The First Angel Proclaims . . .
Living for Jesus
"... and give glory to Him ... —Revelation 14:7,
When Moses pled with God, "Show me Thy glory," He replied, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord" (Exodus 33:18, 19). God's glory is revealed in His character of goodness and love.
God's law is a transcript of His character. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). The character of God is righteousness and truth; such is the nature of His law. "Thy law is the truth:" "all Thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalms 119:142, 172). "The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good" (Romans 7:12). Such a law, being an expression of the mind and will of God, must be as enduring as its Author.
Many religious teachers assert that Christ by His death abolished the law, freeing us from its requirements. In contrast to the bondage of the law they present the liberty to be enjoyed under the gospel.
But not so did prophets and apostles regard the holy law of God. Said David: "I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts" (Psalm 119:45). James. who wrote after the death of Christ, refers to the Decalogue as "the royal law" and "the perfect law of liberty" (James 2:8; 1:25). And the revelator, decades after the crucifixion, pronounces a blessing upon them "that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).
Had it been possible for the law to be changed or set aside, then Christ need not have died to save man from the penalty of sin. The death of Christ, so far from abolishing the law, proves that it is immutable. The Son of God came to "magnify the law, and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). He said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law;" "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law" (Matthew 5; 17, 18). Concerning Himself He declares: "I delight to do Thy will, 0 my God: yea, Thy law is within My heart" (Psalm 40:8).
Only as God's law is restored to its rightful position can a revival of true faith and godliness take root among His professed people. By uniting in fellowship with God through Jesus, we become like Him in character, manifested by the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (see Galatians 5:22, 23; Ephesians 5:9).
Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children (see Joel 2:23-32; Revelation 18:1). Many will then separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. They will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming. Before this true revival shall come, the enemy of souls will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; igniting what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.
Many revivals consist of an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false. Yet none need be deceived. God's word exposes the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God's blessing is not bestowed. It is evident "by their fruits" (Matthew 7: l6), that these movements are not the work of God's Spirit.
In the truths of His word, God has given to men a revelation of Himself. Neglect of these truths has opened the door to the evils which are becoming so widespread in the religious world. A wrong conception of the character, perpetuity, and obligation of the divine law has led to errors about conversion and sanctification, and has resulted in lowering the standard of piety in the church. Hence the lack of God's Spirit and power in the revivals of our time.
By underrating the divine law and justice and the extent and demerit of human disobedience, many underestimate the grace which has provided an atonement for sin. Thus the gospel loses its value and importance in the minds of men, and soon they are ready to cast aside the Bible itself.
It is the work of conversion and sanctification, through the merits of Christ, to reconcile men to God by bringing them into accord with the principles of His law. Man's heart must be renewed by divine grace; he must have a new life from above. This change is the new birth, without which, says Jesus, "he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law." "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (1 John 3:4; Romans 3:20).
While the law reveals to man his sins, it provides no remedy. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed; and faith in Christ, his atoning sacrifice. Thus he obtains "remission of sins that are past" and becomes a partaker of the divine nature. He is a child of God, having received the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries: "Abba, Father!"
Is he now free to transgress God's law? Says Paul: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" And John declares: "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous" (Romans 3:31; 6:2; I John 5:3). In the new birth the heart is brought into harmony with God, as it is brought into accord with His law. When this mighty change has taken. place in the sinner, the old life of alienation from God has ended; the new life of reconciliation, of faith and love, has begun. Then "the righteousness of the law" will "be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Roman 8:4). And the language of the soul will be: "0 how love I Thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97).
Without the law, men have no just conception of the purity and holiness of God or of their own guilt and uncleanness. Not seeing their lost condition as violators of God's law, they do not realize their need of the atoning blood of Christ. The hope of salvation is accepted without a radical change of heart or reformation of life. Thus superficial conversions abound, and multitudes are joined to the church who have never been united to Christ. It is no mere profession of faith, but "Christ in you" that constitutes "the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27; see also John 17:9-11, 17-26). A knowledge of this mystery furnishes the key to every other. It opens to the soul the treasures of the universe.