ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
JONATHAN AND HIS TIMES
by W. W. Fereday
BIRDS OF THE BIBLE (GENESIS)
by I. McKee
THE TRUTH OF GATHERING TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
by I. W. Gibson
MEDITATIONS IN ISAIAH 9.6
by J. M. Flanigan
by R. Plant
by C. Jones
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
32) “THE LORD THY GOD WALKETH IN THE MIDST OF THE CAMP”
Read Chapter 23.9-25
In our last study we suggested that Deut.23 may be divided as follows:
- purity in the congregation, vv.1-8;
- personal hygiene, vv.9-11;
- public health vv.12-14;
- protecting refugees, vv.15-16;
- practices forbidden, vv.17-18;
- providing finance, vv.19-20;
- performing vows, vv.21-23;
- provision for the hungry, vv.24-25.
1) PURITY IN THE CONGREGATION, vv.1-8
The object of the restrictions specified in these verses, whether permanent exclusion from “the congregation of the Lord,” vv.1-6, or admission of children born to Edomites and Egyptians “in the third generation,” vv.7-8, was the maintenance of purity amongst God's people. We must never forget that “holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord,” Ps.93.5, both then, and now.
2) PERSONAL HYGIENE, vv.9-11
We now pass from the “congregation” to the “camp”, and in this case it is a military camp: “When the host goeth forth against thine enemies … then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp … he shall come into the camp again.” In context, the words “every wicked thing” or “every evil thing” (JND), evidently mean “everything impure” (Raymond Brown). Jamieson, Fausett & Brown have “habits of personal neglect and impurity.” Compare Lev.15.1-6. We cannot ignore the plain meaning of these verses (and of those that follow): they make good common and practical sense. God expects His people to practice personal hygiene. The old adage reminds us that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” At the same time, it is worth reminding ourselves that personal moral and spiritual purity are essential to successful spiritual conflict. After all, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” Ps.66.18. Whilst the words, “Keep thyself pure,” 1Tim.5.22, have a particular meaning in their context, they have a timely general application. The next statute is closely related:
3) PUBLIC HEALTH, vv.12-14
There is no mistaking the meaning of these verses. The “camp” must have proper toilet facilities. As we have noticed before in a different connection (see 22.8), the Lord is not unmindful of “health and safety.” His word is intensely practical. Bearing in mind, amongst other things, the hot climate, every precaution was to be taken against the spread of disease amongst the people. On a technical note, Wm. T. McBride (Modern Trends in Morality) points out that the expression “unclean thing” (ervat-davar) occurs again in Deut.24.1.
The lesson in the preceding verses, vv.9-11, is now reinforced. The everyday conduct of God's people was determined by His holiness. As Raymond Brown observes, “Profound theological reasons are given for this personal care and public welfare.” See v.14: “For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy; that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” This is a most comprehensive statement, reminding God's people of His omnipresence (“Walketh in the midst of the camp”), omnipotence (to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee”) and omniscience (“that He see no unclean thing in thee”). Asa was reminded that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth,” 2Chr.16.9, and we all do well to remember that “Thou God seest me,” Gen.16.13.
We must not forget either that the Lord Jesus “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” Rev. 2.1. He certainly saw serious deficiency in the assembly at Ephesus and warned them that unless the matter was rectified, He would “turn away” from them. Every assembly must “mark, learn, and inwardly digest” this serious lesson. C. A. Coates makes the point very clearly: “If we lose the presence and power of God we shall have no true power for conflict, and to secure His presence there must be holiness which removes every unseemly thing.”
4) PROTECTING REFUGEES, vv.15-16
The welcome given to “the servant (runaway slave) which is escaped from his master unto thee” strongly suggests a foreign refugee. “He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” In the words of Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, he was “evidently a servant of the Canaanites or some of the neighbouring people, who had been driven by tyrannical oppression, or induced, with a view of embracing the true religion, to take refuge in Israel.” Although he wasn't exactly a runaway slave, the “young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite,” certainly didn't want to be returned to his master! See 1Sam.30.11-15. God's people were to reflect the kindness He had shown them when they had been subject to bondage. See Deut.26.5-9. Refugees were to be treated with compassion. They were not to be “intimidated, exploited, or extradited” (Raymond Brown). It has been pointed out that this principle was not breached by Paul in returning Onesimus to Philemon, since he was to be received “not now as a servant (‘bondman’, JND), but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?” Philemon v.16. C. A. Coates makes a helpful application here: these verses “are a beautiful touch of evangelical grace … God's people are to give refuge to any fugitive from the bondage of sin, the world, or Satan.”
5) PRACTICES FORBIDDEN, vv.17-18
Whilst these verses remind us that these deviant sexual practices are detestable and abhorrent to God at any time (see Rom.1.26-27), the particular prohibition against bringing polluted money “into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow” does suggest that this refers to Canaanite religious practices, “most of which were sickeningly immoral” (Raymond Brown). It is chilling to read that Asa found it necessary to remove “the sodomites out of the land, and … all the idols that his fathers had made,” 1Kgs.15.12, and that Josiah had to “break down the houses of the sodomites that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove,” 2Kgs.23.7. Please do notice that while these men are known by various names in the world, God calls them “sodomites”. The very name expresses coming wrath.
Wm. T. McBride points out that both masculine and female genders are used in v.18: “Thou (masculine gender) shalt not bring the hire of a whore (female gender), or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow,” and explains that “an Israelite (man) is bringing the money which he intends to pay to a harlot up to the temple, where he hopes to gain the favours of a temple prostitute … The issue here is that God foreknew that later, in the history of the nation, there would be temple prostitutes, such as characterised the heathen nations, and He was expressly forbidding the practice.” According to Gesenius (Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament) the words “price of a dog” refer to sodomites. In his own words, “Also, because of the shamelessness of dogs, this name is given to scorta virilia,” that is, to male prostitutes.
6) PROVIDING FINANCE, vv.19-20
God's people were to be a caring community, and this included the relief of poverty. When Israelites found themselves in financial difficulty, to the extent of difficulty in finding the money to feed their families (notice the expression “usury of victuals” in this connection), help was to be given, but no Hebrew was to make money out of his brother's adversity. “Thou shalt not lend upon usury (interest) to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury … unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury.” (This command was flouted in the days of Nehemiah. See Neh.5.7,10). The local assembly today, not to mention the larger fellowship of the Lord's people, is to have the same caring outlook: “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have heed, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1Jn.3.17.
Quite obviously, Israel was not expected to be a “charitable institution.” To charge interests on loans to foreigners was perfectly fair and just: there was not the slightest “sharp practice” involved in this, or the slightest infringement of integrity. But accepted commercial practice in this way did not apply amongst God's people. Compare Deut.15.1-3. Spiritual relationships are governed by higher standards than even the best business practices! We should notice that the care of God's people for each other in this way would bring prosperity in the land: “that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to (‘in all the business of thine hand,’ JND) in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” This is very searching. Alas, it is possible to have assemblies which give scrupulous attention (rightly) to “the letter of the law,” but which lack the care, concern, warmth and practical fellowship implicit in the Lord's “new commandment.” He said, “A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another,” Jn.13.34-35. How much blessing has been lost not because our doctrine has been wrong, but because we have been wrong?
7) PERFORMING VOWS, vv.21-23
These verses should be read in connection with Eccl.5.4-7: “When thou vowest a vow unto God defer not to pay it …”, and Num.30.2, “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord … he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth,” Hannah was not slack to pay her vow: “And she vowed a vow,” and took the first opportunity to pay it: “when she had weaned him (Samuel), she … brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh; and the child was young,” 1Sam.1.11,24. The Lord Jesus referred to this passage in Matt.5.33-37, reminding us that we must avoid careless and rash speech.
Whilst vows are not specifically required of us — they are voluntary in Scripture — none the less we do make promises to God. Who has not sung, “O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end?” We must be people of our word —Godword as well as manward. See Ps.66.13-14, “I will go into Thy house with burnt offerings; I will pay Thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.” To do otherwise is “to cause thy flesh to sin,” Eccl.5.6. Paul urged the Corinthians, “Now perform the doing of it (referring to the gift for the needy saints in Judaea); that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have,” 2Cor.8.11. God certainly fulfils His promises: Abraham knew that what God “had promised, He was able also to perform,” Rom.4.21. We ought to act honourably before God, and before men. It is dishonouring to God to make promises that we cannot fulfil. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise,” Prov.10.19. How tragic if we have to say when called to account, “it was an error,” Eccl.5.6. We must not forget marriage vows. The Lord listens to these as well, and expects them to be honoured, even if marriage vows are occasionally (very occasionally, we trust) accompanied by marriage rows!
8) PROVISION FOR THE HUNGRY, vv.24-25
This provision was made for the hungry traveller rather than for the “stranger … the fatherless … the widow.” (For this, see Deut.24.19-22). The Lord's disciples plucked “the ears of corn” in this way on the sabbath day, Mk.2.23. Living off a neighbour's crops was a different matter, and this was prohibited. We should never begrudge helping and refreshing the Lord's people. In the case of the Hebrew landowner, “God had been good and generous to the owner of the vineyard and the cornfields. He could afford to share that bounty with others” (Raymond Brown). We must not forget this ourselves.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by W. W. Fereday
We listen now to Jonathan's Last Words to David, “Fear not, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee: and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also my father knoweth.” The weak points of Jonathan's words are sadly clear. First, he still thought of David as connected with the Saul order of things, i.e., he would be Saul's successor — Jonathan was wrong in principle in speaking thus. David would be no mere successor to Saul, but the beginning of an absolutely new order. In Ps.78, which has been called the ‘parable of the prodigal nation,’ the Saul episode is completely ignored by the inspired writer. The evil and ruin of Israel is traced down to the days of Eli, v.64, then David and Zion are introduced as Jehovah's resource in grace. One of the most serious blunders of our time is the effort to connect Christ with man's order of things. The world is still regarded by many as mendable, and they would fain bring Christ into the working of it. What is not perceived is that the old man, the world, and the prince of this world (Satan) are all under judgment. The risen Christ is the second man and the last Adam, the beginning and the head of a new order of things that will never pass away.
Jonathan also erred when he said to David, “I shall be next unto thee.” It is those who suffer that will reign, 2Tim.2.12. Humbler men than the king's son were destined to be near David in his exaltation; Jonathan was destined to be disgraced to the uttermost. Moreover, was it for him or any other to say in advance who should be next to the new king. Surely that is a matter for the king himself to decide! Zebedee's sons failed similarly when they asked for right and left-hand places in the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, Matt.20.21.
It may be that “I next” had to do with Jonathan's reluctance to tread a path of reproach and loss. He seemed unwilling to surrender all his dignity for the one he loved. David's band was certainly a motley crowd, 1Sam.22.2. Jonathan was not quite prepared to make one with them. Shall we not pray that we may be preserved from a respectable Christianity? To the carnally-minded Corinthians who loved ease and honour here, the Apostle wrote, not without a tinge of sarcasm in his tone, “We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst; and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands; being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day, 1Cor.4.10-13. It is men of the Paul type whom the Lord will honour in His Kingdom.
It remains to be added that “David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.” Not to the royal camp, not to the ranks of the persecutors of the man of Jehovah's choice, but “to his house.”
Ps.63 fits in here. David is in the wilderness. So many things were lacking there, but he had GOD.
by Ian McKee (N. Ireland)
We have considered Adam’s, Noah’s and Abram’s association with birds. Now we shall consider Joseph’s link with unspecified fowls of the air, as recorded in Gen.40.
We do not propose to give a detailed overview of the life of Joseph. But it is needful to make a few introductory comments. Joseph’s name means “he shall add,” and his life provides interesting parallels with that of the Lord Jesus Christ. In every sphere through which Joseph passed he “added”; his service was always energetic and fruitful. There was never any loss in the consecrated hand of Joseph. His masters were guaranteed to prosper through entrusting matters to his stewardship, and, at all times, he manifested exemplary righteousness. Yet he suffered, as a consequence, jealousy and slander. In service, in suffering and in sorrow (we have seven times recorded that Joseph wept) he speaks of One who eclipsed him: “Behold My Servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: … He shall not fail nor be discouraged …,” Isa.42.1-4.
“Nor be discouraged!” Some have said that the life of Joseph provides a complete picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Inspiration of Scripture has recorded parallels, but there is one passage that evidences discouragement on the part of Joseph, something which was never seen in the life of Christ.
Consider Joseph’s words to the chief butler: “But think on me when it shall be well with thee and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon,” Gen.40.14,15. This condition would not have been improved by the subsequent neglect, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him,” Gen.40.23.
One must have sympathy for Joseph. Yet God’s revelatory dreams had still to be fulfilled, see Gen.37. Joseph was learning lessons in the school of God: learning lessons through service in the home of his father; in Potiphar’s house; in the prison house; en route to Pharaoh’s house; and ultimately his own house. He was adding experience, patience, etc. Well could Peter write, and the interested reader can reflect upon the parallels in the life of Joseph, “… having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2Pet.1.4-8.
Joseph learnt lessons in the prison in relation to patience, to God’s schooling and timing, which led to addition. He also learnt lessons about subtraction! And that is where we come to Joseph and the subject of birds.
When the chief baker disclosed his dream to Joseph he said, “behold, I had three white baskets on my head: And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head,” Gen.40.16,17.
If Joseph speaks of addition, the chief butler speaks of subtraction. This subtraction was due to personal carelessness. Food for the King’s table was negligently exposed to contamination. Unspecified birds, fowls of the air, were able to feast on the King’s provision. Pharaoh’s life was endangered by his chief baker’s poor stewardship, lack of attention to detail, naïve attitude to potential risk, etc. As such Joseph and the baker stand in stark contrast the one to the other: the former presided over addition, the latter facilitated subtraction.
The subtraction in the dream was gradual, but cumulative. The first bird to alight on the three baskets would take but an insignificant morsel. The risk of contamination was at first negligible. However, this feeding activity would continue, it would attract other birds until there would be a feeding frenzy. The loss would accelerate and the risk of contamination increase! While the chief baker may not have been conscious of the loss at first, he should have taken preventative measures. There were malevolent influences circling his head of which he had chosen to be totally unaware — at least until it was too late.
There is a solemn warning here. The things that our eyes look upon, that our ears hear, that our mouths taste, that our minds consider, must all be rigorously censored. A mind that will produce decisive action for God must first be disciplined. “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end … But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,” 1Pet.1.13-16.
Subtraction and decline can take place gradually. Samson is a case in point. He allowed his eyes to wander, his heart to stray, and his discretion to be compromised, until “he wist not that the Lord was departed from him,” Jud.16.20. The gradual subtraction in the life of Samson, the champion of Israel, can be traced until he became a clown for the entertaining of the Philistines.
Joseph, the baker and the birds, teach lessons about addition and subtraction. So also are lessons taught about despondency and discouragement; and who can honestly say that they have never experienced these enemies to spiritual addition? Best, therefore, to leave the final word on this to John Bunyan:—
- “Who would true valour see,
- Let him come hither:
- One here will constant be,
- Come wind, come weather;
- There’s no discouragement
- Shall make him once relent
- His first avowed intent
- To be a pilgrim.”
By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)
The Truth of Gathering in Promise — Matthew 18.20
Matthew is the only gospel that makes specific mention of the Church, for he puts things in a dispensational order and context. So Matthew tells us of the place that the Church has in the dispensational dealings of God with man, and it is here that the Lord Jesus speaks about the Church in a two-fold way.
In Matt.16.18, following the confession of Peter “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Lord says “upon this rock (not Peter, but the truth of Peter’s divinely revealed confession regarding the Lord) I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is in reference to the Church in its largest aspect, the Church in its universal character, embracing every individual believer born of the Spirit of God. It is Christ the Son of the living God who is the bedrock, the foundation of the New Testament Church. But in Matt.18.17 we read, “if he (the offending brother) shall neglect to hear them (2 or 3 witnesses), tell it unto the church.” Obviously the matter cannot be told to the Body of Christ, since most are now in heaven, but the local church is here in view. Thus it is to the local assembly that v.20 refers “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” The Lord has, therefore, given to us the promise of His presence in the midst of the gathered saints.
All who are in assembly fellowship must have a real sense of this great privilege, that every time the saints gather in capacity as the local assembly, the risen Christ, the Lord Himself is present in the midst in a very real and special way, according to His own promise. Physically and bodily, He is in heaven, but spiritually and personally He comes amongst companies of His people on earth, “there am I in the midst of them,” and the saints gather around Him with a conscious appreciation of His personal presence.
Gathering unto His Name supposes His absence, but it secures His presence. So, Christ has promised to be in the midst of His gathered saints, a Divine principle for gathering for a local assembly. We are assured of His personal presence in our midst, and this is His rightful pre-eminent place. Every gathering is Christ-centred; we gather unto Him and His Name; we own no other name; we have no other cause for gathering. It is this conviction that gives a unique character to every gathering of the local assembly.
This truth is clearly not affected by the size of the company; be it literally the two or three believers, or be it two or three hundred. Whatever the number, His presence is the same; He takes His place in the midst of those who gather to His Name alone. The Lord it seems had the latter end of this dispensation in mind when He spoke of the “two or three.” The process which the Lord describes requires a company of greater size than just two or three; there was the offended party, the offender, plus one or two more witnesses, v.16, then the whole church, v.17. It was not two or three when the Church began, in the early Acts it was thousands who were gathered. W. W. Fereday writes “There were no twos or threes in the first days of the Church; all that believed were together. Men speaking perverse things had not arisen, nor had grievous wolves come into the flock to scatter and devour” (Bible Treasury Vol.N1, page 231). It is the case in present last days, in some parts of the world, that there are many assemblies that are small numerically, barely a handful of saints, but continuing steadfastly to gather to the Person of Christ, and the promise of His presence will hold good to the end, until He comes again.
The gathering together in this verse is not primarily the action of the two or three believers, they are actually passive, it is the perfect participle, i.e. “having been gathered” (Newberry). It is the idea of two or three being gathered together by divine agency, i.e. gathered together by the Spirit of God unto His Name. So for younger ones perhaps, who are saved and baptised, but do not gather with the believers in the local assembly; we would encourage all to be exercised about this truth of gathering. There is the need to be sensitive to the guiding of the indwelling Spirit of God, as He would gather together believers into the fellowship of a local assembly who gather to the worthy and authoritative Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One might ask, “Do we base this doctrine all on this one verse alone, Matt.18.20?” One verse alone of the inspired Scripture would be sufficient, but there are other New Testament verses that promise the personal presence of Christ in the midst of the church. In Heb.2.12, which is a quotation from Ps.22.22, the Lord says to God His Father, “I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren. In the midst of the church (assembly) will I sing praise unto Thee.” The specific interpretation of Ps.22.22 relates to Israel in a future day; the New Testament assembly is not in the Psalms, it was a mystery previously hid until revealed by the apostle Paul, Eph.3.3-5. But the quotation by the Spirit of God in Heb.2.12 gives New Testament authority to apply this statement to the Church today. So we have His promise to us in Matt.18, and also His promise to His Father in Heb.2; the double promise of the presence of Christ in the midst of the saints when we gather. This is the simplicity and beauty of gathering to the Name and Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and this is really what defines a New Testament local assembly.
In 1Cor.1.2, Paul defines a local assembly as he addresses the assembly at Corinth, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints, with all that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” A local assembly, by definition, comprises those saints who gather and “call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord.” We do not gather to a creed or doctrine, nor to a place, nor to a human preacher, teacher or pastor, nor to an ordinance, but to a divine Person alone, the blessed Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know and believe that at every gathering of the assembly, we have the inestimable privilege of the risen Christ in the midst. It is His pleasure to take His place in the midst of His own, He loves to gather us around Himself, and thus we gladly claim His presence with us when we come together.
It might also be noted that in the context of Matt.18.20, the gathering together of the two or three is specifically for the matter of prayer: v.19, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” We would not say that Matt.18.20 applies exclusively to the assembly prayer meeting, but it certainly does apply to that gathering. When we gather as an assembly for prayer, to unitedly make our requests known to God, the presence of Christ in our midst makes all the difference, for it gives authority to the prayers that ascend to the throne of God.
The assembly prayer meeting is not, therefore, to be regarded as an optional gathering. Some might think “I can’t make it to the prayer meeting tonight, so I will just stay at home, and say my prayer for the assembly at home.” Surely for those that are old, frail, sick and shut-in, God will fully honour their prayer for the assembly made at home, in hospital or nursing home. But if we really are physically able to be at the prayer meeting, be clear that any prayer made at home will not have the same power as if it were offered with the gathered saints, and in Christ’s presence, at the assembly prayer meeting.
The assembly prayer meeting is a time to gather together with the Lord in our midst, to ask of the Father, and the Lord’s presence in our midst will be honoured by the Father, and we will, as companies, receive power and blessing from on high to sustain us in our testimony for Him. Notice the language of 1Cor.5.4, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” While this specifically refers to a meeting for discipline, we may enjoy the principle that when we gather together in His Name we will know “the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Assembly fellowship is, of course, never confined to the breaking of bread, but it involves all the exercises and responsibilities and gatherings of the assembly.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by James M. Flanigan (N. Ireland)
PAPER 4 — HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL
This word “Wonderful” in its different forms occurs over eighty times in the Old Testament. It is variously translated “marvellous; secret; wondrous” and Hebrew Lexicons define it as “surpassing; inscrutable; extraordinary.” Such is the Name of the Child born and the Son given, whose shoulder will one day carry the government which has been too great for men.
The word “Wonderful” of Isa.9.6 is a noun and although nouns may indeed be employed at times as adjectives yet it may be preferable here to retain the comma after “Wonderful” and not to join it, without the comma, as some do, so as to read “Wonderful Counsellor.” “Wonderful” is a Name complete in itself, as is the lovely title “Counsellor.” Many times in the New Testament, when our Lord was here on earth, His words and His ways drew out the wonder of those who knew Him.
There was Wonder at His Birth in Bethlehem, Lk.2.18
“And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Did the shepherds rehearse the story from the beginning? Did they tell of the angelic messengers? Of the glory that had shone around them? Of their journey to Bethlehem and of finding the Babe in the manger just as the angels had said? They had seen “Christ the Lord” wrapped in swaddling clothes and their story drew out the wonder of those who heard them.
There was Wonder at His Ministry in Nazareth, Lk.4.22
“And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” Early in His ministry our Lord had returned to the town where He was brought up. It had been His custom to attend the local synagogue and now, in accord with that custom, He went again to the synagogue and stood up indicating His desire to read the portion for that Sabbath day. It was the right of every Jewish adult male to do so. Having received the scroll from the attendant He calmly found the place which we now know as Isaiah ch. 61. He expounded it to them as they had never heard it from the Rabbis. He Himself was the subject of the passage. He was the promised Messiah and the prophecy was now being fulfilled in their ears. They wondered!
There was Wonder at His power on the Sea of Galilee, Lk.8.25
“And He said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for He commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey Him.” Experienced fishermen though they were, who knew the Sea of Galilee in all its moods, they were frightened by the ferocity of the storm. Their Master was asleep, resting on a cushion in the hinder part of the ship and they awoke Him. He stood calmly on the deck of the little boat, spoke the well-known word of command to the boisterous waves, “Peace, be still.” They obeyed at once and there was a great calm. Well might they wonder!
There was Wonder at His authority over demons, Lk.9.42-43
“Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God … they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did.” Again, “He was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered,” Lk.11.14. It is a remarkable fact that early in His ministry the demons recognised what men did not, that Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, was the Christ of God, and they were afraid. At Capernaum He delivered a man possessed by an unclean spirit. The demon cried out, “I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God,” Mk.1.24; Lk.4.34. The demons saw beyond the guise of the carpenter and knew Him for who He was and as He cast them out the people wondered.
There was Wxonder at His Sufferings, Isa.52.14
“As many were astonied (Heb. wondered) at thee; His visage was so marred more than any man” Well might the sight of the suffering Messiah evoke wonder. A crown of thorns, a bleeding back, pierced hand and feet, after a long night of mockery and blasphemy, buffeting and spittle. Many were indeed “astonied.” It is an old word meaning that they were numb with amazement and wonder. Yet it is the sight which has captivated many a heart and drawn out love to Him whom men hated. The suffering One has commanded the amazement of saint and sinner alike.
- That visage marred, those sorrows deep,
- The thorns, the scourge, the gall;
- These were the golden chains of love
- His captive to enthral.
R. C. Chapman
There was Wonder at His Death, Mk.15.44
“Pilate marvelled if He were already dead.” Pilate’s marvel was a mingled wonder of surprise and admiration that Jesus should be dead so soon. There was much which Pilate, with all his privileges as governor, did not know. Did He not know that Jesus had earlier said of His life, “No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down,” Jn.10.18. There was no need to break His holy limbs to bring about instant death, as they had done with the malefactors. Our blessed Lord was accomplishing His exodus in His own time, and at the appointed moment on that sad afternoon He had cried with a loud voice and voluntarily yielded up His spirit. There had never before been a prisoner like this. It is hardly surprising that the pagan Roman Governor should wonder.
There was Wonder at His Resurrection, Lk.24.12,41
“Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.” Peter and John had seen the evidence of a miracle in that tomb. It was empty except for the grave clothes. They lay, still in their folds as when they had been around their Lord’s body. But He was gone. The clothes had been miraculously vacated. They left wondering! It was not doubt, but wonder. The condition of the clothes testified that the Saviour was alive, but what now? They wondered
“And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?” At the lakeshore He waited for them, and showed by His desire to eat with them that it was indeed Himself. He was alive, the Saviour they had known and loved. He showed them His hands and feet and invited them to handle Him. This was no spirit. It was Himself. And they wondered!
Wonder at Bethlehem and at Nazareth; wonder at Capernaum and on the lake; wonder at the cross and at the tomb. Truly, His Name shall be called Wonderful!
—to be continued (D.V.)
By R. Plant (England)
Paper 1 — Where are we now?
During the last twenty years of assembly testimony, it must be evident to all that the work of bringing the unsaved the sound of the Gospel has become increasingly difficult. So much so that in many assemblies today there is much joy in just seeing one outsider attending either on a Lord’s day evening gospel meeting or during special efforts in the gospel. Whilst adult attendance and interest in eternal things seems to be at an all time low the apathy seen among parents appears to be gradually being transmitted to their children resulting in fewer numbers attending Sunday schools and weekly children’s meetings. Whereas at one time children were compelled by their parents to attend Sunday school now there is a “couldn’t care less” mentality that leaves the children to make up their own minds as to whether they want to attend or not.
We are living now very much in the midst of the Information technology revolution and this too has had a big bearing on children’s attendance. Sunday schools and children’s meetings are in constant competition with television, which has steadily had an effect, not only on attendance of children, but the lives of believers over the last forty years. Over the last twenty years videos have brought more entertainment into the home resulting in more interest in the current box office hit rather than in the way of salvation. Now with the advent of computers, Internet, Sagas, Gameboys, etc. the time for attendance and interest in Divine things is being whittled down at a most alarming rate.
The number of television channels has multiplied tremendously. When I was a young lad growing up in a non-Christian environment we had three channels from which to choose. Now there are as many as a hundred and increasing all the time. Whilst staying with someone recently they delighted to take me through all fifty-television channels that they now receive in their home. The thought of someone trying to watch all these at the same time is baffling to say the least! Not only do we need to think of television channels and the multitudes of videos available, but now with DVDs, films can be watched in comfort on our own computers. As if that is not enough, on the outskirts of many large towns and cities, multi-screen cinemas have sprung up which reportedly can cater for several films all at the same time.
Not only do we have to contend with all these types of entertainment, but also the huge increase and interest in Sunday shopping means that times that were once taken up with the Scriptures are now occupied with shops. Sunday sport has increased dramatically and where the stories about the Saviour used to be known, children are far more knowledgeable about the virtues of their favourite team on the sports field. If not actually at the match, the various channels of television more than adequately cater for the sports-minded youngster.
When all the above is taken into consideration, we have to be honest and say that the devil has been very busy making sure that the young in our world are so well catered for they have little time to listen to the way of salvation. The sad thing is that while the devil has been so busy captivating the minds of the young, believers in many areas have stood still in children’s work and have failed to grasp the opportunities that can still be found for presenting the gospel to the young. Many excuses are made as to why the young will not attend our Sunday Schools and children’s meetings when perhaps many of the reasons can be attributed to ourselves and our lack of foresight. I am convinced that in many assemblies the format of children’s work has not changed much since the Second World War!
Before anyone gets involved in Children’s work they need to ask several questions in the presence of the Lord.
1) Can I make the time to prepare suitable lessons before the Lord each week?
There is really no need to go further unless you are prepared to put the time and effort required into the work with children. To attempt to turn up and teach children at Sunday school or in a children’s meeting without having put the time and preparation in beforehand is both dishonouring to the Lord and doing the children a great disrespect.
2) Am I prepared to sacrifice time and money in this work?
If you are going to work with children some amount of sacrifice and investment both financially and in the use of your time is necessary and in many cases for the work to be done well this may be substantial! You may want to purchase good quality visuals, other teaching aids, make a small quiz or purchase a few prizes to encourage the children each week. All this will cost money and this needs to be carefully considered in the presence of the Lord before embarking further on the road to teaching children.
3) Has the Lord laid this work upon my soul?
Is this a burden that comes from the Lord? Is it just something that I want to do? Is it what is expected of me in the assembly? You must have a burden and vision for the lost in any outreach work that you commence for the Lord and work among children is really no different. If you are not burdened you will soon lose heart and interest in your service. As a result you will not follow up on missing children in your class or those who have not been to the Children’s meeting for some time. A burden of heart given by the Lord is essential.
4) Has the Lord gifted me accordingly?
One of the problems with assembly activity is that many believe in an ‘any man’ ministry. Hence, men who are not gifted to preach often fill our gospel platforms and the assemblies are dying as a result! It is tragic to see! The same applies in children’s work. Many think if they can fill fifteen to twenty minutes of a children’s meeting they are ‘okay’ with children. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that the children are asleep or ‘switched off’ during their rambling. How many assembly Sunday schools are nearly empty because of Superintendents and teachers who have no gift in working with children but steadfastly refuse to step aside in favour of someone who has? How often a children’s meeting has been ruined because someone must have their turn at speaking or doing this or that? The result being that the children stop attending because of the speaker’s boring manner and lack of God-given gift. If you are not gifted with children please, please be prepared to step aside and take a background position and leave the public work to those who are. It is vital that those who are gifted conduct children’s work. You can still have an interest in children’s work even if you have no gift in this field. If you do have such an interest you will be happy to work out of sight and especially to pray that the Lord will richly bless the children each week as they attend.
5) Am I prepared to keep in contact with children especially when they miss the meetings?
Of course this ties in with the consideration of previous paragraphs. To work seriously with children time has to be taken in personal contact with them. This may include sending Birthday and Christmas Cards, and perhaps sending a postcard from your holiday to all in your Sunday school class: Following up missing pupils both by letter and personally calling at their homes to encourage attendance: Keeping in contact with families and writing when someone is sick, etc. Another idea often used to good effect is inviting the children to your home for tea or such like. It all takes time and of course much effort.
6) Can I fulfil the work in a Christ honouring way?
Perhaps this consideration along with the last is the most important and sums up all that has gone before. Will what I do bring honour to Christ? Certainly an undisciplined and unprepared message will not. However, a well thought out and structured approach with the eternal interests of the children at heart cannot but bring pleasure and honour to our Lord for whom we are working. All things must be done decently and in order!
7) Am I really prepared to pray about this work?
Any work we do for the Lord takes time and a lot of prayer. More often than not we are prepared to put a bit of preparation time into the work but do we really pray for the children who come into our halls week by week and do we pray that more will come in? We have already mentioned how busy Satan has been to distract the children from any thoughts of God and therefore any thoughts of attending a Sunday School or a Children’s meeting. The greatest battles are won on our knees and Satan’s strongholds can be broken down when we are praying to an all-powerful God. We should really be touching heaven with our petitions for the children at our prayer meetings.
Some points for prayer could be
- To thank God for those who attend.
- That each child and their families would be saved.
- For the needs of each child as well as remembering those with difficult backgrounds.
- For discipline in one's own life to allow suitable preparation time.
- For guidance as to suitable materials to interest the children.
- For help in making the message interesting.
- For guidance with regards to suitable speakers who will have the ability to hold the children’s attention whilst explaining the way of salvation.
How then are we going to regain the initiative and take the message of salvation through the work of Christ to the young when the devil has blinded their minds with so many devices? We hope, in the papers that follow, to give some ideas and guidance as to how we can prayerfully make our children’s work more fruitful. We will also seek to look at what we can teach the young, without compromising the Scriptures, during the very limited time that we are able to get them under the sound of the gospel.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by C. Jones (Wales)
The Holy Spirit led and inspired men to write the Scriptures, 2Tim.3.16. The Psalms record great depths of human experience and emotion and deal with suffering, sadness, foolishness, joy, adoration, praise, thanksgiving, worship, and confession and prophecy.
Ps.145 is a Psalm of praise. Indeed, it is entitled “David's Psalm of praise,” and David praised God for His greatness, grace, mercy, glory, power, kindness, righteousness and nearness. It is the last of the Psalms in which it is stated that David is the writer. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. However, one letter, the fourteenth letter of the alphabet, nun, is missing.
Great is the Lord, vv.1-7
In the first seven verses, David praises, blesses and exalts his God and declares that he will do this “every day” and “for ever,” v.2. In Ps.34.1, David says “His praise shall continually be in my mouth,” and as believers, our praise, thanksgiving and worship should rise to God daily for all that He is and all that He has done for us in and through His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” Eph.1.3. He bestows upon us “Every good gift and every perfect gift,” Jms.1.17, and has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” 2Pet.1.3. We shall be praising, serving and learning more of the wonders of God in eternity, when we will appreciate more and more of the “exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus,” Eph.2.7.
David knew the power and sovereignty of God. He knew God and spoke of “my God,” v.1. David was determined to praise, extol and exalt the God he knew, loved and served, and his determination is shown in the repeated use, in the first seven verses, of the words “I will.” God is to be praised because His greatness and infinitude are beyond the understanding of mere finite men. They are “unsearchable,” v.3, as are His judgments and all His ways, Rom.11.33.
All God does is awesome, and every generation has a duty to declare to the next generation His mighty acts in creation and redemption, v.4. Young ones should be brought up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” Eph.6.4, and they should be taught the truths God reveals in His Word. We read in Isa.38.19, “the father to the children shall make known Thy truth.” Praise to God will continue from generation to generation. God's glorious majesty and His wonderful works call forth praise and reverence, v.5. David says that he and others will tell out the greatness and power of God's mighty works and acts of judgment recorded in the Scriptures, v.6.
The people who have been richly blessed by God will be conscious of their blessings and their minds will be filled with thoughts and memories of the greatness of God's goodness and righteousness, v.7. They will speak to others and among themselves, Mal.3.16, of the many blessings God bestows and of the salvation He has provided by grace, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Eph.2.8.
God is gracious and merciful, vv.8-10
God is gracious, merciful and full of compassion, v.8. Grace is an attribute of God. Grace is God's unmerited, unsought love and favour, freely bestowed upon guilty sinners who deserve nothing but wrath, judgment and eternal punishment. God is “the God of all grace,” 1Pet.5.10, and grace comes from the “throne of grace” where we can receive mercy, and find grace to help us in time of need, Heb.4.16. God bestows His grace on whom He will. In His sovereign grace God chose believers in Christ “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” Eph.1.4.
The Lord Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth, Jn.1.14,17, and though He was rich, for our sakes He became poor, that we, through His poverty might become rich, 2Cor.8.9.
God is able to make grace abound towards us so that we “always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work,” 2Cor.9.8. Believers are “not under the law, but under grace,” Rom.6.14, but we must remember that this does not give us licence to do things contrary to the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. Grace teaches us that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” Tit.1.12,13. Our speech should be “alway with grace, seasoned with salt,” Col.4.6, and, by the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, 1Cor.6.19, we should be growing in grace and “in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2Pet.3.18.
The Lord is “rich in mercy,” Eph.2.4, and “His mercy endureth for ever,” Ps.106.1. His mercy is “great”, 1Kgs.3.6, and “plenteous”, Ps.86.5. He “delighteth in mercy,” Mic.7.18, and His mercy is “tender”, Lk.1.78, and “abundant”, 1Pet.1.3. As believers we are entirely dependent on God for our salvation and all our blessings, for, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,” Tit.3.5.
“The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works,” v.9. He “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good,” Matt.5.45. The Lord is good and all He does is good. The word “all” appears frequently in Ps.145 and shows how loving, kind, gracious, merciful and generous God is to His creation. The Lord is worthy to be praised by all, especially by His saints, v.10.
Glory and power, vv.11-13
In a future day, people will proclaim the glory of the kingdom of God. Men will laud and praise God's infinite, invincible power and the majesty of His eternal kingdom. Earthly kingdoms based on force, military domination, exploitation and greed have come and gone, but in vv.11-13 we read of the everlasting kingdom of God which is based on absolute power, dominion and righteousness, where love, peace and grace will prevail eternally. God's rule and dominion will be recognised in His kingdom, not only in the millennium but on into eternity.
God should occupy the foremost place in the thoughts and conversation of the saints of each generation. We should talk among ourselves and tell those who are lost of the eternal glory and power of God. We should tell others about the Person and work of His Beloved Son and His eternal kingdom. When we speak of such things we see ourselves as puny and insignificant specks in God's vast creation, but when we feel like this let us remember the grace and love of God who loved the world, Jn.3.16, and that Christ “loved the church, and gave Himself for it,” Eph.5.25, and that each believer can say the Lord Jesus Christ “loved me and gave Himself for me,” Gal.2.20.
The Lord restores and is kind, vv.14-16
God “upholdeth all that fall,” v.14. David knew what it was to experience the consequences of sin. He confessed his sin and prayed to God saying, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness,” Ps.51.1. In His mercy and kindness God forgave David and raised him up again. God comforts those who sorrow and bear heavy burdens. He “raiseth up all those that be bowed down,” v.14. He is the “God of all comfort,” 2Cor.1.3, and “underneath are the everlasting arms,” Deut.33.27.
Whether men realise and acknowledge it or not, the whole creation is dependent for its continued existence on God. David says “The eyes of all wait upon Thee,” v.15. God is merciful and kind and all living things depend upon Him and are fed by Him, v.16; Ps.104.27,28. Believers are particularly blest for He provides for all our needs, physical, mental and spiritual.
Righteous and near, vv.17-21
God is to be praised. Our unchanging, almighty God is “righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works,” v.17. God is eternally and inflexibly righteous and holy. In all His government and dealings with man He is righteous. He always does that which is right, Gen.18.25; Hos.14.9. God is holy, Lev.19.2, gracious and kind. In His grace and mercy He has provided for us a way of salvation through faith in His Beloved Son, and now He can be “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus,” Rom.3.26, and “if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” 1Jn.2.1.
The Lord is near to all those who call upon Him, v.18. He is omnipresent. He is to be praised and thanked for He is never far from any of us, Acts 17.27, and is “a very present help in trouble,” Ps.46.1. He hears the prayers of those “that call upon Him in truth,” v.18, and that pray in accordance with His revealed will, 1Jn.5.14. God will answer our prayers in His own way and in His own time. He will “fulfil the desire of them that fear Him,” v.19. Only He knows what is truly good for us, and in His omnipotence, love and wisdom He can, and will, make things work together for our eternal good and His glory, Rom.8.28.
God is to be praised because He watches over us continually, v.20. God “will keep the feet of His saints,” 1Sam.2.9. The Lord prayed for His disciples and for all believers asking God His Father to “keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are,” Jn.17.11. Those of us who are believers are being kept for an incorruptible inheritance which is undefiled, does not fade away and is reserved for us in heaven, 1Pet.1.4.
What an eternal prospect lies ahead for believers as we wait for the Lord to return for us, 1Thess.4.16,17, and how it contrasts with that awaiting those who have not been saved by grace. With praise and thanksgiving we can gladly say “happy is that people, whose God is the Lord,”’ Ps.144.15.
The Psalm ends with David praising Jehovah and calling on all to “bless His holy name for ever and ever,” v.21. Our praise and thanksgiving to God will never cease.
Power can be detected in many areas of life. There is the tremendous power of nature as seen in storms at sea, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, electric storms and the like. There is man-made power as displayed in modern computers, many engines, such as those in large ships and aeroplanes, atomic and nuclear bombs. Many people work and scheme in order to have an increase in influence and power. It is often this very dream that drives the ambitious politician to seek higher office. However, supreme over all there is one source of power and its potency cannot be denied and that is the power of God. The apostle Paul refers to this power when he wrote to Christians in the city of Corinth.
In chapter 1v.18 he wrote, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” He uses an expression that may be strange to some reader: “Us which are saved.” What does it mean to be saved? Just recently there was a father and his son drowned off the coast of Ireland. They had gone to check lobster pots in very rough seas and they were lost. While they were in the sea a helicopter spotted them but it was not possible to save them. Most tragically, in the natural sense, they were not saved. Paul is saying that there were people in Corinth one time who were in danger but they were saved. What danger were they in? Dear reader, they were in the same danger as you: the danger of being lost in the judgment of God for all eternity. But they were saved. If it was possible for them to be saved, it is equally possible for you to be saved. They were saved by the power of God as it was known in the “preaching of the cross.”
The cross is referring to Calvary where the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, died in agony. He was the sinless One who thus had the right to live, but He died. The reason for His death is given by Paul in the same letter, “Christ died for our sins” 1 Corinthians 15v.3. Our sins are against a holy God and He will punish us for them. However, in love He sent His Son to bear our punishment, to die for our sins, to make propitiation so that He can forgive and save us. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities ...” Isaiah 53v.5. Our sins were not a small, light, insignificant matter, and so it required this tremendous power of God to save us. It is only because of the “cross” that we can know salvation. Neither works of ours nor religion can take away one sin. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” Titus 3v.5. Peter preached, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4v.12.
If you would desire to be saved and know the delivering power of God in your life, two things are necessary, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” Acts 20v.21. The alternative is to be lost and be banished from God for all eternity. Only Divine power can accomplish the wonder of your eternal salvation.
Would you be free from your burden of sin?
- There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
- Would you over evil a victory win?
- There’s wonderful power in the blood.
(Lewis E. Jones)
THE BELIEVER'S PAST, PRESENT AND PROSPECT IN ROMANS
We were, we are, we shall
- we were without strength, 5.6;
- we were sinners, 5.8;
- we were enemies, 5.10;
- we were in the flesh, 7.5;
- we are debtors, 8.12;
- we are the children of God, 8.16;
- we are saved by hope, 8.24;
- we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, 8.37;
- we are the Lord's, 14.8;
- we shall be saved from wrath through Him, 5.9;
- we shall be saved by His life, 5.10;
- we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6.5;
- we shall also live with Him, 6.8;
- we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, 14.10.
by H. A. Barnes (England)
- It will take a crucified Church to bring before the world a crucified Christ.
- Be truthful and do not trade in unfelt truth.
- If we come forth from the closet of communion, the atmosphere of evil speaking will be to us as the tainted air of some great city to one that has been breathing the pure air of a mountain top or the fresh breeze of the seashore.
11 WAYS TO BE HAPPY
- Happy is the man whom God correcteth, Job 5.17;
- Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, Psa.146.5;
- Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and … understanding, Prov.3.13;
- He that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he, Prov.14.21;
- Whosoever trusteth in the LORD, happy is he, Prov.16.20;
- Happy is the man that feareth always, Prov.28.14;
- He that keepeth the law, happy is he, Prov.29.18;
- If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them, Jn.13.17;
- Happy is he that condemneth not himself, Rom.14.22;
- If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye, 1Pet.3.14;
- If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye, 1Pet.4.14.
by H. A. Barnes (England)