ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TESTIMONY IN TROUBLOUS TIMES
by I. McKee
CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd
THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by J. Flanigan
THE DEVICES AND WILES OF SATAN
by C. Jones
by J. Gibson
by W. W. Fereday
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by L. Wells
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
6) "The Lord Our God Made a Covenant With Us"
Read Chapter 5
Following his historical review in ch.1-3, Moses highlights lessons from Israel's history in ch.4-11, and in ch.4-5, he deals with the implications of the covenant made with Israel at Sinai. Ch.4 stresses the great privileges of Israel, and warns against throwing them away by idolatrous practices. Ch.5 spells out the actual details of the covenant, which involves the ‘Ten Commandments.’ It also emphasises the role of Moses in the giving of the law. See v5, 22, 27, 31. The chapter can be analysed as follows:
(1) The terms of the covenant, v1-22;
(2) The terror of Israel, v23-27;
(3) The teaching of Moses, v28-33.
1) THE TERMS OF THE COVENANT, v1-22
"And the Lord called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them." The Lord Jesus emphasised the necessity to "hear" and "do" in Matt.7.24-27, and James urges us to be "doers of the Word, and not hearers only," 1.22. Do notice how James continues here. If we are "hearers only," we deceive ourselves. Familiarity with the Word of God, and exposure to sound Bible teaching in the assembly, is important, but we must put it into practice. Sadly, some assemblies have enjoyed the best possible ministry, and still crashed on the rocks of internal strife and dissension. Notice:
A) The parties to the covenant, v2-3
"The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers (the patriarchs), but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day." Compare 29.10-15. For "alive this day," see 4.1,4. The covenant made with the patriarchs was on the basis of grace. It provided unconditional promises. But the covenant made at Horeb was on the basis of law, and promised conditional blessings. See Ex.19.5-6. The connection between the two covenants is spelt out in Gal.3. However, the words, "not … with our fathers, but with us," stress their responsibility. Privilege determines responsibility. Just read 4.7-8 and 32-38 again. We have even greater privileges, and participate in the new covenant, Heb.10.15-18. Do remember that "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required," Lk.12.48.
B) The mediator of the covenant, v4-5
"The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, (I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the Word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount), saying, I am the Lord thy God." Moses acted as mediator, and Paul refers to this in the New Testament. The law "was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator," Gal. 3.19. The Lord Jesus is ‘the Mediator of the new covenant,’ Heb.9.15 JND. See also Heb.8.6, 12.24, 1Tim.2.5. A mediator stands between two, and communicates with both. Moses is described as "the man Moses," Num.12.3, but the Lord is "the man Christ Jesus," indicating that He is both God and man. The words, "The Lord talked with you face to face," v4, are explained in v5. He spoke to them through Moses their representative. Moses himself enjoyed intimate fellowship with God. See Ex.33.11, Num.12.8.
C) The reason for the covenant, v6
"I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." As their Redeemer-God, to Whom they owed everything, He had the right to their obedience and unswerving loyalty. We too have been "bought with a price," 1Cor.6.19-20. Our obligations are clearly set out in 2Cor.5.15.
D) The requirements of the covenant, v7-22
The ‘Ten Commandments’ follow, When the Lord Jesus was asked, "Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?", He replied, "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. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," Matt.22.35-40. The Lord Jesus was citing Deut.6.4-5, and Lev.19.18 respectively. We can divide the ‘Ten Commandments’ with reference to the Lord's teaching here:
a) "The first and great commandment"
The first five commandments flow out of the overall command, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God."
i) "Thou shalt have none other gods before me." Believers take note. It still holds good. See 1Jn.5.21.
ii) "Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth (see 4.16-19): "Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God (see 4.24, 6.15)." The second commandment does not repeat the first. ‘People might worship mythical beings, or the sun or moon, without the use of idols.’ (Believer's Bible Commentary). Idolatrous children will suffer the same judgment as their fathers. Notice that idolatry is nothing short of hatred for God.
iii) "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." The solemnity of this commandment is emphasised in Lev.24.10-16. The man who ‘blasphemed the Name, and cursed,’ JND, was stoned to death.
iv) "Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee … and remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence … therefore the Lord thy God commandeth thee to keep the Sabbath day." The Sabbath was therefore to be a day of rest and remembrance. It is connected here with redemption. To pollute the Sabbath, Isa.56.6, was therefore to treat their deliverance and redemption lightly. In Ex.20.9-11, the Sabbath is connected with creation. In Ex.31.13-17 it is connected with sanctification. It was the day on which God's people were to remember their unique relationship with Him. To ignore the Sabbath was insulting to God, and so is our forgetfulness and disregard. We must not allow anything to invade our appreciation of His claims upon us as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. The Sabbath was to be "a delight," Isa.58.13-14, and devotion to the Lord should be "a delight" for us as well.
v) "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee (see 4.40), and the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." In marriage, a man leaves "his father and his mother," Gen.2.24, but he does not cease to honour them. Sadly, the Jews had an ‘opt-out’ clause when it came to supporting parents. See Mk.7.9-13. The Lord Jesus honoured His mother by making provision for her, Jn.19.26-27.
b) "The second is like unto it"
The five remaining commandments flow out of the overall command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This is confirmed in Rom.13.9-10.
vi) "Thou shalt not kill." The Lord Jesus did not come to "destroy the law, or the prophets … but to fulfil," Matt.5.17. The word "fulfil" here does not mean ‘to obey,’ but ‘to give the fullness’ of the law. See JND margin. He disclosed the inner meaning of the law. Hence, "Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.’ Similarly with the next commandment:
vii) "Neither shalt thou commit adultery." "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." This was the first stage in David's adultery. See 2Sam.11.2-4. We must beware of the ‘second look,’ and of the ‘second thought.’
viii) "Neither shalt thou steal." Notice that grace goes further than law: "let him that stole, steal no more: but rather let him labour … that he may have to give to him that needeth,’ Eph. 4.28.
ix) "Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour." We can "bear false witness" in a variety of ways. A ‘half-truth’ is as bad as a downright lie. Abraham was guilty in this way. Compare Gen.12.11-13 and 20.2, with 20.11-13. Creating a wrong impression is as bad as a downright lie. Remember Ananias and Sapphira.
x) "Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, of his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's." There are certain things that we are to covet! See 1Cor.12.31, 14.39. The New Testament applies this commandment in a variety of ways. See, for example, Acts 20.33, Col.3.5, 1Thess.2.5, 1Tim.6.10, Heb.13.5.
The comment, "and he added no more," probably means that ‘these commandments were such a complete summary of the requirements of the covenant, that no other law needed to be added. All other law was a mere interpretation and expansion of these basic principles.’ (Quoted in the Believer's Bible Commentary). The material on which the commandments were written, stone, is deeply significant. See also 2Cor.3.7. Wood and metal are pliable, but not stone! Just like the law! We are not "under law," whether for justification or for sanctification, but we are to display the "righteousness of the law." This is produced by the indwelling Spirit of God. See Rom.8.4.
2) THE TERROR OF ISRAEL, v23-27
"And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness (for the mountain did burn with fire), that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; and ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth." When the dispensation of law began, the glory of God was accompanied by fire. But when the dispensation of grace was inaugurated, divine glory was displayed in an entirely different way. See Jn.1.14.
When the law was given, the voice of God was terrifying. "Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die." See Ex.20.8-19 and Heb.18-19. But when the Lord Jesus came, "all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth," Lk.4.22. "The common people heard him gladly," Mk.12.37.
3) THE TEACHING OF MOSES, v28-33
God was well aware that His people were unreliable. They had said "speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it." But He knew their hearts: O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!" His instructions to Moses remain unchanged for us: "Stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it." Moses was God's appointed leader, which reminds us that all who lead God's people must spend time in the Lord's presence, listen to His voice, receive instructions, and communicate them to others. The Lord Jesus "ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach," Mk.3.13-14. But we mustn't limit this to preachers! We all need to be "with Him," and we must all obey His word. "Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you … Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God commanded you, and that it may be well with you."
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee (Northern Ireland)
Paper 16 — Things are not always what they seem to be (Ezra Chapter 9:1-3)
The events recorded at the close of Ezra ch.8 brought successfully to an end another phase of Ezra’s life and service. There was much cause for gratitude to God and, no doubt, Ezra and his companions were greatly relieved to have delivered to Jerusalem the entire deposit they had received in Babylon. All seemed to be well. But it wasn’t. There was sin among the Jewish colony in Judah. Over one hundred civil and religious leaders were guilty of breaking the law of the Lord.
Between the events recorded at the end of Ezra ch.8 and those in ch.9 and 10 is an interval of approximately 4 months, see Ezra 7.9b and 10.9. At the end of that period the princes came to Ezra saying "The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations … For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass," Ezra 9.1,2.
It is significant that the princes confess this sin. There is evidently a guilty conscience where, before, there had been complacency. But why did they confess the sin to Ezra? Surely it is because he was the same person in Jerusalem as he had been in Babylon: "for Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments," Ezra 7.10. The new dynamic was the presence of an active, teaching priest with moral authority.
Until this moment Ezra was not personally aware of this sin. This is clear from his extreme reaction: "And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied," Ezra 9.3. Yet the consistent, consecutive, applicatory teaching of the servant of God had probed deep into lives and practices that were at variance with Scripture. Sufficient place must be given to the public reading of God’s Word, to the expounding of the doctrines of Scripture and to their practical application. Blessed by God, Ezra’s accurate exposition revealed unholiness.
Had Ezra been teaching from Leviticus? If he had, he could not with good conscience pass over, "Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron … they shall not take a wife that is … profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God … and he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured … he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife," Lev.21.1-14. If Ezra was teaching from Deuteronomy he could not ignore the admonition in relation to the peoples of the land, "Thou shalt make no covenant with them … neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly," Deut.7.2-4. Similar teaching is given in Ex.23.31-33 and 34.11-17. This truth was also reiterated in Joshua’s last counsels, Josh.23.12,13. And if there be any lingering doubt on the part of any as to Divine displeasure in this regard, the record about Solomon makes sobering reading, IKg.11.1-11.
It should, of course, be noted that marriage to foreigners was not absolutely forbidden in the Old Testament as, for instance, Boaz had a foreign wife. However, it was expressly forbidden in the context where, actually or potentially, it compromised faith or practice. There is no doubt here as to this action being illicit, "for they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands", Ezra 9.2. It should, however, be noted that the text at this point does not accord the "daughters" the title "wife", but uses the word employed in Ezra 5.15 for taking vessels to the Temple. "Similarly Ezra does not employ the word for "marry", which has already been used in Ezra 2.61, but a word which, in this context, signifies "giving a dwelling to". These, therefore, were women taken up, as vessels, for an unlawful, and hence unholy, purpose.
It has, of course, to be acknowledged that had Joshua, in his day, driven out these heathen nations from the land, Ezra’s generation would not have been so imperilled. But it is not sufficient simply to blame earlier generations for present conditions, even though in this case they are blameworthy for contributing to 1,000 years of risk! And the risk is significant. For when the people of God sin, very often they sink deeper than the ungodly.
It has also to be recognised that Ezra’s generation was desensitised to the seriousness of what had taken place. After all, they are close relatives who are involved! It therefore required the uncompromising ministry of an "outsider" to be brought to bear. It was well that Ezra did not adopt the prevailing, complacent mindset. Rather he was prepared to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. His ministry was both timeless and timely. While all ministry has value, that which meets present or, better still, anticipates need is more precious in its rarity and beneficial effect.
It is quite possible that there may have been a scarcity of single women in the Jewish community. An insufficient number of females may have come from Babylon and there may have been no exercise to redress the balance. But that neither sanctions nor excuses sin! We note the sad commentary, "yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass," Ezra 9.2. It was the people from whom most was expected who set aside the Divine standard. It was they who first succumbed to Satan’s ancient objective to mingle the holy and profane and compromise a separate people.
Position and possessions, if not held in trust for the Lord, can often lead to pride, pitfalls and perversion. It would be a tragedy to have influence with the people of God and then to lead them on a wrong course. And, later, to be specifically named by God for so doing!
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)
No.6 — THE CONCLUDING SALUTATIONS (Continued)
(C) Admonition and Encouragement (Romans 16.17-20)
As the epistle draws to a close there are two lists of names: those in Rome, to whom greetings are sent, v1-15; and those in Corinth, who join Paul in sending greetings, v21-23. Sandwiched between these lists is a little section that is full of instruction, v16-20, in which Paul endeavours to preserve the unity and usefulness of the saints in Rome. The admonition and encouragement of this section is divided as follows:
1. Avoidance of division-makers (v17,18);
2. Appreciation of the Apostle (v19);
3. Assurance of Ultimate Triumph (v20).
1. Avoidance of division-makers, v17,18. The apostle sees how easily the adversary (Satan) could cause havoc among the saints. United testimony is always a target for Satan — saints who are united in the work of God will quickly draw the attention of his and his agents’ destructive energy. Paul alerts the Christians by showing them the Conduct, v17, and Character, v18, of Satan’s emissaries, describing them in such clear terms that any right thinking Christian would want to avoid them at all costs. It is interesting to notice how Paul writes to saints who are not the fruit of his own labours in the gospel. He does not assert his apostolic authority; but urges them in the same way as in 12.1 and 15.30, "I beseech you, brethren." The expression "mark them" has a dual meaning — they should observe them closely, to mark them out from others. Those who are to be avoided can be identified by scrutiny of their character and conduct.
A) They can be recognised by their Conduct, v17. Their conduct reveals their character, and is revealed by what they leave behind.
i) Dissensions, or differences of mind. The word for ‘divisions’ is used here by Paul, and also in 1 Corinthians and Galatians. In each case it is closely associated with the works of the flesh. In spite of their good words and fair speeches, these men are energised by the flesh. In the assembly, nothing good ever comes from the exercise of the flesh; and any denial of the truth of God will result in division among His people.
ii) Difficulties, or stumbling blocks, in life. It is solemn to think that, in almost every case, wrong teaching leads to wrong living. After the false teachers sow their evil doctrines, there is very often a sad harvest. Some who are duped by false teaching are shipwrecked, and find it very difficult to recover to any level of usefulness for God. The divisions and offences are "contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned." It is surprising to notice that in this epistle, which is so full of doctrinal truth, the only occurrences of the word ‘doctrine’ are here and in 6.17.
B) They can be recognised by their Character, v18. Their actions have revealed their character which, when examined, confirms they are not true servants of the Lord. They slavishly serve their own selfish desires. Anyone who causes division contrary to the doctrine of Scripture is pursuing his own fleshly desires. The character of these men is such that they are prepared to deceive the simple in order to fulfil their own wishes. They are characterised by "good words" and "fair speeches." ‘Good words’ here has the idea of polished speech. In 2Cor.9.5 this same word is translated as "bounty," and as "blessing" in Rom.15.29. Their pleasant and plausible addresses promised blessing and bounty to any who were prepared to listen and imbibe them. Paul shows how different the reality is!
C) They are to be avoided, v17. When men like this appear, the only safeguard is to give them a wide berth. Those whose actions cause a faction or a fall among the saints are to be noted and avoided. There may be a tendency to turn a blind eye, or ignore their activities. This may give temporary relief from their divisive actions, but it leaves room for them to spread their evil among those saints who are unaware of their malicious intentions. Watchful elders should be able to identify men like this, and take sufficient action to safeguard the flock by refusing them a platform. This sanction is not because of some trifling matter, but effected after careful consideration before God, and executed in light of the Judgment seat of Christ. It is sad that there are such issues, the mention of which is enough to stir up trouble and cause factions among the Lord’s people. Any man, knowingly pursuing the propagation of doctrines that do this, should be considered as falling within the remit of these verses.
2. Appreciation of the Apostle, v19. In this verse the Apostle shows that he deeply appreciates the genuineness and transparency of their faith and obedience.
A) Their Obedience has been Displayed. He states that all men have noticed their spiritual character. That is, there is a general acknowledgment by all who know them of their sterling quality. Whilst this fills Paul with joy, it causes him to raise a warning: if misplaced, their implicit obedience could be their downfall. If false teachers were to gain their ear, their strong point (their obedience) would become their weak point! It is sad when evil men with ulterior motives mislead genuine and sincere saints. False teachers can usually discern among the saints those who are liable to be misled, and they will focus their attention on such.
B) The Obedience that is Desired. Paul desires that they would be skilled enough to show expertise in good things; that is, in anything that is good in nature. To be "simple" concerning evil has the idea of being innocent, or not having experience or knowledge of anything that is contrary to Divine or human laws. "Simple" occurs only three times in the New Testament; and we note with interest that Matt.10.16 brings the themes together in the expression "wise as serpents and harmless (simple) as doves." We need to understand that, for the Christian, the greatest preservative in godliness is to maintain an ignorance of the world and its evil ways. There is no benefit in being informed in evil. Had Eve maintained a resolve to be wise unto what is good and ignorant of what is evil, she would have found it easier to resist the temptation of Satan.
3. The Assurance of Ultimate Triumph, v20. The Apostle draws this section to a close by directing our hearts towards the ultimate triumph of the saints. Satan is active now, through the activities of these disrupters whom Paul has mentioned; but the God of Peace will eventually gain the victory. The activities of the evil one will soon be brought to an end, and the saints are encouraged to maintain a stand in separation from evil until that moment of victory. V20 has in mind the direct and complete fulfilment of Gen.3.15. At Calvary the head of the serpent was dealt a death-blow by Christ; and that bruising in its full extent will be manifested to the universe in the day of His Millennial Coronation. That Millennial scene will be preceded by the coming of the Lord for His own. "Shortly" carries all the implications of the great doctrine of imminency, associated with the Rapture. There are no prophecies that await fulfilment before it can take place, and when it does take place it will happen quickly. When the God of Peace commences His programme of action against the Adversary, He will move swiftly. Here, "God of Peace" stands in stark contrast to those who create unrest and division among the saints. In that day of the dominion of Christ, the saints will have a place of glorious exaltation, with Satan underfoot — which is where a serpent ought to be! Until that day of victory, grace will be needed to continue steadfastly. The Apostle appends a little closing salutation to this section, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." Fresh grace will meet the needs of each new day and experience, as we await the day of redemption that will herald the end for Satan and all his helpers.
—to be continued (D.V.)
The Garments of the Saviour
by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
4. GARMENTS OF MERCY
She only touched the hem of His garment,
As to His side she stole,
Amid the crowd that gathered around Him,
And straightway she was whole.
Oh, touch the hem of His garment!
And thou too shalt be free;
His saving power, this very hour
Shall give new life to thee!
So His people delight to sing as they make known the Gospel of His grace. Garments of mercy indeed, when the touch of a poor woman in distress brought immediate relief to her. It has ever been, to evangelists, a most apt picture of the simplicity of salvation through faith in Christ.
For twelve long years this woman had suffered. Like the prodigal of the parable, she had "spent all," Lk.8.43; 15.14. He, however, had spent all in pursuit of pleasure while she had spent all in search of healing. Twelve years of vain searching had left her helpless, hopeless, and penniless. Men had failed her. Physicians could not help, and although Luke the Doctor does not say so, others tell us that after many visits to many physicians, and spending all that she had, she "was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse," Mk.5.26.
That must have been a happy day in the home of Jairus, the ruler of the local synagogue, when his wife was safely delivered of her child. It was a daughter, a little girl whose name we do not know. How Jairus and his wife must have watched the child grow. They would see her development year by year as time sped past. But it was just when Jairus’ daughter was born that this poor woman began to be ill, and as that little girl lived in the joy of young life and grew towards womanhood, the woman was slowly dying. Her very life-blood was haemorrhaging away. Mark calls it her plague, Mk.5.29. Life was difficult and death was certain, and men could not help. She had begun to die just when Jairus’ daughter began to live. What weariness must have been hers. What constant sorrow. It is easy to envisage many tears.
What a sad but true picture she is of the sinner. Incurably helpless! Life slowly but surely ebbing away with none to help. Facing death daily without hope, and no true enjoyment of life even while it lasts. It is a miserable condition, and more so when there is no human aid available or possible. Perhaps a realisation of this hopelessness is the sinner’s first step on the way to the Saviour.
Then one day there came a glimmer of hope into her misery. She heard of Jesus, Mk.5.27. What did she hear? Did they tell her that He had healed Peter’s wife’s mother of a fever? That he had cleansed lepers? That He had made a palsied man walk again? That He had delivered men from demons and cured many others of different diseases? Did they tell her that He had miraculously calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee with just a word? And did she now begin to hope that if Jesus could do all this, then perhaps He could calm the storm in her little life? How she must have longed for the day when He would come to her district. She would go to Him for the healing that earthly physicians could not give her.
That glad day came, and, no doubt filled with hope she made her way out to see Him. But the crowds were thronging Him. He was there, somewhere in the midst, He who was her only hope. The crowds must not keep her from Him. People must not rob her of the possibility of help. With determination she made her way through the crowd, pressing nearer and nearer to Him. "If I may touch but His clothes," she said, "I shall be whole." It was the simple childlike faith of an anxious heart, convinced that what He had done for others, He could do for her.
At last, within reach now, she stretched out her hand, touched the hem of His garment, and her confidence was rewarded with immediate healing. Her plague was gone. Her issue of blood was stanched at once. It was a touch of faith and the Saviour turned to face her. "Who touched Me" He asked. It was a strange question, the disciples thought, for the multitudes were thronging around Him in the street, all pressing upon Him. Many were touching Him. "And sayest Thou, Who touched Me?" they asked. But someone had touched Him with a touch that was different! Of course He knew it all, but He was encouraging the woman to come and tell. She did. She came with fear and trembling and fell down before Him and told Him all the truth. She must have told the whole story of her plague, her long fruitless search for healing. She boldly "declared unto Him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately," Lk.8.47. How this woman would have appreciated those words
Oh, leave it all with Jesus, drooping soul!
Tell not half thy story, but the whole:
Worlds on worlds are hanging on His hand,
Life and death are waiting His command;
Yet His tender bosom makes thee room:
Oh, come home!
In kind and tender tones Jesus comforted her. He assured her that her faith had made her whole and He bade her to go in peace. What a story she had to tell now! How the neighbours would listen! Twelve long years of debilitating illness. Disappointment after disappointment from so many doctors. And now! Just a touch of faith, and she was healed.
This border of His garment, was it adorned with the ribband of blue in accordance with Num.15.38? That had been commanded for the children of Israel "throughout their generations". All Jews wore them and it is therefore reasonable to assume that the hem of the Saviour’s garment was indeed laced with that ribband of blue. It was a distinguishing feature of Jewish dress. Is this indeed how that woman of Samaria recognised that He was a Jew?
The purpose of the ribband of blue was that the children of Israel might look upon this deep blue in the fringes of their garments and be reminded of the heavenly origin of the commandments of the Lord, Num.15.39. This woman touched the hem of the garment of Him whose whole life was a fulfilment of the law. But is this not grace indeed, that the very garment which bore the symbol of the law became to the touch of faith a garment of mercy? So have we reached out to Him in faith, and though "cursed by the law and bruised by the fall," mercy has received us in Jesus, and we have peace.
To Him we say, "All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia," but how particularly fragrant they were to the woman who touched.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by C. Jones (Wales)
PAPER 3 — THE DEVIL SAID UNTO HIM
At the Lord's baptism by John, God had spoken saying "Thou art my beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased," Lk.3.22. Immediately after this, the Lord "being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness," Lk.4.1. He was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Satan often takes this approach and attacks a believer immediately after that believer has experienced a particular blessing or moment of joy in the Lord.
It was impossible for the Lord to sin. He "knew no sin," 2Cor.5.21; "did no sin," 1Pet.2.22, and "in Him is no sin," 1Jn.3.5. The temptations served to prove that the Lord would not and could not sin. There was nothing in Him to respond to Satan's temptations and he could say "the prince of this world … hath nothing in me," Jn.14.30. The very suggestions of Satan hurt and offended the Lord's sensitive Holy Being and "in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted," Heb.2.18. As a result of His experiences and His exposure to the wiles and devices of the Devil, "we have not an high priest, which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," Heb.4.15.
Adam and Eve were tempted in a garden, in a scene of plenty and beauty. The Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, was tempted in a wilderness. Luke recounts the temptations in the order in which they affected the Lord, the perfect Man, in His body, soul and spirit. He had fasted for forty days and was hungry, and Satan suggested to Him that He should use His power, as the Son of God, to turn stones into bread, Lk.4.3. The Lord answered Satan by saying "It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God," Lk.4.4. He quoted from Deut.8.3. This temptation can be compared with that of Eve when she saw that the tree was good for food, Gen.3.6, an appeal to the "lust of the flesh," 1Jn.2.16.
After this, Satan tried to persuade the Lord that he would grant Him rule over the kingdoms of the world, with their power and glory, if the Lord would worship him. Satan now tried to appeal to the "lust of the eyes," 1Jn.2.16, as he did when Eve saw that the tree was "pleasant to the eyes," Gen.3.6. We read in Rev.11.15 that in God's perfect timing, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever." In Ps.2.8 we read that the Father said to the Son "Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." The Lord would, at the time ordained, receive world dominion from His Father. In the meantime He would humble Himself, serve and suffer. The Lord would not do anything contrary to the will of His Father and would certainly not worship Satan. In response to this temptation the Lord quoted from Deut.6.13 and commanded Satan, with divine authority, saying, "Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve," Lk.4.8. The Lord uttered the same words, "Get thee behind Me, Satan," when Peter was used by Satan to try to persuade Him not to go to the cross, Matt.16.23. In this temptation Satan offered the Lord power and glory as he had offered Eve when he said "ye shall be as gods," Gen.3.5. It was the Father's will that the suffering should precede the glory and nothing could prevent the Lord from going to the cross and thereby paying the penalty for the sin of the whole world.
Using methods which are outside the revealed will of God to attempt to achieve ends which are in accordance with the will of God constitutes disobedience and sin. The end cannot justify the means in such circumstances.
In his third attempt, Satan tried to persuade the Lord to do something spectacular, to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Satan can use Scripture, for on this occasion he misquoted Ps.91.11,12, claiming that God would use angels to prevent the Lord coming to any harm, thereby proving that He was the Messiah. Satan went as far in quoting as "He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee," Lk.4.10, but omitted the words "in all thy ways," Ps.91.11.
God's promises cannot be applied to acts which are not in accordance with His will. The Lord quoted Scripture, Deut.6.16, in reply to this temptation, addressing Satan once again with divine authority, saying "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," Lk.4.12. Satan was suggesting to the Lord that He could achieve fame and glory by doing something spectacular and ostentatious. Once again Satan failed completely to cause the Lord to take any action which was outside the will of God His Father. This temptation corresponds with that of Eve when she saw that the tree was "a tree to be desired to make one wise," Gen.3.6. It was an appeal to "the pride of life," 1Jn.2.16.
In His victory over Satan in the wilderness, the Lord proved His complete dependence on God and His absolute dedication and perfect submission to the will of God. The temptations proved the Lord's perfect fitness to be the Saviour of the world and He "returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee," Lk.4.14.
We have to fight against temptations and we are enjoined to "take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Eph.6.17. The Lord used the written Word of God to defeat Satan and therefore we must study it, fill our minds and memories with it and use it, in the power of the Spirit, in times of temptation.
It is essential for the believer to study the Scriptures to learn the will of God and the wiles and devices of Satan, who will subtly try to lead us into sin through making suggestions to which the old sinful nature will respond. Those of us who have been saved by grace have the Holy Spirit dwelling within, but we also have the old sinful nature which will be with us as long as we are alive on this earth.
Satan uses his wiles and devices to appeal to the old nature, making sinful suggestions for the gratification of physical desires (the lust of the flesh); the acquisition of material possessions and power (the lust of the eyes), and for achieving success and fame (the pride of life).
God's commands, the things He tells us to do and the things He tells us not to do, are given in love. They are all for His glory and our eternal blessing. We are told to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," Col.3.16, and we must do this, resting and rejoicing in believing that "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?", Rom.8.32.
by J. Gibson (Scotland)
ISRAEL'S SOVEREIGN — v5
a. Creation — ‘Thy maker’
Although God has created everything. He made and formed Israel in an individual way, Isa.44.2. This can be seen in the birth of Jacob through the Lord's intervention, Gen.25.21, and the emancipation of Israel from Egyptian bondage leading to their formation as a nation.
b. Affection — ‘Thine husband’
God loves Israel and has a special place in His affections for them, much in the same way a man would love his own wife. We see here also God's grace in transcending the narrow limitations of the law; for under law, Israel could never again be reunited to God in a marriage relationship, Deut.24.1-4, Isa.50.1.
c. Authority — ‘The Lord of hosts’
All the angelic hosts of heaven await God's bidding. Swiftly and wholeheartedly do they obey His every command, Matt.26.53.
d. Condescension — ‘Thy Redeemer’
The word for redeemer is goel, which means a kinsman redeemer. Included in this term is the idea that God would become man, in order that He could be related to us, to become our Kinsman, for only then would He be able to redeem us and buy us back, Heb.2.14. This principle is illustrated in the story of Ruth and Boaz.
e. Holiness — ‘The Holy One of Israel’
Because of God's holiness, He is to be feared and glorified by all who approach Him, Rev.15.4. This attribute of deity is manifest in all His words, Ps.145.17.
f. Dominion — ‘the God of the whole earth’
The first time a similar title is used in the Scriptures is when Israel first entered their land, Josh.3.11. Therefore it is very appropriate for it to be used again here when Israel will be restored to her divinely given possession. Then the rule of the Lord Jesus will be universal, Ps.72.8.
g. Sufficiency — Jehovah
This name of God is used more frequently in the Old Testament than any other, appearing 6,823 times. It comes from the Hebrew word havah, meaning ‘to be,’ and therefore refers to One who is eternal in His existence, and entirely self-sufficient.
h. Plurality — ‘the God’
This is a plural word, so even in the Old Testament we have very clear allusions to the Trinity.
It is important for us to know what our God is like. We do live in a country and time when there is ignorance both in society at large and also among the Lord's people as to the character of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ prayed to His Father He described eternal life as a knowledge of ‘the only true God,’ Jn.17.3. We cannot turn to the universities of the world to give us such instruction. In a sinful world there is only one source of such knowledge, and that is the inspired Word of God being made to our understanding through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by W. W. Fereday
Grace in God is sovereign, or it is not grace at all. Once admit the thought that blessing for any of us was purposed because God saw in advance that some men would believe in His Son, while others would not, and the great fundamental principle of the Gospel is endangered. Merit is thus introduced, for what could be more meritorious in God's sight than to believe in His beloved Son in the face of a hostile world? The truth is that the all-seeing God knew in advance that the whole history of man in the earth would be calamitous, and it gave His great heart of love infinite pleasure to plan counsels of grace for blessing. These councils were framed "before the foundation of the world, Eph.1.4, and thus before any of the vessels of His grace had done either "good or evil," Rom.9.11.
It should be as easy, yea, more easy, for men to believe God in whatever He may say to them than to believe one another in the matters of every day. But, alas, where God is concerned, there is an unhappy bias, and men "pull away the shoulder and stop up the ear," Zech.7.11. Thus the Lord said to those around Him, "Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life," Jn.5.40. And because of this rebelliousness of the human will, He said on another occasion, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him … Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father cometh unto Me," Jn.6.44-45. Obviously, if men will not come, they cannot come. The stubborn will must thus be divinely broken ere any can be saved. We have striking examples of this in Nebuchadnezzar and Saul of Tarsus; and in a lesser degree surely both the present writer and our readers are examples of this also.
Our Lord illustrated His teaching very simply in the familiar parable of the Great Supper in Lk.14. At the moment He was guest in the house of a Pharisee. This man's table was well filled, some who were invited even competing for the most honourable seats. When the Lord remarked upon the difference between God's feasts and man's, someone present (charmed with the gracious thought of the really needy being entertained), exclaimed, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God." This drew forth the parable, wherein our Lord exposes the sorrowful fact that when God invites, surely to the enjoyment of infinitely more wonderful things than man can provide, no one is willing to come at all! The house must thus remain empty, and divine bounties never be enjoyed, unless some loving compulsion is employed. The servant of the parable (not to be confounded with the servants of Lk.19.13) can be none other than the Holy Spirit, who is now present on earth graciously disposing sinners in every quarter to be "wise," Ps.2.10, and listen to "reason", Isa.1.18, and be blessed. Surely we have all experienced His gracious influence. Undoubtedly all who believe the Gospel exercise faith, but even the faith they exercise is "the gift of God," Eph.2.8,9.* The Epistle to the Ephesians, here quoted, emphasises the divine side of things more particularly.
Is God's great "whosoever" weakened by His counsels of electing grace? In no wise. The God whom we know, so blessedly revealed to us in Christ, would not mock His creatures, however evil they may be. All who will may come. No longing soul has yet been refused, nor will be while the Gospel day continues. "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out, Jn.6.3. So spake the Lord Jesus when surrounded by multitudes who cared more for the perishable than for the imperishable. To any possible objector to God's ways of grace, but one reply is possible, "Friend, I do thee no wrong … Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" Matt.20.13,15.
God has chosen multitudes of souls for eternal blessing. This is so plainly taught in Holy Scripture that it cannot be disputed. The truth may be too profound for us to fully understand, but this need not surprise us in the light of the apostle's exclamation in Rom.11.33: "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!"
Election is individual and personal, notwithstanding the printers blunder in 1Pet.5.13. (Peter's wife is meant in this passage, not the Church). Certainly God did not cast eyes on the choicest specimens of humanity. 1Cor.1.26-29 is explicit as to this. "Look at your calling, brethren," says the inspired writer. The foolish, weak, base, and despised deliberately chosen by God in the sovereignty of His grace! The Corinthian former thieves, adulterers, drunkards, and idolaters, 1Cor.6.11. Amongst believers in Crete were found some who could only be described naturally as "liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons," Tit.1.12. Speaking of Jews and Gentiles in general who were now God's saints, the apostle says, "we were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another," Tit.3.3. What an unlovely picture! What unpromising material! Yet in all these the perfections of God will shine out eternally, for all these "He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren," Rom.8.29. No flesh can possibly glory in His presence; "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord," 1Cor.1.31.
We are indeed "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," 1Pet.1.2, but it is not His foreknowledge of what we would do (i.e., some day believe in His Son), but of what He would do in the riches of His grace. Dealing with another subject, the Lord once said to His disciples, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you," Jn.15.16.
Yet it would be false to affirm that because some were divinely chosen for blessing, others were sent into the world marked out beforehand for wrath. This would be a slander upon the blessed God. In Rom.11, the great chapter which deals at length with the theme of divine sovereignty, we read of "vessels of wrath" whom God has "endured with much long suffering," and we read they are "fitted to destruction;" while of the "vessels of mercy" we are told that God has "prepared them unto glory." The wicked, by their love of evil and persistent rejection of grace, are fitting themselves for destruction, while others, believers through grace, are divinely prepared for glory. Certainly none could prepare themselves for such a destiny.
Those who will find themselves outside at the last will have themselves to blame for their ruin, for they "loved darkness rather than light;" while those who will throng "God's bright halls of song" will ascribe all the glory of their salvation to the Father who purposed the blessing, and to the Son who by the great sacrifice of Himself made it righteously possible.
N.B. - Since writing the foregoing, the following from the pen of my old friend, W. Kelly, has come before me: "It is important to observe that the apostle does not speak of a passive or naked foreknowledge, Rom.8.29, as if God only saw before what some would be, and do, or believe. His foreknowledge is of persons, not of their state of conduct; it is not what, but "whom" He foreknew." Let every reader weigh these words carefully.
* Many who accept the Sovereignty of God in Salvation, believe the gift in Eph.2 is the totality of being "saved through faith." - Ed.
by Leslie Wells (Canada)
I began life in San Felipe, Venezuela, where my parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. John Wells, had gone as missionaries eight years before my birth. From early life my brother, Stanley, and I were taught the Scriptures and learned that we needed to be "born again" to be ready for heaven. I remember clearly Mr. William Williams preaching from his two-ways chart. He pointed to hell, vividly painted on the chart, and left on my heart a certain fear of that place of woe.
However I have no memories of ever being troubled about my soul until I was 14 years of age. By this time we were living in Northern Ireland as my mother’s health had broken down in Venezuela. It happened this way. We were taken now and again to Gospel meetings in Annesboro, Co. Down where the late Mr. Robert Curran was preaching alone. The first night we attended he preached on Rev.6, the pouring out of judgments on earth after the Lord had raptured the Church to heaven. He spoke with such conviction and power that for the first time I was troubled and fearful that the Lord would come and I was not ready. My trouble faded as we were not able to attend more than once a week through lack of transport.
From then onwards, I was troubled often about my soul in various Gospel meetings. However, I developed a spirit of procrastination and I thus arrived, still in my sins, to 20 years of age. I had become a heavy burden to my parents.
In the second year at University in Belfast, I had just started staying near the University with some assembly Christians. They were in the fellowship of the Kingsbridge assembly. Almost simultaneously, two brethren arrived there to hold Gospel meetings. They were the late Mr. Tom Campbell, then a man in his eighties, and Mr. Harold Paisley. Pressed by my parents, I started attending and felt the weight of their solemn preaching. I was a little troubled from the first night. Later on, my brother started coming to the meetings as he was now staying elsewhere in Belfast where he was working. We attended right to the last night of that series when many souls had professed faith in Christ. The very last night, a Sunday evening, my brother came out and told my mother that he had been saved during the preaching. That came to me as such a shock that I hardly knew where I was! I had considered that he was more taken by the attractions of the world than I was and that he was therefore further from salvation.
The next morning I heard the news that a young man, slightly older than I, had been suddenly killed in a motorcycle accident. He lived in the village of Dundrum, (near Newcastle, Co. Down) outside of which we had lived since coming from Venezuela. I knew him somewhat and indeed I had seen him the morning of his death. This news really turned my world upside down, coming right after my younger brother’s salvation. I knew then that God was speaking to ME. The awful thought pressed itself on my consciousness that this was the last time the Lord would call. It was now or never! The university term was over but I had continued studying. So I suspended all my studies. I refused to read anything that would distract me from what now filled my thoughts, "How could I be saved and know it?"
Our brethren Mr. Campbell and Mr. Paisley announced three nights of ministry at Kingsbridge hall for those who had just professed faith in Christ. I drove my mother to those meetings. The third evening Mr. Paisley preached the Gospel. I had been going through a dark experience before that but what I heard increased my trouble. Going home in the car, there raged in my soul an awful battle. The question that haunted me was, "What will I do now? I would need to settle this matter." Half way home I came to the decision that I was going to put salvation first and go to Gospel meetings until I was saved even at the expense of losing my scholarship at the University though absence. At last my soul became more important than everything else. On reaching home, I told my mother about my desire for salvation and for the first time in my life I broke down. She tried to help me with many Scriptures, but I was in the dark. I remained in my room until the weekend reading the Bible, tracts and the hymn book without any ray of light to illumine the path to Christ. It was then that I realised more clearly my state and danger and desired to turn from the old life.
We attended another Gospel meeting at Kingsbridge the following Lord’s Day with the same two preachers. After the meeting I ventured to stay behind to speak to them. They spoke tenderly to me and presented many Scriptures. I was still in the dark. After some time though I saw the way of salvation. However the next morning I took the Bible and closed the door of my room. I kneeled down at my bed and opened it at Jn.1. I started reading slowly from verse one. When I reached verse 10 or 11, I stopped, realising I had not understood very much. I glanced over at the right hand column of the Bible and my eyes fell on verse 29, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." That verse had never meant much to me in the past. I had, however, heard it applied in the Gospel. In an instant I understood the meaning of the work of Christ on the cross. I realised it was for sin. It was for me! It was so simple and clear that I did not remember having seen the work of Christ like that ever before. I grasped for the first time — He is my Saviour and I received Him at that moment. I bowed in prayer; moved with thankfulness that provision had been made for me even before I was born. I felt my heart go out in worship for the first time in my life. That was the 10th June 1957.
My parents impressed us early with one thought. The only thing that counted, now that we were saved, was to live for the Lord who had died for us. Early I had the desire to serve the Lord in some way. After graduating from the University in 1958 I visited France, as one of my main subjects of study had been French. I stayed in the Paris area with an aged missionary couple, Mr. and Mrs. William Taylor and helped in the distribution of tracts. Three years later I had to stay in France for two months in connection with my employment as a teacher. I was back in 1963 to assist in tract distribution. They expressed their interest in seeing me come to France to labour in the Gospel. I had a certain response in my heart to that thought, but I would have liked to know the Lord’s will. I am of a hesitant nature and feared taking a step without being sure that it came from God.
I had a developing interest in speaking in public since 1958. I held a series of Gospel meetings in a tent in 1964 with my brother. The next year a brother working for the Lord in Brazil asked me to consider coming to Brazil. I felt the Lord was calling me but now I was unsure as to where — France or Brazil. Looking back on it, I realise that I ought to have been before the Lord in deep exercise for guidance. However my work dominated too much of my time and I was still undecided. After some time I sensed that I had missed responding to the Lord’s call. I felt so discouraged and disappointed.
By 1970 we had been ten years in the assembly at Derriaghy. I had visited France several times with various brethren including my father. We distributed tracts and I still maintained an interest but not as ardent as before. The elders at Derriaghy asked me to join them in responsibility and discharge the work of the correspondent. I wondered now if that was what the Lord wanted me to do. But in 1974 my father decided he wanted to move to the Dromore, Co. Down area and as I lived with my parents, I had no choice but to leave Derriaghy. We settled in the little assembly at the Lough Road, near Dromore. I gave myself to all the assembly meetings, engaged frequently in Gospel preaching on Sunday evenings and took an interest in spiritual activity.
Desires began surfacing again such as I had had in the sixties. I was before the Lord, at times with a deep burden. I told no one of these thoughts. But in 1978 I visited the south of France where Mr. Dennis O’Hare laboured in the Gospel. I had been there before and I had known him since 1967. One day I accompanied some visitors from Wales and brother O’Hare to visit another Welsh brother who was working in the Rhone valley among Moslems. The latter started asking me if I had any interest in giving myself to the Lord. I admitted that I did have in the past, but did not divulge my more recent thoughts. He started to speak to me very directly and pointed out the need to be exercised definitely before the Lord. He really stirred me up and on returning home I came more often before the Lord as to what He would have me do. I told no one, as I did not want either to be pushed or to be hindered by a human hand.
My exercise was increasing and I came in 1980 to bear a greater burden than I ever had experienced. I was asking the Lord to show me whether He really wanted me to go full-time into His work. On a previous visit to France brother Dennis O’Hare had asked me if I had never considered coming to France. I did not tell him that I had often had longings to go to that land. I gave him no answer, as I desired guidance that I was convinced came from God.
In October 1980 a brother working in another land came from Canada with encouragement to seek someone who might be interested in the Maritime provinces. One day my father and I were invited to a brother’s home to be with this missionary brother for the evening meal. The latter started to describe the need in the Maritimes. He looked over at me and said pointedly, "I think, brother, you should think about this need." I knew no one present had the slightest inkling as to my exercise. This set me thinking whether this was not the Lord speaking to me. I had longed to work in France but could find no clear confirmation.
The missionary later that evening told me of New Brunswick, where work was starting among the Acadian French. He encouraged me to think seriously about it. And I did. I did not want to repeat what happened before, though I had not considered Canada as I felt I could not stand the cold. The next morning my reading was in 2Cor.3. In ch.2 the question was asked, "Who is sufficient for these things?" That morning I read in 3.5, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves … but our sufficiency is of God." That Word from God spoke loudly to me. I should leave the question of how we would cope with the climate in the Lord’s hands. Thus I was enabled to contact the brethren in Canada and express my interest. I then spoke to the brethren in the assembly at the Lough Road. They agreed with the exercise, though disappointed that I would not be staying and helping them locally. Thus I gathered assuredly the Lord was calling me to a field I would never have chosen myself. Delays in receiving a visa put me much to the test and it was even suggested that I should go into the Lord’s work in Northern Ireland. However my exercise was to put what knowledge of French I had to use in the Lord’s service. Finally in 1985 the door opened for me to come to New Brunswick to work among the Acadian French. Three other assemblies locally joined the Lough Road assembly in the commendation. Our first meetings were in Tracadie where I now live.
The prayers of the Lord’s people for the progress and preservation of the work will be much appreciated.
Recently, new terms have been creeping into the English language and soon become familiar with their frequent usage. The title of this article is an example. Spin doctors are usually civil servants or other non-government officials whose task, by fair means or foul, is to produce image and gain political advantage for a certain party. They inform, or more often misinform, to gain their objectives and by massaging the truth and manipulating statistics, attempt to persuade a supposedly naïve electorate to support the party or cause they represent. We are constantly bombarded with information and propaganda and more often than not, truth is the casualty.
Not so with God. He does not employ questionable tactics to persuade. He clearly and unambiguously states the truth, desirous that men would seriously consider the facts and make a wise choice. In every situation men are freewill agents and none will be compelled to accept a place in Heaven against his or her will.
The greatest of all spin doctors must be the devil and his deadly work is supported by agencies, both infernal and human, whose sole objective is to fool the masses, resulting in the damnation of myriads who could and should have been in Heaven.
It has been so from the very dawn of creation when, in the Garden of Eden, our fore-parents were persuaded to disobey God, having been falsely told by Satan that God did not really mean what He said, when He uttered those unmistakeably plain words, " Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2.16,17. Satan sowed doubt in their minds, distorted the truth and eventually, defiantly denied the veracity of God’s Word. His initial success, with such disastrous consequences, has emboldened him to try these methods again and again, with increasing success. Sadly, the blessings promised by the devil, never materialised and instead the truth of God’s warning became instantaneously clear when Adam and Eve realised what they had done and tried unsuccessfully to hide from the presence of God. They were driven out of that fair paradise, to know pain, sickness, toil and tears for the rest of their lives. Ultimately they would succumb to the power of death and this sad legacy would be bequeathed to succeeding generations. Thus the humbling truth concerning us all is, "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: He fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not." Job 14.1.
The lies of the devil and his relentless efforts to confuse and delude humanity have resulted in those pitiable classes of people known as atheists, agnostics, humanists, sceptics, scoffers and others who have found a ‘refuge of lies’ and have made it their business to dispense with the truth of God. In spite of all that, the truth of God stands firm and impregnable against all the puny assaults of men and demons. God desires your blessing, presently and eternally for He is "God our Saviour; Who will have (desires) all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." 1Timothy 2.3,4.
What has the devil done for you? When did he ever display love, care, kindness or sympathy? Of the devil, the Lord Jesus said, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar and the father of it." John 8.44. Are you going to listen to his deceit or will you at last be wise enough to heed the voice of God who proved His love for you, unquestionably, by sending His Son to Calvary to bear the punishment you deserved eternally. The infallible promise of God is, " He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." John 3.36.
Discord among brethren God hates,
False witness abominates;
Proud look, lying tongue,
Hands, heart, feet, that go wrong,
Discord among brethren God hates.
An ornament quiet and meek,
The spirit adorned does God seek;
Of great price in His sight,
It illuminates by its light,
An ornament quiet and meek.
Deportment demeanour and dress,
On these the believer lays stress;
In the eyes of the world
Raise your banner unfurled,
Deportment, demeanour and dress.
Dear saints be ye humble in heart,
Humility plays a grand part;
Noble honesty, too,
So be loyal and true,
Dear saints be ye humble in heart.
By John Glenville (England)
… justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, 1Cor.6.11.
… the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, Gal.3.26.
… sons, Gal.4.6.
… complete in Him, Col.2.10.
… God's husbandry … God's building, 1Cor.3.9.
… the temple of God, 1Cor.3.16.
… the temple of the living God, 2Cor.6.16.
… no more strangers and foreigners, Eph.4.30.
… sealed unto the day of redemption, Eph.4.30.
by H. A. Barnes (England)
What is the Lord to Me
In my sin, The LORD is my salvation. Ps.27.1.
In my weakness, The LORD is my strength. Ps.18.2.
In my hunger, The LORD is my shepherd. Ps.23.1.
In my dangers, The LORD is my shield. Ps.28.7.
In my victories. The LORD is my song. Ps.118.14.
by H. A. Barnes (England)