One can't "believe" and continue in sin.

Those who at last enforce "the mark of the beast" and seek to destroy God's true people will claim that they "believe," but at that time "Babylon" will have "become a habitation of devils," and thus the epitome of a presumption that has replaced biblical faith (Rev. 18:2). Today, let's look l-o-n-g at that cross!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 7, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Purpose in Your Heart" to Follow the Savior

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can you find the gospel in the Bible book of Daniel? Or is it all about "beasts" and world empires?

The first chapter packs a powerful gospel punch: here are four young men in university training where their scholarships provide them access to the elitist dining rooms or cafeterias. They will be served the same gourmet bill of fare from the same kitchens that serve royalty.

The delicacies set before them arouse the envy of wealthy Babylonians. The meats come from the fabled outreaches of the empire, and the desserts are mouthwatering. But Good News saved them from health disaster.

These four young servants of the God of Israel petition the authorities for a simple, low-fat, low-sugar vegetarian diet. With the hearty appetite of all teens, these four "purpose" in their hearts to deny their natural cravings for rich food and choose the simple diet. They will not patronize the McDonalds, Burger Kings, pancake houses, or steak houses of their day. Their goal is not merely to live seven years longer and take more holiday trips; they want to keep their minds clear to comprehend the teaching of the Holy Spirit in an era of solemn significance.

We're in that kind of era today, on a world scale. It's great Good News that the same world Savior who blessed Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will give (not merely offer) you and me the victory over runaway appetite.

The Holy Spirit will be your teacher; you won't be able to transgress without His convicting you of truth. Now don't silence His voice, don't deny His loving reminders of truth. "Purpose in your heart" to follow the Savior on this great Day of Atonement.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 20, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, June 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A "Secret Place" Reserved for You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Psalm 91 was written and was inspired by the Holy Spirit for our time from now on. Jesus told us that "the powers of heaven will be shaken" and that "men's hearts [will be] failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26).

Let's turn to this inspired word: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1). Your "place" where you kneel before Him is "secret." No evil angel is allowed to intrude or listen; the Lord is your "fortress" or castle of refuge (vs. 2).

He has been good to you to lead you to give up your idolatry of luxury cars and houses, bank accounts, position, and through His grace He has opened your eyes to see that this world is not your home. And let's be honest--we are afraid of what life will be like here when law and order break down as the Bible has long told us will happen.

But as your response to Him:

Tell the Lord "Thank You" for giving you that "secret place."

Ask Him for something He is ever joyed to give you--some comfort and encouragement you minister to others who are in increasing distress and perplexity. Souls are starving for "bread of life." Beg the Lord to give you a morsel to share.

Look at the time of disaster in a new light: "When [the Lord's] judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" (Isa. 26:9). The Lord's hands are tied: He can't prevent "the time of trouble" from coming; the world has given itself to the rule of "the prince of the power of the air." In rejecting and crucifying and expelling the Son of God, the world has chosen the evil that comes: but the heavenly Father has kept that "secret place of the Most High" reserved for you.

It's the proper thing to say "we should pray," but our psalm tells us more: we are to "trust" in Him (vs. 2).

He is like a mother bird who hides her young under her wings so the hawk cannot get at them (vs. 4). The New Covenant promises are yours to cherish (Gen. 12:2, 3).

If you have been slow in letting the Lord wean you away from an infatuation with this world, beg Him for the true kind of forgiveness--that which takes that sin away from you forever (aphesis in Greek means "bear away," deliver you from it).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 18, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Anti-terrorism Promises in Psalm 91

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Depending on how you count them, in Psalm 91 there are nineteen firm promises to save you from terrorism. With people angry all over the world, the threat of terrorism looms over our present and future. But the final terror, says Revelation, will come from apostate Christianity in the invention and enforcement of the "mark of the beast" (13:11-17). This chapter has been "unrolling" before our very eyes.

Psalm 91 becomes very precious, but is it fair that just anyone can claim these anti-terrorism promises? One of them reads, "Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked" (vs. 8). This might not be so bad, but what we really don't want to "look and see" is the innocent also suffering the horrors that Psalm 91 describes. Surely there must be some reasonable conditions laid down in this Psalm:

(1) It's "he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High" (vs. 1) who can claim these promises. The idea of "dwell" is similar to Jesus' idea of, "if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7).

(2) "Because you have made the Lord ... your habitation" (Psalm 91:9). Same idea; you habitually abide in the Lord, not just 10 minutes a day. As with Paul, "For to me, to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21).

(3) "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him" (Psalm 91:14). Makes sense; you have given your heart to Him--not motivated by fear in an emergency, but constant, steady abiding in Him. Yes, you have learned to love prayer and reading the Word.

(4) "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him" (vs. 15). You're in the habit of doing just that--praying continually.

Thank God, it's not too late to start "dwelling" and "abiding."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 21, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Old Covenant—An Experiment Gone Bad?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Sometimes the most wonderful gift can be wrapped unattractively. That is true of certain "Bible doctrines" that outwardly appear boring or even burdensome, but which are marvelous blessings. One is the Bible doctrine of the Sabbath; in His mercy God asks us to "remember" it, to keep it holy (that's all, to keep holy what He has already made holy!). And Satan wants to make that blessed "remembrance" to appear burdensome.

Another "doctrine" that appears dry as dust (it used to be that way to me!) is the Two Covenants, an idea that I thought only theologians wrangled about in their ivory towers. And the Bible commentaries were no help. It seemed that God was experimenting on Israel, trying this or that method to save them, and since the old covenant was one of His experiments that went bad, He had to think up another method, the new covenant. But that created a real problem: if God Himself has not been sure what to do to save us, how can I be sure of anything?

Then the light broke through the clouds when I read a little book entitled The Glad Tidings by Ellet J. Waggoner, a verse-by-verse study of Galatians. To me it was intensely interesting. God always has had only one way of saving people; He was not experimenting with different ways; the new covenant was always His way; but the people were the ones who tried to invent a different way to get to heaven--they came up with the old covenant idea.

The simple, sunlight truth is that God is too wise ever to try to make bargains with sinners (don't forget, "saints" are sinners by nature) because He knows they cannot fulfill their part of the bargain. His new covenant is not a "contract" wherein both parties, God and the sinner, strike a bargain agreement. It's always His own simple, straight-forward promise to save the sinner by the sacrifice of Himself; and the sinner's proper response is not to promise to do this or that, but to believe and appreciate God's promise--just as Abraham believed.

And there is where the trouble lies: Abraham's descendants at Mount Sinai did not have his faith. So they contrived a different response to God's new covenant promise: they promised to obey (which promise they broke in a matter of days; Ex. 19:8; 32:1-8). So, get under the new covenant today! Believe God's promises to you, and that faith will produce the obedience that has worried you, as it did Abraham.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 12, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Love--The Revealing of God's Character

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Several passages of Scripture give the clear idea that the all-important question in the Judgment will be whether or not we have learned to love. The parable of the sheep and the goats represents Jesus as separating all of us on that one score (Matt. 25:31-46). John's magnificent chapter on agape-love says that the test of whether or not a person knows God is this: "everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love [with agape] does not know God, for God is [agape]" (1 John 4:7, 8).

Further, when "love is perfected among us ... we may have boldness in the day of judgment" (vs.17). New Testament love equips one to walk in humbly yet boldly past all the holy angels and to stand before God's throne without trembling.

No one will ever be able to receive the seal of God and face the horrors of the enforced mark of the beast if there is any fear still lurking in the recesses of the heart. Eradicating every root of fear will be a miracle because all of us humans have been programmed to what Hebrews says is a basic "fear of death ... all their lifetime," which has made us "subject to bondage" (2:15). But "there is no fear in love [agape]; but perfect agape casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in agape" (1 John 4:18).

We could linger on those words. This is a holy, solemn subject. The practical effect of the cleansing of the sanctuary will be to root out that last vestige of fear from the hearts of God's people and to replace it with this agape, which alone is true obedience to God's commandments.

Paul certainly thought of us as well as the Ephesians when he prayed that we might be "rooted and grounded in agape, ... able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the agape of Christ, which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-19).

We may "speak with the tongues of men and of angels" and yet not have agape; we may have the "gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge," and still be without it; we may "have all faith, so that [we] could remove mountains" through miraculous answers to prayer, and still not have the all-essential agape. Worse still, we may bestow all our goods "to feed the poor" and die a martyrs' death burned at the stake, and yet, wonder of wonders, be devoid of agape (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

How can we learn to love with agape? Not by trying, not by working at it, not even by vainly praying for it (though prayer is good, of course). We learn by looking, and looking again: "In this is agape, not that we loved God, but that He loved us. ... And we have known and believed the agape that God has for us" (1 John 4:10, 16).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Undated Paper.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can Satan Fool Someone Who Believes in God?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it a sin to be deceived? Or is it merely a misfortune?

From time to time we read of people who have been deceived by "con men" who pretend to have the power to double their money. Some are preachers, and they tell you that if you give them your life savings, they will "pray" over your money, and then you are supposed to receive twice as much as you had. But you know what happens: they disappear with the money. Now, was it a sin to be deceived by those men?

Some will say, No, it was just bad luck. But think more deeply: God's law says it is a sin to "covet ... anything that is your neighbor's" (Ex. 20:17; 1 John 3:4); the choice to try to double your money by an unlawful method is itself a sin.

The apostle James says "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14, 15). The choice to double your money without earning it is "desire" which "gives birth to sin." Selfishness lies at the bottom of the deception.

It is a sin to be deceived, because Paul says that Eve "being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Tim. 2:14). The sin consists of believing the lie of Satan, which makes one immediately a partaker of Satan, a partner with him in his deception--deceiver and deceived become one.

Believing a lie requires the act of disbelieving the truth. When Satan performs "all kinds of false miracles and wonders," those who accept them and believe them will condemn themselves, for "they will perish because they did not welcome and love the truth so as to be saved. ... The result is that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken pleasure in sin, will be condemned (2 Thess. 2:9-12, Good News Bible).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: God's Message for Africa, 1989.
Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Seeing God in a Different Light

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you are beginning ever so slightly to see God in a different light, as One who is on your side as you never imagined He is, be glad for the revelation.

Almost everyone these days has the feeling that entertainment is stronger than prayer meeting--the lure of the world has more appeal than the service of God. Like a weak distant signal jammed by a powerful radio or TV station nearby, the Holy Spirit seems barely able to come through, compared with the appeal of the world. But Paul says, No: "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:20, 21). Heaven's signal is stronger!

Before we understood the gospel, Paul says, "sin reigned" like a king, beating back the power of grace like Saul kicking against the "goad" (Acts 9:5). But when we understand the gospel, grace reigns like a king and beats back the power of sin. This has to be true, because if there is not more power in grace than there is in temptation, John would be wrong when he says, "This is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith" (1 John 5:4). That would mean that the gospel could not be Good News.

Remember, the battle is never an even one: it's not 50/50. Grace abounds "much more." It is literally true that "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17). You have a new Father, so that the power working within you for good is much stronger than our tendencies to evil, as our heavenly Father is greater than our earthly parents.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: The Good News Is Better Than You Think, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: If Satan Can Invent a False Christ, He Can Invent a False Holy Spirit

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The greatest drought in the history of ancient Israel prevailed in the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. No rain, not even a drop of dew, fell on the parched land for three and a half years; people were dying everywhere in consequence of the national disaster.

Even the king took his trusted "cabinet member" Obadiah with him to search the land for some places where the royal livestock could forage for a little water and grass in order to survive--national security depended on it (1 Kings 18:5).

Likewise, a crisis faces the Lord's church in the last days if there is no "rain" of the Holy Spirit falling upon it worldwide in copious showers of grace. As many Israelites died in Ahab's days of drought, so many in modern Israel suffer; lacking Heaven's true showers of "rain" they fall prey to the clever counterfeits that the Enemy in the great controversy with Christ foists upon them. Youth and teens especially perish spiritually if they are deprived of fresh "bread of life." Every wind of doctrine is blowing. Jesus' words are, "If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand" (Matt. 24:23-25). Common sense is precious.

Most perilous of these deceptions will be the clever invention of a false and counterfeit holy spirit. The truth makes sense: if Satan can invent a false christ, he can also invent a false holy spirit. In the "time of the end ... knowledge shall increase" (Dan. 12:4). If we can conceive of a progression of deceptions, each generation witnessing a new development like "alpha" panentheism unfolding, imagine the almost overwhelming impact of what its "omega" will be!

In Ahab's day, a true prophet of God named Elijah arose and commanded the king to call a national crisis-convocation at Carmel. The universal deception was unmasked publicly. Every Israelite with an honest heart was undeceived. At last the true Holy Spirit had a voice.

The next item on God's agenda for today is His sending "Elijah" "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." He will lead the honest in the world church into the one true miracle of His much more abounding grace: "turning hearts" in the great Day of Atonement (Mal. 4:5, 6; Dan. 8:14). At last, Christ crucified and risen will be "lifted up" as He said He must be (John 12:32, 33).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 12, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Forgiveness--"Up to Seven Times" or "Seventy Times Seven"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A question that perplexed the disciples of Jesus perplexes us today: Peter asked, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" The "sin" obviously was not an ordinary one: it was "against" Peter, something that wounded him personally. The apostle was mature enough spiritually to realize that "seven" is a complete number; it must be the limit for this difficult task.

The sin "against" him was so hurtful that Peter felt it threatened his personhood. Already he was beginning to sense dimly that Jesus was a "Forgiver": little inklings of what led Him later to pray for His murderers, "Father, forgive them!" were showing through. Peter understood that it was his duty to forgive; but it was difficult to do! Nurturing resentment was so sweet to indulge in.

When Jesus enlarged the limit to "seventy times seven" He told about the enormously guilty yet forgiven thief who couldn't forgive his debtor his trifling debt. He ended the little session with the blunt warning that His heavenly Father will not forgive us our "trespasses" if we do not forgive, from our heart, our brother his trespasses, especially those we feel are so "against" us (Matt. 18:21-35).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 26, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 05, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Why Is There Opposition When Truth Is Proclaimed?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why is there so much opposition when truth is proclaimed, even sometimes in the church?

For example, Bible teaching is clear as sunlight that the New Covenant is the "better promises" of God, and the Old Covenant is the worthless promises of the people (cf. Heb. 8:8-10): yet Old Covenant ideas keep cropping up, and there is tension and suspicion where there should be pleasant fellowship and harmony among the people of God ("Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity"! Psalm 133:1).

Like the prophet Jeremiah who was hounded and cursed in Jerusalem by God's own people until he longed for a place in the wilderness where he could cry and cry ("Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night ... in the wilderness ..." (Jer. 9:1, 2); people who love the truths of the Bible weep today. Jeremiah was not a psychopath; the truth is that his opposing people were at war with God Himself. After Jeremiah's death, the Jews began to recognize how he was the greatest of the prophets whom God had sent to them; yet they made his life a hell on earth for him.

The Son of God came one Sabbath day to a congregation of God's true people in the town of Nazareth, and told them He was the true Messiah their people had looked for, for millennia. Result? The people of God who "kept" the holy Sabbath tried to kill Him (cf. Luke 4:16-29). The common people "heard Him gladly" but the higher you went in the hierarchy of the true church of that day, the more bitter was the hatred that the meek and gentle Jesus provoked (Matt. 12:37; John 1:11).

A delegation from the intellectual capital of the then world came to invite Jesus to come and teach them in Greece. The temptation for Him was enormous--get away from this bitter prejudice where he could go and teach receptive people; but He chose to stay and go to His cross and be crucified by the leaders of God's people (cf. John 12:20-27).

He has told us not to be surprised by the painful opposition coming sometimes from God's true people in the last days. As Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34), so He prays today.

And the prayer will be answered: God does forgive His people for opposing and rejecting the beginning of the latter rain and the loud cry; but He will also be very severe. He gives any generation only one chance to accept or reject "the beginning" of that rare and most precious gift of the latter rain. Let no idle word escape our hearts from now on!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 28, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Are You One of Those Blessed People Known as "New Believers?"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are you one of those blessed people known as "new believers?" I was once one! You feel strange: what will this new "family" be like? Did I make a mistake? What's involved in my new "membership"?

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation [dwelling place] of God in the Spirit."

The dear apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians (2:19-22) is welcoming you, and telling you that you are now--careful, let's say it right!--way above the angels because you are now a member inside the "family," living in God's "house." The holy angels step aside as you pass by, for they respect you. There are two categories--"saints," which are people like you, and those mysterious "members of the household of God" who are not classed as "saints." You have a lot of new acquaintances to meet!

You'd never think of abandoning this fellowship, would you? But the Enemy would love to entice you away; so take care.

Further, Paul says you are a permanent addition to the "building" under construction, one of the "stones" that will endure the ages. From now on Heaven looks upon you as a fellow-stone with "the apostles and prophets." Your name is inscribed, along with theirs. Now you will know a lasting thrill as you read Isaiah or Jeremiah, or wherever you read in your Bible: you are "kin" with those characters! Being in the "family," your contacts with every overcoming Bible author and character are more intimate than any video or movie could make them to be. Your Bible has become a new book!

And underneath you as a Foundation is that great Cornerstone, Jesus; the same "granite" that all the little stones are made of, because when He became the Head of the family He took the same flesh and blood, the same nature, that all of us have. And He has made us all to be "partakers of the divine nature."

Each "stone" is a living entity, each different than all the rest, each to be conferred with immortality at the coming of Jesus, each to revel for eternity in the peculiar and unique personality that he or she is "in Christ." All redeemed by "the blood of Christ."

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Ephesians: You've Been "Adopted," 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is It Hard Work to Be "Born Again"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it hard work to be "born again"? We know that we need to be changed from the inside out, and we feel that years of being what we are have made us set in our ways. Our problems are a part of us, through and through, whether it's appetite, jealousy, or whatever addiction has a hold on us. How can we ever become different from what we are?

We can change the color of our hair, but how can we change the color of our eyes? If we were born to be short how can we become tall? For a selfish person to become unselfish seems as impossible. And most poignantly, a sexually impure person to become pure in heart seems totally impossible--so say our courts of law for serious crimes.

Now comes Jesus telling us that "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). To many people it sounds like a death-knell. "I am what I am, and there's no way I can be different! If only blue-eyed people can enter heaven, I'm doomed because I have brown eyes!"

Sit down and read John 3--the whole chapter. Nicodemus asked exactly the same questions. You'll be surprised how much better Jesus' Good News of the new birth is than what we have thought.

Because of what Jesus accomplished on His cross, the Holy Spirit has become everyone's new "parents." When He impregnated the Virgin Mary to bring Jesus to birth, He impregnated everyone with a divine seed of a new life to be formed within. The new birth is not you "born-ing" yourself anew (excuse me; we need a new verb); "the wind blows where it wishes," says Jesus; "so is everyone who is born of the [Holy] Spirit." (John 3:8). He is constantly casting seeds into human hearts, for Christ is the "Light which gives light to every [person] who comes into the world" (1:9). The "seed" is the Light of Good News in Christ.

Don't terminate the new life that the Holy Spirit is constantly begetting within you. Stop resisting Him. If you choose darkness, you set yourself up for judgment.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 17, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Don't Look Down on the Repentant Peter

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Wouldn't it be great if we could discover (maybe in the ancient sands of Egypt) a true, pure, honest, genuine "gospel" that told us a story about Jesus that we had never heard before? The Lord has seen fit to give us Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--four authentic ones. We don't want any apocryphal legend to confuse us; but there is a delightful little story totally authentic that doesn't come across in our modern Bibles; it's a vivid little picture of Jesus that gets lost.

It's in John 21:15-17. It's buried out of sight because we have only one word for "love" in our modern languages. But the Greek had more than one word, and here in the original story there are two contrasting words that Jesus and Peter both used. It's like a black and white picture suddenly becoming full color.

Jesus has been resurrected; now for the third time He meets with His disciples. He has especially invited Peter to come along (Mark 16:7), knowing that he is crushed and humiliated for having denied Christ three times. He feels so unworthy that he is ready to abandon all thought of being an apostle and go back to his fishing business (John 21:3). Never again can he preach!

Jesus asks him pointedly, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me with that special kind of love known in Greek as agape, the kind that says 'God is agape'"? (That's the totally selfless kind.)

Peter's answer is empty unless you see what he said: "Lord, You know that my love for you is not agape, but philos." Philos is ordinary human family affection, the kind of love that everybody has by nature. But Jesus isn't done.

A second time He quizzes the disciple in front of all the others who knew he had denied Christ: "Do you love Me with agape?" Again Peter won't dare make such a claim: "My love for You is only philos." In other words, I have begun at last to understand how weak and unworthy I am. Now I can see that my goodness is no better than that of any of my fellow disciples!

But then "the third time" Jesus presses the thorn in deeper: "Simon, son of Jonas, do you even love Me with philos?" Now Peter bursts into tears. "Lord, You know the emptiness of my heart." Never thereafter, they tell us, were his eyes dry until he asked not to be crucified as Jesus was, but upside down.

It seems that some scholarship insists that Jesus and Peter conversed in Aramaic, which has only one word for love, so all this gets washed down the drain. But if true, then we really do have a problem: someone in translating all this into Greek "added" these details that were never in the original conversation. That would be terrible according to John's own command in Revelation 22:18. We know that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a little town only 6 miles from the Greek city of Sepphoris; of course He knew Greek. And so did John, who told us the story in Greek. The biblical text rings true.

Don't look down on the repentant Peter; put yourself in his place. And be careful when you profess to love the same as God does, and as He is (1 John 4:8). Peter is a good teacher.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 26, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: An Unprecedented Heart-Cleansing

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Revelation 3:14-21 focuses attention on what Jesus Christ has to say to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans." He is obviously trying His best to get that "angel's" attention. According to this message in Revelation, His problem seems the most difficult He has had in our 6000 years of human history. Unless He can find a way to solve the problem of the angel being "lukewarm," how can He not emerge eternally embarrassed for His ultimate failure?

Note that the message is not addressed to the church itself; no, the addressee is "the angel," the leadership of the church (cf. 1:20). The two are not the same.

His "I will spew you out of My mouth" means literally (in the Greek), "You make Me so sick at My stomach that I feel like throwing up." His pain of acute nausea is intense! He is loyal and He is kind, but that's how the Son of God says He feels about the leadership of His church. But who is He speaking to? Who is "the angel of the church?"

"Leadership" equals all levels from bishops down to local elders and kindergarten teachers. What makes Christ feel nauseous is the heart assumption of being "rich" in our "relationship" with Him, our loyalty to Him, when in fact of all these 6000 years we are the most pathetic spectacle strutting on the stage of the world and of the universe (vs. 17).

In a last-ditch appeal, He begs us to sit in the kindergarten and learn what "faith" is--the "gold refined in the fire." What has blinded us is the vain assumption of an historical "enrichment" that is simply untrue (the literal Greek says, "you say ... I have been enriched, when you are unconscious of your utter spiritual poverty," vs. 17).

This strange Laodicean message is illuminated all through the Bible. For example, in his chapter 12:6 to 13:1, Zechariah saw in vision the final process of healing: "the house of David" (leadership, obviously) will lead the way to the cross where our corporate part in the crucifixion of Christ will become painfully apparent (vs. 10). Then comes hope!

The result: an unprecedented heart-cleansing for both leadership and people (13:1).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 13, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: The Only "Light That Shines in a Dark Place"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

With the enormous amount of information Google can search, our computers have become a university at our fingertips.

It's a moot question among Bible students what Daniel means in 12:4: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (the King James Version is a simple, direct translation).

It's obvious that the "increase of knowledge" comes in "the time of the end" when the book is unsealed; so the question is, is it knowledge of what the book of Daniel means, or is it secular Google-indexed knowledge in general?

It's also obvious that it was the Lord's intention that people who witnessed the ushering in of "the time of the end" should also witness the "all things" of Matthew 24:33, which means that the second coming of Jesus "is near, even at the doors."

We also believe that the Lord is faithful: "God is love" (1 John 4:8), which means He does not deceive or abuse His people who reverence His word. He won't tease and torment them with constant exhortations, "it's near, even at the doors," when He Himself has no intention that it should be. It would be cruel for Him to keep His own private dictionary that defines "near" in a way opposite to all of human language.

In other words, the language of Daniel 12:4 (and 11:33-35) and Matthew 24 is straightforward and honest: "near" does not mean that century after century there should be no "end of the world" that the disciples asked Jesus about. His second "coming" and "the end of the world" are synonymous (Matt. 24:3), and He devotes whole chapters in the Gospels to telling about it.

Daniel in his "unsealed" "open" state is not hard to understand; God never intended it to be a trap of futility. Jesus plainly said that anyone who "reads" it can "understand" it (Matt. 24:15). The constant explosion of "knowledge" includes much supposedly "new light" in understanding Daniel and Revelation; but beware. Much of it may be clever ideas that appear plausible, but in the end deny basic truth. Hang on to the "more sure word of prophecy," the only "light that shines in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 17, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Identified" With Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Often people have said, "I just don't feel anything in my heart! I try to obey everything the Bible says to do, but I wish I could 'survey the wondrous cross' and have that love for Jesus that Paul talks about so much. Why do I feel so cold? I'd be willing to wash Jesus' feet but I don't have any tears like Mary Magdalene had. Why does nothing happen when I read my Bible and pray?"

Well, a wise pastor will tell you not to depend on emotional feelings. We are saved by grace through faith, not by feelings. But, was there something the New Testament writers saw that we don't see? If God were to give us a video of the crucifixion of Jesus would that help? (If the answer is yes, then it's God's fault that we are left so cold-hearted.)

Could it be that living under the Roman Empire they were privileged to witness genuine crucifixions (they were common), which thank God we don't have to watch? Then they projected onto the Son of God their feelings of sympathy for those helpless (and maybe often innocent) victims writhing in their anguish, and that did it for them? Why do we read that John "wept much" and was moved in his heart to sing with all his soul, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain" (Rev. 5:4, 12)? Something must have moved him deeply!

Says Paul, "If we have become incorporate with [Christ] in a death like His, we shall also be one with Him in a resurrection like His. … the man we once were has been crucified with Christ, for the destruction of ... self" (Rom. 6:5, 6, The New English Bible). But in The Revised English Bible it's clearer: "If we have become identified with Him in His death, we shall also be identified with Him in His resurrection." Other translators say, "become united with Him," "one with Him," etc., but that word "identified" helps.

No, we don't need a movie or a video; the Holy Spirit will do very nicely. Give Him a thoughtful hour in prayer, and "identify."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 25, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What It Means to "Believe" in Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Eternal life is promised to everyone who "believes" in Jesus: "If anyone keeps My word He shall never see death," He said (John 8:51). "He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life" (5:24).

But what does it mean to "believe" in Him? The Bible warns us of a massive counterfeit of "believing" in these last days (Matt. 24:23, 24, for example).

Genuine believing has to do with the Father giving His Son for the world: "God so loved the world that He gave ..." (John 3:16), not lent Him. That means a totality of giving and an eternity in its duration. It also means an appreciation of His dying for us because the only way we can "believe" is by seeing Him "lifted up" as Moses "lifted up" a snake on a pole "in the wilderness" (vss. 14, 15).

That directs us to the kind of death that Jesus died--on a cross (12:32, 33). Therefore, "believing" in Jesus means a heart-appreciation of the Father's giving Him and of Christ's giving Himself in dying for us our "second death" which we had earned for ourselves (cf. Heb. 2:9, Rev. 2:11).

Such "believing" transforms the believer. It is a genuine new birth because the love of self is "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). Genuine believing in Jesus means therefore that there is a well of "rivers of living water" springing up from within the depths of the heart of every true "believer" in Him (John 7:37, 38). That's what it means to believe in Jesus! You are a channel through which that "water of life" flows to thirsty people.

We must ask seriously, Do I truly "believe" in Him? Lord, help my unbelief!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 23, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Saturate Your Soul with the Story of His Cross

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

As we face the tumultuous events of the last days of earth's history, our Savior feels for us. He says, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1). Psalm 23:4 says, "I will fear no evil; for You are with me." What the Bible means is don't give your permission for your heart to "be troubled." Choose to trust Him by setting your will on His side; Satan cannot terrify you unless you give him your permission. Make your choice to believe!

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" decides David in Psalm 27:1. We want practical, common sense counsel on how to control our emotions in time of trouble. "Come to Me," says the Savior (Matt. 11:28). Saturate your soul with the story of His cross.

Comedians tell us to laugh our fears away, but that's a lie; we're living in the great Day of Atonement when peace of heart comes through serious-minded fasting and prayer. But genuine faith always lifts up the heart with a joy that actually triumphs over your emotions. Your soul sings, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13). Let your soul feast on the psalms that tell of Jesus' struggles with the temptation to be afraid and to doubt (Psalms 22, 40, 69--and many more). He overcame!

Immense Good News is yet to flood the world with light even though evil is everywhere, for "another angel" comes with "great authority, and the earth [is to be] illuminated with his glory" (Rev. 18:1). His message will be "Christ and Him crucified," for Jesus said that when He is "lifted up" (that is, on His cross), He "will draw all peoples to [Himself]" (John 12:32). Not all will let themselves be "drawn," but all will sense the drawing. You do, don't you?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 20, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A "Prayer Book" Provided by the Holy Spirit

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever been opposed, misrepresented, misunderstood, and as a result, pained? Welcome to "David's Club"! The Holy Spirit has provided for you David's "Prayer Book," wherein you can find encouragement for every problem life brings to you.

You know that you are unworthy to pray David's prayers as though they were your own, for he was "the anointed of the Lord," and you have this deep feeling that you are not. But God invites you to do exactly that--to identify with David in his prayers. And here's the reason why it's so:

King David had a Son, a distant Descendant, who so immersed Himself deeply in David's Psalms that He earned the title, "The Son of David." And it is He who invites you to identify with David and pray his Psalms as though they were your own prayers, because that is what He did and they became His prayers. God has "predestined us [you] to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, ... by which He has made us [you] accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:5, 6). Jesus invites you to pray in His name, so that all the encouragement He Himself derived from the Book of Psalms He wants you to absorb also.

You will find this difficult to grasp, that one so unworthy as you know yourself to be should be thus exalted, but you ever afterwards "walk softly" before the Lord and before your fellow humans. David suffered opposition, misrepresentation, even hatred from the people who prided themselves as being God's people, David's fellow-Israelites.

You may suffer problems in your family (so did David, and so did Jesus), or at work, or even (could it be?) in your church--the place where you expected peace and harmony. A wise writer has reminded us that there is a "supreme court of the universe, from whose decision there [can] be no appeal." David often appealed to that Supreme Court, and so can you. Then you can find rest unto your soul, confident in the decision of that "Court."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 24, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Task of the Holy Spirit Ridiculed as "Impossible"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most basic truths of the Bible is subtly opposed even in the church: the teaching of the second coming of Jesus.

Not one "saint" will ever enter heaven except via the "first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5, 6; the Bible does not teach that anyone goes to heaven when he dies; each one who dies "sleeps in Jesus," 1 Thess. 4:14-17). And the resurrection cannot take place until Jesus returns, for only He can raise the dead (John 11:25). Therefore, all the billions who have died believing in Jesus for the past 6000 years are prisoners in their graves, locked therein until He returns!

But Jesus cannot return until His people are ready. As long as there is sin still buried in their hearts, even unconscious sin, they would only "[be consumed] ... by the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians, chapters 1 and 2).

Many say, "I can never get rid of all sin, conscious or unconscious." And thus they oppose the second coming of Jesus. But the Bible makes us uncomfortable, for it plainly declares that God will be successful in preparing a people for Christ's coming; and they will not be a handful of "loners" scattered about in the wilderness. They will be "144,000 ... who follow the Lamb wherever He goes, ... and in their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault before the throne of God" (Rev. 14:4, 5).

This coordinated, united, corporate "body" of believers will be the ripened "harvest of the earth" that gives that "angel" the cue to declare, "the time has come for You to reap," and then "the Son of man" is free to come on "a white cloud, ... having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle" (vss. 14-16).

And this? It is denounced and ridiculed as being the heresy of "perfectionism." "Watch, and keep [your] garments," says Revelation 16:15. The Holy Spirit is working night and day right now, worldwide, to accomplish this task, which is ridiculed as "impossible."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 25, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "The Desires of Your Heart"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you prayed and prayed for some particular blessing, and it seems the answer has never come?

In particular, you have read (and re-read) Psalm 37:4, 5, which says: "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass."

And yet, year after year, maybe even decade after decade, you have not yet realized "the desires of your heart." If that has been your experience, you are not alone (if that can be any comfort to you!). You have a serious problem--to decide what is your evaluation of the character of your heavenly Father.

The way we humans naturally think, the text is written backwards. It should say, "Let the Lord give you the desires of your heart, and then I shall delight myself in Him!" But the "delighting" comes first, otherwise there could be no such thing as faith. No matter how long you have waited for "the desires of your heart," you can choose to believe that your heavenly Father is true to His word, even if you don't see any prayers answered.

This is an extremely critical point in our life: it's where we choose to believe or disbelieve. God "calls those things which do not exist as though they did" (Rom 4:17), and we are privileged to share His faith--to believe in something we cannot yet see.

Your heavenly Father is not being mean to you; He needs you to honor Him before the world and before the universe as one who believes Him in the dark. That was the experience your Savior had on His cross: He felt that God had forsaken Him, yet He chose to believe in the face of total despair. That was the definition of His faith.

We have the Good News that He will have a people on earth who also have chosen to believe Him even in total darkness, when everything seems to be against them. They have asked their Father for a piece of bread; Satan wants them to think He put a stone on their plate. You have the choice to be loyal to your heavenly Father. And then leave that "desire of your heart" in His care, and thank Him in advance that at the right time you will enjoy it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 21, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."