ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by J. Flanigan
REASONS FOR WRITING
by D. S. Parrack
FIVE REASONS FOR HOLY LIVING
by J. E. Todd
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST - 'HIS HOLY HUMANITY'
by C. Jones
THE TEACHING OF 1 THESSALONIANS
by J. C. Gibson
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by E. W. Badgley
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
12) "A Land Which the Lord Thy God Careth For"
Read Chapter 11.2-32
This chapter marks the end of the historical section of Deuteronomy. As we have seen more than once, Moses recalls the facts of Israel's history in chs.1-3, and emphasises lessons from their history in chs.4-11. Chs.4-7 beginning of the journey, chs.8-10 events during the journey, and ch.11 describes the land at the end of the journey. Ch.11, which mentions the possession of the land in v8, 29 and 31, can be divided as follows:
(1) Privilege and responsibility, v2-9;
(2) Possessing the land, v10-17;
(3) Practising the Scriptures, v18-25;
(4) Presenting the alternatives, 26-32.
1) PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY, v2-9
The Lord Jesus taught that “unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required,” Lk.12.48, and this clearly underlines the oft-repeated lesson that privilege determines responsibility. It occurs here: “I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen … But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which He did. Therefore ye shall keep all the commandments which I command you this day …”, v2, 7-8. Moses addresses the generation that had seen “the chastisement of the Lord your God (compare 8.5), His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm, and His miracles, and His acts.” They had seen this in three ways, and the words, “what He did unto,” are used in each case:
i) In the deliverance from Egypt, v3-4. They had seen “what He did unto the army of Egypt.” Pharaoh had resisted God's Will. He had said “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go,” Ex.5.2. Unlike Pharaoh, we are to “receive with meekness the engrafted word (implanted or rooted word) which is able to save your souls,” Jms.1.21.
ii) In the discipline in the wilderness, v5. They had seen “what He did unto you in the wilderness.” Read Num.14.32-33. This brings the lesson nearer home. Not now, “what He did unto the army of Egypt,” but “what He did unto you.” They had refused to trust God, and He had to say, “how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?” Num.14.11. In New Testament language, “they could not enter in because of unbelief,” Heb.3.19. Unlike Israel at Kadesh-Barnea, we must heed the exhortation “to trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding,” Prov.3.5.
iii) In the death of Dathan and Abiram, v6. They had seen “what He did unto Dathan and Abiram.” They had rebelled against God's leaders. Together with Korah and others, “they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy … wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”, Num.16.1-3. Notice that Korah, a Levite, is not mentioned here. The passage emphasises that divine judgment fell on two ordinary members of the congregation. Unlike Dathan and Abiram, the Lord's people are to “know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake,” 1Thess.5.12-13.
In view of the fact that God intervenes against those who resist and rebel against His will, Moses instructed them to “keep all the commandments which I command you this day.” They would then “be strong” to possess the land,” and to “prolong your days in the land,” v8-9. The obedience of God's people would enable them to enjoy the “land that floweth with milk and honey,” and obedience enables us to enjoy our rich inheritance in Christ. Spiritual strength and spiritual satisfaction belong only to “obedient children,” 1Pet.1.14.
2) POSSESSING THE LAND, v10-17
Moses now tells them more about the “land that floweth with milk and honey,” and emphasises again that the enjoyment of its blessings depended on their obedience to God's Word. We must therefore notice:
a) The description of the land, v10-12
It was unlike Egypt, where agriculture was dependent on the construction of irrigation channels to carry water from the Nile. In Canaan, the autumn and spring rains would relieve God's people of the labour and anxiety which existed in Egypt. It was a land “which the Lord thy God careth for: for the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, from the beginning of the year unto the end of the year.” Compare Ps.65.9-13. God is the heavenly Husbandman! Bearing in mind that Canaan reminds us that we have been blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” Eph.1.3, we too enjoy a divinely-provided inheritance which will never wither through neglect or diminish over time. Israel's inheritance “flowed with milk and honey”: our inheritance flows with blessings too: “chosen … predestinated … accepted … redemption … forgiveness,” Eph. 1.4-7. God poured “the rain of heaven” on Canaan without any effort or imput on the part of His people, and God has blessed us according to the riches of his grace!”
b) The enjoyment of the land, v13-15
The willingness of God to bless His people is never in question, but their suitability to receive His blessing is another matter. Our possession of salvation is assured by the Lord Jesus, “I give unto them (My sheep) eternal life; and they shall never perish,” Jn.10.28, but the enjoyment of salvation is assured only by our loving obedience to God's Word. This is the principle here: “and it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently (note this) unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season …” The Lord Jesus referred to the same principle in Jn.15.10-11: “If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love … These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The reference to “corn … wine … oil” recalls Ps.104.15.
c) The loss of the land v16-17
If the enjoyment of the land depended on ‘hearkening diligently,’ v13, then the enjoyment could be lost through a ‘heart deceived,’ v16. “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them.” No wonder Solomon said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” Prov.4.23. Our feet are sure to follow our heart. It has been rightly said that ‘happiness and fruitfulness were to be the sure accompaniments of obedience’ and ‘barrenness, desolation, famine, and misery were the melancholy accompaniments of disobedience’ (C. H. Mackintosh). The solemn promise in these verses was fulfilled in 1Kgs.17.1, to cite one instance.
3) PRACTISING THE SCRIPTURES, v18-25
These verses explain how Israel was to treat God's Word, and what God would do if they obeyed His instructions. We learn, yet again, that “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1Sam.15.22.
a) Israel's part
This involved three things, and the fact that the passage includes a substantial restatement of Deut.6.6-9 serves to emphasise its great importance.
i) Knowing the Word of God, v18. “Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul” (that's inward); “and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes” (that's outward). The Word of God was to govern the inward and outward lives of His people. We must remember, however, that outward conformity was not enough. It is sadly possible to ‘go through the motions’ of orthodox behaviour without inward reality and true conviction. The Lord Jesus made this clear: “Ye hypocrites! Well did Esaias prophecy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips: but their heart is far from Me,” Matt.15.8. The injunction, “lay up these my words in your heart,” recalls Paul's exhortation to Timothy: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine … Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting (‘progress’, JND) may appear to all,” 1Tim.4.13-15.
ii) Teaching the Word of God, v19. “And ye shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Whilst we deal with the details here when studying ch.6, we must emphasise the importance of ongoing Bible teaching. Do read Ps. 78.3-7 in this connection, together with 2Tim.2.2. Whilst we are often refreshed by ‘a nice thought here and a nice thought there,” there is no substitute for the systematic exposition of Scripture. May we be saved from becoming ‘people of the little word!’
iii) Applying the Word of God, v22. “For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave unto Him; Then will the Lord drive out …” This is the final stage in the threefold process of Bible study: observation, interpretation and application. We are to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things,” Tit.1.10.
b) God's part
God is only too delighted to bless His people when they apply His Word and fulfil His Will. In this case, their obedience to His Word would ensure two things:
i) Continuing occupancy of the land, v21. “That your days may be multiplied and the days of your children, in the land.” It is always very encouraging to see young believers growing “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” 2Pet.3.18, but it is even more encouraging to meet older believers who remain firm in faith, and undimmed in spiritual enthusiasm. Paul's great desire was to “finish my course with joy,” Acts 20.24. God wants us to enjoy, without interruption, our spiritual inheritance until the time comes to enter our “inheritance … reserved in heaven,” 1Pet.1.4. But even now, we can enjoy “days of heaven upon the earth!”
ii) Complete occupancy of the land, v23-25. “Then will the Lord drive out all these nations before you.” This would enable them to enjoy every part of their inheritance. “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be your's …”, v24. We will have no difficulty in identifying the “greater nations and mightier” than ourselves which will endeavour to obstruct our possession of “the good land,” v17, given to us by God. We face an internal enemy (the flesh), an external enemy (the world), and an infernal enemy (the devil). Do remember that we are not to ‘put our feet up,’ but to put our feet on God's rich provision for us. Paul puts it like this: “that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe,” Eph.1.18-19.
4) PRESENTING THE ALTERNATIVES, v26-32
This section of Deut.chs.1-11, concludes with a solemn challenge to God's people. “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: a blessing if you will obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God,” v26-28. Compare Deut.30.9. Once they had crossed into the land, God's people were to assemble between mount Gerizim and mount Ebal where they were to face the same two alternatives. See v29. These instructions are expanded in Deut.27 and fulfilled in Josh.8.31-35. The alternatives lie before us today. Readiness to obey God's Word will make us resemble the believers at Philippi of whom Paul said “ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,” Phil.2.12. Disobedience will make us resemble Saul the son of Kish, to whom Samuel said, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry,” 1Sam.15.23.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
10. Garments of Dignity
The days of our Lord’s sojourning on earth are now finished and in the opening chapter of the Revelation John sees Him as He had never seen Him before. Not now swaddling bands or slave’s apron or purple robe, but a garment down to the feet, a robe of certain dignity and glory. He had worn the garments of a lowly humanity, and a gracious humility, and an awful mockery, but all is changed now and the Man in the Glory is differently attired.
It is fitting that the Revelation should commence with a sight of the Risen Lord in glory, “clothed with a garment reaching to the feet and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle,” Rev.1.13 JND. The Son of Man is seen walking in the midst of the seven golden lamps and the picture is of dignified humanity and priestly beauty mingled with sovereignty. He is Lord of the churches, the Master of assemblies, and to Him alone they are responsible while He alone has both the right and the ability to deal appropriately with their varying needs and conditions.
The lamps are golden. They are precious to Him, bearing light for Him in a dark and murky world. He knows their individual problems for He lived in the same world in testimony for His Father. “Candlesticks”, as in the beloved KJV does not adequately convey the meaning. To quote W. E. Vine, “There is no mention of a candle. The figure of that which feeds upon its own substance to provide its light would be utterly inappropriate. A lamp is supplied by oil, which in its symbolism is figurative of the Holy Spirit”. The heavy responsibility of bearing testimony in the world for Him is dependent therefore upon the ministry of a Risen Man in the glory and the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit on earth.
Both individually and collectively believers are to be light-bearers in the world, Matt.5.14; Phil.2.15. The Lord Jesus said, “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world,” Jn.9.5, but now He is no more in the world and His people must bear light in His absence. The lamps among which He walks are the symbols of local churches or assemblies, gatherings of the saints diffusing light for Him in their various localities.
The trailing robe is doubtless a priestly garment. The golden girdle, however, is not bound about the loins for service in the customary manner, but is girt about the breasts after the fashion of potentates and rulers and in keeping with calm and dignified movement. Here then, in the garment and the girdle, are the symbols of the gracious, but authoritative, priestly ministry of Him who walks in the midst of the churches. Christ is both priestly and princely. As Seiss comments, “In former times, and to this day in some sections of the world, the long trailing robe is the token of dignity and honour.” He adds that in the Son of Man “it must describe personal qualities, official dignity, and celestial majesty, at which we may well bow down in the deepest reverence”.
There is a similarity with, but yet a difference from, the garments of Aaron in Ex.28. Those robes of Israel’s high priest were for glory and for beauty, and so indeed it is here. But Aaron’s girdle was only intertwined with gold whereas our Lord’s girdle is all of gold. This is not vested authority. It is the authority of a personal intrinsic sovereignty which belongs to Him alone. The lamps encircle Him and He walks in the midst of them. In His omniscience He sees and knows all, and He deals with each company accordingly, in keeping with His perfect knowledge of every condition.
What variety there was in these seven assemblies! What greatness of need, which only omniscience could see and only omnipotence could meet. The problem at Ephesus was not that of Smyrna. The condition in Pergamos was not the same as that in Thyatira. Neither were the circumstances in Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea alike. Only the Son of Man in priestly glory could accurately assess the need of each church, and so minister to meet that need.
Yet it is interesting to note that with all the differences of conditions and circumstances, demanding a variety of ministry from the Lord, there is one message which appears in each and every letter. Indeed, after the appropriate introduction of Himself to the church, this is the opening phrase in each letter. To every assembly He says simply, “I know!” In what a varied manner would this message appeal to each individual company, sometimes bringing comfort, sometimes encouragement, but sometimes solemn rebuke. To think that He knows all must surely still affect the feelings and the behaviour of His people.
The heart of Ephesus had strayed from Him. There had once been a better love, but their affections had waned. Outwardly things appeared fine. Men could see their works, their labour, their patience, and endurance. They could not, and did not, condone evil things or evil men. They were orthodox both in doctrine and practice. But the Master says, “I know!” He could see the heart. They had fallen from first love and His message calls them back to Himself for a renewal of those bridal affections of which Paul had written to them in an earlier letter, Eph.5.25-32.
The need at Smyrna was different. Here was a little company suffering persecution and martyrdoms for His sake. There was material poverty, and much affliction, and there was more to come, and to them also, as to Ephesus, He says, “I know.” But this knowledge was not academic. He knew, experientially, what they were passing through. He had been there. What comfort would this bring to them, that He knew, He “who became dead, and lived,” Rev.2.8, JND.
Pergamos was different again, but still He begins by saying, “I know.” He knew the difficulties of bearing testimony in Pergamos. Satan’s very throne was there. They too, like Smyrna, had had their martyrs. But they had false teachers in their midst and they were being tolerant of these and their pernicious doctrines. Fundamentally they were sound in themselves, holding fast His Name and not denying His faith, but the teachers of error must not be tolerated. Evil doctrines would lead to a condoning of evil practice. Doctrinal evil would breed moral evil. They must judge these men and if they did not then the Lord Himself would do so.
Thyatira seems to have plumbed the depths of departure, and once again He says, “I know.” He knew, of course, that there was in their midst works and love, faith and service, and patient endurance. But He knew too that there was evil there. There was one among them who was seducing the saints, leading them astray into grievous immorality. There must be judgment of such. Yet, for the comfort of a faithful remnant, He knew about them too, and encouraged them to hold fast.
So the story of the testimony continues. Sardis reveals a certain recovery from Thyatira and Philadelphia indicates a further recovery from out of Sardis, while at Laodicea there is a lukewarmness which is nauseous. “I know! I know! I know!” The message is the same to all. Still today the Risen Lord walks in the midst. The glorified Man with the trailing robe of dignity still sees every condition among His people, and still He says, “I know!”
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. S. Parrack (England)
"That Ye Should Earnestly Contend for the Faith " Jude 3
There are two individuals in the New Testament named Jude, or Judas, who had brothers called James, see Matt.13.53-56 and Lk.6.13-16, and we do not know with any certainty, which of them, if either, wrote the penultimate book of the Bible. Whoever the writer was he certainly had a good knowledge of the Old Testament plus a heart concern for the well-being of his fellow-believers. Jude intended to show his concern by writing to them and this was not just a passing whim. He asserts that “I gave all diligence to write unto you.” But what was it that he was going to write to them about? What did he hope that his comparatively short letter would achieve?
To start with he had a fairly broad remit in mind, it was to be “the (our JND) Common salvation.” But then he narrows the theme to a specific strand of thought. From what he says, this concentration was brought about by him becoming aware of a particular situation that made it “needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to the saints,” v3. That, to him, seemed to be where their main problem lay, where their need was greatest. Attacks were being made on the very fabric of the Christian faith which called for a robust defence.
So Jude was not aiming to add to the scope or range of their beliefs, that was not his purpose. It was “the faith,” the whole body of faith, which was in danger and since it had been “once (once for all) delivered unto the saints,” it was the saints’ responsibility to defend it. To encourage and facilitate that ‘contending,’ he was going to reconfirm and re-emphasise, the lynch pin position that faith, belief, trust, held in the divinely structured plan of salvation.
It was probably the unexpected avenue of attack which was causing Jude’s readers most difficulty. Frontal assault from outside by both religious and civil authorities was to be expected, had indeed already been experienced by fellow believers, see e.g. Acts 8.1-3 and 16.19-24, but the problem now was “certain men, crept in unawares.” What these men were bringing in was not just some debatable or controversial doctrines, such as was happening to most of the churches to which Paul wrote, see e.g. 2Thess.2.1-3; Gal.3.1-3. That would in all conscience have been bad enough, but these men were root and branch, “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” v4.
Paul had warned of the dangers emanating from “grievous wolves entering in among you,” Acts 20.29, but it was then, and still is now, so very easy to feel that such a situation couldn’t develop here, not in my/our assembly. Unfortunately for Jude’s first readers, it had already happened. But things were not totally irremediable, such denials as recorded in v4 had occurred in different forms during past dispensations and God had dealt with them, and it was of such dealings that Jude says “I will therefore put you in remembrance,” v5.
He cites the example of those who were “saved — out of the land of Egypt” but who had, in reality, “believed not,” v5, and it is important to bear in mind that assessment when using the exodus as a picture of salvation today, see e.g. Heb.4.1-2 and 11. “Angels which kept not their first estate, v6, were not in any case included in God’s plan of salvation, “for He does not indeed take hold of angels by the hand, but He takes hold of the seed of Abraham,” Heb.2.16 JND, which emphasises again the essential nature of faith, see e.g. Gal.3.7-9. We might not rate Lot very high as an example of faith, but remember he is spoken of as “just (righteous JND) Lot,” 2Pet.2.7, and righteousness like that, real righteousness, can come only on the basis of faith, see e.g. Phil.3.9. Jude does not actually mention Lot by name, but he does show the fate of those who declined to follow his example. However poor we may feel that example was and how far short it came from what it might have been, it was still faith, as opposed to unbelief, and note what the Lord Jesus says about the smallest degree of real faith, see Lk.17.5-6.
So what Jude is showing is the ultimate result of “denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is dealing with the basic and fundamental matter of our Christian profession, not the measure or degree of our individual faith, though in that respect we should aim to follow the example of Abraham who, in spite of a seemingly impossible natural situation “was strong in faith, giving glory to God,” see Rom.4.19-20.
But the unbelief, the denials, of these “certain men” was not something kept private to themselves, it was flaunted and was easily visible in many ways. “(They) defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities,” v8, which may be seen, respectively, as relating to their actions, their thought patterns and their words. In describing them in that way, Jude is very much in line with how Peter saw things, see 2Pet.2.9-10, these two even using the same examples in support of what they are saying, see v9 and 2Pet.2.11.
A further set of three Old Testament examples are then given to show where such people have gone wrong, see v11. “They are gone in the way of Cain,” who not only thought that he could satisfy God by his own efforts but was prepared to wreak violence on anyone, even his own brother, who simply trusted in God’s grace. (See Heb.11.4 for the relationship between Abel’s faith and his righteousness).
“(They) ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.” Balaam, see Num.chs.22-24, had every opportunity of knowing better, and it seemed at first as though he really did, but he is a very dire warning in the immediate context of Jude’s letter. He didn’t curse the Israelites as his paymasters asked him to do, but he showed a much more subtle and effective way of attacking them, see Rev.2.14 and Num.31.16, so causing consternation and declension within their own ranks.
“(They) perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Core, or Korah, didn’t perish alone, he took with him three whole families plus “two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown,” Num.16.2 and see v25-35. So just as surely as “God is no respecter of persons” when it comes to the acceptance of those willing to trust themselves to Him, see Acts 10.34-35, in the same way He is in no way prepared to countenance in anyone, whatever their rank or credentials, denial of Himself or of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and to deny either one of the two is to deny both, see 1Jn.2.22-23.
Those three characters, Cain, Balaam and Core, were warnings from the past, given in the light of similar situations, with the same sort of people, which were beginning to develop amongst groups of New Testament believers. “These are spots in your feasts of charity (your love-feasts JND)” and Jude now switches from Old Testament examples to imagery from nature to strengthen his warnings regarding their baleful influences, see v12-13.
“Clouds are they without water.” Hiding the sun and dissipating its warmth but providing nothing in the way of refreshment or the encouragement of sound growth. “Trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit.” For an example of a tree producing no fruit, just leaves, see Matt.21.17-19. Leaves can give a good, even a spectacular show, but only fruit provides evidence of renewable and sustainable life. “Raging waves of the sea.” Isaiah speaks of “the troubled sea — it cannot rest,” Isa.57.20. But the Hebrews writer, also concerned with real faith and how it shows itself, see Heb.11, assures us that, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God, for he that hath entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works as God did from His,” Heb.4.9-10.
“Wandering stars.” Job knew a lot about the stars, even being able to name separate constellations, but when speaking to Bildad, see Job 9.1-12, he does so in the context of the creatorial and sustaining power of God. Later on God asks Job, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion?” Job 38.31, two of the groups of stars referred to in the earlier conversation. No, he could not. He might know all about them but he could exert no control over them. God had set the stars in order and so confident is He that His order will be maintained that He says. “If My covenant be not with day and night and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth. Then I will cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant,” Jer.33.25-26. All God’s promises were linked to Abraham and his offspring, including Jacob, and with David. What God is saying is that if His control of events in His creation is not certain and inviolate, neither are His promises to His people. That is unthinkable “for all the promises of God in Him (the Son of God, Jesus Christ) are yea, and in Him Amen,” see 2Cor.1.19-20. So “wandering stars” picture those who have broken away from the divinely appointed order, “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” That is the antithesis of faith, or trust. A going of their own uncertain unrelated way in direct defiance to the revealed will of God. That is a state of heart and mind which characterises natural mankind, see Rom.1.19-25, and it was something therefore which Jude most certainly did not want to make inroads among believers.
V14-15 is one example of a number of occasions when New Testament writers use non-Scriptural sources to emphasise points which they are making, see Acts 17.28 and Tit.1.12-13. This by no means infers that the whole passage from which they quote, is dependable in its entirety, but the actual words quoted, having become part of the Scriptural record, are themselves to be accepted as divinely inspired.
Jude uses the prophecy of Enoch to show that as far back as “the seventh from Adam,” it had been foretold that there would be “hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (i.e. against the Lord).” Moreover his early readers had had confirmation of this in their own time too, and they are urged, “Remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, v14-17. They must have heard, or known of, those words, Neither they nor we, can remember something which we never knew. But just to hear is insufficient, even to know, is, by itself, not enough. What we hear, what we know, or profess to know, must be accepted, believed and put into practice before it can become effective.
The unbelief of those spoken of as “mockers,” is contrasted with the “most holy faith” of his readers, but that faith must not be left dormant, it is to be ‘built up,’ v20. Error will never be effectively contended within an environment of lethargy, indolence or self-satisfaction. It may be that an individual’s faith is really genuine, but for it to be seen to be such it must be lively.
But although Jude presses hard for the need of individual faith, he, like Paul, recognises it as one facet, though an essential one, in the overall concept of Christian belief. We might well emulate the apostles by asking, “Lord increase our faith,” Lk.17.5. Paul encourages this, urging us to “covet earnestly the best gifts,” and he has shown earlier that faith is such a gift. But he finishes that chapter by saying, “Yet show I unto you a more excellent way,” see 1Cor.12.9,31, and goes on into ch.13 to extol the extreme virtue of love. So Jude too says, “Keep yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” v21. Faith does not, and cannot, exist in isolation. It is only meaningful if it has an object on which to focus. Don’t try to look at, measure, or depend on, your faith; look instead to the Person on whom your faith rests and relies and contemplate all of His faithfulness remembering that “if” in some areas, and at some times, “we believe not, yet He abideth faithful, He cannot deny himself,” 2Tim.2.13.
We may feel that Jude, having put these “certain men” in their right place, has corralled his readers into an exclusive sphere of blessing, see v20-21. But that is not the whole picture, there are others who merit attention too. Everyone else is not to be written off as “murmurers, complainers, mockers,” v16-18. Paul appreciated that even amongst genuine believers there would be some “weak in the faith,” and he urges their generous reception and treatment, see Rom.14.1. In the same vein, Jude encourages compassion, and help to extricate such from problem situations. He does though differentiate positively between compassion for individuals and acceptance of, or compromise with, whatever has been the immediate cause of their downfall, “hating even the garment spotted by the flesh,” v22-23.
How though can we be sure that such matters, so impossible for us to adjudicate on, have been fully and finally dealt with by God? Can the insistence by Jude on the essential and paramount nature of faith solve this seeming dilemma? What the writer does, rather than looking at our, or any other believer's faith, is to point us once again to the object of that faith, the one Person who has not only dealt with past matters but who, in present time, “is able to keep you from falling,” and we need to appreciate that that is possible for any of us, see 1Cor.10,12, so don’t let pride tell you otherwise. That ‘keeping’ is so sure, so positive, so complete, that he will one day “present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” v24. How perfect you must be seen to be by God, if your presentation to Him in His glory is so delightsome as to cause such joy. That surely was the joy, the very prospect of which led the Lord Jesus to endure the cross and despise the shame, see Heb.12.2. For without the cross and what was accomplished on it, that joy, both for Him and for us, would not have been possible.
To make quite sure that we are under no misapprehension as to just who this Person is that we are being encouraged to trust in totally, the letter ends with a doxology. We may perhaps see parallel here with how Paul expresses himself at the end of the third section of his letter to Rome, see Rom.11.33-36. Jude, using fewer words, concludes by committing us to “The only wise God our Saviour.” The one in whom resides “glory and majesty, dominion and power.” Not only in sufficient measure to have met everything in our experience that has gone before, but “both now and ever,” v25.
Trust in Him ye saints forever,
He is faithful changing never,
Neither force nor guile can sever,
Those He loves from Him.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (England)
5. BECAUSE I LOVE THE LORD
[Ed] - The first paragraph has been corrupted, but will be inserted when available.
Some people are religious out of fear. They dread to stand before a holy God as sinners. So they make every effort to be good and do good with the motive of the fear of being rejected by God.
But all this is a perversion of the gospel of God’s grace. The believer can have no ambition to gain salvation and no fear of losing it. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, Eph.1.3. All the blessings of salvation have already been given by God to the believer in Christ. Whether it be the forgiveness of sins, Eph.1.7, or justification before God’s law, Rom.5.1, or the gift of the Holy Spirit, Eph.1.13, or adoption into the family of God, 1Jn.3.2, or enhancement in the kingdom of heaven, Lk.10.20, or eternal life, 1Jn.5.13, the believer already possesses these in Christ. Having now obtained these blessings the believer cannot have the fear of losing them. For the Lord Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,” Jn.10.28.
The only motive left for living a holy life is love for the One, who has given us all the blessings of salvation … ‘We love Him, because He first loved us,’ 1Jn.4.19. This is the only motive that God desires. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment,” Matt.22.37-38. Jesus also said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” Jn.14.15, R.S.V., Obedience does not need to be added to love by our choice, it is the automatic result of love. After the apostle Peter had denied the Lord thrice, all the Lord required of Peter was the threefold positive reply to the question, “Lovest thou Me?’, Jn.21.15-17. The rebuke levelled against the church at Ephesus was ‘I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,’ Rev.2.4.
Love is the most powerful of motives. Stronger than ambition or fear, and even duty. Love will even lay down its life, as the Lord laid down His life for us. ‘Hereby we know love, because He laid down His life for us,’ 1Jn.3.16, R.V.
Love seeks to be pleasing to the One who is loved. The only true motive for holy living is to please the Lord because we love Him. Love is the pure motive, because selfishness has no part in it.
Only love for the Lord can carry the believer to martyrdom for the Lord’s sake. ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life,’ Rev.2.10.
Only love for the Lord can carry the pioneer missionary through the years of hardship and suffering, 2Cor.11.23-31.
Only love for the Lord can enable the humble believer to remain true to the Lord despite all the problems of life. ‘Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love,’ 1Pet.1.6-8.
The all-sufficient reason for living a holy life is love for the Lord. Seeking to please the One who out of love for us, gave His all for us and now gives His all to us.
by C. Jones (Wales)
Paper 2 — His Holy Humanity
That Holy Thing
The incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ was necessary if men and women were to be saved. The Word of God states clearly and unequivocally that “all have sinned,” Rom.3.23, and “without shedding of blood is no remission,” Heb.9.22. “God is a Spirit,” Jn.4.24, He cannot bleed and He cannot die. If we were to be saved, a man had to bear the full penalty for the sin of the whole world, Jn.1.29, 1Jn.2.2. He had to suffer, bleed and die as our substitute. That man had to be holy and sinless and capable of infinite suffering. Only God could pay the penalty of our sins, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten, eternal and beloved Son of God, in whom dwells eternally “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” Col.2.9, came into the world as a baby. “God was manifest in the flesh,” 1Tim.3.16.
His coming had been prophesied hundreds of years before He came. In Is.7.14 we read, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us,” Matt.1.23. Before He was born, the angel Gabriel said to Mary, His virgin mother, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,” Lk.1.35. The angel said to Joseph, the man to whom Mary was to be married, “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost … and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins,” Matt.1.20,21. The name Jesus means Jehovah the Saviour, and is His name as man. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is eternally God, became man. The prophet had said long before His coming, “unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” Isa.9.6.
John refers to the Lord as the Word, Jn.1.1. The Lord is the very essence and substance of God and expresses the mind of God. John tells us that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,” Jn.1.14RV. His birth was normal but His conception was unique and miraculous, for He had no father on earth, His Father was in heaven, 1Jn.4.9. God had told Satan that the seed of the woman “shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Gen.3.15, and in the fulness of time, the Lord came, “made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law,” Gal.4.4,5.
The Lord was a perfect man, having a body, Heb.10.5, a soul, Matt.26.38, Acts 2.31, and a spirit, Lk.23.46. He passed through all the stages of human development: infancy, boyhood, youth and then manhood, Lk.2.7,40,52. He experienced all those feelings a human being experiences, apart from those which are a consequence of having committed sin. He experienced hunger, Matt.21.18, tiredness, Jn.4.6, and sorrow, Jn.11.35. When He was on the Cross, the Lord “knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst,” Jn.19.28. These were the only words He spoke, while on the Cross, which referred to His physical sufferings. In saying “I thirst,” He fulfilled the prophecy recorded in Ps.69.21, and showed His Humanity. In “knowing that all things were now accomplished,” He showed His Deity. He who was called by God, “the man that is My fellow,” Zech.13.7, became “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” Isa.53.3, and on the Cross He died, Lk.23.46, 1Pet.3.18.
God, in Christ, has done all that is necessary to make our salvation possible, Jn.3.16. He was “in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself,” 2Cor.5.19. We have been reconciled to God “In the body of His flesh through death,” Col.1.22. He has made salvation possible for “Salvation is of the Lord,” Jn.2.9. The Lord “His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,” 1Pet.2.24, and there, He, the Just One, suffered and died for the unjust, 1Pet.3.18. We are redeemed by the “precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1Pet.1.19, for the blood He shed “cleanseth us from all sin,” 1Jn.1.7.
Holy, harmless and undefiled
God is Holy, Lev.19.2, Isa.30.15. Holiness is absolute, infinite, unchanging and eternal purity. It is the absence of moral evil. It is moral perfection. Holiness abhors and repels evil. The Lord Jesus is referred to as the “Holy One,” Mk.1.24, Acts 3.14, and that which is holy is incapable of sinning. The Lord came “in the likeness of men,” Phil.2.7, and was “found in fashion as a man,” Phil.2.8. God sent His Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Rom.8.3. He looked like us, He was a real man, Heb.2.14,17, but He was not a mere man, for He never ceased to be what He is eternally, and that is God. He was and is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb.7.26. He was like us in every way apart from our sin, Heb.4.15. His Humanity was unique Holy Humanity.
The Lord could say “I delight to do Thy will, O My God,” Ps.40.8. He revealed God to mankind, Jn.1.18, 14.9. Heb.1.1-3, and said, “I do always those things that please Him,” Jn.8.29. He possessed Deity and Holy Humanity in One Person. God, His Holy Father, said of Him, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matt.3.17,17.5.
When the Lord prayed to His Father, He never had any sins to confess for He “knew no sin,” 2Cor.5.21, “did no sin,” 1Pet.2.22, and “in Him is no sin,” 1Jn.3.5. The Lord could say to those who opposed Him, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?”, Jn.8.46, and no one attempted to do so. Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Those temptations were tests which showed and proved that the Lord could not sin. He did not have to struggle and fight against temptation to overcome it. He could say, “the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me,” Jn.14.30. The Lord is eternally holy and unchanging, Heb.13.8, and cannot sin. Those of us who have been saved by grace through faith in He who completed that work on the Cross, Eph.2.8, “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,” Heb.4.15. Again we read, “He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted,” Heb.2.18. He is our “advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” 1Jn.2.1.
On the right hand of God
Death had no claim on the holy, sinless, Son of God, for death, both physical death and the “second death,” Rev.2.11, 20.6, which is eternal separation from God, is a result of sin, Rom.5.12.
The Lord had voluntarily taken “flesh and blood … that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil,” Heb.2.14. He who is the Son of God, Mk.1.1, identified Himself with man and often referred to Himself as the Son of man, Matt.8.20, 26.64, Lk.19.10. The Lord, who was a perfect Man and perfect Saviour, was dependent on His Father and even “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered,” Heb.5.8. The Lord, “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Phil.2.8. He voluntarily tasted “death for every man,” Heb.2.9.
When He rose from the dead, He had a body. He ate, Lk.24.42,43, and had “flesh and bones,” Lk.24.39. He ascended into heaven, Lk.24.50,51, where He now is in His “glorious body,” Phil.3.21. In that body He now sits on the right hand of God, Heb.10.12, 12.2, and in that body He bears the marks of Calvary eternally. One day He will descend to take us to be with Himself for ever, 1Thess.4.16,17, and then we shall see those marks for “we shall see Him as He is,” 1Jn.3.2.
by J. C. Gibson (Scotland)
Paper 1: Acts 17.1 - 15 - The Missionaries at Thessalonica
In this introductory study we shall consider the following matters:
1. THE SETTING:
2. THE SERVANTS:
3. THEIR SCRIPTURAL ORDER
4. THE SAINTS:
5. THE SCRIBE:
6. THE STRIFE:
There is much to learn from the city of Thessalonica itself, the stage upon which the drama unfolds. Established in 315 BC by Cassander, brother-in-law to Alexander the Great, it was an historical city with a heritage of which it could be proud. The apostle Paul brought the new and invigorating message of the gospel to this old city, because no matter what a man’s age, pedigree or family background, he still needs to hear the gospel of Christ. In 168 BC after the battle of Pydna, the Romans divided the conquered territory into four districts, and Thessalonica was named the capital of the second. Furthermore, in 146 BC Macedonia was united into one Roman province and Thessalonica became the supreme capital, so making it politically influential. This teeming metropolis was the largest of the Macedonian cities, Harrison estimating that during the time of Paul its population might have been as many as 200,000. Nevertheless, the missionaries were unafraid to come to a centre of such importance and preach the good news from heaven. Thessalonica was declared a free city by Octavian, the future Emperor Augustus, as a reward for help given during the second Roman civil war against Brutus and Cassius. It enjoyed local autonomy being governed by a board of magistrates, yet political freedom does not stimulate an interest in the things of God. The city had a commercially advantageous position on two accounts. Firstly, the Via Egnatia, a Roman highway passing through Macedonia from East to West went through the city, and secondly, it had an excellent harbour allowing ships from all over the Roman world to dock and sell their wares. The city had prospered materially and was extremely wealthy. It does not matter how wealthy a person appears to be, he still needs salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. It may well be that the Jews at Berea were not as affluent as those at Thessalonica, and because of this showed a greater interest in the gospel, since ‘how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God,’ Lk.18.24. Thessalonica has been described as ‘the key to the whole of Macedonia’ (Lightfoot), thus strategically it was an ideal centre to begin preaching the gospel. With the vast numbers of merchants passing through, one can imagine the rapidity with which the news of the gospel could be widely propagated, 1Thess.1.8. In such a cosmopolitan population gathered from all over the Roman world it is no surprise to discover that Thessalonica was extremely immoral. Paul’s enemies falsely accused him of immorality and he had to remind his readers to remove themselves far from it, 1Thess.4.3 and as believers we too must separate ourselves from the wickedness that surrounds us. These deeply immoral people needed to hear about the Lord Jesus Christ and the full forgiveness He alone offers. Having said this, it was a religious city with numerous pagan religions and also ‘a synagogue of the Jews,’ v1. A number of the inhabitants, disenchanted and appalled by the immorality of the pagan religions, had turned to the synagogue to hear of a religion with high moral standards.
Paul, Silas and Timothy were faithful servants despite adversity. Despite marked opposition and intense suffering in Thessalonica for the sake of the gospel, they continued steadfastly to preach the gospel in Berea, which is also part of Macedonia. This was in obedience to the vision they were given in Acts 16.9,10. Often it is when we are in the place where the Lord wants us to be that we feel the most intense oppression and opposition as though we were in the very heat of battle. These missionaries were wise in relation to time and energy, v1. There is no indication in the text that any preaching was done for example, in Amphipolis or Apollonia. Paul recognised that Thessalonica held a strategically important position as the key to the evangelisation of the whole of Macedonia, and he was eager to begin preaching there. It was not that he despised small things, but that with limited time and energy he sought to use them to the greatest impact in the spread of the gospel. Paul’s strategic plan was to go to major population centres and so enable widespread dissemination of the message. Although Paul lived in a special time period at the very beginning of the church age, the principle is the same for us. We should think carefully through every decision we have to make, perhaps with regard to our jobs, families, holidays and hobbies so that in our short lives we maximise our influence for the Lord Jesus. They prioritised preaching to the Jews, v2. This was done for at least four reasons.
Firstly, it was the Lord’s mind that the Jew hear the gospel first: ‘and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea...’ Acts 1.8. Undoubtedly this was one reason why Paul first went to the synagogues.
Secondly, he would instantly find both Jews and Gentiles with a leaning toward spiritual things, since in the synagogue there was a ready gathered company interested in what he had to say. Thirdly, Paul was a Jew himself and therefore could easily relate to them. The Lord trains and moulds each of us so that we are specially suited to reaching particular people. It is, of course, by no means exclusive but we should bear it in mind.
Finally, Paul had a special affection for them because they were his own people, Rom.9.1-3, and we too have a special responsibility to those who are close to us, Lk.8.38-39.
They were discerning in choosing their preaching style. To the Jewish audience they preached completely differently from the way that they addressed the gathering of academic heathen at Athens. We must bear in mind the understanding and background of the people to whom we speak and vary our style accordingly, 1Cor.9.19-22. Paul reasoned with the Thessalonian Jews out of their own Scriptures in relation to the promises of the coming Messiah, whereas with Athenian philosophers he used their pagan writings as a means of persuasion, ‘as certain also of your own poets have said,’ Acts 17.28. This takes a great deal of skill and experience, and of course the message stands unchanged and undiluted no matter to whom we preach. They were knowledgeable concerning God’s Word. They ‘reasoned with them out of the Scriptures,’ v2. This reasoning was with Jews who would have been hearing the Scriptures from childhood and knew them well. Through many years of hard and diligent study Paul had accumulated a vast wealth of understanding in relation to the Holy Scriptures. Indeed, Festus said, ‘much learning doth make thee mad,’ Acts 26.24. An essential preparation for any servant of the Lord Jesus Christ is gradually over years of study to become familiar and fondly acquainted with the Scriptures of truth. This must surely be one of the chief priorities in the believer’s life, to get to grips with the Word of God. Of how much more value is this than getting ahead in the world of business, Ps.19.10. God’s Word should grip our souls, overwhelm and consume us.
— to be continued (D.V.)
by Eugene W. Badgley
I was born in September of 1940 and born again on May 16, 1963. I was brought up in a farming community in southeastern Ontario. There my father and mother worked hard to raise six children, especially during the First and Second World Wars, and the great depression of the 1930's. My father served overseas in the First World War, and at time spoke of his horrible experiences and how his life was spared on many occasions.
We all attended the United Church, and as long as I went there, I never heard the gospel preached. The sermons I heard centred on the events of the day, and that if you lived a respectable life you would likely be in Heaven. The Bible was never read in our home and the giving of thanks for food was only on rare occasions. However, there was a reverence for God and a respect for the first day of the week. Not until my late teens did some of the farmers in our area begin to work in their fields on Sunday.
Eternal things were impressed upon my mind at an early age when one day our next-door neighbour spoke to me about Noah, the flood, and the final judgment when God would destroy this world by fire. I do not know what prompted this conversation for I had never heard that they were Christians. Also, the reality of death and the fear of meeting God was instilled in my soul when close family members died suddenly.
However, it was not until February 1952 when my brother got saved that I heard about salvation and saw the reality of it in his life. Our family was greatly disturbed as he spoke of being born again. Such questions as, “Isn't our church good enough?”, and “what will our relatives and neighbours think?”, were brought up. More unrest took place a few months later when he told us that he was going to be baptised. His changed life had an effect upon me, and at 11 years of age I longed to have what he had. He told me about being born again and that I should read Rom.10.9. On several occasions I would go to our woodshed where my mother always did our weekly washing, and kneeling down by a chair I would read this verse, thinking that if I believed it hard enough a wonderful feeling would come, convincing me that I was saved. That feeling did not come so I tried to feel happy, but since I did not have Christ, it was not long before I realised that this was not the way of salvation. I thought salvation was in a text and that by believing it hard enough one would get saved. Rom.10.9 was pointing me to Christ and this was what I missed.
During High School the things of the world became my attraction. The friends I chummed around with only encouraged me to enjoy the things of time and sense; however, I continued going to our church and in my late teens became a member, which gave me a certain feeling of respectability. From time to time I also would go with my brother to a little assembly where he was in fellowship and to some gospel meetings. I recall once hearing Mr. Chas. Fleming preach in an old abandoned farm house. While I cannot remember anything that was preached, there were deep impressions made in my soul. I believed in Heaven and Hell, and knew about the gospel, but had not yet come to an end of myself. I was truly full of self and pride. The words of the hymn writer were true, “I felt not my danger and knew not my load, and Jehovah Tsidkenu meant nothing to me.”
In 1962 my oldest brother and his wife professed to be saved through the personal witness of a minister of an evangelical Baptist Church. My brother began witnessing to me and would invite me out to a Sunday night meeting at the Baptist Church where I heard the gospel. At times I would ask my brother about certain prophetic truths in the book of the Revelation, but he reminded me that this was not the important issue and that I was sidestepping the question of salvation.
God was working in my life and by His grace, soon removed from my life that which I had considered important. It was then that I had a conversation with the Baptist minister, Mr. Twilley, who asked me a pointed and all-important question, “Eugene, when would you like to be saved?” I said “I want to be saved now more than anything else.” Then he suggested that we pray. While on my knees I confessed my sin and guilt before God and accepted Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Almost immediately the disturbing thought came to me, ‘how do you know you are saved?’ Mr. Twilley said words to this effect, ‘Does God's salvation depend on feelings of faith?’ Of course, faith alone in Christ's work on the cross for me was enough, and I realised that Christ had died in my place.
That night in my bedroom, kneeling by the bed I thanked God for the first time for giving the Lord Jesus Christ to die for me. I saw the substitutionary work of Christ through the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac. A verse from 1Jn.5.11-13 gave the assurance that I needed.
… these things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God;
that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life …"
He was now my Saviour and Lord and I could lay my head upon my pillow knowing I was saved and ready for Heaven and no longer needed to fear death or judgment. This was Thursday evening, May 16, 1963. The next day when I went to work a Christian woman said, “You look happy this morning, you must have gotten saved.” I was happy to tell her that I had. After work, I went to buy a Bible in the same town where I had enjoyed the pleasures of sin. I recall walking down the street towards the store and thinking that I no longer belonged to this word or the devil.
I began to attend the Evangelistic Fellowship Baptist Church and was later baptised and took an interest in open-air work and door-to-door visitation. A year later I decided that I would attend a non-denominational Bible school so that I could learn the Word of God to equip myself for full time work. I was to learn later that this was not God's way of preparing one for the Lord's work. At the end of my third year I married a girl that had completed four years of Bible school. After I finished school I remained to teach some Bible courses. It was during this time that I began reading CHM's books on the Pentateuch that my wife had given to me, and learned that the Scriptures could not support many things we were practising.
This caused great unrest for us both and after much pondering of soul we decided to leave this ministry. It just came to this: it was either separation to Him outside the camp or remain in the confusion of the systems of men.
In June of 1970 we moved from Sault Ste. Marie to Belleville, Ontario. In a few months we were received to the fellowship of the assembly gathered to His Name in Picton. I began to get involved with the work associated with the assembly and during the next six years I spent time helping Mr. Timothy Kember in visiting work, children's meetings and gospel meetings, after which time it became clear to us that the Lord was calling us to full time work in the gospel. Circumstances, encouragement from my brethren and the guidance received from the Scriptures confirmed this exercise. In September of 1976 the assemblies of Picton and Deseronto commended us full time to the Lord's work in southeastern Ontario. For the past 28 years the Lord has blessed us in the saving of souls, the up building of the saints of God and the meeting of our needs. “He hath done this,” Ps.22.31; “Great is His Faithfulness,” Lam.3.23.
"THE HIDING PLACE"
A typical and quite ordinary building on the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam has become world famous and has attracted millions of visitors. The rather dull façade hides a story which has made many weep and few who have visited this famous house, have left without their emotions stirred deeply and lasting impressions made upon them.
Anne Frank, a young Jewess, went into hiding there with her parents, sister and four other people when Nazi persecution of the Jews intensified. Her father Otto Frank had constructed what Anne called her ‘secret annexe’ which provided safety and seclusion for the family for just over two years, until their secret was cruelly and treacherously betrayed in August 1944.
A hinged bookcase concealed access to a steep, narrow staircase into the ‘hiding place.’ For twenty-five months they dare not venture outside. Then, suddenly, without warning, the unthinkable happened, the annexe was raided and Anne and her loved ones were taken to various concentration camps. It is so sad to think that just about a month before liberation by the Allied Forces in 1945, Anne died, in Belsen, after weeks of failing health and a broken heart caused by the death of her sister Margot and separation from those she had loved most.
My friend, have you a ‘hiding place?’ Have you found shelter from the judgment which must surely fall upon the unbelieving? A shelter, tried, tested and trustworthy where your security will never be under threat.
Many shelter behind good works and a moral life, having been deceived into thinking that this is all that is necessary. Others have had to confess in the words of Isaiah 28.15, “ …we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:” They are oblivious of the fact that they have to do with a God of uncompromising holiness, A “God that cannot lie” Titus 1.2, impartial and inflexibly righteous.
All too many others have sheltered behind the perfumed robes of religion, unaware that the all-seeing eyes of God penetrate their flimsy covering, detecting the sin as yet unforgiven and the loathsome disease as yet uncleansed. Isaiah 32.2 tells that “ a Man shall be as a hiding place.” Without any doubt this refers to Israel’s Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
The hymn writer, Augustus Toplady, wrote:
Rock of ages! Cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee!
On Calvary’s Cross this sinless Man, God’s Son from Heaven, exhausted the judgment due to our sins and bore its fearful penalty. “Who His own Self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,” 1 Peter 2.24. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,” 1 Peter 3.18. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;” 1 Corinthians 15.3. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53.5
Major Andrè wrote:
On Him almighty vengeance fell
Which would have sunk the world to hell.
He bore it for a ruined race
And thus became my hiding place.
His loving arms have welcomed millions of penitent sinners who, upon trusting Him, have enjoyed the blessedness of sins forgiven and eternal security. Read John 10.28.
by S. Alexander (N. Ireland)
They bargained and set a price,
For my Saviour and my Lord,
Thirty pieces of silver
Was all they would afford.
They sought for an occasion
To complete the awful deed,
The kiss of the betrayer
Was the given sign and seal.
The twelve were met together
In that large upper room,
My Lord, He was desiring
To eat with them the Lamb.
’Twas there He said to Judas,
“What thou doest quickly do,”
The man went out and left them,
Vile interests to pursue.
‘Twas in the late, late evening,
In the place where prayer was made,
That the rebel band they took Him
With lanterns, swords and staves,
Unto the High Priest’s Palace
Where mocking then began,
And thence to Pilate’s judgment hall
Where He was tried and scorned.
Oh, I would think of Peter,
Who watching from afar,
Denied the Blessed Saviour,
As he warmed around the fire.
I gaze upon that thorn crowned brow,
The face me-thinks I see,
The look of piety and the voice
That said “Remember ME.”
Away, away with Him,
The rebel voices roar,
Barabbas was the people’s choice,
God’s Son they want no more.
They took Him up the hillside,
His cross partway He bore,
And then they nailed Him to it
A spectacle and more.
To think that in God’s purpose,
In His redemption’s plan,
His only Son should die this death
To rescue guilty man.
For surely God did hide His face
And deal with Him as sin,
The punishment I should have borne
Was meted out to Him.
In agonies and blood He cried
“’Tis finished” — I go free
Because by faith I drank it in
That Jesus died for me.
Oh now, to be like Mary
Who sought and thought Him gone,
To worship and adore the One
Who wore the crown of thorn,
To take my box of ointment
To pour it at His feet,
To love the One who died for me
This is communion sweet.
We are not dissatisfied with earth, but simply unsatisfied here, and longing to see Him.
- W. Trew
'The Glories of Christ' as...
Son — Heb. 1.1-8.
Servant — Matt.12.14-21.
Saviour — Acts 5.30-32.
Shepherd — Heb.13.20&21.
Sovereign — Rev.19.11-21.
by H. A. Barnes (England)