AN EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER
by JOHN PETERS
RESURRECTION AND ASCENSION
by Edward Robinson
SOME THOUGHTS ON ESTHER
THE MODEL BELIEVER IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
by Richard Jeffrey
SIN IN THE LIFE
by Cliff Jones
by Roger Brind
POSITION AND CONDITION
by J.G. Good
PREACH HIS LOVE
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
by J Campbell
by JOHN PETERS (Surrey)
(Readings: 2 Chronicles 14; James 5.13-20)
The writer of 1 and 2 Chronicles pursues two themes in particular : true kingship and true worship. Prayer is, of course, a vital part of a believer's worship expressing, as it does, the 'soul's sincere desire', the 'motion of a hidden fire' that 'bums within the breast'. It has also been said that 'praying is working'. All these comments apply to Asa's prayer recorded in 2 Chronicles 14, which is sufficiently brief to be quoted in full:
"And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said, 'LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, 0 LORD our God1; for we rest on thee, and in' thy name we go against this multitude. 0 L'OIRD, thou art our God', let not man prevail against thee."
In order to appreciate this prayer fully and properly, we can note its:
Asa had succeeded his father, Abijah, as king of Judah, and he began his reign auspiciously by doing that which was "good and right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Chron. 14.2). He took away "the altars of the strange gods" (v.3), and under him the land enjoyed peace and doubtless the prosperity that accompanied it (v.7). Eventually however his army of under 600,000 had to face the might of Zerah's army of a million troops, and before Asa went out to do battle against such over-whelming numbers, he prayed the prayer found in verse 11 of 2 Chronicles 14.
Asa's prayer had four outstanding features. In the first place it was Heart-jell : 'He cried'. Asa was in earnest about the situation that confronted him. Like Nehemiah who had similarly faced appalling problems (Nehemiah 2.4), he prayed fervently and with sincerity. Secondly, it was Personal: 'To God'. Asa perceived that Israel's future was inextricably linked to God's divine will and so he sought His aid. He realised and confessed his great need in an attitude of utter dependance upon God and in a truly humble way. Then, it was Specific : 'Help us'. Help was precisely what Asa needed at that hour of crisis. Assistance for him was soon available. For us too there is the promise of divine aid, for 'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46.1). Fourthly, it was Believing:
'We rest on Thee'. This of course had ever been the secret of Israel's success, as another verse, also from 2 Chronicles makes explicit:
and the children of Israel prevailed, because they relied upon the LORD God of their fathers (chapter 13.18). This sort of God-given confidence has enabled the saints through the ages to face the sternest of tests and conflicts with equanimity and resolve, and part of this prayer is of course enshrined in the well-known hymn :
- We rest on Thee, our Shield' and' our Defender,
- We go not forth alone against the foe.
- Strong in Thy Strength, safe in Thy keeping tender,
- We rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go.
- Yea, in Thy name, 0 Captain of Salvation,
- In Thy blest name, all other names above,
- Jesus our Righteousness, our sure Foundation,
- Our Prince of Glory, and our King of Love.
- We go in faith, our own' great weakness feeling,
- And' needing 'more each day Thy grace to know,
- Yet from our 'hearts a son? of triumph pealing,
- We rest on' Thee, and in Thy name we go.
- We rest on Thee, our Shield' and' our Defender,
- Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise
- When passing through the gates of pearly splendour,
- Victors, we rest with Thee through endless days.
How eloquently such divine confidence and courage was demonstrated by the five American missionaries—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian and Pete Fleming —who sought to take the Gospel story to the Auca Indians of Ecuador. On Sunday, 8th January, 1956, having set up a base next to the Curaray river, Nate Saint radioed this message to the missionaries wives—'Have just sighted a commission of ten, it looks like they'll be here for the early afternoon service. Pray for us. This is the day. Will contact you next at four-thirty! After lunch the missionaries sang the hymn referred to above, then waited for the Aucas to arrive. But, in Elisabeth Elliot's graphic words, 'Before four-thirty that afternoon the quiet waters of the Curaray flowed over the bodies of the five comrades, slain by the men they had come to win for Christ, whose banner they had borne'. These men, like Asa, knew what it was to rely for their strength absolutely on God, and like Asa too they knew a great deal of the power and solace of prayer.
Asa's prayer was answered in a striking and remarkable way : 'So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled'. Prayer does indeed 'change things'. Prayer is part of our "waiting on the Lord" and, as we know from Isaiah 40.31, "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint".
- Lord, teach us how to pray a-right,
- With reverence and' with fear,
- Though dust and ashes in' thy sight,
- We may, we must, draw near.
by EDWARD ROBINSON, Exmouth
Great emphasis (quite rightly) is placed in the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ. This glorious miracle is, of course, a fundamental truth of Christianity and an essential sequel to the death of Christ by which redemption was accomplished. Indeed it is, in one aspect, the seal of divine approval of that work when He was raised by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6.4). Another aspect of the resurrection is, of course, that death could not hold the One Who says of Himself 'I am the Resurrection and the Life' (John 11.25), and again of His life 'I have power to lay it down and to take it again' (John 10.18). This, needless to say, amongst many other things is unique to Christ.
Subjectively, however, according to Ephesians 3.20 it is the same power 'that worketh in us,' even now while in these mortal bodies and is, so to speak, the elevated platform on which the Christian life is to be lived. It is an inward power, operating unceasingly, the fruit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which makes the life of the Christian to be on a different level to that of persons not so indwelt. A conscious sense of this power, ever present in the mind of the believer would prevent him moving on a lower, worldly level, inconsistent with this operation, not puffed up, but a humble recipient of the service of the Spirit of God.
Somewhat more neglected in ministry is the ascension of Christ. Yet it is from this position that all is administered: 'the Father loveth the Son and hath given all things into His hand' (John 3.35). As with many of the sayings in John's Gospel, this statement is not confined to time or place but is in character eternal. By contrast, many statements in the three synoptic gospels (especially Matthew's) have a dispen-sational bearing. Hebrews indeed states that if on earth Christ would not be a priest and further (9.24) that 'He has entered into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us.' Here too. He is the Head of the church. His body, she deriving all, food and nourishment through the gifts from her ascended Head. Apart from these personal relationships of Christ with His church He also takes His place alongside the church in the service of praise and worship to God, as Leader. He declares (Heb. 2.11, 12), 'For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee. Perhaps in some measure this may be experienced in these days but in its fulness may more probably be known when the church in an eternal setting is called hence to be for ever with her beloved Bridegroom, never to go more out. Hebrews again (8.1, 2) views Him in this setting, 'Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man.' In this spirit the hymn writer says :
- 'Father, to Thee, a joyful song we raise
- With all Thine own,
- And in Thy presence sound a note of praise
- To Thee thus known:
- Brought nigh, brought home to Thee; O wondrous grace,
- That gives us now with Thine own' Son our place.
- He leads the praise: how precious to Thine ear
- The song He sings;
- How precious too to Thee, how near, how dear
- Are those He brings
- To share His place: 'twas thus that Thou didst plan
- As loving Him' before the world began.
Each of the four Gospels records the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, but in only three is the ascension recounted. The omission in the Gospel by Matthew is interesting and perhaps not inappropriate as it is he who recounts the words of the Lord Jesus to His own 'And lo I am with you alway.' Each of the other three has its own particular aspect; in John for instance (13.1, 3) the Lord's own view of His ascension was that He should depart out of this world unto the Father and as knowing that He came from God and was going to God. Again (John 20.17) 'I ascend to My Father and your Father; and to My God and your God.'
Mark records (16.19) 'He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God.' How appropriate that God's blessed servant should be 'received up'—an expression which conveys the pleasure of God in the reception of the One Who had completed down to the smallest detail the will of God and could report 'It is finished.'
Luke tells us (24.51) 'He was parted from them and carried up into heaven,' expressive of the delight of heaven at the return in glorious Manhood of the One Who had left heaven to make known to men the heart of God and to share with them pleasures for evermore. Luke adds 'and they worshipped Him'. He has left to us an occasion on which we may worship Him and remember Him until His return to take us ever to be with Him (I Thess. 4.13-17). This occasion is for the heart of Christ and it is vital that it should not become ritual but a living and abiding link in mutual affection with a Man in the glory.
(3) "MAKING A STAND"
Chapter 3. 4. "For he had told them that he was a Jew."
It may be that Mordecai knew that the fate or future of Jewry rested with Him—a tremendous responsibility!
If he bowed the knee to Haman the enemy of God's (and his) people (for it appeared that Haman's hatred of the Jew did not stem alone from Mordecai's refusal to reverence him, although it possibly fanned the hatred into action) then he failed even as others had failed, and if others followed his example then what good were the ancient promises? If he refused (as he did) then he and his people— the people of God—would be destroyed. Unless God stepped in.
So much depended upon the actions of this one man. A lesson to be taken to heart whether as a Christian, or as a Church, or even as an individual member of a Church.
Later, Mordecai was to say to Esther, "Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
The story of Mordecai and his fellow-countrymen—Jews who, though citizens of a foreign country maintained their own customs and religion (v. 3)—was to be repeated again and again from then until now—and not always with such a happy ending. A Jew, and proud of it—such was Mordecai's attitude.
This pride of race has kept them as a nation apart, and how they would have been used of God if they had been but willing ! How they will yet be used in this world's future! We wonder just how much Gentile history owes to the Jewish people, and to what extent history has been affected by Jewish counsel, Jewish finance and Jewish culture. And how much does history owe to the Christian faith? How much does history—whether local or otherwise whether in the community or in the Church—owe to individual believers?
Mordecai realised that if he failed, then God was able to raise another (4. 14) but this task was his to perform.
At this moment Mordecai was God's man and thus he must not fail.
Moses when hemmed in, before and behind, said, "Stand still" (Exodus 14. 1).
A call for courage in Moses as the example to God's people.
After his conversion Paul was to record, "I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus ... a citizen of no mean city" (Acts 11. 39). but later wrote, "Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ . . ." Philippians 3. 20).
"Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." (Hebrews 13. 13-14).
"And having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6. 13). This is the combination of faith and works.
(4) "WHO KNOWS?"
Chapter 4. 14. ". . . . who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
Esther, whose name means 'star' is truly one of the stars of the Scripture—taking her place with other heroines who kept alive the hope of Israel. Taking her place in the harem of a Gentile king she must have known that the promise of the Messiah would not be fulfilled in her, but at least she was prepared to die for Israel. We should note that the purposes of God are not confined to the deeds of men, for so often when men failed, women prevailed.
Esther, like Mordecai, had a part to play.
Not a gentle Ruth, or Bathsheba. Not a patient Mary or a busy Dorcas, but one born of her time. Esther takes her place among the women of the Bible—among those whose destinies were inextricably linked with the future of the holy seed. All vessels for the glory of God in the preservation of His people.
We have said that Mordecai must have had some idea of his own part in this, and it would appear that he was willing to sacrifice Esther to a Gentile monarch so that when the time came both he and she would be in a position to act.
This may, of course, be a mere conjecture, but again it must be remembered that Mordecai and Esther were the children of their day and age. God, unseen, was behind all, and where Mordecai questioned "Who knows?" God knew and was well aware of all things concerning the present and future of Israel.
This is not 'fate', but a definite overruling of God Whose purposes must and will be fulfilled. The secret is in 'knowing' without 'hastening' His purpose.
Abraham, it will be remembered, sought to hasten the purposes of God—and what trouble it caused him! Abraham was not alone—and indeed is not even among believers— alone in this. To run ahead of God's time and purpose is not wise. God will not be frustrated by our frustrations.
We are a 'called' people. Called according to His purpose (Romans 8. 28).
Timothy received this word from Paul, "The Lord know-eth them that are His . . . and in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour." (2 Tim. 2. 19-20).
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are . . ." (1 Corinthians 1. 26-31).
by RICHARD JEFFERY, Reading
"These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly : But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." 1 Tim. 3 : 14,15.
That two letters were written by Paul to his "true child in the faith," Timothy, emphasises the importance of being a member of the house of God, and what is expected of one claiming such membership,
"Be thou an example (model, J.N.D.) of the believers" 1 Tim. 4 : 12, is the exhortation, and then follows the details of that which, in practice, is characteristic of a model believer in the house of God. It was not only for the guidance of Timothy that Paul gave these instructions but for "faithful men, such as shall be competent to instruct others also." 2 Tim. 2 : 2 (J.N.D.).
As the church of God is the predominant subject in the New Testament it would be strange indeed if God had given no word as to the behaviour of the members of it, and if there were no word of guidance given us and those within the house behaved themselves as they pleased the result would be disorder, both to the discomfort of other members and dishonour to the Owner and Builder of the house.
The "house of God" is not a synonym for a religious building, but refers to the "habitation of God through the Spirit" Eph. 2 : 22. It is to take character from God Himself, and He is "not the author of confusion (disorder), but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." 1 Cor. 14 : 33. For peace we must have order; for order we must have rule; for rule we must have authority; and for authority we must have supremacy. Therefore, it is where Christ's Lordship is acknowledged in a practical manner that tranquility, harmony, and spiritual effectiveness is known. Elders have the responsibility cf instructing the local assembly as to conduct suited to the house of God. It may seem tedious at times, and one may feel repetitive in putting these things before the younger ones as generation succeeds generation. Of old time, the fathers in Israel were to be well instructed in the ways of God, so that when their children questioned them, for example, about the passover, Ex. 12 : 26, or "when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, " What mean the testimonies, and the statutes and the judgements, which the Lord our God hath commanded you," Deut. 6: 20; and "what mean ye by these stones?" Josh. 4:6,21, the fathers were not to be evasive, but "ye shall let your children know" Josh. 4:22.
It is sometimes difficult to get younger Christians to accept the scriptural description of the church of God, with their minds often clouded by the ecclesiastical image common to the average person. The servants of Christ must state and restate the truths in connection with the church even if they feel the saints know these things already.
The passing on of "these things" was not only for Timothy in his day but for such as would maintain a continuity of testimony down the centuries, and in the goodness of God there are still with us those who "continue in the things which thou hast learned and has been assured of, knowing cf whom thou hast learned them." 2 Tim. 3:14.
It is not coincidence that these things were primarily addressed to a young man who was not to let anyone make light of him on account of his youthfulness, although he was told to show respect to elders as is fitting behaviour in a well-ordered house. 1 Tim. 5:1.
Much as the young are to be loved and helped they must not be allowed to run the house as they wish, but submit, as Peter says, to the elders, giving an ear to their counsel but not giving elders advice. "Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another." 1 Peter 5 : 5. In such an atmosphere of subjection one to another quarrelling would be almost unknown. The modem worldly nonsense of 'self-expression' should not animate Christians. Let us rather seek to set forth within the house of God as without, the blessed Saviour, characterised by His meek and lowly walk, and glad obedience to His Father's will.
Sisters have their special place in the house of God, although it is not the public place. When Paul writes of prayer in the house of God, for example, it is the men who are to engage in this audibly, 1 Tim. 2 : 8. The sisters, in response to the Divine ordering, will be content to remain "in quietness." There are some wholesome lessons for us in this, especially in the atmosphere of the world around us where 'equality' is the watchword. We do not set aside the order of God without disastrous results, results which we are able to see all around us.
The ministry of sisters is exercised with quiet dignity characteristic of true godliness. The spirit of "the restless world that wars below" can so easily find its way into the assembly, and some may, thereby clamour for a place God has not assigned them with consequent discontent and agitation disturbing the happy fellowship of the saints.
There is no suggestion anywhere in the New Testament that what the Spirit-inspired writers have given us would ever need to be up-dated, sub-edited or blue-pencilled! That men would tamper with the Word of God we have been warned, and in its place they would turn to fables, 2 Tim. 4 : 3-4, but we are to keep that which has been delivered unto us, and let it be our guide in all matters affecting our conduct in the house of God in its local assembly setting.
The present avalanche of versions of the Holy Bible has been instrumental in causing a good deal of confusion, with one result being that many younger believers are unable to quote a text correctly, let alone memorise a favourite portion. This is to be deplored.
Let us give good heed to the apostle's parting words to the elders of Epheus : "I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." Acts 20 : 32. It is the application of the word of God to our lives that sanctifies. John 17 : 17, and sanctification is practical holiness which, says the Psalmist, "becometh thine house, 0 Lord, for ever." Psalm 93 : 5.
by CLIFF JONES
God is holy (Ps. 145.17; Hab. 1.13; Rev. 15.4). Sin is disobedience to the revealed will of God; it is a missing of the mark, loving self more than loving God (Matt. 22.37-39;
II Tim. 3.2). Sin came into the world through Adam (Rom. 5.12). The results of sin are physical and spiritual death (Gen. 2.17; 3.19; Ezek. 18.4, 20; Rom. 6.23). All have sinned (I Kings 8.46; Ecc. 7.20; Isa. 64.6; Rom. 3.23; I John 1.8) with the exception of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (I Peter 2.22).
The punishment of sin is inevitable (Gal. 6.7; Num. 32.23). We are all hell-deserving sinners and our salvation from the penalty, power and ultimately, from the presence of sin is by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8. 9; John 14.6; Acts 4.12).
SIN AND THE BELIEVER
Sin in the life of the believer has many and varied results. Where sin is recognised, judged and confessed by the believer, God is ". . . faithful and Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1.9), but we suffer the consequences of sin in this present life.
We have the written Word of God to guide us and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome the power of sin. We are called upon to live holy lives with sin being the exception rather than the rule of our behaviour. But when we, weak and frail as we are, fall into sin, we know that "... we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2.1).
Sin separates. It comes between us and our Father and hinders our prayers, (Ps. 66.18; Isa. 59.1-3; James 4.3; I John 3.21, 22).
Sin restricts the work of the Holy Spirit and hinders worship and fruitful service in the life of the believer. Sin and worldliness in the life of an individual believer or in the assemblies of the Lord's people grieves the Holy Spirit and reduces our sensitivity to further sins and the effectiveness of our witness to lost people around us (I Thess 5.19; Eph. 4.30).
Unconfessed, unjudged sin in the life of a believer brings not only ineffectiveness in witnessing but unhappiness in the life (Ps. 51.8-13).
EFFECT ON OTHERS
Our sins affect others. Other believers can be affected and influenced, as can members of our families and unbelievers with whom we come into contact. The sins of men of God are not concealed in the Bible. Take, for example, David (a man after God's own heart. Acts 13.22) and consider his adultery with Bathsheba (II Sam. 11). David coveted Bathsheba, stole her from her husband, committed adultery and committed murder by arranging for Uriah to be placed in the thick of the battle. David later repented of his sin and received forgiveness but there were consequences of his sin (II Sam. 12.10-14). The prophet Nathan said to David ". . . . the sword shall never depart from thine house" (II Sam. 12.10), and in the following chapters we read that the baby born to Bathsheba died, Absalom arranged the murder of Amnon, Absalom seized the kingdom and tried to kill David, Absalom was killed while hanging by his hair in a tree, and later Adonijah was slain.
Sins in the life of a believer have many and unforseen effects. As a result of David's sin, dishonour was brought on God's name and God's enemies blasphemed (II Sam. 12.14). A believer's sin can cause God's name to be blasphemed and can give unbelievers an excuse to pour ridicule and contempt on the things of Christ.
Believers who sin will be chastened by God "that we might be partakers of his holiness," (Heb. 12.4-10; Ps. 119 67). In Deuteronomy 28 we read of the curses which would fall on Israel if they turned away from God. Some believers die because of their sins (I Cor. 11.30-32). Sometimes sickness can be the result of sin in the believer's life (James 5.14-16). Sometimes material losses result (Mal. 3.9-11; Hag. 1.6).
Sin is "exceeding sinful" (Rom. 7.13); it is an afront to a holy God. We need to wait on God continually (Ps. 27.14;
Isa. 40.31) for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the sin in our lives, that we might judge it and confess it so that our Father might forgive us our sins. We need to wait on God constantly for the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to deliver us from sin (I Cor. 10.12) that we might be clean vessels, fit for the Master's use.
by ROGER BRIND, Cardiff
The Lord's work in the countries of the Eastern Bloc has been the subject of many glossy evangelical magazines over the past ten years. Many believers in assembly fellowship have rightly been concerned about a number of items and have raised a number of questions.
- Do the organisations which work in Eastern Europe benefit the assemblies?
- Do assemblies as we know them exist?
- What are the needs of the assemblies?
- What are the needs of individuals?
The Editor has asked me to write this article and in it I intend to present the situation as I see it, from personal experience and from discussions held with brethren in these lands.
Over the past eleven years I have often visited various "Iron Curtain" countries. I have lived for periods of up to a month with believers in one country, before moving on to another to do the same. By doing this I have shared in their trials, triumphs, joys and sorrows.
Each Eastern Bloc country is different. The only linking factor being the communist goverment of each.
The assemblies in EAST GERMANY are very strong in the South of the country. Particularly in the Central Southern Region they are not only numerous but large. Assemblies with 500 in fellowship are not unknown and many have 250 in fellowship. There are about 15 full time workers in the country, all East Germans who are commended by their assemblies. They are employed in bible teaching, visitation, evangelism, etc. There are very few who are evangelists and those that there are, are extremely overworked. As I write, I have the diary of one evangelist before me—he plans (D.V.) 28 campaigns in 1980. I have worked with him in the past, and expect (D.V.) to do so in the future and I have never visited a place where a campaign has been held where no blessing has followed.
In CZECHOSLOVAKIA there are about 150 assemblies. Most are small, the larger assemblies are in the Slovak region but they have only about 100 members. The vast majority of assemblies are 15—40 strong. They do not enjoy the freedoms of their East German brethren in that visiting brethren are not encouraged to minister God's word for political reasons. Also they do not have the access to books that the East Germans do, although they do have an adequate supply of bibles. Bibles for East Germany are printed in the country—at Zwickan. The Czechs have one full time worker. There is a very real need for ministry in the country —some very gifted men have left and some who remain are under pressure. One of the most gifted men I have had the joy of knowing is currently under great pressure. For obvious reasons I cannot identify him further.
In HUNGARY the assemblies are currently enjoying unprecedented freedom and growth. In 1973 there were 23 assemblies, to-day there are more than 40. Most of the assemblies are growing and there are other groups of believers who have seen the need to follow the simple pathway of Scripture who are moving in the direction of the assemblies. There are no full time servants as we know them. But many retired men are giving themselves to a full time ministry of the truth. The wise leadership that some of these brethren, and others such as Professor Kiss now in the glory have given has won great freedom for Hungarian Saints. Bibles are readily obtainable in the assemblies.
In YUGOSLAVIA, the assemblies have an uneven pattern of distribution. They are small in number and mainly concentrated in the Slovak speaking area of the country. The testimony of these assemblies and the men who lead amongst the flock of God is outstanding. The assemblies enjoy a good measure of freedom—they meet without let or hindrance, they can print internally and western visitors can take part without problems in the assemblies.
In ROMANIA, there are three main types of assembly— the official group, the unofficial and the exclusive groups. Also there are three language divisions. Romanian assemblies, Hungarian assemblies and German assemblies. There are more than 500 assemblies belonging to these three groups. Both the floods of 1970 and the earthquake of 1977 caused grave problems and disrupted the supply of scriptures. There is a need in some areas for bibles. Many of the assemblies are large and there is a great need for the ministry of the scriptures.
In BULGARIA there are no assemblies as we know them. The faithful believers in this land have lost "one of those men of whom the world was not worthy" during the past decade—Stephen Stephanov. He, his wife and daughter who were valiant for the truth have been called home. The daughter was relatively young and left a heartbroken family.
In ALBANIA there are no assemblies and little is known of any evangelical witness.
In POLAND, the assembly is extremely mixed. There are undoubtedly groups of faithful believers who gather to the name of the Lord Jesus. These groups are few and far between. Most of the assemblies have formed an alliance with other groups, an alliance which has led to many un-scriptural patterns being adopted. Amongst this situation there are men who are seeking the true pathway, they need the prayers and support of the Lord's people.
In the U.S.S.R., the situation is varied. The U.S.S.R. is made up of 15 republics—less than half are true Russians. The assemblies are much more populous in the non-Russian republics than in Russia itself. A recent report from Tallin, the capital of Lithuania spoke of large assemblies thirsting for the word of God. The same is true of the other Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia. The Central Asian Republics—bordering China and Afghanistan were areas reached by Dr. Boedaker and Lord Radstoke in the last century. To-day there are many large assemblies in the area—they do not meet in secret, but do have their activities circumscribed. In other areas the assemblies do meet in secret. Andrei Sakaran the eminent scientist, wrote long ago "the opening of new churches is forbidden as it is an admission of the failure of atheistic principles." New assemblies cannot get permission to exist and so meet in homes. Sometimes the homes are raided and the owners arrested. "We never have a problem from this." a Ukranian brother told me, "always somebody else gives their home for the meeting." "But," he added "we are not an underground church— remember a lamp set on a hill cannot be hid—we must be that lamp."
So in answer to the question do assemblies exist—the answer is yes.
What about "the organisations"? This is a question I have put to trusted brethren in Eastern Europe. One brother who I know to be involved in bible transport replied "the only help I get is from you brother and the West German assemblies. Many organisations have a big mouth but a small hand." Another complained bitterly that the picture of suffering painted by one magazine was false. He agreed that in some places there is suffering, but that in his country where there was a report of great suffering it was totally false. Yes there was a measure of suffering but it was not for belief but for disobedience to the government and love of Western money. On another occasion, I was called to a brothers house to look at a consignment of books he had received. It was all charismatic literature!! From an organisation that claims to deal only in bibles!! As the brother was a blacksmith, we had little difficulty disposing of the literature in his forge. I have no evidence at all, that anything except a tiny fraction of monies given to "the organisations" gets into the hands of assembly folk. I would strongly advise saints to send monies out through assembly workers.
The needs of assemblies, and of individuals in them are great. The standard of living is much lower than ours. In the summer this is not so apparent as in the depths of winter. Anyone who has visited these lands, in the depths of winter will notice the deprevations of fellow believers. The cold is intense—new woollens of all types are very necessary. All new articles of clothing can be used.
A literature and cassette ministry is operational. All of "the Precious Seed" Booklets are translated into Hungarian and as funds become available they are being printed. We are always seeking to extend this ministry by setting up new equipment and supplying materials necessary. In countries where there are full time workers they have great needs. They need prayers as do their wives and children who undergo much due to their husbands and fathers exercise. One sister said to me "if only you knew, the loneliness and the strain of being the wife of a servant of God." Prayer is needed for all situations, but particularly for those who are seeking to live a life for God in circumstances of compromise. We do not have their pressures. We cannot (and that includes those of us who live with these dear folks for periods during the year) appreciate what it means to live in a closed society. Pray Brethren, pray!
by J.G. GOOD
How often we have heard the prayer, 'let me be weighed in an even balance' (Job 31.6), the dangers of legalism and levity have ever posed a threat to the Christian, and this is present with us today. There was only ever One Man Who walked with perfect balance, 'fine flour mingled with oil' (Lev. 2.4), every trait of His character evenly blended together. He wept over the city, (Luke 19.41), He drove the moneychangers out of the temple, (Matt. 21.12), of Him it could be said, 'Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ' (John 1.17).
As we read the history of the life of David, we see two men preeminent, yet with no link except that they were both connected with David, i.e., Jonathan and Joab, the solemn truth is this, that despite their seeming nearness to David neither gained a place on the list of David's mighty men (2 Sam. 23). As we ponder this we ask, 'is there not a cause'?
The record of Jonathan's love for David, which was reciprocal, has thrilled the hearts of those who read it. The conquest of David in the valley, won the heart of Jonathan, who himself was a victorious soldier (1 Sam. 13.2), as a result of this Jonathan strips himself of all placing his robe, garments, sword, bow, and girdle, at the feet of David. Jonathan was a selfless man and recognised in David the future King of Israel, his love for David was constantly manifest. Was Jonathan's love only a natural love? It was true he equally loved Saul his father! We must see beyond a servant to his Lord, a much needed lesson for our day! Jonathan had the character and qualities which could have been used by the king, but alas, when the time of crisis came, we read, 'Jonathan went into the city' (1 Sam. 20.42). Jonathan was subject to a man who acted contrary to the will of God, Saul his father, who despite his failure to act for God made laws of his own to which he demanded a ready obedience, (1 Sam. 14.43). The love of Jonathan for David was wonderful, and yet it was not strong enough to break the strong ties of nature and take him to the cave of Adullam with David! The life of Jonathan ends on Mount Gilboa with Saul, (2 Sam. 1.23) his personal grace failing to separate him from the evil of his father, he remained fettered to him even in death. It is indeed a solemn thing to be subject to a man or system, acting contrary to the revealed will of God, and with no place for the Man destined to reign!
There is a truth throughout the Word of God, that God takes up the man with the wilderness experience, who has proved his faithfulness in times of adversity! Have we identified ourselves with the King in His rejection! Heart attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ should take us to the place where He is honoured and revered!
We observe that Joab had the wilderness experience, yet his name is omitted from David's roll of honour, and this for a reason too obvious. Joab represents a man void of affection for David, and yet at the same time he is actively engaged in the establishment of David the king, having due regard to his own position. There is the grave possibility that we too in a legal sense could be in the place of rejection but without heart attachment to our Lord! If Joab had been bound to David by the cords of love, would he have acted as he did? Without doubt Joab was a man of blood, who acted independently of David, and by his actions bringing agony of soul and sorrow of heart i.o the king. Joab murdered Abner in cold blood (II Sam. 3.27), he was guilty of the death of Absalom (II Sam. 18.14), and he was the instrument of David's sin in causing the death of Uriah the Hittite (II Sam. 11.17).
David was unable to deal with Joab because of his part in the death of Uriah, he could not condemn that which he had condoned, he could not punish that which he had permitted. David had said earlier 'these men the sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me,' (II Sam. 3.39), the price of compromise can prove to be costly! The conduct of Joab was indeed a most bitter memory to David, and when Solomon was declared king, David reminded him, of what Joab had done, and requested that his hoar head should not go down to the grave in peace (I Kings 2.5, 6). Joab proved to be a merciless man, who despite clinging to the horns of the altar himself was shown no mercy (I Kings 2.28).
We do well to remind ourselves that there is the possibility of falling short of the commendation of our David, is there a link between our 'position' and 'condition,' are we identified with our rejected Lord on account of love or is it legality? May our response be 'Thine are we David, and on Thy side, Thou son of Jesse' (I Chron. 12.18).
- 'Unto Thee, the homeless stranger
- Outside the camp,
- Forth we hasten, fear no danger,
- Outside the camp.
- Thy reproach far richer treasure
- Than all Egypt's boasted pleasure;
- Drawn by love that knows no measure,
- Outside the camp.'
The Gospel is the disclosure of God's love, and of God's work on behalf of a ruined world. The fine old Saxon word, Gospel, meaning glad tidings, is used in various connections in the Scriptures (see Heb. 4. 2 ; Mark 1. 14 ; Gal. 3. 8;
I Cor. 15. 1 ; I Tim. 1. 11 ; Rev. 14. 6). In the Irish language "Gospel" signifies "The Story of Peace." It would prove an interesting and profitable study to examine the use of the word Gospel throughout the Scriptures ; but in our present remarks we refer to the evangelical sense of the word, which is one, thank God, which every saved person knows the truth of in his own soul.
God's love to the world was not made known to patriarchs of old. Israel was made acquainted with Jehovah's tenderness and care, but not with His heart's deep love, measured by the gift of His Son. The prophets grandly told of the future, of the Messiah's power and glory, but "God so loved the world" never trembled on their lips. The eye of the seer might rest on coming glories, and his heart be entranced, as piercing through the gloom of ages scenes of surpassing delight met his enraptured gaze. But glory is not love, and God's love was hidden from his sight. Christ alone could bear witness to what was ever in the heart of God. In the Divine bosom was heaped up a love which none could disclose, save He Who ever is in the bosom of the Father (John 1. 18). He alone knew it, and so none but He could unfold it. God's love was a deep and hidden secret, too grand for human mind to fathom or human lips to express. God's Son, come down from Heaven, alone knew and alone could interpret the great heart of God. The theme "God so loved the world" (John 3. 16) is one so vast, so bold, so mighty, full, and overwhelming in its conception, that to the Son only could ths glory be reserved of 'publishing it in word—Himself the expression of it in His life and on the Cross.
God's love conquers, and has conquered. John' 3. 16 numbers its trophies arid victories by millions, "numberless as the sands on the sea shore," nor will the tide of conquest be checked till the weary world is wrapped round in the folds and plies of God's mighty love, and each inhabitant of the redeemed and eternal earth echo from the depths of his ransomed soul the glad refrain, "God is love."
Oh, that the mantle of the Master might fall on aU evangelists ! That they might 'preach God's love as did the Lord, a love which embraced the sinner while it rebuked sin, a full, free, yet holy and righteous love! It is not true love which compounds with the guilty, which abates an iota of the throne's most righteous claim. God's love has become our soul's refuge ; for, while it exposes sin, it has won the poor heart and made it a right willing captive for ever. Preach this love. Yes, preach it fully and preach it boldly, and without the slightest reservation in the soul.
God has not only loved the world, but has wrought for it. The Gospel is termed the Gospel of God (Rom. 1. 1) because He is its blessed source ; it is also spoken of as the Gospel of His Son (Rom. 1. 9), as the Peerless One of God is the all-glorious object which it unfolds. God is its source, Christ is its object, and every creature on earth its subject (Mark 16. 15).
by J. B. HEW1TT, Chtesterfield
(8) THE ESSENTIAL DEITY OF CHRIST
The two titles "Son of God" and "The Word" ensure that we understand that the Lord Jesus was a manifestation of the Godhead in Person, and not merely an impersonal influence, and that ¥.e is en an equality with the Father of Whose Person and glory Pie is an accurate expression. In Col. 2.9, we have a concise and profound statement: "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Christ possessed the very nature, essence and being of God. He is "Our Great God and Saviour" (Tit. 2.13 R.V.; Isa. 7.14; 9.6 R.V.; Micah 5.2; Rom. 9.5).
In His Birth and His Name (Isa. 7.14, with Matt. 1.21). His Titles (Isa. 9.6 with Acts 10.36; Prov. 8.22.30 with John 1.1-2; 16.27, 28).
Note the tremendous facts in John 1.1-4. His Eternal Existence "In the beginning was the Word." This is eternity, transcending time. Not "came" but "was" already in existence before creation.
His Distinct Personality "Was WITH God." Face to face with God, or at home with God. He partook of the Divine nature, distinct from the Father and equal to the Father.
His Essential Deity "was God." Not became but was God (Col. 1.15). As the Word He was the expression of God. "Who is" (Col. 1.15); "Who being" (Phil. 2.6); declare the Personality of the Son as distinct from the Father; the Pre-existence of the Son from all eternity; the full and proper Deity of the Son. "Is" the eternal present (Heb. 13.8).
His Eternal Personality "The same was in the beginning with God" (v.2). He is not merely a manifestation of the Deity in time. Christ is God, without beginning, supreme and transcendent. These verses 1 and 2 stress the Absolute Eternity of Christ, possessing all the attributes and essence of God. In Christ God becomes visible, and all things else become intelligible.
Verse one informs us of His precedence, position and personality. Verse two of His parity with God, not a manifestation of God. Verse three denotes the pre-existence of the Word before Creation. His Creational Ability (v.3). He is the originator of all things (Col. 1.16). Nothing came into being apart from His presence and power (Prov. 8.22-30). He is the uncreated and eternal Son of God. He is in a class by Himself. He is prior to, distinct from, and highly exalted above every creature (Psa. 89.27; Col. 1.16, 17).
His Essential Vitality (v.4) The profound mystery of life which in its very nature must remain unsolved to the creature. He is the source of all natural life, intellectual life and spiritual perception. It is His life which is imparted to all living creatures.
John speaks of His Dignity and priority (1.15, 27). The superlative is used, "before me and first of all." He is the Reservoir of Divine fulness and the Revealer of the Godhead (v.l 8).
The activities of God are ascribed to the Son and displayed by Him. His omnipotence as Creator (John 1.3; 2.19, 21; 10.18). His Omniscence—all knowledge (John 2.24, 25; 4.18, 25. 26, 29; 16.33; 21.17). His omnipresence (John 3.13; 14.23).
The signs of John's gospel demonstrate His Deity (20.30, 31). The mighty works of the Father in creation and redemption, He claimed to be able to do (5.19). The validity of His claims cannot be denied, the "I AM" is the Divine Name of Jehovah. 'I am the light of the World" (8.12);
"The Door" (10.9); "the Good Shepherd" (10.11); "the Resurrection and the Life (11.25); "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (14.6); "I am the true Vine" (15.1). To His enemies He states His Deity emphatically (8.24, 58). John 5 adds to these claims. Equality with the Father in activity (v.l9); in knowledge (v.20); in raising the dead (v.21, 28, 29); in judging (v.22); in honour (v.23); in regenerating souls (v.24) and as the Self-Existing One (v.26).
He openly claimed to be the Messiah (John 4.25, 26); His words are life (6.63); He knew His betrayer (6.64, 70). John gives seven distinct testimonies to Him — Himself (5.31; 8.14); the Baptist (5.33); His miracles (5.36); the Father (5.37); Scripture (5.39-47); the Holy Spirit (15.26); and Believers (15.27). Others can be added, the authority of His teaching (3.11; 7.28-34, 45, 46; 9.4-7).
John identifies His glory with Jehovah of Hosts (John 12.41; Isa. 6.1-3). His holiness and resurrection prove His Deity (8.46; 2.19, 22; 10.17, 18).
DEITY DELIGHTED IN
By the Apostles (John 1.14; 20.28); the Baptist (1.27-35);
Nathaniel (1.49); honoured by the people (12.13); Martha 11.27); and Thomas who cheered the heart of His Master by his adoration (20.28).
We have mainly looked at John's record of Christ. Study the Witness of Paul, Peter and John in their epistles and the clear revelation of His Deity in Hebrews and Revelation.
Our response is, "He is Thy Lord, and worship thou Him" (Psa. 45.11).
"And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Grecians." Acts 17 : 29.
"Let the Spirit be lacking, and there may be wisdom of words, but not the wisdom of God; the powers of oratory, but not the power of God; the demonstration of argument and the logic of the schools, but not the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, the all-convincing logic of His lightning flash, such as convinced Saul before the Damascus gate. When the Spirit was outpoured the disciples were all filled with power from on high; the most unlettered tongue could silence gainsayers, and with its new fire burn its way through obstacles as flames fanned by mighty winds sweep through forests."
—ARTHUR T. PIERSON.
by J CAMPBELL, Larkhall
(Read I Chronicles 29.1'1; I Corinthians 11.3; Ephesians 1.22; 5.23)
The doctrine of Headship is clearly taught, both in the Old and New Testaments. It does not suggest superiority on the one hand, or inferiority on the other; namely subjection. It is a matter of Divine appointment for the maintenance of harmony in life, whether natural or spiritual. Certain relationships have been established by God for our good and happiness; for example, that of Husband and Wife, Parents and Children, Masters and Servants. If any, or all of these are violated or abandoned, there is an immediate breakdown in society. Here lies the basic cause of so much unrest in our generation. The marriage bond lightly set aside in ready divorce, parental authority flouted in the home, and industrial relationships disrupted when the status of management and staff is in question. Headship is additional to and complementary with these three orders, and applies equally with the Angelic as with their human counterparts. In I Chronicles 29, 11, David, in his inaugural address to Israel at the commencement of the building of the Temple, addresses God as the exalted Head above all. In the ascending ranks of intelligences from angels, archangel, seraphim, cherubim, to principalities, powers, mights, dominions; the Lord sits exalted above all in Heaven. Headship is acknowledged and exercised; even between intelligences of a higher order than our own. Michael, the Archangel, the highest of the unfallen spiritual Princes, did not dare to rebuke the mighty fallen Prince, the devil, when in dispute about the body of Moses. Headship forbade him. He stands aside, and rightly asserts, "the Lord rebuke thee." Michael may have been equal or inferior in rank with Satan, and must have had authority from the Lord Himself to acquire Moses' body, even when Satan had territorial rights to it as the God of this world, yet he rebukes him not! In the Heavenlies, headship cannot be violated, nor the etiquette of protocol even in a single instance, be set aside. This lends emphasis to the petition in what is commonly called "THE LORD'S PRAYER," "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" Matthew 6.10. That the holy region of heaven should become the first casualty through Satan (then Lucifer) by sin's entrance, is startling. God now has forever secured the sanctity of His dwelling place, by the angelic orders passing from a state where they could sin, and some did; and were expelled : to one where they now cannot, and are called, the "Elect Angels." Headship is associated with the entrance of sin, not only in the heavenly sphere; but also the earthly.
When the great God of Creation gathered the dust of the ground and from it formed man; when the same God breathed the breath of life into man's nostrils; when man stood in all his solitary, pristine dignity, in innocency, without a companion; as yet there was no need for Headship. He found no corresponding helpmeet and helpmate in the animal kingdom. Nor even when His Creator builded a woman to stand with him in innocency, is Headship mentioned; they were equally responsible before their God. But, immediately sin gained an entrance, through Satanic, serpent means; God pronounces on Eve, because of her disobedience, a new order of relationship between her and Adam, and that Headship. "He shall rule over thee."
While God places humanity generally in stated relationships for their mutual benefit and well being, such as children and parents, husband and wife, also masters and servants; He has as clearly specified areas of Headship and Subjection; because sin has disrupted that Edenic order; and hostility instead of harmony with God now marks humanity. Thus, sin's entrance explains the NEED for Headship.
We now examine the NATURE of Headship. It does not invest the one in whom headship is deposited with arrogance or a sense of superiority: to Lord it over his partner; nor does it humiliate the subjected one to a state of inferiority and abject slavery. In no way does it suggest a condition of autocracy. Spirituality is evidenced in a humble acceptance and submission to the particular sphere allocated.
Its NEWNESS has already been explained. It was intended to bring harmony out of the discord sin had introduced, between partners in a Divine relationship. Thus we are brought to consider the NOBILITY of Headship. In the sanctified sphere of matrimony, the wife is referred to as the "weaker vessel." This cannot in all instances be interpreted in the physical sense. Many a wife is more robust than the husband. It implies a weakness in the female which is to be recognised by the male. She is to be held in honour, and worthy of respect and esteem, hence nobility.
The NOMINEES for headship fall into three groups. They are:—
- Christ and men
- Man and woman
- God and Christ (Explanation will follow).
These form four partnerships or NOTABILITIES for Headship, namely:—
- Christ and the Church
- Christ and the Man
- Man and the Woman
- God and the Christ.
Finally, there are the NUMBER of Headships. They are seven, which brings us to our subject. The Headship of:—
|God Over Creation||Absolute||1 Chron. 29-12|
|God and Christ||Positionally||1 Cor. 11.3|
|Christand Men||Absolute||1 Cor. 11.3|
|Christ and Church||Absolute||Eph. 5.23|
|Man and Creation||Delegated||Psa. 8.6|
|Man and Woman||Absolute||1 Cor. 11.3|
|Husband and Wife||Selective||Eph. 5.23|
HEADSHIP—GOD AND CREATION (ABSOLUTE)
(1 Chronicles 29)
God is Head over all in Heaven because of:—
The Possessions He Has. These are detailed in verse 11.
|1. GREATNESS.||Which is unsearchable. Psa. 145.3.|
|Omnipotent. All powerful.
|3. GLORY.||A. Celestial. Hab. 3.3.
B. Terrestial. Num. 14.21.
C. Personal. Zech. 6.13.
D. Indivisible.Isa. 48.11.
|4. VICTORY.||Divine Title = Strength of Israel.
1 Sam. 15.29.
|5. MAJESTY.||Dignity and Honour. Psa. 21.9.|
|6. KINGDOM.||Area of Rule.|
|7. HEAVEN & EARTH.||Angelic and Human.|
The Pre-eminence He Enjoys, v. 11.
Takes His place of unchallenged elevation.
|2. AS HEAD.||Indicating Rank and authority.|
|3. ABOVE ALL.||All creatures subservient to Him.|
The Position He Fills, v. 12.
The Power He Displays, v. 12.
|1. The Means of it.||Hand.|
|2. The Measure of it.||Humanity, all.|
The Promotion He Bestows, v. 12.
- His Ability to make great. (Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon).
- His Ability to give strength. (Samson with Philistines).
The Praise He Merits, v. 13.
- Thanksgiving, for what we receive.
- Praise for what He is.
The Palace He Indwells, v. 16. Ch. 22.14 : Ch. 29.2.
- Preparation David Made.
- Profusion David Provided.
- Pleasure God Received.
Thus we learn that God is Head over all in Heaven and over Creation.
HEADSHIP—GOD AND CHRIST (POSITIONAL)
Here we attempt to explain the unexplainable. This headship can only be positional, and does not place the Christ inferior to the Father. If that were so, then the doctrine of the Trinity would be in dispute. In His humanity, Christ never surrendered His Deity. He became for a little while, lower than, but never inferior to angels, with a view to the sufferings of death. Likewise, He accepted the limitations humanity involved. Wrong thoughts on Headship produce wrong conclusions on its nature. As a man, walking for God on alien soil. He received instructions from His God, morning by morning, even as a father would counsel his son on setting out from home on family business. The picture always breaks down when attempting to illustrate the actions of Divine Beings by human standards.
If we accept, and I trust we do, that the head of every man is Christ, that the head of the woman is the man, then we are at least prepared in spirit to examine the headship of God with Christ.
1 Cor. 11, 3, does not say, "The head of the Son is the Father"; but "the head of Christ is God." This statement can be understood when we view the Lord Jesus as a man, in subordination to His Father as God; as a servant doing the will of His Master in loyal service, and as a sacrifice on the altar, satisfying the demands of God. We will note the scriptures "nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done," "I delight to do Thy will" and also "That the world may know I love the Father": Headship is love expressed in unquestioning obedience, and is the acceptance of a position of subjection. Thus God is the Head of Christ in subordination as a Man, and in supremacy as God in Heaven with Christ on Earth, and in substitution as providing an acceptable sacrifice relative to the violated Throne of God.
It is clearly asserted in 1 Cor. 15.28, that "when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all." This defines the period of Christ's subjection to God as being associated with the end of the Millenium and into the Eternal state. Thus God, Who is exalted above all, will forever be "all in all": that is all things in every respect, both in Heaven and in earth! Well might we exclaim, "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God," Romans 11.33. "How Unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!" The unexplainable has become intelligible by revelation.
Sin has dislocated the whole moral order of God in the universe. It has robbed Him of all His delight in the works of His hands. In the inspired record of His creative operations we are told repeatedly that "God saw that it was good." At the close of the sixth day's work, when the man was made. a stronger expression is used : "Behold, it was very good." How long the Divine delight in' His handiwork was suffered to continue we know not; but the very next page of our Bible tells us of man's revolt against the Creator, whereby he involved himself, and the whole system dependent upon him, in ruin and misery. From the third chapter of Genesis we pass to the sixth, and read : "It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart."
If matters had been suffered to rest there, the triumph of Satan would have been complete. But that could not be. The infinite resources of God's wisdom, grace, and power have provided means whereby the whole ruined system shall be restored to its Maker. The basis of this reconciliation is the blood of Christ, which. Col. i. 20 tells us, has already made peace, with a view to reconciling to God all things on earth and all things in heaven. The hour has not yet arrived for the realisation of this. In His long-suffering. God is still bearing with His adversaries, both angelic and human; but when, His long-suffering reaches its appointed limit. He will exert His power, and rid Himself of all who continue to oppose His will. The heavens will first be cleared, the final conflict there being described in Rev. xii. 7-9 ; the clearance of the earth will follow quickly. When the whole scene, both above and below, has been purged by judgment, new heavens and a new earth will appear, wherein righteousness will dwell eternally. In the new creation, with the triumphant Second Man at its head. God will find full delight, the reconciling blood being the moral foundation of it all.
Though the reconciliation of things awaits a day yet to come, the reconciliation of persons is being effected now. The Gospel is a ministry of reconciliation, and is addressed to all; none need remain outside of its priceless blessings. But only those who unfeignedly believe in the Son of God and His sacrifice are, or ever will be, restored to God. It was to such, and such only, that the Apostle wrote, "You that were once alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and unblameable, and irreproachable in His sight" (Col. i. 21-22).
JESUS THY DYING LOVE I OWN 18.104.22.168.
- Gathered around our blessed Lord
- With heart and voice in one accord,
- Afresh we view the mystery,
- The Christ of God nailed to the tree.
- 0 was there ever such a sight?
- The noonday sun with-holds it's light,
- Earth trembles at His parting cry,
- But sinners sit and watch Him die.
- And can it be with heart unmoved
- We scan that love wherewith He loved?
- Be this the burden of our sighs
- That we are here with tearless eyes.
- Sweet this memorial bread we eat
- With heart all prostrate at His feet,
- And with what joy we take the cup
- From Him Who drank our sorrows up.
- Lord write Thy love upon each heart
- That we might know some feeble part
- Of that eternal, sovereign grace
- Which stooped to take a sinner's place.
- 0 blessed Lord, our hearts would bow
- In silent adoration now,
- Henceforth declare with every breath
- The saving worth of such a death.
— M. Jones, Queensland.
"We have ... an anchor . . . within the veil—the Forerunner , . . . even Jesus." Heb. 7:19, 20.
I look around me, and think how many are in the same trouble as myself, perhaps much greater, and they have no Father to go to. I look behind me, and think of all the way I have been led, and the mercy upon mercy which I have experienced. I look beneath me, and think of the hell which I deserve, but which has no place for me. I look before and above me, and think of my Heaven at the door. Jesus my forerunner there, my God there, where through wondrous grace I shall soon be myself. And by the time I have looked at this last, all my trouble is gone.
—WORDS IN SEASON