THE HUMANITY OF THE LORD JESUS
by E. W. Rogers
by E. R. Bower
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by J. B. D. Page
MARK, Chapter 6
by J. Pender
THE LORD'S FLESH IN HEBREWS
by B. Currie
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE TESTIMONY
by E. Robinson
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
by J. Campbell
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by J. Strahan
by E. W. ROGERS
The Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in flesh, will ever remain inscrutable to us. No man knoweth the Son but the Father. While the Father may be known by those to whom the Son will reveal Him, because He is deity alone, the Son is only knowable by the Father, because in Him are united eternally full and perfect deity and sinless humanity. This implies the co-existence in the one Person of all the attributes of deity and all the sinless corollaries of humanity. How this can be is beyond our understanding. They superficially appear to be mutually contradictory and mutually exclusive each of the other. Eut the Scriptures reveal these truths, and faith will accept them though reason cannot explain.
In conversation with a believer he raised a difficulty as to whether the Lord Jesus possessed a human spirit. He frankly said he could not understand how He could have two spirits. 'God is Spirit,' he reminded me, and enquired how then could the Lord Jesus, Who is God, have in addition a human spirit?
We must be careful against arguing in circles or according to human logic. It was this that led to the invention of the unscriptural phrase 'mother of God.' In speaking of the person of the Lord Jesus we should adhere to what is written: not go beyond it: 'hold fast the form of sound words.'
The reader has but to consult a concordance to see the large number of references to the human spirit of the Lord Jesus. See, for example, Mark 2.8; 8.12; John 11.33; and Luke 23.46.
But, perhaps the most cogent of all is one from John's Gospel, i.e., ch, 19.30, 'He bowed His head and gave up His spirit'. One may ask, what spirit was it that He gave up? Was it His human spirit or was it His deity? This Gospel was written particularly to establish the truth of the deity of the man called Jesus, yet throughout there are clear, indisputable evidences of His true humanity, and this verse suffices, apart from any other, to show indubitably that the One Who hung on the cross was not only Son of God (i.e. deity) but was also Man in every respect, possessor of spirit, soul and body. To say that 'He dismissed His spirit' means
He yielded up deity takes us very far from the truth, but to say that He yielded up His human spirit into the care of God is surely what is intended.
The Lord Jesus was 'in all things . . . made like unto His brethren.' Note, 'in all things.' We are tripartite : we have 'spirit soul and body' (1 Thess. 5.23). However difficult it might be for us to distinguish between soul and spirit, the word of God can do it (Reb. 4.12). It is erroneous to say that the body and spirit make up the soul. The spirit links man with God; the soul with things around, and has to do with his inner feelings in relation thereto. It follows, therefore, that the Lord Jesus possessed all three.' Certainly He had a human body. Clearly He committed His human spirit to the Father. And His human soul was not left in Hades. He spake of all three.
Suppose the suggestion made to the writer were true: ponder what would be involved. We should have no Saviour for He would not be real man. And only Man could die for man. The flesh of the Lord Jesus was not the encasement of deity. In John 1.14 it denotes 'full, perfect and complete humanity.' If it were otherwise it would make the Gospels meaningless, seeing they refer to His human soul and human spirit. Did the writers use phrases which had no substance in fact? Were they mere empty words? Or, did they mean what they said? They were indubitably not left to their own ideas: they were the Spirit's penmen.
The epistle to the Hebrews speaks much of the humanity of the Lord Jesus. We may pertinently ask, seeing He was tempted in all points like as we are, what part of Him was tempted? His deity? That is unthinkable. Then was it merely His body? But matter is not evil, nor has it will or emotions. From whence sprang His prayers and supplications? If we admit that His crying and tears were actions of the body, from whence sprang His petitions to the Father? Are feelings only things that have to do with the body? Seeing that He is able to 'sympathise,' or 'be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,' with what part of His being are such 'feelings' associated? We had always supposed that there was a Risen MAN in heaven, but how can this be if He had no sentient part of His humanity?
This teaching undermines the Gospel. Paul tells Timothy that God wishes all men to be saved. In accordance with that wish the Lord Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. And now the message is that there is One Mediator between God and men, Himself MAN, Christ Jesus. This was just that for which Job yearned—A Daysman—Who was so perfect that He could meet God's claims, and who was also Man that He could become the 'go-between' between himself and God. If the Lord Jesus here on earth were spiritless. He would not have been MAN, and we have lost our Mediator and our Redeemer!
After the Lord Jesus died He went to paradise, and the dying robber was with Him there. If the contention that His 'spirit' is His deity were correct, then it would empty the promise of the Lord Jesus of all value? He would but have receded back into unveiled deity, and the dying robber would have been in paradise without the company of the Man who was also dying by his side!
This is an old heresy and was long ago dismissed as subversive of the faith. Why should it be thought incredible that God who is Spirit should become incarnate and have a human spirit? Is it any more difficult to understand than that One Person of the Godhead should contemporaneously be the possessor of two perfect nature? The one is as understandable to us as the other, though a full apprehension of all that is involved is utterly beyond us. When it is said the child 'grew and waxed strong in spirit' we have no doubt what is meant, but when the same expression is used of the Lord Jesus, why give the word 'spirit' another sense? (of. Luke 1.80 and 2.40).
We must be careful to distinguish clearly between the fact that God, in His nature, is spirit: and that the Lord Jesus had a human spirit: and (hat also in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit, sent after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, Who is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8.9).
by E. R. BOWER, Worcester (continued)
THE FOURTH VISION. Joshua the high priest. (3.1-10).
vv. 1-2. "He"—the angel interpreter (?); "Satan"—the adversary; "to resist"— to be his adversary; "His"—Joshua;
The story of Joshua, high priest to the restored remnant of Israel is to be found in the books of Ezra and Haggai. What we have here is not so much his hidden or secret history as an individual, but rather the history of the nation as seen in their representative before God; he is, in effect, standing before the Angel on behalf of Israel. Cf. Lev. 16. 30, etc., and John 14.30. The fire was the captivity from which they had recently returned. If indeed it is Joshua himself who is accused we note that the accusation is not stated, neither are we told when this scene was enacted, but what we do see is a parallel to the story of Job. Both Job and Joshua were accused "before the Lord," Zechariah certainly paints a picture full of drama—the sinbearing high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah and Satan the "accuser of our brethren" (Rev. 12.10) standing at his right hand, cf. Ps. 109.6,29; Jude 19). As we read this story may we imagine ourselves in Joshua's place, and ask ourselves, "How would I fare?" "for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ (or God)" (Rom. 14.1-12). What encouragement we find in the words of the Apostle, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again. Who is at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us." (Rom. 8. 33-34). Brands from the fire! Hallelujah! Note the third mention of the chosing of Jerusalem, thus connecting the first, third and fourth visions (1.7; 2.12; 3.2;) It also confirms that it is the sin of the nation is in view here rather than that of Joshua himself. The brand from the burning may also have in view a future remnant. It must be remembered that the prophet is seeing a vision, and the vision may not necessarily be related to actual events; if otherwise then Joshua might later be accused of neglecting his charge for, sixty years on, we find his sons married to 'strange wives' (Ezra 10.19). How often do the sons of men of God fail!
vv. 3-4. It is generally accepted that the Angel of Jehovah is the second person of the triunity of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (See Gen. 16.7-13; 22.11-22; 31.11-13; Ex. 3.2-18 etc,) Jewish thought sees the Angel as the Divine Word (John 1.1), thus this vision is of absorbing interest for it is the Angel of the Lord who stands in opposition to Satan, and who commands the removal of the filthy garments of Joshua; it is He who causes the iniquity to pass. Isaiah wrote, (64.6), "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." (or, polluted garments). This, too, of the "holy cities . . . and Jerusalem." There appears to be an interval between vv. 4 and 5, Joshua stands naked before "Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4.13 —but go on to v.14!) Cf. 2 Cor. 5.3 and Rev. 3.14-19. Other refs. Gen. 48.16; Is. 61.10; Rom. 14.10-12; 1 Cor. 3.10-15 4.1-5; 2 Cor. 5.9-10.
v.5 "I"—Zechariah; 'fair"—clean; "stood by" — kept standing. The prophet speaks up—perhaps in his capacity as a priest—and his request or intercession, is granted and, as some point out, this was before the putting on of the clean garments. Was the prophet's intercession an involuntary reaction arising from pity? Notice how particular his request was—a 'clean' mitre. See Ex. 28.4; 28.36-39; 39. 28-32; Lev. 8.9. Notice that the mitre and the holy crown were worn by Aaron that he "may bear (away) the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts, and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before Jehovah" (Ex. 28.38). Note the "always"!
- "For us He wears the mitre,
- Where holiness shines bright.
- For us His robes are whiter
- Than Heaven's unclouded light."
Satan, rebuked, is no longer at Joshua's right hand, and the Angel stands by.
vv. 6-7. "Protested"—solemnly affirmed; "My house"— Israel (Num. 12.7 etc.,); "places"—ways, or paths. The scene is still in heaven. Joshua's responsibility on earth, if fulfilled, is the measure for his responsibility in heaven.
- Walk in His ways and Keep His ordinances.
- Keep His courts and walk in His paths.
Joshua's place and responsibility was among those that stood courts (cf. Dan. 4.13,17). Impossible? Let us recall our Lord's words to His disciples, "Verily, I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19.38; Cf. Zech. 6.13; Matt. 25.31). On the other hand, if Joshua (subsequent to this vision) was given this message by the prophet, then the 'house' might refer to the Temple, and the 'courts' those of the Temple. A place among the heavenly assessors is the third reward for walking in the way and keeping the charge of Jehovah.
v.8. "Men wondered at"—men of wonder, or of a sign; "will bring"—are bringing. The vision gives place for a personal message to Joshua; no longer the spiritual, but 'down to earth'! The 'fellows that sat before' Joshua are not the ministrants of vv. 4-7, but colleagues. Ezra 3.1-6 records that upon the return from captivity the people gathered to Jerusalem and "Joshua . . . and his brethren the priests . . builded an altar . ." The seventh month (Tisri) mentioned by Ezra was the time of the Feast of Trumpets (the 1st); the Day of Atonement (10th); Tabernacles (15th) and Firstfruits of Wine and Oil. Each one prophetic of Israel's progress toward the last days. Is this why Joshua's colleagues were especially mentioned as men of a sign? Israel was back in the Land. Note Ezra 3.6, "The foundation of the Temple was not yet laid." The tense of v. 8 is indefinite, but the reference to the Coming One, the Messiah, the Servant, the Branch is certain. Isaiah, contemplating that day (chap 4) wrote, "In that day shall the Branch of Jehovah be beauty and glory" reminding us of the priestly garment of Glory and Beauty (Ex. 28-40) and with which Joshua had (in vision) been clothed. Cf. Is. 11, where a different word for 'Branch' is used—'nezer,' a graft or scion (Jer. 23. 5-6; 33.15). Jeremiah here speaks of Israel's restoration. The Companion Bible sets out the promise of the Branch.
|Jeremiah speaks of the King raised up.||Matthew's gospel. Zech. 9.9; Jer. 23.5-6.|
|Isaiah speaks of the Servant brought forth.||Mark's gospel. Zech. 3.8; Is. 42.1.|
|Zechariah speaks of the Man growing up.||Luke's gospel. Zech. 6.12.|
|Isaiah speaks of the Beauty and Glory of the Branch.||John's gospel. Is. 4.2; 40.9,10.|
This is He who will build the Temple of the Lord. (6.12).
v. 9. "stone"—stones; a singular for a plural. It has been suggested that the stone(s) refers to the stones used for the rebuilding of the, as yet future, Temple. The stone with seven eyes or facets is, perhaps, the head stone or gable stone, and it has been asserted that the words, "I will remove . . in one day" constitute the engraving which will appear on each of the seven facets. This, of course, may be disputed, but cannot the seven eyes of 4.10 refer back to this verse, and not (as some say) to the seven lamps of the lampstand? We may look at this verse in another way. When the Law was given, it was God Himself who cut the stones and engraved the Decalogue. Those tables of the Law were broken by Moses when he saw the golden calf (Ex. 32)— truly a symbolic action. Here, it is God who lays the stone(s) before Joshua and makes the engraving. If, indeed, the engraving is as suggested, "I will remove the iniquity of the Land in one day" it would be very appropriate to the times. Cf. 2 Chron. 16.9; Jer. 50.20; and see Deut. 11.12; 13.18; 1 Kings 93; Ps. 33.18; 34.5; Amos 9.8; Hab. 1.3;
v. 10. Joshua and his fellows were the signs for the latter days; for the coming of Messiah the Branch. All that was happening in those post-exilic days—the return from the 70 year captivity; the Temple rebuilding; the prophets Haggai and Zechariah saw as the fore shadowing of yet future events. Cf. Mic. 4.1-4. This was the "day of small things" —a day not to be despised (4.10); the "exceeding magnifical" (1 Chron. 22.5) is yet to come. Individual and national insularity will cease. The question, "Who is my neighbour?" (Luke 10.29) will no longer be heard. A commentator has expressed it of this proverb (v. 10), that it "represents the acme of contentment for which Israel longed." See 1 Kings 4.25; 2 Kings 18.31; Mic. 4.4. Before leaving this vision we might take in the lesson of the "strange wives" (Ezra 9 and 10) among whom were the daughters in law of Joshua. Then and now, the unequal yoke is an obstacle, whether it be in a marriage, or business, or even in the work of God. (2 Cor. 6.14).
by JOHN B. D. PAGE (continued)
Reading: Revelation 1.4f.
Jesus Christ, the Witness, the First-begotten, the Ruler
The salutation to the seven Asian churches is from the Triune Godhead, but neither the usual names of the three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit nor their normal order has been used.
The first Person of the Trinitv is presented as "Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come." This, of course, is an amplification of the ineffable Name, "I AM THAT I AM" (Ex. 3.14). Here, "Which is" comes first (cf. 4.8) for emphasis, relating Him to the present. Then "Which was" and "Which is to come" follow and connect Him to the past and future respectively. The whole of this compound title indicates that Jehovah is timeless in Being and existence —He is eternal. To adopt this title with its Old Testament and Jehovistic background for the Father is in keeping with the general tenor of the book.
Immediately after the first Person of the Trinity, the third Person with a symbolic title, "the seven Spirits which are before the throne" follows. The phrase does not mean that the Person of the Holy Spirit consists of seven spirits but it conveys the thought of the plenitude of His power, which is in no way deficient but perfect as signified by the numeral used. This is the first mention of the word "throne," occurring many times in the book, and its Biblical background will be considered later in another paper on chapter 4 (D.V.).
The placing of the second Person of the Trinity third is not common, although Peter does in the greetings of his first epistle (1 Pet. 1.2). The purpose of this order may indicate that everything which follows concerns, this wonderful Person, Who is set forth as "Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the First-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." By omitting the italicised words in the text, the unity of this grand compound title is brought out. This is the first of such complex titles.
For considering this composite description of Christ, we shall look at the parts in turn and singly.
Of the six times that this appellation, "Jesus Christ," occurs in the book, five are found in chapter 1, of which three are related to the writer's personal experiences. After incorporating this divine title in the opening words of the book (1.1), John personally claims to bear record of, and suffer for, "the testimony of Jesus Christ" (1.2,9). The title then occurs in the salutation (1.5), which is the subject of consideration.
By analysing this designation, we note first that "Jesus" is His personal name, being the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua, meaning 'Jehovah is salvation,' and it was in common use among the Jews. The Divine purpose was for the Son of God in His incarnation to be given this name, as the angel commanded Joseph (Matt. 1.21). His own people, to whom He came, received Him not, and He was despised and rejected of men. Therefore, the name "Jesus" is associated with shame and humiliation even unto the death of the cross which He endured to "save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1.21).
For the gospel narrative of His life, the Holy Spirit guided the writers to use the single name "Jesus," and it occurs about 566 times in the four gospels.
"Christ," which follows, is, of course, not a name hut a title, and it occurs only 36 times in the four gospels. This considerably lower number of occurrences compared with those of the name "Jesus" is not surprising when its significance is understood. The meaning of this title is 'Anointed One,' or more fully 'one who has been ceremonially anointed,' referring to the anointing for an office under the Jewish economy. With the Lord Jesus, He was not anointed by man but by God, and not in time but in eternity (Psa. 2.6, mgn.). It was at His resurrection, the first step in exaltation, when God made Him not only "Lord" but also "Christ" (Acts 2.36). It was then that His anointing became effective in time in respect of His Lordship and Messiahship. The full significance of the other title, "Lord," which is not included in that of the salutation, also rests solely upon His resurrection, before which it was used as a courtesy title during His earthly ministry. We mention this in passing, because the full title "Lord Jesus Christ," occurring only once in the Apocalypse, is found in the benediction (22.21). In the combination of the name and title, "Jesus Christ," there is the thought of One called Jesus, Whom men despised and rejected, and whom God has glorified and exalted as Christ (cp. Phil. 2.5-11). This appellation testifies to His resurrection and glorification.
With the significance of "Jesus Christ" now in mind, it is not surprising to find that it occurs only 5 times in the gospels, and even not at all in Luke. Turning to Acts, it is found 10 times. In the Epistles, there are about 85 occurrences, because they set forth the doctrines founded upon His vicarious death and victorious resurrection besides His present exaltation.
In the Revelation, a mere 6 occurrences of the combined name and title, "Jesus Christ," may seem minimal. Of course, this is not unexpected when it is remembered that the book is not doctrinal treatise of Him but an unveiling of His manifested glory, irrespective of whether the book is studied objectively or subjectively. The manifested glory of Jesus Christ is not the glory of unoriginated Deity and uncreated Being which He has possessed from eternity (John 17.5), but it is the glory of the risen, ascended and exalted Man which God presented to Him at His resurrection (John 17.24, 1 Pet. 1.21). This acquired glory, as distinct from His inherent glory, is set forth in the Apocalypse.
"Jesus Christ" is the introductory description of the Person Who is central in, and the theme of, the book, and His manifold glories are then set forth by way of other names and titles, of which some are symbolical and others metaphorical. In this manner, many cameos of Christ in His various glories are presented, and so the reader's appreciation of Christ should be enriched by them.
More than once, the Father spoke from heaven and said that He was "well pleased" with His Son during the days of His flesh, and so it must give pleasure to the Father to see His people occupied with the unveiled glories of His Son as set forth in the Apocalypse.
Following the appellation, "Jesus Christ" in the salutation, applied to this glorified Man now in the glory, three others follow to make up the full composite title, and they all relate in different ways to His Manhood.
The Faithful Witness
Realising how the Old Testament is interwoven into the Apocalypse, we need not be surprised to find that this title is apparently taken from the Psalter. The psalmist said the sun is "a faithful witness in heaven" (Psa. 89.36f), and John, looking back at the past and reflecting upon the Lord's life on earth, said that Christ was then "the Faithful Witness." When writing his gospel earlier, John had quoted from verse 36 (LXX) of this Psalm, "Christ abideth for ever" (John 12.34) which reads "His Seed shall endure for ever" (Hebrew), and so a Messianic significance is given to these two verses in this Psalm.
Pondering upon the laws of nature, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes (1.5) observed that "the sun ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose." The daily rising and setting of the sun illustrates the law of continuity and regularity in its sphere of the heavens, and so it is "a faithful witness" not only to such natural laws but also to its Creator.
We now turn to the One, by Whom the sun was made, and Whom John designates as "the Faithful Witness." In His defence before Pilate, the Lord Jesus said, "To this end was I born," which incidentally was the only occasion when He referred to His birth, "and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (John 18.37). By implication in the verbs used, the Lord Jesus gave expression to His pre-existence and incarnation, which, of course, was not understood by Pilate, and then He declared His mission to "bear witness unto the truth." His use of the preposition 'unto' is significant. He did not come merely to 'witness the truth,' that is, 'give a testimony that is true' as a person may in a court of law, or to bear witness o/,' that is, 'respecting the truth' as John the Baptist did of Him (John 1.15), but to "bear witness unto," that is, to 'bear witness to the objective reality of the Truth in support and defence of it.' As such a "Witness," He was "faithful" to God, although often offensive to men.
The First Begotten of the dead
To western ears, this may sound strange for a title, but it needs to be understood that the firstborn son in a Jewish family enjoyed position and privileges in his family, known as his birthright, which Esau despised and sold for a morsel of food and Reuben lost through yielding to immorality.
Within the family of nations, Israel is the Lord's firstborn (Ex. 4.22), and its birthright will be realised nationally during the millennium.
Believers are said to be the "church of the firstborn ones" (Heb. 12.23, lit.), and it behoves each of us to enjoy and exercise the privileges of our spiritual birthright.
Concerning Christ, He is described as "the Firstborn" in five different spheres. The term is used as a metaphorical title of Him to bring out His various positional glories. Without commenting upon them, Christ is named as "the Firstborn" in relation to (a) creation (Col. 1.15), (b) resurrection (Col. 1.18; Rev. 1.5), (c) the church (Rom. 8.29), (d) the millennium (Heb. 1.6), and (e) dominion (Psa. 89.27).
Turning now to the title under consideration, ascribed to Christ first by Paul and later by John, the phrase, "the Firstborn of the dead," does not denote an honoured place for Christ among the dead, implying that He is still dead. The alternative rendering, "the Firstborn from among the dead," clarifies its meaning. The thought is of resurrection 'from among' or 'out of the dead, which was a truth first introduced by the Lord Jesus Himself after His transfiguration when He told the three disciples, including John, to "tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man were risen from (or, from among) the dead." Noting the preposition used by the Lord Jesus in relation to His resurrection, they were perplexed and questioned amongst themselves its significance (Mark 9.9f). The Lord Jesus introduced the principle of selection to the doctrine of resurrection, that is, one or more would be raised in advance of others, which was new to the disciples. It indicated that Christ Himself, in resurrection, would have the precedence. To say, that He is "the Firstborn from among the dead" means that He has priority in time, having been raised from the dead before either the just who will be at the rapture of the saints or the unjust after the millennium. It also indicates that He has superiority in position in relation to believers to be raised from the dead, as brought out by Paul, "now is Christ risen from (or, from among) the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15.20), signifying that the risen Christ is the Antitype of the sheaf of ripened barley presented to the Lord by the high priest for the feast of firstfruits, being the day on which He rose from the dead. Furthermore, the title signifies the dignity of His Person, for this Man alone has been raised from the dead and He will be alive for evermore.
The Ruler of the kings of the earth
As an artist conveys his impression of his subject upon a canvas, so John provides a comprehensive portrayal of the glorified Man by ascribing this compound tide to Him. The Divine Subject is presented as "Jesus Christ," a designation signifying His manifested glories. Looking back to the past, He is seen as "the Faithful Witness" on earth. Beholding Him at the present, He is "the First Begotten from among the dead." Peering into the future, He appears as "the Ruler of the kings of the earth" (RV). The word
"Ruler," as adopted by the Revisers, indicates more clearly than the word "Prince" (AV) that Christ will not merely reign as a sovereign does in a democracy but He will rule in a theocratic age.
Yet again in this divine title, John's mind has turned to the Old Testament, for the phrase "the kings of the earth" is quoted from Psalm 2.2, where the psalmist describes them in tumultuous conditions internationally, taking a hostile stand not against another confederacy of nations but "against the Lord and against His anointed." This is undoubtedly unfulfilled prophecy concerning the troublous times after the rapture of the saints, when "the kings of the earth," whom Daniel (7.24) foresaw as a ten-nation confederacy, will challenge with blasphemous audacity both Jehovah and His Messiah, but the Lord, seated in the heavens, will laugh and have them in derision. With their armed forces locked in battle and in the hour of apparent defeat for Israel, Christ will come again and shatter these rebellious kings and their opposing forces as a potter dashes a defective vessel to the ground in pieces (Psa. 2.9). Then these defeated kings will be commanded to "kiss the Son" (Psa. 2.12), which is an allusion to an eastern custom as an act of allegiance and submission (cp. 1 Sam. 10.1).
With these insubordinate potentates having surrendered. Christ will reign in undisputed supremacy as "the Ruler of the kings of the earth," which is foreseen by John, for one thousand years.
by JAMES PENDER
The effect of spiritual feeding is seen. The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit. When the law of the Spirit of life (THE GIRL) makes you free from the law of sin and death (Rom.) and you walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. This draws forth the displeasure of your relatives and friends. They are astonished and acknowledge a change, but are offended—Ch. 5—What is in us—Ch. 6— What is in others. They stumbled at the stumbling stone that was laid in Zion. HE was that rock of offence. They were ignorant of God's righteousness and no submission.
He sends forth the twelve (v. 7). This is being susceptible to the former teaching and thus fits us for service. Service is rendered in the power of Sonship and involves suffering. The disciples are sent out in the face of rejection and active opposition. The unity of opposition from the Lowest to the Highest—from the people to the King. PRIDE and LUST uniting their energies against the ministry of the truth with the unity of opposition.
THE SUPREMACY OF DIVINE GRACE IS SEEN
for you cannot thwart divine purpose to bless, for divine fulness will be found even in the wilderness. Though the winds are contrary and the waves stormy.
STILLS THE WIND AND WALKS UPON THE SEA
and when they realise HIS PRESENCE, the opposing elements cease and on the other shore, all evil yields to HIM and passes away (v. 1-6). Pride, resisting convictions— Stubbornness and pride of the natural heart (v. 7-16). The ministry by which HIS personal testimony is extended two by two, competent witness'—mutual help. When testimony accredited by divine power is rejected, then judgement follows, (v. 16-29). When truth opposes men's lusts, it awakens hatred toward the one who teaches it. The valuation of John's head showed the intense hatred of that woman. Hatred may plan and scheme to get rid of a witness of the truth BUT THE TRUTH ITSELF REMAINS (Heaven and earth shall pass away, etc.). What is seen here is LUST AND HATE joined together in unholy union with THE PRIDE OF LIFE. It binds together the WORLD AND ITS RULERS in opposition to the throne of Heaven (a picture of the world's opposition to Christ). The spirit of the Edomite coming out of HEROD (v. 30-45). The Lord returns to the wilderness. The world. The world in the condition to which sin has reduced it DESERT—nothing to sustain divine life. We see divine fulness manifested for the satisfaction of need. The servants ministering to the needs of the multitude out of their own provision and multiplied through HIS blessings. We are dependent for the ministry of spiritual food from the Lord through HIS servants. He teaches, heals and feeds the company through HIS servants, using them and theirs as channels of blessing to others. They had more left than they had to begin with. This is the way of Spiritual increase. Scattering, yet increasing.
Multiplying by dividing. The responsibility of possessing whatever ministers to the need of the company and the gain that results from the same. Every spiritual enrichment brings with it corresponding responsibility. Privilege and opportunity of greater gain. To him that hath shall be given (Luke 19, Matt. 25.46-52). The experiences by the way during the time HE is on high—tossed on the sea of the world, the wind contrary. The course of this world is directed by Satan. He is the prince of the power of the air in Eph. 2.2.
53-54. THE END OF THE WAY. When the sea is crossed, like the men of Gennesaret, we will know HIM as the one on whom all blessings depend and all sickness and distresses banished by HIS presence.
by B. CURRIE
In the epistle to the Hebrews there are three references to the flesh of the Lord Jesus. These are 2.14; 5.7; 10.20. For the purpose of these papers the references may be considered as follows :
- 1. 2.14—Identification
- 2. 5.7—Intercession
- 3. 10.20—Invitation
In Hebrews chapter one the Lord Jesus is presented in all the dignity of His Deity and as such He is far superior to angels., In chapter two He is presented in the perfection of His Humanity and as such He is far superior to :
- (a) Adam in His Sovereignty, vv. 5-9,
- (b) Moses in His Shepherding, v. 10a,
- (c) Joshua in His Soldering, v. 10b,
- (d) Joseph in His Suffering, vv. 11-13,
- (e) David in His Salvation, vv. 14-16,
- (f) Aaron in His Sympathy, vv. 17-18.
The reference we are presently considering lies within (e) above, i.e. the section which can be contrasted with David when he saved the nation from bondage by slaying the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17). In order to effect their deliverence, David had to leave his father's house, come to his brethren, enter the conflict and annul the enemy. This is the clear parallel in Heb. 2.14-16.
Thus it was necessary for the Lord, the Father's Only Begotten, to leave the heavenly glory which had been His abode from all eternity, and to be identified with those He came to deliver. It is important to note how guarded is the Spirit of God as He refers to the humanity of our Saviour. When He refers to 'the children' v.14, they are 'partakers' (the word is that for fellowship or commonly share). This is the common lot of mankind—we all share in blood and flesh, and have no option but so to do. However when speaking of the Lord two expressions must be observed viz. 'likewise' and 'took part.'
The latter 'took part' is quite different from the word 'partakers' used of tlhe children. The meaning here is that the Lord took part of blood and flesh voluntarily. This proves that He was no mere man. The word 'likewise' similarity proves the uniqueness of His Manhood. It is a cognate word with that used in Phil. 2.27 where of Epaphro-ditus it is recorded 'he was sick nigh unto death.' The meaning is clearly that Epaphroditus was nearly beside, as close as possible to, death without being dead. Similarily the Lord Jesus was nearly beside, as close as possible to the children. Wherein was the difference? The answer is simple and yet most precious—He never took part of their sinful nature. There was nothing in Him to respond to sin. He had no fallen nature and consequently with regard to Him it is never a question of did He sin? or could He have sinned? rather the tremendous and glorious truth is this—He could not sin!
A similar thought illustrating the precision of the language employed by the Spirit to guard the truth with regard to God's Son is seen in Rom. 8.3. There we read 'God sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.' Note it does not read 'He was sent in the likeness of flesh'—that would have denied His Humanity—His Flesh was real flesh. Nor does it read 'He was sent in sinful flesh'—that would have denied His Deity—His Flesh was not sinful flesh. The expression is exact and preserves both His True Sinless Humanity and His Deity.
The reasons for Him becoming human in every respect apart from sin are also made clear in Heb. 2:—
- (a) to annul the power of the devil in death (v.14),
- (b) to deliver the captives (v. 15).
How was this to be accomplished? The answer calls forth wonder and worship from our hearts (v. 14) 'through the death'
- 'Amazing love ! how can it be,
- That Thou, my Lord, shouldst die for me ?'
Thus for the believer of to-day the devil no longer has the power of death, not even as under the control of God. When a Christian is called home, the devil has no part in it; rather the Christian is 'put to sleep through or by means of Jesus' (1 Thess. 4.14). Thus the believer can accept death with a calm assurance. It is a 'departure' i.e. an unloosing (2 Tim. 4.6), 'gain' (Phil. 1.21), 'very far better' (Phil. 1.23, R.V.), 'at home with the Lord' (2 Cor. 5.8, R.V.). In typical language He, as the Ark of the Covenant, went into the waters of Jordan in order that we could pass over on dry ground. (Josh. 3.17).
Thus just as David slew Goliath using the giant's own sword, and Haman was hanged on the gallows he had had prepared for Mordecia, the Lord Jesus annulled him who has the power of death by entering into death itself.
- 'He subdued the powers of hell;
- In the fight He stood alone;
- All His foes before Him fell,
- By His single arm o'erthrown.
- They have fall'n to rise no more;
- Final is the foe's defeat;
- Jesus triumphed by His power,
- And His triumph is complete.'
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth
The divine system has not just evolved : it has been ordered in every detail and as it expresses the will of God cannot but be carried through intact. The dispensations (i.e. God's relationship with men) are as orderly as, for instance, the wonderful solar system, (about which men in our day are seeking to acquire greater knowledge), guided and controlled by the hand of God. It is a system in which the principles do not change, in character with the divine Author.
We belong to it and it is eternal. In its practical working out, it is in essence the history of two men, Adam and Christ.
'The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is the Lord from heaven' (1 Cor. 15.47). The first man to be born (Cain) was a murderer—the second his victim (Abel). How this vindicates Paul's teaching in Romans of the utter depravity of the human heart and of the necessity (not only the desirability) on our part of a change of man. The complete contrast is shown by Paul, 'As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.' (1 Cor. 15.22). For our spiritual education God sets before us one Man Who is Himself the truth. As two disciples were leaving Jerusalem (Luke 24), He joins them interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. The likelihood is, of course, that He spoke of certain O.T. characters as types, a most instructive medium, despite sometimes disparaging references to 'typology.'
The study of the O.T. characters and that which they represent is very rewarding. We have noted Cain and Abel and shall see that the representation is usually in pairs. Sometimes it is by way of contrast; sometimes in the introduction in leadership of a change. At the outset Lot accompanied Abram, but later with eyes on the well watered plain of Jordan and without spiritual appreciation disastrously separated from Abram, 'For he dwelt in Sodom' (Gen. 14.12) Again, Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and later Isaac, of whom God had said, 'I will establish My covenant with him, for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him' (Gen. 17. 19). The principle remains, He takes away the first that He may establish the second, (first Adam then Christ). We come to Esau and Jacob; we can never set aside the sovereignty of God in His choice 'Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.' (Rom. 9.13). Esau despised the inheritance, but the lesson for us is that Jacob had set his heart on obtaining it, though his methods by Christian standards were questionable. How much do we appreciate and lay hold of (in heart) that which is in fulness future, as Peter says 'an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.' (1 Pet. 1.4).
In general, we have so far been concerned with the conflicting ideas of good and evil, mirrored in such characters as Cain and Abel, Abram and Lot, Isaac and Ishmael, Esau and Jacob. We have noted that these occur in pairs, in juxtaposition with each other for Spiritual education. But in the ways of God (which always subserve His purpose) there are instances, as we shall see, not necessarily connected with moral questions or our suitability. God would have us to be intelligent as to His purpose and to travel with Him in our understanding. To this end, Moses is brought before us, first as a babe, precious, and the object of divine care. He is God's honoured servant, and the scriptures afford a full scale portrait of the one whom He designates 'My servant,' as though the only one : indeed he is typical to us of the lordship of Christ and of His authority.
But Moses is not allowed to lead Israel into the promised land. The suggestion to us, of course, is that the old system is not equal to all that this portends. This required a young man of energy, Joshua. He is not personally greater than Moses, but (for our learning) supersedes Moses, suggesting to us a realm in which the service of the Holy Spirit is paramount. So is another dispensation (the New Covenant) pre-figured before its actual introduction and several times is repeated 'Moses, My servant, is dead' and a key word in the Hebrews Epistle is 'better things.' To many in Christendom (including indeed some true believers) Moses is not dead. Their lives are still lived under the Mosaic law (well-intentioned), but, in practice, little aware of the liberty of the Spirit. So Paul, speaking personally, says 'All things are lawful for me, but all are not expedient (profitable), but I will not be brought under the power of any.' (1 Cor. 6.12). And he further adds 'Now the Lord is the Spirit, but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.' (2 Cor. 3.17,18).
—To be concluded.
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(26) THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
"Jesus Christ is Lord" was the simplest creed of the early Church. The first time that Lord (Kurios) occurs in the N.T. is Matt. 1.20 "the angel of the Lord appeared." In the Acts and the Epistles the testimonies to the Godhead of Jesus Christ are clear and unmistakable. In the Acts He is always "the Lord." There are three prominent thoughts found in all references to Christ as Lord, and these are "Ownership," especially where the title is used in the possessive case as the "Lord's Table" (1 Cor. 10.21); "Authority" as in Acts 9.5,6; and "Power" as the "hand of the Lord was with them" (Acts 11.21). The practical aspect is "that He might be Lord" (Rom. 14.9) of our lives, Master of our entire existence. We must settle it once for all and then realize it continuously, "we are the Lord's" (Rom. 14.8).
The Greek word "Lord" is the N.T. equivalent of the Hebrew "Jehovah" (Rom. 1.4; 14.9; Phil. 2.9-11). Christ's exaltation to the Father's right hand and His beins given a name - "Lord" is that of "Yahweh" (Isa. 45.23). "The title Lord, is rank and honour beyond all others. His supreme exaltation, his enthronement in and over the universe (Eph. 1.19-23). In the N.T. the Greek word Kurios occurs over 700 times, rendered "Lord"; "Master"; "Owner"; and "Sir." Study the expressions in the Acts, "the name;" "the word" and the "way of the Lord." The quotation from Psa. 110.1 "Sovereign Lord" and its ten references in the N.T. affirm the Deity of Christ. Study the references to "Lord in the Corinthian Epistles, around 60 times, and in Ephesians 25 times, in its practical application. His Lordship in our lives brings fulfilment and freedom NOT oppression and frustration. We shall look at two portions in the N.T. namely John 21 and Acts 9 for its messaee for us today.
"IT IS THE LORD" John 21, verses 7, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21.
THE REVELATION OF HIS LORDSHIP (v. 1-6). Here is the Lord remembering His Own and visiting them, and caring for them. In these disciples we see unity, variety, and activity, yet "that night they caught nothing" (v. 3). Over much of our service the Lord writes night and nothing. In spite of their failure the Lord had in store something better than their best (v. 3).
LORD OF MY SERVICE WHICH HE DIRECTS. (v. 6,7). They own their failure and He prepares them for success. To lose ourselves in submission to Him, is to find ourselves. This developes our personality and leads to maturity. He is "over" us as Lord, and we are "under" Him as servants. Obedience to His authority always brings success (v.6). "If Christ is not Lord of all He is not Lord at all."
THE RECOGNITION OF HIS LORDSHIP (v. 7-14). Peter and his companions know that this Mysterious Person is the Lord (v. 12).
LORD OF MY NEED WHICH HE SUPPLIES. Now they are His guests, and He their Host, serves them (v.12,13). They found a Friend they never expected; a fire they never kindled and food they never prepared. In Luke 24.43 they fed Him, now He feeds them. What amazing love and care, He still ministers to us (Phil. 4.19).
THE REQUIREMENTS OF HIS LORDSHIP, (v. 15-17) Here is the Lord as Love Appealing. LORD OF MY LOVE WHICH HE DESIRES. The play upon two words translated "love" agapeo, and phileo. The former speaks of love as "principle"; and the latter of love as a "feeling." The former is God's love to us, the latter of our love to one another. When the Lord used Peter's word (v. 17) it was that which grieved the Apostle. May we answer the challenge "Do you really love me?" LORD OF MY WILL WHICH HE CONTROLS (v. 18-19). The Lord Jesus expects us not only to believe his teaching but also to obey his commands (John 14.15,21). True freedom is to obey the Lord, not to disobey him. Here Peter's past is described—"young;" his future is disclosed—"shalt be old," and his present declared —"follow Me." His will was surrendered to His Lord. We need to recover the neglected aspect of our discipleship, obedience to the Lord.
THE RESPONSE TO HIS LORDSHIP, (v. 20-25). The believer and the Church as a whole are largely ineffective* as spiritual forces in the world for the lack of loyalty to the Lord. He is worthy of our Trust (v. 1-14); our Love which should be sacrificed, (v. 15-17); To live and witness for our Lord calls for courage (v.18,19) and patience (v.20-23). "He is thy Lord" (Ps. 45.11b).
ACTS 9. "PAUL AND HIS LORD" "The term "Lord" has become one of the most lifeless words in the Christian vocabulary. To enter into its meaning and give it practical effect would be to re-create the atmosphere of the Apostolic age." H. A. Kennedy. Acts 9 opens with opposition to the Lord (v. 1) and closes with "many believed in the Lord" (v. 42) Saul's Christian life began with Submission to the Lord (v. 5). He learned of the Humanity of the Lord, "Jesus," His Sympathy—"persecute Me," and His Sovereignty over all things (v. 5, 6).
Salvation in the Lord, (v. 35,42). The miracle of healing the sick (v. 32-35), and the raising of one from the dead (v.37, 42), led some to believe in the Lord, (Acts 16.31; Rom. 10.9). There follows Service for the Lord (v.6). Shall we say with Paul, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" With my thoughts? (2 Cor. 10.5c); with my talents? (Matt. 25.20,24); with my time? (Eph. 5.16); and with my goods? (Acts 4.34,35). Have we lost our sense of duty and direction? May we hear the call to arise and to action—"Go into the city," and to allegiance (v.8). Service begins with vision (v.17). He was shut up to God for three days (v.9). This sobered his thinking and stimulated his service (v.28). Service sustained by direction (v.10-21). A readiness to hear the Lord (v.10), a willingness to obey the Lord (v.18), and faithfulness to the Word of God (v. 11,17,18).
Governed by commission (v.15). His sphere of service was the "Gentiles," "Kings" was a special sphere of testimony when in bondage before Agrippa and later in Rome. His character would be moulded by suffering (v.16).
Sustained by the Lord (v. 19-27). He was strengthened by good food and a genuine friend in Barnabas (v.27). Fellowship is always the proper thing to seek if you want to grow in grace. The local Church received Saul on the commendation of Barnabas, he possessed special knowledge regarding Saul and his testimony for the Lord in Damascus (v.27). Saul had friends in times of trial and of testing (v.25,27).
SANCTIFIED BY THE LORD. (v.31). This Church had a breathing spell when Saul was converted. They made progress spiritually and materially, intensively and extensively. They had peace from external difficulties, we need peace from internal dissensions (Phil. 2.3,4; 4.2,3). They made progress—they were edified and multiplied; gathering in of souls for Christ. Marked by power—walking in the fear of the Lord, and they received daily encouragement. Like healthy plants they were growing in the sunshine of God's love. Some saints want entertainment and wonder at their stunted growth. Edification produces character, spirituality and growth in erace. Make Jesus Lord of your life. There are eighteen references to "Lord" in this chapter:
by JOHN CAMPBELL, Larkhall (continued)
INSTRUCTION IN THE COMPANY.
In the early church, God set certain prophets and teachers, Acts 13.1, men gifted of God to lead the believers into the truth of God. Two features marked a prophet. He was given knowledge of divine secrets, and ability to communicate them to others. He did it in a threefold way, which we will examine. 1 Cor. 14.3 states he spoke by way of edification, exhortation and comfort. The word for Edification is OIKODOMEO, meaning to build, and is used in the Sept. for Gen 4.17. Cain builded a city; and in Gen. 8.20, it is said of Noah, he builded an altar. The thought is Building Up. Exhortation is a ministry of encouragement. PARAKLESIS, a calling near. It is used by Paul in 2 Cor. 8.4. "Praying for us with much entreaty-earnest solicitation. Again in Rom. 12.8, where the meaning is admonition, while in Acts 9.31, the same word translated "comfort," carries the idea of aid. The thought is STIR UP. Finally, COMFORT. The word here is PARAMUTHION, and means to soothe or pacify, or persuade. The thought here is CHEER UP. DISCIPLINE IN THE COMPANY.
Let us now examine an aspect of Local Assembly government which requires great care and wisdom. We will look at it under two headings: The need for discipline and the nature of discipline.
THE NEED FOR DISCIPLINE
No community can claim immunity from disturbance, be it the ever so well regulated. The Local Church is no exception. Indeed, the Lord indicated in Luke 17.1, "It is impossible but that offences will come;" also in Matt. 18.7, the same warning is given. Verses 15 to 20 of this chapter provides an instance. Trespass here and in Luke 17.3 means to miss the mark, HAMARTANO, the only occasions of its use. Difficulties arise, and differences in personality alone account for much of Assembly unrest, strain and disagreement, and care is required, lest a "little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" 1 Cor. 5.6. Discipline is essential, for "Holiness becometh Thy House, O Lord, forever. Psa. 93.5" This alone would establish the need for discipline.
THE NATURE OF DISCIPLINE
The subject of discipline in the New Testament is set forth in at least three distinct and separate manners, which we will attempt to explain. Three headings suggest themselves: Private Discipline, Public Discipline and Pastoral Discipline. There are disciplines which only the individual concerned is asked to exercise, and the Assembly takes no part in; while there are disciplines only the Local Church can and must handle. And I judge there are disciplines neither the individual or the Church may handle. Look first at Private discipline (Luke 17.3). "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." Two brethren are involved, an alleged trespass is raised. The offended brother makes the first move, and rebukes the offender. If the latter repents, the former forgives the latter. So seemingly simple, yet experience over the past 50 years with the Saints proves that it works! Only two moves by the offended brother, and he gains his brother, and only two people know anything about the dispute! But some one will say, "what about Matthew 18.15?" Let us look at the verse. "Moreover, if thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault, between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, tihou hast gained thy brother." Similar ground to Luke 7.3. And again only two persons know anything about the matter! Now the difficulty broadens. V. 16 raises a problem, "But if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more," that every word may be established, i.e. to cause to stand (Matt. 18.2) "Set him in the midst." (John 8.3) "set her in the midst." Someone or something that will stand scrutiny. Three of four persons are now involved. A further problem presents itself, "If he shall neglect to hear them," This is a possibility, and could arise from a mistaken sense of right on the part of the offender, or fleshly stubbornness; and finally the church is involved. If the offender still will not hear, the offended brother behaves toward the offending brother as he would a heathen and a publican; that is, he withdraws his fellowship. Note, this is still a private matter. "Let him be to thee." Five times the pronoun "thee" is mentioned in the passage, once in italics, indicating the word is not in the original manuscripts, but inserted to complete the sense, and ought not to be interpreted as excommunication from the Local Church.
This would set out a survey of Private Discipline.
In the matter of Public Discipline, the Local Church must act when any of the sins mentioned in 1 Cor. 5.11 are committed. Assembly discipline is here limited to these sins alone, and it would appear that a meeting is specially called by the Church for this purpose, see 1 Cor. 5.4. The Corinthian believers were lax in disciplining the wicked person; and they appear to be just as lax in receiving him again, after giving proof of his repentance by overmuch sorrow. (2 Cor. 2.7).
It is the task of the overseers, set among the flock of God, not only to shepherd the Assembly (Acts 20.28); but to warn the unruly, (1 Thess. 5.14), mark and avoid the divisionists, (Rom. 16.17) and stop the mouths of empty talkers (Titus 1.11). These duties devolve on the heads of the overseers, as the immediate context shows. Paul in Romans and Thessalonians, after addressing the brethren in these assemblies, has a word of council for other brethren, who can only be overseers. Note the "you, brethren" of Romans 16.17, coming after the "you, brethren" of 15.30; also the "you, brethren" of 1 Thess. 5.14, coming after the "you, brethren, of v. 12 of the same chapter. Add to this, his direction to Titus in 1.11 of the epistle which bears his name, in the context of the qualifications of elders. Much admonition is exercised by overseers, of which the Assembly knows little; until that position is arrived at, where the Church is informed, fully, in the matter of discipline, when excommunication is the only way in which certain matters can be finalised, for the Glory of God and His Assembly.
Another discipline which is not excommunication, is, withdrawing from the disorderly brother of 2 Thess. 3.6, here a collective drawing away, and have no company with him (v. 14), that he may be put to shame by his conduct.
EXCOMMUNICATION FROM THE LOCAL CHURCH
It is a solemn occasion when circumstances demand that one of the number in the fellowship is put away. EXARIO —The word is used in 1 Cor. 5.13, of one put away by the Church, excommunicated. It is also used in v. 2 of the
same chapter, to illustrate the possibility of the wicked person being taken away in death in the government of God. These are the only occurences of the word, the stem of which is used in Eph. 4.31. Let all bitterness, etc. be put away from you—God's blessing is withheld until evil is put away. The instances are too numerous to quote at length; but see 1 Sam. 7.3. God's blessing was conditional on Israel putting away the strange gods, and a desire of heart to serve Him fully. In every instance of putting away, recovery is anticipated, and joyously welcomed, after repentance is evidenced.
THE LOCAL CHURCH RESOLVES SPIRITUAL DISPUTES.
Matt. 18.15. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRETHREN
The Lord's guidance in all matters of trespass between brethren is clear and precise, and has been dealt with under the paragraph on Private Discipline.
Paul gives guidance in Philippians 4.2, when sisters differ. He makes his appeal in a sevenfold way:—
- 1. Discreetly Beseech, not command v. 2.
- 2. Personally Euodias—Syntyche v. 2.
- 3. Alphabetically Gives no preeminence v. 2.
- 4. Doctrinally In the Lord v. 2.
- 5. Reflectively Laboured with me in Gospel v. 3.
- 6. Unbiasedly Recovery in view v. 3.
- 7. Helpfully Assist them. v. 3.
THE LOCAL CHURCH RESOLVES LEGAL DISPUTES
1 Cor. Ch. 6. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRETHREN
Christians forbidden to go to Law against each other, because:—
- 1. Going before the unjust. v. 1.
- 2. Ignoring the Saints v. 1.
- 3. Ignoring a court competent. . v. 2.
- 4. We shall judge the world. v. 2.
- 5. We shall judge angels. v. 3.
- 6. Ignoring wise men in the Church. v. 5.
- 7. A shameful thing to go to court. v. 5.
Christians not forbidden to go to Law with the world. Paul claimed the benefits of Roman Citizenship. Acts 16.37.
THE LOCAL CHURCH IS EXPECTED TO EVANGELISE THE WORLD. Matt. 28.19.
- The Power v. 18.
- The People—Nations v. 19.
- The Purpose—Disciple v. 19
- The Place—World v. 19.
- The Preaching—Gospel v. 15. Mk. 16
- The Pattern—Make, Mark, Mould, v. 19
- The Presence, v. 20. With you.
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"WITH JESUS IN OUR MIDST"
ROBERT CLEAVER CHAPMAN (1803—1902)
Towards the close of the last century, a letter posted in a foreign country and addressed, "R. C. Chapman, University of Love, England" was duly delivered correctly to a narrow cul-de-sac among the slums of Barnstaple, Devon, for it was there at No. 6 New Buildings that Robert Cleaver Chapman had made his home. A press reporter wrote on the occasion of Chapman's 99th birthday, "No-one can estimate the influence that has been created by the saintly life and beautiful faith and glorious example of Robert Chapman." The record of a friend who had once stayed with Chapman in that humble Devonshire home was this— "I learned that he was pre-eminently holy; a man who rose early, and prayed much, and always walked with God." But who was this Robert Cleaver Chapman, this spiritual giant, this patriarch of faith, this apostle of love, who lived in such simplicity and walked with God?
Robert Cleaver Chapman was born into a family of nobility and wealth—'his was a childhood of luxury. His father, Thomas Chapman, was a well-to-do merchant from Whitby in Yorkshire, England, and had moved to reside at Elsinore, Denmark and it was while there that Robert was born in 1803. After early private education under a Roman Catholic French Abbe and later schooling in Yorkshire, England, Robert at the age of 15 went to London to study law. He applied himself arduously and after five years was admitted an Attorney of the Court of Common Pleas and an Attorney of the Court of Kings Bench. Professional opportunities then opened out before him; the social round of London's West End made its appeal; Chapman was only 20 years of age and life held great promise. In himself he was a young man of high moral standards, blameless in character, devout and seeking to attain the salvation of Godi by self-righteousness. But one night while sitting under the ministry of James Harrington Evans in John Street Chapel, Chapman appreciated that his garment of self-righteousness was in reality before God only a filthy rag. He discarded it and embraced the Lord Jesus as his personal Saviour. Writing later of that event he said, "In the good and set time Thou spakest to me saying, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing' (Isaiah 28, v. 12). And how sweet Thy words, 'Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee' (Matthew 9.2). How precious the sight of the Lamb of God! And how glorious the robe of righteousness hiding from the holy eyes of my Judge all my sin and pollution."
From the moment of conversion, Chapman sought to be true to his Saviour and Lord. Confessing Christ proved costly both in his own family circle and among his professional colleagues. He sought to obey his Lord in baptism and approached James Harrington Evans on the matter. "You will wait a while, and consider the matter" advised the pastor. "No, I will make haste and delay not to keep His commandments" replied Chapman and was forthwith baptized. He devoted himself to the service of Christ and to the service of others, working among the poor and needy of the slums of London. Besides a big heart for needy souls, Chapman had a tender conscience and desired to be well-pleasing to his Lord. So, after deep exercise of heart and prayerful consideration, he relinquished his profession, gave away his personal fortune, dedicated himself to full-time service for Christ and at the age of 29, left London for Barnstaple in the West Country, to be pastor of Ebenezer Street Baptist Chapel there, accepting that charge on one condition, "That I should be free to teach all I found written in> the scriptures."
God showed to such an open, honest and enquiring heart, precious truths from His Word, and Chapman longed that they should be made known—that the unity of God's children was not dependant on any rite or ceremony—that ministry was a matter of Divine gift and not human or ecclesiastical ordination—that priestly service was the spiritual birthright of all believers and when the Lord's supper was observed in simplicity that there should be liberty for all brethren to take part as led by the Spirit of God. These truths Chapman proclaimed in love and waited patiently and prayerfully for the Spirit of God to write them upon the hearts of the saints, for the unity of the people of God was something very precious to him. Chapman was noted for his grace and yieldingness, but always dealt in firmness and faithfulness to his Lord when there was error, while at the same time always showing kindness to the erring ones. Such loving conduct was God-glorifying and was Chapman's strength—truly a brother beloved. In all matters, he exhibited the spirit of his Lord and honoured the injunction of Phil. 2.3, "Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" and was often heard to say, "Humility is the secret of fellowship and pride the secret of division." His ministry among the saints was a ministry of love and of reconciliation. (Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God"—Matthew 5.9). To a brother with whom he differed in certain things he wrote, "We judged it a cause for se[fjhumiliation that we could not fully agree, but not a reason for strife and separation. God would soon make all His children one, did they always set their faces like the cherubim towards the mercy-seat."
Chapman's ministry among the unconverted in Barnstaple was greatly blessed of God. The people there listened to the "man of God" whom they knew and who lived Christ daily in their midst, and souls were saved in that Devonshire town which, at that time, was marked by misery and drunkenness. He loved to preach in the open-air and in cottage meetings. His own home was open always and there many a needy soul found help and blessing. There the Lord's people came without invitation and stayed as long as they pleased and never once in 70 years were any turned away.
The 19th century in England was a period of spiritual giants— men whose lives and testimonies still affect us today. Associated with assembly testimony, there were three of outstanding fame— George Muller, whose faith in the living God was demonstrated daily in the orphan homes of Bristol—John Nelson Darby, whose hope "set on things above" found expression in rich spiritual ministry—Robert C. Chapman, whose genuine love for saints and sinners was told out daily in lowly service; these three— a man of faith, a man of hope and a man of love. But let us all again ponder the verdict of the Spirit of God in 1 Cor. 13.13, "Faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
There was nothing ostentatious about the life of Robert C. Chapman. In life, and particularly in later life, he would not consent to having his ministry published. When friends asked him, "Why don't you write your life story?" he replied, "It is written already and will be published in the Morning." Chapman wrote many hymns and poems particularly during his early years at Barnstaple. In all about 165 of these have been preserved for us and from this large collection, the hymn, "With Jesus in our midst" has been chosen because it expresses in simple form some of those things that were most precious to the heart of Robert C. Chapman.
- 'With Jesus in our midst,
- We gather round the board ;
- Though many, we are one in Christ,
- One body in the Lord.
- Our sins were laid on Him
- When bruised on Calvary;
- With Christ we died and rose again,
- And sit with Him on high.
- Faith eats the bread of life,
- And drinks the living wine;
- Thus we, in love together knit,
- On Jesus' breast recline.
- Soon shall the night be gone,
- And we with Jesus reign ;
- The marriage supper of the Lamb
- Shall banish all our pain.
This short hymn befits the Lord's supper, that high and holy privilege afforded to the Lord's people upon the first day of the week. We gather around simple symbols upon a table—faith embraces the more sublime realities. Faith recognises the living Christ as present, looks back to the cross and anticipates the glory. Christ is ever central. What indissoluble bonds unite us to Him and in turn to one another! How blessed the communion and how precious the unity—truly a foretaste of things to come!
I GO A FISHING
- Simon Peter brave and true,
- While others waited he would do,
- In the forefront of the action,
- Only he could be a bastion
- Yet Peter when faced with truth,
- Afraid and troubled he stood aloof,
- His pride was hurt, his conscience wounded
- A little maid bold Peter confounded.
- O how foolish can we be
- Acting in haste apart from Thee
- 'Toiling all night,' fruitless labour
- A sure result of man-made fervour
- 'Lovest Thou Me,' rings through the ages
- This great theme our hearts engages
- 'Feed My sheep, My lambs,' saith He
- This will show your love for Me
- The choice is simple and plain
- For each and everyone the same
- Forgetting others, 'Follow thou Me'
- 'I will comfort, and satisfy thee'
- Theory must be put to the test
- For Peter himself, apart from the rest
- 'Tis easy to say, far harder to do
- Lord give us grace to be faithful and true.
—J. G. Good.