The Arm of Flesh Verses the Arm of the Lord

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By John Thiel

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 

We desire to worship God in spirit and in truth is to seek and appreciate the arm of the Lord.

Isaiah 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 

Verses 2 and 3 we know is talking of Jesus.  But how was he introduced in verse 1?  To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  It describes him.  What is represented here by the arm of the Lord?  An arm is an extension, an appendage of a person.  God’s extension to man his arm, is none other but Jesus Christ.  We are to worship this appreciation of God.  An arm is an appendage upon which we lean on to take the pressure of, to place dependence upon.  That is an arm.  In your experience, in your soul experience, in your torso experience, Jesus in his atonement with us is bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh and yet he is the divine God.  The one we use to support us as a soul.  Jesus is the arm of God.

Because of sin the earth had been cut off from heaven, but with His human arm Christ encircles the fallen race, and with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and earth is brought into favor with heaven, and man into communion with his God. The prayer of Christ in behalf of lost humanity cleaved its way through every shadow that Satan had cast between man and God, and left a clear channel of communication to the very throne of glory. The gates were left ajar, and heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, encircled the head of Christ, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  {5BC 1078.1}

To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  Jesus is in his human arm encircles us as he holds on to heaven.  This is the arm of the Lord although human, intrinsically divine.  Jesus is human but he is divine.  The human Jesus is the arm of the Lord to attach to everyone who believes.  In other words, you and I may be the body of Christ.

Jesus says of these, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [this unity brings perfection of character]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:23). The Lord has made every provision whereby man may have full and free salvation, and be complete in Him. God designs that His children shall have the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, that all may have the light of truth. God has provided salvation for the world at infinite cost, even through the gift of His only-begotten Son. The apostle asks, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Then if we are not saved, the fault will not be on the part of God, but on our part, that we have failed to cooperate with the divine agencies. Our will has not coincided with God’s will.  {1SM 375.1} 

Did you notice that we have failed to cooperate with the divine agencies?

     The Redeemer of the world clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might reach humanity; for it took the divine and the human to bring into the world the salvation that was needed by fallen man.  {1SM 375.2}

What was needed to save you and me?  The divine and human.

Divinity needed humanity that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man.  {1SM 375.2}

Did you notice that the arm of the Lord being Jesus Christ, those who receive him as the arm of God, they will realise that humanity was needed to communicate God to us. It requires humanity to reach humanity.  God needed humanity so that humanity can come to know him.  The link provided for us, the arm of the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:5 For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 

How can you get to know God unless God connected his understanding with your understanding through the human man Christ Jesus?  He is the one mediator between God and man.  He is the arm of God to us.

  As His representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took upon Himself humanity, that He might reach humanity. Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world. Divinity.  {DA 296.4} 

Without humanity God could not reach humanity.  Humanity needs a human being according to what we have read.

Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. So with the servants and messengers of Christ. Man needs a power outside of and beyond himself, to restore him to the likeness of God, and enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power, Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through co-operation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good.  {DA 296.4} 

The POWER of man becomes efficient.

     He who called the fisherman of Galilee is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God.  {DA 297.1} 

Human beings like Jesus and the disciples work the works of God.

     “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7, R. V. This is why the preaching of the gospel was committed to erring men rather than to the angels. It is manifest that the power which works through the weakness of humanity is the power of God; and thus we are encouraged to believe that the power which can help others as weak as ourselves can help us. And those who are themselves “compassed with infirmity” should be able to “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.” Hebrews 5:2. Having been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of the way, and for this reason are called to reach out for others in like peril.  {DA 297.2} 

Those who have made their mistakes and are human beings who have a faulty background by themselves being in danger and then let out, they as humans are to do as Jesus as a human being did.

There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ’s stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ.  {DA 297.2} 

A friend that they can see in Christ’s stead.  In other words, when you can see that person, they are in Christs stead as a human arm.

     We are to be laborers together with the heavenly angels in presenting Jesus to the world. With almost impatient eagerness the angels wait for our co-operation; for man must be the channel to communicate with man. And when we give ourselves to Christ in wholehearted devotion, angels rejoice that they may speak through our voices to reveal God’s love.  {DA 297.3} 

Man needs man because man can only see with his eyes and he cannot see God or Jesus but he can see a man who is the arm of the Lord.

     We must be laborers together with God; for God will not complete His work without human agencies.–Review and Herald, March 1, 1887.  {ChS 9.2}

God does not design that our will should be destroyed; for it is through this very attribute that we are to accomplish the work he would have us to do both at home and abroad. He has given to every man his work; and every true worker sheds forth light to the world, because he is united with God and Christ and heavenly angels in the grand work of saving the lost. From divine association he becomes more and more intelligent in working the works of God. In working out what divine grace works in, the believer becomes spiritually great. He who works according to his intrusted ability will become a wise builder for the Master; for he is under the apprenticeship to Christ, learning to work the works of God. He will not shun burdens of responsibility, for he will realize that each one must lift in the cause of God to the extent of his ability, and he places himself under the pressure of the work; but Jesus does not leave his willing and obedient servant to be crushed. It is not the man who carries heavy responsibilities in the cause of God who needs your pity; for he is faithful and true in co-operation with God; and through union of divine and human effort, the work is made complete. It is he who shuns responsibilities, who has no realization of the privilege to which he is called, who is an object of pity.  {RH, November 1, 1892 par. 5} 

A human being will be working the works of God.  You don’t need to pity the one who has heavy responsibilities.  The person who is in tune with God, who has years of experience of learning from God you don’t have to pity when he has big responsibilities because he is working with the divine. The reality of Gods arm that we are studying and appreciating is the human arm of Jesus Christ which is human nature that God uses as his arm whether it is Jesus or any other human being who recognises the arm of the Lord. The angels are eagerly watching for opportunity for those who will tune in.  There is power is within the ranks of Gods servants.

Angels are interested in the spiritual welfare of all who are seeking to restore God’s moral image in man; and the earthly family are to connect with the heavenly family in binding up the wounds and bruises that sin has made. Angelic agencies, though invisible, are co-operating with visible human agencies, forming a relief association with men. The very angels who, when Satan was seeking the supremacy, fought the battle in the heavenly courts and triumphed on the side of God, the very angels who shouted for joy over the creation of our world and its sinless inhabitants, the angels who witnessed the fall of man and his expulsion from his Eden home– these very heavenly messengers are most intensely interested to work in union with the fallen, redeemed race for the salvation of human beings perishing in their sins.  {6T 456.2}

     Human agencies are the hands of heavenly instrumentalities, for heavenly angels employ human hands in practical ministry. Human agencies as hand helpers are to work out the knowledge and use the facilities of heavenly beings. By uniting with these powers that are omnipotent, we are benefited by their higher education and experience. Thus as we become partakers of the divine nature, and separate selfishness from our lives, special talents for helping one another are granted us. This is heaven’s way of administering saving power.  {6T 456.3} 

Human beings that you can see are the hand helpers.  Do you need help?  Where are you going to get the help from?  What is heavens way?  A human who will help you.

     Is there not something stimulating and inspiring in this thought, that the human agent stands as the visible instrument to confer the blessings of angelic agencies? As we are thus laborers together with God, the work bears the inscription of the divine. The knowledge and activity of the heavenly workers, united with the knowledge and power that are imparted to human agencies, bring relief to the oppressed and distressed. Our acts of unselfish ministry make us partakers in the success that results from the relief offered.  {6T 457.1} 

Have you ever been oppressed and distressed?  What does God use?  A friend who is the hand servants of the angels through whom omnipotent power flows.

Such co-operation accomplishes a work that brings honor and glory and majesty to God. Oh, if all would love as Christ has loved, that perishing men might be saved from ruin, what a change would come to our world!  {6T 457.2} 

If you have a whole team of Christs, remember what Jesus said?  Greater works than I have done you will do.  We see here that human visible beings are the arm of the Lord.  Jesus was the first and his servants thereafter.  Can it be truly stated and concluded that if Jesus is the arm of the Lord, those he sends as his servants are also the arm of the Lord?  Is this conclusion we can draw?

In Christs Stead

Apostle Paul said he was chief of sinners.  He was a murderer.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech [you] by us: we pray [you] in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 

What did he just say they were?  In Christs stead.  What does that mean?  That instead of Jesus being the arm, they are the arm.  Is that right?  Am I drawing a right conclusion here?

Since His ascension Christ has carried forward His work on the earth by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men and ministers to their needs. The great Head of the church superintends His work through the instrumentality of men ordained by God to act as His representatives.  {AA 360.1} 

Since his ascension he is out of sight so he carries forward his work by men.

The position of those who have been called of God to labor in word and doctrine for the upbuilding of His church, is one of grave responsibility. In Christ’s stead they are to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God, and they can fulfill their mission only as they receive wisdom and power from above.  {AA 360.2} 

Christ’s ministers are the spiritual guardians of the people entrusted to their care. Their work has been likened to that of watchmen. {AA 360.3} 

God is a watchman in his cause, through his ambassadors they are also watching.  Did you know that what God can see he shows to his watchman?  God’s watchman can see things that only God can see because God reveals it to them because he has chosen them to do that work.

Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world.  {AA 122.3} 

How important are those who are his ministers?

     When, in the midst of his blind error and prejudice, Saul was given a revelation of the Christ whom he was persecuting, he was placed in direct communication with the church, which is the light of the world. In this case Ananias represents Christ, and also represents Christ’s ministers upon the earth, who are appointed to act in His stead. In Christ’s stead Ananias touches the eyes of Saul, that they may receive sight. In Christ’s stead he places his hands upon him, and, as he prays in Christ’s name, Saul receives the Holy Ghost. All is done in the name and by the authority of Christ. Christ is the fountain; the church is the channel of communication.  {AA 122.4} 

Who was Ananias?  He was the church?  He was the arm of the Lord who Saul who became Paul depended upon.  He could have said no Jesus you talk to me, I don’t want any human being to talk to me.  Jesus said, go into the city and it should be told you what you should do.  Who told him?  A man.  Therefore in receiving counsel from his servants, are we leaning on the arm of flesh?  Think about it.  There is a human being.  You are relying on the human being for direction and guidance.  How many people have said don’t lean on the arm of flesh when they are dependent on the servant of God?

John 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto him]. 

When you go to his ambassadors for counsel, are you leaning on the arm of flesh?

Ambassadors for Christ have a solemn and important work, which rests upon some altogether too lightly. While Christ is the minister in the sanctuary above, He is also, through His delegates, the minister of His church on earth. He speaks to the people through chosen men, and carries forward His work through them, as when in the days of His humiliation He moved visibly upon the earth. Although centuries have passed, the lapse of time has not changed His parting promise to His disciples: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” From Christ’s ascension to the present day, men ordained of God, deriving their authority from Him, have become teachers of the faith. Christ, the True Shepherd, superintends His work through the instrumentality of these undershepherds. Thus the position of those who labor in word and doctrine becomes very important. In Christ’s stead they beseech the people to be reconciled to God.  {4T 393.1} 

Through human delegates, they are the arm of the Lord.  Right now Jesus is with those who are his delegated servants.

The people should not regard their ministers as mere public speakers and orators, but as Christ’s ambassadors, receiving their wisdom and power from the great Head of the church. To slight and disregard the word spoken by Christ’s representative is not only showing disrespect to the man, but also to the Master who has sent him. He is in Christ’s stead; and the voice of the Saviour should be heard in His representative.  {4T 393.2} 

Is it a wrong conclusion to say that the servants of God that he has ordained as he did Paul and the disciples of which he said I’m with you right through to the end of the world, that his ministers are the very ones?  To disregard what they are saying is to disregard the voice of God.

Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.  6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, [in] a salt land and not inhabited. 

What is meant with this considering that God uses the human to be the arm of the Lord?  Don’t trust in man we hear.  Can you see how people misunderstand scripture?  Notice it said whose heart departeth from the Lord?  What will happen if we don’t listen to the servant of God if we trust in man?  Have you ever gone through a parched experience in your life and you read, study and pray and you are still a parched desert?  Why?  Because you turn away from the one the Lord has sent.  What did we read in our scripture reading?

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 

Don’t lean on your own understanding.  How many of us feel natural in this way.

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. 

Let us see what this really all means.

   For a long time I have seen the danger that was coming into our ranks in the tendency to look to human wisdom and to depend on human guidance  {UL 290.2} 

If you are reading carefully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it said in Proverbs trust the Lord and not your own understanding.  This is what is meant when people lean on human wisdom and human guidance when we depend upon the mind of the human.

     Never should a worker encourage one {UL 290.5} 

When people rely on human exercises of mind, not on the Lord, when they need help to with their psychological condition, where do they go?  I need help for my healing, where do they go?  To the doctors.  Human investigation, they don’t go to the counsel of the Lord, they go to human agencies.

It is a wrong education to teach our people to lean on human aids, instead of going to the Lord in prayer. The enemy of souls has been the instigator of this, that minds might become obscured. . . . Those who bear responsibilities in the work are to cooperate with heavenly angels in teaching men and women to look to God as the source of their strength. . . .  {UL 290.5} 

What are they to do?  They are to connect with the heavenly agencies to help the people into Gods way of thinking.  That is their work and if you are going to go to them, that is what they are meant to do.  When you lean on the arm of flesh by relying on a minister, what is the problem if you rely on a minister who is simply an arm of flesh?  When is it that you lean on the arm of flesh in such a case?  Is it possible to go to a minster and think I’m being led of God when I’m really leaning on the arm of flesh?  The disciples are identified.

Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them. 

If you are going to lean on the arm of flesh in a minister, what are you doing in reference to the decision you’re making in who you are speaking to?  It says a minister who does not speak according to the law and to the testimony is the arm of flesh.

     This is a representation of the man who does not humble his heart before the Lord, and give up his will to the will of God. This man has lost his discernment, and cannot be trusted. {NPU Gleaner, December 18, 1907 par. 6} 

If you go to a man who is not like John the Baptist, who is full of human invention in his own mind, he is a minister but he is not humble at heart before the Lord and does not give up his will to the will of God, Jeremiah 17 speaks of the man who can be a servant of God but can’t be trusted.

   In the valley of humiliation, where men depend on God to teach them and to guide their every step, there is comparative safety. But let everyone who has a living connection with God pray for the men in positions of responsibility,–for those who are standing on a lofty pinnacle, and who, because of their exalted position, are supposed to have much wisdom. Unless such men feel their need of an Arm stronger than the arm of flesh to lean upon, unless they make God their dependence, their view of things will become distorted, and they will fall.–R. & H., Dec. 14, 1905.  {CS 148.3}

Can you trust them?  These men in high position in the church who are meant to have great wisdom and responsibility who are not in the valley of humiliation, who demonstrate their position by proclaiming they are Gods servants, how dare you disobey?  They communicate and you pay attention to their office but these people are not in the valley of humiliation.  We saw who was, John the Baptist, he could be trusted. We have an illustration of this to help us to make observation as to how this whole thing works.

Again and again was ancient Israel afflicted with rebellious murmurers. These were not always persons of feeble influence. In many cases, men of renown, rulers in Israel, turned against the providential leading of God and fiercely set to work to tear down that which they had once zealously built up.  {4T 594.2} 

What is this?  Men in position of teaching had built up the work and then tear it down again.  The old truths that once upheld them now begin to undermine them.

We have seen something of this repeated many times in our experience. It is unsafe for any church to lean upon some favorite minister, to trust in an arm of flesh. God’s arm alone is able to uphold all who lean upon it.  {4T 594.2} 

In what circumstance did Sr White use that statement?  The murmurers, the insisters who have once built up and then torn down in the name of the Lord.  They are once the favourite ministers who become an arm of flesh.

     Until Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, men will become perverse in spirit and turn from the truth to fables. The church will yet see troublous times. She will prophesy in sackcloth. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock. They are to be His witnesses in the world, His instrumentalities to do a special, a glorious work in the day of His preparation.  {4T 594.3} 

That was the context of the statement of people who rely on some favourite minister.  In other words if you rely on some favourite insisters who has lost his bearings and is demonstrating something totally different to what he has demonstrated before then you are leaning on the arm of flesh if you find him comfortable to speak to.

     Bro. Aldrich, you are in an important position. If you fail to come up to the standard, others follow your example; especially the youth. Your position in regard to health and dress reforms was such as to cause the unsanctified to take shelter under your influence. Had you possessed that conscientious, fine sensibility which ought to be found in you, you would not have ventured upon the course you pursued. It would have been enough for such a mind to know that God had deigned to notice the diet and dress of his people; and how careful and circumspect would have been your words, lest you should be found fighting against God. Any thing that is of sufficient importance for God to notice, however small it may appear to those whose hearts are lifted up in pride, should at least call for respectful silence.  {PH097 18.1} 

The dress reform, the health reform that was upheld in the original of Gods church was being torn down by this brother.  As he did that, what were the people doing?

Your regarding these things as insignificant did not make them so. God noticed them. This should have been enough for poor, proud mortals. Their will and wisdom should not be maintained against the will and wisdom of Him who is too wise to err, and too good to do us wrong.  {PH097 18.1} 

Here is where we exalt man before God.

Here is the danger of exalting man in our hearts. If we get the wisdom of man before us as the wisdom of God, we are led astray by the foolishness of man’s wisdom. Here is the great danger of many in Battle Creek. They have not an experience for themselves. They have not been in the habit of prayerfully considering for themselves, with unprejudiced, unbiased judgment, questions and subjects that are new, which are liable to arise. They wait to see what Bro. Aldrich thinks. If he dissents, that is all that is needed. The evidence in their minds then is positive that it is all of no account whatever. This class is not small; yet for all their numbers are large, it does not change the fact that they are weak-minded through long yielding to the enemy, inexperienced, and will always be sickly as babes, walking by others’ light, living on others’ experience, feeling as others feel, acting as others act. They act as though they had not an individuality. Their identity is submerged in others. They are merely shadows of others whom they think about right. These will all fail of everlasting life unless they become sensible of their wavering character, and correct it. They will be unable to cope with the perils of the last days. They will possess no stamina to resist the Devil; for they do not know that it is he. Some one must be at their side to inform them whether it is a foe approaching, or a friend. They are not spiritual, therefore spiritual things are not discerned. They are not wise in those things which relate to the kingdom of God. None, young or old, are excusable in trusting to another to have an experience for them. Said the angel, “Cursed is man who trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” A noble self-reliance is needed in the Christian experience and warfare.  {PH097 18.1} 

There are two classes of ministry in the ranks of Adventism.  It’s written in Matthew.  We need to understand the ministry that has been delegated by God and Jesus Christ to recognise the arm of the Lord.  Anyone else, minister, administrator or a whole group of them are identified.

Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46 Blessed [is] that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite [his] fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;  50 The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of, 

Where does he say that?  In his heart.  He’s still a preacher of the coming of Jesus.  It is a servant in Gods advent church that begins to eat and drink with the drunken that is imbibing false teachings from the world.  It is the same mentality as the ministers in fallen churches who teach doctrines but mingle with the world.  These are identified as smiting the faithful servant who doesn’t do that.  Can you discern the arm of the Lord?  Whom is whom in all this drama?  May God grant us with a sound reasoning from on high that we gain in his word to know the arm of the Lord.

Amen.

Posted on December 16, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons, Unity and Trust and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. JEREMIAH OTEMO

    This has responded to my question which I raised before you recently. Thank you and keep up the good gospel work.

  2. keep on posting more, I am really benefiting from the truth you posting. May God bless you all.

  3. Justin Nyambane

    Be blessed

  4. Justin Nyambane

    I love your posts on facebook keep up the good job ……..

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