Friday, January 13
Continuing in the theme started last night, Who hath believed our report?, Bro. Steve opened tonight’s meeting with Matthew 28:11–15.There was a report given in this passage of scripture. The soldiers told the chief priests a story. They told about the earthquake and the angel that descended from heaven and rolled the stone back from the door of the Jesus’ tomb. They told about the angel’s countenance and about his raiment. The chief priests and elders told the guards to be quiet, they basically told them to lie and gave them large money, a sizeable amount of money, to secure the lie that Jesus’ disciples had come and had stolen His body from the tomb. The soldiers took the money and went and did as they had been “taught.” The soldiers actually went and disseminated a doctrine. They went and taught people what they had been told to speak (or what they had been taught) by wicked men.
The book of Matthew was written approximately thirty to fifty years after the Resurrection. At the time of Matthew’s writing, it was commonly reported among the Jews that Jesus had not resurrected, but that rather, His disciples had come and stolen away His body. Matthew was writing to refute that false doctrine. All those years later, many people believed the false report of the soldiers.
I Corinthians 15:17 says “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” The truth, the accuracy of the Resurrection of Christ is the foundation for the church of God teaching and saints’ belief in sin free living. This anchors all of the beliefs that we hold.
This lie, that Jesus had not truly resurrected, but had rather had His body carried away by His disciples, was birthed out of carnality from people in high places, who put forth a lie. Some people, honestly mistaken, accepted the lie. For many, the lie found a lodging place in their sinful hearts, which wanted to believe the lie more than to believe what was true. This same thing happens today.
A rebellious heart (one resisting the authority of God) wants the lie to be true. The sin in them embraces and accepts the falsehood that is presented about God. In the case of the lie regarding the Resurrection, believing that the disciples took the body means that the believer doesn’t have to do what Jesus said. They don’t have to walk like He walked or believe the prophecy or believe His disciples due to the rumor or lie that they heard. And they really don’t have to investigate nor accept the truth about what actually happened, because they are wicked.
We won’t only be judged by what we know, but also by what we could have known and what we should have known. The state of someone’s heart is seen by what they believe and how they act with what they believe.
Unbelief is a work of the flesh (therefore it is visible). Revelation 21:8 has a list that is very similar to the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19–21 except that the Revelation passage adds “the unbelieving”. The unbelieving do not believe the true report; that is the essence of unbelief. When someone is saved, they are saved from believing the false report.
Bro. Randy gave this practical example: “I do not currently believe that the building that we are in is on fire.” He went on to say that he did not believe it and you could tell that he didn’t believe it because he was still sitting there; and further, he wasn’t telling anyone else that the building was on fire. His actual belief was that he and those who were with him were in a safe situation.
People’s mouths are saying the right things. They say, “Praise the Lord.” They say, “I believe the house is on fire.” But if they are saying that while they are just sitting there, I can make a righteous judgment and conclude that they do not believe what they are saying.
Your disbelief in something that is true does not make it false. Your belief in something that is false does not make it true. Believing that the building is not on fire when it is indeed on fire will not stop you from dying in the flames. You have to believe the right thing.
In the world at this time, there has been an atmosphere provided where we can say we believe something when in reality we do not believe it at all. The Christians during the time of Christ were believers. You don’t just come and sell all that you have and lay it down at the apostles’ feet without true belief. Their belief moved them.
“When we believe God, we stop sinning. I don’t commit sin because I believe that Jesus is coming back and I don’t want to be found sinning. The world will soon be on fire, and because of that I have to do something. My belief affects everyone around me.” (Bro. Randy)
Acts 14:1–2. Here the people didn’t only believe in Jesus, they also believed Paul and Barnabas. The Jews who didn’t believe stirred up the Gentiles and made them evil affected against the brethren; this is the purpose of the false report.
Dishonest people don’t choose to go to the ones who can answer the question, the ones who can give a true report, because they don’t want to know. It shows wickedness of heart to embrace a lie without inquiry.
The church of God has always been spoken ill of; there have always been rumors flying.
Everyone is going to believe a report, true or false. The report we will believe will come through people. We will believe people with a false report or the people with the true report.
There were two visitors at tonight’s meeting.
Thursday, January 12
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? Isaiah 53:1
Bro. Steve opened tonight’s outreach meeting in Goulds, Florida (a suburb of Miami) with this wonderful verse of scripture. Departing from what would be a standard meeting setting, Bro. Steve and Bro. Randy and a small gospel company of four saints, sat in a circle to teach and study with the nine visitors who attended the first night of meeting.
The reading of the scripture was preceded by the singing of I’ve Found a Refuge, a song familiar to most, if not all of the visitors who have some church of God background. The congregation entered heartily into the singing which was indicative of their participation during the remainder of the evening.
Prayer followed the singing and then the evening’s text was read. Immediately, Bro. Steve addressed the way some people resist the principle that we need someone to help us to understand the scriptures. He brought out that even those who want it to be just “me and the Bible,” who don’t want any man to teach them … turn in their Bibles to the book of … Isaiah, Timothy, Peter, Ruth, Job. These are real people. In the Bible, you have man teaching you who God is.
In Isaiah’s day, in Isaiah’s time, not everyone believed what Isaiah was saying. We look back and we say that Isaiah is wonderful, a man of God, a true prophet, but back then, he was asking who believes what we have been saying? Somebody believes, but who?”
In 2017, we are not struggling with Isaiah, but we are struggling with “the report” and “who”. Isaiah is gone, but today there is still an “our”, there is still a “report” and there is still a “who”.
In I Peter 1:10–12, Peter said that there are some things reported to you that you are supposed to be experiencing, and that we are experiencing, which things some people in the Old Testament talked about. Peter said the prophets (Isaiah being one of them) of the Old Testament, thousands of years ago, enquired and searched diligently into the salvation that is now being experienced by…us. Why do I believe the report? Because I’ve tasted what they wrote about.
Bro. Randy dealt with Proverbs 3:5,6, when one of the visitors quoted these verses expressing her understanding of how we are to know what is the right spirit and what is the right report to believe. The very familiar verse says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Bro. Randy showed that to acknowledge is to admit. As we move along in the Lord, He shows us truths that we need to acknowledge or to admit are truths. As these truths are brought to us, failure to admit or receive or acknowledge any one of them (perhaps saying, “That’s your interpretation” or “That’s how you see it” or “The Spirit isn’t leading me that way”) stands between you and any further direction of the Lord to your path. Failure to acknowledge the truth results in my path no longer being directed by the Lord. This (denial of truth) is why people cease to believe the report.
Just because you have facts doesn’t mean that you know what happened. Not everyone knows what to do with facts, only certain people can take the facts (Who hath believed our report?), put them together correctly and say…here is our report, believe this.
It is factual that there is a place in Indiana where, on a regular basis, a man dressed in black with a bushy black beard, a black man, holds a knife to the throat of white men. Depending on who is in possession of these facts and who is reporting these facts, you may believe that the police need to be called or you will understand that the white man stretched out in the chair is actually very happily receiving help at the brothers’ barbershop.
There are people today who are going to be lost (eternally) because they believe the wrong people and they really don’t even know what happened. We need the people who know God and who have been put in their position by God to distribute the report. You don’t get saved by raising your hand, you get saved by believing the right report.
Bro. Steve closed the message telling those gathered that he didn’t want to go on too long and bore them. He was interrupted by a visitor declaring, “I’m not bored!” Another visitor asked for clarification on the time of the next service. Thank the Lord for a very good beginning to this weekend of meetings.