CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by John B. D. Page
ISAIAH'S PORTRAITS OF CHRIST
by J. Flanigan
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
SOWING AND REAPING
by James G. Hutchinson
THE THREE CROSSES
by Nelson McDonald
SOME MODERN MISREPRESENTATIONS OF OUR LORD
by W. Hoste, B.A.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
by Anthony Orsini
THOUGHTS OF CHRIST
by Eric G. Parmenter
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE INCOMPARABLE CHRIST (ii)
Reading : Revelation 22.16.
"I Jesus..." — this was the first time that the Christ, exalted far above all, had spoken in such a personal way to John. The use of this name, given to Him at His birth, probably took the Apostle's thoughts back to Bethlehem, Galilee, Calvary, and Olivet.
This Person, so precious to them that believe, demands that His personal Name should be considered.
As distinct from His titles, "Jesus" was the Name given to Him at His birth. According to oriental custom, the choice of name was the father's right to exercise which was expected of Zacharias when naming his son, John, at the time of the baby's circumcision on the eighth day (Luke 1.57-60). With our Lord, the custom was observed, for Matthew (1.25) records that the "he (viz., Joseph) called His Name Jesus". Actually, the prerogative was not exercised by His commonly supposed father, Joseph, but implicity by His Father in heaven Who communicated the name by an angel to Mary before His conception and afterwards to Joseph (Luke 1.30ff; Matt. 1.21ff). Then eight days after His birth at His circumcision, the Child was called "Jesus" (Luke 2.21).
Although He was God manifest in the flesh, His Name Jesus, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew, Joshua, was not uncommon amongst Jewish families. In this instance, 'Jesus' expresses the relation of Jehovah to Him in Incarnation, and it is associated with the shame of the cross that He endured to "save His people from their sins".
It was in Galilee where John, a fisherman, heard Jesus call Him to discipleship (Matt 4.18,21); the occasion may have flashed back to his mind in the solitude of Patmos.
In his Gospel, John relates a personal experience at Calvary: "when Jesus ... saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved", He said to her, "Woman, behold thy son!" and to the disciple "Behold thy mother!" to which John responded by taking her to his home (John 19.26ff). Significantly, Jesus addressed Mary as "Woman", a respectful form of address with Orientals, and not as "Mother", because she is not the Mother of God.
At the Lord's ascension into heaven from Olivet, John, being one of the eleven present, heard two men in white apparel say reassuringly, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go in heaven" (Acts 1.11). In stating that the ascension prefigured His coming again to the earth, the two men did not use the tide Lord' but His name "Jesus" because, as Lord, He will come again to the air for the saints of this church age (1 Thess. 4.16) and, as Jesus, He will come again to the earth unto His own people, Israel.
Judging from the large number of some six hundred occurrences of the name, "Jesus", in the four Gospels (in contrast to only about sixty-four from Acts to Revelation), it was the Name with which He came to the Jews at His first advent.
Interestingly, in Revelation "Jesus" is still connected with the Jewish people, and its six occurrences, which relate to the tribulation, are worthy of mention.
When the wrath of God will be poured out, like wine from a goblet, upon the worshippers of the Beast and his image, there will be "the saints", an elect remnant of Jews, who will "keep... the faith of Jesus" (14.9-12). Think of how their faith implanted by Jesus, whom their forefathers rejected and crucified, may will be sustained by their reading of the works of Jesus and His teaching as recorded in the New Testament!
On a later occasion (17.1-6), John was carried away in spirit into a wilderness, probably figurative of the spiritual wilderness of the religious world after the rapture of the Church, where he saw a great harlot in a dominating position of sitting upon a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, which were the colours worn by emperors and senators of ancient Rome and now by Popes and cardinals, and decked with gold and precious stones, probably symbols of Papal wealth and grandeur. Like common prostitutes, she wore upon her brow her name, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth", indicating that ancient Babylonianism is the source of the idolatrous Roman Catholic system. With present-day Ecumenism, there is a strong tide flowing throughout Christendom for re-union with the Church of Rome. The great harlot, symbolical of the apostate world-church of the end time, was drunk with the intoxicant of human blood — not only "with the blood of the saints" but also "with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus", and the seer marvelled at this nauseating sight. In contrast to their Jewish forefathers who bore false witness against Jesus at His trial before the Sanhedrin and contrived successfully in taking His life, these godly Jews of the last days, having been faithful winesses for Jesus, will lay down their lives for Him.
From this heinous scene, John's gaze is directed heavenwards to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and he is reminded by the attendant angel that his "brethren ... have the testimony of Jesus", which is then defined: "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (19.9ff). "The testimony of Jesus in the Apocalypse", says Walter Scott, "is of the prophetic character, referring to His public assumption of governmental power to be displayed in the Kingdom".
In a subsequent vision (20.4), the Apostle saw three groups of people: firstly, enthroned persons with authority to judge; next, a company martyred for Jesus; and lastly, those who refuse to worship the Beast or his image during the great tribulation. Once again, his attention is turned in the second group to the horrors of martyrdom, seeing "the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God". For the beheading of these believing Jews, there is an allusion to execution by a hatchet according to Roman practice. Their faithful witness for Jesus and loyalty in proclaiming the word of God will be after the rapture and before the setting up of the image of the Beast in the temple at Jerusalem.
It is not without significance that in these several scriptures, relating to the Lord's earthly people, the Jews, during the tribulation, the single Name "Jesus", belonging primarily to the days of His flesh, is correctly used. Such usage generally in reference to the Church, His heavenly people, would be inappropriate.
Coming again to the sixth and last mention of the Name "Jesus", it is in His testimony, and so its setting is not dispensational as in the previous occurrences but personal. A feature of the book is the testimony at the beginning and another at the end. The opening testimony is given by the Apostle, exiled and cut off from society:
"I John", said he,"... was in the isle, that is called Patmos,... for the testimony of Jesus Christ" (1.9). In contrast, the closing testimony is from the glorified Christ, who is foremost amongst the redeemed hosts of heaven: "I Jesus", said He, "have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches" (22.16). In the face of possible doubts and denials concerning "these things" — great prophecies, great judgements, great promises — revealed to the seer, this affirmation is made in a personal manner. Having beheld Jesus Christ in His manifested glory and majesty by way of various visions and many titles, John now heard Him say, "I Jesus ..." — nothing official or remote, but so personal and heart warming for him shut away on that desolate isle of barren and rugged rocks in the Aegean Sea and far removed from fellow-believers. What grace on the part of his Saviour and Lord to speak so compassionately to the disciple whom He loved! His testimony is supported by a surpassing wonderful revelation of Himself: "I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star". Consideration if this cluster of titles should heighten and broaden our vision and deepen our understanding of our beloved Lord as we mediate upon them in turn. — (To be continued).
by J. FLANIGAN (Belfast)
It is well known that chapter 40 is a watershed in Isaiah's prophecy. It is the beginning of the second great section of the book. Thirty-nine chapters have passed, answering to the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. Twenty-seven chapters have yet to come, answering to the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. Chapter 40 is the first of these twenty-seven chapters. Here, as in the New Testament, we are early introduced to the ministry of John Baptist. It was a wilderness ministry; a call to repentance. John is the last of the prophets. Perhaps he is the porter, opening the door to the true Shepherd. In verse 11 of the chapter the Shepherd is introduced.
There is a strange and tender blending of greatness and gentleness; of grace and glory. The Shepherd who gently tends His flock is none other than the Creator. He is the Everlasting God. He is Jehovah and the Holy One with whom the nations are as a drop from a bucket or as fine dust in a balance. The great things, and great ones, of earth, are to Him less than nothing, but in His very greatness He moves in gentleness towards His people who are His flock. David knew this. His opening words in Psalm 23 are not just a statement of fact; they are an exclamation, "Jehovah Rohi!" My Shepherd is Jehovah. With what confidence might we rest in His Shepherd care for us when we remember how great He is. His Shepherd ministry takes on a new grandeur when we consider it in the light of His greatness.
We do well to remember too, that for fifteen hundred years before Bethlehem, He was the Shepherd of Israel (Psalm 80.1). For centuries, and for generations, He shepherded that straying flock. He bore with their backslidings, their murmurings, and their unbelief. And in Israel's sad history can we not see a reflection of our own? What consolation to know that He whom I now call, "My Shepherd", knows well what human frailty and failing is, and He cares for me as He cared for Israel of old.
There is a four-fold ministry of the Shepherd in Isaiah 40.11. He feeds; He gathers; He carries; He leads. In the days of His flesh He did all this in a personal way for those whom He called His "little flock" (Luke 12.32). Now He has gone on high but His ministry continues. He is the chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5.4). He has under-shepherds. He careth for you. Sometimes it is a personal care. Sometimes it is effected for us in the patient ministry of shepherds in the assembly.
He feeds His flock. How graciously and patiently did He feed His little flock when He was here. He called them by name and they followed Him, and as they walked together, or sat together, He expounded truths to them and fed them. Sometimes on a mountain side, sometimes in a garden. Perhaps by the sea-side, or at times in the home. Maybe in the Temple court, or maybe on the highway. But He seemed to always teaching them, and this was their food. His word was their sustenance and their nourishment. So it is today. Nothing is as important for our growth as the Word. If at times we can read it for ourselves, and if He ministers personally to us in our reading, and we are fed, this is good. If at other times He uses His servants to minister to us and to lead us into rich pastures, this also is good. Whether alone with Him, or waiting upon the ministry of His under-shepherds, we must feed on His Word. It is food of the flock.
He gathers. The very idea of a flock suggests togetherness. It is shepherd ministry to gather. It is the enemy's work to scatter. Sectarian division has been the great strategy of the Devil down the years. The simple answer to human systems and schisms is the unity of a scripturally gathered assembly. "Gather my saints together unto me" (Psalm 50.5). "Gathered unto My Name" (Matthew 18.20). "Dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133.1). "Unto Him shall the gathering of the people be" (Genesis 49.10). It is His mind that we should be together, and so He gathers. But how? The answer is again in His Word. The directions are simple and clear. There is nothing complicated except where men have made it so. Implicitly obey His Word and we shall find the footsteps of the flock; and find Him! It is still a wilderness ministry that calls us out to Him. He is not in the city. He is not in the camp. We must go out to Him. And as we go out we shall find that others are making their way out too, and with them we gather. As we get close to Him we shall be close to those who are close to Him and we shall be "together", as He desires it. This is not denominationalism, to gather to Him in obedience to His Word.
He carries. This word "carry" is the word which appears four times in the chapter which introduces the Aaronic priesthood, Exodus 28. Four times we read "Aaron shall bear ..." The word there translated "bear", is the word which in Isaiah 40.11 is translated "carry". Aaron carried the people. He bore their names on his shoulders and on his breast. He bore their cause upon his mitre, and for their guidance he carried the Urim and the Thummim. He bore them on the strength of his shoulders and in the sympathy of his heart. So does our Lord Jesus carry us. For our security and in our sorrow, He carries us. He carries the lambs in ch. 40.11. He carries us to old age in ch. 46.4. Well do we sing, "All the way my Saviour leads me". This brings us to the fourth aspect of the Shepherd ministry of Isaiah 40.
He leads. He gently leads. There are lambs in the flock. Some of the ewes are pictured as having their young with them, by their side. The true shepherd will gently adapt the pace of the flock to suit the lambs. He does not create a separate flock of lambs. He maintains the togetherness of the flock, but ever remembers the special needs of the lambs as they move along. So the lambs amongst us need particular care. The world in which they live is very hostile. There is infidelity and adversity. There are temptations, allurements, pitfalls, and snares. They need gentle guidance. They do not need meetings specially convened for them. They do not need to be segregated. But they do need patient instruction from the Word, exposition that they can understand, and exhortation given in such a manner that they can respond.
It is a great privilege granted to any brother, to be an under-shepherd. Your work is appreciated both by the Chief Shepherd Himself, and by the spiritual of the flock. May the Lord graciously give us a continuing shepherd ministry of feeding and gathering and carrying and leading, until He comes.
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(51) REGENERATION OR THE NEW BIRTH
John 3.1014; Matt. 19.28; Titus 5.5.
Regeneration is God's act in the soul and the introduction of a new life. The word only occurs in Matt. 19.28, and Titus 3.5. The latter is the spiritual rebirth of the individual, the washing that needs no repetition. Matt 19.28 refers to the new condition of things brought in with the millennium. The "renewing" is a continuous process which will go on during our life time.
Regeneration is an objective state or condition and can only be witnessed by the eye of God as it indicates an internal condition. Regeneration is an inward experience, the divine side. Conversion is the outward expression, the individual turning to God (1 Thess. 1.9).
THE NEED OF THE NEW BIRTH—John 3.1-3. Man is dead in trespasses and in sins, therefore reformation is of no avail (Eph. 2.1). The corruption of human nature requires it (John 3.6; Rom. 5.7,8; Titus 3.3). We learn from John 3.1,3, that human religion, learning, natural talent and ability can avail nothing in
this experience. Nicodemus was, politically — a ruler, a member of the Sanhedrin; Religiously — a Pharisee (Phil. 3.5d); Academically — the Teacher in Israel (v. 10). Socially, he was a wealthy man (John 19.39,40), yet totally ignorant of spiritual truth (v. 10; Ezek. 36.25-27). He acknowledged the Lord had wisdom, power and divine approval. He is taught by this new Teacher that he "must be born again" (v.3). This is not merely another birth, but another KIND of birth, "born from above" (v.7 RV. Margin). The Lord Jesus is the Instructor of Supernatural Knowledge (v.1-13).
THE WAY OF THE NEW BIRTH—John 3.4-9. In this dialogue the Lord explains to a man of great intellectual capacity that he is still unsuitable for the Kingdom of God (v.3). His sinful nature disqualified him for the communion of a heavenly society. Spiritual life cannot be evolved — it is imparted by the Spirit of God (v.5,6). Its important — "I say unto you"; the instrument — "the Spirit". Man in incapable of it (v.6a) and it is imperative and indispensable — "ye must be born again". Nicodemus immediately associated it with the earth (v.4), later he showed prejudice rather than misunderstanding (v.9).
The negative side of the new birth is seen in John 1.13.
- It is not inherited — "not of blood" RV; not self-effort or self-determination, no one can give to himself this new life.
- "Nor of the will of man", no human influence can produce the new birth. It cannot be imparted for it is of divine origin, and is a free gift from God (Rom 6.23).
On the positive side it is all of God (John 1.13c). The three Persons of the Godhead are involved. Effected by God, He quickens a person who exercises faith in Christ (1 Pet. 1.3; John 1.12,13; Eph. 2.1). Through the work of the Lord Jesus (John 3.14,15). By the Spirit: He is the active Agent in regeneration (John 3.6,8; Titus 3.5). The Spirit convicts of sin, cleanses, quickens, renews. It comes through the instrumentality of the Word of God (Jas. 1.18; 1 Pet. 1.23). Through the resurrection of Christ (1 Pet. 1.3). We are begotten through the gospel (1 Cor. 4.15). Just as Ezekiel preached to the dead bodies (Ezek. 37.9,10), so the Spirit breathes into us new life from above. The new birth is all God's work (Ezek. 36.36,37).
HOW DESCRIBED. As a new creation (2 Cor. 5.17; Gal. 6.15). "All things are become new". This radical change, is the impartation of a new disposition. Our former standing, "old things are gone for ever". We have become "alive from the dead" (Rom. 6.13); a spiritual resurrection (Eph. 2.1,5; Col. 2.13; 3.1), and "the washing of regeneration". (Titus 3.5).
ENJOYMENT. The reception of a new life and nature, the putting on of the new man (John 3.15; 2 Pet. 1.4; Eph. 4.24). We become children of God (John 2.23; Gal. 3.36). God becomes our Father (Gal. 4.6); and all saints our fellow-citizens (Eph. 2.22). We have a new mind (Rom. 8.6b); can live victoriously by the power of the Spirit (Gal. 5.16,18; 1 John 4.4; 5.4.).
These are to be manifest in our daily life (1 John 3.14). These are the evidences that we are "born of God". Trace the nine references in 1st John. We should live righteous lives (1 John 2.29); love one another (1 John 4.7); a hatred of sin (1 John 3.9,10; 5.18). We delight in God's law (Rom. 7.22) and have a desire for the Word of God (1 Peter 2.2,3) and enjoy the fellowship of saints (Heb. 10.25).
by James G. Hutchinson (Dundonald)
The pointed solemn statement of Galatians 6.7 is, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap". A devoted and much used evangelist, who lived to be very old, said in the closing years of life, "that if there was one verse more than another, that steadied him and made him careful in all his activities it was "Galatians 6.7.
It can be most encouraging to those who seek to do what is right, yet ho w challenging and searching to those who do otherwise.
This truth is taught in the New Testament, Matthew 7.2 "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" and again in Luke 6.38.
It is illustrated in Scripture. In Genesis 27 Jacob deceived his father with a kid and a coat. 2 Genesis 37 his sons deceived him with a kid and a coat; in Judges 1.6-7 Adoni-Bezek freely acknowledged he was reaping what he had sown.
It can be seen nationally also, the Egyptians would throw the children into the water, Exodus 1.16, soon their armies were in the sea. Exodus 14.27-28. If the nation refused the true Christ for 3 1/2 years (they must have the false ruler for 3 1/2 years).
In light of this, should we not all be exceedingly careful and ask "what am I sowing"?
1. We can sow in the Gospel.
- Who can do this? It is the privilege and responsibility of every child of God.
- What do we sow? The Word of God, Luke 8.11; 2 Timothy 4.2; not topical events, not lectures on the word but "the incorruptible word", 1 Peter 1.23.
- How can we sow? Parents in the home, putting into the young minds the truths of the Scriptures, — how important is the family altar! Personal witness — see the woman of John 4. Tract distribution, — open-air preaching, special meetings in hall, tents etc. — many areas open up to the exercised mind.
- When should we sow? "Morning and evening", Ecclesiastes 11.6. In season and out of season, 2 Timothy 4.2.
- Where to sow. Beside all waters, Isaiah 32.20. Wayside, rocks, thorns, good ground, Luke 8.5-8.
The encouragement for this noble work is, "That shall he also reap", Galatians 6.7 and Psalm 126.5-6, "Reap in joy", "We shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves".
2. We can sow in material things, 2 Corinthians 9.6.
The context is the offering for the poor saints. There is no suggestion of covetousness on the part of the writer, nor should there be on the part of any servants.
- Why give? Meets a need, 2 Corinthians 9.12. Poor saints; Assembly expenses; Gospel work etc. Causes thanksgiving, 2 Corinthians 9.12. Own needs will be met, Phillippians 4.19. Well illustrated in lad with loaves and fish. Brings abundant harvest, 2 Corinthians 9.6. While no doubt there is in this the idea of a spiritual recompense, is there not that of a material recompense also? God is no man's debtor.
- What to give? While no rules can be laid down in this matter, there are scriptures to be observed and principles to be noted. Abraham—Hebrews 7.2—a tenth; Jacob—Genesis 28.22—a tenth; Israel—Leviticus 27.30—a tenth at least. 1 Corinthians 16.2, "as God hath prospered" perhaps we should ask, should we under grace, give less that God asked for under law?
- How to give? At least two ways are indicated in scripture
- Assembly giving; 1 Corinthians 16.1 and
- Personal giving; Galatians 6.6 and 3 John 6.
With all on exercise regarding "sowing of material things" let us keep in mind that He still watches "over the Treasury" and let all our giving into whatever channel we may put it, be done only after prayerful thought. If so, it will go where it is needed and fulfil the purpose God has intended.
3. Sow discord. Proverbs 6.19.
God delights in unity and harmony. Psalm 133.1. "How good and how pleasant". Satan hates it and will use all he can to mar it and one of his ways is to "sow discord". It comes into a list of things God hates and those who profess to be the Lord's should take careful note.
- How can it be done?
- Careless talk—1 Timothy 5.13, while this passage deals primarily with young widows, they are not the only ones who gossip and are marked by careless talk,
- Evil speaking—while the former is harmful and damaging, this is more so — it is a more deliberate thing. Sometimes it is not only what is said, but how it is said. The devil is called "the accuser of the brethren", how serious and solemn it is when believers begin to help him!
- Where can it be done?
- In our own homes—A noted preacher has said, "Many children in Christian homes go astray and rebel, because they get too much "Roast preacher", i.e. too much criticism is indulged in.
- In other peoples homes—Some have the opportunity and privilege of being often in the homes of other Christians. How despicable and damaging the pursuit of seeking out news and telling tales; tales which would not always bear investigation. God has said, "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people". Leviticus 19.16.
- Sometimes from the platform—The platform where God's word is read and spoken from should be a place of transparency and integrity, where God is feared and reverenced. Not a place where hints are dropped, suggestion made, innuendos uttered, that would divide speakers, hearers and congregations. Shame on any who would descend to such a grievous and God dishonouring practice.
Of our blessed Lord we read "He went about doing good", may God help us to try and follow this example. Let us sow in the Gospel and material things and refrain from sowing discord knowing "we shall reap if we faint not".
by Nelson McDonald (Scotland)
The Judaising teachers had entered among the Galatian Christians and were seeking to lead them astray by suggesting that the Cross was not sufficient for their salvation and they should still be adhering to certain passages of the law. When news of this reached the apostle Paul he wrote to them a letter—the Galatian epistle. In this he corrects them and reminds them in it that the Cross is everything to the saints or else it is nothing. He speaks of the Cross in every chapter to remind them of this — 1.4; 2.20; 3.13; 4.4-6; 5.1-11; 6.12,14; — and in order to woo and win their affections again for the Lord Jesus. He knows if the Cross does not melt and soften their hard hearts, bring a lump to their throats, tears to their eyes, praise to their lips and gratitude in their lives, nothing else in the world will. He finishes with 6.14 "God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross". The word glory is translated 'rejoice' Rom. 5.2, 'joy' Rom. 5.11, 'boast' Eph. 2.9. Thus Paul is saying 'God forbid that I should glory or rejoice or joy or boast save in the Cross'. Paul could have gloried in a variety of things — eg. He could have gloried in: Renoun—Phil. 3.5; Religion—Phil. 3.6; Reproach—2 Cor. 4.8 & 16-18; Revelation—2 Cor. 12.1,4-6; Results—Acts 13.48, 14.1, 16.15,33,17.34, 18.8."
Yet he gloried in none of these things, but in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ on a Cross—Paul gloried in that and we glory in it also because:—
- The Devil has been Defeated—Heb. 2.14; 1 John 3.8; Matthew 12.29.
- Death has been Disannulled—2 Tim. 1.10; Isaiah 25.8; Hosea 13.14; Rom. 8.38; 1 Cor. 15.54; Rev. 2.11.
- Distance has been Removed—Eph. 2.13; Rom. 5.10; 1 John 1.7; Mark 15. 38.
- Communion has been Restored—Heb. 10.19; 4.16.
- Worship has been Established—Heb. 11.21; 13.15; 1 Peter 2.5; Psalm 5.7.
- Love has been Demonstrated—John 3.16; Rom. 8.32; 1 John 4.9-10.
- Peace has been Made—Col. 1.20; John 14.1,27; 16.33.
- Blessing has been Bestowed—Eph. 1.3;Prov. 10.22; Num. 6.24.
- Hope has been Revived—Rom. 5.2; 15.13; 2 Thess. 2.16; Titus 2.13; Heb. 6.19; 1 Peter 1.3.
- Victory has been Achieved—1 Cor. 15. 54-58.
No wonder Paul gloried in the Cross. He, and we, can appreciate the Cross for our —
- Cleansing—Heb. 9.12; 10.12.
- Communion—Heb. 10.19; Luke 23.45.
- Consecration—Heb. 9.14; Gal. 2.20.
- Comfort—Romans 8.32.
- Companionship—Luke 9.23.
- Confidence—Gal. 6.14.
- Compensation—Eph. 1.7,8.
2—THE WORLD CRUCIFIED
John gives a seven fold description of the world in his first epistle:—
- A Lustful World—1 John 2.16.
- A Passing World—1 John 2.17.
- An Ignorant World—1 John 3.1 — it knew Him not.
- A Hateful World—1 John 3.13.
- An Anti-Christian World—1 John 4.1,3.
- A Deceived World—1 John 5.19.
- A Conquered World—1 John 5.4.
Upon all of this we pass sentence — "crucified to me", and we take our stand at the Cross — John 19.25,26.
One of our most dangerous enemies is one that we carry with us constantly — it is self, the flesh. This we must reckon to be crucified — Gal. 2.20 — since if we do not conquer the flesh and keep it under, the flesh will conquer us — 1 Sam. 15.3; 2 Sam. 1.8; Exodus 17.8; Rom. 13.14.
The fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5.24 cannot be produced on the branches of the flesh. To continue in sin and disobedience is a direct contradiction of Romans chapter six. There we have died with Him, been buried with Him, and raised with Him to walk with Him in newness of life. We, therefore, should yield ourselves unto God Romans 6.13, and the power for yielding is found in Romans 8 — the Holy Spirit. When sin comes in all its subtlety there should be no response in me to it. Another has said that in Galatians Paul was in effect saying that he had turned the world into a cemetery and walked through it like a corpse. Even in this modern age this attitude could be true of all who say 'Not me, but Christ'!
By W. Hoste, B.A.
THE Spirit warns us of false men creeping in unawares (Jude 4) and introducing false doctrine unawares (II. Pet, 2.17). It is a clandestine attack, within the citadel, under the pretext sometimes of defending the Person of Christ, e.g., HIS HUMANITY.
In order, these teachers say, to sympathise with His people He must have had no advantage over them by reason of His Deity in meeting temptation. Did He then cease to be Divine? This way leads to Unitarianism. Had He no advantage, as the Holy One of God? This way leads to a peccable Christ. Is it not a dangerous presumption for the creature to lay down limits for his Creator, within which alone He can "sympathise"?
In becoming "like His brethren" it was not necessary for Him to cease to be Himself. I propose to deal with this subject under the following headings: (I.) The Kenosis and why we should reject it; (II.) Did our Lord's question betray "ignorance"? (III.) In what sense was our Lord tempted?
I. THE "KENOSIS" AND WHY WE SHOULD REJECT IT.
The "kenosis" like such expression as "the Real Presence," "Evolution," etc., is quite true, if properly understood, but as used popularly is to be rejected for the following reasons :
1. It comes from a tainted source. A thing's origin is of prime importance. No one would knowingly drink water from a poisoned well. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one" (Job 14.4). This theory comes from a tainted source, spiritually speaking, the "Higher Criticism."
2. It was invented for an unworthy purpose. It was pointed out that our Lord fully endorsed the Old Testament Scriptures, which the critics attacked. Then either He was wrong or they. The latter was to them unthinkable; then He must be wrong, not deliberately it was conceded, but because He knew no better, for had He not emptied Himself and become as ignorant of all such matters as any Jewish peasant?
3. It rests on an insufficient foundation. The fact that the word "kenosis" is an untranslated Greek word vests it with a mystic halo to certain minds. It was coined from the verb Kenoo, "to empty." "He emptied Himself' (heauton ekenosen, Phil. 2.7, R.V.). Many good authorities prefer A.V. "made Himself of no reputation," though both translations really mean the same. It is interesting to note these men's conversion to "verbal inspiration." When it suits them, they cheerfully cut out whole passages; here they have recourse to "verbal inspiration" to disprove "verbal inspiration."
Really, Christ did not become less personally in incarnation, God changes not, but positionally, in that He voluntarily exchanged the perfect equality, which had always existed between Him and God the Father and which was His right, seeing He was "in the form of God," for the inequality of a new relation, that of the servant of the Father. "He emptied (or stripped) Himself of His glory by having taken on Him the form of a slave" — the glory was the glory He had had with the Father before the world was (John 17.5).
DR. LIGHTFOOT translates: "He stripped Himself of the insignia of His majesty." But to use an illustration, did Peter the Great, because he did not wear his imperial crown on the quays of Deptford, empty himself of his personal attributes and power? Was he not still Peter the Great?. No more did our Lord lose what were inseparable from His Personality, His Divine Attributes. He was ever "the Word become flesh."
4. It conflicts with the context. The "self-emptying" is explained by "His having taken on Him the form of a slave" and "having been made in the likeness of men." But a great landowner might live in a humble style among his tenants, sharing their conditions and labours, confining his expenditure to theirs, without giving up his income or property, and certainly without foregoing the advantages of a good education or constitution.
5. It nullifies the true lesson to be learnt. The general bearing of Phil. 2. 5-8 is not doctrinal, but ethical. Let the mind of Christ be in His people, and it is the mind which is described here. Whatever He did, we should do in our measure. If He really renounced His Divine attributes and became powerless and ignorant we should renounce our human attributes and become powerless and ignorant too. But no one understands the passage thus. The Modernists set much store by their learning, and are far from wishing to give it up. Is not the true lesson that if our Lord emptied Himself of His glory, we should "pour contempt on all our pride" and willingly forego any prestige of birth, wealth, learning, etc., we may think we possess?
6. It contradicts conditions of service. A servant does not empty herself of her qualifications in order to please her mistress, nor forget her skill and recipes, but, while no longer using them merely for herself, puts them at the disposal of the other. So the Lord used every attribute He possessed to carry out the Father's will, in His time and way.
7. It lowers the Person of Christ. We must refuse entirely to divide our Lord's Person or discuss His Humanity, as though His Deity were in abeyance. It is not as if Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence were mere qualities, like human strength and wisdom, which may exist in degree and be considered apart from their possessor. God is the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent One, and only He. Love and holiness are not distinctive of Deity. A Unitarian would no doubt willingly ascribe them to our Lord, while denying Him the possession of Divine attributes, Our Lord could far less renounce His Divine attributes without compromising His Deity, than a mere man could lose his human attributes without compromising his humanity.
8. It is the stepping-stone to the full apostasy. Many have given up the "Kenosis." It was a temporary expedient. They have no further use for it. They have discovered that the Lord had really nothing to empty Himself of.
As Athanasius truly says: "We cannot comprehend to perfection the Person of Christ, but we can know what He is not," and I think any truly spiritual person will shrink with horror from the caricature of Him, Who is, and always was, "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God," as the ignorant and helpless "Jesus" of the critics.
II. DID OUR LORD'S QUESTIONS BETRAY "IGNORANCE"?
To indite such a query, even in order to repel its suggestion is painful, but is forced upon us "for the truth" (II Cor. 13.8). The R.V. of II John 9 is significant—"Whosoever goeth onward (margin, taketh the lead) and abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God." "He takes the lead," but he outruns the truth, and beyond is a dark hinterland of error.
That our Lord asked many questions during His ministry is undeniable, but that He ever asked one which bespoke "ignorance," can only be firmly denied. I believe such an idea is
Based on a Triple Misconception.
As to (1) the Person of Christ and what His Humanity implied; (2) as to what His "questions" entailed; (3) as to the testimony of Scripture to His Omniscience.
A favourite contention of the Modernist movement has been that the Deity of Christ had been unduly stressed, and that His Humanity needed enforcement. Without admitting the truth of this, it may be noted that the way to regain equilibrium in Divine Truth, if such has been lost, is not by going to the opposite extreme, but rather by seeking to hold fast the Divine Person—the Eternal Son of God, made flesh; then the whole truth groups itself naturally around Him; for that Person is as truly in relation to His perfect Humanity as to His true Deity. But what has resulted from the Modernist emphasis on the Humanity of Christ? In isolating the Humanity, they have eclipsed the Deity and degraded the Humanity. As has been remarked, "Is it not true that with the swing of the pendulum, the Deity of the Incarnate Son has begun to pale, and His Perfect Humanity been dragged down to the level of fallible men?"
Some seem to have the vague general idea that all "questions" are to inform the questioner. Genesis 3. and 4. contain nine questions by God Himself. Did He then not know where Adam was, that he had fallen, that Eve had misled him, why Cain was wroth, that he had slain Abel? No one would impugn the Omniscience of Jehovah Elohim, and yet similar questions by our Lord Jesus are cited as proof of His Omnescience. Where is the justice of this? There are besides, questions and questions.
Questions Asked by Our Lord.
1. Some of our Lord' questions were corrective. How else could a child, in a seemly way, correct an elder than by a little question, reminding him of something he had evidently forgotten? Such, I suggest, were the questions of the child Jesus in the temple. We do not find Him in a pulpit, like some precocious boy-preacher, lecturing his elders, but hearing them and then putting in some little questions, which took all the wind out of their old patched
sails, and led them to ask Him some questions, this time purely to gain information. He was "about His Father's business"; can any caviller find a proof of "ignorance" in all this? The elders did not, for "they marvelled at His understanding and answers." We might include under this heading such questions as, "Why reason ye among yourselves?" of Matt. 16. 8, or, "Which of them will love him most?" of Luke 7.42.
2. Others were instructive, according to what is known as the Socratic method, much in vogue even today, e.g., "If David therefore called Him Lord, how is He then his Son?" (Matt. 22. 45), where we may presume the Lord was not asking for information. "I will also ask you one thing. Is it lawful on the Sabbath," etc.? (Luke 6.9). The context favours the view that the Lord knew the answer to His own question. Again, in chapter 10.26, "What is written in the law?" Will any one suggest this question proved Him ignorant of the law?
3. Others were testing, e.g., to Philip, in John 6.5: "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" But the Spirit hastens to explain. "This He said to prove him, for He Himself knew what He would do." Surely such a statement affords a legitimate explanation of other questions of our Lord, and supplies a Divine answer to the strange suggestion, that if our Lord seemed to ask for information, which He did not really need, He was acting a part. Was He acting a part when He told the Samaritan to call her husband? We see the same in John 11.34. Fancy our Lord going straight to the grave of Lazarus! It would have savoured of magic or at least, as Chrysostom has said, of collusion. But could not He Who had just manifested His omniscience (v. 14), was about to manifest His omnipotence (v.44), have found His way unaided to the grace?
It has even been gravely suggested that our Lord ought to have shown His omniscience on the Cross, if He possessed it, by refusing the vinegar, before tasting it. Had He done so, the soldiers would have supposed He did not know what they were offering Him; and so with such episodes as the fruitless fig tree. The Lord did not use His powers for display or to deprive others of the ocular proofs they might reasonably expect.
4. Others were merely introductive. Used in a natural way to further conversation or action. "What seek ye?" "Whom say men that I am?" "Whom seek ye?" "Children, have ye any meat?" Our Lord was not out to prove His omniscience by what might have seemed magical ways. Was there not something Divinely perfect in our Lord's questions to Mary, "Woman, why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou?" or to Peter, "Lovest thou Me?" He knew, but He must hear from their own lips. The question to the householder, "Where is the guest-chamber?" did not betray "ignorance," for He could already in His omniscience see the large upper room furnished and prepared, but it showed the moral greatness of the Lord; He could claim all, He took nothing.
5. Others were convicting. "What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" (Mark 9.33). They would not say, but He knew only too well, as His subsequent action showed. I would suggest that all our Lord's questions fall naturally under one or other of these headings or may be explained in some such simple way. Lastly, there is
A Misconception of the Testimony of Scripture.
1. Inferences and deductions are not proofs, when passages can, with a little good-will, be explained in the fear of God in quite another way. God Himself could be proved "ignorant," on the plan these men adopt, e.g., in such passages as Gen. 18.21 or Gen. 22. 12. But did not God see all? Did He not know all before?
It is the same with the much misunderstood verse, Mark 13.32. One wonders the omniscience of the Holy Spirit has not been called in question, for surely He is included in the "no one knoweth!" This alone would show that the truth of the verse has nothing to do with the incarnation, but with the relations and prerogatives of the Divine Persons in the Triune Godhead. Let this verse be read with Acts 1.7 and the difficulty vanishes. Even there, after His resurrection, the Lord reminded His disciples that the date of the setting up of the Kingdom was one of the Father's things, "the times and seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power."
2. The plainest testimony to the omniscience of Christ is ignored or explained away. Again and again we read: "He knew their thoughts"; "He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man"; "Neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son; (the knowledge of the disciple can never approach that of the Teacher, when the lesson is infinite); and, lastly, the unparalleled (except in John 21.17) testimony of the disciples resulting from His wonderful words just uttered. "Now are we sure that Thou knowest all things." What could be plainer? But all goes for nothing with these men, in face of their theory that "our Lord must have been in the position of not knowing what was coming next in order to resemble us." But surely what we are called to is to resemble Him, not to drag Him down to resemble us. This same writer refers to this theory as "This marvellous experience of His of not knowing." It would indeed be marvellous were it true!
I hope what has been written here will enable the Lord's people to appraise this teaching aright. Let us, however, in closing, quote a few more Scriptures which still further negative this erroneous theory: "Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that believed not and who should betray Him" (John 6.64); "He knew that His hour was come" (chap. 13.1); "Now I tell you before it come, that when it is come to pass ye may believe that I am He" (v.19). Chap. 14.29; see Isa. 40.21-23,26); and finally, "Jesus knowing all things that should come upon Him" (Chap. 18.4).
Is it not difficult to recognise in the Christ these teachers offer us, "who did not know what was coming next," the omniscient Christ of the Gospels, "Who knew all things that should come upon Him" and "all things" besides?
III. IN WHAT SENSE WAS OUR LORD TEMPTED?
Many of the moral signs of the last perilous times are with us today, among which we may note false teachers, who are at once "deceivers and being deceived" (II. Tim. 3.13); while undermining the faith of the saints, they seem able to persuade themselves that they are building it up. Thus the Higher Critics, who only leave us intact the covers of our Bible, assure us that the Book is now much more precious than before; we must suppose they think so, but if so, they are "being deceived." Again, those who, under guise of upholding the humanity of Christ, present us a Saviour Whom with sorrow we fail to recognise as the Living Christ of the Gospels, seem quite self-satisfied with their views; it is they who are upholding the truth; it is their strong faith that enables them to believe as they do. To us their theory seems "another Jesus" in the making. Well, if they must "deceive themselves," it is no reason why we should be deceived.
But why such efforts to enforce this one-sided view of the Humanity of Christ? In order, the reply is, to insure to Him the ability to sympathise with us in our temptations. But it is admitted that our Lord did not need to be ill, in order to sympathise with the sick. But this admission seems to give the whole case away, for why should not the same principle hold good in other respects? Why should our Lord have to become ignorant in order to sympathise with the ignorant? Indeed, an ignorant person could not do so. But "sympathy" was not the primary end of the Lord's mission. He had something more important in view, "to seek and to save that which was lost," and more important still, to "glorify the Father and finish the work He had given Him to do."
Let us now ask, in what sense was our Lord (1) tempted? (2) "in all things made like unto His brethren"? (3) "made perfect"?
1. In what Sense was our Lord Tempted?
Temptation (peirasmos) is used in two senses and great confusion arises from not distinguishing these; (a) of enticement, "Every man is tempted when he is drawn of his own lust and enticed" (James 1.14). Our Lord was clearly never tempted in this sense. He had no "lust" to draw Him away; "In Him is no sin." It is of the nature of unclean animals and birds to love garbage, but, for us it has no attraction. So the Lord passed through this scene of moral corruption, but there was nothing in Him to respond to it. What has a natural attraction for us, left Him unscathed. But there is another sense of temptation, that of (b) testing. "Though now for a season if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations" (I. Pet 1.6). Enticement cannot come from God; "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man," but God does test all His people. It was in this sense He tempted Abraham (Gen. 22.1). Satan tempts to bring out the evil, God tests to bring out the good effected by His grace. We should pray to be delivered from enticements, and flee from them, but we are to "count it all joy when we fall into divers testings."
In the latter sense our Lord was tempted in all points, after the likeness or similitude" (Heb. 4.15, Kath' homoioteta), the words "we are" are not in the original. That is, as far as it was possible for a sinless Divine Person to be tested "apart from sin," He was tested, and every test only served to bring out His perfections and proved Himself to be "the Holy One of God," the perfect Servant, the faithful Witness. Moreover, His was a holy sympathy, never with sin unconfessed or devious ways persisted in, but with sorrow, suffering, and infirmity. He was tested in every possible way proper to Himself. In this sense He was "tempted" of the Devil. The first temptation is enough to show up the error here combated. Satan would not appeal to us to make stones into bread. It would be no temptation to us, for an obvious reason, but he knew the Lord had the Almighty power at His disposal, if He could be induced to use it apart from the Father.
Had the theory of the men been true, the Lord would have disclaimed possessing ("in function," the insidious phrase is) the power attributed to Him.
2. In what Sense was our Lord "in all things made like unto His brethren?"
"All things" must be limited by the context to the possession by our Lord of all that constituted true humanity — spirit, soul, and body. Not absolutely "all things," for though capable of death, He was not, like us, subject to death, nor, as we have seen, to sickness or sin. As Alford writes in loco. "All things, wherewith the present argument is concerned: all things which constituted real humanity, and introduce to its sufferings, temptations, and sympathies." This agrees with the context; the "many sons" of verse 10 are not angels. Christ did not take them up, but true men, possessors of blood and flesh; so He partook of the same, becoming truly man. Why should the reality of His Humanity diminish the reality of His Deity? He never ceased to be a Divine Person. "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." He, the Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, dwelling among men in this scene of sorrow, suffering, and sin; He, the Almighty Creator (John 1.10), enduring all at the creature's hand; as the "Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief; IN FULL POSSESSION OF ALL HIS DIVINE POWERS, but never using them to escape one pang or evade one sorrow. "Emmanuel," yet as a man among men, entering into their circumstances, griefs and cares, and sharing them all, "that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God," though this is never, as we shall see, termed "His being made perfect." But is it not presumptuous folly to attempt to analyse all this and reduce it to the limits of a formula? We only know in part any divine truth, and even less of the Person of Christ (Matt. 11.27; I. Tim. 3.16).
This brings us to our last point.
3. In what sense was Christ "made perfect?" (Heb. 2.10).
Was it by the disciplinary processes of His ministry and Cross, as some affirm? If so, then it would be impossible to avoid the conclusion that our Lord did need perfecting in a moral sense. To put perfection in inverted commas explains nothing and escapes nothing. I believe it can be demonstrated that the term is never thus applied to our Lord, but only as expressing His qualifying by death and resurrection to be our Saviour and High Priest. Of course, in saying this we must not lose sight of the resurrection and ascension. The Lord is qualifying for a certain office, He must pass through the cross; but He must also reach a certain position in order to fulfil that office, and that is by resurrection and ascension; "now to appear in the presence of God for us." It is only thus He has reached the goal. We all agree that our Lord's life was one of suffering. Such sufferings were very varied, at the hands of man and Satan, by privation, by sympathy; as the Holy One in a defiled scene; as the Righteous Witness; by anticipation; and yet, at the last passover we hear Him saying, "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, BEFORE I SUFFER" (Luke 22.15). It was as though He had never suffered till then, so unique were to be the sufferings of the Cross.
The word for perfecting (teleioo), is applied four times to the Lord, and in each case the context points to the Cross and only to the Cross as the means of it. Luke 13.32 is the first occurrence, "the third day I shall be perfected." This is at once connected with His approaching death which, being so near, called for an immediate journey to Jerusalem, which must preserve its sad monopoly of being the death-place of the prophets. Hebrews 2.10 is equally clear: "For it behoved Him (God)... to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings": the "for" is in logical sequence with verse 9, and explains the necessity of the death referred to there. To apply verse 9 to His death, and verse 10 to His ministry is topsy-turvy reasoning. No less clear is Heb. 5.9: "And being made perfect He became (not sympathiser merely), but the Author of eternal salvation." Christ was never morally imperfect, but His moral perfection could not avail. Without the Cross He could never have been "perfected" as Saviour. Clearly "the strong crying and tears" of the previous verses were not His ordinary experience, but can only be connected with the period of His death.
His prayer was, not to be saved from dying, but to be raised from death. It is really impossible to connect the "perfecting" of verse 9 with some kind of perfection attained by our Lord as the result of His experiences, without violating the context, and the truth of His Person. This is equally true of the last occurrence. "A Son perfected for evermore" (Heb. 7.28, R.V.). Again the perfecting is connected with His offering of Himself (v.27), and thus, His work being consummated by death and resurrection, He is for ever qualified to fill His mediatorial offices. We have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but Jesus Christ, THE SAME yesterday (that is, during His ministry), to-day (on the Throne of God), and for ever (in eternity).
Were the theory here traversed true, either Christ would not be the same now as when here below, or we should have a defective High Priest "to-day and for ever".
Let the preacher of the gospel preach all the truths that cluster around the Person and work of Christ. The fact and consequences of sin must be emphasised. Show that sin is against God and He must punish sin—that the wrath of God is revealed against it. Spare not the sterner themes, for men must be wounded before they can be healed, and slain before they can be made alive. No man will ever put on the robe of God's righteousness till he is stripped of his fig leaves, nor will he wash at the fount of mercy till he perceives his filthiness.
Show men that sin is not an accident, but the genuine depravity of their corrupt hearts. Preach the natural depravity of man. It is not fashionable (even in some assemblies) now to preach this doctrine, but it is a great necessity. Young people, brought up in Christian homes and under Christian influence are apt to be ignorant of this truth and, until they learn it, will never seek Christ as a Saviour.
Paul preached of righteousness, temperance, and judgement to come and made Felix tremble; these terms are equally necessary and powerful now. We rob the gospel of its power if we do not warn of future punishment for disobeying it. We must tell men that the Lord is coming to judge the world in righteousness. This will lead up to conviction which must precede conversion.
Very fully throughout the Scriptures the Deity of the Son is affirmed. We see Him in the eternal past before all worlds, and as Creator and Upholder of all things as they are created. We see Him at His incarnation, in His words, by His works, and in His vicarious death and His glorious resurrection, to be the Son of God. His exaltation, His high priesthood, and the acclamation of His Lordship, all prove Him to be "God over all, blessed for ever."
In ancient times, the office that a man filled imparted a certain dignity to his person. Thus David would not stretch out his hand against Saul, wicked persecutor though he was, because he was the "Lord's anointed." But with the Son of God it is the reverse. He gives value and dignity to all the offices He holds. They are but the varied expressions of His Divine and glorious Person. He imparts His own excellency and worth to all the offices He holds, and to the works that He performs. Everything He touches shares His merit.
And all who by faith come into vital union with Him, stand in His "preciousness" as Peter speaks (1 Pet. 2.7 marg.). They are accepted in the Beloved" (Eph. 1.6). They are "complete in Him" (Col. 2.9). All the excellency of His sacrifice is theirs and in it they stand before God, graced and accepted according to the Divine estimation of that great offering.
- We are saved by God's work—not by good works.
- The Bible is the Christian's blue print for life.
- God will supply, but we must apply.
- When it comes to doing things for others, some people stop at Nothing.
- No cosmetic for the face can compare with inner grace.
- Only when we die to all about us do we live to God above us.
- Getting our own way serves only to get in the way of our service.
—Anthony Orsini, Florida, U.S.A.
(for the busy Housewife) No. 6
by Eric G. Parmenter, Basingstoke
The dignity and glory of the Lord Jesus magnified every act that He performed whilst He was in the world. Having withdrawn from His public sphere of service we behold Him furnished with a basin, girded with a towel, and stooping down to wash and wipe His disciples feet (John 13). The holy hands of the Son of God are upon the defiled feet of His followers in order to wash away every defilement which, even unknown to themselves, they might have contracted. Jesus knowing that all things were in His hands — knowing that He came from God and went to God, in marvellous grace washes His disciples feet.
How comforting to realise — He meets us first, when bowed down beneath the crushing load of guilt and by His precious blood removes the load and casts it into the sea of divine forgetfulness. Now He meets us day by day as we are passing through an increasingly defiling world, with basin and towel removes the defilement which we unavoidably contract enabling us to tread the courts of the sanctuary with feet made clean by the Saviour — He cleanses our conscience by blood, our ways by His word.
The action of the basin and the towel never ceases for "having loved His own, He loved them unto the end" through all the changing scenes of life, — the love of Christ endures not for a day, a month, a year, it is a love for eternity :
Perfect grace — Perfect love — all from a Perfect Saviour.
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"RISE, MY SOUL! BEHOLD 'TIS JESUS"
JOSEPH DENHAM SMITH (1817—1889)
In early September 1857 four young converts met to pray in an old school house near to the village of Kells in the parish of Connor, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. The burden of their hearts was for a work of the Spirit of God throughout the land. Fervent intercessions were made weekly by these young men, but all through the succeeding months their cries to God seemed in vain. Then, on January 1 st, 1858, God opened the windows of heaven—first the droppings, then the showers, then the outpourings of blessing till the land, which hitherto had been arid and barren, was in spiritual flood. God had heard, God had answered and a great spiritual awakening and revival swept throughout the North of Ireland.
Joseph Denham Smith was an instrument of God in that great spiritual harvest. At the time of its commencement, he was pastor of a Congregational Church in Kingston outside the city of Dublin. He had been born in England (July, 1817) at Romsey, Hants, and there he had spent his early years. He had known the devoted care and guidance of a widowed mother whose one desire for her boy was that early in life he might come to know the Saviour. God had abundantly answered that mother's prayer — Joseph had been led to Christ and soon afterwards had devoted his life to the work of the Lord. On hearing of Ireland's deep spiritual need, he moved to the city of Dublin and, after studying at its Theological Institute, he entered the Congregational ministry. His first charge was in the town of Newry, Co. Down and 1848, he moved to Kingston as pastor of a newly-established Congregational Church in Northumberland Avenue.
In August, 1859, Denham Smith had a visit from a Mr. and Mrs. Morley of Clapton. They had come from London to see something of the beauties of the Wicklow mountains and were about to return home. "But you will not return, will you, without seeing something of the remarkable revival?", remarked their host. So, together with the Morleys, Denham Smith travelled north and in the city of Belfast and in County Antrim he witnessed personally something of that great movement of the Spirit of God — souls, in their hundreds, smitten down by a deep sense of their own sin and guilt and awakened to the reality of coming judgement were crying out aloud to God for His mercy; many were finding salvation and peace in the Lord Jesus. Denham Smith was deeply moved by what he witnessed. He was convinced that it was a work of God.
The great revival of 1859, as a surging flood and as a spreading flame, reached the city of Dublin and district by early September of the same year. Joseph Denham Smith wholeheartedly entered into the movement. Leaving Kingston, he moved centrally to the city of Dublin and there gave himself unreservedly to the proclamation of the gospel and the helping of troubled souls. Through the influence of Mr. William Fry, a well-known and highly respected Dublin solicitor, the old Metropolitan Hall in Lower Abbey Street was acquired as a centre of meeting and there, "thousands flocked together in the morning, and remained hour after hour, many without refreshments — until ten and eleven at night. Careless ones were awakened, anxious ones led into peace, and persons of all classes rejoiced in a newly-found Saviour".
The city of Dublin was touched in no small way by the '59 revival; the human instrument at the centre of the movement was Joseph Denham Smith. An article, recounting his life and work, bears witness to the richness of that spiritual harvest in Southern Ireland's capital city — "conversion invariably attends the services; as few as one and as many as sixty-nine have been reported as the result of a single meeting; and on the anniversary of the outbreak of the work, it was announced that some three thousand known conversions had resulted in the space of twelve months. Many of the conversions have been of a remarkable kind. Roman Catholics of all classes, including the highest ladies and gentlemen moving in the best circles in Dublin, young men and women from the shops and warehouses, sailors, soldiers, and children of tender age have alike professed change of heart and have manifested that change in their life". Among those who were saved at that time through the instrumentality of Denham Smith was Shuldham Henry who afterwards was greatly used of the Lord in the work of the gospel.
The time came when Denham Smith felt that he could no longer be bound by denominational ties. He thereupon resigned from the pastorate of Kingston and sought to serve his Lord in the preaching of the gospel and in a ministry to His people without denominational distinction. A more suitable and permanent meeting place was called for, as a centre from which Denham Smith might carry on this work in Dublin. No suitable building was available; so it was decided to erect a new one. After acquisition of a suitable site near to Merrion Square, a building with a capacity for 2,500 people was planned and building commenced in 1862. Merrion Hall was opened the following year and for over a century was a great gathering centre for the preaching of the gospel and later became the home of the assembly of the Lord's people. Down the years many noted and devoted servants of Christ have occupied its platform with attendant refreshing and blessing from the presence of the Lord. Such household names as Richard Weaver, Grattan Guinness, Shuldham Henry, Harry Moorehouse, George Muller and Dr. Barnardo are numbered among those early labourers but, perhaps, none have been more closely linked nor have seen more abundant blessing in Merrion Hall than Joseph Denham Smith. He personally played a leading role in its institution, was present at its opening, saw fruitful blessing there in the early years of its history and throughout his lifetime maintained a close link with the assembly meeting there.
Denham Smith, in his labours, travelled to the continent of Europe and in the capital cities of Paris and Geneva ministered the precious word of God to large gatherings of both saved and unsaved. He visited the city of London there, in later years, he made his home from which he continued in active service for the Lord. His health, however, started to fail 'ere he had reached his seventieth birthday and on March 5th, 1889, at the age of seventy-one, he passed away peacefully into the presence of his Lord.
Joseph Denham Smith left behind a fragrant memory. Those who knew him were deeply impressed by his devotion to Christ. His ministries, extending over a period of more than fifty years, were always replete with the savour of Christ. From the very first when, as a lad of sixteen, he commenced to preach, right to the close, Christ was ever his central theme. In his preaching, his style was eloquent, yet simple, his powers of language and illustration exceeded only by the power of the accompanying Spirit of God. His written ministry too, reflects his deep devotion to his Lord and among his known publications are such gems as, "The Gospel in Hosea", "The Brides of Scripture" and "Green Pastures".
As a hymnwriter, Denham Smith produced compositions which were both scriptural and sweet. These first received publication in periodicals throughout the latter half of the last century. He compiled a volume of hymns, "Hymns for General and Special Use" and in this there appeared no fewer than thirty-six, signed as written by himself. Among his compositions there are to be found such well-known favourites as,
- "God's Almighty arms are round me"
- "Jesus, Thy dying love I own"
- "Just as Thou art — how wondrous fair"
- "My God, I have found"
- "Rise, my soul! behold tis Jesus"
This last mentioned is a great favourite with many at the Lord's supper,
- "Rise, my soul! behold lis Jesus,
- Jesus fills thy wond'ring eyes;
- See Him now in glory seated,
- Where thy sins no more can rise.
- There, in righteousness transcendent,
- Lo! He doth in heaven appear,
- Shows the blood of His atonement
- As thy title to be there.
- All thy sins were laid upon Him,
- Jesus bore them on the tree;
- God who knew them, laid them on Him
- And, believing, thou art free.
- God now brings thee to His dwelling,
- Spreads for thee His feast divine;
- Bids thee welcome, ever telling
- What a portion there is thine.
- In that circle of God's favour,
- Circle of the Father's love;
- All is rest, and rest for ever,
- All is perfectness above.
- Blessed glorious word "forever"!
- Yea, "forever" is the word;
- Nothing can the ransomed sever,
- Naught divide them from the Lord".
A look within the heavenly sanctuary both stirs and stills the heart. There the Saviour sits in glory and there irrefutable evidences abound of the sufficiency of His work for our salvation. The impact of such majestic and assuring sights first bids our souls to rise, then beckons them to rest.
OH! THE RAPTURE!
(1 Thessalonians 4 vs. 15-17).
- Oh, glorious expectation!
- For saints who live on earth;
- That Christ shall come from heaven,
- (Saints too shall rise from death)
- We all shall rise together
- To MEET HIM in the air;
- Oh! glad anticipation,
- We'll SEE OUR LORD — so fair!
- The LORD HIMSELF shall journey
- To take HIS faithful home;
- He won't then send an angel,
- For HE HIMSELF shall come;
- With a shout! HE'LL COME — TRIUMPHANT!
- At last He'll greet His Bride,
- Oh! GREAT HIS EXULTATION!!!
- To have her by HIS side.
- The voice of the archangel
- We'll hear, clear through the skies;
- And then — THE TRUMP OF GOD!!,
- To lift our longing eyes
- To view, OUR GRACIOUS SAVIOUR
- We've waited long to see;
- A MOMENT — FILLED WITH RAPTURE
- To LAST ETERNALLY.
- Oh, Moment! — SO STUPENDOUS!!
- That we are longing for,
- To MEET that LOVELY PERSON
- We love — nay we adore.
- To feel HIS love surround us
- Oh wondrous joy — sublime
- We'll be with HIM forever
- Gone! Gone! the waiting time.
- To be sung to the tune 'Aurelia' (The Churches One foundation)
by J. Matthewman.