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."

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Motivating Power in the "Everlasting Gospel"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it realistic to expect that we can overcome all sin? Can ordinary people become truly Christlike? Aren't we expected to continue being tempted and falling until Christ comes again? Who wants to be a monk or a nun living in an isolated desert cave to be holy?

Well, the "seventh angel" is right now blowing his trumpet, and "the mystery of God" is being finished, in this grand cosmic Day of Atonement (Rev. 10:1-6; 11:15-19). What has never before happened is to happen--a corporate "body" of God's people will indeed "follow the Lamb wherever He goes, ... for they are without fault before the throne of God" (Rev. 14:4, 5). And to accomplish this previously unheard-of feat comes "the third angel's message in verity"--a grasping of "the everlasting gospel" as Good News better than any previous generation has ever seen it to be (18:1-4).

Don't let yourself fall to the temptation to despise what God will accomplish!

The motivating power in that "everlasting gospel" is "the grace of God," not a paralyzing fear motivation, but a heart-appreciation of how magnificent is that "grace" of "the Lamb," the crucified Son of God. As present-day High Priest, He ministers that grace 24 hours a day. He "teaches us to say 'No!' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age [with all its alluring  temptations]" (Titus 2:11, 12, NIV). Does it really work?

"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (Isa. 30:21). That "grace" won't let you fall into sin unless you "resist" Him. The ball is in your court.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 2, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Christ Can Save the Most Hopeless Failure

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Two men are spotlighted on the stage of world history: Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. The latter ended up a disconsolate suicide; the former, a great Apostle who wrote an honored portion of the New Testament. Aside from petty embezzlement, Judas has no serious marks against him beyond his betraying Christ, whereas Peter cowardly denied Him with cursing and swearing. He too was disconsolate after he realized what he had done and wished that he could die. What kept him from ending up a suicide?

(1) He saw forgiveness in the face of Jesus after the awful deed of denying Him, when the Savior "turned and looked at" him (Luke 22:61).

(2) Peter was not beyond crying tears; Mark says that "when he thought about it, he wept" (14:72). Crying those tears was the best thing he had done in a long time. But tears alone can't save anyone because we read that after he had "sold his birthright" for a momentary sensual indulgence, Esau's tears led him to "no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears" (Heb. 12:16, 17). Peter came within a millimeter of Esau's disaster! He could easily have ended his days in hopeless anguish, but for something else.

(3) He welcomed a crucifixion of self. It's not that he came apart in frantic, pointless self-deprecation, moaning in despair "I'm no good!" But in the hours that followed the shameful denial, he faced reality in sincere, heartfelt prayer. The Holy Spirit held up a mirror for Peter to see himself as he really was and he did not reject the revelation, painful though it was.

(4) Sensing utter unworthiness ever to proclaim the gospel, he resigned his apostolate and returned to his humble livelihood, "I am going fishing" (John 21:3; could it be that none of us can ever honor Christ in preaching unless we do "resign"?). He didn't bang on the leaders' door and demand reinstatement; he accepted his humiliation. But again there's no virtue in humiliation per se; Peter took another step.

(5) He chose to believe the Good News of God's forgiveness "in Christ," and to let himself be "sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:2). He did not resist being "begotten … again unto a lively hope ... to the end, ... [of being] redeemed ... with the precious blood of Christ" (vss. 3-19, KJV). A happy man forgiven in Christ, he was nonetheless ever afterward on the verge of tears of contrition (John 21:17).

A good way for all of us to walk! Christ can save the most hopeless failure of a man or woman; let's let Him do it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 17, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Tremendous, Life-changing Promise

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we come to our day's end and we're about to get in bed, if possible we kneel to pray. On our knees, we are quiet, subdued, in the presence of "our heavenly Father." We think back: have I honored my Savior today? Have I done and said what He would have done and said in my place?

Maybe when we gave something to help someone today, now we wish we had been more generous. When we said "Good morning" to someone, now we wish we had paused just a moment to look that person in the eye and truly pray for him a good morning, the beginning of an eternity of "goodness" which David said "shall follow me all the days of my life" (Psalm 23:6). Now we wish we had shared that "goodness" more liberally.

When we had contact today with someone discouraged, defeated, enmeshed in Old Covenant despair, we wish now that we had known how to inject into our little conversation some saving, vital truth of the New Covenant gospel that would have "made [him] free" (John 8:32).

Yes, we wish that we had had that "truth" at our mental fingertips as Jesus always had something to say that was life giving!

Well, He made a magnificent, tremendous, life-changing promise at the last Feast of Tabernacles He attended: "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (cf. John 7:37, 38).

When we lay our head on our pillow and think just a moment before drifting off in sleep, we may not be "alive" enough to "hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt. 5:6). (The only truly happy people in the world are they!) But we do sense a yearning for some "bread" for our own starved souls; we can't help but pray another little prayer before going to sleep, "Father, forgive me for wasting time this precious day. Please give me grace to be so hungry for the bread of life that nothing else can satisfy me!"

The Lord has solemnly promised, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37). Thank Him a thousand times for that promise. Now believe it and trust in Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Truth Long Overdue

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's a truth long overdue, and it concerns the words in Revelation 14:7, which have so often been read with implicit dread: "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come."

This has been commonly understood as the "hour" when God will judge us humans, and God is very exacting and demanding. And indeed, it is true that such a judgment must precede the second coming of Christ, or else how would it be possible when He comes for Him to say, "My reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work"? (Rev. 22:12). What would determine who should come up in the first resurrection "to everlasting life" and others "to shame and everlasting contempt" in the second resurrection? (Dan. 12:2).

The powerful truth is that primarily that "judgment" of the first angel's message of Revelation 14:7 is when God will be judged. He Himself is on trial; He is in the dock. At last comes the court trial of eternity, and the stakes are high. Will He be acquitted?

The vast majority of earth's inhabitants declare themselves on the side of the prosecuting attorney in this court trial--Satan, whose principal charge against God is that He has given mankind a law that is impossible for them to obey. And they believe it!

This charge has also been echoed by countless ministers of the gospel who declare the same; and the world-loving, "lukewarm" condition of the church is a powerful testimony in favor of the prosecutor's contention. If God's own people can't keep His law, who can??

There will be a "last generation" of people who reject Satan's charge and who demonstrate in their lives that his charge is wrong. They will be "witnesses" in the cosmic courtroom for the divine defense. That gives us an infinitely better reason for giving our hearts and lives to the One who died for us, than concern for our own reward!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 30, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Does the Blood of Christ Cleanse One From Sin?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone asked an intriguing question: "How does the blood of Christ cleanse one from sin?" Is it by a cold-as-ice, dry-as-dust legal substitution of merit, like a bank transferring credit from one account to another? Are the merits of Christ's perfection applied to the unworthy sinner so he goes scot-free? Is it like an insurance company's policy? Is that the biblical doctrine of Substitution? Many assume so, and don't wish to be disturbed into realizing that something far more profound is involved.

Let's face it: "the truth of the gospel" in Galatians is controversial, and has always stirred up the fires of persecution. At least three passages in Galatians probe deeply into this idea of substitution and what the "blood" accomplishes:

(1) "I am crucified with Christ" (2:20, KJV). I identify with Him, says Paul; my heart is won; my heart is moved; He "loved me, and gave Himself for me." Getting to heaven is no longer my main concern; responding to that love has become "the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." It's "not I, but Christ." He "lives in me." A legal substitution? Yes, of course; but infinitely more than that.

(2) Paul preached the cross so clearly, so vividly, that the people saw themselves crucified with Christ (3:1-5). That is, unfortunately, rare preaching today! It wasn't superficial emotionalism; it was heart-gripping truth as solid as granite.

(3) "The truth of the gospel" produces in cold, selfish, world-loving, addiction-cursed hearts, a new passion: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (6:14).

Sometimes I "glory" in a Mozart Andante; it keeps going through my mind, night and day, I can't get it out. Well, without a trace of fanaticism (which cold, persecuting hearts like to attribute to "the truth of the gospel") the sacrifice of the Son of God has gripped the heart so that it has become the "new song" we sing night and day--a holy obsession forever. And here's some Good News: such a new song can be "learned" (Rev. 14:3).

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: All Heaven Waits; So Does Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's something that Jesus said that stumps Bible-believing Christians who for over 150 years have been telling the world that "Jesus is coming soon." He promised that the people who first recognized the "signs" that meant His coming was near were a "generation [that] will by no means pass away" until He should come the second time (Mark 13:30). Why the delay? Unless some reasonable explanation can be given, we can't blame young people for walking away.

The context is clear. Jesus has been describing the "signs" to come in the heavens that tell the world His coming is near ("dark day, 1780), "falling of the stars" (1833; vss. 24-26), and then He is to come. Jesus wants to come the second time!

We must not overlook the fact that in becoming "Emanuel, God with us" He has become one of us for all eternity. He is a Bridegroom eager (as any loving bridegroom is) for His Wedding! He wants to gather to Himself His own--which is why He wants to come the second time. This important aspect of the second coming eludes many sincere people who think only of their own salvation, and not of His happiness.

The heavenly Bridegroom's Bride-to-be has selfishly delayed to "make herself ready" for "the marriage of the Lamb" (Rev. 19:7, 8). There has not been that eager response to His wooing that He longs for. It's outside her door, not inside, where He stands "knocking, knocking" (Rev. 3:20; Song of Solomon 5:2, 3, from where Christ quoted that expression in the Greek Old Testament, LXX).

Scripture assumes that a change will take place in the very heart of that Bride-to-be. All Heaven awaits it; so does Jesus.

--Robert J. Wieland


From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 5, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Heaven's Final Call

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible is revered by both Muslims and Christians, the latter accepting it as the inspired Word of God. Its clear teaching is that for more than 170 years we have been living in the cosmic Day of Atonement, the grand original of which the ancient Israelite day of atonement was a type or symbol. This was the most solemn day of their year, the only one when the Lord commanded His people to fast.

The day of atonement was an object lesson of the final Day of Judgment; ordinary pursuits were to be laid aside; it was to be kept as a holy sabbath, a day of heart-searching, of repentance, a day on which at last the people as a corporate body or nation were to become fully "at-one" with God. In this way it was an object lesson of what it means for us today to become "at-one" with God in a heart-preparation for the second coming of Christ, not merely for death but for meeting Jesus in person-- translation (Heb. 11:5).

The "fast" that was required of Israel on that typical day of atonement symbolized the simple, self-denying Christian life appropriate for us today. Every meal we eat becomes "a sacrament." "Baruch the son of Neriah" lived when his world was falling apart, as ours is today. God asked him, "Do you seek great things for yourself?" The world around you is collapsing, "adversity" [evil] is coming "on all flesh." Be thankful I give you the simple gift of life as a "prize"--forget seeking "great things" more than Jesus had (Jeremiah 45).

In Isaiah 22:12-14 the Lord is disappointed when His people disregard His call to humble repentance: "the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning," but the response of His people was partying and entertainment-seeking, as though He had never spoken. Then He said: "Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, even to your death." The Day of Atonement brings Heaven's final call; to disregard it becomes the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 12:31, 32.

Why is this so serious? Because Jesus, the world's Good Shepherd, feels the agony of the millions who suffer today. To refuse to live in sympathy with Him in His concern for them is to refuse to be "at-one" with Him. The Day of Atonement is what has been lacking in the kind of "Christianity" that Muslims have known. There is light yet to "lighten the earth with glory" (Rev. 18:1-4). It will illuminate Day of Atonement truths now neglected. Many will respond.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: When the Latter Rain Comes …

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When the Holy Spirit outpouring of the Latter Rain comes, will it sweep like a tidal wave throughout the church? Let history speak and tell us something.

An example is the birth of Jesus. The coming of Jesus of Nazareth did not create a "tidal wave" for the scribes and Pharisees in Jerusalem. The great Messiah, the "Desire of all nations," anticipated throughout the world, came in that humble birth of a Baby in a cowshed.

A handful of "wise men from the East" responded to the call of the Holy Spirit; in Jerusalem there was Anna, a very old woman, who came to see Him (Luke 2:36); and there was old Simeon who was ecstatic with joy at His birth (vss. 25ff.). But beyond them, no one gets a mention in the Bible.

Apparently the lesson is clear: when the Latter Rain comes, no one will get a morsel of bread except the hungry ones who are famished for it, and no one will get a drink of water except the desperately thirsty ones. The Latter Rain may be falling in copious showers of grace all around us and we slip through the grand experience untouched, only to embrace a counterfeit cleverly done up by the "father of lies." And then we would collide with the "mark of the beast" test--unprepared.

Some fearing and trembling is appropriate now.

"The High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity" is wide awake and is responding to prayers that are arising here and there throughout the world. He "dwells in the high and holy place with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). He pays special attention to the prayers of him who "trembles at My word" (66:2).

All around the world He is doing that today. Things are happening, beneath the surface.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 6, 2007.
Copyright © 2013 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "The Clearest Gospel of All"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Paul's book of Romans, for many years of my life, was as unintelligible as Albert Einstein's nuclear mathematics. I respected it highly; Romans was simply way over my head. I knew it was part of the Bible and therefore it must be part of the word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. But Romans was for scholars, and I belonged in the kindergarten. Couldn't I get to heaven by staying in the gospel of Mark? For example, my pastor had clearly told me not to try to read the book of Revelation--"It's sealed," he said, "read Mark!" For me, Revelation and Romans shared a common unintelligible status.

Then I learned that Martin Luther had declared Romans "the clearest gospel of all." I respected him, too; so think again.

Then Romans 5 began to take a little shape for me in the mist, as a bit of sunlight pierces a foggy morning. Paul was getting one of his points across to me at last, at least beginning to: All the evil that Adam, our first father, had brought upon the human race was undone, reversed, corrected, by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Man the Bible says is the "last" or second Adam. All that the human race had lost in Adam was now restored "in Christ."

Could that soul-shaking idea really be true? Or was I being naïve in my reading Romans?

What Paul said is clear: "The gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin [Adam's]; for the judicial action, following on the one offence [of Adam], resulted in a verdict of condemnation [on all men], but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, 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" (vss. 16, 18, The Revised English Bible).

I read it and re-read it; the "all" meant "all people," not just the ones that Calvin said God had predestined to be saved (and others lost)--no, as surely as "all people" had sinned so surely had Christ the second Adam given to the same "all people" a verdict of acquittal by virtue of His death for the world. He had died the death of the world!

Now therefore the life the world enjoys is the gift of His sacrifice. If that's true, then it's time we start saying "Thank You" and that implies a lot. Fear is gone; now we have a wholly new motivation.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Living in "The Last Days"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It was 31 A. D. when the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem. Three and a half years later the Sanhedrin erupted in their final act of rage against Jesus, marking the end of the 490 years of national probation God had given them (see Daniel 9:24ff.). They stoned Stephen, the servant of Jesus (Acts 7:54-60; stoning their Messiah as they did so). Thereafter in a double sense, their "house [was] left to [them] desolate" (Matt. 23:38). Over the doomed city (and the nation) hung the woes pronounced by Jesus on the women who wailed at His crucifixion (Luke 23:28-31).

Between 31 and 70 A.D. stretched nearly 40 years. Did life in Jerusalem go on as usual? Yes, businessmen haggled over their bargains; weddings were conducted with merriment; children played in the streets; people carried on "as in the days of Noah before the flood" (Matt. 24:37, 38), unconscious of the ruin coming so soon, ruin unprecedented in world history up to that time.

But were they unknowing? Not really; Jesus' disciples preached the message faithfully, cooperating with the Holy Spirit. Some people listened and humbled theirs hearts, recognizing in Jesus the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah to come. They formed "churches," not magnificent cathedrals but congregations here and there, praying and studying together. They remembered what Jesus had said about their Temple that they had thought would stand forever in worldly grandeur, "not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down" (Matt 24:2).

If there had been TV then, the Christians in Jerusalem would not have laughed at the comedies, nor been engrossed in "soap operas." No, they didn't go around with long faces, but they were dead serious and sober. They had little heart for playing games. They were living in "the last days" before the final end of Israel as a nation. Prophecy said it was certain. They walked softly before the Lord, and they loved to pray. They spent those 36 years since 34 A.D. realizing that all that they had known of Jewish civilization was soon to end.

And it came--70 A.D.

America as a nation after 9/11 was sober and serious--for a brief time. But the enticements of the world soon came back. But there are some today heeding the call of Jesus, "Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly" (Luke 21:34).

Some are living in the serious awareness that this is the great Final Day of Atonement. Join them!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 22, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is It Fair for Jesus to Do All the Work of Saving Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

By His uplifted cross and His on-going priestly ministry, Christ is drawing "all men" to repentance. His gracious love is so strong and persistent that the sinner must resist it in order to be lost.

Is this "good news" too good to be true? To be frank, some people say it is! They have the idea that it's not fair to let Jesus do all the work of saving us--somehow we must work to help Him save us.

This is just another way of saying that "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). The Lord Jesus Christ does the "work" of seeking and saving you; now it's your job to let Him do it. Stop resisting Him through cherished unbelief.

Jesus insists on the metaphor of the Good Shepherd: "the ninety and nine" are safe in the fold; the Shepherd has had a long, hard day working; he is tired and hungry; his beloved wife has cooked his favorite supper and she urges him, "Come, sit down, and enjoy the meal I have prepared for you; you have worked hard enough today. Look at the lowering dark clouds, feel the wind picking up, a wild storm is brewing!"

But the shepherd says, "I can't enjoy rest and the delicious meal you have cooked for me; I must go and find that one lost sheep!"

Why does the Shepherd say this?

He loves the one lost sheep!

And who is the lost sheep?


And me.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 2009.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Divine-Human Bridge

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you have ever been in despair, be encouraged, the apostle Paul himself was there too. It was in Romans 7 when he cried out, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (vs. 24).

Then imagine his delight when he gets into the joy of Romans 8: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (vs. 2).

"No condemnation" means release from what the fallen Adam left to us--our inner sense of a verdict of divine judgment, which has hung over us all our lives. Although these feelings of psychic wrong and maladjustment were deep and penetrating, "the law of the Spirit of life" has gone even deeper and is therefore more far reaching. A new principle delivers from the craven sense of fear. Guilt and moral disorder have enslaved us even from infancy.

No psychiatrist can accomplish such a catharsis of the human soul. It heals. Wrongs and anxieties that even our parents were helpless to relieve find inner cleansing. David speaks of the process: "When my father and my mother forsake me [that is, where they must leave off], then the Lord will take care of me" (Psalm 27:10).

Here's a breathtaking bit of good news: "He who takes God for the portion of his inheritance, has a power working in him for righteousness, as much stronger than the power of inherited tendencies to evil, as our heavenly Father is greater than our earthly parents" (Ellet. J. Waggoner).

God the Father solved our problems by "sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, [and] on account of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:3, 4).

The word "likeness" means identical, the same as. Christ who was fully God now became fully man. He built a divine-human bridge that spanned the gulf of alienation that sin had made between us and God. Its foundations reach all the way to the deepest root within us of sinful alienation.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 26, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Fanatic About the Cross of Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can we be fanatic about the cross of Christ? Say too much about it? Make an issue of it to the exclusion of other themes? Get obsessed about His sacrifice?

If you had been a member of Paul's congregation in Corinth, you would have heard him preach Sabbath after Sabbath for a year and a half on much the same theme; you could have even predicted what his sermon would be about--"Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). Were the young people bored?

Corinthians were a motley crowd of mostly immoral people. According to Strabo the historian, 1000 slave girls were temple prostitutes. "To Corinthianize" included moral corruption, greed, dishonesty--in general, a bad reputation. It was in everything--advertising, social life, commerce. How was Paul to reach people so saturated with it?

He had just come from a largely unsuccessful evangelistic campaign in Athens. Now he "determined to know nothing among" the Corinthians except the sacrifice of the Son of God. There was a steady focus on the "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of the love (agape) of Christ that was demonstrated at the cross. Fanaticism? No. It was sober, clear-headed thinking on Paul's part.

All people except two (Enoch and Elijah) have died the first death--a "sleep." Christ's death was different. It's bad enough to die "despised and rejected of men" (Isa. 53:3); but He had to die feeling despised and rejected of God (Matt. 27:46), a cumulative, corporate, total death embracing all humanity, a divine-human consciousness of all the guilt of every person. That killed Him, "made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). We cannot encompass it; all we can do is to be prayed for by the apostle Paul that we might "comprehend" it "with all saints" and not be left out (Eph. 3:14-19).

When we meet Jesus face to face (as we shall, for certain) we don't want the embarrassment of not having wanted to "know Him," to have evaded "fellowship with Him in His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). To share with Paul what it means to be "crucified with Christ"--that will be glory.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 29, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Where Are You--Satisfied or Deeply Concerned?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There are Christians who are content with the blessings of life that they believe the Lord has granted them. They appreciate their knowledge of God and of His truth. They love their fellowship in their church. They are thankful for their knowledge of the gospel, the hope they have in this dark world, and the meaning that their faith has brought into their lives.

They also appreciate the economic abundance that they are privileged to enjoy. They look forward to the second coming of Jesus, and are content to leave the time of His coming to His mysterious providences. They do not try to define the word "near" with reference to the second advent; they are not concerned whether "near" means in their lifetime or in some future generation. There is always the first resurrection they look forward to. Thanking God, they feel rich and increased with goods. Satisfied.

Then there are other Christians who are deeply concerned about that word "near." Their hearts are burdened for the pain and sorrow that is so widespread, and ever more so, in our world. They are constantly burdened with the last prayer of the Bible, its very last words, "Even so, come Lord Jesus"! They cannot be truly happy until He does come.

They want to "hasten" His coming in any way the Lord can permit them to help. They feel deeply concerned if somehow His people have delayed His coming and thus inadvertently have prolonged the suffering of many people worldwide. They know the deep consciousness that the suffering of unfortunate people is felt by Christ, even today, and they sympathize with Him in the burden He must feel.

These people sense in a particular way a "constraint" of the love of Christ, moving them to dedicate their entire lives to ministry of some kind through the leading of the Holy Spirit. They want to follow the Lamb (the crucified Christ) wherever He goes. Where are you?

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Are You Ready to Entertain This Guest?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever invited yourself to dinner in someone’s home, and then invited yourself to be an overnight guest as well? Suppose you had never met the person before?

Jesus was visiting Jericho where Zacchaeus had been a dishonest tax collector, lining his pockets with what was due the state, imposing heavy charges on the poor citizens. Other politically appointed tax-collectors did the same thing, so much so that people generally hated them.

But Zacchaeus had heard John the Baptist, especially the sermon to tax collectors. Zacchaeus resolved to repent and straighten up. He had already started paying back astonished citizens whom he had defrauded. He was taking a hefty chunk out of his bank account, voluntarily.

A small guy, he climbs a tree hoping to get a glimpse of this Jesus he had heard so much about. Jesus spots him, and then, wonder of wonders, He invites Himself home to Zacchaeus's house for dinner, and to stay there! Seems the opposite of what we read about Jesus elsewhere, that He stands outside our door and knocks, and never enters unless He is invited in! Why this exception?

Well, (1) maybe Jesus was hungry and this seemed His best chance to get a square meal. Not impossible! He did get hungry! And He was dependent on others for food. (2) It is certain that He would be welcome in that home, because this man was demonstrating genuine repentance, restoring what he had taken selfishly. (3) Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was aware that all the wealth he had accumulated was thanks to the blessing of the Lord. Zacchaeus knew he was infinitely in debt to God; the Son of God was not freeloading off of him!

Here's an idea to contemplate: not are you ready to invite Jesus into your home and heart, but does He know and does He have evidence that you would welcome Him--anytime, night or day, as an unexpected Guest? Does He know that you are aware that you are infinitely in debt to Him already? Or do you still have a lingering assumption that what you have you have earned and you deserve? Are you ready to entertain this Guest?

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, May 01, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Thank God He Gives Us a New Day

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever wished you had had the courage to speak up for truth when you didn't? What's written in the Bible is there "for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11). Can we learn from those who in the past failed?

Do you repent for letting Eve cajole you into eating the forbidden fruit when you knew better (she didn't!)? (Gen. 3:6; are you better than Adam?).

... for not standing up alone and publicly defending Noah when he was persecuted while he was building the ark alone? We're being tested today! (Gen. 7:1; Matt. 24:37-39).

... for not believing and defending the inspired Joseph when his ten brothers hated him? (Joseph did have some real faults, hooks on which to hang doubts; Gen. 37:5-8).

... for not standing with Caleb and Joshua when "all the congregation said to stone them with stones"? Were you ready to be stoned with the two? (cf. Num. 14:10).

... for not standing up for David, telling King Saul "you're wrong for hunting David like you do. He's a prophet!"? (1 Sam. 23:9-15; the court was loyal to Saul).

... for not supporting Jeremiah in his dungeon when Kings Jehoiakim and Zedekiah shut him up and the national leaders wanted to kill him? (Jer. 38:1-13).

... for not confessing publicly you too believe in Jesus of Nazareth when the Jewish national leaders "took up stones to throw at Him"? (John 8:59).

... for being a believing "chief ruler" too cowardly to confess Jesus publicly when "the Pharisees" said anybody who does "should be put out of the synagogue"? (John 12:42).

... for not speaking up for Jesus when you wanted to warm yourself by the fire, and this girl was taunting you; it's so hard to take ridicule from her, isn't it? (Matt. 26:69-75).

Thank God He gives us a new day today, a new opportunity to repent and overcome!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 29, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."