ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TESTIMONY IN TROUBLOUS TIMES
by I. McKee
THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by J. Flanigan
REASONS FOR WRITING
by D. S. Parrack
FIVE REASONS FOR HOLY LIVING
by J. E. Todd
THOUGHTS OF THE LORD'S PRAYER
by W. W. Fereday
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. McDowell
IT IS HIGH TIME TO AWAKE
by E. W. Rogers
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
10) “I Looked, And, Behold, Ye Had Sinned”
Read Chapter 9
We have noticed that chs.8-10 review events during the journey from Horeb to the plains of Moab. Ch.8 recalls God's preservation and protection in the wilderness, ch.9 recalls God's pardoning mercy in the wilderness, and ch.10 recalls God's provision in the wilderness. Like ch.6-8, this chapter commences with reference to the possession of the land: “Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself,” v1. But unlike the previous chapters, ch.9 emphasises Israel's unworthiness to occupy the land. This is stated in v4-6 and illustrated in v7-29. The chapter can be divided as follows:
(1) The promise of victory, v1-3;
(2) The warning against pride, v4-6;
(3) The evidence of unworthiness, v7-29.
1) THE PROMISE OF VICTORY, v1-3
Israel was to “pass over Jordan,” v1, but “the Lord thy God is He which goeth over before thee,” v3. The nations of Canaan were “greater and mightier” than Israel, v1-2. See also 7.1. Compare Num.13.28-29. But they were no match for God: “as a consuming fire He shall destroy them, and He shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the Lord said unto thee,” v3. It was a pity Israel did not believe this at Kadesh-Barnea! We must notice that Israel's military success would not be the result of her own expertise and superiority on the field, and this reminds us that our spiritual achievements are wholly due to divinely-given help and ability. David said, “Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight,” Ps.144.1. Having reviewed his ministry at Corinth, Paul added, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” 2Cor.3.5.
The greatness of the enemy is stressed here: “nations greater and mightier than thyself … cities great and fenced up to heaven … A people great and tall.” Our confidence is likely to be eroded if we stay there! John reminds us that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1Jn.4.4. It is very important to look at our spiritual enemies in context. Jehoshaphat put it like this: “we have no might against this great company that cometh against us … our eyes are upon thee,” 2Chron.20.12. We must remember the Psalmist's question, “Who is so great a God as our God?”, and his answer, “Thou art the God that doest wonders,” Ps.77.13-14.
2) THE WARNING AGAINST PRIDE, v4-6
God foresaw that victory in Canaan could induce Israel to take the moral ‘high ground,’ and attribute success to their own excellence. In ch.6, Moses had warned them against forgetfulness in Canaan, v10-12. In ch.8, he warns them against pride and forgetfulness, v14,17. Now he warns them against pride again, but it isn't a case of pride blinding them to their weakness, but pride blinding them to their wickedness! Israel had no moral right to possess the land. “Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land … Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.” This is exactly what God called them: see v13. Sadly, this continued to mark them, obliging Stephen to say, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye,” Acts 7.51.
God would give Israel possession of the land, not because they deserved it, but because His righteousness demanded the expulsion of the wicked Canaanites, v4-5, and His integrity required the fulfilment of the promises made to the patriarchs, v5. The future restoration of Israel will take place, not because they are worthy of blessing, but for God's “holy name's sake,” Ezek.36.22, etc.
Israel was therefore reminded of its inherent tendency to sin and failure, and this is a salutary lesson for us all. We still have to cry, “in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing,” Rom.7.18. Having surveyed this very period in Israel's history, Paul comments: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” 1Cor.10.11-12.
3) THE EVIDENCE OF UNWORTHINESS, v7-29
In the balance of the chapter, Moses documents the sinfulness and rebellion of Israel. He deals with this generally in v7, and specifically in v8-29. Speaking generally, “until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.” Joshua knew only too well that Israel had caused Moses a perpetual headache. Just listen to what Moses said in Deut.31.27, shortly before his death. But that wasn't the end: it continued until the captivity. Read Jer.7.25-26. Moses then reminded them of specific events:
A) At Horeb, v8-21
Moses begins with Horeb, not now to emphasise the privilege of Israel in hearing God's voice there, see ch.4-5, but to emphasise their failure there. “Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you,” v8. This chapter refers, in one case by implication, to four periods of “forty days and forty nights.” The first three are associated with Horeb: at the original giving of the law, after Israel's idolatry with the golden calf, and at the second giving of the law.
i) The giving of the law, v9-17
“I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights.” During this period, Moses “neither did eat bread nor drink water.” We should notice the following:
a) The receipt of the law by Moses, v9-11. He received “two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” This refers to Ex.24.18 and 31.18. The words “written with the finger of God” are significant. It was the same “finger” that “wrote on the ground,” in Jn.8.6, and it was the same “finger” that sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat, Ex.16.4. The claims of the law were met by the One Who wrote it! Ex.34.28 refers to the second occasion on which Moses received the law when he was again with God for “forty days and forty nights.” As before, “he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And He (that is, God: see Deut.10.2) wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”
b) The revelation of idolatry to Moses, v12-14. “And the Lord said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people (they didn't behave as God's people) which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves … they have made them a molten image.” In His anger, God said, “Let Me alone (as if expecting Moses to object — which he did, v18-19, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.” We are prone to idolatry as well. See Col.3.5.5, 1Jn.5.21.
c) The return to the camp by Moses, v15-17. “And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the Lord your God, and had made you a molten calf; ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the Lord had commanded you.” God had been perfectly correct. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth,” 2Chron.16.9, and “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do,” Heb.4.13. “And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.” V12-17 refer to Ex.32.7-19.
ii) The intercession of Moses, v18-21
“And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread nor drink water.” Perhaps Israel did not realise how much they owed to the intercession of Moses, and ‘perhaps none of us have yet realised how much we owe to the intercessory service of Christ, to His advocacy. None of us would have continued in the divine way, or would have been brought through in any measure of faithfulness to the present time, but for that blessed service of faithful love. We thank Him for His finished work, but let us never forget His unfinished work — His ceaseless service as the Intercessor and Advocate!’ (C. A. Coates). Moses interceded:
a) For Israel in general, v18-19. “And I fell down before the Lord … because of all your sins which ye sinned … For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also.” This refers to Ex.32.30-35, although this passage does not specifically mention “forty days and forty nights.”
b) For Aaron in particular, v20. “And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also at that time.” Note: v21 describes the destruction of the golden calf in Ex.32.20, which took place before Moses' intercession above.
B) At Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth-hattaavah, v22
In each place, they “provoked the Lord to wrath.” At Taberah (meaning, a burning) — see Num.11.3; at Massah (meaning, temptation)gfg — see Ex.17.7; at Kibroth-hattaavah (meaning, the graves of lust) — see Num.11.4-35.
C) At Kadesh-Barnea, v23-29
This refers to events described in Num.13-14. Notice the terrible indictment: “Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you,” v24. We are to be “obedient children,” 1Pet.1.14. V23-29 refer particularly to Num.14.11-20. In this connection, Moses refers to a fourth period of “forty days and forty nights,” which is not mentioned in Num.14: “Thus I fell down before the Lord forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the Lord had said He would destroy you,” v25. He interceded for Israel on a threefold basis:
i) on the basis of God's relationship with Israel, v26. “I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, destroy not Thy people, and Thine inheritance, which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness, which Thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” See also v 29. They remained God's people, even after the events described in v7-25. Nothing could ‘invalidate the divine redemption that has been wrought, or the election and calling of God, or the ancient promises, or the fact that God's people “are indeed Thy people and Thine inheritance,” v29, JND.’ (C. A. Coates).
ii) On the basis of the promises to the patriarchs, v27. “remember Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin,” v26-27. Paul observes that “as touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Rom.11.28-29.
iii) on the basis of God's honour and glory, v28. “lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them, and because He hated them, He hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” This should be compared with Num.14.16. God accepted the intercession of Moses: see Num.14.20, “And the Lord said, I have pardoned, according to Thy Word.” Of Moses, as well as Elijah, it could be said, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” Jam.5.16.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee (Northern Ireland)
Paper 20 — Establishment of the Judicial Enquiry (Ezra Chapter 10.13 - 17)
Although there is determination to address and correct the instances of domestic sin that had corrupted Jewish social and religious life, difficulties are encountered. The scale of the problem of cohabitation was such that it could not be addressed appropriately in a short time, particularly given the size of the congregation and the incessant downpour. “But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing,” Ezra 10.13.
This is not “difficulty stating.” There is every reason why the utmost care should be taken in these circumstances. All must be sorted justly. Therefore it is proposed, “Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us,” Ezra 10.14.
This recognises that there are men of experience, who are capable of representing all the people and discharging this solemn responsibility on their behalf. And a method of procedure was also suggested. No one should be judged in his absence. Each person concerned should have opportunity to speak on his own behalf. The caseload should be given appropriate time and be systematically processed on a city-by-city basis. Each case should be heard with local elders present and be considered individually by the competent authorities, taking into account personal testimony and trustworthy witness. This attention to detail, demonstrating a scrupulous interest in justice, should continue as long as it takes to bring the entire exercise to a satisfactory conclusion.
Sin often commences with individual impulsiveness and may progress, perhaps imperceptibly, in its pervasive effects. However eradication of sin and its effects can only be achieved with difficulty and considerable investigation. In addition, it is unlikely that there will be unanimity about the corrective action to be taken. Indeed, in this case objections surfaced. “Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah were employed about this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them,” Ezra 10.15. That is, they opposed the worthy suggestion of the people. We are not told the reason why they took this contrary position. However, the fact that there is no record of any alternative suggestion being offered by them suggests that they either had overt sympathy with those who had sinned or had adopted what is often erroneously portrayed as an enlightened, liberal position in regard to moral sin.
But we must not be ignorant as to the implications of their opposition. From within the remnant of the Jews there were those who were prepared to corrupt a separate nation. This was in complete disregard to the Divine intention for the bringing in of Messiah for both the salvation of sinners and the establishment of a, still future, Kingdom. In subverting local rule among the people of God, these four men were guilty of impinging on the distinctive testimony to God, with serious intrusion, if permitted, into the realm of Divine purpose and our Lord’s singular glory. God will never allow such activity to go unrecorded. Such was the seriousness of their attitude and action that, under Divine inspiration, they are individually named before the perpetrators of the moral sin!
While the querulous quartet opposed, the people persisted as they had determined, and prevailed. “And the children of the captivity did so. And Ezra the priest, with certain chief of the fathers, after the house of their fathers, and all of them by their names, were separated, and sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter,” Ezra 10.16.
So a judicial commission of inquiry was established with broad representation of named heads of families. Having established the membership and associated administrative procedures they commenced their task only ten days after the public gathering, Ezra 10.9.
Not only was the commission established with alacrity, but it carried out its task in an expeditious manner. “And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month,” Ezra 10.17. Thus the task was completed in three months, which was sufficient to consider in a thorough and unhurried way the cases of the one hundred and thirteen named individuals in Ezra 10.18-44. And if God notes the day on which recovery commences, Ezra 10.9, He also records the date on which reformation is completed, Ezra 10.17.
And having completed this task, Ezra withdraws from prominence until he reappears some thirteen years later, as recorded in Neh.8.1. His own, very special, work is over. It is only men with a lifetime of consistent exercise and service who have such specific seasons of outstanding accomplishment. But such seasons exert severe strain on the physical stamina and emotional vitality of those who accept the privilege and responsibility of seeking to lead the people of God.
Ezra’s contribution to recovery was as vital in his time and sphere as that of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and Haggai and Zechariah, in their particular circumstances. Yet, like them, he is neither equipped nor able, apparently, to do everything. It will require another mighty man, Nehemiah, to build walls and gates. But each did what they could. And each contribution counted.
—to be concluded, (D.V.)
by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
8. THE GARMENTS OF PROPHECY
One thousand years before the Saviour was born the inspired Psalmist had prophesied concerning His garments. This prophecy was fulfilled literally and accurately at the cross, when the soldiers parted His garments among them, casting lots what each man should take. Ps.22.18; Matt.27.35; Mk.15.24; Jn.19.24. John is very explicit about the fulfilment of scripture, and writes, “That the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots.”
Such is the detailed accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, that these ancient writings should take notice of, and make specific predictions concerning, the very clothing of Jesus the Messiah. The accurate fulfilment of such prophecies is, for the believer, sufficient confirmation of the God-breathed character of the Word, so that Peter says, “We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed,” 2Pet.1.19. As other translators render it, “We have a word of prophecy made more sure” (JND; RSV; ASV). The fulfilment of the prophetic word assures its reliability and authenticity for us.
Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that this word of the Psalmist was unconsciously fulfilled by pagan Romans, who must have had no knowledge whatsoever of the Scripture which they were fulfilling. That there were four soldiers is confirmed by John, who, at the same time, confirms that Jesus wore five pieces of clothing, Jn.19.23. Apparently it was a recognised prerequisite of the soldiers involved in the actual crucifixion that they were entitled to the clothing of the victims, as personal spoil. That they should gamble for this as the Saviour suffered was callous in the extreme. In the very shadow of His cross they must have thrown dice, or in some other fashion gambled for the allotment of the various garments. A comparison of the parallel passages will confirm that they cast lots for each of the garments and not only for the seamless robe which John mentions specifically. See especially Mk.15.24; Jn.19.23-24.
But what were these pieces of clothing which He wore, and which were the subjects of Old Testament prophecy? Sandals? An under garment or body coat? An outer garment? A girdle or sash? A headpiece? We shall observe that these are the five most likely pieces of clothing that Jesus wore. They were all the simple homespun garments of His native Galilee. There was no pretentiousness with Him.
Of course there were His sandals. John Baptist made particular reference to the Saviour’s shoes and the word translated “shoes” in the Gospel records, is, literally, “a sandal, a sole fastened to the foot with thongs” (Strong 5266). The Baptist speaks of the “latchet” of His shoes, Mk.1.7. The latchet is, in fact, the leather thong or tie with which the sandals were bound to the feet. There is no doubt that our Lord Jesus, in wondrous grace, wore the sandals which were worn by the common people. In these sandals He traversed many many miles, in Judea, in Galilee, and in Samaria. In these He walked by the lakeside and on the mountainside, on the roads, in the streets, and in the meadows, so that we may say with the prophet, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace,” Isa.52.7. And for these sandals of His they gambled. Who wore them after Him? Would they be forever, to someone, a painful reminder of the suffering Man upon the centre cross at Calvary?
The seamless robe, mentioned only and specifically by John, was a body coat, an undergarment. It was, says Strong, a vestment worn next to the skin (5509). Other garments, created with seams, were of sections and fringes which might easily have been separated if necessary, but this robe, without a seam throughout, could not have been so divided without affecting its value and beauty. It is interesting to note, and even Josephus the historian remarks upon it, that the robe of the ephod worn by the High Priest of Israel appears to have been similarly woven. Josephus writes, “This vesture was not composed of two pieces, nor was it sewed together upon the shoulders and sides, but it was one long vestment, so woven as to have an aperture for the neck. It was also parted where the hands were to come out” (Antiq 3:161). It was “all of blue,” with a reinforced band around the opening for the head, “that it be not rent,” Ex.28.31-32, “that it should not rend,” Ex.39.22-23. Was this High Priestly garment an early foreshadowing of our Lord’s seamless robe? The soldiers said, “Let us not rend it,” and they gambled for it as for the other garments.
Then there was the outer garment. When, in the Upper Room, our Lord laid aside His garments to wash the feet of His disciples, it was, of course, His outer garment and girdle of which He divested Himself. The word signifies “an outer cloak or mantle” and it is touching to remember that when, two days earlier, Mary of Bethany had anointed Him with her spikenard, it was inevitable that some of her precious fragrance should have fallen on this outer garment. Such was the lingering concentrated perfume of spikenard that now, as the soldiers handled the Saviour’s cloak, it must still have been fragrant with Mary’s appreciation of Him. What a contrast! A woman’s tenderness in anointing Him and the soldiers’ callousness in crucifying Him and casting lots for His garments while He suffered.
Another usual piece of clothing was the girdle. The outer cloak being of a loose and flowing nature, it was necessary at times that it should be held firmly about the loins with the girdle. It is, of course, an obvious and beautiful reminder to us that our Lord was the faithful Servant of Jehovah, constantly engaged in busy service. No man ever served men like He did, who was never the Servant of men but the Servant of God. It seems so suitable that He should wear the girdle. He did gird Himself with that linen towel in the Upper Room too, and today He is girded again, but with a golden girdle of sovereignty, Rev.1.13. However, the girdle for which the soldiers gambled was part of the daily and customary clothing worn by the men of Galilee.
A headpiece would have completed our Lord’s garments. The head-dress was an essential in the heat of the Eastern sun, but now as the Saviour hangs on the tree, He is bereft of all protection from that morning sun. For three hours until noon He hung uncovered in those blazing rays while unfeeling men, indifferent to His physical pain, cast lots and apportioned out His garments among them.
Sandals, outer cloak, girdle and headpiece, were duly divided as spoil. Then the robe without seam became the special subject of their gambling, until some one of them eventually obtained it. None of these Romans would have known that these were the garments of a prophetic word some one thousand years old, Ps.22.18.
My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
And myrrh their texture fills;
Its fragrance reaches this heart of mine,
With joy my being thrills.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by the late W. Trew
(This is a copy of an address given in Shield’s Road, Motherwell in 1954)
(Submitted by J. D. McColl, Australia)
On one occasion a brother invited me to have lunch with him. I did not know at the time he was simply seeking the opportunity to have a talk with me about this matter, to upbraid me concerning my attitude of mind to it. He commenced by saying that I ought to go into denominations, not only to preach the Gospel but also to teach believers there. But after being faced with what I have now told you, he said, “I can now understand that you cannot go into these places to teach, but you ought to go to preach the Gospel, simply as an evangelist.” But that loses sight of my responsibility to any who would be saved as the result of my preaching, as well as my responsibility toward my fellow-believers who are in these places. Let me take the second of these first. We have no monopoly of the truth of God. The truth that God has graciously given us belongs to all our precious fellow-saints and we have a definite responsibility to communicate it to all of them. But I cannot do that by preaching in their denominations.
Then I have a very special responsibility to those whom I lead to the Saviour. But that I cannot discharge within the limits of the denomination. Here is another case that will serve to illustrate this. We have with us a young brother, full of activity and spiritual initiative. He was, before the war, in an assembly which was very dull and apathetic. The conditions of war took him away from home, and put him into touch with some live energetic assemblies. Then the war ended, and circumstances required that he should return home. He found it impossible to settle down again to the same old apathy and deadness in the home assembly, and he wondered what he ought to do. Just then he heard of a group of Christian men of all denominations in the town, who were preaching the Gospel inter-denominationally and getting blessing. So, thinking that he might be able to do something useful, he joined with them. In one series of meetings in which he took part, some souls professed to be saved. Immediately he felt that he was responsible to teach them further. But when he did so, the harmony of the band of workers was destroyed. Then he realised that he must make a choice. Either he should work with the band inter-denominationally and restrict himself to Gospel preaching, or else he must break with the band and be faithful to the terms of the commission. He made the decision, and returning to the assembly, he began to pour his life into it. And since these days, the assembly has been greatly prospered of God, many have been saved and saints have been led on in the ways of God.
Against all of this, it has been urged that Paul went into the synagogues, and therefore we ought to go into denominations to preach. The two things are not at all parallel, and therefore, on the basis that Paul entered synagogues to preach, we cannot argue that we should go into denominations. Temple and synagogue were connected with the only religion God has ever given to men. When God was about to reveal Himself as He has now done, in the full revelation of the Christian faith, Judaism was set aside by God, morally in the death of Christ, doctrinally in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and publicly in the destruction of Jerusalem. The Acts of the Apostles covers the transitional period between the two administrations and during that period the Gospel was “To the Jew first” and then to the Gentile. In obedience to this, Paul went to the synagogue, until in Acts 19 a point of crisis was reached. “He went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the Kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus; and this continued by the space of two years.” The word translated “Separated” is a strong one which means that “He placed them apart and built fences about them.” (Strong’s Conc.). And from that day, Paul never entered a synagogue again, as far as we are told in the Scriptures.
But Christendom, in the multitude of its parties and sects, exists today, as the result of apostasy from the Word and Ways of God, as is clearly proved by the letters preserved for us in Rev.2,3. And its future is foretold in Rev.17.
Therefore the cases are not at all parallel, and we cannot justify inter-denominational service on the basis that, at one time, Paul entered synagogues to preach.
The passage in 1Cor.9.19-23, in which the apostle says that “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some,” has been pressed into service by some in a way that is a libel upon the character of that faithful, devoted servant of Christ, and almost an accusation that he was prepared to compromise the truth of God, in the interests of the Gospel. So far from that being the case, in that very passage the Apostle guards himself against every such accusation, by saying, “But under law to Christ,” or as another has translated his words “In lawful subjection to Christ.” As to any privilege of his own, he could give it up in the interest of souls and the Gospel. He could not give up that in which he was bound in duty to God. He had no liberty in that which belonged to another, but with regard to anything which was simply his own right, he could, and did, give it up, that by all means he might save men. To use the passage as it has been used by some, is a cruel slander of Paul and is in itself proof of what I have contended, that inter-denominational service makes necessary a compromise of the truth of God. So much so, that you cannot share in inter-denominational activity without being willing to compromise. But those to whom the Master has entrusted His goods, the precious deposit of truth, must be faithful to their trust. Truth is not theirs to compromise. “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”
On one occasion the disciples came to the Lord Jesus and John said, “Master, we saw one casting out demons in Thy Name, and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.” And Jesus said unto him, “Forbid him not; for he that is not against us is for us.” Do not let us get the matter wrong. It was not a question in John’s mind of “He followeth not us.” John’s difficulty was that he was not following the Lord. Brethren, we must not speak against those who seem to be getting blessing. Let us rejoice unfeignedly that Christ is preached, and let us pray that the Gospel preached will be blessed of God to the salvation of many and that the saved ones will be led on in the ways of God.
But when we have done that, can we link up with inter-denominational movements, of which there are so many?
Let me try to tell you what it will mean, if you do so. In a recent inter-denominational Gospel Campaign, more than 40% of the workers in the enquiry rooms and many members of the council were from the assemblies. They voluntarily associated themselves with women publicly testifying, with taking money from the unsaved in public collections, and many other things which they knew to be contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, and consented to be bound by the sacred promise of the Campaign leader to direct all his converts to the existing denominations of their own choice.
Brethren, that is more than we dare do, unless we are prepared to give up all that we have learned of the truth of God, in what we suppose to be the interests of the Gospel.
WHAT WILL THE RESULT BE?
Encourage the saints to link up with these things, in inter-denominational interests and you will not be able to teach again the evils of sectarianism and of clerisy; and you will sacrifice your moral right to teach the truth of the New Testament concerning the assembly of God. Along that road lies the permanent loss of all that we have treasured as the truth committed to us of God and we shall rear amongst us a generation of believers who do not know and cannot see any difference between the assembly and a denomination. When the time comes for the burden of the responsibility of the assembly testimony to rest upon their shoulders, the character of the assembly will have been destroyed and what was once an “assembly of God” will have become nothing more than “a Gospel Hall.”
We today have a responsibility to the future generation, to hold inviolate all the precious truth of God and to pass it on to them complete. Our only safety lies in being content to be guided by the Scriptures, satisfied to live within the limits of the revealed will of God, whatever the consequences. The judgment seat of Christ is before us when “Every man’s work shall be made manifest” and “The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” and “in that day” it will be faithfulness begotten of devotion to Christ that will count, and it will be sweet to hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”
by D. S. Parrack (England)
"These are written that ye might believe" John 20.32
"These things write we unto you that your joy may be full" 1 John 1.4
"These things have I written that ye may know" 1 John 5.13
Of the four gospels the first three are classified by academics and theologians as synoptic, i.e. presenting a common point of view. This leaves the fourth gospel in a class of its own, which, without being either academics or theologians, we might feel is fully justified on the basis of the spiritual depths which John plumbs. The very opening words show the pathway along which the apostle means to lead us. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God — and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” Jn.1.1-14.
Why though did John write in this particular vein, stretching our understanding beyond human limits by his concentration on the eternal Person of the Son of God?
Well, he himself says that though he could have written much more “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” That was his declared purpose in writing, to present the Lord Jesus in such a way that we would realise who He really was. And that was the result that such a realisation would achieve? “That believing ye might have life through His name,” see Jn.20.31. So, deep and difficult to comprehend as John’s gospel may be, its very purpose is to concentrate our vision on the Lord Jesus Himself, and there are many situations, many needs that arise, when the only remedy is the conscious knowledge of just who it is to whom we have committed ourselves, see 2Tim.1.12, and, much more than that, who is totally committed to us, see Jn.17.19. That is not knowledge in the usually accepted sense of the word, it is knowing Him as a living Person, which, as He Himself said, is the essence of eternal life, see Jn.17.3.
Your problem may be, that though you do believe that you have eternal life, you do not currently feel very much in the good of it. Then get back to its very source. Which is where? “This life is in His (God’s) Son,” 1Jn.5.11, and John’s gospel is one place where you can cultivate that closeness, which is why it was written.
John though, being a realist, as we all need to be, did not just see things as how he would like them to be, nor even perhaps how they ought to have been, he saw them as they actually were. So, not content just to leave those early believers to make progress as best they could, he continued to write to them. We have in the Scriptures three of those letters which he wrote to people who, like us, came into the circle of those for whom the Lord Jesus prayed, “Them also which shall believe on Me through their (the apostle’s) word,” Jn.17.20, and again he tells us why he wrote the way he did.
Early in his first letter he says, “These things write we unto you that your joy may be full,” Jn.1.4. By these words John showed that his aims ran parallel with those of the Lord Jesus Himself who said “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full,” Jn.15.11. The big difference between the two is that the Lord Jesus shows us the origin and source of that joy, it was “My joy,” and joy on that level cannot be equated with anything which is available from elsewhere. Are we told of specific things that brought joy to the heart of the Lord Jesus? If we can ascertain something of that we will know what we are being invited to share.
Well, the Hebrews' writer, conscious of some of the problems which his readers had faced, and were still facing, encourages them to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” That though doesn’t seem to have much to do with joy, rather of stoical perseverance. What impetus had they to enable a response to such a challenge? “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Heb.12.1-2. So His joy was not affected by the extremes of suffering through which he was passing, He could see beyond those horrendous happenings to a time, when being vindicated he would, “see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied,” Isa.53.11. That is, He would see the full outcome of his work and consider it all worthwhile.
Jude has somewhat the same view of things. He speaks of “Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” Jd.24. Whose “exceeding joy” is he referring to though, the presenter or those being presented? Using the words of the hymn writer, it is suggested both.
He and I in that bright glory,
One deep joy shall share.
Mine to be forever with Him,
His that I am there.
Are you conscious of a lack of real joy in your present experience, of a lack of evidence of joy amongst those whose Christian living you are endeavouring to encourage? John wanted to deal with problems like that. Speaking of the Lord Jesus whom he had known as a Man in this world, he records, “Which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled — that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ,” 1Jn.1.1-3. Don’t you think that the reality of a fellowship like that would cause you to radiate joy? I hope so, says the apostle, that’s why I am writing to you as I am, (see again 1.4).
John though is still not finished. It is easy to talk, or write, about joy, but if there is one sure way of losing our joy it is by allowing doubts to creep into our minds and so into our hearts. Oh, you may say, I don’t have doubts, I am an established believer. That may well have been how John’s first readers felt, nonetheless, towards the end of his letter he tells them another of his aims in writing. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God,” so he had no doubts as to the genuineness of their faith, but he goes on, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life,” Jn.5.13.
How then can we, as believers, be absolutely sure, confident without a shadow of doubt, as to the total security and inviability of our salvation? Only by accepting the promises and guarantees of God’s written Word and John, by his letters, was providing a part of that. God has made it very clear that He wants, and expects us, to rely on what He has said. The Hebrews' writer shows how God has gone out of His way to justify our confidence. Not only has He given categoric assurances, which are in themselves totally adequate, He has gone beyond that. “God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by oath. That by two immutable things,” a positive statement and its affirmation by a sworn oath, “in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us,” Heb.1.17-18.
“Consolation” here, carries the meaning of encouragement, and encouragement is what we need more than anything else when we are a little unsure of things, and that is just what the Word of God provides. It was what John’s letter was particularly intended to provide, that is why he continues “and that ye may believe,” i.e. carry on still doing so, “on the name of the Son of God,” 1Jn.5.13. Nothing will give us greater assurance than consciousness of the utter dependability of the Person on whom we are relying, in whom we are trusting.
Don’t despise feelings. Those who don’t have much of them, or at least don’t show them, may sometimes seem a little cold or aloof. But don’t rely on them either, they can be very fickle, causing unjustified elation or unwarranted gloom. God’s Word though is as solid as a rock and as unmoveable. But never forget that it is not just enough to know about that rock. The Lord Jesus spoke of “a man which built — digged deep — laid the foundation,” and it was that man’s house which could not be shaken “for it was founded upon a rock,” see Lk.6.48. Rely on the Word of God because it is His Word, see “My Word,” Isa.55.11, Jn.5.24, and show your reliance on it by your obedience to it. That will not necessarily stop doubts arising at times of particular pressure but it will give you the answers as and when they do arise.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (England)
3. BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN BORN AGAIN
The new birth will result in a new way of life, but the new birth itself is more than a change of living. The birth is to receive a new kind of life which the person did not possess before. The life we received from our parents at our natural birth is physical, human and mortal; the life one receives from God at the new birth is spiritual, divine and eternal. As described by the apostle Peter, ‘According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness … Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,’ 2Pet.1.3-4. When a person believes in Christ, the Holy Spirit of God brings that divine nature into the life of the believer. ‘In Him (Christ) you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,’ Eph.1.13, R.S.V.
The Lord Jesus Christ Himself described the new birth. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,’ Jn.3.5. Then the Lord upbraided Nicodemus for being ignorant of this, v10. Why should Nicodemus be aware of this teaching? Because Nicodemus was a master (i.e. teacher) of Israel. He should have known the teaching of the prophets, in this case the prophecy of Ezekiel. ‘Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean … A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you … I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes,’ Ez.36.25-27. The clean water speaks of the cleansing from sin, the new spirit speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the new heart speaks of the new birth itself. As the Lord said the new birth is by water and the Spirit. The water speaks of cleansing brought about by the blood of Christ and the spirit speaks of the Holy Spirit who brings about regeneration (i.e. re-creation), which is the new birth.
The believer now possesses two natures. A human nature by natural birth which is referred to in Scripture as ‘the flesh.’ Also a divine nature by the new birth which is controlled by ‘the Spirit.’ These two natures are opposed to each other. ‘For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would,’ Gal.5.17. How can we live out the new nature and control the old nature?
The faith of the believer has a twofold role. The initial act of faith in the crucified Saviour brings instant justification; the continuous attitude of faith in the risen Lord brings continual sanctification. Not only are we saved by faith, we also live by faith. ‘If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,’ Gal.2.25. If we have faith that Christ can save us from the guilt of sin by His death, how much more can He save us from the practice of sin by His living presence. ‘For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life, Rom.5.10.
If we claim to be born again, we claim that the very life of God, as revealed in Christ, has been re-created (regenerated) in us. Therefore it follows, ‘Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,’ Eph.3.20. We must therefore say, “No!” to the negative works of the flesh, Gal.5.19-21, and, “Yes!”, to the positive fruit of the Spirit, Gal.5.22-23.
While, like our Master, we live and move and work in this world, yet like Him we must be separate from the world in spirit. That is in our attitudes, thoughts, words and deeds. The Lord said of His disciples, ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,’ Jn.17.14. and He repeated this for emphasis in v16!
‘Wherefore come out from among them (the unbelievers), and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing,’ 2Cor.6.14-7.1. ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,’ Gal.6.14. This is the, ‘No!’, of holy living. But holy living is not just negative, it is also positive.
The positive result of the new birth is to begin to show something of the character of Christ in holy living. ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,’ 2Cor.3.18.
This new life needs to be guided, kept in touch with the Lord, encouraged and exercised.
This new life is guided in its actions by the Holy Scriptures. Specially the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, for example the Sermon on the Mount, Matt.5,6,7. Also the teaching of the New Testament, for example the epistle to Titus.
This new life needs our prayers in order to keep us in touch with the Lord. ‘Pray without ceasing,’ 1Thess.5.17.
This new life needs fellowship with other Christians, for the purpose of encouragement. Not just our encouragement but theirs also. ‘Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching,’ Heb.10.25.
This new life needs exercise, the exercise of serving the Lord. ‘Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love,’ Eph.4.15, R.S.V.
Thus our claim to be born again is yet another continual reason for living a holy life.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by W. W. Fereday
No devout mind will ever question the absolute perfection of the prayer itself, seeing that it came from One with whom neither error nor flaw are possible. But we may legitimately question whether it was intended for the perpetual use of His people, and under all circumstances. Even that which is divinely excellent may prove injurious to the soul if wrongly applied. Spiritual intelligence in the ways of God is of the greatest possible importance to us all.
The Lord’s prayer was admirably suited to the disciples in the position in which they found themselves as favoured with the personal presence of the promised Christ. He Himself emphasised the privileges of their position in Matt.8.16-17: “Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Others had looked and yearned for His coming; the disciples had Him before their eyes from day to day.
This being so, their experience went beyond anything known by Psalmists and Prophets, and this must needs be reflected in their prayers. But Christ not having yet died and risen again, and redemption being yet unaccomplished, the disciples were not in the marvellous position of blessing in which Christians now stand. Hence, while they could speak to God in a way that saints of earlier ages could not, they were quite unable to speak to Him as we can who are in the full grace and blessing of a perfect Christianity.
The prayer was thus suited to the intermediate or transitional condition of things then prevailing, and it will probably be found truly suitable again when Israel’s believing remnant steps into our place of testimony after the Christian era is closed.
It is a fact to be noted that (leaving aside the Lord’s prayer for the moment) no forms for use in approach to God, whether in prayer or worship, are ever suggested in the New Testament Epistles. Moreover, there is no reference whatever to the Lord’s prayer after Pentecost. The Acts and the Epistles are alike silent as to its ever being used in the early Church. Why is this? The answer is very simple. This is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. He is personally present upon the earth while Christ is away. By His power the Church has been formed, and in it He dwells, for it is God’s habitation in the Spirit, Eph.2.22. The living presence of the Spirit suffices for every need. He is perfectly able to furnish the suited language for every occasion. All that is needed is simple-hearted subjection on the part of those who are born of God. To no others could it apply.
Was the Lord’s prayer meant to be a model or a form? Scarcely the latter, for then we should be obliged to ask which form we should use, seeing that in Lk.11, the prayer is given more briefly than in Matt.6 (see Revised Version).* Moreover, the fact that the Lord has left the prayer in what some would consider an unfinished state has led to the unauthorised addition of the words “for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen,” in order to render it suitable for congregational use. We suggest therefore that the Lord intended no more than a model of prayer for His disciples.
True Christian prayer is in the name of the Son, Jn.16.23-24, and obviously the Lord’s prayer is not that. Prayer in the name of the Son is not the mere tacking His name to the end of our petitions; it is prayer in the consciousness that Christ by His death and resurrection has brought us into His own standing before God, accepted in His acceptance, blessed as He is blessed, and loved as He is loved. Praying in this happy consciousness, we expect the Father to respond to our requests according to His delight in His Son, with whom we are eternally identified. Several years after the Lord’s prayer was given, the Lord said to His disciples: “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” Jn.16.24. The whole context in Jn.16 shows that He was now leading them into a deeper privilege in connection with prayer than they had ever known before.
*Taking into account the context in both cases, it is possible that Luke’s shorter form was given at an earlier date than Matthew’s longer form.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. McDowell (Australia)
I was born into a family of six, four girls and two boys, in the district of Clonkeen, Northern Ireland, where there was a testimony for God which had been established in the year 1861, just after the great 1859 revival in Ireland. My parents and grandparents were all saved and in assembly fellowship and so we were brought up in the fear of God, in a home where the Scriptures were read daily and where father prayed for the family on our knees each morning. The home was always open for the Lord's people and the Lord's servants were frequent visitors. We attended Sunday school, Gospel meetings and special meetings and in early years there were Cottage meetings in our home. I can remember having serious thoughts about my soul in special meetings conducted by Mr. Tom McKelvey in 1947, then in 1948 was deeply troubled when Mr. William McCracken and Mr. Albert McShane were in Ballybollen. The following year Mr. William Bunting came to Clonkeen for meetings. Awakened to my need as a sinner unfit for heaven and deserving of hell, after deep soul trouble, in true repentance, I cried for mercy and the Spirit of God revealed to my darkened mind, through Jn.3.16 and 1Pet.2.24, the wonderful truth that when the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cross, He died for my sins and so I accepted Him as my Saviour and immediately dropped upon my knees, to give God thanks for giving His Son to die for a sinner like me. I was saved on the 18th December, 1949, and I knew it, and can thankfully say that I have never had any reason to doubt the reality of my conversion. Resting alone upon the person and work of Christ to meet my need, the Word of God gave me the assurance of everlasting life.
Next day going home from school, my school friends asked, “are you coming for a game of cricket,” of which I had been a keen player, but I told them, I would not be going with them any more, because I got saved on Sunday night. The day following I had opportunity to witness before a class of 30 boys and girls, when the teacher asked us to sing a song or recite a poem. I sang the hymn I was enjoying, “Settled forever sin's tremendous claim, Glory to Jesus, Blessed be His name.”
My baptism was delayed for a few months because of illness. In the month of May, 1950, I was baptised and received into the fellowship of the local assembly at Clonkeen. We enjoyed all the meetings and were so thankful for the privilege of sitting at the feet of godly men, who taught us the truth of God, which we value and with the Lord's help continue to hold precious.
It was a joy in early teenage years to visit the neighbours with Gospel tracts and invite them to come to the Gospel meeting. This we did alone, as there were no other young brethren in fellowship until brother Alex Rainey got saved and came home from Canada in 1953, when together we door-knocked the homes in the district. The assembly carried on two Sunday schools, one in the Gospel hall with approximately 90 children and another two miles away at Kilnock with approximately 70 children. This work was very demanding for a small assembly, so at an early age I was given responsibility in the Children's work at Kilnock, where most of the children had no assembly background. We continued with the brethren at Clonkeen until 1972 when for health reasons we came to Australia. After a few years we returned to Ireland to sell the business, and during the last five years at Clonkeen we had the joy, with the brethren there, of seeing 26 local people saved, baptised and added to the assembly, which was truly a work of God, in which we rejoice and give God the Glory.
While our main interest was the spread of the Gospel and helping the Lord's people, I never had any intention of giving my full time to the work of God, but felt my work was to encourage and support others more gifted. It has been our privilege to entertain and help many of the Lord's servants from overseas who visited Australia and we have also sought to encourage brethren in this land, whom we considered gifted and qualified, to give their full time to the work of God, but no one seemed prepared to take the step. The burden of the need weighed heavily upon our hearts as we prayed earnestly that God would send forth labourers. Often when I was driving around in the car on business, I saw the so called ‘Jehovah Witnesses’ knocking the doors, my heart was condemned and I wept, knowing that I should be spreading the truth and it grieved me that these people were so zealous in spreading their evil doctrine.
We took some time off work and had meetings in different parts, but we felt we were doing so little and the burden of the great need continued to weigh heavily upon my heart. We prayed earnestly for the Lord to send others, then the Word of God came home with convicting power to my soul, “whom shall I send and who will go?” After much wrestling, I bowed to the Will of God and said, “here am I, send me,” yet feeling like Moses, very inadequate for the task before us.
I still had business responsibilities, but to my surprise, in a time when the economy was slow and it was even difficult to sell property, the business sold. Now what shall I do? I had no peace in my soul to commence another business, then I thought that I better talk with the brethren. Until this time only my wife knew of my exercise. I arranged to meet with them and we talked about the meetings and other things and I came away without saying anything in relation to my exercise. I felt I must be absolutely sure before the Lord, so like Gideon putting out the fleece a second time, after another night on my knees, I met the brethren again and this time told them of my exercise. Their immediate response was, “We were wondering why it has taken you so long,” and were happy to give me the right hand of fellowship.
Soon after, with my wife Olive (whose support and help have been invaluable) we drove out to remote areas with our caravan (trailer). Each town to which we came where there was no assembly, we remained there until we covered every home with Gospel tracts and preached the Gospel each day in the open-air, we also posted our literature to the property owners. In this way we have covered the greater part of Queensland as well as other parts of Australia.
The work has been slow, but we thank God for the liberties we enjoy in this land and as we look back, we do so, without regret, feeling unworthy of the honour of carrying such a wonderful message to our fellow travellers to Eternity. We thank God for those whom we have known who have trusted Christ, yet have to acknowledge that we are unprofitable servants, we have done just what was our duty to do. We know that soon the call will be heard, “give account of thy stewardship,” we do trust the Lord will help us to be faithful the remaining time He is pleased to leave us here.
by E. W. Rogers (England)
Romans, chapter 13, deals with the believer’s relation to the State. He is called upon to be subject to the existing powers, to pay taxes imposed on his person, property and merchandise, to pay honour to those who hold honourable office, and to love his fellow-man. “And that knowing,” adds Paul, anticipating the inquiry, “How long have we to be subject to such a ruler as Nero?” And many times since has such a thought arisen in the hearts of saints living under cruel despots. Paul answers by telling them:
An Encouraging Fact
That the “night is far spent and the day is at hand.” Darkness has been on the face of the earth ever since Satan fell, though from time to time God has intervened in one way or another speaking, “Let there be light.” He did so at the beginning. Later, the presence of the Shekinah glory brought light within the dwellings of God’s ancient people. Later still, the “Dayspring from on high visited us” when the Son of God became incarnate. He was, while in the world, the “light of the world,” but when Judas did his nefarious work “it was night” and from thenceforward it has been “night.” yet in the midst of the darkness there have been lampstand-churches, and luminary-believers: and into our hand has been put the “lamp of prophecy.” But, brethren, the night is far spent, and “the day” is at hand. To “that day” Paul made constant reference. Twice he spoke of it in his last recorded letter, 2Tim.1.12, 4.8. He tells the Corinthians that the day will be “revealed in fire” trying their spiritual work. He calls it “the day of Christ” and other like phrases. We are those who long for the morning: “weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.” it is not far off now; the night is far, far advanced: the day is dawning. Paul takes advantage of this to remind the saints of their
“It is time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Put in plain English that means “It is time to wake and get up.” Ponder Canticles 5 and take good note of the grievous experience of the bride due to her having slept. Remember the ten virgins, all of whom “slumbered and slept” and not until the midnight cry was heard did they awake. What difference, indeed, in appearance or usefulness, is there between a dead man and a sleeping man? No wonder the Spirit calls upon us thus: “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from among the dead and Christ shall shine upon thee.” Sleep and drunkenness belong to the night; intoxication renders men as insensible to their surroundings as are those who sleep. “Therefore let us not sleep as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.” The final consummation of “our salvation” in the redemption of the body and our rescue from the coming wrath is much nearer than when we believed. That cannot be gainsaid. Time marches on, bringing us ever nearer the ultimate goal. Paul follows this with a
Three times does he say “Let us.” Let us put off our night attire: let us put on our day armour, for life’s journey is a fight, and let us walk honourably and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as others behold our conduct they will see in living action the display of the moral glories of our Lord Jesus. They cannot see Him but they do see us. What do they see? A sleeping Christian indifferent to (because unaware of) the plight of the lost around? Or do they see a “drunken believer” saturated with the things of this world so that he neither has time nor heart for the welfare of others? Or do they see an armour-clad believer, fighting the good fight, pressing the battle to the gate and releasing those who have been taken captive by the devil?
It is, indeed, high time that we were all awake and up.
WHO MADE IT?
Sir Isaac Newton had a friend who, like himself, was a great scientist; but he was an infidel. Newton was a devout believer in God and had trusted Christ as his Saviour. The two men often “locked horns” over this question, though their mutual interest in science drew them much together.
Newton had a skilled mechanic make him a replica of our solar system in miniature. In the centre was a large gilded ball representing the sun. Revolving around this central ball were smaller balls fixed on the arms of varying length. They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, in their proper order. These balls were so geared together by cogs and bolts as to move in perfect harmony by turning a crank.
One day as Newton sat reading in his study with the mechanism on a large table near him, his infidel friend stepped in. He was scientist enough to recognize at a glance what was before him. Stepping up to it he slowly turned the crank. With undisguised admiration he watched the heavenly bodies all move at their relative speeds in their orbits. Standing off a few feet, he exclaimed: “My! What an exquisite thing this is! Who made it?”
Without looking up from his book, Newton answered, “Nobody!”
Quickly turning to Newton the infidel said: “Evidently you did not understand my question. I asked who made this thing?”
Looking up now, Newton solemnly assured him that nobody made it, but that the aggregation of matter so much admired had just happened to assume the form it was in. At this the astonished infidel replied with some heat: “You must think I'm a fool! Of course somebody made it, and he is a genius. I'd like to know who he is:”
Laying his book aside, Newton arose. Placing a hand on his friend's shoulder, he said, “This thing is but a puny imitation of a much grander system whose laws you know. I am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and maker; yet you profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come into being without Designer or Maker — Now tell me: By what sort of reasoning do you reach such an incongruous conclusion?”
The infidel was at once convinced, and no doubt many who read these lines will be likewise impressed. Indeed it is “only right” to most people that we should “believe in God,” that is, in His existence. However, it is one thing to believe that God is, but another thing to actually believe God, that is, to believe what God says, and to take Him at His Word.
Reader, you may be in such a case right now — thinking your religion will bring you to God, when all the time it is taking you further and further away from God, and from His great salvation. You urgently need to be saved, and your only hope of salvation is in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4.12.
The Lord Jesus Himself said: “Ye believe in God, believe also in me,” John 14.1, and John 3.35,36 states: “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him.”
The Lord Jesus - Into Heaven
carried up .... into heaven, Lk.24.51.
received up .... into heaven, Mk.16.19.
taken up .... into heaven, Acts 1.11.
entered .... into heaven, Heb.9.24.
gone .… into heaven, 1Pet.3.22.
by H. A. Barnes (England)
Open not thy heart to every man but communicate thy affairs to the wise and godly
The examples of faith given in Hebrew 11 are not given to us to admire or even to copy, but to excel.
R. C. Chapman
a workman worthy of his meat, Matt.10.10, Lk.10-7, 1Tim.5.17.
a collection of fruits worthy of repentance, Lk.3.8.
a walk worthy of your calling, Eph.4.1, 2Thess.1.11.
a walk worthy of the Lord, Col.1.10.
a walk worthy of God, 1Thess.2.12.
by H. A. Barnes (England)
7 Things Christ has done for us
Christ died for us, Rom.5.8, 1Thess.5.10.
Christ gave Himself for us, Eph.5.2, Tit.2.14.
Christ suffered for us, 1Pet.2.21, 4.1.
Christ laid down His life for us, 1Jn.3.16.
Christ was sacrificed for us, 1Cor.5.7.
Christ was made to be sin for us, 2Cor.5.21.
Christ became a curse for us, Gal.3.13.
by H. A. Barnes (England)