September 12, 2005
September 12, 2005 – This is going to be at least a 2 part series on this important topic.
Where the people do not have a supernatural vision of truth from God, those people most certainly perish (Prov. 29:18). The Hebrew word which is translated as vision in this Proverb relates to a supernatural revelation of truth that can come only from the throne of God. When the people are wicked, when they are satisfied in themselves, and when they operate only according to their 5 senses, they perish and do not know it.
“Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law” (2 Chronicles 15:3).
Where this supernatural revelation is absent the people are actively perishing, in the death throes, being unable on their own to obtain the spiritual food and spiritual water that is necessary for their lives. Only when destruction comes, and when it is seen as sure, will they vainly seek a vision, but while they are living in relative peace they despise the instructions, teachings, and commandments of God:
“Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none. Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumour shall be upon rumour; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the ancients” (Ezekiel 7:25-26).
God uses gospel ministers and teachers to speak supernaturally to His people through His Word. In the time of judgment, the people come to seek a supernatural revelation from God’s ministers, and do not see that God has forsaken them as a people. For the most part, supernatural vision, the law and right counsel will have perished from those who claim to provide these things to the people. Let us look at some definitions:
Supernatural: a. [super and natural.] Being beyond or exceeding the powers or laws of nature; miraculous. A supernatural event is one which is not produced according to the ordinary or established laws of natural things…. supernatural events or miracles can be produced only by the immediate agency of divine power
Natural: Pertaining to nature; produced or effected by nature, or by the laws of growth, formation or motion impressed on bodies or beings by divine power.
We know that God is everywhere present and everywhere active. His decree is accomplished according to His own unchangeable and perfect will and according to His decrees. These are undeniable facts and together are a necessary doctrine of true Christianity and no belief system that denies them can be true. Right concepts of the “everywhere-ness” and the “all powerfulness” of God are necessary for a right view of revelation. If we want to get a better idea of the purpose of supernatural revelation and why it is necessary to the life and motivation of true Christians and the true Church, we will have to look at the meaning of some words and concepts that are critical to a right understanding. Here are some important statements made by the Church concerning God’s decree and His use of second causes:
“God hath Decreed in himself from all Eternity, by the most wise and holy Council of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of the Creature, nor yet is the liberty, or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established, in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power, and faithfulness in accomplishing his Decree.” (LBCF, Section 3, par. 1)
God has, according to His own omniscient and omnipotent will, decreed in Himself all that will and does come to pass. This is a supernatural act of God by His sovereign power and according to His own will; yet He has decreed that almost all things will come to pass according to “second causes”. We will study second causes in just a moment. Here is some more from the London Baptist Confession of Faith:
"Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, Who is the First Cause, all things come to pass immutably and infallibly; so that nothing happens to anyone by chance, or outside His providence, yet by His providence He orders events to occur according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.” (LBCF, Section 5, par. 2)
“God, in His ordinary providence makes use of means, yet He is free to work outside, above, and against them at His pleasure.” (LBCF, Section 5, par. 3)
Generally, God works and brings about that which He ordains through events that occur naturally according to second causes. So we know that God ordinarily utilizes means to bring about His decrees, though He is free to operate without them as He sees fit. Here God sets forth the cause and effect involved in bringing a people into either spiritual prosperity or condemnation:
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).
This is a very interesting truth. In order to condemn a people, God uses natural cause and effect, by causing supernatural vision (that which operates outside of the natural order of things) to cease from His servants. So the cause of a people perishing is the lack of a supernatural vision, and we should notice that here the Bible gives us a further explanation of this verse, the second half of which is usually left off when quoted by modern religious writers. Remember that in the scriptures we read in Ezekiel 7:25-26, the Bible equated three things:
The vision of the prophet
The law from the priest
Counsel from the ancients
Now note that in this verse in Proverbs 29, vision is again paralleled with the law. Where there is no supernatural vision, the people do perish: BUT he that keepeth the law, is considered happy (which is a word meaning “blessed” in the Hebrew). Now the “law” in view here is speaking of not only the moral law embodied in the Decalogue, because we know that we are not justified by the doing of the law, but this verse includes in it the “law of faith” which is explained to us in Romans 3:27. A man may not be happy through the deeds of the law, if those works, being without faith, are dead works. But a man is indeed in a blessed state if his works done by faith are found acceptable to God.
In the New Testament we know that a Christian is known by two signs or “marks”; his doctrine and his faithful works (or fruit). Here are some study verses for you to help you come to a fuller knowledge of this truth:
A CHRISTIAN IS KNOWN BY DOCTRINE:
2 John 1:9, Acts 2:42, Romans 6:17, 16:17, 1 Timothy 4:6, 1 Timothy 6:3, Titus 2:10, Hebrews 6:1
A CHRISTIAN IS KNOWN BY FAITHFUL FRUIT:
Matt. 3:10, 7:18, 12:33, John 15:8
So we can see that the means of a people perishing is that God withholds from them either right doctrine, the production of fruit, or both. The mark of the Christian, then, is seen in his right hand (his faithful deeds done by the power of the Holy Spirit), and in his forehead (his right doctrine, agreeing and assenting to those truths God has shown us of Himself, which God uses to bring forth fruit to Himself). By definition then, the “mark” of the Antichrist, put upon his cursed people, is to be found in their right hand and in their foreheads. They, too, are known by their perverse man-centered doctrines and by either a lack of fruit, or the existence of bad fruit.
Now, these ought to be fairly simple, basic concepts for the Christian, but the enemies of God (namely the Antichrist and his clones and proxies in organized religion) have so muddled and obscured the meanings of many basic Christian terms, that it is very difficult to get the reader or hearer to understand the concepts the Bible teaches us.
The Papists, and now their clones and proxies in modern religion, have successfully redefined words, such that the most used words in our belief system have now totally different meanings in the minds of those who call themselves “Christians”. Thomas Shepard explained the redefinition of the concept of Christian “faith”:
“The Papists, with some others of corrupt judgments, at least of weak apprehensions among ourselves, describe faith to be nothing else but a supernatural assent to a divine truth, because of a divine testimony; ex, gr., to assent to this truth, that Christ is come, that he is the Son of God, that he was dead and is risen again, that he is the Saviour of the world, etc.; and to confirm this they produce Matt. 16:16; 1 John 4:3.
It is granted that this assent is in faith, for faith always hath respect to some testimony; for man by his fall hath lost all knowledge of divine and supernatural truths; hence God reveals them in his word; hence faith sees them and assents to them, because God hath spoken them: to see and know things by vision is to see things in themselves intuitively and immediately; but to see things by faith is to see them by and in a testimony given of them. (John 20:20,) “Blessed is he that hath not seen,” (ie., Christ immediately,) “but believed,” ie., his testimony, and on him in it; this assent, therefore, is in faith, for we must believe Christ before we can believe in him; but this comprehends not the whole nature of faith; I mean of that faith we are now speaking of, viz., as it unites as to Christ, and possesseth us with Christ. For, —
1. This description placeth faith only in the understanding, whereas it is also in the will, as the words trusting, rolling, etc., intimate.
2. This assent is merely general, without particular application, which is ever in true faith. (Gal. 2:20.)
3. This is such a faith as the devils may have, (James 2:19.) and reprobate men may have. (2 Pet. 2:20, 21. Heb. 20:26.) There is a wilful refusing of the known truth.
4. It is the Papist’s aim to vilify faith hereby, by describing it by that which is one ingredient in it, but excluding that which is principal; those phrases, therefore, of “believing Christ is come in the flesh,” (1 John 4:3,) and that “he is the Son of God,” (Matt. 16:16,) as if this were the only object to faith, are not to be understood exclusively, excluding other acts of faith, which the Scripture in other places sets down clearly; but inclusively, as supposing them to be contained herein; for as we in our times, describing faith by relying upon Christ for salvation, do not exclude hereby our believing that he is the Messiah, but we include it, or suppose it, because that is not now questioned, the truth of the gospel being so abundantly cleared, so in those times, they described faith by one principal act, to believe that he was the Son of God, and come into the flesh, because this was the main and principal thing in question then: and if the Lord had not set our faith by other acts in Scripture, we should not vary from our compass in such expressions in the word in these days; for their faith then is exemplary to us now; because the word doth more fully set it out in more special acts, hence we set it out also by them; for it is evident, as the Jews did believe in a Messiah to come, so they did also believe, and look for all good from him. (John 4:25,) “He will teach us all things when he comes:” and therefore their faith did not confine itself to that historical act that a Messiah should come, or that this was the Messiah, but they did expect and look for all good from him: and hence the apostle expounding this saying, viz., believing that Christ is dead and risen again, we shall hereby be saved: “If thou believest” (saith he) “ with thine heart” this truth, “thou shalt be saved.” Now, to believe with the heart, as it doth not exclude assent, so it necessarily includes the acts of the will and affections in relying upon him, and coming to him. And hence, when Peter had made that confession, (Acts 16:16,) Christ tells him, “Thou art Peter;” ie., a stone resting upon the rock, (as some good interpreters expound it;) and therefore Peter’s faith did not exclude these principal acts of resting on Christ, cleaving to Christ, but did include and suppose them.” (Thomas Shepard, The Sound Believer)
So it is true that if you believe with your heart (which is to intellectually agree in the mind to all the truth about Jesus Christ) that you will be saved, but it is not true that if you only believe in an intellectual way in your heart you will be saved. The truth spoken here presupposed that the entire soul (including the will and emotions, and not just the mind) would be involved in the believing, and thus believing is done in a saving way – because the intellectual assent is coupled with the doing of the moral law by faith:
“For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom 2:13-15).
So an intellectual “believing” that does not result in doing, trusting and faithful resting is not true faith. The Papist view of faith, now being trumpeted by virtually every modern religious system in the world, is the same faith the devils are said to have, who believe and tremble (James 2:19).
So the people proceed towards an inevitable judgment, having only a natural vision and relying on non-saving faith. In our apostate day, most people cannot see with the eyes of faith, they cannot hear with the ears of faith, they cannot proceed with the works of faith. The Royal Law (James 2:8) is left undone; the people perish without any knowledge of their own lack of vision. The prophets preach a faith that is mere shell; the priests preach a grace that is nothing but a curse; the ‘ancients’ counsel wickedness, greed and lawlessness. Jeremiah saw a time such as this:
“Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart” (Jer 14:14).
Because the people of Israel would not have or embrace a true vision of duty and doctrine, they were condemned to destruction. Listen to the promise concerning them:
“Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth. And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy” (Jer 15:1-3)
This is the spiritual promise hidden in the types of the Old Testament. Those in spiritual Israel (the professing Church) who will only hear lies are those who are to be cast out into outer darkness, without a supernatural vision to correct them in the narrow way. But what of the remnant?
Please listen very closely:
“The LORD said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction” (Jer 15:11)
Listen to the prayer of Jeremiah on behalf of this remnant:
“O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail? Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible” (Jer 15:15-21).
We have separated from the assembly of the mockers, and we have sat alone because of God’s hand. We have met alone, outside the camp, with those who have eyes to see the wickedness of that which is done under the false banner of “Christianity”. We shall not return unto them, but if they will repent and return to Christ, let them return to us. Supernatural vision is reserved for the remnant of Christ; those who seek him in purity according to the dictates of scripture.
In the next part, we will discuss the duties of God’s remnant during a time of general apostasy.
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
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