Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Is This Thing Called Justification?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many people ask: "What is this thing called justification? It's a word that's over my head. Please help me!" The Bible is God's word; He wants us to understand; He puts the feeding trough down low so lambs can eat. Surely He will respond to our plea.

The idea is simply making something crooked straight; something bad, good; something wrong, right. So, it ends up making something unjust, just--and there's the root of the word. Justification means making them right again.

The source of all this evil is sin. Justification is therefore the opposite of sin. It reverses the evil that sin has caused, it un-does what sin has done, it untangles the knot that sin has tied in the universe of God, and especially on this planet.

Sin has caused an alienated sense of separation from God. It has left us strangers in the universe, our very home. The alienation actually causes "enmity" against God. Justification has bridged the chasm that has separated us from "home," which is the throne of God. This bridging of the chasm is "at-one-ment," a heart-reconciliation with the One whom we have thought was our enemy. He turns out to have been our Friend all along. The root of the problem has been eradicated: justification has made us friends with God again, like we used to be at Creation.

Justification is what One has done whom the Bible calls "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). He untied the knot, reversed the evil, brought good in place of the bad, reconciled enemies into being friends with God, made everything crooked straight, and made everything wrong to become right. This was infinitely more wonderful than if He had wiped us out in one fell swoop and started from scratch creating everything new again.

Changing alienated hearts, winning enemies to be friends--this was the Miracle of the ages. It required a cross on which the Creator gave up His very life in a total sacrifice known in the Bible as "the second death"--an embracing of hell itself in love for us (Heb. 2:9; Isa. 53:12).

This act which He performed did it for all humanity; legally, He saved His lost world, yes, redeemed His threatened universe. That is justification.

But what you didn't ask is what's important: "What is justification by faith?" That's when our sinful, alienated heart appreciates the justification He accomplished for us; and that is a totally changed heart and life. You're now a new you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 29, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: If Sabbath-Keeping Is "Boring," Here's Good News for You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Keeping the Sabbath day is not a matter of cold obedience motivated by fear if we don't keep it, nor hope of reward if we do. That is Old Covenant day-keeping.

New Covenant Sabbath-keeping is heart-to-heart companionship with the One who is "the Lord of the Sabbath." He said to Moses, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex. 33:14), thus teaching us that the "rest" that is in the Sabbath is enjoying His "presence." It is recognizing and believing that you are spending the day with your Savior, personally.

But one might say, "Keeping the Sabbath is boring! I can't wait until the 'sacred hours' are over so I can live again--turn on the TV, play games, go to the mall." If this is your "Sabbath-keeping," here is Good News for you:

"The Lord of the Sabbath" will totally transform your experience, if you don't interpose a rebellious will to stop Him (He is the High Priest cleansing His sanctuary--He does the work). Of course, He feels wounded, slighted, and insulted by resentment of His presence. You'd feel terrible to visit a friend and he avoids you and insults you. But "the Lord of the Sabbath" isn't there to take revenge. He's not mad at you; He feels terribly sorry for you. You are missing the joy of life itself, and on the way to miss eternity.

So now what do you do? Jesus tells clearly what your "job" is: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6:29).

"But I don't know how to believe!" Then make a choice to stop dis-believing. Let the first sacred moments of the Sabbath find you using some sanctified common sense: the Lord of the Sabbath comes with it. Be decent to Him. Tell Him of your frustrations. Be honest: tell Him, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24; you can never go wrong if you pray that prayer).

Be courteous to your Guest, who is unseen but not unknown. Don't drive Him away. Give your Guest a chance to say something to your heart during these 24 holy hours.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 1, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Battle in Paul's Heart

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul stands out as totally consecrated to God, a rare character who could dare to tell people to "follow" him as he followed the Lord (1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7). The Lord honored him highly, so that in vision he "was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Cor. 12:3-7).

But he was not a monk alone in a monastery; he was in the thick of life everywhere. As the Bible tells us that Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15, King James Version), so Paul confides in us, confessing that he has been heavily tempted like everybody else. He is not some self-righteous man who doesn't know what sexual temptation is! He was as susceptible as anyone else.

In Romans, he confesses that he had never understood what the real definition of "sin" is until he discovered what it's like to be tempted by a woman who was not, and could never be, his! He says, "I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, You shall not covet" (Rom. 7:7). (The original says, "your neighbor's wife," Ex. 20:17.)

But again, temptation is not to be equated with sin; the sin comes only in yielding to the temptation. The battle in Paul's heart was severe: "I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do" (Rom. 7: 14, 15). He kept seeing someone in his dreams that he knew he should not see. It's "sin that dwells in me," he said (vs. 17). "The evil that I will not to do, that I practice" (vs. 19).

But read chapter 8--Paul discovers the glorious secret of victory over this kind of temptation. The "secret"? "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (vs. 2).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus' Mission—"Call Sinners to Repentance"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus announced that His mission was to "call … sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9:13). Such an experience is a personal change of mind, a turning around to go in the opposite direction. It includes deep heart sorrow for sin, a sense of shame and self-abhorrence for a life of rebellion against one's Creator and Redeemer. As such, it can be a cataclysmic upheaval of soul.

The way repentance works is clearly taught in the Bible. Jesus' call to repent is to all, for "all have sinned" (Rom. 3:23). "The knowledge of sin" comes through "the law" (3:20). Thanks to the beneficent work of the Holy Spirit, this wholesome "knowledge" is imparted to "every man" as a "Light" that passes no one by (John 1:9).

This knowledge is imparted by a conviction that there is a standard of perfect righteousness in Christ. The sinner may as yet have never heard the name of Christ, but he knows deep in his heart that he has "sinned and fall[en] short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). The awareness of a perfect standard embodied in the law and in Christ may be ever so dim to consciousness, but Christ assured His disciples that as the result of His going to His Father and "you see Me no more," the Holy Spirit would bring to people's hearts a conviction of sin, and of righteousness" (John 16:8-10).

This potential for the conviction of sin is as universal as is the capacity for pain built into every human body. It is a signal that something is wrong. Thus the Lord Himself who "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" has prepared the way for the preaching of His gospel, which is complementary to this conviction of sin communicated by the Holy Spirit to "every man." When Jesus went forth after His baptism "preaching the gospel of the kingdom," His message was, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14, 15).

Teaching legalism or an adulterated "gospel" short-circuits this work of the Holy Spirit in human hearts, and millions as a consequence are never able to receive the gift of repentance, which alone can heal the "hurt" they feel.

But Scripture foretells a time when the gospel will be restored and presented in its pristine purity and the earth will be "lightened" with its glory (Rev. 18:1-4). In millions of human lives it will be like restoring a broken electronic connection. The circuit will be complete--the Holy Spirit's conviction of sin will be complemented by the pure gospel, and the current of heaven's forgiveness will flow through the soul, working miracles of grace.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Christ's Last Great Struggle

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks extensively about the end of the world and of His second coming (see, for example, verses 12-15, 24, 29-31). Of all the books of the Bible, He selected one which He urged us to "read" and "understand"--Daniel. Yet seldom do pastors or teachers study this book. People go to church for years and hear no sermon explaining it.

Daniel's key prophecy says: "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (8:14). In Bible prophecy, a day is a year. In the early 19th century Bible-loving Christians awakened as from a centuries-long sleep to realize that those 2300 years would end in 1844, on October 22. The Holy Spirit impressed many with this stupendous conviction; to this day, millions around the world recognize how history and Bible prophecy converge to render that point of time significant in God's plan for salvation.

We are living in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary; in simple language that means we are living in the time when Christ as our great High Priest is preparing a people to be ready for His second coming--a greater work than preparing His people to die and come up in the first resurrection, wonderful as that work has been. It means that His people must live on earth during the cataclysmic last days when they will meet head-on the last temptations of Satan, but will overcome "even as [Christ] also overcame." They will honor Him, and share with Him His throne. They will demonstrate His righteousness (Rev. 3:21).

But Revelation also discloses that Christ's last great struggle is with the blindness and lukewarmness of His own people who can't seem to grasp the seriousness of the time in which they live (3:15-19). Urgent as never before He says, "Watch therefore" (Matt. 24:42).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Profound Good News in Romans

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Romans tells some News so profoundly Good that we humans can hardly take it in. Even theologians stumble over it, like the builders stumbled over the great stone that was quarried to be the headstone of Solomon's Temple (Matt. 21:42; Psalm 118:22).

The problem is what Paul says: Christ became the "last" or Second Adam, reversing the condemnation that the first Adam brought on the entire human race. For "all men" He turned Adam's condemnation into justification, or a legal acquittal. "That News is too Good to be true," some objectors say.

Well, here's what Paul says:

"God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many [Greek, "all"], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many [Greek, "all"] by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace ... resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... As the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (5:15-18, The Revised English Bible). The King James Version says, "the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

Someone asks, "We need 'justification by faith,' but isn't this 'justification by birth'?" No more than Adam's condemnation comes upon us all "by birth." Jesus took it all upon Himself, so that His title is, "Savior of the world" (John 4:42). The same "all [who] have sinned" are "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:23, 24). This is why He sends His rain and sunshine on the just and the unjust alike. It's why we live.

One very wise writer says, "The sinner may resist this love, may refuse; ... but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; ... to the foot of the cross in repentance." The only reason why Esau was lost is that "for one morsel of food [he] sold his birthright" that God gave him (Heb. 12:16, 17). Jesus does not merely want to be your Savior; He is your Savior. Don't resist Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Controversy Over "The Truth of the Gospel"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Going back in history almost all the way to Pentecost, history tells how the true believers in Jesus wrestled with controversy in their midst over what the gospel means. The controversy erupted before the first general conference of the church was called in Jerusalem (see Acts 15:6ff).

There were aberrant views advanced by "the sect of the Pharisees who believed" (vs. 5). These were not apostates; this was not the beginning of the great "falling away" Paul predicted in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. These were faithful, honest people who did not fully understand at that time "the truth of the gospel" (cf. Gal. 2:5, 14). Their zeal for the law was confused. The faithful and true leadership of the church had to humble their souls and declare that "some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling [subverting, King James Version] your souls" (Acts 15:24).

The fact that these wrong ideas were promulgated by people endorsed by the one true church leadership required rectification; thank God that at that time church leadership was ready to make the wrong right. The acknowledged leader of the general conference of Acts 15 humbled himself, confessed the truth, and gave the world church of the day a solid and bold leadership in the right because he submitted to self being crucified with Christ. The fact that he had to admit being confused did not lessen the confidence the people placed in him, but resulted in strengthening the church.

But that was not the end of the problem. The controversy erupted again, in a meeting years later. Paul relates what happened: "When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, ... And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. ... When I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I ... [rebuked] Peter before them all" (Gal. 2:11-14, KJV).

Paul was not one of the original Twelve, but he was "a chosen vessel" of the Lord.

Are there "dissimulations" and "dissemblings" in the true church today? The judgment is soon to be completed; it's too late for any of us to be confused. There will be 144,000 on the right side. Let's walk softly before the Lord and "take time to be holy," to study, to understand "the truth of the gospel."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 4, 2007.
Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Choice David Himself Had to Make

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The story of Saul, the first king of Israel, next to that of Judas Iscariot, is the saddest in the Bible. The problem was initially the fault of the people. They had demanded of God that He give them a king like all the nations around them. God selected the best man available in the nation. The prophet Samuel anointed him, and all went well for a time. He proved to be politically and militarily a success.

When the Lord directed him to take a step that would establish Israel forever a secure nation, that is, to annihilate the Amalekites, King Saul disobeyed, and lied. Patiently, the Lord tried to help him, but he became stubbornly rebellious. Then the Lord did the most terrible thing He can do to any man or woman--backed off and left Saul to himself. He sent no lightning bolt from heaven to destroy him, just turned His back and walked away.

But God could not forsake Israel. They needed a king whom the Lord could be with, so He instructed Samuel to anoint young David.

Saul yielded his soul to become insanely jealous, and "the anointed of the Lord" persecuted young David. But he still respected Saul as such. A few people believed in David and supported him; but the youth bore a heavy burden: Why was "the anointed of the Lord" against him? Could it be that the Lord also was against him? Had he misinterpreted Samuel's very humble "anointing"? Could he trust the "Spirit of prophecy" of his day when absolutely everything was stacked against him?

David's all-time low came at Ziklag in a disaster that seemed to say he was totally forsaken of the Lord. His own few men talked of stoning him (see 1 Samuel 30). The Lord had to let David suffer being apparently forsaken, or else he would never have been able to write Psalm 22! The Lord did appear to leave him; but in his anguish, David did the right thing--which you and I must do: "David strengthened himself in the Lord" (1 Sam. 30:6).

In principle, it's what the future "Lamb's wife" will do when she "makes herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb." It's something the Lamb cannot do for her, and this was something the Lord could not do for David at Ziklag. There was a choice David himself had to make, something to do himself--believe!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 5, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, October 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Better Promises" Than Ours

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Our human covenants are always two-sided affairs, each party making commitments, giving mutual promises, and then sealing the deal with a handshake or signature. We naturally think of God's covenant in the same way. He makes His promise; I must make mine. He'll do His part; I'll be sure to do mine.

But the fatal flaw in this reasoning is that it puts God on a kind of equality with ourselves, as though He were the next-door neighbor. We, full of self-sufficiency, feel like shaking hands--that's a good bargain, and we'll do just what He says, toe the line, keep His commandments, etc. If such a program could somehow land us in heaven, we'd be bursting with pride. No crown of gold would be big enough to fit our heads. "See? I made it! Well, ... the Lord and I. He did His part; I did mine."

But God's covenants are always one-sided promises, for He knows we cannot keep our own. Whoever deals with Him must deal with Him on His own terms--that He is everything and we are nothing but recipients of His grace. After Noah's Flood we read that the Lord made a covenant with "the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals" (Gen. 9:9, 10, New International Version), yet what promise could they make in return? All they could do was receive the promised blessings at His hand, as they still do to this day. "Your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matt. 6:26).

The Two Covenants--Old and New--are not accidents of time, so that all who lived before Christ were automatically under the Old and all who live in our era are automatically under the New. Sad to say, sincere people today can live under the Old Covenant and not know it; and there were believing ones in Old Testament times who lived under the glorious liberty of the New. The difference was their faith. (The Old Covenant is called "old" because it was ratified first with the blood of animals; the New was ratified later by the blood of Christ, the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," Rev. 13:8.)

The "Good News" of the New Covenant is that it is founded on "better promises" than ours (see Heb. 8:6, 7), "better" because they are the promises of God: (1) "I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts"; (2) "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness"; (3) "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more"; (4) "All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (vss. 10-12).

That is heaven, and it starts even now.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Signs of the Times, April 1984.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Disasters—Who Thinks of the Pain God Must Feel?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Disasters are coming fast and furious--hurricanes, earthquakes, and because of "the distress of nations," "men's hearts [are] failing them from fear" (Luke 21:25, 26). With today's media, we see the "distress of nations" and the fear portrayed in vivid photos and videos that enable us to identify corporately with the millions who suffer.

But who thinks of the pain that God must feel? Do we not read that He cares when even a little bird dies (Matt. 10:29)? Jesus has promised to be with us "to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20). When we suffer, He suffers; His love binds the human race to Himself. Does He not long for all this pain to come to an end?

We know that Jesus is still alive, He is risen from the dead; and He has not forgotten the human race that He died to redeem. He wants to come the second time in fulfillment of His promise. If we say that He has delayed His coming, we make ourselves "evil servants" (Matt. 24:48).

The truth is that His people have delayed His coming. They are too content with the pleasures of living in the great global economy, and are indifferent either to the suffering in the world or the suffering in the heart of God. If it is difficult for us to grasp that kind of identity with Him, that would indicate that we are immature and childish, the little flower girl at the wedding rather than the mature person the Bride is to become (see Rev. 19:6-9).

In order to learn to identify with Christ, begin identifying with Him as He hangs on His cross. Read about it in Psalms 22 and 69. To read those two chapters with even a beginning of understanding stretches your spiritual muscles. Then "graduate" to identify with Christ in His high priestly ministry today in the Most Holy Apartment; sense His concern for the multitudes of people on this planet and His yearning for His church to cooperate with Him in ministry for them. Sense His disappointment; enter into His message in Revelation 3:14-21, not to criticize His church, but to sense how He feels.

When you finish a thoughtful study of the Book of Revelation, you will cry out with John, "Even so, come Lord Jesus!" (22:20). Instead of praying self-centered prayers, you will begin praying prayers for Christ to receive His reward.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 11, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Paul's Two "Big Ideas" in His Letter to the Romans

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Two great "big ideas" permeate Paul's Letter to the Romans. It's a New Testament "epistle" that most of us shy away from. Deep, confusing, boring. Yet Luther hailed it as "the clearest gospel of all." There is something in Romans that explodes like dynamite in human hearts when those two ideas are grasped, and great movements result, like the Protestant Reformation.

The Number One "big idea" hits us like Bad News. It dominates most of chapters 1, 2, and half of 3. Depressing reading. Paul details the horrible sins that are the nature of humanity, whether of pagan nations, or of God's chosen people, the Jews. "All alike have sinned," says 3:23 (The New English Bible; it's correct here).

The "big idea" is inescapable: every human being by nature took part in the crucifixion of the Son of God. There's no way that we can honestly "confess our sins" unless we confess that terrible sin of sins as being ours by right. And that upsets the "Laodicean" lukewarm churchgoers! Paul walks all over their toes with this "big idea." Why? This humbles the pride of man and woman in the dust! We are no better than anyone else! The sin of someone else would be our sin but for the grace of Christ. If God lets go of us, there is no telling where we would end up. Say "goodbye" to self-importance, and "pour contempt" on all our pride. "We" crucified the Prince of glory!

The Number Two "big idea" in Romans also upsets the saints. As the new Head of our human race, the Son of God asked His Father to forgive that unspeakably terrible sin--and He did. The same "all" who sinned have been forgiven, "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (3:24). He died the second death of those same "all" men. "Much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded" to the same "all" men (5:15).

Paul's "big idea" explains the mystery why the Father treats those "all" men as though they had never sinned--His sunshine and rain come on "all" alike! That's what "justified by His grace" means! To despise that grace is the fatal age-old sin of unbelief.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 18, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Buy the Truth and Do Not Sell It"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Young people generally think they're immortal; they'll never be like the old folks they see in nursing homes. A kind heavenly Father says: "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, 'I have no pleasure in them': ... and desire fails" (Eccl. 12:1, 5).

Good common sense! The leaders of the Sanhedrim let their intellectual faculties become hardened with age so that when the young Man from Nazareth came with His refreshing message, they had "no pleasure in" it. When God poured out the "former rain" gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they missed the blessing.

In His loving patience, our heavenly Father tries time and again to interest us in the most precious beginning message of "the latter rain." But if we have loved our intellectual ease more than stretching the mind to grasp it, we will drift beyond the capacity to appreciate fresh revelations of truth.

Our problem is worldliness, "conformity" to society in or out of the church. While we still have a semblance of youth, let's "be transformed by the renewing of [our] mind[s]" (Rom. 12:1, 2). Elderly people can have young, renewed minds!

It was night when Samuel heard the voice of God calling; he immediately got up to listen (1 Sam. 3:3-9). The Lord gave him four calls and he responded each time. It's quite possible that because "the Lord [our] God [is] a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5), we'll have only one call to listen to "the latter rain" truth. "Buy the truth and do not sell it" (Prov. 23:23).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 4, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Was Our Understanding of the "Truth of the Gospel" Frozen in the 16th Century?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was the greatest spiritual blessing since the apostles--an unfolding of justification by faith that can never be overthrown until the end of time; it was what Paul said is "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5). Truth is utterly essential. Jesus said He is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6); He has always been the "Lord God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). "Truth in love" is vitally important because it's "the power of God to salvation" (Eph. 4:15; Rom. 1:16). It's the revelation of the very character of God.

But does that mean that our understanding of the "truth of the gospel" was frozen in the 16th century so that no later generation can ever perceive a clearer grasp of it? One thing we know for sure--sin has "abounded" since the time of Luther and the Reformers. Has the grace of God been restricted so that sin has developed more than our understanding of the gospel can develop? The gospel is "everlasting," but our understanding of it is finite.

To freeze it would be tragedy. The Bible unfolds a greater development in the great controversy between Christ and Satan, for "where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (Rom. 5:20). In the 16th century, God was on top of the situation; He still is in this 21st century. "The everlasting gospel" will yet "lighten the earth with His glory"--a still clearer grasp of saving truth in these last days (Rev. 14:6; 18:1-4).

God assures us that He will not permit Satan to out-think the Holy Spirit, for He has more truth to reveal: "The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).

The great Protestant Reformation of justification by faith has prepared untold numbers of precious souls who die to come up in the "first resurrection" (see Rev. 20:6). They can be happy in the kingdom of God forever. Now we've come to the time when the Holy Spirit will reveal a clearer understanding of truth that prepares people for translation at the second coming of Jesus (see 1 Thess. 4:16, 17)--something to do with the "Elijah message."

This means even deeper, clearer understanding of justification and righteousness by faith.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, October 02, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Lucifer's Number One Lie

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The famous TV "History Channel" loves to tell stories of rebellions and war. Watch some of them before you go to bed, and you'll have nightmares. They should tell the story of the greatest rebellion ever--Lucifer's rebellion against the King of the Universe. If told correctly, and you believed the truth, you wouldn't have any nightmares ever, for "the gospel ... is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom. 1:16); precious good news.

Lucifer was the highest created being in the universe (the name means bright light). He was like the multibillionaire who wants more money (actually, the same spirit). He was not content with his highest position; he wanted to be "like God" in power, and eventually this greed turned into his hatred of God and his desire to drive Him from His throne and grab it for himself.

He fomented his rebellion, relating his accusations against God everywhere, and "one-third" of the formerly holy angels of heaven joined him in his rebellion. "War broke out in heaven: Michael [another name for Christ] and His angels fought against the dragon [Lucifer]; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:7-9).

The inspired story doesn't say they fought with sticks and stones or with bullets; they fought with lies catapulted against truths. It was ultimate war. Lucifer's "weapon" was false charges against God, lies, but they sounded plausible to one-third of the angels.

God's true character was known--He is pure unadulterated love (agape). Lucifer said He is selfish, unfair; that for God to ask that everyone be obedient to His holy law of Ten Commandments is just too impossible, especially so for the people who can't help that they have come from the one man on earth who joined Satan--our father the fallen Adam.

Don't imagine that when Lucifer was cast out that he stopped telling lies; He "deceives the whole world" (vs. 9). His lie Number One: just because you're human, you are doomed to keep on sinning forever or until the Lord Jesus comes and gives you a different nature. Grand lie!

Jesus came from heaven with a "job description" from the Father: defeat Lucifer, prove him wrong, condemn sin in the last place where sin had taken refuge--human hearts. His job: "condemn" sin, stamp on it, defeat it, annihilate it, disarm all its temptations, set the entire world population free from its slavery. Christ did it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 20, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Yom Kippur and the "Cosmic" Day of Atonement

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"What is Jesus doing now?" is a question many believers in Him ask. Since He is the Son of God who suffered unspeakable agony on this planet when He was crucified, it seems only fair that He is entitled to a long "vacation" after such a terrible ordeal. He did His duty heroically; now He can rest, and enjoy the plaudits of the heavenly hosts, and the praise of at least some of earth's inhabitants.

But the Book of Hebrews does not reveal Him as taking an extended rest; He is working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year "continually" as our great High Priest--a full-time job for the infinite Son of God. And the Holy Spirit is ministering constantly to millions and billions of human beings who long for salvation. If the Queen of England or the president of the United States deserve a full-time physician on duty, Christ as infinite High Priest is the full-time Physician of our souls on duty to minister to every one who has faith in Him, giving His full attention as though there were not another "patient."

Hebrews zeroes in on the two-phase ministry of that heavenly High Priest as symbolized by the two apartments in the earthly sanctuary prototype (Heb. 9:1-14). As there was an annual "day of atonement" (Yom Kippur) in the "earthly" Hebrew sanctuary, so there must be a cosmic or antitypical Day of Atonement in the heavenly sanctuary. The ancient Yom Kippur symbolized the removal of all the sins of Israel from the sanctuary where they had been recorded, and their expulsion as so much trash. Each earthly day of atonement resulted in a full or complete "atonement" for Israel, all sins blotted out and a total reconciliation with God, the scapegoat symbolizing Satan forever banished from the camp of Israel.

Since the heavenly high priestly ministry is the grand antitype, what is the difference between Christ's first-apartment ministry and His second-apartment ministry? Hebrews 9 makes it clear: "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (vs. 27). This gives us a glimpse into His first-apartment ministry--preparing people to die, ready for "the judgment." This has been His ministry in most of the nearly 2000 years since His sacrifice.

But "to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (vs. 28). His cosmic Day of Atonement ministry is concentrated on preparing a people for translation at His second coming. But what about those who die during this time? In the ancient service, the first-apartment ministry continued through the final day of atonement; so it is today. We must not forget or frustrate Christ's primary goal for today!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Lord Doesn’t Play Hide-and-Seek With You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Just as one can get lost at sea and not know where he is or where to get help, so one can get lost spiritually. You can even forget the Bible verses you learned as a youth; you can forget how to pray; you can't even read the Bible. You are lost. You are bobbing alone in a wide spiritual ocean; despair begins to set in.

Sometimes an evil spirit can take possession of someone in despair, causing him or her to do or say things that are horrible; they have lost control.

Jesus came face to face with a man who had been through the process and was "demon-possessed, ... exceedingly fierce" (Matt. 8:28). He couldn't say anything intelligent or meaningful, but deep in his heart he longed to be saved. He said something stupid: "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?" (Mark 5:7). Just the opposite of what he had wanted to say!

But he had said the word "Jesus," with a sincere desire for help. But he couldn't even bring himself to ask; the possessor-demons controlled his words (Christ's disciples assumed that he was totally hopeless, just as many today think anyone "lost" is beyond help). But Jesus quickly realized that the man, though desperate, wanted to be saved. Mark records that He cast out the demons, and set the man free.

The truth is that Jesus put Himself in this man's way, which means--He took the initiative. He made His appearance so the lost man could make a response. He always takes the initiative somehow to help the person who is lost as at sea and has wasted all his or her opportunities. In some way Jesus crosses his or her path, so make the choice to cry out even if you can't frame the words.

"Seek the Lord while He may be found," says Isaiah. (The word "seek" in the Hebrew means "inquire after." The Lord doesn't play hide-and-seek with you.) "Call upon Him while He is near." He will respond and give you grace to "forsake" your evil "way," and you can "return to the Lord" (Isa. 55:6, 7).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Demonstration of the Faith of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever been so burdened with duties that it seems you are about to be destroyed? You feel like a wild animal caught in a cage? Maybe you can find some pill that will calm you, enable you to get a night's sleep; but let's get down to the root of the problem: Satan himself is trying to destroy you.

And from there, let's go to the Source of deliverance: Christ on His cross.

He feels so alone: "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" The original language says He felt like He was crying out like an animal caught in a trap (Psalm 22:1).

Night and day He moans in distress; no help comes (vs. 2).

Contrary to the complaints of "good" people who don't like to hear Him say it, Jesus says He felt so crushed by "reproach of men" that He was a "worm, and no man" (vss. 3-6; the "worm" has been edited out of Isaac Watts' poem in our hymn books; now it's "such a one as I").

It does seem that Jesus has been rejected and humiliated by God Himself: they "laugh [Him] to scorn," ridicule His trust in God (vss. 7, 8). "A raging and roaring lion" is about to kill Him (vs. 13).

Amazing as it is to contemplate, the Son of God is on the verge of a nervous breakdown because it seems to Him in His distress that it is God who is trying to crush Him. "In all points tempted like as we are," He has trouble in the black darkness of His soul distinguishing between Satan and His Father. He must sort it out. "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (vss. 14, 15; 2 Cor. 5:21). Here's the ultimate issue.

The biggest problem is knowing who He is (have you ever wondered who you are?). Jesus reviews His own personal history since He was born; "I was cast upon You from birth" (Psalm 22:10). This is the point on which Satan has time and again tortured Him—“IF You are the Son of God ...” You think You're the Messiah! What a Fool You are! Yes, doubts assailed Him.

He seems tossed on the horns of the wild buffalo of Africa; the lion has His head in its mouth; can you imagine greater personal distress (vss. 19-21)? Then in the last moment of His extremity, His faith triumphs and He breaks through into the sunshine. "You have answered Me" (vs. 21, last part).

From verse 22 on to the end, the Psalm becomes a song of praise. He won His battle, and you will win, too. Not because of your faith, no; in this Psalm we see "the faith of Jesus" demonstrated.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 2, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Judgment That's Good News

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Some kind of vast cosmic computer has all our information accurately stored within it, including data impossible for any man-made device to capture--thoughts and motives. Each deed or hidden purpose that conflicts with the foundation principle of the universe ("the law of liberty," James 2:12) will stand out on this computer record as evidence for a case, for Heaven's "commandment is exceedingly broad" (Psalm 119:96). The prophetic judgment scene appears calculated to warn us, and (many conclude) even to frighten us into preparation. But Christ will not coerce by fear what He would win only by love.

The One who presides is an impressive figure called "the Ancient of Days," Daniel says, before whom "a fiery stream issued and came forth" and "ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened" (Dan. 7:9, 10). The whole world is arraigned (see Acts 17:31), for "all have sinned," for which the "wages" is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

But facing reality is always a healthy choice. It is a salutary thing to anticipate this judgment, for "we must all appear" in it (2 Cor. 5:10). And as of today, it is fortunately not too late to take constructive steps toward getting ready. To try to put the matter out of mind would be foolish, for if death and taxes are certain, this is even more so.

The Good News is that that Judge is your Brother "in the flesh," the Son of Man who took upon Himself "the likeness of sinful flesh" and knows exactly how "in all points" we are tempted. "In that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 4:15; 2:18).

He doesn't have to persuade the Father to accept you, for "the Father Himself loves you," He says (John 16:27). You are the key figure in this drama who needs help, who needs to be persuaded of something. Your first step is to believe the Good News of God's grace, which is infinitely better than you have thought it to be.

The result of such believing is that you are reconciled to God; all the misunderstandings about Him are cleared up. This is receiving the atonement, exactly the right thing to do in this grand heavenly Day of Atonement.

God knows that once you believe the good news, your faith will manifest itself immediately, for "faith work[s] through love" (Gal. 5:6). As sunshine is filtered through a prism to produce those glorious colors of the spectrum from infrared to violet, so the faith of Christ shining out from your heart finds prismatic display in your life of obedience to all His commandments.

We can never say a big enough Thank You to Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, September 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Could God Be Wrong (Or Appear to Be)?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that a sinful man could be right and God could be wrong (or at least appear to be wrong)? Could a man be reverent and rebuke God? Or correct Him? If that were to happen, would God be angry with him? Yes, there was once such a man, and God was pleased with him--Job.

Job did not know about the altercation in chapters one and two between God and Satan over him. God told the truth about him, he was indeed "a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil" (1:8; 2:3). In Job's innocence, he could not understand why it appeared that God had treated him unjustly; his three friends pressed this thorn deeply into Job's heart, telling him that God had not punished him as much as he deserved--Job was a terribly evil man, or all these calamities could never have come upon him.

Job knew positively, that was not true about him; he knew that he had been "a blameless and upright man, one who feared God and shunned evil." That was plain, solid truth. To him in his innocent honesty, God was going back on His true character of righteousness and justice.

So Job did what any honest person should do under that circumstance: he called on God to repent and return to His true character of love and righteousness!

And God loved to hear him say it. Job proved that God was right when He told Satan that Job was "blameless and upright." In the end God vindicated Job and honored him as a man who anticipated the people in Revelation 17:14 as the group who are "with" "the Lamb" [openly and bravely on His side in the great controversy!] and "are called, chosen, and faithful."

The Lord Jesus is even now calling His "144,000" out of "every nation, tribe, tongue, and people" (Rev. 14:6). The story of Job is a great blessing, for it helps us understand that immense developments are happening behind the heavenly scenes when it appears to us on the surface that God has abandoned the great controversy with Satan.

When probation closes, there will be a people who will "taste" of the "cup" that Jesus drank down when He cried on His cross, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Their hearts will be knit with His in eternal union!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 10, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Final Atonement--Let's Not Miss Out

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When people ask, "What is Jesus doing now?" the standard answer is, "I go to prepare a place for you. ... that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2, 3). Nailing boards and laying brick to build "houses" for us? He must have something more meaningful to do.

He is working 24 hours a day seven days a week as our great High Priest. But what does that mean? A priest's job is to go between sinful people and God; so is Jesus a Lawyer "fixing" our tickets with the Judge? "I know how sinful you are; you can't help it, so just go on sinning. Trust Me as your Lawyer; I'll get you through the wrath of God"? But that may be immature.

Jesus Christ has no mind for make-believe. Not now on this cosmic Day of Atonement, His final work just before He returns personally. A living people must be prepared to meet Him face to face, to look in His eyes with no shelter in between. Since His personal presence "is a consuming fire" to sin (Heb. 12:29), it makes sense that He is "cleansing" a people of all sin.

Cherishing sin deep in the heart is lethal! Zechariah 13:1 has the idea--a "fountain shall be opened ... for sin and for uncleanness" from all the selfish filth stashed away in the closet of our minds and hearts. Through Christ's true Vicar on earth, His Holy Spirit, He is working to "convict," to make His people aware of what is hidden unknown in the heart (see Jer. 17:9), so it can be confessed and renounced. It's a joyous work motivated not by craven fear, but by a heart appreciation of His much more abounding grace. Zechariah understood it: that "grace" opens our blinded eyes to see Him on His cross as One whom we have "pierced" (12:10). Sin deeper than we have ever imagined!

The result? A total heart-reconciliation with Him, the "final atonement." Let's not miss out on what He is doing.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Unimaginable Joy of Living in "Heavenly Places"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's a strange but delightful promise that God makes to us--that our Lord Jesus Christ will dwell with us, live with us, share our abode with us: He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Imagine living in such "places"!

We may live in a shack--but the Lord Jesus says He will live with us there, share our humble abode, partake of our lowly hospitality as our permanent Guest. His holy presence with us makes our shack become a Palace. It is transformed into a "heavenly place," the loftiest abode in the universe. Never again are we to be lonely. Life each new day becomes a fresh adventure, for we never can anticipate the new and unimagined joy that becomes ours, dwelling with Jesus in a divine intimacy.

Even Jesus Himself shares with us the unimaginable joy of living in "heavenly places," for in verse 20 we read that the Father "raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the [same] heavenly places." In the case of Jesus there is a super magnificent heavenly joy involved, for Jesus was "dead," and no one can ever appreciate life like someone who was "dead"--the only such Man so far is Jesus, and now it's we also through living faith in Him.

Our brother and fellow-believer in Christ, the beloved apostle Paul, has a glimpse of what it all means. He has a unique insight: he sees us as having been "dead," but he also sees our present life therefore as being a "resurrection" from death. Interesting insight! This transforms life for us: it makes our present ordinary existence to be transformed into a magnificent resurrection of life.

Your eternal life "in Christ" has already begun; you may yet go to sleep a bit, but if your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life, nothing can ever take it out (aside from your own choice, which, God forbid!).

"I have come," says Jesus, "that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). That's your life today; it transforms what you thought was your mere existence into the most glorious life in all the universe--life with Christ, its Creator, its Sustainer, and the Savior of it all. And there's no end to it, ever! Thank Him that it's true, and then serve Him gladly forever.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 3, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Disaster Survivors--What Can We Tell Them?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If there is a God of love, of compassion, of mercy, why does He permit natural disasters? The TV images are etched in our memory as vividly as if the horror were next door. The atheist simply says, "There is no God! Forget him." The Muslim says quite likely, "It's the will of Allah that this happen! Somehow it pleases him. Submit." The Calvinist will say: "God predestined this to happen. It was his will," much the same as the Muslim's view. The materialist will shrug his shoulders, and say, "I'm glad I don't have to suffer like that!" and go on seeking pleasure. The Bible transcribes his thoughts, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1 Cor. 15:32).

One flood survivor was reported to say, "It's like the gods have abandoned us." What can the Christian say? It's not so much saying something as doing something. He will give generously to help send relief. He will also give, and go if possible, to tell the people the truth of God's character of love, in other words, the gospel.

But what can one tell them? There is both good and evil in this world of sin; God created a perfect world, but sin has ruined it. Therefore, plagues have come and will come. But God has shared the sorrow that sin has brought to our once-perfect world, became One with us, and suffered the most intense agony that sin could bring to anyone--crucifixion. He is Lord of lords and King of kings, but not yet has the time come for Him to re-create this earth into the new earth because "the course of this world" is still in rebellion against God, and Satan is still "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2).

Tell the suffering people that we can cherish a "blessed hope" in the second coming of Christ, that He will wipe away all tears. And if any of us have survived floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, plane or car crashes, crime, cancer, etc., we should remember what life we have left and what little we may have, and do what we can to lessen the suffering of someone else.

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ..." (Phil. 2:5).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 8, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Does the "Savior of the World" Save the World From?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord Jesus Christ is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). But what does He save the world from? What is salvation? Is it merely a physical resurrection, carrying on the same existence which we now have, with new bodies? Or can we say that salvation is deliverance from the sin that plagues our present life? And if we have not known what that deliverance from sin is now, will we be able to enjoy any kind of a "resurrection"?

We humans are not "saved" by being delivered utterly from "the flesh," but by receiving power to rule over the clamors of our "flesh." The "[much more abounding] grace of God" actually "teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:11, 12, New International Version). This is to rule over all the evil tendencies and desires of "the flesh" which we have inherited from the fallen head of our human race, Adam. We humans do not develop character by being delivered from the realm of temptation, but by receiving power to conquer all the temptation. That is salvation!

The Savior does not try to save us in a way that would leave us limp and characterless, by putting us in a place of no temptation; no, He came to us humans just where we are, in the midst of all our temptations. He came in the very flesh as we have, and in that flesh He met all the temptations known to that flesh, and conquered every one of them right up to the moment when He cried "It is finished!" on His cross and bowed His head and died.

By means of that conquest, He has brought victory over the flesh to every soul in the world who will open his heart to receive that "faith of Jesus." Hot-house tree plants that have never been outdoors and never known cold and wind are helpless to endure real life and can never develop into strong trees; the Savior of the world is busy as our great High Priest "saving" a people who will be happy meeting Him face to face when He returns, who will not be ashamed in His personal presence. They must not be surprised that temptations assail them, or that trials plague them. That is evidence that the High Priest is actually working on their case!

Good news! Let Him work!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Bible Teaches Genuine Self-Respect

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible does not encourage self-esteem, but it does teach genuine self-respect--the solid kind that all the devils in hell can't undo. It's learned from believing the following story:

At the age of 30, Jesus of Nazareth got the news that John the Baptist was preaching repentance at the Jordan River. He told His mother Mary, "Mother, I've got to go. I'm laying down my saws, hammers, and chisels, and I'll never touch them again; I'm going on the mission My Father told me of, that I've told you about since I was twelve" (see Luke 2:49).

John refused to baptize Him. "I am ordained to baptize only people who have repented, and You have no sins to repent of." Then Jesus told him how He was taking the sins of the whole world upon Himself, making Himself guilty of them all, "made ... to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). "And yes, I have repented of them all." So John relented (see Matt. 3:13-17).

When Jesus came out of the water, He knelt on the Jordan's banks and prayed such a prayer as the world had never heard before, nor had the angels in heaven. And something wonderful happened: the Father Himself answered Jesus verbally and audibly so the whole world could hear Him (except they didn't recognize the Voice): "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). And, you remember, the dove descended, as the visible Holy Spirit.

As the Father put His arms around Jesus before the whole world, He also put His arms around you, and said those same words. "But I am a sinner," you say; "He wouldn't do that for me!"

When you go to a shop and buy something for $10, you exchange your $10 for an item which you believe is equivalent in value. We read that the Father "so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ... " You are "the world." In other words, when the Father thinks of you with all your sins and unworthiness, He thinks of you as of equivalent value with His Son; He loves you both equally.

You'll spend the rest of your life here on earth, and in heaven eternally, trying to understand this.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 24, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Priceless Counsel From the Apostle Paul

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle Paul has given us priceless counsel: "I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think" (Rom. 12:3). None of us are excused from listening.

But if he stops there in the middle of his sentence, he leaves us in such a state of self-depreciation and unworthiness, that life could become a hell on earth. How highly should I "think of myself"? I have sinned (Rom. 3:23); I "am less than the least of all saints" (Eph. 3:8); I have no "righteousness of my own" (Phil. 3:9); not only am I a sinner, I "am the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15); my natural-born unbelief merits for me "condemnation" because I "have loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:18, 19); "woe is me, for I am undone" (Isa. 6:5).

But Paul doesn't stop halfway through that sentence. He continues: while I am to think of myself in a humble way, I am also to "think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). No matter how much I have sinned, how unworthy I am, God has given me an appropriate personal gift of faith. He respects and honors my personality (Psalm 139:5-18).

He has already died my second death (Heb. 2:9), thus He has elected me to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:4-6), not willing that I should perish (1 Tim. 2:4). If I simply tell the truth, Christ is already my "Savior, ... especially" if I "believe" (1 Tim. 4:10; John 4:42). Therefore I am invited to the great banquet of "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:9) where there is a place card with my name on it--all by virtue of Christ's sacrifice on His cross when He went to hell to find me.

Does this mean that I shall continue living in sin, rebellion, and transgression of God's holy law? If the love (agape) of Christ constrains and motivates me, I can't live for self (2 Cor. 5:14, 15), for the Holy Spirit is stronger than my own sinful nature that I was born with (Gal. 5:16, 17), and the much more abounding grace of Christ is stronger than the world's abounding sin (Rom. 5:20).

Yes, if I get a glimpse of the cross of Christ, I know that I belong there instead of Him, I deserve what He suffered; I confess it, and lo, "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).

And that "measure of faith" that God has given me makes me live "risen with Christ" (Rom. 6:5).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Whatever the Crushing Blow in Your Life, the Savior Says, "Come to Me"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The happiness and peace that Christ promises are infinite in scope. But please remember that those blessings are all "in Him." If you have suffered a bad deal in life--a heart-breaking divorce, disappointment in love, failure in business or career, rejection by peers, or a battle with cancer (we could go on and on)--as Savior of the world, Christ opens His arms and says "Come," "I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Personified as Wisdom, He cries out, "Blessed is the [person] who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors, for whoever finds Me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord" (Prov. 8:34, 35). Joel says, "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls" (2:32; remember, Mount Zion and Jerusalem, the remnant, mean the church).

Whatever the crushing blow, either emotionally or physically, the Savior says, "Come to Me, ... I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Your heart will sing again, for these words apply: "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay [the mud], and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth ..." (Psalm 40:1-3).

But all these blessings are "in Him." That is, you receive them in fellowship with Christ. Your soul is knit with His soul; His thoughts become your thoughts; His aspirations are your aspirations; you live "in Him." His cross becomes your cross; His presence is manifested with you in your loneliness and pain. As He is "made ... who knew no sin to be sin for us," you sense that the sin that weighs Him down is your sin. You identify with Him. You sense that oneness continually; and lo and behold, the "burden" that you carry and the "yoke" you thought was "hard" becomes "light" and "easy" (Matt. 11:30).

The reason is, identifying with Him, being "in Him," He is sharing your "yoke" with you, carrying the heavy part. You have a wholly new perspective on your life. And yes, you sing a "new song."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 5, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God's Invitation to "Breakfast"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The controversy has raged for decades, yes even thousands of years: are human beings saved from eternal death by faith alone or by works? Or by faith plus works? It began with Abraham when he took a second wife, Hagar, to supplement his "faith" with "works." Christians of many churches are still confused about this.

The Bible seems clear, but it doesn't seem to end the conflict: "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). So, (a) salvation is a "gift of God" (see Rom. 5:15-18; the Bible doesn't say it's "an offer"); (b) even the faith is a gift; (c) and salvation is specifically "not of works," but the faith itself "works" (Gal. 5:6; it's a verb, not a noun).

Now, here's a simple "nuts and bolts" test: Is day-to-day living also by faith or is it partly by works of obedience? For example, you wake up in the morning. Is it your job now to initiate a "relationship" with God as though you call Him on your phone, wake Him up, and start a conversation with Him? And if you forget, is He is off doing something else and you are left on your own?

Well, here's the conflict: many sincerely think they see in the Bible evidence that the initiative is ours; it's our "works" or we have no connection, no "relationship" with Him. Maybe they are reading their "works" philosophy into the Bible.

Here's an interesting insight: According to Isaiah 50:4, God is awake before we are; He is trying to wake us up, inviting us to listen to Him; He is taking the initiative to maintain a "relationship" with us (which He started in the first place); our part is to respond to His renewed invitation. He loves us more than we have thought; His Good News is better than we imagined.

"The Lord God ... awakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as the learned," He "hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary" (Isa. 50:4). Yes, it's true! Now don't be "rebellious" to His every-morning invitation to "breakfast," nor "turn away" (vs. 5).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 23, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Problem of “Assurance” of Eternal Salvation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can anyone have assurance of personal, eternal salvation? The usual answer is “Yes,” but people often overlook the sad reality that in the final judgment Jesus says, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, ... and then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me’“ (Matt. 7:22, 23). Something extremely sad had gone wrong! They had been self-deceived, and their faith they thought was real turned out to be a counterfeit because it had not “worked” obedience to God’s commandments.

So, how do we solve this problem of “assurance”? Just saying, “I feel good! That proves I have assurance of eternal salvation!” might prove to be tragically wrong. On the other hand, constant worrying and fear are not God’s plan either. Some thoughts that may point to an answer:

(1) There is something that deserves our attention more important than our own personal salvation--the success of Christ in the great controversy with Satan. When our concern is caught up “with Him” in His work and His success, our self-centered worry and fear are gone.

(2) If you try to ground your “assurance” on your own faith, obedience, and works, it will leave you forever wondering if you have enough “faith,” or “obedience,” or “works.” The focus of your interest and concern is still on self, no matter how you try to dress it up with pious terminology. The inevitable result is one of two things--either spiritual arrogance (“I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”; Rev. 3:17), or spiritual discouragement (“I wish I could be good enough to go to heaven!”).

(3) Even if we say the right phrase, “My assurance is ‘in Christ,’“ our personal claim to be “in Him” is worthless if the evidence of being “in Christ” is lacking in the life. There is no conflict between “faith and works.” True faith is demonstrated in works, and they must be seen in the Judgment Day, not to save us, but to prove that our faith is the genuine thing.

(4) Our real assurance is, therefore, what Christ accomplished for the human race. We were “justified by His blood” (Rom. 5:9) which was shed at the cross; He elected us to be saved eternally, chose us, and wants “all men to be saved.” You’ll have to confess that if you are saved at last, your salvation will be due to God’s initiative.

Now, are you resisting His will? Do you have a rebellious will against Him? Are you resisting the Holy Spirit’s convictions of sin? Thank God for sending Jesus to die our second death, for saving our souls. Let His Spirit guide you in the paths of obedience. There’s no need to worry about yourself.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the “Dial Daily Bread” Archive: January 7, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Precious Truth of Romans 8:1-4

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

God did a wonderful thing for us all when He called Saul of Tarsus to become Paul the apostle. Paul had a mighty intellect but was gifted with a humble, honest heart that enables him to connect with us everywhere who are deeply tempted, some one way, others, another.

In Galatians 5 he cites "works of the flesh" at the top of the list: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness [unrestrained sin], ... revelries." "Our beloved brother Paul" frankly tells us "that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God" (vss. 19-21; cf. 2 Peter 3:15). We need that honesty!

Paul confesses that he has wanted deep in his soul to "delight in the law of God" but some evil force is "bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:22-24). That's the cry of human hearts worldwide.

Now Paul tells us the most precious truth of Romans 8:1-4: The Father knows our problem. Our "flesh" is "weak," and the law is powerless to help us. So, "sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh," sent His own Son right into the cesspool of human sin in order to save the world. Christ "was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin" that we might "become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). He took upon Himself the same sinful flesh that we all have, and conquered sin right there where it feeds on our souls.

Receive that faith of Jesus and "the righteous requirements of the law [are] fulfilled" in you as you "do not walk according to the flesh but according to the [Holy] Spirit" (Rom. 8:4). He is stronger than all temptations!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 13, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Ruler of This World" Who Wreaks Havoc Is Not Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many thoughtful Christians ask, "Why does God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible says 'God is love' (1 John 4:8), permit these awful disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes?" To say nothing of wars that we humans create.

All such questions inevitably revert to the great one: Why did the loving Creator of the world permit the Flood of Noah? It upset the earth's equilibrium! In that history we see the portrayal of the government of Heaven in relation to fallen, sinful humanity.

God did not permit the Flood to come for 120 years, because through Noah He had proclaimed a message of "the righteousness which is according to faith" (1 Peter 3:18-20; Heb. 11:7). But unbelieving, rebellious humanity had become a curse to themselves.

Now only a small portion of the earth's surface is inhabitable, for again "the earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have ... broken the everlasting covenant" (Isa. 24:5). That's a guilt we all share.

God purposes that that same message of "righteousness by faith" again be proclaimed worldwide (Rev. 14:6-12). "The ruler of this world" who wreaks this havoc is not Christ--he is the Enemy of Christ, "the prince of the power of the air" (cf. John 14:30; Eph. 2:2).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 14, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Does God Remember King Solomon's Prayer?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Does God remember King Solomon's prayer? (It's buried in 1 Kings 8:22-61.) Your happiness now and forever depends on your answer.

You’ve read about his temple, with furniture of solid gold, and wallpaper also of solid gold. Huge crowds were present at the dedication. His prayer is the longest in the Bible. He knelt with his hands lifted up to heaven (vs. 54). It takes us a long time even to read it; he must have been tired.

Eleven times he prays to the great God of all the earth to "hear," to "listen," to anybody in all the world who prays to Him, even the pagans and the heathen anywhere whose heart turns toward Him. Solomon seemed obsessed with this idea of begging God to listen or hear, even if those who pray have rebelled against Him, disobeyed, "forsaken … the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods and served them" (Jer. 9:22). The invitation is to sinners everywhere: "Hear … their prayer and their supplication," Solomon begs (vs. 49).

Even if they should languish as captives in a foreign land, if they would “come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness,’ … then hear … their prayer and their supplication (vss. 46-49).

Now the question: Does God remember Solomon's prayer? The king asks in verse 59 that “these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord” be recorded before the eyes of God, forever, written on the walls of His heavenly sanctuary!

If you answer the question, Yes, then know that He welcomes you, a sinner, into His presence, and that He indeed "hears," "listens," to your prayer.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 19, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."