BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
GATES OF JERUSALEM, NEHEMIAH 3
by D. S. Parrack
MEN OF GENESIS
by J. E. Todd
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
AND THE NAME OF THE DAUGHTER OF ASHER WAS SARAH
by D. Ogden
THE MIND OF CHRIST
by C. Jones
THE GARMENTS OF THE LORD
by D. M. Clark
by W. Orbinson
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. Grant
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
13. Early Miracles (Ch.8)
"Where the word of a King is, there is power", said Solomon (Ecc 8 4) Jesus now comes down from the mountain to embark upon a miraculous ministry which will demonstrate His power They have been on the mountain, elevated for a while in the consideration of the children of the kingdom But down below there is corruption and sin, demon possession and sadness They must come down from the mount to the wretchedness of man below There is leprosy and palsy and fever and tempest, and the King will move in grace among them After His teaching, His touch After His preaching, His power Peter will look back and say, "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you" (Acts 2 22)
"And behold there came a leper", Luke the Doctor says that the man was full of leprosy He was leprous through and through He was incurably hopeless and helpless But he heard of Jesus and he came humbly but confidently to the Saviour's feet He pleaded earnestly, appealing to the Lord's ability to heal him Jesus touched him It was not a fleeting momentary touch The word "touch" means "to handle freely" The Saviour touches the untouchable He handles the defiled limbs but Himself remains undefiled The leper is cleansed and the law is satisfied as the man shows himself to the priest and offers the appropriate gift (Lev 14 2-4).
As they enter Capernaum now there comes a Roman centurion, a Gentile, with a plea for a sick slave He seemed an honourable man, who, according to Luke, was highly respected by the local Jewish community and had indeed built them a synagogue He pleads his unworthiness, but he knows all about authority and he pleads this too He knows as a centurion, that behind every command of his there was the authority of Rome and of Caesar He was a man under that authority of Rome and of Caesar He reasons therefore, that behind every command of Jesus there was the authority of heaven and of God "Speak the word only", he begs, and Jesus marvels On two occasions only do we read that Jesus marvelled He marvelled at the unbelief of the men of Nazareth (Mk 6 6) Here He marvels at the faith of a Gentile, and the power which had been manifested to Israel now reaches out beyond the nation to this Roman centurion as the word is spoken and the sick servant is healed So, says the Saviour, many will come from the East and from the West, from the remoteness of Gentiledom, to enjoy the things that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob enjoy, and many of those who were, nationally and nominally, the children of the kingdom, will be shut out.
They come now to Peter's house Peter's mother-in-law is ill, lying in a fever He touched her hand and the fever left her and she arose and served Him and His disciples Perhaps it was a little picture of what He would do with Israel How He longed to touch that fevered nation, to lift them out of their sad condition and see them engage in a ministry for God.
As the sun was setting over the Galilean hills the multitudes gathered to Him in the evening hour They brought the sick, the diseased, the demon possessed, and He healed them It was a fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy, "Himself took our infirmities and bare our sickness". He would suffer with them. He would share the burden of their griefs and their sorrows. He was on His way to Calvary where the sinful root cause of it all would be laid upon Him and He would suffer as a sin-bearer. But now, as daylight faded He must take ship and cross the lake to the other side.
As He would leave them a scribe appeals to Him, "Master, I will follow Thee". Jesus answered him in words that have become immortal. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests". By day and by night the creatures had their resting places. But while the foxes hid in their lairs by day and the birds went to their nests by night, the Son of Man had not where to lay His head. He did not have a settled home down here, and, in any case, wherever He went to rest, men seemed to make constant demands upon Him. He had no resting place. We cannot tell how this observation affected that scribe. Would he still follow?
Yet another came, apparently avowing that he too would follow. But not yet! He desired to wait until the death of his father. Then, when he had attended to his father's burial, he would follow. Not so, says Jesus. Let the dead bury their dead. Let the materially minded attend to things material. You follow me.
How much has been written of the storm that followed. A great tempest. The ship deluged in the waves. The fear of the disciples, experienced fishermen though they were. Then the tranquillity of the sleeping Saviour in the midst of it all. They wake Him. He gently rebukes their feeble faith and then rebukes the winds and waves. They obeyed Him, and there was a great calm. How He still longs to calm the storms in the lives of His people.
But now there is another storm. It rages in the breasts of two demoniacs living among the Gadarene tombs. The demon possessed man of Mark 5 and Luke, 8 apparently had a deranged companion. There are two of them in Matthew's account. They are fierce and dangerous men who make the road impassable for travellers, but they recognise the Son of God. He casts the demon tormentors into a herd of swine. The storm is hushed in the lives of the demon possessed as the herd rushes down the steep slope to die in the blue waters of Galilee.
How sadly does this chapter end. They beg Him to depart out of their coasts. They prefer their swine. One John Oxenham has so aptly put their plea into a telling rhyme—
- Rabbi, begone!
- Thy powers bring loss to us and ours,
- Our ways are not as Thine—
- Thou lovest men—we, swine!
- O get Thee gone, Omnipotence
- And take this fool of Thine!
- His soul? what care we for his soul?
- Since we have lost our swine!
- The Christ went sadly,
- He had wrought for them a sign
- Of love and tenderness divine—
- They wanted swine!
As another has said, "The curtain falls upon the fairest sight in that countryside; a man at rest, robed by his Deliverer in a garment of righteousness and at last in his right mind". But Matthew, Mark, and Luke all alike record the sad detail that the Gardarenes besought Jesus to leave their coasts. Has the heart of man changed since?
—to be continued (D.V.)
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME 2
10(a)—Babylon and the Beast
The picture before us in these chapters is a peculiarly solemn one to the Christian. It is not now the judgment of the ungodly world for its many sins and rejection of the Son of God, but of her who has for ages pretended to be the true spouse of Christ in the earth. It is His utter and final rejection of the vilest system that has ever darkened the earth—a system which, in spite of its manifold corruptions and evils, has all along claimed to be the true Church of God, outside of which there is no salvation.
The judgment of Babylon evidently occurs under the sixth vial, and is spoken of in that connection, ch.19.19; but the brief notice there given of it was not sufficient for the Spirit of God. The subject being one of unusual gravity and importance, He pauses, ere proceeding with the prophecy, to devote two whole chapters to the details of it.
We will first examine ch.17. It consists of two parts; vl-6 furnish us with the vision; v7-18 with the interpretation. It opens in a very remarkable manner: "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters", vl. No careful reader can fail to be struck with the similarity of the language here to that in ch.21.9. In the latter place the true bride, the Lamb's wife, is shown in all the beauty and glory with which she is to be Divinely arrayed; in the chapter before us we have the devil's evil and offensive counterfeit. We believe the Spirit of God purposely used almost identical language in introducing both, that the contrast might be fully before our minds. Assuredly our souls may gather profit and instructions from the consideration of both pictures, though so widely different in character.
The widespread influence of the harlot is declared in the fact that she "sitteth upon many waters". These are expressly explained to us in vl5: "The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues". Local influence has never satisfied the false Church; she has always claimed to be "Catholic". Her evil arms have been extended north, south, east, and west, to the demoralisation and injury of all who have sunk beneath her sway, and, above all, to the dishonour of Christ, whose name she has professedly owned. Her ceaseless activity by means of her many agents and societies is well known to us all. Would God we were as earnest in spreading the precious truth of Christ!
Next, her evil character is declared as the holy eye of God sees it: "With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication", v2. "Fornication" is frequently used in a symbolic way in Scripture. The following are a few instances among many: 2Chron.21.11; Isa.33.17; Ezek.16.29. It means evil intercourse with the world. Alas that this should have been true of any bearing the name of Christ! The Church is the deeply loved spouse of the absent Christ, and belongs to heaven, not to this dark and corrupt scene at all. Her path should ever have been that of a stranger, simply passing through on her way to meet the Bridegroom in glory. But so early as Paul's day the world crept in amongst the saints. He watched with deep concern the working of this at Corinth and elsewhere. To the Corinthians he wrote: "Already ye are full, already ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us, and I would to God ye did reign that we also might reign with you", lCor.4.8. There was a disposition to accept ease and honour here rather than to cheerfully bear the cross of Christ.
Observe the yearning of his faithful heart in 2Cor.ll.2-3: "I am jealous over you with godly jealousy, for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ; but I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ". Babylon knows nothing of such sentiments as these, but has trafficked with the great ones of the earth for her own evil ends, and has simply stupefied with her corruptions the mass of those beneath her baleful influence. To fall into her snare is to lose all spiritual sensibility, and even conscience itself.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. S. Parrack, England
x) The East Gate, v29.
The final gate, "the east gate" v29 should be an encouragement as regards both outreach and our building up internally. The first people to see the sun rise would be those watching at the east gate and, "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" Mal.4.2. But although that promise is unshakeable there are degrees of present enjoyment of the assurance of its fulfilment.
"You that fear (reverence) my name" applies to all true believers and when the Lord Jesus returns, as He most surely will, not one of them is excluded from the promises involved with that return. "We shall not all sleep" so some will not finish life in this world that way, but "we shall all be changed" not one left out. "The dead shall be raised incorruptible and we (i.e. those still alive at the time) shall be changed" 1Cor.15.51-52.
But whilst all Christians, both dead and living, "shall be caught up together - to meet the Lord in the air" 1Thess.4.17, there are other promises for us to appreciate for ourselves. It is one thing to know that the Lord Jesus is coming back, it is something more to be actively looking forward to and anticipating His coming.
There is, for example, the promise given, through Peter, to "the elders which are among you" that "when the Chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" 1Pet.5.4 But that promise is linked very clearly to those shepherds meeting the conditions of the foregoing verses These include details as to the tasks to be carried out and factors which should not be allowed to impede or spoil the work, see vs 2.3 Elders, shepherds, fulfilling such conditions are unlikely to achieve glory in a form which the world recognises as such, but even if they did it would be totally eclipsed by the shining out of the promised "crown of glory" Carry out your tasks then in such a fashion "that no man take thy crown", Rev 3.11, and that means not just taking it for themselves but simply depriving you of it.
'That is a fine promise for elders', you may say 'but I'm not an elder, what about me7 What about the rest of us9' "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me in that day" So, a crown for elders and now another one, this time for the apostle But Paul continues, "And not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" 2Tim 4 8 'Loving His appearing' is more than believing about it, it is enjoying it in advance, anticipating participation Why a crown of righteousness though9 Because a true consciousness of the assurance of "the promise of His coming" 2Pet 3 4, will in itself generate righteous living "He that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself even as He is pure" Uohn3 3 It is "the righteous judge" awarding the "crown of righteousness" and it relates to the living of a practically righteous life Do not think that because you have imputed righteousness as your birthright to heaven, that practical righteousness is of no consequence As Paul exclaims when faced with a somewhat similar argument, "God forbid" Rom 6 12 Peter, speaking of our "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God" concludes, "Wherefore beloved seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot and blameless" 2Pet 3 12-14, and that surely is practical righteousness.
How though does that link up with earlier thoughts about outreach The second coming is something for believers to look forward to, but how can it be applied to our endeavours to reach those still outside?
Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, speaking first of their conversion, see 1Thess 1 6, goes on to show the results of that in the form of outreach, v7-8 Just what perception of their faith was engendered in the targets of their outreach9 "They themselves show unto us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" v9 Not just a turning from, also a positive turning to, and that turning went on to service, acceptable service But even that was not all that was made plain by the Thessalonians' testimony They were seen "to wait for His (God's) Son from heaven even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" v10.
Is our outreach as comprehensive as that, so that people can see what has happened to you and the Person who has made it all happen? Go to the east gate Get hold of the promise of His coming, better still, let the assurance and implication of that promise get hold of you. Then, not only will you as individuals be blessed, your assembly will be built up and your outreaching be enhanced and widened in scope, which means a sharing of your blessings with others.
We have looked at ten gates, suggested lessons that can be drawn from their names and done so in the context of the local assembly as an entity. Gates are made to facilitate both entry and exit, going in and coming out. You go out to others and you will have the joy and privilege of seeing others come in. But make sure before you go out that there is something worthwhile for others to come into. Being saved isn't an end in itself, it is a new beginning. See that those who embark on that new beginning are provided with the wherewithal to carry on. —(concluded)
by J. E. Todd, England
3. Noah and his building
We have noted that in the book of Genesis the lives of many men of God centre around a single feature. In the case of Noah it was his building.
Before Noah ever built the ark, he engaged in an even more important building task. A building project that every Christian must engage in, the most important project of all.
Noah built a reputation with God
'Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord . . . Noah was a righteous man, and blameless in his generation: Noah walked with God", Gen.6.8-9,R.V. margin. What were the constituents of this divinely acceptable reputation? Noah's life had five characteristics which were the components of his reputation before God. His righteousness, which means that Noah sincerely sought to live out the commandments of God. His blamelessness, Noah was not sinlessly perfect, but he was blameless of the wickedness of his own generation, 'God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth', v5. His walk with God, Noah lived in harmony and fellowship with God. Also his faith, 'By faith Noah . . . became heir of the righteousness which is by faith", Heb.11.7. Finally, he was obedient, 'Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he', Gen.6.22. These are the ingredients of the life that is worthy in God's sight. 'That ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God', Col.1.9-10.
Noah built the Ark
It was Noah's faith that led him to build the ark. The building of the ark proved many things. First, that Noah had listened to God, this was the beginning of his salvation. In our land today the good news of salvation is preached every week in hundreds of gospel meetings, but how many of our countrymen are willing to come and listen and be saved7 They must hear as the first step to salvation 'How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard'? Rom 10.14 "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel", Mark 16.15
Also, Noah demonstrated his faith by his works, he built the ark 'By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark', Heb 11.7 "I will show thee my faith by my works", James 2.18
Noah also condemned the unbelievers of his own generation, for he proved by his own salvation that salvation was available by the grace of God if only it was accepted by faith 'Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house, by the which he condemned the world', Heb 11.17
Finally, the obedient act of building the ark proved to be his own salvation All believers must with the same industry prove their faith by building their lives upon the rock of Christ's teaching "Therefore whosoever heareth these saying of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock", Matt 7.24 "If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments", John 14.15,R.V.
Noah built a Vineyard
"Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard', Gen 9.20 Such a task involved much building This fact is illustrated in Isa 5.1-2 "My well-beloved hath a vineyard he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with choicest vines, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein" But this proved to be Noah's undoing, the sad story of his drunkenness and the results that followed, Gen 9.20-25. Do we spend too much time building in our lives those things which, although legitimate of themselves, by over-indulgence harm our spiritual life, testimony and service? Are our responsibilities to the Lord given second place to our education, careers, businesses, holidays, pastimes and pleasures? 'No man can serve two masters Ye cannot serve God and mammon', Matt 6.24. Do we spend time building in our lives for the compromise of our own testimony 'Now if any man build upon this foundation wood, hay, stubble, every man's work shall be made manifest If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss', 1Cor.3.10-15.
—to be continued (D V)
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
The Church and The Churches
(20) Assembly Discipline (2)
Don't forget to have 1Cor.5 open. In our first paper we addressed the first of four questions (1) When is assembly discipline required? v1, and (2) What does assembly discipline involve? v2-5. So far as the latter is concerned, we noticed that assembly discipline involved (A) the need for a proper attitude Godward, v2, and (B) the need for proper action manward, we have already drawn attention to (i) the parties concerned. We must now notice:
ii) The punishment involved
That is exactly what Paul calls it in 2Cor.2.6; "Sufficient to such an one is this punishment, which was inflicted of many". In this present chapter, Paul puts it as follows: "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". Notice:
- "To deliver such an one to Satan". This explains the implications of excommunication, or to use the language of vl3, the act of 'putting away' from assembly fellowship. (We will see exactly what this involves in v11). To "deliver such an one to Satan" is to deprive them of assembly fellowship, so that they find themselves in the world, without the spiritual benefits provided by the assembly, and where they are subject to Satan's taunts and accusations. The assembly is the place of the Lord's presence and blessing. It is not (or at least, it should not be) the sphere of Satan's activity. The world is the sphere of Satan's power. He is the "God of this world". John tells us that "the whole world lieth in wickedness (JND 'the wicked one'). He is "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience". The guilty party is therefore deprived of the benefits inherent in assembly fellowship, and exposed to Satan's malign attention. The words, "to deliver such an one to Satan" can be understood with reference to the Lord's words to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you that he might sift (winnow) you as wheat", Luke 22.31. But such discipline is not an end in itself. It is intended to produce repentance, and desire for restoration. Which brings us to:
iii) The purpose involved
This is stated as follows: "For the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". We must notice the two contrasting expressions:
- "for the destruction of the flesh". This refers to the old sinful nature, and emphasises the negative purpose of assembly discipline. It is to destroy the activity of the sinful nature. The immense loss of spiritual privilege and blessing is intended to emphasise the awfulness of sin, to the extent that the person turns from it with loathing and disgust. The Greek word ('olethros') rendered "destruction" does not mean loss of being, but loss of well-being. For further examples of its usage, see lThess.5.3, "Sudden destruction", and 2Thess.l.9, "Everlasting destruction". The purpose of discipline is to bring the person concerned to repentance. It is not physical death, but 'mortifying the deeds of the body', Rom.8.13. Compare Col.3.5, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry".
- "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". This refers to the new spiritual life, and emphasises the positive purpose of assembly discipline. It has in view the guilty party's ultimate benefit and welfare. This is the sense of the words, "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus". The "day of the Lord Jesus" refers to the rapture and the judgment seat of Christ. See 1Cor.1.8,3.13, Phil.2.16 etc. So discipline is exercised in view of the person's appearance at the judgment seat of Christ. The word "saved" is not used here in the sense of eternal salvation, but in the context of reward. The purpose of assembly discipline is to ensure that in spite of the serious lapse, there will be something that will stand the test at the judgment seat of Christ.
3) WHY IS ASSEMBLY DISCIPLINE NECESSARY? V6-8
Paul ensures their attitude with the words, "Your glorying is not good", v6. This can hardly mean that they were actually boasting about the sin amongst them: it is more likely that they were boasting in the fact that they were not personally infected by such sin. But they were involved: "Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. That is, the whole assembly was affected. In two ways:
- The immorality could spread. The toleration of licentious behaviour by one person could encourage others to follow suit, especially as no action had been taken to deal with the matter.
- The entire testimony could be brought into disrepute. In fact, this had already happened: hence the words, "it is reported commonly that there is fornication among you", v1.
Bearing in mind the corrupting power of leaven, even in small quantities, Paul alludes in v7-8 to the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread. They are never divided in scripture. See, for example, Deut.16.1-8, Mark 14.12, and Luke 22.1,7. Leaven is always a picture of evil in the Bible, including Matt.13.33. It was to be totally excluded at Passover time. See Ex.12.14-20 and Deut.16.1-4. The intimate connection between the two feasts teaches the important lesson that redeemed people must be a holy people. Hence the words, "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth". Please, remember that the words, "therefore let us keep the feast" (literally, 'let us keep festival'), do not refer to the Lord's supper, but to the moral reality foreshadowed by the feast of unleavened bread. The words have been rendered, "Let your whole life be a sacred festival'. Paul puts it like this: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works", Titus 1.13-14. See also 1Pet.1.17-19, "Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ".
Note: they were to be unleavened practically: "purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump". They were already unleavened positionally: "even as ye are unleavened". We must always ensure that our practice corresponds with our position. The principle in this section is clear: evil will spread if tolerated. Compare Gal.5.9, where the same statement is made in a connection with false teaching.
4) WHO DOES ASSEMBLY DISCIPLINE INVOLVE? V9-13
"I wrote unto you in an epistle, not to company with fornicators", v9. The R.V. reads, 'I wrote unto you in my epistle to have no company with fornicators'. Compare JND, 'I have written to you in the epistle'. Paul is evidently referring to this present letter, perhaps to v5 of this very chapter. J. Heading (First Epistle to the Corinthians) cites H.P.V. Nunn who suggests that this is a case of the 'epistolary aorist'. That is, the writer puts himself in the place of the readers, and describes as past an action present to himself, but which will be past to his readers once they receive his letter. (That needs a little thought!).
V10 contrasts with vll. Paul makes it clear in v10 that our very presence in the world obliges us to rub shoulders with sinful men and women "of this world". The only alternative is to "go out of the world". But he makes it equally clear, in vll, that we are to disassociate ourselves with "any man that is called a brother" who is guilty of the sins enumerated. With such a person, the assembly was "not to keep company", and "not to eat". The latter has been sadly misapplied by some today. But the teaching is clear: there is to be no social contact. Compare Matt.18.17, "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican". This might seem harsh and extreme at first glance, but the enormity of the sin involved is not likely to be impressed on the guilty party if life goes on exactly as it did before. The withdrawal of social contact is to drive home guilt, which will in turn lead to repentance.
This does not mean that the home of the guilty person should never be visited. After all, there might be other saved members of the family, and in any case elders need, if possible, to be in contact with people who have been 'put away' from assembly fellowship in order to monitor their attitude and look for evidence of repentance. But let us make it very clear, that this is quite different from social contact.
Notice that the words, "For what have I to do to judge them that are without!" v12 correspond with v10, and the words, "Do not ye judge them that are within?" v12, correspond with vll. The saints have authority to deal with assembly matters. It is God's prerogative to deal with the world. The conclusion is given in v13: "Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person". Assembly discipline is necessary because "the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are", 1Cor.3.1 7.
The Second Epistle makes clear that the action taken by the assembly acted on the guidance given in 1Cor.5, "Ye sorrowed after a godly sort ... in all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter", 7.11.
It also makes clear that the action taken by the assembly, as a result of apostolic guidance, was effective so far as the man himself was concerned: "Sufficient unto such a man is this punishment which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise, ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow", 2Cor.2.6-7. But note that this raised a further problem. The assembly had been slow to put away from fellowship: now it was slow in restoring to fellowship. Hence v8-11, "Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him . . . lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices". —to be continued (D.V.)
by David Ogden (Luton, England)
The Holy Spirit has given us the names of over 150 women in scripture. Some" of these are for ever enshrined in the 'Hall of Spiritual Fame'; worthy holders of the title "a virtuous woman", with much said about them. They would feature strongly in any list of well known biblical characters'. Conversely, others stand as monuments of iniquity and shame. There is a second group of women. This comprises those of whom less is said, yet merit some record of their deeds either to approbation or condemnation. Rhoda in Acts 12 is one such. It was once written of her thus, "God, who leaves in oblivion, names of mighty conquerors, treasurers up that of a poor girl for His church in all ages". Leaving aside the unnamed women, there is a third class, those mentioned but with no details given. This is the most numerous, but nothing is given of them apart from their names and sometimes their ancestry. No loving act of worship is recorded, nor deed of kindness. They feature in no great event, they make no spectacular marriage nor give birth to a noted man of God, occasionally, as in the case of the wives of the kings of Judah, their children are noteworthy, but in general they are totally unknown and obscure. Yet God thought fit to mention their names in His Divine revelation, He who cares for sparrows takes note of the least of His people.
Such an example of the latter class is Sarah the daughter of Asher, Num.26.45. We know the names of her father and brothers, she has a distinguished ancestry and kin, but of the lady herself, nothing is known. She is listed three times in the Old Testament, all with reference to the children of Asher in the tribal records. She is the only female mentioned in the lists of Num.26, apart from Jochebed the daughter of Levi, Miriam her daughter and the daughters of Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. These seven women are included for known and special reasons. Jochebed is the mother of Aaron, Moses and Miriam. Miriam is listed with her brothers. The five daughters of Zelophehad are there because of the principle that God would establish, namely, that of the right of the female to inherit. That is of vital importance in the Lord's own genealogy and His moral and legal right to the throne. Num.36.1-12, Matt.1.16, Lk.3.23-38.
There is even some confusion as to whether Sarah is her correct name. In Gen.46.17, and lChron.7.30, the genealogy, reads "and the sons of Asher, . . . and Serah their sister, Sarah means Princess, Serah means Abundance. Her brothers have names of varying quality: Jimnah—Prosperity. Ishuah—Equal or Self Satisfied. Ishui—Equality. Beriah—Unfortunate or In Evil.
They may be comments on the fortunes of Asher at the time of his sons' birth. Her own name, open to conjecture, as has been observed, could reflect a proud father's hopes for his daughter, possibly naming her after her great-great-grandmother. The girl might have been called by both names during her life. It might be that, possibly as with some of her brothers, her name reflected an upsurge in the family status and fortunes.
What are the spiritual lessons to be learnt from such a seemingly obscure verse? Nothing is known of her life, she went into Egypt and enjoyed the blessings obtained because of family kinship with Joseph. She probably died before trial came upon the nation, whether she remained faithful to God in a foreign and sometimes hostile land with all its achievements and real distractions, we do not know. All the Holy Spirit records is, "and the name of the daughter of Asher was Sarah".
We are living in a time both materially and spiritually when the cry is that of Babel "let us make us a name", Gen.11.3. There is a danger of wanting and seeking material prosperity and spiritual position as a major objective, and sometimes as a guard against being thought a nonentity. Theudas boasted himself to be somebody, Acts 5.36. It has been well observed that, "only the truly humble are truly great and only truly great are truly humble". Paul exhorts us to; "look not on our own things but also on the things of others", Phil.2.4. The word for others in this verse is those of a different kind.
A situation can, however, arise in that we are expected, correctly, to give place, courtesy and consideration to fellow saints, yet sadly, there are some who would expect it yet never be prepared to reciprocate. May God grant that we be balanced and equable in our dealings with each other. We serve the Lord Christ and from Him alone comes praise, but Christian courtesy is sometimes a one sided and even neglected practice. There are of course those who will seek to disparage any one who tries to show an interest in the things of God, especially if they articulate them, and unfortunately this is sometimes the case of the behaviour of older saints to younger ones. There is a danger however, of an unconscious pride setting in when one is trying to exercise a gift. It is in Phil.2.5 that we are exhorted to remember the great example of the Lord Jesus, He who humbled Himself, 2.8.
Scripture abounds with examples of the person who is unnamed or who has a single casual mention. These are often non-speaking characters in the great unfolding of God's redemptive work, unknown and yet playing an important part. The widow with her mite, the unnamed prophets of the Old Testament, the great company of saints in Romans 16.
Yet God treasures names, He who calls all the stars by names, Ps. 147.5 and says "Fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine", Isa.43.1, is the same one who calls His sheep by name: who knows His sheep and is known of them, Jn.10.3.14, and who says, "Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven", Lk. 10.20.
- "My name is graven on His hands
- My name is written on His heart;
- I know that while in Heaven He stands,
- No tongue can bid me thence depart".
—to be continued (D.V.)
by C. Jones (Cardiff, Wales)
The Word of God gives us a wonderful insight into the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ, the altogether lovely One, S.ofS.5.16. In Phil.2.5-11, the passage on which this article is based, we read, in words of sublime beauty and majesty comparable with the opening verses of Gen.1 and Jn.1, of the thoughts and deeds of the Lord which resulted in His leaving heaven, coming down to this earth, and dying on the Cross. He did all this thinking not of Himself but of the glory of God and so that sinners, who by the grace of God repent and accept Him as Lord and Saviour, might be saved, Eph.2.8-9. The great motivating force behind His-coming was love to God and for lost sinners.
The Lord rose bodily from among the dead, 1Cor.15.3-4, ascended back to heaven, Acts. 1.9 and is now "... set down at the right hand of the throne of God", Heb.12.2.
In Phil.2.5-11 we read of His eternal exaltation and of the glory which is and shall be His. The passage is both doctrinal and practical. It contains fundamental truths regarding the Deity of the Lord, His humility and voluntary humbling of Himself, His incarnation and His obedience to the will of God His Father. The passage stresses the need for believers not to live selfish, self-centred, self-assertive lives but to think of others and act for their temporal and eternal benefit, helping all to live in peace and unity.
The Philippians, and believers today, are exhorted to have the same attitudes and thoughts concerning others as the Lord has, Phil.2.5. The exhortation follows naturally from the thought in v4 where we are reminded not to be self-centred but to be concerned about the needs, problems and condition of others. This is the "mind" of Christ Jesus, who is ever and eternally the same, Heb.13.8. This was His mind before His incarnation and ever will be.
The Lord is referred to as "Christ Jesus" in v5 Paul saw Him first as "Christ", the anointed One, the Messiah, a glorified Man in heaven, Acts.9.1-6 The name "Jesus" means "Jehovah the Saviour" and was the name given to Him at His birth in accordance with the angel's command, Matt.1.21, Lk.1.31, 2.21 "Christ Jesus" tells of the one who is now exalted, who had been the Man Jesus down here on earth The order "Jesus Christ", which is used in v11 makes us think of the One who was despised and rejected of men, who became acquainted with grief, Isa.53.3, but later ascended back to glory in heaven.
The eternal Deity of the Lord is stressed in v6 in that He eternally subsisted in the form of God He is eternally God and never has, nor could, nor will ever cease to be what He always is He is God, Jn.1.1-2 and in Jn.17.5 we read of the glory He had with the Father before the world was He never changes, Mai.3.6 and He did not cease to be God when He came to earth, delighting to do the Father's will, Ps.40.7-8 In v6 we read that He " thought it not robbery to be equal with God" He did not consider His position of equality with God in heaven a prize to be grasped at or held fast but was prepared voluntarily to make Himself of no reputation, to empty Himself It is not a question of what He emptied Himself of, but what He emptied Himself into He could not be emptied of that which was His essentially and eternally, but He who was God became Man and Deity was emptied into humanity without a drop being lost He took upon Himself the form of a servant, Phil.2.7, that is a bondservant He was God's perfect Servant, Isa.42.1, as we see Him depicted in Mark's Gospel He emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant but He was always Lord, speaking and teaching with Divine authority and revealing the power of-God in His deeds He was humble and prepared to take the lowest place as when He washed the disciples' feet, Jn.13.5 He came " not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" Mk.10.45 He said to His disciples " I am among you as He that serveth", Lk.22.27
He "was made in the likeness of men", v7 He became a man, in a body prepared for Him, Heb.10.5, a perfect Man, as we see Him depicted in Luke's Gospel As Man He experienced tiredness and pain, but He was always God, as we see Him depicted in John's Gospel Thus, being a Man, He understands our feelings and can be, and is, a merciful and faithful High Priest, Heb.2.16-18 He was a Man, Rom.5.15, 1Cor.15.21, 1Tim.2.5, and yet He did not lay aside the attributes of God He was like us in every way, sin apart, Heb.4.15 He came " in the likeness of sinful flesh " Rom 8.3 but He knew no sin, 2Cor.5.21, did no sin, 1Pet.2.22, there is no sin in Him, 1Jn.3.5, indeed, being God, He is holy and cannot sin In Jn.1.14 we read "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth."
His glory was veiled except when He was transfigured and His glory shone through, Matt.17.2, Mk.9.2, Lk.9.29 His words and deeds revealed the power of God for "Never man spake like this Man", Jn.7.46, and no man could do the miracles He did " except God be with Him", Jn.3.2 Peter was led to say "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" Matt.16.16, and the demon said "I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God" Mk.1.24, Lk.4.34
—to be continued (D V)
by D. M. Clark (Canada)
Ps.45.8: "All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made Thee glad".
As we have opportunity to study the garments of the Lord may the gladness, of which this verse speaks, be ours.
Lk.2.7: "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn". The birth of the child Jesus shows the condescension of the Lord of Glory as He became like His creatures, save that He had a sinless nature. How great the act of "humbling Himself—signified by the swaddling clothes. He became a partaker of our humanity, sin apart. Heb.2.14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; . . ."
The magnitude of the step that the Lord took from "the glory that He had with the Father", Jn.17.5, to the manger in Bethlehem, cannot be measured in human terms. It is utterly beyond our comprehension that the Son of God should also become the Son of Man. It draws out our wonder and admiration.
What was His purpose in becoming a part of the human race? It permitted Him to enter into our circumstances and to have perfect empathy with us in the difficulties through which we pass. He felt, more completely than we could, the trials and sorrows of life. When He entered into the sorrow that Mary and Martha had on the death of Lazarus, He wept. When He sat by Samaria's well He was weary and thirsty. He was truly a "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, Isa. 53.3. As such He was qualified to become our Intercessor, Heb.4.15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin".
Moreover, He became a Man so that He might die. He was not subject to death, for He was sinless. We are sinful, death is our just due. He alone could be our Deliverer—the-"offering for sin", of which Isaiah prophesied.
Is.53.10, "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand"; and vl2, ". . . He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors".
THE SERVANT'S TOWEL
Jn.13.4, "He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself.
W. E. Vine tells us that the towel used by the Lord "was commonly used by servants in a household". Hence, by so girding Himself, our Lord took the place of a servant (literally a slave), Phil.2.7, "But emptied Himself, taking a bondman's form, taking His place in the likeness of men". (J.N.D. trans.).
Not only did He come into the human race as a Man but He also took upon Himself the service of a slave. Here is the One who is "The Lord of glory", placing Himself at the feet of the disciples to carry out the role of a bondman, Lk.22.27, "... I am among you as He that serveth".
Self loves to be served but love loves to serve. The Lord Jesus demonstrated the love of God in serving His creatures. This is an example for us, Jn.13.15, "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you". In the perfection of the Manhood of the Lord Jesus, we see how miserably we have failed. It is no marvel then, that at the Jordan, when Jesus was baptised of John, the Father declared "This is My beloved Son, in whom I have found My delight", Matt.3.17, (J.N.D.).
When we become believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we become His servants, 1Cor.7.22, ". . . the freeman being called is Christ's bondman". True liberty is not to do our own will but to gladly seek and do His will. Gal.5.13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another". These scriptural exhortations should challenge us to manifest, in our lives, the example that Christ has given us.
We have the constant reminder of lCor.6.19-20, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body". Also, Rom.12.1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service".
The Lord Jesus paid a great price for our redemption, therefore we should welcome the opportunity to serve Him as His willing bondservants. lCor.7.22-23, "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men".
Lk.9.28-29, "And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering . . . and there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him".
The future glory of the Lord Jesus was revealed, to the disciples, in that scene on the mountain. His garments speak of the glory into which He has now entered as the exalted Son of Man, having completed His work on earth. When speaking of that glory, we are reminded of Phil.2.8-11, "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father".
That preview of His glory was given to encourage the disciples in view of His pending death. Sadly, it seems that not until after His death did these things come to mind again. However, Peter tells of that occasion, 2Pet.1.17-19, "For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts". May the anticipation of the Lord's return, in glory, fix our affection upon Himself, so that we say, "Even so, come Lord Jesus".
A GARMENT OF DERISION
Matt.27.28-29, "And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews"!
Jn.19.2, "And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe," . . . v5, "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the Man"!
Having become a Man, to reveal God's heart of love toward man, and having served man in meeting his physical needs, He now becomes the focus of man's derision. This leads, of course, to the Lord meeting our greatest need, that of salvation.
The world mocked the Lord Jesus and placed about Him a robe that was intended to ridicule His claim to be the King of the Jews, Matthew calls it a scarlet robe, which is the colour associated with the Jews, to whom he was writing. John, on the other hand, refers to it as a purple robe, that colour is associated with the Gentile world. So, both Jew and Gentile, all stand guilty of having denied the Lord his rightful place.
Exodus.39.24, "And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen". The priestly garment, referred to here, includes both colours reminding us that the Lord can meet the need of Jew and Gentile as Priest. He will also exercise priestly judgment over all the peoples of the world.
The role of the priest was not only to offer sacrifices, but also to render judgments on legal and moral matters for the people. Deut.17.8-10, "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment. . . then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment".
Though our blessed Lord stood before Pilate to be judged, the day is coming when Pilate will stand before the Lord Jesus to be judged, as will all the ungodly of this world. Jn.5.22, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son", and Jude vl5, "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him".
HIS TRADITIONAL GARMENTS
Jn.19.23, "Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part, and also His coat now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout".
When the soldiers crucified Jesus they took His garments, (himation, in the plural) His outer garments, and the coat, the chiton, the inner garment, which was woven from the top throughout The outer garments were easily divisible among the four soldiers, but they could not divide the chiton without splitting it, so they cast lots for it —W E Vine Expository Dictionary—Thus fulfilling Ps 22 18, "They part my -garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture".
This is how Delitzsch describes the garments of the Lord "On His head He wore a white 'sudar', fastened under the chin and hanging down from the shoulders Over the tunic, (chiton) which covered the body to the hands and feet, a blue 'tallith' with the blue and white fringes on the four ends, so thrown over and gathered together that the grey, red-striped undergarment was scarcely noticeable, except when the sandal-shod feet came into view".
The Lord's clothing would identify Him as a Jew, which is in keeping with His relationship with Israel It was not ostentatious, but the garb of the ordinary man He did not wear the clothing of a King, as they expected the Messiah would.
The body-coat was different, being made without seam, to remind us of His perfect humanity There was nothing that ever marred His human perfection, though He was tempted in all points like as we, sin apart, Heb.4.15
—to be continued (D V)
by W W Orbinson (Rugby, England)
The great theme of Paul's letter to the Romans is "the gospel of God, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord", Rom.1. 1-3 A greater message has never reached human ears.
Paul proves the guilt of all mankind in the first three chapters and then teaches the truth of justification by faith alone in ch 4. In ch 5 the results of justification are described, peace with God, a standing before Him, the love of God in our hearts, the gift of the Holy Spirit, reconciliation, eternal life etc We may wonder is this all true and incontrovertible?
Ch 8 is where we find the truth that we are secure and can be confident of this security There is no condemnation, v1, no accusation, v33, no separation, v39 In this godless environment there is much to cause grief and anguish, suffering and pain Paul spoke in his day, "We were troubled on every side, without were fightings, within were fears", 2Cor.7.5. The believer may experience "tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword", Rom.8 .35 Paul seems to use almost every conceivable description to impress upon us the tremendous forces that are against us He then goes to more powerful foes, "death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth", and lest any are missed out he concludes with, "any other creature".
Does all this make the believer tremble and lose heart7 "Nay", he says, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us For I am persuaded, that, nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".
- I've found a Friend—oh, such a Friend!
- He loved me ere I knew Him,
- He drew me with the cords of love,
- And thus He bound me to Him,
- And round my heart still closely twine
- Those bands which nought can sever,
- For I am His and He is mine
- For ever and for ever.
With this confidence we look forward to the day when 'caught up together to meet the Lord in the air' and with bodies 'like unto His glorious body', we shall 'ever be with the Lord' MARANATHA
by John Grant (Scotland)
From an early age I was made aware of the need of salvation. My father had been an active member of the Communist Party and was saved when thirty years of age. My mother had been brought up in the gospel missions around the Glasgow area and after their marriage they moved near to the village of Bridge of Weir, to work at Quarrier's Homes, a village home for orphans and other needy children.
The church which they attended often had gospel preachers present and there were impressions made on my young mind that I was a sinner and needed the Saviour. When I was eight years of age I felt the conviction of sin, and can recall clearly one Wednesday evening praying for salvation and writing into the fly leaf of a Bible: 'Lord, I want to be saved'. That night I was saved. This Bible was missing for years and it was a great delight to uncover it a few years ago when cleaning out an attic. There the words were, written in a young faltering hand, but bringing back clearly the night when salvation came into my life.
When I reached my early teens I applied for membership of the "church" and attended the courses which had to be completed before membership was granted. I then took an active part, particularly among the young people, and eventually became the leader of the youth work. All gospel preachers were welcome, male and female, and I encouraged as many as possible to come and hear the gospel.
At this time one of my friends enquired if I had ever considered baptism. I answered that I considered myself to be baptised as my birth certificate bore an impressive stamp which gave the date of my baptism as being when I was six weeks old. The question, however, prompted my interest and I turned to the word of God to see if my friend was correct in what he was telling me about baptism. I fought what I read for some months, but eventually had to confess that I was not baptised, and that I should be as soon as possible. Where, however, should I be baptised? I started to look and was surprised that others in the church did not have sympathy with what I was doing. At last I came upon believers in the town of Paisley who did baptise. They were in a large gospel mission and I was baptised there in the autumn of 1959.
This whole incident had unsettled me in the place which I attended. I already had serious disagreements with others over the question of whether the scriptures were literally true, or were simply allegories and fables. The minister, who was a saved man, left in 1959, before I was baptised, and was replaced by one who showed little evidence of possessing eternal life. Shortly after his coming he asked me to apply to the local church football league to have the youth fellowship enrolled. I refused to do this, telling him that I did not think this a fit thing for believers to do. One week later he told me that he had completed the application papers himself and that the first football game was to be played some two weeks hence. After much discussion he persuaded me to go along. I was not part of the team, but I walked round the pitch, listened to the language of the players, who professed to be believers, and decided there that I could no longer remain associated with this "church".
I then set off to find a suitable spiritual home. I knew nothing of assembly truth or even of the existence of assemblies. I went to the neighbouring village of Kilmacolm and found a Gospel Hall there with a gospel meeting advertised for the following Lord's Day, so I determined to attend. The young man at the door welcomed me warmly and as the meeting progressed I felt, for the first time, that I had found Christians who really did believe the Bible. I was invited for supper after the meeting, and well remember at the end of the evening asking if they believed that there literally was a place called the Garden of Eden. The answer was 'yes'. I then asked: 'Do you believe there was literally a man called Adam, and that the opening chapters of the Bible are not simply a fable'? The answer was 'yes'. On hearing that, my heart leaped. Here were believers who believed the Bible and I felt at home among them. I promised to return.
This home became open to me, and over the months that followed I learned truth* which I had never heard before. How I value those evenings spent in that home. There was not a great deal of this world's goods, but there was a genuine warm love for the Lord and a desire to help a yourig man who knew so little of the scriptures! I was taught what an assembly was1 and taken to hear the ministry of the word. This was a whole new world to me and I was amazed and delighted at the wealth of teaching which I was receiving. I learned that the church was not a building, but believers. I learned the place of sisters in the local church. I learned the truth of the breaking of bread, the prayers etc. What a vista opened to my view. Young believer, value the assembly and do not underestimate the wealth of teaching and help which is to be found at the gatherings of the Lord's people. For me it was like coming from a parched wilderness into the land flowing with milk and honey. In late September 1960 I asked to be received into fellowship and broke bread for the first time on the first Lord's Day of October. Many years later I still thank Him for the gracious way in which He led me to the assembly. What would I have missed in life if I had turned my back on it!
The years passed and the Lord gave me a good wife who has always been supportive of the work of the Lord. He also gave us three sons and one daughter and there were years spent bringing them up. As time passed we had an increasing desire to serve the Lord in a full time way, but there was never the sense that it should be now. In December 1989 Robert McPheat was speaking at the commendation meeting for Malcolm Radcliffe and what he had to say spoke loudly to my wife and me. The issues which had been before us were addressed powerfully by Robert and we sensed that the Lord was calling. At that time I was in the computer business and it did not seem likely that I could leave my business readily. We left this with the Lord and in a remarkable way He provided the answer to us in September 1990. The assembly in Bridge of Weir gave their commendation in January 1991 to the full time work of preaching the gospel and ministering the word of God.
Looking back we can say truly 'Ebenezer', hitherto hath the Lord helped us. His is all the glory and we are thankful for His gracious hand with us down through the years.
YOU NEED NOT DIE
It is likely that every person at some time ponders the great question of death and the hereafter As we consider our bodies and see them declining with the advancement of years, the things we used to do we can do no longer, the strength slowly leaves our limbs and we realise we are not on earth for ever We have no alternative but concur with the Bible, "For we must needs die," 2Sam.14.14 Death is an appointment, "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," Heb.9.27 It is also true that as we look back over life the years have passed so quickly and we again agree with the Scriptural statements, Job.7.6, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle", James.4.14, "For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away "
Why is death an undeniable reality' The Bible gives an unmistakeably clear answer Rom.5.12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned", Rom.6.23, "the wages of sin is death", James.1.15, "sin, when it is finished, bnngeth forth death", 1Cor.15.21, "by man came death" These quotations teach that death is the result of sin The implication is obvious — if you die it is because you are a sinner To die with your sins unforgiven means that you will experience the second death The first death is physical and to do with time but the second death is spiritual and to do with eternity Rev.20.14, "death and hell were cast into the lake of fire This is the second death And whosoever was not found written m the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" Rev.21.8, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death" What a fearful prospect and yet it is that of all who do not believe the gospel Dear reader, where will you be for all eternity?
However, this page is entitled "YOU NEED NOT DIE'" What is the answer to death? It is obvious, it is life, but not physical life, rather eternal life This can come from God alone and is given as a free gift to all who wish to have it Again we turn to the Bible, John.3.14, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" Nothing could be clearer God gave His Son to die that mankind might not die He, on the cross of Calvary bore the judgment of God against our sins that we might have eternal life It may seem all too easy, but that just magnifies the grace of God We can finish a quotation begun above, Rom.6.23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" We receive confirmation that we have this eternal life from the Bible, 1John.5.13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life".
The Lord Jesus has promised to return for all who have believed in Him and when He comes, all the living believers will go directly to heaven without dying John.11.26, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" Have you this comforting and glorious prospect?
An atheist sent a parcel of infidel literature to a young man, advising him to read it in preference to the Bible The Christian wrote back "Dear Sir If you have anything better than the Sermon on the Mount, more beautiful than the story of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan, or any code of morals higher than the ten commandments or the 'Golden Rule' of Jesus Christ, or more consoling and beautiful than the 23rd Psalm, or anything that will reveal to me a more loving and merciful God or will throw more light on the future—send it along"!
He received no answer
Though God knows all our sins yet He would hear them from us He requires from us an honest confession of them—not that He might be informed but that we might be humbled
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP
(Comments by C H Spurgeon)
We should like to see all the pipes in our Nonconformist places of worship either ripped open or compactly filled with concrete. The human voice is so transcendently superior to all that wind or strings can accomplish, that it is a shame to degrade its harmonies by association with blowing and scraping. It is not better music which we get from organs and viols, but inferior sounds, which unsophisticated ears judge to be harsh and meaningless when compared with a melodious human voice. That the great Lord cares to be praised by bellows we very gravely question, we cannot see any connection between the glory of God and sounds produced by machinery. One broken note from a grateful heart must have more real acceptable praise in it than all the wind which sweeps through whistling pipes. Instrumental music, with its flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of noise makers, was no doubt well suited to the worship of the golden image which Nebuchadnezzar, the king, had set up, and harps and trumpets served well the infant estate of things under the law, but in the Gospel's spiritual domain these may well be let go with all other beggarly elements.
What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettiness of a quartette, the refined niceties of a choir or the blowing of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it.