BEHOLD THE MAN
by Jim Flanigan
MESSAGES FROM MULLER
by George Muller
by A. D. Thropay
by D. Ogden
ASPECTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE BELIEVER
by B. Currie
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
MUSINGS ON LUKE 15
by R. Stewart
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. Baxter
(Meditations in Luke's Gospel)
by JIM FLANIGAN, (Belfast)
6. HIS SUBJECTION
There are many things in the story of Jesus which are too big for our tiny minds. That the Omnipotent should become a dependent Infant; that the Eternal One should come into time; that the Son of the Father should become the Son of Mary; that He, whom the heaven of heavens could not contain should sleep in a manger-bed; that He whose train filled the temple should be wrapped up in swaddling clothes; that the Creator should become a Carpenter; these are great and lofty considerations too wonderful for our limited human intelligence.
That the sovereign Lord should become the subject Son of earthly parents is likewise too much for human thought, but this is how it truly was. They, the parents of the Infant Jesus, returned to Galilee and to Nazareth, and in holy subjection He will go with them, and will abide with them there for the greater part of thirty years. Luke will subsequently speak of Nazareth as the place "where He was brought up". Our Lord will be referred to repeatedly as "Jesus of Nazareth". He would be, in the divine purpose, a Nazarene.
In the home in Nazareth our Lord was a subject child. From infancy to maturity He lived there, perfectly subject to Joseph and Mary. There was a most delightful development, perfect at every stage, as He grew, and waxed strong, and advanced in wisdom and stature. His life was at the unfolding of a flower from bud to blossom. To borrow His own metaphor from another context, it was "the blade, the ear, and the full corn", and ever and always, perfection. Luke employs several different words in Ch. 2 to describe the holy development. "The Babe", he says in v. 16. 'The Child", he says in v. 27. "The Boy" he says in v. 43 (JND). The word of v.16 Brephos; a word so tender that it may be used to describe the unborn infant in the womb, as in Luke 1:41, 44. The word of v.27 is Paidion; signifying a little or young child; the babe is growing. The word of v.43 is Pais; the infant, the child, is now a boy. The word which Mary later uses in v.48 is teknion, a word akin in its origin to "begotten" or "borne". "My child whom I have borne", Mary might have said. And indeed the Scots would have a most accurate idea of it when they speak of "the bairns", literally, the borne ones.
In every stage of this development there is a holy perfection. He remains, in Himself, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, the Son of God. He does not divest Himself of divine attributes. Yet He grows from infancy, from babyhood, through boyhood to manhood, and develops perfectly humanly, and grows stronger day by day and year by year, as he lives in subjection in the Nazareth home.
A child in growth and stature, Yet full of wisdom rare; Sonship, in conscious nature, His words and ways declare.
In that same subject spirit Jesus accompanies Joseph and Mary to Jerusalem. He is now a boy of some twelve years. Jehovah would grant us this one glimpse into the early years of the tender plant which was growing for His pleasure in the barrenness of Israel. They came at Passover time. This would allow them to be in Jerusalem for at least three of the Feasts, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. It was indeed a happy and festive season for the nation. But He alone, of them all, this twelve year old Boy, really knew the deep and prophetic significance of the celebrations.
The celebrations completed, the parents departed, but He lingered. For a whole day they journeyed without Him. Then, missing Him, they sought Him, mistakenly (though they were not to know it) among their natural kinsfolk. After three days they found Him, not in natural surroundings at all, but in the spiritual, in the temple, back in Jerusalem, sitting at ease in the company of the teachers of the law. He was, strictly speaking, neither teaching or learning. To be teaching doctors of the law would not have been in keeping with His moral glory. A boy of twelve presuming to teach the teachers? To say that He was learning would not have been in keeping with His personal glory. The omniscient Incarnate Son learning from men? In beautiful accuracy the scripture only says that He was both hearing them and asking them questions, and giving them answers to their questions.
The parents having eventually found Him, Mary speaks of her distress. "Why hast Thou thus dealt with us" she asks. "We have sought Thee sorrowing". In the beauty of that holy submissiveness He simply asks, "Why ... did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father's business?" (JND). They did not, could not, understand. He went with them, back to Nazareth. For another eighteen holy years He would live with them, in subjection to them. In a world where everything was in revolt and in rebellion, He would live holy, harmless, and undefiled. How often, in many a heart, that question of a later day must have been asked silently, "What manner of Man is this?" How well do we, in the rush and bustle of our day, find time to meditate, and to "Behold the Man".
- Yet still in meek submission,
- 'His patient path He trod,
- To wait His heavenly mission,
- Unknown to all but God.
These are notes of addresses given by the late George Muller
"Watchman, what of the Night"
An Address at a Conference of Christians, October, 1872.
"The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come." — Isa. 21.11,12.
The question contained in this passage is asked at at time of heavy trail, heavy judgment, which is spoken of under the figure of the "night." These judgments were coming upon Edom; for this I understand to be the country referred to, from its connection here with "Seir."
The earnestness of the inquiry is brought before us by its being twice asked.
Who the watchman is, there can be no difficulty in determining—evidently the prophet; because just as a watchman is set for the very purpose of announcing the approach of the enemy or of any danger, so that those who are in danger may take warning, and prepare against that which threatens, so the spiritual watchman, the prophet, was appointed to give warning of coming judgments, and to announce to the people how they should act, how they should obey and please Jehovah, so that the terrible judgments that were threatened might be averted.
The question here asked is, "When shall these terrible judgments come to an end?" In New Testament language, "When will this dispensation end? When shall our sorrows cease, and we be for ever with the Lord?" Now, observe particularly the answer of the watchman. He does not say, "It is the second or third watch of the night"—not to mention the fourth watch, which could not have been referred to by one who lived at the time when this prophecy was uttered, because the division of the night into four watches was introduced by the Romans; but I say, the watchman does not answer, "It is the second watch," or "It is the third watch." Ah! how deeply important it is to notice this. Again and again it has been the inquiry amongst Christians: "How far are we from the close of the present dispensation? How near is the return of the Lord?" And repeatedly calculations have been made with the view of fixing the precise date, or nearly so, if the fulfilment of the prophetic predictions; and this political event or that religious movement has been taken as an indication of the speedy approach of the end; and statements have been made, "So many years, or months, or days, will elapse, and then the dispensation will close." Now, how, beloved, are we to decide when we hear such statements? I judge we should be guided by the answer of the watchman, 'The morning cometh, and also the night." Nothing was declared concerning the time.
May I be allowed here to say one word from my own experience to my younger brethren? It was in July, 1829, just forty-three years and three months ago, that it pleased the Lord to show me the truth of His word as to His second coming, and the truths connected with that blessed hope. At that time there was war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia; and many good, excellent Christians said, "Now is come the time that the Euphrates shall be dried up;" "now the Ottoman Empire will be destroyed, and Israel will be restored," and so on; and I, as a young disciple, very naturally took up the views and repeated the words of my elder brethren. Well, what followed? Before six weeks were over peace was proclaimed, the Ottoman Empire remained, and remains to this day, and Israel is still not restored to their land. Now, I firmly believe that Israel will be restored to their land; but I refer to this mistake of my earlier years to illustrate the point I am referring to.
Not that we should never look at political events in connection with the prophetic Word, but that we should use the greatest caution before we conclude that such and such events must surely usher in the end. I judge that when the time really comes to be guided by such events, the signs will be so plain, so decided, that all who wait for Him will be able to see that now truly He is at the door. But before this time comes, let us be cautious how we make such statements as, "In so many days or so many months, or before this generation passes, such and such events will happen:" but rather let us say with the watchman, "The morning cometh, and also the night;" that is to say, the great, the all-important point is, the certainty of our Lord's return: "This same Jesus shall so come in like manner" as He went into heaven. There is no question whatever that when all is made ready for the bride, the Bridegroom will return and receive her to Himself; and what we have to do, is to comfort ourselves with the hope that our Lord will surely come again; and in the full assurance of this, that there is coming the day of the manifestation of the sons of God, we should patiently bear the cross. We should comfort ourselves with the certainty that "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry;" and if He tarry yet a little longer, to say still, He will surely come, and lay out ourselves to win souls for Christ, remembering that it is in longsuffering to the perishing that He tarries.
Some may say, "Why make so much of the coming of the Lord? Is not death the same thing, for it is our going to Him? I once thought so myself; but I was led to see that there is a vast difference between the two. The hope of the Church is not death, but the return of the Lord. If I am taken out of the world by death, I shall myself be happy so far as regards the soul; but, blessed as I shall be, my happiness, even as regards myself alone, will not be full; for I shall not yet have my glorified body, my redeemed body. But when the Lord comes, it is the whole family brought into happiness and blessedness—the whole family gathered home.
Then the whole elect family will receive their glorified bodies.
Death has to do with the partial happiness of the individual believer; but the coming of the Lord has to do with the complete happiness of the whole redeemed family! So you see there is a vast difference between the two events as to the hope connected with them; and we must not yield to the statements that are made to the contrary. We must be guided by the Word of God, and not frame our own notions about these things, nor follow the notions of good people around us, if their thoughts are not according to the Word of God.
"The morning cometh;" that is, the morning of that day which will be without clouds, of that day which will never end, in which the whole heavenly family ill share together eternal happiness.
But this is not all. The "night" cometh also. Ah! then it will be seen who are on the Lord's side, and who are not. What a revelation will there be then. The curtain lifted, and the actual condition of all manifested! The bodies of the believers who sleep in Jesus, though by millions scattered over all parts of the world, all raised and gathered together to their Lord; but the bodies of unbelievers, that lie in the grave, will be left in the grave to await the resurrection of the last day! The unbelievers who are alive, separated for ever from the believers—the one taken, and the other left! Oh, think of it! for the solemn point for each is this,— To which class do I belong? If ever there was a practical truth, this is it. Let us look at it again and again, and ask ourselves before God, "Will it be to me the morning, or will it be to me the night? The eternal day of happiness, or the eternal night of woe and misery?" The night! Oh, what a night! The night of "wailing and gnashing of teeth," the night to be spent for ever with the "devil and his angels"! Oh, my beloved friends and fellow-sinners, ask, I beseech you, before God, the question, "Am I prepared? Am I really trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul?" There must be the entire dependence upon the Lord Jesus; no ritualism, no works will avail. The precious blood of Christ must be the sole ground of your trust before God. I repeat it, the momentous question is, "Am I trusting in Jesus, depending on Jesus alone for the salvation of my soul?" If so, the morning of that bright, blessed day is before me; if not, there is nothing before me but the endless night of darkness!
In conclusion, one word on the last clause of the verse—"If ye will inquire ye; return, come." Our esteemed brethren have regarded these as addressed to the backslider and to the undecided, and I believe rightly so; but I would particularly dwell for a moment on these words, as showing to us the heart of God. These words were written by inspiration, and it is, therefore, just as if God were saying in our midst this evening, "If there be here the vilest, the oldest, the most hardened sinner, I desire not that that sinner should die. Oh, if he will only return, if he will only be in earnest, how gladly will I receive him!"
And then, if there should be any who are in some little measure stirred up to "inquire after God," His word to such is, "Inquire ye;" that is, continue to read the word of God. Have you a little desire, a little relish, for that Word? Be encouraged; that desire is the Spirit's working; it comes from God, not from your own evil heart. Continue to look to the Lord, and the blessing will yet be yours.
This word is not to be limited to backsliders, but is to be taken more generally; for by nature it is true of us all, that we have cast God behind our back; and what we want is to "return," to "come" back to Him. Now to "come" to God means to "believe." This is the inspired explanation of what "coming" means, as we learn from comparing John 6. 64, 65, with verse 44 of the same chapter. This, then, is what the sinner has to do—to believe in Jesus, to trust in Him, to depend on Him for salvation. In this consists "coming" to God, and no one who has not believed can be said to have "Come."
by A. D. THROPAY (California)
II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD'S MASTERPIECE 4.1—6.23
A. Walking in unity 4:1-16
- 1. The proportions of unity 4:1-6
- 2. The protection of the unity 4:7-16
—I therefore: (oun) This phrase connects the practical exhortations which follow with the preceding statements of doctrine. Great statements of doctrine are always stated in the immediate context of Christian practice.
—the prisoner of: (en) "in."
—the Lord: Paul's imprisonment was in the sphere of Christ's Lordship. He is in control of all the circumstances of life. Comp. 3.1.
—beseech: (parakaleo) Literally, "To call to one's side," in order to aid, encourage, exhort, beseech.
—you that ye walk: (peripateo) "To walk about," hence, to conduct or behave oneself.
—worthy: (axious) In a worthy manner, appropriately. The adjective means, "bringing up the other beam of the scale." (TDNT) It includes the ideas of being "balanced," or "equal to."
—of the vocation: (klesis) "Calling." In the New Testament, this word is used for the invitation to salvation.
—wherewith ye were called: (eklethete — aorist, passive of kaleo) "To call." The passive voice indicates that we had no part in the call. We were acted upon by Another. The call was all of grace.
—with: (meta) Among; amidst; with (Thayer), As the accompaniment to walking worthy as expressed in verse 1.
—all: (pases) every kind of; all manner of (Thayer)
—lowliness: (tapeinophrosunes) That true estimate of self, based on a knowledge of God and His greatness and our dependence on Him. Comp. 1 Peter 5.5-7.
—and meekness: (prautetos) That "temper of Spirit in which we accept His (God's) dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing" (Trench) It is seen to others as "a gentle attitude, expressing itself in patient submissiveness to offence, free and malice and desire for revenge." (TDNT, Trench)
—with: (meta) as above, every type of lowliness and meekness is to be accompanied by ...
—longsuffering: (makrothumia) Literally, "Long tempered." He accepts injuries and insults without losing his temper and without desire for retaliation or punishment
—forbearing: (Present middle particle of anechomai) 'To hold one's self up," "to hold one's self erect and firm." (Thayer) "To bear with, endure." To hold one's ground patiently but firmly. "To hold up against a thing." (W. E. Vine) Humility, meekness, and longsuffering do not mean that one must allow others to push him/her around and be a "pushover." See 6.10-14.
—one another in: (en) This preposition denotes the sphere in which the qualities mentioned above occur.
—love: (agape) A sacrificial attachment based on reason, selection, and choice from seeing in that person a need for love. This person loves the unattractive in spite of, not because of. He loves regardless of what is done or not done.
Holding one's position patiently but firmly must be done in the sphere and atmosphere of love.
—endeavouring: (spoudazo) "to hasten; to exert one's self; to give diligence; to make every effort."
—to keep: (tereo) "To attend to carefully; guard, keep; hold firmly;" The present infinitive active tense indicates that they are to be doing it constantly and repeatedly as a custom or habit. We are to guard what is already our possession.
—the unity: (henotes) "oneness, agreement."
—of the Spirit: Genitive of originating cause. This means, "the unity originated by or produced by the Holy Spirit." There can be no unity apart from dependence on Him.
—in: (en) expressing "the sphere in which this unity is to be maintained." (Expositors)
—the bond: (sundesmos) that which binds and keeps together (Barth).
—of peace: Genitive of identity, meaning, "the bond which is peace."
Peace is the bond in which the Holy Spirit produces unity. Peace is the product of the work of the Lord Jesus for us at the cross. Conscious union, dependence and acquaintance with Him produces peace in the individual believer's life.
Note that the unity of the Spirit is:
- A unity in view of internal differences. It is unity in diversity, NOT unity based on common practices and ideas. Jews and Gentiles at Ephesus had cultural differences affecting their dress, manners, and perspectives.
- Unity preserved by peace a uniting bond springing out of lowliness, meekness, and longsuffering, (verse 2, 3) as pride, arrogance, and quick tempers cause division.
- Sevenfold unity (verses 4-6). Each one should be visible to the world, because there are the things which every believer enjoys, has experienced, and should express, being taught by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit produces ONE UNITY (v.3) but seen in seven different ways.
one (emphatic) body: Composed of all true believers baptised into the Holy Spirit, by the Lord Jesus, for the purpose of being in one body. Compare 1 Corinthians 12.13. The body is Christ's.
—and one Spirit: He indwells every believer in the body. 1 Cor. 12.7-11.
—even as: (kathos) according as; In accord with the fact that.
—ye were called in: (en) the element or domain in which the calling took place. (Expositors)
—one hope: (elpis) Favourable and confident expectation of unseen realities of the future, Romans 8.24,25. The word is used to describe the joyful expectation of good, Titus 1.2. 1 Peter 1.21. The Lord Jesus Christ "is our hope." 1 Timothy 1.1; Colossians 1.27.
—of your calling: "the hope originated or wrought in you by your calling," as in 1.18. (Expositors)
Being members of one body, and being indwelt by one Spirit is perfectly in harmony with the fact that their call by the Holy Spirit produced one hope for them.
—One Lord: This refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. In each of the verses four, five and six there is mention of one Person of the Trinity. Verse four mentioned the Spirit. This verse mentions the Son, calling Him Lord. Verse six mentions the Father.
The word Lord (kurios) in the Greek means "He to whom a person belongs, about which he has the power of deciding." (Thayer) He is a Master, Lord, or Owner. When referring to Jesus Christ, it also indicates that He is God, the Jehovah and Adonahy of the Old Testament. See Isaiah 6.9-11; 53.1 with John 12.37-41.
- The Lord Jesus is the Master or Lord of all. Acts 10.36 "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)"
a. This will be acknowledged by every creature some day, whether that creature is good, bad or indifferent. Philippians 2.9-11 "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
b. All those who acknowledge Him as Lord during this present life time, and accept Him as Saviour from their sins, will be saved and have an absolute guarantee of eternal life. Romans 10.9 'That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10.12,13 "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." See also John 5.24; John 3.16,17; Roman 6.23;
—one faith: (pistis) Saving faith, trust (Its usual subjective sense not what is believed, doctrine or creed." Expositors) All persons who enjoy the forgiveness of sins and that are on their way to heaven, have received this guarantee the same way. It is by faith, trust, or confidence in God's words and His provision for salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2.8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." John 1.12 "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:" "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Romans 6.23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ our Lord." There is no salvation apart from the Lord Jesus. Acts 4.12 "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
—One baptism: The Lord told His disciples to baptize all those that placed their faith in Him; all those that accepted Him as their Lord and were willing to become His disciples. Matthew 28.18,19 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
- Who was Baptized? Only those and all who received God's word and believed on the Lord Jesus were baptized. Acts 2.41. "Then they that gladly received His word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Acts 18.8 "and Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
- How is a person baptized? The word "baptisma" was used of the process consisting of immersion or submersion under water and the emergence out of the water. This was how Christ Himself was baptized. This was how all others in the scriptures were baptized. For further study see: Acts 8.27-39 — (This story tells, why, when, and how).
- Why is a person baptized?
- In obedience to the Lord's command.
- To show the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. (Romans 6.3)
—One God: There is only one God. Although He is three Persons, as mentioned in these three verses, He is only one Being.
—and Father: All those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour become one of God's children and He becomes a Father to them. John 1.12,13.
- The Holy Spirit brings true believers into a relationship with God in which it is as natural for them to call Him Father as it is for a child to call out for its mother. Romans 8.15,16 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:"
- God treats His children as an earthly father would treat his own children. Psalms 103.13 "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him."
—of all: The context shows that this refers to all believers.
—who is above: (epi) over, above. That is, He is in the place of supremacy and superiority.
—all, and through: (dia) all: That is, He permeates, guides, controls and works through all believers. Cp. Chapter 3.20.
—and in you all: (Paul is writing this letter to true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. (See chapter 1.1,11.13,15). God the Father dwells within every believer. This is how He works through them and produces His own character in them. Since, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inseparable, all three Divine Persons live within the true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 14.16,17,23 "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you ... Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
by David Ogden (Luton, England)
In the Bible the chapter divisions, although sometimes helpful, are nevertheless man made. The Psalms stand alone, we know who inspired them. In many of them we know author and circumstance, but we do not know which man or men put them in their order so that they sometimes run in beautiful couplets and triplets, or even, as with the Psalms of Degrees, in a longer string. Here is seen the controlling hand of God. As jewels in the diadem of an earthly monarch reflect incidents in his country's history so do these Psalms, scintillating with radiant glory under the light of the Holy Spirit's illumination, shine as glorious gems in the crown of King Messiah, our glorious Lord. They tell of his grief and glory. His compassion and coronation.
Such a lovely trio is to be seen in Psalms 22, 23 and 23. There have been many comparative and short analyses of the Character of the Lord in these three Psalms. Here are some more.
|In Psalm 22||He is the Suffering Servant. It is His grief, which is Godward.|
|In Psalm 23||He is the Succouring Shepherd. Here is His guidance, which is Manward.|
|In Psalm 24||He is the Supreme Sovereign. It is His glory, which is Selfward|
|Psalm 22||relates to the Travail of His Soul and the Passion of the Saviour; the mood is reflective and His cry is: 'save Me'.|
|Psalm 23||expresses the Tenderness of His Soul, and the Preservation by the Shepherd; the mood is meditative and the cry is: 'guide me,'.|
|Psalm 24||notes the Triumph of His Person, and the Power of the Sovereign; the mood is prophetic, whilst the cry is 'crown Him'.|
Briefly, the key thoughts are:
- Psalm 22 — desolation;
- Psalm 23 — direction; and
- Psalm 24 — dominion.
There are at least four ways in which to view the Old Testament.
- i) Directly, or in its historic context.
- ii) Doctrinally, or how it speaks of Christ.
- iii) Dispensationally, or how it speaks of Israel or the Church.
- iv) Devotionally, or how it affects the individual.
In Psalm 24 these can be seen thus:
- Directly — the context is taken to be 1 Chronicles chapters 15 and 16 with 2 Samuel 6.12-19 and the entry of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.
- Doctrinally — there is a glimpse of the Character of the Risen Son of God in Ascension glory.
- Dispensationally — In view is the Millennial Glory of the Triumphant One who answers all claims put to Him.
- Devotionally — the qualifications for a right relationship with our God are examined, and the only One who had ever such a relationship is presented. He thus sits rightfully on the Throne of the Universe.
Davidic authorship is given in the headings of these three Psalms, and examples can be seen in Psalm 24 of comparison and contrast with his life and experience. David was king over Israel (2 Sam 5.2). The Lord's realm is the earth (verse 1). Although God could call David His servant (2 Sam 7. 5) David would realise his inadequacy to fulfil verse 3 by natural right as his heart had not always been pure, nor his hands clean. To build the temple was not his privilege, he being a man of war and had shed blood (1 Chron 28.3). His purpose was to fight the Lord's battles (1 Sam 18.17). He had slain his ten thousands (1 Sam 18.7) but verse 8 tells of One triumphant in greater fight who bears a greater name and glory than David ever did.
In contradistinction to such Psalms as 2, 45, and 110, this Psalm is only quoted once in the New Testament and then not in the expected way. It is not used to swell the great chorus of praise to the Risen One ascended far above all, rather, it is used to the Corinthians of Divine ownership of the earth in this present scene as Paul reminds them; "the Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof 1 Cor. 10.26. The Rabbis do not appear to have seen their Messiah and his reign in this Psalm, although they could often see Him in the most obscure places. There is a school of thought which says that a Psalm is only Messianic if quoted in the New Testament with direct reference to the Lord Jesus. Whilst the passage in Corinthians refers to God rather than specifically to Christ, and while accepting the Oneness of Divine persons, it would be a very bold person who would dare say that Psalm 24 is not Messianic. The whole Psalm is full of His Glory.
There was a set order of Psalms to be sung each day in the Temple, corresponding with the order of creation in Genesis One. Psalm 24 commenced the week; Psalm 48 on day 2; Psalm 82 on day 3; Psalm 94 on day 4; Psalm 81 on day 5; Psalm 93 on day 6 with the Sabbath Psalm being the 92nd.
There is a lovely picture in the use of Psalm 24 on the first day of the week, a significance not realised by those who would have sung it, or would have heard the melodious sounds but joyfully foreseen by Heaven. One first day of the week this Psalm would have sounded out over a land not promised to Rome, with an Edomite on the throne, not one of David's line, in a temple not decreed by God, with priests of a debased order offering sacrifices that no longer had any meaning. The strains of Psalm 24 would have sounded to the Heavens which would have already witnessed very early that day the resurrection of the Son of God, soon to ascend to His rightful place, for Psalm 24 was the set Psalm for the first day of the week. It was chosen because it commemorated the day when "God possessed the world and ruled in it" but it was sung on the day when Heaven demonstrated its right to rule by the resurrection of the Son of God, the beginning of the new creation. The firstborn from the dead.
It is true that the Psalm is divided by the word "Selah" but the Psalm can also be analyzed thus;
|verses 1-2||Show HIS REALM AS CREATOR.
Seen in relation to His power.
The theme is Outward Majesty.
|verses 3-6||Show HIS CHARACTER AS RULER.
Seen in relation to His fitness.
The Theme is Moral Character.
|verses 7-9||Show HIS TRIUMPH AS CONQUEROR.
Seen in relation to His Victory.
The Theme is Conquest and Coronation
(To be continued)
by B. Currie, (Belfast)
No. 3 (a) — HOLY SPIRIT BAPTISM
In days of great confusion in relation to this subject, confusion which is accentuated by the growing charismatic movement, we wish to deal with the subject by investigating what the Scripture, and hence what the Lord, saith. Too often conclusions are drawn from personal experience but those who accept the authority, authenticity and finality of the Word of God, must bow in submission to it. Where the Scripture and our experience are at variance it is the latter which must be questioned.
There are seven references in the New Testament to the baptism in the Spirit. These are one in each of the four gospels, two in the Acts and one in 1 Cor. To unfold the truth we shall consider the subject under the following headings.
- 1. Prophetically
- 2. Historically
- 3. Doctrinally
- 4. Typically
- 5. Practically
John the Baptist prophesied of this baptism and his prophecy is recorded by each of the evangelists — Matt. 3.11; Mark 1.8; Luke 3.16; John 1.33. We often hear the expression "the baptism of the
Holy Spirit". It will be noted that in each of the gospel references the preposition is "with" the Holy Ghost Neither "of or "with" is strictly correct. To use the word "of implies that the Holy Spirit is the Baptiser whereas it ought to be obvious to all from the gospel records that the Lord Jesus is the Baptiser. What of the word "with"? This implies the administration of a small quantity of the element as would be found in the unscriptural practice of sprinkling with water. In every instance where this baptism is referred to, apart from Mark 1.8, the preposition is "en" meaning "in". When we grasp the meaning of baptism as being total immersion then the reason for the employment of the preposition "in" is very clear.
For a scriptural baptism to take place there must be
- i) a baptiser,
- ii) the element in which the baptism takes place,
- iii) the one to be baptised, and
- iv) there is always a consequence.
In relation to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the Baptiser is the Lord Jesus, the Element is the Holy Spirit, the baptised are believers corporately and the consequence is the formation of the mystical body of Christ.
What about the exception in Mark 1.8? Those who are expert in New Testament Greek tell us that the case employed means the translation must be "in the Holy Spirit". Thus every reference uses the expression "In the Holy Spirit". While the preposition "en" means "in" and thus describes the element in which baptism takes place, it also indicates something more. The element alone could have been described by the preposition "eis" meaning "into". Darby's translation of 1 Cor. 12.13 and his footnote at Matt. 3.11 grasps the meaning by commenting that "en" means "in the power of. Thus the popular statement "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" is unscriptural. For convenience and ease of expression we often refer to the baptism in the Holy Spirit. However for the sake of accuracy in this article we should note the noun "baptism" is never employed in the Scriptures relative to this subject It is always the verb "to be baptised" thus referring to the action of an event.
It will be noted that John's prophetic reference also refers to a baptism in fire. This must not be confused with the "cloven tongues like as of fire" Acts 2.3. Rather John is speaking of the unquenchable fire in which unbelievers shall be ultimately finally immersed. This is the reason why, in Acts 1.5, the Lord did not mention the "baptism in fire".
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is mentioned twice in the Acts, 1.6 and 11.16. The former looks forward to the event which was about to take place — "not many days hence". The latter looks back to an event which had taken place and was historic, "then I remembered..." The baptism therefore took place on the day of
Pentecost in Acts 2. This is in accord with the Lord's words in Acts 1.4,5. There He indicated the place where it would take place — at Jerusalem, and when it would take place — not many days hence. Thus it was a historic event and was fulfilled in Acts 2, as confirmed by Peter in Acts 2.33, "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear". That this was a baptism, which by definition means immersion is clearly seen in Acts 2.2 where all the house was filled. Hence the Holy Spirit was all around them, overflowing and submerging them so much so that they also were filled with the Spirit v4.
The only reference to this event in the epistles is found in 1 Cor. 12.13. Is it not amazing that an event which has so much prominence in the lives of many professing Christians has only one verse in all of the New Testament to expound its doctrine? Others teach that 1 Cor. 12.13 refers to an experience at conversion, which means that there is no doctrinal explanation of Acts 2 anywhere in the New Testament! While the historical event which took place in Acts 2 was undoubtedly the birthday of the Church, the doctrine was not revealed at that time. The doctrine awaited the revelation of the body of Christ to, and subsequently by; the apostle Paul.
What was the purpose of Pentecost? It was not primarily to empower for service but to unite all the saints in one body. This is the meaning of 1 Cor. 12.12 which ends with the expression, "so also is Christ". We must underline the use of the definite article and render the phrase, "so also is THE CHRIST'. This is not Christ personally but Christ mystically. It is Christ the Head in heaven united indivisibly with the church, His body. The apostle goes on to explain how "the Christ" came to being and thus we read, "For also in (the power of) one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body . . ." (JND). It is important to note that nowhere in the NT is this an individual experience. The verse quoted above says "we ALL". Acts 2.1 "They were ALL with one accord in one place". It is equally important to understand that this baptism is not a process. The fact of the aorist or point tense employed in 1 Cor. 12.13 rules out any thought of a repetitious process. The verse does not say "each has been baptised" which would indicate that separately and individually each believer was baptised, but it does say we have all been baptised. Who are the ALL? These included Paul and the Corinthian saints, and says vl3 "whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free..." It is obvious that many whom Paul was including were not present on the day of Pentecost but the glory of the teaching is that God had all believers without exception in view in divine purpose in Acts 2. In the OT the Psalmist thought of his physical body and by inspiration he wrote (Ps. 139.16), 'Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." This Sovereign foreknowledge in relation to the physical was paralleled in relation to the mystical, on the day of Pentecost. Thus the baptism in the Holy Spirit took place in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost and is as unique and final as was the work of the Saviour on Calvary.
Some will demur from this interpretation and will ask if Saul of Tarsus was in the body of Christ when he was persecuting the Church of God?
Such an objection cannot stand. When we speak of divine purpose, time and experience have no place. We could equally ask if Saul of Tarsus was chosen in Christ when he was persecuting the church of God? All must acknowledge, that he was. We again may ask when did Saul of Tarsus, or any other Christian, die with Christ; and when were they raised with Christ? The first is based on Rom. 6.8, "Now if we be dead with Christ" which does not really indicate the force of the aorist tense. The RV is better, "But if we died with Christ". See also JND. To die with Christ means that when He died, ideally we died regardless of the time factor or our experience. The second question is similarly answered from Col. 3.1 where the RV reads, "If then ye were raised together with Christ___", and we clearly understand that when He was raised, ideally we were raised also. This is all in the purpose of God.
Hence at conversion, the moment we put our faith in the Lord Jesus we come into the good of the once and for all work of the cross, the once and for all resurrection of Christ and the once and for all baptism in the Holy Spirit. —(to be continued, DV)
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98)
Paper 1(c) — The Church's Heavenly Hope
O that all the Lord's own were looking for Him in simplicity of faith, yearning to see His face, and to be with Him in the Father's house! When in the early days of the Church of God the hope was held fast there was thorough separation from the world, and real devotedness to Christ. The well known parable of the ten virgins shows the original position as regards the coming of Christ. (See Matt. 25.) "The kingdom of heaven" during this period, while the King is rejected, is the sphere of Christian profession. The Lord likens it to "ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom." They were "virgins." Such was the ground taken, and such was the character to be maintained. They took their place outside the world—they "went forth." Christianity does not leave a soul in the world, but detaches it, and sets it with its back upon the world and the face towards the glory. This was unquestionably the universal attitude of believers in the early days of the faith, None looked for death, as many now; all looked to see the Lord, and to be caught up to Him according to His promise. The Romans waited patiently for the glory, groaning meanwhile with the suffering creation (Rom. 8. 17-25); the Corinthians came behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1. 1-7); to the Galatians the Apostle could say, "we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal. 5. 5); the Philippians looked for the Saviour to come from the heavens to change the body of humiliation and fashion it like unto His own body of glory (Phil. 3. 20, 21); the Colossians expected to be displayed in glory with Christ at His manifestation (Col. 3.4); and the Thessalonians, as we have already seen, were waiting with singular affection and earnestness for the Son of God from heaven.
In every way, at every turn, the Spirit of God brings forward the coming of the Lord in one or other of its aspects. It is the constant theme of the New Testament Scriptures, whatever some may say to the contrary. The hope sustained the early Christian in sorrow (1 Thess. 4. 13); it enabled them to be patient under oppression (James 5. 7, 8); it encouraged them to suffer loss and reproach for Christ (Heb. 10.36-38), and led to thorough purification of the life and walk (1 John 3.3); it cheered the Apostle in the course of his service for Christ, and enabled him to go patiently onward through evil report and good report (1 Thess. 2.19,20; 2 Cor. 4.14).
Need we wonder at all the evil that came in when the hope faded from men's minds? Alas! it happened as the Lord warned— "while the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept." Not only the foolish, but the wise virgins also. All were together in this sad departure from the Lord. It is a well-known fact that scarcely a trace of the heavenly hope of the Church of God can be found in writings for hundreds of years after the first century. It had leaked away. Not that the Lord's coming was never referred to in any way. It has always been held that He will come some day to deal with the world in judgement. But the proper hope of the Christian, the portion which His grace has set before us, of removal to heaven to be with Him before the judgements fall, was completely lost.
The result for the mass of Christian profession was worldliness. The word of the Lord to the Church has long been, "I know ... where thou dwellest, even where Satan's throne is (Rev. 2.13). Satan's throne is in the world. He is its prince and god. Sad that the Church should ever have got into such a place. Her true path is that of a heavenly stranger passing through this scene, as Rebekah through the desert with Eliezer, to meet her Lord at the appointed moment. It is her holy and solemn responsibility to bear testimony on the way, but not to settle here, nor to mingle in the affairs of this alien scene. Nothing can deliver the saints of God from the position of compromise in which so many are found but the laying hold in simple faith, in the power of the Holy Ghost, of the mighty yet simple truth that the Lord is at hand.
If the loss of the hope has been so serious for the general company of the saints, what shall we say of those who have assumed to be their leaders? Let Scripture speak: "If that evil servant shall say in his heart, my lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to eat and drink with the drunken: the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that lie is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 24. 18—51). Sadly faithful picture of priestly domination and tyranny. But what is the root of it all? The saying in the heart, "My lord delayeth his coming." The surrender of the hope led on—by gradual stages, of course—to all the evils and enormities of which the pages of ecclesiastical historians are so full.
But a change has come. The Lord is waking up His own to their long-lost blessings. The Holy Spirit is actively at work in every direction in the hearts of believers. It has happened as the Lord said: "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom ... go ye out to meet him" (Matt. 25.6). The Lord would recall His own to their true attitude before the consummation. His word to each individual saint is, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and rise from among the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (or "shine upon thee") (Eph. 5.14). The Christian is not dead (blessed be God!) being in possession of eternal life in His Son; but it is very possible to be found sleeping among the dead. Of what use is the believer in such a case? Where is his testimony? "Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand" (Rom. 13.11,13). Do you know the time, beloved reader? Are you saying within yourself, "Time enough yet; my Lord delayeth His coming;" or does your heart leap within you at the prospect of soon seeing His face? We read of some of old that they had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do (1 Chron. 12. 33). Would that this were true of all Christians in this day! Do not allow the truth of the Lord's return to become a mere doctrine for the head. Let it be a vital reality in the heart. If really looking for Him, purge yourself form all your idols. Expel everything from you that is an offence to His Spirit. Cast off every bit of Egypt, which is even a greater reproach for the Christian than for Israel of old (Josh. 5.9). Get on your watch-tower and cry from the depths of your soul, "Come, Lord Jesus!" He values this more than anything else. Service for Christ is good, and cannot be too abundant, and the Lord values it; but He prizes yet more watching for His return. We get the two things in Luke 12. In verses 43 and 44 we read, "Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." Not a cup of cold water will be forgotten in the coming day; all is written in heaven. But He puts watching before service. See verses 35-38.
The true attitude is first described. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him immediately." Observe the striking illustration the Lord uses. It is that of a man-servant in expectation of his master's return from a wedding feast. In order not to keep him waiting he is standing in the entrance hall, with his hand upon the handle of the door, that when he hears the well-known knock he may open unto him without a moment's delay. Are we thus waiting for Christ? Now, observe what the Lord goes on to say. See how deeply He values simple-hearted watching for Himself. "Blessed are those servants whom the lord when He cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you that he shall grid himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants." Heavenly honours await those who long for the Lord's return.
Well, the wondrous moment is near! Soon will the whole Church of God hear the trumpet call and quit this vale of tears for ever. Of Enoch it is written, "He was not found, because God had translated him" (Heb. 11.5). The same will presently be true of all the millions who compose the Church of God. What an awful moment for the world! Those whom it has ever despised and persecuted for Christ's sake caught away from its midst never more to return! Never again will men be faithfully warned by them of coming danger, nor be lovingly appealed to believe in the Saviour—in the day of His long-suffering grace. An awful blank will be made! The salt removed, the light transferred to shine in other and more congenial spheres!
That moment will be peculiarly solemn for those who have professed the Lord's Name. "The Lord knoweth them that are His;" and He will make no mistakes (2 Tim. 2. 19). He will take to Himself His own, rejecting all others, however loud their claim. To many He has to say, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead" (Rev. 3.1). Better far never to have heard His Name than to go on with an empty profession of it. He will not remove souls to glory because they have maintained a profession of religion. By no means. But all who in simple faith have learned and owned their sinful state, and been washed from their sins by His blood, and sealed by His Spirit, however poor and feeble, will be claimed as His, and caught up into His heavenly presence.
Inexpressibly solemn to hear Him say, as He will to many, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not." The great separation is coming. The wise virgins will go in with Him to the marriage; all others will be left outside, to their eternal ruin. In which company will the reader be found?
—(to be continued, D.V.)
By R. Stewart (Magherafelt, N. Ireland)
"This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." How true! Yet these words were spoken in snarling scorn. The Pharisee murmur reveals their attitude of heart to the working of Heavenly Grace. Indeed if we will understand Luke 15, we must pay particular attention to those expressions of ATTITUDE — a rejoicing shepherd and his rejoicing friends, yea! rejoicing angels; a rejoicing woman, having recovered her lost coin; a joyous father graciously welcoming a lost son — and then the sombre note of an angry elder brother, out of kilter with all, except of course, the murmuring Pharisees, whom indeed he represents. He would have been glad to COMPETE with the sin hampered prodigal by Jerusalem's Bethesda pool, where only the fittest had any expectation of profit.
But the father's joy in receiving his younger son struck no reciprocating chord in the elder brother's heart. As the Lord Jesus had eaten with publicans and sinners and been criticised for it, so now, in eating with the prodigal, the father also experiences the angry criticisms of the elder brother.
While the prodigal changed his mind about the father, the elder brother sought to change the father's mind about himself. These two classes of people are still with us.
The welcome that overwhelmed the prodigal, outraged the elder brother. So does SOVEREIGN GRACE still anger the religious sinner — the self righteous. But please note particularly the focus of his outburst. While he has nothing good to say about his profligate brother, the main target of his invective is the father himself. On two points does he vent his anger. (1) What THE FATHER had done for the Prodigal. "Thou hast killed for him the fatted calf." (2) What THE FATHER had not done for himself. 'Thou never gavest me a kid." The armour of self-righteousness precludes any celebration of GRACE. In essence the elder brother is mystified by the father's choice. "Why should this profligate brother of mine, be wearing the Best Robe?" seems to be his insoluble query.
But let us who are saved rejoice with those of the Father's house at the Father's elective choice. Said Paul to the Corinthians "For ye see your calling brethren — not many mighty, not many noble are called." Let us not dispute and argue, when we ought to be worshipping and adoring, that any from such a Corinthianised world were called at all!
God's calling (Rom. 8.28,30) is the launching pad for Paul's soaring argument of Romans 8, which culminates in his great challenge, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Let us value this root from which springs the great branch of ETERNAL SECURITY. Our response to God's sovereign dealings should be the same as Paul's, when upon unfolding the scroll of God's dealings with Jew and Gentile (Rom. 9,10,11) he worships, "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God." (Rom. 11.33-36).
Beware of watering down the doctrine of election, in order to couple it neatly with the equally important doctrine of HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY. Be content to let it soar far beyond our comprehension, yet let us accept it, even as we do the ETERNAUTY of God.
Yet, would not all admit that in this section of our chapter (Luke 15.11-32) we find HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY which is absent in the former part? The lost sheep can hardly be regarded as responsible, and certainly not the lost coin. But that both brothers are responsible is assumed and evident Nevertheless the prodigal's spell in the far country might remind some of the book of Esther where we search in vain for mention of God's name, or prayer, and yet we see God's providence throughout. But the prodigal's departure, his lost condition and his thoughts of return are all credited to himself. Be it noted, there is no account of a long arduous journey home; no, the Father is seen running to meet the humbled prodigal, while yet a great way off. Sin overcame him, a Sovereign overruled and the welcome overwhelmed him. He was responsible to return and he did.
The elder brother was responsible to enter and he did not. We must remember that the Lord Jesus is here depicting the Father. Surely His illustration is accurate. The Father's invitation must be sincere. This was no cold invitation, inhibited by the expectation that a refusal would be the outcome! No! it was the warm, beseeching, genuine effort to induce the unwilling to enter. Indeed it was the very warmth of the entreaty which highlighted the intractable stubbornness of the elder son. By it the Father is cleared of all charge of favouritism. The Father had provision for both. Nothing was lost to the elder brother by the prodigal's acceptance. "All that I have is thine" was the testimony of the Father.
No "limited atonement" here! The fatted calf which satisfied the Father and the prodigal was available to the elder brother had be but entered. "He is the propitiation or our sins: but not for ours alone, but for the whole world" (John 2.2 - JND). The wonder is that it was God, the Father, Who needed to be propitiated, Who Himself provided the propitiation — and that in a public declaration when at Calvary, He "set forth" His Own Son (Rom. 3.25). God Who is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7.11) vented that anger against His sinless Son. This not only enabled God to save sinners, but to act in long-suffering towards the whole world. What else holds back the wrath of God against such a world as ours?!
Finally let us note in this beautiful story of reconciliation, that the Father's equanimity is never disturbed. He remonstrates not when the prodigal requests his portion. Though faced with the anger of the elder brother He calmly "entreats." Why should Divine Sovereignty be disturbed? Nothing CAN unsettle it. Yet perhaps there is an exception. The Father, in His elation, RUNS to meet the repentant sinner — how beautiful!
by J. Baxter (Scotland)
I was born in Glasgow and at 9 months moved to Dunbartonshire and lived in a little village called Cardross. My parents worked hard for the family of five, did not smoke or drink but never went to church. I can only remember ever attending Sunday School on two occasions and that was to obtain a bar of toffee!
My older brother, Matthew, joined the Royal Air Force when 15 years old and subsequently I did the same and signed on for 12 years as an Air Radar Fitter. However when competing for the Duke of Edinburgh award I suffered perforated eardrums while doing high diving into water and as a result could not go up to high altitudes. I felt that if I could not fly I was as well at home. Before I left the RAF however, God spoke to me.
On Sunday mornings we were marched to church and at night I returned. There were two Irish Padres who spoke with love and compassion and I was convicted of my need of God. One day later I was wandering along a street in Wolverhampton where I saw a large notice board announcing Evangelistic Services. I stared at it wondering what it meant. I determined to go the next weekend to hear the preacher — Joe Blinco. Unfortunately I got "jankers" for having dirty buttons and was confined to barracks.
When I left the RAF and returned home I began to attend the Church of Scotland on Sunday, but was dancing, drinking and gambling on the Saturday night. As I considered my life I was convicted of the hypocrisy of it all.
While I was in the RAF two girls from the Bethesda Hall, Helensburgh had been visiting my mother, trying to get her to attend gospel meetings. They asked me to go to the Youth Fellowship on Friday night when they had Evangelistic Meetings. In a flash I was forcibly reminded of the poster in Wolverhampton and I agreed to go with them. I went a number of times and one night brother James Wood spoke from John 3.16 and 15.13. I left the building that night and wandered up to Argyle Street crying bitterly. I told God I was a rebel sinner, that I swore, stole and cheated and in the midst of my tears confessed the guilt of my life. I wondered how He could save me. I fell down upon my knees on a dirty old gravely pavement and cried to God to save me—and He did.
A few months later my new found friends explained to me the next step was to be baptised by immersion. I decided to be obedient to God's Word and be baptised and this I mentioned to my father. His reply was that he did not believe in such and I could pack my bags and go elsewhere. A week passed and broken hearted I went to my father again and said, "Dad I have to do it." To my surprise he said, "OK son you do it and you can stay!" My family actually came to the baptism on 12th July 1959.
My father never forgot the message that night but we do not know if he trusted the Saviour, but my mother, two sisters and one brother have all professed faith in Christ.
I began to do a little for the Lord in gospel preaching and trying to minister the Word. I was searching for God's will for me and was forcibly impressed as to the sovereignty of God with the death of two men. One was Isaac Cherry and the other George Boville. I learned that God can do as He wills with His servants and wondered if there was anything I could do for Him.
Impressions were made by the ministry of Jim Burnett from Argentina and Jack Hunter of Scotland. The former said, "Just give the Lord what you have and yourself completely and the Lord will use it. Don't wait until you think you know and have learned everything. He desperately needs willing hearts now." Brother Hunter spoke at Harley Street on 1st January, 1983, from Philippians, emphasising 1.21 'To me to live is Christ.' Through that meeting the burden was mine. What a sham! What have I done! There and then with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I dedicated my life to Christ.
Later that same year my wife and I were at our late brother Robert McPheat's for tea and we were speaking of the thrill of leading souls to Christ. I said "if someone sends my cheque each month, I'll go and preach the gospel!" Roberts' big steely eyes seemed to look right into my soul, "Is a man bigger than your God! You trust him for eternity, why not for tomorrow?" After this the Spirit of God did not give me peace for a long time.
Some months later I was asking brother Jim Smyth about his labours and commenting on the joy of knowing the Lord's hand with you. Jim said it was a great thrill and added "Why don't you do it!" I expressed my weakness, lack of ability and that I had only a handful of sermons. Jim encouraged me from his own experience to continue reading, praying and listening.
In 1984 I was impressed with Prov. 15.3-7 and Psalm 132. 3-5.1 just felt the Lord was guiding and helping. Again I spoke with Jim Smyth and his reply was, "continue to read and pray and the Lord will lead you, but it will not be easy. Your wife will have to be one hundred percent behind you." I replied that she was and we both agreed to do and go where the Lord wants us.
We presented our exercise to the elders and then to the assembly at Deans in Livingston. They were one hundred percent supportive and commended us to the grace of God for the work which we commenced on 1st November, 1986.
I cannot say God has called us to any particular place but it is our ambition to help to build up the smaller assemblies, maintain the gospel testimony and to work hard wherever and whenever He sends. Our brother J. Paton has rightly remarked, "Don't go to the work to get away from the work!"
The Lord is coming and the days are short. We must pray, visit and preach. Pray for us that we may be able to fulfil the pleasure of God. Phil. 2.17. 'Yea, if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."
SUPREME, FAR ABOVE ALL
- Great things Oh Lord, thou hast done,
- Unequalled, unsurpassed, profound;
- No mind can fathom all the depths
- Where all Thy love abounds.
- Thy ways are all past finding out,
- Thy paths no man can know;
- The ocean vast of marvellous grace
- To all mankind doth flow.
- The river of life flows silently on,
- Clear as the crystal sea;
- Flowing out from the throne of God
- Its course boundless and free.
- The lovely valleys, lush in green,
- High mountains there to scale;
- The air of Heaven refreshes all
- When all else seems to fail.
- And yonder is the city,
- The city of pure gold;
- Where sun or moon shall never shine
- His glories all untold.
- Defilement ne'er can enter there,
- Closed are its gates to sin;
- Glory forever dwelleth there
- And saints shall walk therein.
- Hark; tis the blood washed throng,
- In song declare His name;
- As endless ages roll along
- All His majesty proclaim.
- In that fair scene, supreme is He,
- Where saints and Angels fall;
- Before the throne they bow the knee
- And crown Him Lord of all.
—by R Magill (Belfast)
- All glorious, resplendent,
- Though humble and lowly,
- His beauty transcendent,
- The Saviour most holy.
- Worlds on Him dependent
- The One Who walked meekly,
- Hosts all attendant
- Yet outcasts will seek Thee.
- His Star in ascendant,
- Yet laid in a manger,
- The Son pre-existent,
- But counted a Stranger.
- As God independent,
- Yet kissed by the traitor,
- Most glorious, resplendent,
- Our Lord and Creator.