A Call to Holiness

By C. Elden McNabb

When the predestined moment in history arrived for the forerunner, the "messenger to prepare the way" of the promised Messiah to be born, God intervened directly in the lives of the people involved, and performed a series of miracles to make sure that the prophecies of the scriptures would be fulfilled.

First, God made a special appearance to a very old priest who was one of the 24 Priests who burned incense in the Temple before the Lord. His wife, Elisabeth also was barren, and was then too old to have children. Luke testified to the fact that they were both righteous and obedient to the Lord in all things. God sent an angel to announce the impending birth, and told Zechariah to name the child John, and miraculously caused Zechariah to be unable to speak.

Second, when he returned home from his duties in the Temple, his wife miraculously conceived.

Third, when Mary visited Elisabeth, the Spirit caused the baby to leap in Elisabeth's womb, and she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied. Then Mary prophesied also.

Fourth, the child was born.

Fifth, at the time of the child's circumcision, Zechariah resisted the pressure from the people to name the child after their tradition, and, being unable to speak, he wrote, "His name is John." Then God miraculously restored his ability to speak, and Zechariah prophesied of his coming fame: going forth "before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways".

Apparently, the birth of John was a very important event in God's plan for our redemption.

When John the Baptist was born, Zechariah was filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to prophesy. He said that God swore an oath to Abraham, "That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life" (Luke 1:74-75).

That prophetic day arrived in which the Son of God came, and died on the cross, to pay the ransom that would buy our deliverance from bondage to the flesh, and Satan, and his demons, if we would only repent. God does not ask much of us. He sacrificed His Son to redeem us; to purchase us for Himself. We have been "bought with a price." Yet, all He asks of us is that we accept His gift, and submit our lives unto Him as willing servants.

We frequently hear Christian ministers proclaim that "God saved us so we could go to Heaven." Also, though less frequently than we did in the past, we occasionally hear that we have been saved to "miss hell." Both of these points of doctrine, if preached in truth, have their place, but they are not the primary purpose of God concerning the redemption of mankind. We have been redeemed to be the servants of the God of Heaven and Earth that we might learn about Him and become effective, qualified laborers in bringing forth "The fullness of the Gentiles" in preparation for end of the Grace Age, and the coming of the Bridegroom (Romans 11:21-34). Did not Jesus say, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of me"?

The life and ministry of Christ Jesus was about much more than our personal redemption. It was, and is, really about God, and some things which He wants and needs. God has a need for some pure people who have set themselves apart for His service. He has some very important works which must be done before Jesus comes. Those works could never have been accomplished by unregenerate men, either before the law was given, or under the burden of the law.

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope (the resurrection, Romans 8:16-25), and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:11-15). This group, which Paul called "a peculiar people," are peculiar in relation to other Christians, because they have the baptism of the Holy Spirit working in them through the gifts of Apostles and Prophets to whom God has made known "the revelation of the mystery." They are able to know what God is going to do, and therefore, to know what it is that we must do (John 6:28-28).

O yes, we must present the message of "repentance and faith" to whom we can. However, it is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and the preparation of a "people for His name" - the Bride - which is of particular concern to Him. That is the thrust of Hebrews 11. The very lives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament were prophetic, and were used of God to foretell of the coming time of "salvation by faith," and of God raising up among them a bride worthy for God to give His name to. That is why the Apostle Paul finished chapter 11 the way he did.

In Hebrews chapters 11 and 12, Paul told us about the faith, and lack of it, of many of the Old Testament patriarchs and other characters of that four-thousand-year, pre-Christ era. In chapter 12, he gave us to understand that no particular individual is predestined to fulfill any of those prophecies, neither the good ones, nor the bad ones. Paul was called of Jesus to be "the Apostle to the Gentiles," but he showed that he would really be in trouble if he did not finish the job which God gave him to do, saying, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." He also warned the rest of us to "look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God." - Lest anyone fulfill the bad prophecies such as the errors of life of Esau (Ch. 12:5-17).

In the middle of this thesis, in Hebrews 11:38 - 12:4, Paul explained the relationship between the people of faith in the Old Testament era, and those in the New Testament era. He told us that the world was not worthy of those people of faith who suffered so very much at the hands of their "brethren." Then he said, "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." They prophesied, and we must fulfill their prophecies.

The lives of those patriarchs were prophecies, if only in respect to the promises and covenants which were given to them, and they lived and died believing in them. It is now incumbent upon us to believe also, and to fulfill those prophecies so that they will not be found to be liars. Our job will be much easier than theirs, because they suffered much, and many died for their faith, whereas we will reap the harvest, and be "alive and remain" when our Lord comes for His Bride

In Chapter 11, Paul reminded us of Noah, who "prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of "the righteousness which is by faith." He was reminding us, as did Jesus (Matt. 24:37-39), that the Noah story is a prophecy of the end of the Grace Age when "the enemy shall come in like a flood" (Isaiah 59:19).

Now it is up to us to find that prophet of God which He has chosen to build the structure which will save us from "the flood out of the mouth of the dragon" (Rev. 12:13-17), and help him to fulfill that prophecy in the manner of Colossians 1:25. We can do that only if we are dedicated Christians who are living a life of "righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. 2:44). So shall there be a way of escape for some of God's people, so there will be some who are "alive and remain" (Genesis 7:23) when Jesus comes. It will not be possible for that work to be done unless a group of zealous saints come together in the unity of the faith, "with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).

We all reached the age of accountability "carnal, sold under sin." But when we cried out to God, He created us anew through Jesus Christ our Lord, and we "put off the old man with his deeds," and have "put on the new man who is created in righteousness and true holiness." God has provided the means of attaining this goal, and Paul told us that without holiness, "No man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

By the blood of His Son, God made us His servants. He adopted us at great cost to Himself, and He expects us to serve Him willingly. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4).

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