Home | Newsletters | Books | Tracts | Guest Book | Links | Contact Us | Search   



2 Peter 1:12

Dear Readers,

February 2008

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:3). I want to encourage you to attend any of the upcoming meetings where, among others, Lynnford Beachy will be speaking. 

Upcoming Meetings: February 2, 9: Old Town, Florida, contact Leon Ealy, 352-542-0040. February 16: Orlando, Florida, contact Jerri Raymond, 407-291-9565. February 20-24: Florida Camp Meeting, contact Jerri Raymond, 407-291-9565. February 26: Roanoke, Alabama, contact Todd Brown, 256-449-2248. February 27, 28: Pleasantville, Tennessee, contact Melba Smith, 931-593-3698. March 1: Mt. View, Arkansas, contact John Mark Brown 501-681-8370.

In this Issue

What Did Jesus Teach About God?

by Lynnford Beachy

Waggoner on Romans (Part 23)
by Ellet J. Waggoner
Rest as a Remedy
by Ellen White
Something for the Young at Heart
Leave the Cities!
by Lynnford Beachy

What Did Jesus Teach About God? 

by Lynnford Beachy 

Today, there is a lot of confusion regarding the identity of God, and many people are looked to as authorities on this subject. But, of all the people who have ever lived on this earth, Jesus, God’s own Son, is the greatest of all authorities when it comes to who God is. He said, “No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22). Let’s look at what Jesus taught about God. Who is God according to Jesus? 

Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18). Here, Jesus identified God as the one who sent Him, and the one whose Son He is. 

When talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus told her, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:22-24). Jesus identified God as His Father, and referred to Him using the singular pronoun, auton (autos—Him), and the singular Greek word, QeoV (Theos—God). According to Jesus God is His Father. 

Later, in a discussion with the Jewish leaders, Jesus again referred to God as His Father. “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:18-19). Jesus did not deny the charge of claiming that God is His Father, but He did clarify regarding equality. He said that He can do nothing of Himself, and then followed with such statements as: “the Father… hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (v. 22), “as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (v. 26), “And hath given him authority to execute judgment” (vs. 27), “the works which the Father hath given me to finish” (vs. 36), “the Father hath sent me” (vs. 36). These statements clearly show a difference in authority between the Father and His Son, thus correcting the Jews’ misunderstandings of His claims as the Son of God. You will never find the Son commanding the Father, or sending the Father, or giving the Father authority or power or life. Yet, the Father did all of these things to the Son. 

Jesus said, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:27). Jesus explained who God is, “the Father.” This was His consistent teaching throughout His life. He also said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29). Here Jesus spoke of God as someone other than Himself, as the one who sent Him into the world. Unquestionably, Jesus was referring to His Father. 

Jesus said to His accusers, “Ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham” (John 8:40). He continued, “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me” (John 8:42). He also stated, “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God” (John 8:54). Jesus recognized that the God of the Jews is His Father. He never offered any correction to the Jews on this point, but rather re-enforced their understanding by every one of His statements about God. 

Jesus made the claim, “I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:30-36). Here, when Jesus was directly accused of claiming to be God, He denied the charge, clarifying that He said, “I am the Son of God.” 

Later He explained how He and His Father are one. Jesus, speaking to His Father about His disciples, said, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (John 17:21, 22). The Father was dwelling in His Son by His Spirit, which made them one. This oneness that exists between the Father and His Son, God shares with us. 

Jesus admonished, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Again, Jesus speaks of God as someone other than Himself. In His final prayer with His disciples, Jesus said to His Father, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Jesus made it abundantly clear that there is only one God, who is His Father. Jesus did not just call Him, “God,” not even “true God,” but “the only true God.” This leaves no room for anyone else being the true God. Nor does this allow for Jesus Himself to be part of “the only true God.” He speaks of Himself as separate and distinct from the only true God. Notice also that His language completely leaves out any necessity for knowing a third being. There are only two Persons that it is necessary to know, God, the Father, and His only begotten Son. 

After His resurrection, His understanding about who God is did not change. He said to Mary, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). 

Consistently, throughout His life, Jesus taught that God is His Father, and nobody else. Forty days after His resurrection Jesus made a statement that many take to mean something opposite of what He taught His whole life. Jesus told His disciples, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). Some people take these words as evidence that Jesus was teaching that God is not one Person, but three. Yet, this would make Jesus’ teaching in His last words on earth, something contrary to what He taught His whole life. If we are to identify who God is in this verse, by comparing it with other Scriptures, we would have to conclude that God is “the Father” in this verse. 

If Jesus was trying to teach us that God is a trinity of three persons in Matthew 28:19, what are we to conclude from this? Did Jesus change His mind about who God is? Did He surprise His disciples with a new concept about God in His last conversation with them? If so, His disciples did not seem to get the message. Inseparably linked with Jesus’ command concerning baptism is His command to teach people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” We are to teach people the same thing that Jesus taught. Jesus taught, without exception, that God is His Father. To take Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19 to mean something completely opposite of His teaching throughout His life is to disobey His command to teach people as He taught. 

Moreover, those witnesses who heard His words firsthand, did not understand Him to be teaching that God is a trinity of three persons, for they all consistently taught that God is one Person, God, the Father. The Apostle Paul wrote, “To us there is but one God, the Father” (1 Corinthians 8:6). On the day of Pentecost, just ten days after Jesus gave this command, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). 

This is the first time anyone was baptized after Jesus gave His command, and the instruction here was for people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Peter mentioned all three: we are to repent toward God, the Father, for it was His law that we broke, we are to be baptized in the name of Jesus, for He is the one Who died for us, and baptism symbolizes being buried with Him by death, finally we are to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of God, the Father, and His Son. When Judas asked Jesus to explain the coming of the Holy Spirit, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). 

Every time anyone was baptized after that, the same thing took place. They were always baptized in the name of Jesus. Either the disciples directly disobeyed Jesus’ command to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” or they understood His words differently than many people understand them today. They must have understood those words in a way that is in harmony with Christ’s teaching that God, the Father is “the only true God.” We all would be better off with this understanding as well, for it is life eternal to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ.” 

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30, 31). 

Rest as a Remedy 

by Ellen White 

Some make themselves sick by overwork. For these, rest, freedom from care, and a spare diet, are essential to restoration of health. To those who are brain weary and nervous because of continual labor and close confinement, a visit to the country, where they can live a simple, carefree life, coming in close contact with the things of nature, will be most helpful. Roaming through the fields and the woods, picking the flowers, listening to the songs of the birds, will do far more that any other agency toward their recovery. 

In health and in sickness, pure water is one of heaven’s choicest blessings. Its proper use promotes health. It is the beverage which God provided to quench the thirst of animals and man. Drunk freely, it helps to supply the necessities of the system and assists nature to resist disease. The external application of water is one of the easiest and most satisfactory ways of regulating the circulation of the blood. A cold or cool bath is an excellent tonic. Warm baths open the pores and thus aid in the elimination of impurities. Both warm and neutral baths soothe the nerves and equalize the circulation. 

But many have never learned by experience the beneficial effects of the proper use of water, and they are afraid of it. Water treatments are not appreciated as they should be, and to apply them skillfully requires work that many are unwilling to perform. But none should feel excused for ignorance or indifference on this subject. There are many ways in which water can be applied to relieve pain and check disease. All should become intelligent in its use in simple home treatments. Mothers, especially, should know how to care for their families in both health and sickness. 

Action is a law of our being. Every organ of the body has its appointed work, upon the performance of which its development and strength depend. The normal action of all the organs gives strength and vigor, while the tendency of disuse is toward decay and death. Bind up an arm, even for a few weeks, then free it from its bands, and you will see that it is weaker than the one you have been using moderately during the same time. Inactivity produces the same effect upon the whole muscular system. 

Inactivity is a fruitful cause of disease. Exercise quickens and equalizes the circulation of the blood, but in idleness the blood does not circulate freely, and the changes in it, so necessary to life and health, do not take place. The skin, too, becomes inactive. Impurities are not expelled as they would be if the circulation had been quickened by vigorous exercise, the skin kept in a healthy condition, and the lungs fed with plenty of pure, fresh air. This state of the system throws a double burden on the excretory organs, and disease is the result. 

Invalids should not be encouraged in inactivity. When there has been serious overtaxation in any direction, entire rest for a time will sometimes ward off serious illness; but in the case of confirmed invalids, it is seldom necessary to suspend all activity. 

Those who have broken down from mental labor should have rest from wearing thought; but they should not be led to believe that it is dangerous to use their mental powers at all. Many are inclined to regard their condition as worse than it really is. This state of mind is unfavorable to recovery, and should not be encouraged. 

Ministers, teachers, students, and other brain workers often suffer from illness as the result of severe mental taxation, unrelieved by physical exercise. What these persons need is a more active life. Strictly temperate habits, combined with proper exercise, would ensure both mental and physical vigor, and would give power of endurance to all brain workers. 

Those who have overtaxed their physical powers should not be encouraged to forgo manual labor entirely. But labor, to be of the greatest advantage, should be systematic and agreeable. Outdoor exercise is the best; it should be so planned as to strengthen by use the organs that have become weakened; and the heart should be in it; the labor of the hands should never degenerate into mere drudgery. 

When invalids have nothing to occupy their time and attention, their thoughts become centered upon themselves, and they grow morbid and irritable. Many times they dwell upon their bad feelings until they think themselves much worse than they really are and wholly unable to do anything. 

In all these cases well-directed physical exercise would prove an effective remedial agent. In some cases it is indispensable to the recovery of health. The will goes with the labor of the hands; and what these invalids need is to have the will aroused. When the will is dormant, the imagination becomes abnormal, and it is impossible to resist disease. 

Inactivity is the greatest curse that could come upon most invalids. Light employment in useful labor, while it does not tax mind or body, has a happy influence upon both. It strengthens the muscles, improves the circulation, and gives the invalid the satisfaction of knowing that he is not wholly useless in this busy world. He may be able to do but little at first, but he will soon find his strength increasing, and the amount of work done can be increased accordingly. 

Exercise aids the dyspeptic by giving the digestive organs a healthy tone. To engage in severe study or violent physical exercise immediately after eating, hinders the work of digestion; but a short walk after a meal, with the head erect and the shoulders back, is a great benefit. 

Notwithstanding all that is said and written concerning its importance, there are still many who neglect physical exercise. Some grow corpulent because the system is clogged; others become thin and feeble because their vital powers are exhausted in disposing of an excess of food. The liver is burdened in its effort to cleanse the blood of impurities, and illness is the result. 

Those whose habits are sedentary should, when the weather will permit, exercise in the open air every day, summer or winter. Walking is preferable to riding or driving, for it brings more of the muscles into exercise. The lungs are forced into healthy action, since it is impossible to walk briskly without inflating them. 

Such exercise would in many cases be better for the health than medicine. Physicians often advise their patients to take an ocean voyage, to go to some mineral spring, or to visit different places for change of climate, when in most cases if they would eat temperately, and take cheerful, healthful exercise, they would recover health and would save time and money. 

(Taken from The Ministry of Healing, pp. 236-240). 

Leave the Cities! 

by Lynnford Beachy 

Living in a city provides many conveniences that country life does not offer, such as more work opportunities, less driving distances to work, stores, banks, post offices, hospitals, etc. Yet, these conveniences are gained at a very large price, and could even cost you your eternal life and/or the eternal life of your family members. 

Abraham’s nephew, “Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12). Lot had the freedom to choose the best land in the country, but instead he chose the conveniences of city life. Sometime later he found a house within the gates of Sodom. When God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, He sent His angels to save Lot and his family, and they had to go inside the gates of Sodom to find him. Sadly, only Lot’s wife, and two of his daughters left the city with him. Lot’s other daughters and their husbands were destroyed with the city. Lot’s wife was so joined to the city that she rejected God’s warning and looked back, longingly, toward Sodom “and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26). Lot was so determined to dwell in a city that when the angels told him to go to the mountains, he protested, pleading to go to a smaller city. He was allowed to do it, but soon left that city for the safety of the mountains. 

The cities are full of violence, amusements, and wickedness calculated to draw people away from God and fill them with the love the world. This is a bad environment to raise children for the kingdom of heaven. It can be done, but is much more difficult than it would be in the country. Why would we want to take this unnecessary risk of losing our families? 

There will be a time very soon when the cities will be the worst place for Christians. The Bible tells us that when the mark of the beast crisis takes place, the powers that be will cause “that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:17). This hardship will be much worse for those living in cities, where every bite of food, drink of water, warmth, shelter, etc., is dependent upon the ability to buy and sell. Country life, on the other hand, will not be so severely affected by this, where growing your own food, having access to water, shelter, and heat, can be done without being dependent upon city water, sewer, electric, etc. Also, in time of crisis, one of the first things done is to block the roads so those within the city cannot leave, and those outside cannot enter. 

Shortly after the Lord destroyed the earth with a flood, many people desired to band together to build a great city. “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded” (Genesis 11:4, 5). God did not like this arrangement so He confounded their language so they could not understand each other any more. “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city” (Genesis 11:8). This shows us God’s opinion of earthly cities. 

God told us, “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! In mine ears said the LORD of hosts, Of a truth many houses shall be desolate, even great and fair, without inhabitant” (Isaiah 5:8, 9). God is not pleased with earthly cities, and He wants His people to dwell “alone in the midst of the earth!” It is good to visit the cities to tell people about the Lord, but we should make our homes in the country. 

Some of the problems of city life were explained by Ezekiel, when he wrote, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Pride, fulness of bread, and the abundance of idleness exist in every city today, but often we do not recognize the dangers of these things. It would seem that many cities today are as bad or worse than Sodom and Gomorrah were. 

I know that for some it is difficult to move from the city to live in the country, but “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). It is not as difficult as you might think. When I left the city sixteen years ago, I had just signed a one-year lease in an apartment, and I had several other ties to the city. After praying about it, every tie was broken in one day. I was shocked how the Lord worked it out so quickly. I had tried to get out of my lease before, in the same manner, by letting my roommate take over the lease. I was refused. After praying about it, I tried again, with the same roommate, and it was accepted. I was amazed! 

There are some very helpful resources available to help you find a place in the country. One example is the following website: www.mountainmediaministries.com. To those who still may have questions about the possibility of leaving the cities, God says to you, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). 

Waggoner on Romans — The Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter 

    (Part 23)    by Ellet J. Waggoner 

(We are continuing a series of articles commenting on Paul’s epistle to the Romans. We pray that they will be a blessing to you.    Editor


Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:1-14) 

We come now to the second of the purely hortatory chapters of Romans. This chapter contains matter that is of the greatest importance, and which is perhaps the least regarded of any chapter in the book. 

To Whom Addressed?—In studying this chapter it is necessary to remember that the Epistle is addressed to professed followers of the Lord. “Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will,” etc. (Romans 2:17, 18). And again, “Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law).” etc. (Romans 7:1). The last part of the chapter also shows the same thing. 

It is a mistake, therefore, to suppose that this chapter was designed to set forth the duties of earthly rulers, or as a treatise on civil government, or on the relation that the state should occupy to the church. Since it is addressed to professed Christians, it is evident that its object is simply to tell them how they ought to behave towards the governments under which they live. 

All Power from God—“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” (Psalm 62:11). “There is no power but of God.” This is absolutely true, without any exception. The Roman power, even in the days of the infamous and brutal Nero, was as much derived from God as was the Jewish power in the days of David. When Pilate told Christ that he had power to crucify him or to let him go, Christ replied, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:11). This fact does not, however, prove that the acts of that power were right, or that God sanctioned them. 

This will be the more apparent if we take the cases of individuals. All human power comes from God. It is as true of the heathen as of Christians, that “in him we live, and move, and have our being;” “for we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28). It can as truly be said of every individual as of governments, that they are ordained, or appointed, of God. He has a plan for every one’s life. 

But that does not make God responsible for all their actions, because they are free to do as they choose, and they rebel against God’s plan, and pervert his gifts. The power with which the scoffer blasphemes God is as much from God as is the power with which the Christian serves him. Yet no one can suppose that God approves of blasphemy. Even so we are not to suppose that he necessarily approves the acts of governments, simply because the powers that be are ordained of him. 

“Ordained”—Let no one entertain the idea that this word necessarily implies the imparting of some spiritual power. It means nothing more than appointed or ordered, which we find in the margin. The Greek word from which it is rendered is found in Acts 28:23, where we read that the Jews in Rome appointed a day for Paul to tell them about the gospel. It could as well be said that they “ordained” a day for him. 

God over All—“The higher powers” are not above the Most High. “Wisdom and might are his; and he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings.” (Daniel 2:20, 21). He set Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, over all the kingdoms of earth (see Jeremiah 27:5-8; Daniel 2:37, 38); but when Nebuchadnezzar arrogated to himself divine power, he was driven out among the beasts, that he might know that “the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will” (Daniel 4:32). 

Resisting God—Since there is no power but of God, “he that resisteth the power withstandeth the ordinance of God; and they that withstand shall receive to themselves judgment.” This is a warning against rebellion and insurrection. It is God who removes kings as well as sets them up. Therefore whoever presumes to remove a king is assuming God’s prerogative. It is as though he knew better than God when the government should be altered. Unless those who rise up against any earthly government can show a direct revelation to them from heaven appointing them to that work, they are setting themselves against God, by seeking to overthrow his order. (Editor’s Note: It would be unfair to attribute to the author Luther’s error in upholding injustice in government, or “the divine right of kings.” Waggoner would not expect his phrase to be interpreted in a rigid way to uphold corruption or tyranny.) They are putting themselves ahead of God. 

Resisting or Overthrowing— To resist the civil authority is in the same line as seeking to overthrow it. He who opposes a power with force would overthrow it if the contest were continued and he had the power. This the followers of Christ are strictly forbidden to do. 

Christ’s Example—Christ suffered, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Peter 2:21-23). It is worth while to remember that Christ was condemned on a political charge, and for political reasons, yet he made no resistance, although he showed that he had power to do so. (See John 18:5-11; Matthew 26:51-53). It may be said that Christ knew that his hour had come. True; but he did not resist at previous times. He continually committed himself into the hands of the Father. That is an example for his followers. If they are submissive in God’s hands, they can suffer no indignity nor oppression that God does not appoint or allow; no injury can be done them before their hour comes. It is easier to profess faith in Christ than to show real faith by following his example. 

Another Striking Example— Saul had been anointed king of Israel by command of God; but had afterwards been rejected because of his reckless course. Then David was anointed king in his stead. Saul was jealous of David’s preferment, and sought his life. David did not resist, but fled. More than once Saul was within David’s power, but David would not lift up a hand against him. If there is any excuse for resisting a ruler, David had it.  

In the first place, if he had done so, it would have been only in self-defense; and, in the second place, he had already been anointed king in Saul’s stead. Yet when urged even to consent to allow another to kill Saul, David said: “Destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?… As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Samuel 26:9-11). And yet Saul was a wicked man, who had cast off allegiance to God, and was not fit to rule. 

Subject to God—God’s word admonishes us to be subject to the powers that be, but it never countenances disobedience to God. God has never ordained any power to be above himself. It is the height of folly for us to argue from this chapter that it is the duty of Christians to obey human laws when they conflict with the law of God. God does not grant indulgence to sin; much less does he command us to sin. We are not to be subject to the powers that be instead of to God, but because we are subject to God. “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3:17). 

Subjection and Obedience— Ordinarily subjection implies obedience. When we read that Jesus was subject to his parents, we are sure that he was obedient to them. So when we are exhorted to be subject to the powers that be, the natural conclusion is that we are to be obedient to the laws. But it must never be forgotten that God is above all; that both individual and national power comes from him; and that he has a right to the undivided service of every soul. We are to obey God all the time, and to be subject to human power as well, but always so that it does not involve disobedience to God. 

Can Not Serve Two Masters— “No man can serve two masters.… Ye can not serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24). The reason is that God and mammon are opposite in their demands. Now everybody knows that there have often been human laws that conflicted with God’s commandments. There was once a law in America in the days of slavery requiring every man to do all in his power to return fugitive slaves to their masters. But God’s word said, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee.” (Deuteronomy 23:15). In that case it was impossible to obey the law of the land without disobeying God; and obedience to God made disobedience to the human law absolutely necessary. Men had to make their choice as to whom they would obey. 

The Christian can not hesitate a moment in his choice. The law that contradicts God’s law is nothing. “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:3). 

“Every Ordinance of Man”— Some reader may quote 1 Peter 2:13 as opposed to this. It says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.” Others may say that we are to submit to every ordinance except when it is opposed to God’s law. No exception, however, is implied, nor is any necessary. Neither does the text teach obedience to human laws that contradict God’s law. 

The error arises from a misapprehension of the word “ordinance.” It is supposed that this word means “law,” but a careful reading will show anybody that this supposition is a mistake. Let us read the thirteenth and fourteenth verses of 1 Peter 2 carefully: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance [Greek, creation] of man for the Lord’s sake.” Well, what are these ordinances or creations to which we are to be subject? It makes no difference; to all, “whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him.” It is very clear that the text says nothing whatever about laws, but only about rulers. The exhortation is precisely the same as that in the thirteenth of Romans. 

Submissive yet Disobedient— Let the reader follow on in the chapter last quoted from, and he will see that the submission enjoined does not involve obedience to wicked laws. We are exhorted: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:17). We are to be subject to rightful authority, whether the exerciser of that authority be good and gentle, or froward. Then come the words, “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (1 Peter 2:17-19). 

Now a man could not for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, unless conscience toward God had compelled him to disobey some command laid upon him. This statement, immediately following the exhortation to be submissive, plainly shows that disobedience is contemplated as a probability when those in authority are “froward.” This is emphasized by the reference to Christ, who suffered wrongfully, yet made no resistance. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7). 

He was condemned for his loyalty to the truth, which he would not compromise in the least, and yet he was submissive to the authority of the rulers. The apostle says that in this he left us an example, that we should follow his steps. (1 Peter 2:21). 

Christians and Civil Government—“For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20). Those who through Christ have access by one Spirit unto the Father “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19). Let every man concern himself with the affairs of his own country, and not with those of another. For an American to come to England and presume to lecture Parliament for the way in which it conducts the business of government, or for an Englishman to go to America and distinguish himself by his advice to the authorities, would be the height of impertinence. But if they should begin actively to interfere in the conduct of public affairs, or should stand for office, they would speedily be shown that they had no business there. Let them become naturalized, and then they may speak and act as much as they please; but then they must hold their peace if they return to the country to which they once owned allegiance. No man can be active in the affairs of two governments at the same time. 

This applies to the government of heaven as related to earthly governments, as well as to different countries on earth. The one who is a citizen of the heavenly country has no business to meddle with the affairs of earthly governments. He must leave that business to those who acknowledge this earth to be their home. If earthly rulers think to regulate the affairs pertaining to the kingdom of God, they are guilty of gross presumption, to say the least. But if they may not of right presume to regulate the affairs of the kingdom of heaven, much less may the citizens of heaven interfere in the affairs of earthly kingdoms. 

Making Earth Heaven—Many Christians and ministers of the gospel seek to justify their dealing in politics by saying that it is their duty to make this earth the kingdom of heaven. In a recent campaign we have heard much about “the regeneration of London,” and “making London the city of God.” Such language shows a grave misapprehension of what the gospel is. “It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16). 

Regeneration is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit working upon individual hearts, and can not be controlled by men. The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of Christ, but only “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Revelation 11:15; Isaiah 9:7). There will be a new earth, in which only righteousness will dwell, but it will be only after the coming of the day of the Lord, in which the elements shall melt, and ungodly men shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10-13). It will not be brought about by political action, even though ministers of the gospel be the politicians. The minister of the gospel has but one commission, namely, “Preach the word.” In no other way in the world can men be made better. Therefore the minister who turns his attention to politics is denying his calling. 

Keeping the Peace—We must needs be subject to earthly governments, for conscience’ sake; and for this cause also we must pay tribute and perform every duty of that nature that is laid upon us. Taxes may be heavy, and even unjust, but that does not warrant us in rebelling. The apostle James speaks to rich men who oppress the poor, and his language applies as well when they are in public office as when in private life. He says: “Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” (James 5:5, 6). 

Mark this, the just do not resist. Why not? Because of the injunction: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:18, 19). As subjects of the King of peace, and citizens of his kingdom, they are bound to live peaceably with all men. Hence they can not fight even in self-defense. In this, Christ the Prince of peace is their example. 

To Whom a Terror—Only the evil workers are afraid of rulers. Well-doers have no fear. This is not because all rulers are good; for we know that many are not. “The broad empire of Rome filled the world,” and the one who ruled it when Paul wrote to the Romans was the most vile and cruel of all the monsters who governed it. Nero put men to death for the mere pleasure of killing them. Well might he strike terror to the hearts of men; yet the Christians could be calm, because their trust was in God. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.” (Isaiah 12:2). 

The Whole Duty of Man—“Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8). “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10). “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John 4:7). “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:3). To fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13). 

Therefore, since he who loves his neighbor from the heart must also love God, and love is the keeping of his commandments, it is evident that the apostle has set forth in this exhortation the whole duty of man. He who heeds this exhortation can never do anything for which earthly governments can justly condemn him, even though he be ignorant of their laws. He who fulfils the law of love will never come in conflict with the powers that be. If they oppress him, they are fighting not against him but against the King whom he serves. 

For Christians, Not for the Powers—Some have supposed that verses 8-10 define the limit of civil authority, and show that men may legislate concerning “the second table of the law,” but concerning no other portion of the law of God. Two things kept in mind will show the fallacy of this: (1) The epistle is not addressed to rulers, but to individual Christians, as a guide for their private conduct. If the duty of rulers were here laid down, they, and not the brethren, would have been addressed. (2) “The law is spiritual,” and consequently none of it is within the power of human legislation. Take the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet;” no human power could enforce that, or tell if it was violated. But that commandment is no more spiritual than the other nine. The language is addressed to the brethren, and the sum of it is this: Live in love, and you will wrong no man, and need have no fear of any rulers. 

The End Approaches—The remainder of the chapter is devoted to exhortations that need no comment. Their special force is derived from the fact that “the end of all things is at hand.” Therefore we should “be sober, and watch unto prayer.” Although living in the night, when darkness covers the earth (Isaiah 60:2), Christians are children of the light and of the day, leaving off works of darkness. 

Clothed with Christ—Those who put on the Lord Jesus Christ will not themselves be seen. Christ alone will appear. To make provision for the lusts of the flesh is most unnecessary, since the flesh ever seeks to have its lusts gratified. The Christian has need rather to take heed that it does not assert its own power, and assume control. Only in Christ can the flesh be subdued. He who is crucified with Christ, can say, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). And in that case he will conduct himself towards rulers and private persons just as Christ did, “because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17). 

(Editor’s Note: The following comments on Romans 13 were spoken by E. J. Waggoner and recorded in the 1891 General Conference Daily Bulletin. They are added here for the convenience of the reader): 

How far is it possible for the Christian to live at peace with all men? It is possible for him to be at peace with all men, so far as he himself is concerned, all the time. For he is dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Christ. Christ dwells in his heart by faith, and Christ is the Prince of peace. Then there are no circumstances under which the Christian is justified in losing his temper and declaring war either against an individual or a government.… 

In Galatians 5:18 we are told that “if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” The works of the flesh are the works which are done by those who are under the law, and in the enumeration of these works we find the word “strife.” Therefore a Christian cannot enter into strife, because he is not in the flesh. Strife can have no place in us: therefore so far as we are concerned it will be peace all the time. 

But if those men with whom we have to do, steel their hearts against the truth of God, and will not be affected by the truth, they will make trouble, but the trouble will be on their part; with us there will be peace all the time.… 

“If ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:14, 15). 

Don’t be afraid of the terror. Why? Because we have sanctified the Lord God in our hearts, and he is our fear. God is with us, Christ is with us, and when men cast reproaches upon us, they cast them upon our Saviour.… 

The most important thing for all of us who have this special truth which is bound to bring us into trouble with the powers that be, is to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts by the Spirit of God and his word. We must become students of the word of God, and followers of Christ and his gospel.… There are farmers and mechanics among us, who, although they have never been able to put texts together so as to preach a sermon, have nevertheless sanctified the Lord in their hearts by faithful study of his word. These people will be brought before courts for their faith, and they will preach the gospel there by way of their defense, because God in that day will give them a mouth and wisdom, that their adversaries can neither gainsay nor resist.… 

It is our duty to preach the gospel; to arise and let our light shine, and if we do that, God will hold the winds as long as they ought to be held.… The third angel’s message is the greatest thing in all the earth. Men don’t regard it as such; but the time will come in our lifetime when the third angel’s message will be the theme and topic of conversation in every mouth. But it will never be brought to that position by people who keep quiet about it, but by those who have their trust in God, and are not afraid to speak the words which he has given them. 

In doing this, we will not take our lives in our hands, and I thank God for it. Our lives will be hid with Christ in God, and he will care for them. The truth will be brought to this high place simply by men and women going forth and preaching the gospel and obeying that which they preach. Let the people know the truth. If we have a peaceful time in which to spread it, we will be thankful for that. And if men make laws that would seem to cut off the channels through which it can go, we can be thankful that we worship a God who makes even the wrath of men to praise him; and he will do it, he will spread his gospel by means of those very laws which wicked men have enacted to crush out its life. God holds the winds,… and he commands us to carry the message. He will hold them as long as it is best for them to be held, and when they begin to blow, and we feel the first puffs in the beginning of persecution, they will do just what the Lord wants them to do.… 

“Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:7, 8). If you do this, you live peaceably with all men, as far as lies in you. If you love your neighbor as yourself, that is the fulfilling of the whole law; because to love one’s neighbor one must love God, because there is no love but of God. 

If I love my neighbor as myself, it is simply because the love of God is abiding in my heart. It is because God has taken up abode in my heart, and there is no one on earth who can take him away from me. It is for this reason that the apostle refers to the last table of the law, because if we do our duty toward our neighbor, it naturally follows that we love God. 

Sometimes we are told that the first table points out our duty to God, and constitutes religion, and that the last table defines our duty to our neighbor, and constitutes morality. But the last table contains duties to God just as much as the first one. David, after he had broken two of the commandments contained in the last table when making his confession said: “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” God must be first and last and all the time.… 

All these lessons that we have had are to prepare us for the time of trouble. 

(To be continued) 

(This article was taken from a series of articles printed in The Signs of the Times from October, 1895 through September, 1896. Some editing has been done for this publication.    Editor

Something for the Young at Heart 

This month we are continuing a series of crossword Bible studies that are based on a Bible Lesson printed by Richard Stratton of Philadelphia Press Ministries, PO Box 218, Florence, Colorado 81226. In order to maintain the flow of the study, this crossword puzzle is not split into Across and Down sections—Across or Down is indicated at the end of each line. 

Vain Worship 


Note:    “We can think of nothing worse for a Christian than vain worship, useless worship, worship that does not count. A man may bow down before God; he may pray to Him and call upon His name; he may count himself as one who enjoys the favor of God; but it is all in vain, if he is ‘teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’” (M. L. Andreasen, The Sabbath, pp. 136, 137). 

Note:    Grevious words can pierce people like a sword, and every one of these words will come up in the judgment. We should be very careful with our words, and especially with the manner in which we speak those words. Words can be spoken in a grievous manner that would not hurt if those same words were spoken in love. 

Note:    God’s name is taken in vain by a profession without the possession of holiness. By saying, “Lord, Lord,” with the lips and then denying Him by the conduct, we dishonor God. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). It is easy to think of others to whom these words apply, but we should apply them to ourselves before trying to apply them to others. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Luke 6:41). 

Note:    God did not forbid the use of the judicial oath, in which God is solemnly called to witness that what is said is truth and nothing but the truth. If there is anyone who can consistently testify under oath, it is the Christian. 

Note:    Jesus responded under oath by saying, “Thou hast said” (v. 64). Jesus did not have a problem taking an oath before God. 



To view or print this issue of Present Truth in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) click here.

Present Truth is published monthly by the Present Truth Department of Smyrna Gospel Ministries. It is sent free upon request. Duplication of these papers is not only permitted but strongly encouraged, as long as our contact information is retained. Present Truth is available online at www.presenttruth.info.

Editor: Lynnford Beachy, PO Box 315, Kansas, OK 74347, USA. Phone: (304) 633-5411, E-mail: webnewsletters@presenttruth.info.

Top of page               Home



Home    E-mail    Contact Us