David Maas, focusing on Old and New Testament scriptures which establish the permanency of God's Word and His immutable Laws, examines our current, precarious state as God's called out ones having two minds—spiritual and carnal—in mortal combat until one permanently perishes. We share some of the same miserable, almost hopeless characteristics experienced by Siamese twins conjoined at the brain. Our conjoined carnal twin is pulling us incessantly toward sin and death. Unless we, with God's help, bifurcate our two opposing natures, our two warring minds, we will die spiritually. The only part of us that will survive through the grave is our character—our thoughts, the contents of hearts, what we think about all day long. This 5th installment of the "W's and H's of Meditation" focuses on some strategies to guard our spiritual legacy box. Proper meditation can strengthen and solidify our memories. If we systematically and incrementally stockpile God's Word (the mind of Christ) into our nervous systems, even though our outer man is (progressively) decaying and wasting away, while our inner self is being renewed day after day, we will nurture our spiritual legacy. Meditating on the Word of God, storing it in our nervous systems and absorbing it into our characters, will ensure the secure protection of our spiritual legacy box. The Mind of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, God's Holy Spirit, is our spiritual legacy box, the treasure we now carry around in earthen vessels but will translate to dazzling spiritual bodies at our resurrection into God's Kingdom.
David Maas, resuming his exposition on the W's and H's of Meditation, provides of list of related scriptures, beginning with Psalm 119, showing that meditating on God's Holy Law produces profound peace and vivid memory. Meditation fosters peace and tranquility, and vastly improves memory consolidation, safeguarding the integrity of our emerging spiritual body. The only part of us that will survive through the grave is our character—our thoughts, the contents of hearts, what we think about all day long. God will access the lifelong file of memories and make a judgment upon how we have lived. Allowing media and entertainment to grab our attention will dangerously distract us from our primary objective—qualifying to be the Bride of Christ. Researchers have scientifically proven that meditation improves memory and memory consolidation, as well as generates profound peace as an antidote to agitation, stress, chaos and confusion. The act of meditating, even if the focus is on our breathing or on an idyllic scene, is beneficial physically or psychologically, but the maximum benefit will accrue if we meditate on the things God has mandated—namely His Law and His Word.
Richard Ritenbaugh, focusing on the concept of justice, asserts that real justice with fairness and equity (at least in the human sphere) is becoming rare. Divine justice, on the other hand, because Christ died for our sins, leans toward kindness and mercy. The Founding Fathers of the United States used biblical principles in the judicial system of the colonies, deriving 34% of their quotations and allusions from the Bible for their documents. The Puritans studied the scriptures assiduously, believing that if their principles would be incorporated into our laws, government would function smoothly and effectively. Sadly, those principles which were once implemented into our laws are being corrosively eroded and destroyed, as is manifest by the Supreme Court's endorsement of Roe vs. Wade, ushering in legalized murder on a massive scale. God created the universe, giving laws that would sustain life and promote happiness. All authority for law and justice resides in God; when God is taken out of the picture, darkness and chaos dominate. God clearly delineates good from bad and right from wrong. What He commands is good. The things which God forbids are bad for us. If God says something, it should never be thrown aside. Laws have penalties when they are transgressed. God, not a hanging judge, prefers that a sinner repents and gives them time to change and repent. God's laws, designed to create a better life and more perfect life and character, are not an end in themselves, but should become integrally a part of us. When sin becomes woven into our character, life becomes complicated; sin or crime has domino consequences, rippling through many generations. We never commit sin in a vacuum, but inevitably involve our family and ultimately bring curses to the rest of the entire human family. Sin destroys life. Execution of judgment is relegated to constituted authority, not presumptuous vigilantes or those who become involved in blood-feuds. The law should be executed with equity, with no partiality, favoritism, or
Richard Ritenbaugh focuses on the double standards of the proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis, at once insisting that we treat the Bible like every other literary document while insisting the New Testament jump through extra hoops. Looking at the extant number of the ancient texts available to corroborate the authenticity of the Scriptures, more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament have been found than for any other classic text. If every New Testament were destroyed tomorrow, the text could be reconstructed by going to the writings of the church fathers. There are also more corroborating manuscripts of the New Testament in languages other than Greek. The veracity of the Scriptures is something we can take to the bank, in essence our only protection against the torrent of deception we face today, giving us the strength to endure and overcome. God's Word points out profound and necessary truths, prompting us to change our thinking and behavior. As we change, God instills His character in us, allowing us to begin living as He does. As we read God's Word, we must remember that assent is not acceptance. We must accept what God says, obeying and yielding to Him unconditionally, even though human nature stiffens in rebellion at the prospect. We must develop a proper sense of proportion in our relationship to God. We must mortify sin and give ourselves as a living sacrifice. We then must have no doubt that God is capable of giving us whatever we need to finish our course, transforming us into His image.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reiterating the importance of God's Law in the salvation process, reminds us that the Law is not an arduous set of shackles and chains, as imagined by many Protestants, but a blessing and a means of attaining freedom and tranquility. God gave the Law to the newly freed Israelites at Mount Sinai, after leading them out of Egypt with a strong hand. We are similarly embarking on a spiritual journey through a wilderness toward His Kingdom. The Law of God serves as the roadmap or signposts through the wilderness. The keeping of the law is a practical day-to-day response to God, providing us with principles to conduct our ever-changing lives, establishing our character and implanting God's values and a deeply-felt sense of peace and security, keeping an even keel through life, giving us our own special liberty. Covering every circumstance in which we find ourselves, God's Law is intended to be written on our heart. Frank Deilisch describes Psalm 119 as a story of a young man (perhaps Jeremiah), derided and persecuted by government hostile to true religion, thrown into a pit, expecting death, crying out to God for deliverance, strength, and understanding, as well as comfort in affliction. The Psalmist stands for the faithful Christian in all his trials and tests, standing firm for God, trusting Him to lead us through our spiritual wilderness.
Richard Ritenbaugh, ruminating about the years many of us have been in the Church of God, affirms that the repetition of the messages and themes of these holy days adds many layers of insight to our understanding. We are commanded to keep a Feast to the Lord, to eat unleavened bread, and to refrain from eating leavened bread, commemorating our Exodus from sin (as typified by Egypt)—an event to be kept perpetually. At the beginning and the end of the days of Unleavened Bread, we are summoned to holy convocations. With the help of God's Holy Spirit, we are enabled to purge out any residual or invasive sins which attack us following our calling and baptism. We are admonished to imitate the life of Jesus Christ, walking though our entire wilderness journey, faithfully keeping His Law. Even though keeping the law does not justify us, it does give us the rules, and points out to us what sin is. The law is a guide keeping us within moral and ethical boundaries. God's commandments are given in love. David (or perhaps Jeremiah) had nothing but praise for God's Law because it provided him guidance throughout life. Law-keeping is a commanded work, but it does not save us; grace does that. Law-keeping molds us, giving us practice to live like God lives—the practice which could make us perfect, putting on the very character of God. Paul reminds us that God's Law is holy and spiritual. Jesus Christ magnified the Law, giving it both a physical and spiritual dimension. Keeping God's Law keeps us a step beyond all the rest because we have God's advice on matters. God's Law instructs our minds and restrains our conduct, illuminating our understanding and our walk, as our teacher and guide. We ought to perpetually meditate on God's Law, keeping it in our minds constantly. Law can also be rendered into the words: way (pattern of life marked out by God's revelation), the Torah (all of God's instruction), testimonies (expert opinion of someone who really knows—a solemn attestation of God Almighty), precepts (to atten
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on his favorite classes in high school—English and History—reports that the English teacher made the class scintillating and interesting by using techniques such as debating issues as characters from literature. Many students hate poetry, from lyric to epic genres. The American culture does not seem to value poetry, but many great cultures transmitted their culture through poetry, including genealogy. Poetry, in these cultures, is not an art-form, but a well-honed teaching tool. In order to get the full benefit of the Bible, it is necessary to develop a poetic savvy. The entirety of the Psalms is in verse, as well as the entirety of Wisdom literature, the Megilloth, large portions of the Major and Minor Prophets, and large portions of the Pentateuch. Hebrew poetry does not employ rhyme and meter as English poetry does, but uses parallelism or logical rhythm, word-play, puns, synonym piling, antonyms, and antiphonal counterpoint. To the Hebrews, the turn of phrase was not a matter of ear appeal, but mind appeal, using such devices such as antithetic parallelism, inverted parallelism, climactic parallelism, palilogical parallelism, and comparison parallelism. Psalm 119 is unique to scripture, as both the longest Psalm and the longest chapter. It is a perfect expansive acrostic, using the entirety of the Hebrew alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet gets eight verses to comment on the theme-the excellency of God's Law. Traditionally, this Psalm has been attributed to David because it corresponds to Psalm 19 and seems to refer to incidents in David's life. The 'higher critics,' of course, like to cast doubt on any kind of common sense. If we search anecdotal and stylistic evidence, we might also consider Jeremiah a suitable candidate for its authorship.
Martin Collins reminds us that God's Law is a permanent and eternal entity. Because of its everlasting guideposts, people can order their lives by it; it is intended for human benefit, and should be used for illumination. Many denominations foolishly proclaim that God's laws have been abolished, replaced by a milder form of cheap grace, even though Jesus Christ teaches that until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle of the Law will disappear. Christ insisted that He did not do away with the Law; the apostle Paul insists that we establish the Law, and Christ elaborated and magnified the Law, taking it from the physical and the tradition-bound activities, to the broader spiritual dimension and original intent. The Law must be internalized to enable us to keep it both in the letter and the spirit. Jesus Christ, through His life, modeled for us how to live our lives, demonstrating that God's Law should constitute our second nature, deeply embedded in our heart. Christ's sacrifice enabled us to have forgiveness for our sins. We commemorate His sacrifice annually on the eve of Passover. The Law of God must be perpetual by its very nature; right is always right. Could we worship a God who gives us an imperfect or mutilated law? Our flaws or weaknesses do not present a reason to abolish the Law. The Law is just and good; every command of God is for our protection, flagging areas of potential danger. God's Law is not intended for salvation, but for revealing to us our sins so that we may overcome them. When we tamper with Law, we do away with all standards, nullifying all accurate measurements. In all things, we must seek God's will, but we will not find it in human reasoning. The Law of God is pure, perfect, and sure. Paul assures us that God's Law is holy and spiritual, even though the law of sin militates against it continually until we mortify our human nature. When we are conformed to Christ through His Holy Spirit, holiness will be our nature.
Clyde Finklea: "You are what you eat" is a common expression. But this adage is not entirely true. ...
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that the truths of God are eternally dependable because the Father and Jesus Christ remain steadfastly dependable. If we trust in His truth rather than ourselves or other men, we will not jeopardize our spirituality. Sadly, the vast majority of Christian-professing churches has been saturated with an "end-time flood" of appealing, pagan doctrines (antinomianism, immortality of soul, Dispensationalism, Dualism, and Docetism) derived largely from Hellenistic Gnosticism. In this confusing environment, truth has become an endangered commodity. Pursuing "inner spirituality" (supposedly "despising the flesh") ironically enables one to become promiscuous and self-indulgent. In contrast, the true Christian is obligated to perform works (derived from God's law) that God has preordained and walk continuously in the Way. Keeping the law, vilified by antinomian, evangelical Christianity) gives structure and guidance to a Christian's life.
John Ritenbaugh provides a summary of the Covenants, Grace and Law series: 1. Realize the position carnal man comes from: completely under Satan' sway, antagonistic to God's law (Romans 8:7). 2. Always work from clear, unambiguous scriptures (Matthew 5:17-19). 3. Be strengthened by the examples of Christ and His apostles keeping specific laws, including the Sabbath and holy days (I Peter 2:21). 4. Paul explains the means of justification (not salvation but the first step in a process; God imputes righteousness where it does not logically belong). 5. God's overall purpose is to create us in His image, including His righteous character. He is reproducing Himself (Genesis 1:26)! 6. God's purpose for the Old Covenant is as a bridge leading to Christ (Galatians 3:17-24). 7. The way Paul and others use terms important to this doctrine (bondage, circumcision, yoke, law, etc.) should be seen in their correct context.
John Ritenbaugh teaches that God's grace gives us focus on what the Law's true purpose is — namely the basic guide as to what good works are — rules for the journey of life. God's Law outlines a way of life, defining sin, actually categorizing a descending level of gravity or seriousness (from sins which lead to death and those which do not; I John 5:16). Righteousness consists of applying the Law's letter and/or intent. Sin constitutes a failure of applying or living up to the standards of what God defines as proper or right. The conclusion of this sermon begins an exposition of four principles determining whether the law is binding.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that, contrary to Protestant misconception, no part of God's Law has been done away or set aside. Christ Himself torpedoed this notion by His proclamation in Matthew 5:17, "I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill." The balance of Matthew 5 magnifies, intensifies, placing a far more binding penetrating spiritual application of the law. The irony of the antinomian argument is that it is impossible tp keep God's law in the spirit without also keeping it in the letter. Without Torah (law, teaching, precepts, judgments, ordinances, instruction), man flounders. David realized that God's law, by revealing our flaws (the hidden plaque of our secret sins Psalm 19:12), when coupled with the power of God's Spirit, is a major tool for cleaning us up spiritually, equipping us to live in God's Kingdom.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the doctrinal changes made by the leaders in the Worldwide Church of God were intended to destroy the vision of the purpose God is working out. Ignoring the last portion of Ephesians 2:10, the proponents of the no works, no conditions, no standards, cheap grace mentality have perverted the name of Christianity, adopting the fruit of the world's brand of Christianity, cutting itself off from the law and rule of God. In contrast to this adolescent "obey because we feel like it"- "all roads lead to heaven" mentality is God's package, consisting of a body of laws, a body of beliefs or doctrines, and a way of life, all of which are working to produce a magnificent product- not merely to save us.
Receive Biblical truth in your inbox—spam-free! This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 145,000 subscribers are already receiving.