Weekly Insights about the Quarterly Lessons from the 1888 Message Study Committee.
Friday, August 28, 2009
"Believing in the Son of God"
Believe Today, and Rest
"An Evil Heart of Unbelief." It is the evil heart that disbelieves. It is the dark fog that rises from the low marshy ground of sin that obscures the sight, and makes it difficult to see the truth. It is true that unbelief is the primary cause of sin, but sin in its turn breed's unbelief. The unbelieving heart is always evil, no matter how fair the exterior may be. As long as a man loves sin, so long will unbelief cloud his mind; but as soon as the heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away, and the soul rejoices in the glory of God's sunlight (2 Cor. 3:16-18; 4:2-4).
When Shall We Believe? There is only one time, and that is, Today. "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." "Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today." Yesterday is gone; it is not in existence. Neither is there any such time as tomorrow; it is not yet in existence, and when that which men call tomorrow comes, behold, it is today. Every man has all the time there is, and that is today; no other time has God ever given to men. He saith, "I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). What is the name of the day of salvation?--Today;"it is called Today." He who rejects salvation today, rejects it forever. "Today" may seem to be a very long day, but be sure that the night is coming.
The Cause of Deafness. "Today, if ye, will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Here we see the effect that the heart has on the ears. The heart is deceitful above all things, because it is sinful, "desperately wicked" (Jer. 17:9; Mark 7:21-23), and sin is deceitful. "The deceitfulness of sin" hardens the heart (Heb. 3.13), and a hard heart makes the ears deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is not an unnecessary exhortation that is so often repeated in the book of Revelation: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
God's Works and His Ways. God says of the children of Israel in the wilderness, they "saw My works forty years," but "they have not known My ways." "He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel" (Psalm 103:7). Note that while all the children of Israel saw the acts or works of the Lord, Moses only is mentioned as knowing His ways. Why?--Because Moses had his eyes as well as his ears open. His heart turned to the Lord, and therefore he saw Him with unveiled face. A hard heart, "an evil heart of unbelief," makes one blind, as well as deaf. The only reason why God did not make known His ways unto the children of Israel, was that they would not see; for God did all on His part. He showed them His works, and that is the only way any person can make himself truly known. If we know all of a man's doings, then we know the man himself. Although Israel saw God's "wonderful works," "they soon forgot His works," "and His wonders that He had showed them" (Psalm 78:4-11; 106:13); therefore they did not know His ways.
The Same Things Revealed to Us. God's works are all about us, and they reveal Him to us. "For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made" (Rom. 1.20). Every day of our lives we have been beholding the works of God, which clearly reveal "the invisible things of Him," even "His everlasting power and divinity and yet we have not known His ways. Every day God is doing just as wonderful miracles as the dividing of the Red Sea, yet people will stand and look at these, and gravely discuss whether the age of miracles has not passed! Truly there is need for the exhortation, "Take heed."
Knowledge and Life. What is it to know God?--It is eternal life. "This is life eternal, that they might knew Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3). He who knows God, enters upon the life eternal, having passed out of death into life (cf. 1 John 3:14 and 4:7). We must not make the mistake of confounding eternal life with immortality. Both life and immortality are brought to light through the Gospel (2 Tim. 1:10), but immortality is not bestowed until the "coming of the Lord and the resurrection, at the last trump" (1 Cor. 15:51-54). Eternal life, however, is to be enjoyed now, if ever, for we are saved only by the life of Christ "made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11; cf. Rom. 5:10). Only life, eternal life, can conquer death; therefore he who would have the victory over death and the grave, must have eternal life, which is laid hold of only by faith. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things," that is, the wonderful works of the Lord, "even they shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord" (Psalm 107:43). So will they rejoice in the hope, which the possession of life eternal gives.
Eternal Life and Rest. The true God, the knowledge of whom is eternal life, is "the living God and an everlasting King" (Jer. 10:10). But "the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faintest not, neither is weary" (Isa. 40:28). That is because He is the living God. The characteristic of eternity is freshness. Eternal life is everlasting youth, so that "they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint" (40:31). Eternal life is rest, ever rest,--rest that remains no matter what disturbances arise. It was to this rest that God called ancient Israel, but into which they could not enter because of unbelief. God swore that they should not enter into His rest, not because He would not permit it, but because it was impossible. They rejected faith, the only thing that brings rest. "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." If they had believed, they would have entered in. We may also enter into the same rest that was offered them, and enter in today, if we "take heed" to the voice that calls, "Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not our hearts. "Hear, and your soul shall live," and rest in the Lord."