When a minority of the nation of Israel returned from captivity in Babylon they began to build the house of the Lord and were diligent in their labours. However due to opposition the work ceased, Ezra 4. 24. God raised two men to stir the hearts of the people in order that the work would recommence. These were Haggai and Zechariah. Haggai was direct and practical, while Zechariah was devotional and mystical. The former preached, "Consider your ways": the latter, "Consider Him." Even though so different in their messages these men worked harmoniously and the result was the work recommenced and God was glorified.
In our day it appears the work has almost stopped and the saints generally need to be stirred to work again. In many places the house is lying waste and it is a long time since any new material was brought for the building of the house. What is the cure for this? Perhaps it is given very succinctly in Haggai 1.7,8, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD."
There is an EXHORTATION - "Consider your ways". We usually connect "consideration" with the mind but here it is the idea of setting the heart upon. Herein is the problem - many do not see the work of the Lord as heart work. If the hearts of the saints were devoted to the house and its welfare, what a difference it would make! The wise preacher reminds us, Prov. 4. 23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life."
There is ELEVATION - "Go up to the mountain". We cannot obtain material for the house while labouring in the valleys. Babel was built from the slime and clay of the plain. The place reflects the material from which it was built. The testimony began in an upper room. All was above the world and its ways. We must not adopt the methods of the world to seek to build for God. We must be on the mountain in prayer and communion.
There is EXERCISE - "bring wood, and build the house". This was not the bringing of little twigs for firewood. It involved labour and toil to cut down trees, strip from them their bark and shape them for usefulness in the house. They then had to be carried down the mountain to the house. To build for God we need men who will labour and toil and feel the burden of things.
Lightness has no part in the house. All wood hay and stubble will be burnt up, 1 Cor. 3. Everything we build should be costly to us. Said David, "... I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing ..." (2 Sam. 24.24). Let us see to it that we put our very best into the assembly and at the judgement seat hear Him say "well done, good and faithful servant"
There is EXALTATION - "I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD." The assembly may seem small and insignificant to those around. They do not understand the spiritual value of a little company seeking to move in the will of God and for His pleasure. Brethren, what does it matter what the ungodly and the unspiritual think, provided it brings pleasure to His heart? Let us move on for His pleasure in simple obedience to His word, rejecting every "new cart" and ensuring that we are diligently labouring in the mountain and building into the house that which is seen in the "gold silver and precious stones" of 1 Cor. 3. Then, after the searching fires, something will remain which will attract a reward.
These are notes of addresses given by the late George Muller
Paul's Letter to Philemon — Paper 3
Ver. 8—14. "Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me : whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels; whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel: but without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly."
Exquisite statement this, and of the deepest moment. Briefly it was just this :— Onesimus was converted; Paul a prisoner for the gospel in bonds. What a comfort this good man would have been waiting upon him! He longed to have one to wait on him. Paul might have said,—This Onesimus is my son in the faith, and therefore I shall just act as I have a right to act; I will just keep him, and let him wait on me. He might have said,—I am an apostle, and for the gospel's sake am here in prison, and it is all right and fit that my child in the faith should wait on me. Not thus, not thus. This was not the mind of Christ, and this blessed man of God sought to act according to the mind of Christ. He might have said,—I am an aged servant of Christ, an aged apostle, and I have laboured more abundantly than any of them; and as this runaway slave has been converted through me, it is all right that I should have him to wait on me. Not thus, because this would be by constraint. He would not know whether it was done willingly and cheerfully on the part of Philemon. He desired that this man of God might do what he did cheerfully, willingly. Oh, how deeply important it is to keep this before us! The principle is just this. Suppose any one said,—Now I am in great need, and such and such a one is my brother in Christ, and such and such a one has plenty of money, and he ought to give to me because I am a poor brother; he is bound by the word of God to do it, and I have a right just to demand it of him. Is this the mind of Christ? It is the mind of the flesh, and not the mind of Christ. You never find such an instance on the part of a man of God in the epistles or the gospels. Quite true that he who hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion, cannot have the love of God in him; but it is also true on the other hand that it is ill becoming that a poor brother should insist on it. The apostle Paul could have insisted on his rights, but he did not do so.
"Which in time past was to thee unprofitable." This brings out the character of Onesimus: a good-for-nothing man, a bad fellow. Philemon had lost nothing.
"But now profitable to thee and to me." Because a child of God, a brother in Christ, a member of the body. That brings out another deeply important principle. There is no child of God but what is of some good. One might say,—Here is a very ignorant person, cannot put two letters together; what good is such an one to the Church of Christ? If in no other way, to afford opportunity for the exercise of grace on the part of others. Here is one helplessly confined to his bed year after year. That individual can pray, that individual can yet manifest the mind of Christ to such an one who comes to see him. And suppose none of these things were so, yet they give the opportunity to those who are in health and strength to show love to such an one. We should always look on one another as precious in the sight of Christ. Our natural tendency is this: to see the old Adam in one another, to see the failings and shortcomings in one another; and the result is misery to one another and dishonour to God. O beloved in Christ, let us aim after it to see Christ in one another. Onesimus was profitable to the chief of the apostles; just think of this. He could not be a useless one, because he was a member of the body of Christ, and Christ can have no member of His body who is altogether useless.
"Thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels." Philemon was to receive him as if Paul himself came to him. And oh, how would Paul have been received? O beloved brother Paul, how glad I am to see thee again here, he would say, falling on his neck and kissing him many times. Now Paul says,—Just as thou wouldest have received me, if I were to come, so, beloved Philemon, receive this runaway slave, because he is thy brother in Christ, and thou wilt have to spend a happy eternity with him.
"But without thy mind would I do nothing." But I must first know that this pleases thee, that thou art satisfied with it, that this is according to thy wish and will. How deeply important to keep this before us in the Divine life, that we manifest the mind of Christ. Just as that blessed One sought not to please Himself, but to be the Servant of others, so have we to imitate that blessed One.
'For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever." "For ever," never to be separated any more. And that brings before us the precious truth that the disciples of the Lord Jesus are bound together for eternity, are knit together for eternity. And that you see is so precious. There may come separation by distance, there may come separation by death; ah, but it is only the appearance. We are bound together in the bonds of love, not for time only, but for eternity. All the poor sinners who rest on the atoning death of the Lord Jesus form one holy, happy, blessed family for eternity, and there will be no separation for eternity. Do we belong to that family? Do we believe in the Lord Jesus? How many among us belong to the heavenly family? How many are decided yet? Put this to yourselves, you dear young men, you dear girls from the Orphan Houses, and all here present.
Oh, the blessedness of belonging to the heavenly family! Oh, the blessedness of belonging to the members of Christ! Then let come what may—one in Christ, and one in Christ for ever!
The Gospel of Luke is fragrant all through with the tender compassion for the Saviour. The Son of God has become truly Man, and being perfectly Man, He ever moves feelingly with sympathy and love in the midst of those whose lives have been maimed and marred by sin. How it pained Him to see the havoc that sin had wrought in the creation. That creation, which once was so fair when it left His hands some millennia earlier, now groaned in the bondage of sin, and sin, when it was finished, brought forth death. Into this world of tears and tragedy the Creator-Son came voluntarily, and moved in grace and in compassion among the creatures, ministering healing to those around Him.
His compassion knew no frontiers. He dispensed blessing without discrimination or reserve. Both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, free and bond, small and great, learned and unlearned, Jew and Greek, were all objects of His love and felt His touch. Luke tells us that his Gospel is a treatise on the things that Jesus began both "to do" and "to teach". There is a perfect blending of practice and precept, and accordingly there would appear to be twenty miracles and twenty parables in this Gospel, an equal balance of works and words.
This tender compassion of the Saviour is beautifully expounded in Ch.7. It goes out to four persons in particular. Three of these are anonymous. Only one is specifically named. There are two men and two women, of differing backgrounds. Socially, racially, and morally they are different, but the compassion of Christ goes out to each and all. Ch.7 is a kaleidoscope of the ministry of a compassionate Christ. It is a commentary in miniature on the love that knew no bounds. A centurion and his slave; a widow and her son; a prophet in prison; a woman in the Pharisee's house; all are the beneficiaries of the love and ministry of Jesus in this delightful chapter.
The centurion is, of course, a Gentile. Is he the first in Luke's Gospel to know the fulfilment of Simeon's prophecy of Ch.2? A light to lighten the Gentiles? In the unbelief of Capernaum this centurion is the firstfruits of a Gentile harvest. This man loved his slave. He had too, a certain love for Israel, and had proved this in a practical way (v.5). His slave was sick and dying when the message of the Saviour came to him. He felt unworthy to approach Jesus personally, and unworthy too that Jesus should come to him. He recognised the sovereignty of Christ "I also", he says, "am a man placed under authority." Note the force of the word "also." When the centurion commanded, then all the authority of Rome and the Emperor were behind his commands. He duly recognises that it would be likewise with Jesus. If He would but speak a word of healing, then all the authority of heaven and of God would be with that word. He believed. He acknowledged both his own unworthiness and the worth of Christ And though the Lord was at a distance, compassion bridged that distance and reached the dying slave in instant healing.
The scene now moves from Capernaum to Nain. Two processions are approaching each other in a confrontation at the gate of Nain. "Much people" are going in (v. 11) and "much people" are coming out (v. 12). At the head of each procession there is an only son. The only son of the mourning widow is dead and on his way out of Nain to burial. The Son of God, the Only Begotten, Prince of Life, is making His way into Nain. Who will give away as Life and Death meet at the gate? The processions stop. The Lord observes the weeping widow. He has compassion on her (v. 13) and speaks to her. He touches the coffin and speaks to the young man. The dead is raised to life. There is a joyous reunion, and God is glorified.
The prophet of Ch.7 is John Baptist. He is in prison and in some despondency. Why should he, the last, and greatest, of the prophets, languish in prison if Messiah had truly come? The bold prophet who had earlier proclaimed with confidence "This is He," now sadly asks, "Art Thou He?" Poor John. Occupation with self and circumstances breeds doubt. In compassion the Lord continues His ministry. The blind see; the lame walk; lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear; the dead are raised. "Go," He says, "tell John what things ye have seen and heard." Occupation with the Person and Work and Word of Christ is the antidote to doubt. It is still so with us. To see only ourselves and our circumstances is to gender doubt. Let us look away to Him who, in compassion, still ministers to His people in the Gospel.
In v.36 the Lord graciously accepts an invitation to eat in the house of Simon a Pharisee. How different is this Pharisee to the Roman Centurion who said "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof." The Pharisee has little or nothing for Christ, but a woman who does have something for Him enters the house. In the culture and informality of the East this was not exceptional, to intrude without invitation. She was apparently a well known City sinner; she was a woman of the streets. Simon would not be pleased. But it is she who provides the real feast for the Saviour. She gave what Simon did not. Notice her reverence, coming to His feet behind Him. See her emotion as her tears flow. Observe her adoration as she bedews His feet with those tears. Behold her affection as she covers His feet with kisses, and see her deep appreciation of Him as she anoints Him with the fragrant myrrh. Simon is silently critical. "If this Man were a prophet He would know 'who' and 'what' she is," he reasons in his heart. But He did know "who" and "what" she was. It did not matter. She was, morally, a great debtor, but the compassion of the Saviour was greater than her debt and her sin. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound, and to the forgiven woman He says, "Shalom, Shalom!" "Go in peace."
May we, who have likewise known His love and heard His word and felt His touch, revere and adore Him as did this woman so long ago.
Verses 7—9. HIS TRIUMPH AS CONQUEROR. Seen in Relation to His Victory—Conquest and Coronation
The Psalm rises to its triumphant crescendo and conclusion as God's King is seen. In relation to the Lord Jesus this section can have two lines of application. It can be taken rightly as referring to his Resurrection and Ascension. He had spoilt principalities and powers (Col. 2.15), been raised from the dead by God (Acts 13.30), and then ascended far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion (Eph. 1.21). In these verses then, are seen the Victor's triumphant return from the Cross, and His unchallengeable right to sit on the Throne. It also has a Millennial significance when He returns from Heaven (Rev. 19, Zech. 14) to take up His rightful position in the city of the Great King, Jerusalem itself.
Verse 7 shows HIS SUPERIORITY ASSERTED. It is His right to enter. Here is noted The ENTRANCE AND EXALTATION OF THE KING. The very doors spoke of the Holiness of God, and guarded against those unworthy to enter. Yet here was One with the perfect right of admittance, none dare refuse Him. On what grounds could he be denied? His SOVEREIGNTY IS ANNOUNCED, He is the King of Glory. What a title for One who was despised and rejected of men, One who was a Root out of a dry ground, (Isa. 53.2), who on earth had His claims and even His very legitimacy disputed (John 8.41). Yet He is God's King upon His holy hill of Zion (Psa. 2.6). He is "the Blessed and only Potentate, King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (1 Tim. 6.17) King by Divine Decree, King by conquest, King by eternal right The King is coming into His own.
Verse 8 sees an ENQUIRY CONCERNING THE KING, as it is asked "Who is the King of Glory?" Again two lines emerge.
Heaven asks, for none could enter who was not qualified, and had not Heaven a King? Jerusalem battered and torn after Tribulation trials asks, for it had seen so many earthly monarchs battering at its walls.
The Triumphant Cry echoes back as HIS SUPREMACY IS ACCLAIMED and The EXPLOITS AND EXCELLENCY of the KING are pronounced. He is the Lord, Jehovah Himself, strong and mighty, Jehovah, mighty in batde. He has triumphed over Death, He has routed the enemy, as at the end of the Tribulation period, He will be seen as the Mighty Conqueror (Rev. 19). He has truly gone up with a shout "the Lord with the sound of a trumpet" Psalm 47.5. Echoes of Exodus 15 are observed here, as can be noted parallels with Psalm 68 and Habakkuk 3. The Victor has returned from The Cross having spoiled principalities and powers (Col. 2.14,15).
Disputes and doubts are to be dispelled as in verse 9 HIS SUPERIORITY IS AFFIRMED, "the King of glory, shall come in." However in verse 10, He is seen not only to have the supreme right to rule, but He is not alone, He is the Lord (Jehovah) of Hosts. He has a company with Him, not only angelic legions but the Church for which He died. He is not only coming for us, He is coming with us and we shall be nearer to Him than all the myriad hosts of Heaven.
God has made Him both Lord and Christ. The word "Jehovah" speaks of His title as the covenant keeping God, as "Hosts" tells of His sphere as Captain. He is the Captain of our Salvation (Heb. 2.10). The KINGDOM IS ESTABLISHED in verse 10, as He is seen to enter through the gates. His to enter by Creatorial Right (v 1,2), by Right of Moral Character, (v 3,6) by Right of Majesty and by Right of Conquest (v 7,10). Now, He has entered into Heaven itself on our behalf, (Heb. 9.24) from which He came to redeem us, returning to the Father's Throne (Rev. 3.21). One day He will return to enter fully into His inheritance (Obad. 21).
The Psalm has reached it's triumphant conclusion. What a Victorious and Glorious Lord is ours. One has well written.
In the previous paper we concluded by noting the five occasions in the Acts when men are distinctly said to be 'full' or 'filled' with the Holy Spirit. These were:
4.8 Peter for SEARCHING PREACHING
6.5 Stephen for SOLVING PROBLEMS
7.55 Stephen for SORE PERSECUTION
11.24 Barnabas for SHEPHERDING PEOPLE
13.9 Paul for SOLEMN PRONOUNCEMENT
(i) Searching Preaching
Peter and John had been held overnight in prison because they had dared to teach the people and preach 'through Jesus the resurrection from the dead' 4.2. In the morning they are brought before the Sanhedrin comprising the formidable grouping of 24 rulers and chief priests who were Sadducees, 22 scribes who were Pharisees and 24 elders, who were unaffiliated. They were set in the midst of these men who sat in a semi-circle, and were repeatedly questioned as to the power in which they had performed the miracle of healing the lame man. Rather than cowering down, being intimidated and nervous they displayed boldness v.13 and left their audience speechless v. 14.
This was not done in the power of the flesh but was only accomplished by the fdling of the Holy Spirit v. 8. Their boldness was not rudeness, rather they were courteous to the rulers, but their defence was Christ centred and Christ exalting. It is likely the reason for so little power in much of the preaching done in our day is that there is so little known by the preacher of the filling of the Holy Spirit. We must note that these were 'unlearned and ignorant men' v. 13 unlettered and uninstructed (JND). This apparent deficiency was not overcome by a course in a Bible College, but by the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested in the lives of these men.
(ii) Solving Problems
The church was not very old until problems began to arise. Acts 5 it is deception (which was quickly solved) but in chapter 6 it is division - a problem that is prevalent still. It has often been noted in 1 Cor. that fornication was dealt with in one chapter, five, while many chapters were written in an attempt to solve the problem of division. We often feel like saying with the apostle, Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?' Wise men were required to solve the problem in Acts 6, '. . . look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom ..." Such a man was Stephen v. 5 and how men of similar calibre are required today when problems and divisions abound. These difficulties will only be solved when there is a submission to the Spirit of God and His Word. Then saints will be controlled by God and motivated not by a party spirit, self interest and jealousy, but by a desire to do His will.
That there is room for Spirit filled men to assist in the solving of problems is seen not only Acts 6, but also Gal. 6.1,2 and Phil. 4.3. The difficulty of the task is obvious from the fact that only the spiritual can be involved in it. It cannot be accomplished by the energy of flesh. Such men are invaluable and are a major requirement for the preservation and advancement of the testimony.
(iii) Sore Persecution
In the Acts, the devil had tried deception and division and in chapter 7 he disrupts by death. How is Stephen going to leave this world? Is it in a weak, fearful, trembling spirit going to face a great unknown? No, one thousand times No! We read of the man full of the Holy Spirit, that he 'looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God ...' No wonder, with the stones pounding on his body and his life ebbing away he triumphantly cries, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit' and goes to be with Christ which is very far better, Phil 1.23. Such a victorious end is available to us all if the Lord Jesus remain away, but only if we are 'full of the Holy Ghost', Acts 7.55.
(iv) Shepherding People
God had done a great work in Antioch without using any of the twelve apostles, Acts 11.19-21. However when the news of this great work reached the saints at Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to investigate. Why was he chosen? The answer is found in v. 24 'For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith'. When he saw what God had done he 'was glad and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord!' Little wonder he was called 'The son of consolation', 4.36. This is true shepherd work, to come alongside and encourage, console and exhort those newly saved. How they need such ministry. We may note in passing other features of a Spirit filled man:
He was glad to see the converts of another's labour, v. 23.
He recognised his own limitations and was prepared to introduce another servant who could take the saints further in the things of God than he could, v. 25.
He had the grace to introduce a servant who was younger in the faith, yet had a greater gift.
He did not return to Jerusalem for one of the twelve. His only interest was to get the very best for the people of God.
(v) Solemn Pronouncement
In Acts 13 Paul encountered one who was seeking to oppose the progress of the gospel. The situation demanded judgement and the person capable of making the solemn pronouncement was the one filled with the Holy Ghost v. 9. It is men of such calibre who are still required to pronounce judgement on sin. This again is not a task for those who are carnal but it must be done with the sensitivity that comes from God.
It ought to be obvious from what we have considered that to be filled with the Holy Spirit is the condition of those who are living close to the Lord, submitting to his Word and are totally yielded to him. In such the Holy Spirit is not grieved. It is therefore clear that no person living in disobedience to the Word of God can be filled with the Holy Spirit. Such a consideration becomes very searching when we think of areas of the scripture which are openly and fragrantly disobeyed. For example the visible tokens of the Headship of Christ, 1 Cor. 11.2-16; the silence enjoined upon sisters 1 Cor. 14.34, 35; 1 Tim. 2.11,12; the demands of outward modesty and adornment 1 Tim. 2.9,10; 1 Pet. 3.3,4; etc. etc. are all set at nought Obedience is an incontrovertible sign of spirituality, Luke 6.46; 1 Cor. 14.37.
Furthermore we must emphasise that we speak of the Holy Spirit. No person filled with a Holy Person can be involved in unholy deeds. No one who is thus filled will tolerate immorality, divorce, or anything that caters for the base nature of man. Such practices are contradictory to the Holy Spirit. Not that this implies that we can reach a level of complete holiness and sanctification, (1 John 1 would not permit this), but it does mean there will be power to keep the flesh in subjection. Finally the young Christian should note carefully that apart from Acts 2.4, which we saw in a former paper to be a unique experience, there is no record of the filling of the Holy Spirit being accompanied with speaking in tongues. However we also note that the outward sign of being filled with Spirit is a display of Christ-likeness as seen in the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5.22-23. Such a person will know what it is to be led by the Spirit, Rom. 8.14, Gal. 5.18 and will thus walk in the Spirit, Gal. 5.16,15.
—I say therefore: This resumes the thoughts of verse 1—3, "I therefore,. .. beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,"
—and testify: (marturomai) A solemn declaration as a witness, an injunction. (Expositors; W. E. Vine).
—IN the Lord: "Paul identifies himself with Christ and gives exhortation as the Lord Himself." (Expositors).
—that ye henceforth: (mēketi) no longer.
—walk: (peripateoo) "To walk about," hence, to conduct or behave oneself, (as verse 1).
—not as: (kathos) In accord with; according to.
—other: (loipa) "the rest."
—Gentiles: (ethnos) This word is sometimes translated "Gentiles," sometimes "nations," and sometimes "heathen." The word is a general term, however, and can be translated, "peoples." For more information, please see notes on 3:6.
—walk, in the vanity: (mataiotēs) The emptiness of an illusion, especially illusion that sees pleasure in sin. "Purposelessness; uselessness; restlessness." (Expositors) "Emptiness as to results." (W. E. Vine).
—of their mind: (nous), (a) Intellectual faculty for understanding, (b) faculty for recognising moral good and spiritual truth — Romans 1.28; 7.23; 1 Timothy 6.5 — that is, walking within intellectual and moral emptiness as to results.
—having the understanding: (dianoia) Literally, "To think through." — the operation of understanding.
—darkened: (eskitismenoi — perfect, passive participle of skotizō). To shroud or engulf in darkness. Some MSS have (skotoō) "to darken." The periphrastic construction emphasizes the continued darkend condition.
—being alienated from: (apallotrioō). This word is a verb, and is better translated, "having been alienated from." It means, 'To alienate, estrange, shut out from one's intimacy and fellowship. The perfect tense indicates a continuing state. Comp. 4.18; Colossians 1.21.
—the life: (zōēs). The principle of life; life itself. "Zoe" is never used in the New Testament of the course of life, but always the quality of life.
—of God: The only source of true life and light.
—through: (diatēn) because of; on account of.
—the ignorance: (agnoia). "It denotes an ignorance of Divine things, a want of knowledge that is inexcusable and involves moral blindness." — Acts 3.17; 17.30; 1 Peter 1.14. (Expositors).
—that is in them: (ten ousan en autois). The source of their ignorance and alienation is from within them.
—of their heart: (kardias). Hardness of the heart refers to a person who is "stubborn," "obstinate," "unwilling to listen or change."
—A person who hardens his heart and refuses to listen to God, produces his own ignorance of God's truth, causes his own alienation from God's Life, and engulfs him in his own self made darkness. A person is held responsible for their own ignorance of Divine truth.
—who being past feeling: (apalgeō — from "apo" away from; and "alge" to be in pain or grief). Primarily means "to depart from pain or grief." Hence, it means to become insensible or callous. —It expresses moral insensibility caused by their attempt to ease the pain of an evil conscience.
—have given themselves over: (paradidōmi). "To give over;" "to hand over;" "to deliver up;" In Romans 1.26 Paul gives the other side stating that man's insensibility to evil is due to a judicial act of God. In this book, Paul states that man is responsible for his own callousness.
—work: (ergasia). (a) Work, Labour, (b) business or trade as in Acts 19.25.
—all: (pasēs) every kind of.
—uncleanness: (akatharsia). (a) lewdness; moral uncleanness in the wildest sense, (b) Impurity of motive — 1 Thessalonians 2.3.
—with: (en) "in" denoting the sphere in which such sins occur.
—greediness: (pleonexia). (a) covetousness; (b) The desire of having more; (c) sensual greed; insatiable appetite.
2. Introduction of the new man. 4.20—32.
—But: (de) in distinction from the "walk" of the Gentiles.
—ye: This word is emphatic in the Greek New Testament, bearing emphasis have not so: (houtos) in this manner, thus
—learned: (manthanō) to learn, be taught, be informed. It is in the aorist tense.
—Christ: literally, "the Christ." He personally was what they learned, not just facts about Him. —Our strength is in knowing Him. Our character is molded and developed by our acquaintance with Him. We become in character like the God/god that we worship. Psalms 115.4 "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands . . ." Psalms 115.8 'They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them." Compare 2 Corinthians 3.18 "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
—If so be: (eige) "If indeed" or "if, as is the case."
—that ye have heard: (akouō) "to hear with acceptance and obedience."
—Him: Christ was the sum and substance of all that they heard. Whatever preaching that they received was the word of Christ. Christ was preached, not sermons about Him. To hear Him with acceptance and obedience provides salvation. John 5.24.
—and have been taught: (aorist passive tense of didaskō) "to teach"; "were given instruction."
—by: (en) "in." This gives the sphere in which the teaching took place.
—Him: They became acquainted with Him in His own sphere. We learn someone the best when we are occupied with that person in their own sphere of life and activity.
—as: (kata) "according as, "being measured by."
—the truth: (alētheia). "Reality lying at the basis of an appearance." (Cremer); A sure, firm, solid, reality.
—is: establishing the fact.
—in: (en) referring to the place where all reality can be found.
—Jesus: Truth is a Person. John 14.6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." —Truth, REALITY, in all its fulness and scope is embodied in Him.
—that ye: (humōs) Connect with "were taught" in verse 21. This verse will explain what they were taught.
—put off: (aorist infinitive of apotithēmi) 'To lay aside; to put off (as a garment)." The aorist tense indicates that this is to be done once and for all time.
—concerning: (kata) in accord with; that which is measured and characterized by.
—the former: (proteros) prior, that which characterized them prior to receiving God's salvation.
—conversation: (anastrophē) conduct, behavior, way of life. —the old: (palaios) old in time.
—man: "the old man" refers to what a person is before they become a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what they are before they are born again.
—which is corrupt: (ton phtheirō). To spoil, ruin, be morally depraved. "The present participle marks the condition as a process that goes on, a condition that progresses." (Expositors) "waxeth corrupt." This process of moral corruption occurs in everyone who has not experienced the new birth.
—according to the deceitful: (apatē) that which gives a false impression by appearance, word, or influence.
—lusts: (epithumias) a strong desire. The phrase "deceitful lusts" is better translated "the lusts of deceit." These desires to look better or different than what we really we, are the foundation of the corrupting nature of the old man.
—and (de) be renewed: (ananeoō — from "ana" = back again; and "neos" = recent, new in time). To make new, to start fresh.
—in the spirit: (pneuma) here it refers to the human spirit.
—of your mind: That is, "which governs your mind". (The gen-etive of subject) (nous) The faculty of understanding, feeling, and determining.
—In order for a person's mind to be renewed, his spirit has to be renewed first, since the spirit controls the mind. The spirit is renewed by God Himself. Psalms 51.10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." He does this for a person who is humble, repentant and totally depending oh God. Read Psalm 51.1—9.
—and that ye put on: (Middle infinitive aorist of enduo) "To place on one's self; to clothe one's self.
—the new: (kainos). New in quality and character. Different in nature from the old. New to the possessor.
—man, which after: (kata) according to; in accord with; or in conformity to.
—God is created: (participle aorist of ktizō) "having been and being created or called into existence." The new man is called into existence by God. The standard of measurement for this new creation is God Himself.
—in righteousness: (dikaiosunē) the character which is fair, equitable, impartial, just and right. We call this person, an individual with INTEGRITY. He can be TRUSTED.
—and true: (alētheias) this word describes the reality at the basis of anything genuine.
—holiness: (hosiotēs). As Luke 1.75, pious behaviour towards God and man that is governed by grace and truth. (Only used in these two references).
—Wherefore: (dio) On which account. This word connects what follows with the previous subject of putting off the old man and putting on the new.
—putting away: (aorist of apotithēmi). As in verse 22, means, "having put off completely and finally.
—lying: (to pseudos) from which we get the English word, Pseudo. This word refers to falsehood in every form, whether it be verbal, in the form of false statements and half-truths, or by action. This word is the opposite of "true" in verse 24. It refers to that which is not real or genuine.
Paul now inserts a quote from Zechariah 8.16: "These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:"
—Speak: (continuous present of laleō) speak and continue to speak.
—truth: (aletheias) as verse 25. Speak that which is reality and genuine.
—every man: (hekastos) each
—with: (meta) among, with. It is a preposition of association and mutual activity.
—his neighbour": (plēsion) the one near or close by. Cp Luke 10.29—37.
—for: (hoti) Paul is no longer quoting now, he is giving the reason for the instruction that we should be honest with each other.
—we are: he is referring to all those who are truly born again,
—members: (melos) As 5.30, a member, limb or any part of the body.
—one of another: Since every believer is part of the same body, .-, we should be honest with each other. Lying to another member of the same body is the same as lying to yourself.
Paper 2 (c) The Resurrection of Life and The Resurrection of Judgment
Now we must consider other matters. It is plain that at the Lord's descent into the air all sleeping believers will be raised in glory, and all living saints will be changed by His power. This is the first resurrection, but not the whole of it. The first resurrection is in three parts—(1) the resurrection of Christ; (2) of all sleeping saints at His coming; and (3) of those who will lose their lives during the great tribulation. Such are included in the first resurrection, and will be raised in time to share the blessings of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. We get these classes carefully distinguished in Rev. 20.4, already referred to. "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them." Daniel saw the thrones, but no occupants (Dan. 7.9). Who are meant by "they"? Those who are manifested with the Lord Jesus at His appearing. Such come forth as His armies, following Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean (Rev. 19.14). These are the heavenly saints who are caught up, according to 1 Thess. 4.14—18. God brings them now with Christ, that the world may know that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves us as He loves Him (1 Thess. 4.14; John 17.23). Christ will in that day be glorified in His saints and wondered at in all that have believed (2 Thess. 1.10).
All these will reign with Him, and will have judgment given unto them. Their places in the kingdom will be ordered according to their faithfulness on earth. Solemn consideration for all our hearts! Let us ponder it well, and look carefully to our walk and ways.
Then we have the two classes of saints who will be added to them. "I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and those* which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20.4). These are evidently raised just at the commencement of the millennial kingdom, for John describes them as "souls," and adds "they lived." They are added to those already raised, and thus complete the first resurrection.
*This word has unfortunately been omitted in our Authorised Version. See Revised Version. It is necessary to make the two classes clear.
A few words as to these saints may be helpful. They are not, as some have taught, unwatchful Christians who are left behind at the Lord's coming, and who have to suffer in consequence, and wait awhile for their heavenly portion. The Word of God knows of no such thing. Our places in the kingdom depend, as I have said, on our walk and service now; but not our translation to heaven to be for ever with the Lord. That is the fruit of Divine grace alone. Who, then, are these two classes of saints? You will find the one in Rev. 6, the other in Rev. 15. In chap. 6.9 John saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God and for their testimony. This corresponds exactly with the first class of Rev. 20.4. He heard them cry with a loud voice, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" These are evidently not Christians. Christians, as Stephen in Acts 7, the rather pray for their murderers and bless their persecutors; at least, we are taught to do so by our Lord Jesus. But the souls in Rev. 6 call for vengeance. Are they wrong in uttering such a cry? Impossible, especially when we consider that the seer saw them in a disembodied state in heaven! There, surely, all improper feelings have no place. These are Jewish sufferers, the early witnesses of the gospel of the kingdom after the removal of the Church of God to heaven. Their testimony has not been received, for they are seen as slain. They take their stand on the ground of earthly judicial righteousness— quite right for a Jew, but quite wrong for a Christian, who is always expected to manifest the spirit of grace. Their cry reminds us of the Psalms. They live in a different dispensation to Christianity. In answer to their cry "white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled," or completed (Rev. 6.11). Here we have a reference to a further class of martyrs.
Later in the same book we find them (see Rev. 15.2—4). "I saw, as it were, a sea of glass, mingled with fire; and them that had gotten the victory over the beast and over his image, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb," etc. Here are the fellow servants of the martyrs of ch. 6, the second class of raised saints, as in Rev. 20.4. These are not necessarily preachers of the gospel of the kingdom. They are perhaps more passive. They lose their lives because they decline to receive the mark of the beast or to worship his image. Like Shad-rach, Meshach, and Abednego of old, they stand true in an evil day, confiding in the living God. At all cost to themselves they refuse to take part in so great wickedness and sin against God. There will be no middle ground in the day of Antichrist. All must declare plainly whom they serve. If the true God, then all the power of hell will be let loose upon them. Such will find comfort in the Lord's words, "Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven" (Matt. 5.12). If they lose the earthly kingdom, through faithfulness, just when it is about to be set up, the Lord will give them a better portion in the heavens, though they are too late to form part of the Church. None are really the losers who suffer for His sake. His heart will take a great delight in dealing out to all such a full reward.
The raising up of these bands of latter-day martyrs completes the first resurrection—the resurrection of life. They will all reign with Christ. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20.6). Happy souls! Wondrous the grace that will introduce us into such a place!
But what of the rest of the dead—the ungodly? Their tombs will be left untouched until the judgment of the Great White Throne. During the blessed period of Christ's beneficent reign over the earth they will remain in their graves, to be judged at the end. "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." How awful to be found among them!
When the term of universal peace and blessing has run its course, we read, "I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works" (Rev. 20.11,12). This is the final resurrection—the resurrection of judgment. There is no trace of saved persons in this throng. They are the lost, called up by the quickening voice of the Son of God to hear their righteous doom. They are "clothed," i.e., they resume their bodies, to be found, alas! "naked" before Him (2 Cor. 5.3).
Man has a hereafter, either of bliss or woe. He does not and cannot perish like the beasts, though he may degrade himself morally to become like the beasts that perish (Ps. 49.12,20). Man has a life that is endless. He derived it by the direct inbreathing of God. The beasts have not this. They lived when made, but of the man two things are recorded. First, 'The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground" (Gen. 2.7). This refers to the body, which became mortal through the entrance of sin. Mortality is never spoken of in Scripture in connection with the soul.
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul."
Secondly, we read—"and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Such is the simple yet majestic language of Scripture. Having received such a life, man lives on, either in happiness or in woe. Many confound this with eternal life, which is very unintelligent. The latter is God's gift in Christ to believers only. It is life in association with the Son of God in His own sphere of blessedness above. Immortality is by no means synonymous with eternal life. The former, man had from the very beginning, before the fall; the latter is the gift of God, through grace. It cannot be earned by works of law or by fleshly effort of any kind; it is alone to be had through faith in the Son (1 John 5.11,12).
Has my reader received the gift of eternal life? If so, very soon God will apply the power of it to your poor body, and "mortality shall be swallowed up of life" (2 Cor. 5.4). Let the words of the Lord Jesus remain in the heart, "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" (John 11.25,26). Thus He sets forth the power that resides in Himself. He will presently put it forth on behalf of all of His own.
In view of our blessed portion and prospect, may all our steps be quickened; in view of the awful future awaiting the ungodly, may our zeal be deepened to win souls for Christ while we may.
"His is love,' tis love unbounded—Without measure, without end!"
The Lord Jesus was made perfect through sufferings. He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; He was stricken, smitten and afflicted. Oh! who can know what His sufferings were, for it was suffering love—love which longed to find entrance into every heart, which longed to bless all with His own uncreated blessedness. It was love that brought Him from the heavenly Glory and made Him hasten to Jerusalem, even when knowing all things that were to come upon Him there—the cursed death of the cross, and that bitter cup of which He said, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not my will but thine be done."
Oh! this is love that passeth knowledge; it hath a height and depth which are unsearchable! How hath God commended His love to us? He spared not His own son, but delivered Him up for us all. It was love that sent Jesus; love that longed to flow out to this desolate world; and when no way could be opened but through the rent veil of the flesh of Jesus—His well beloved and only Son—He withheld Him not
What love does the blood of Jesus unfold! With what a price have we been redeemed! and how precious must we be in the sight of God when bought with such a price!
Oh! to know more and more what the peace is which Jesus gives! To let it rule in our hearts, to lean on His very arm, yea, on His very bosom of love, while going up through the wilderness! It is here He would have us to lean. The nearer we are to Him, and the more confidence we place in Him, the more the longings of His love over us are satisfied. Oh! to be made now to drink of the river of God's pleasures! To have every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ! (which was confiding trust in His Father's love, depending on Him for all things) that we may now live by Him as He lived by the Father!
O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 106.1.
As we meditate upon the One Who has become our salvation well may our hearts swell in adoration:-"Hallelujah." As we think of Him as Jehovah, we are reminded of His covenant relationship with Israel. He is not less mindful of the church and our hearts overflow in thanksgiving. Though we may forget Him, His mercy (or lovingkindness) draws us back to Himself. On a future day He shall have the praise that is His due when the "Alleluia's" of Rev. 19.1,3,4 & 6 resound. Does it not melt our hearts to realise that because of His grace we shall be there? At the beginning of another year may we resolve to allow our minds and hearts to be occupied increasingly with such a beloved Person, Who alone is worthy. Meantime we would seek to encourage one another to continue in service for Him with increasing zeal for "the night is far spent." Romans 13.12.
With hearts full of sincere gratitude we review the year that is past and trace once again our faithful God's provision, through His beloved saints, for the needs of "Assembly Testimony." We wish to express genuine thanks to all who prayed for us, and corresponded with us, as well as to all who helped in distribution. We are grateful to those who studied "... rightly dividing the word of truth" 2 Tim. 2.15, and submitted profitable papers to our editor. The Lord will reward the cheerful givers who, individually or through assemblies, contributed towards our ever increasing costs.
We would solicit your prayers for our editor who has obeyed the call of God to leave a secure position in the University of Ulster and devote his full time to the service of the Lord. We are indebted to him for the energetic service he gives to the work of the magazine. We are glad he feels free to continue this work along with his increased activities for the Lord.
For 35 years brother Glenville has been a diligent faithful treasurer for the British mainland. He perseveres tirelessly and all his efforts are much appreciated.
Last, but not least, we mention the gratuitous professional services of our Accountant. Each year he gives useful advice and certifies our accounts. We value his help increasingly.
I was born on April 7, 1907 and born again December 14, 1927 in the little town of Aplington, Iowa, the eldest son in a family of 5 girls and 5 boys and the first one saved in the family. As children we were sent to the Presbyterian Sunday School and when I was about 12 I was sprinkled and made a Member of the Church, but I never took the bread and wine, nor could they get me to lead in the young peoples meetings, because something told me I was unfit. By the time I was fifteen I no longer went to Sunday School and was encouraged thus by my father saying it did me no good anyway. From that time on I went in for the pleasures of this world especially sports and was never happier than when I was playing ball. When I was eighteen I began keeping company with a girl who was later to become my wife. She was a Baptist and like myself, unsaved but had a saved father. About this time Oliver Smith and Pat Magee pitched a tent in our town and began preaching the Gospel. My father in law to be, went to these meetings and saw at once that they were preaching the truth. He encouraged his children to go, most of whom were grown up men. The next summer Mr. Smith and John Blair came back for tent meetings. That summer two of my girlfriend's brothers were saved among others. I was still busy with the pleasures of this world, my parents and friends were against the meetings and I did not go. The next year Mr. Smith started meetings in an old church building six miles north of town called Hitesville and many were saved. The next spring on the last day of April 1927, a Sunday evening, we were in the home of another brother of my girlfriend who had been saved during meetings at Hitesville. Sitting down at the supper table he gave thanks before we ate and I could scarce restrain the tears as the thought came to me, "how can a farmer pray like that," and I could hardly eat for the longing that welled up in my heart, I wished I had what he had. That night having promised my girlfriend I would go to the meeting, for the first time I resolved to get to the bottom of this matter. One thing I saw that night, through John 3.16 that never left me until I was saved, was that a real believer had everlasting life and knew it. Had anyone asked during these years if I was a Christian I would have replied, "no", and neither did I understand what it was to be one. Now I saw that a Christian was the possessor of eternal life. My first thought was that it would not be so hard for a smart fellow like me to work this matter out, but I little knew my wicked heart and how great and strong the bands of sin that held me. I tried to get better, to quit my swearing and bad habits, thinking then that I deserved to be saved, but all to no avail.
I wondered alone in the darkness,
Not a ray of light could I see,
And the thought filled my heart with sadness,
There's no hope for a sinner like me.
I began to be afraid the Lord would come and leave me for Judgement or the Spirit of God would cease striving with me and I would be doomed. Meanwhile as I went to meetings my parents would try to persuade me not to go, as I was a good boy, they thought and had no need to be saved and often we would argue far into the night and I remember telling them "yourselves and all ten of your children are on the way to Hell". This sort of thing continued until 6 months later my wife's brother George came into the Barber shop and said, "Bena and I, (his only sister) are going to Waterloo tomorrow to do a little shopping and then going to the Gospel meeting at the Hall. Will you go?" I was to play in the town basketball team that night, but the thought came to me what if I should die on the floor, I would be in Hell. So I said, "I will go." That was December 13. That night burdened about my soul, trying to believe, I was asked by Mr Smith "Do you believe that God was satisfied with his Son?" These words came to me "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" and I answered, "yes". Then he said "are you satisfied with Jesus?" I thought, I can find no fault in Him, and said, "yes." I had never thought of it in this light before and my desire was to get alone. When I got home, I resolved to pray and ask God to open my blinded eyes, which was something I could not bring myself to before, and thought that would just be playing the hypocrite and I did not believe anyway. When I got up from my knees, I opened the Bible and fully expected God would show me I was saved. Nothing came, there was no peace for me. It was nearly four o'clock in the morning and I went to bed with one thought I will have to go to hell after all. While lying there in bed, the two questions asked by Mr. Smith came before me. I saw that God was satisfied with His Son and I was satisfied too. Just then God brought John 3:16 before me and as I came to the word "whosoever" I saw for the first time that God meant me and Jesus died for me and I was saved. Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me, oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.
At once I was on my knees and thanked God for the Lord Jesus. As opportunity came I was baptised and received into fellowship of the Hitesville Assembly. I was a barber by trade, and as the Gospel is for people, I began to tell what great things God had done for me. Also I was exercised to take part in the prayer meetings and worship meetings and to testify and speak in the gospel meetings. Then as time went on, two brethren in the Hitesville meeting (both in Heaven now) and I would have meetings in a home, on a farm yard in nice weather, or in a country schoolhouse that was available.
As Brother Oliver Smith was my father in the faith, he would say, "Paul, if you ever consider preaching you could go along with me". Another time the wife of brother Brown who laboured and pioneered several hundred miles to the South West, said to me, "The Lord needs young men like you to preach His Word". I said, "He wanted faithful men". She replied, "young men need, and have a faithful God," a kind and gende rebuke that still remains.
My father needed me in the Barber shop as he was not well, but I went on helping in various meetings and weekends in local assemblies until drafted into the U.S. Army in October 1942. I was an objector to bearing arms and never had a gun in my hands. I was trained for hospital work and in July 1944 landed with the 101 Gen. Hospital Unit in Liverpool, England. We went by train to Taunton, England a little way in the country, where I worked for ten months as a ward man caring for the wounded. I found the hall in Taunton (Octagon), a man by name Roland Bier, invited me to his home and many a Lord's day was spent at little meetings and assemblies and a few all day meetings, as I was able. Next at the end of the war in England our Hospital was sent to Berlin, Germany/where I spent 3 months and found an assembly there. I arrived home in November 1945 and in less than a week was having meetings with Brother Smith in a country schoolhouse. I had the privilege of labouring with him almost constantly for seven years and at other times, until he went to be with the Lord on the last day of May 1960. Since then I have laboured with not a few brethren, in happy fellowship and seek to continue as able. It might be of interest to say as I close that my wife was saved six months after I was. We were married a year later, in February 1929.
"And even to your old age, I am He, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you." Isaiah 46.4.