The dependent Man of Luke's Gospel is a praying Man. This is to be expected. Seven times in this Gospel do we find the Saviour at prayer. In every circumstance of life He will be found in communion with His Father. In joy and in sorrow; in busy service and in quiet solitude, the Saviour will always have time to engage in prayer.
In ch. 3.21 we first find Him at prayer, right at the moment of His introduction to the nation. He is being baptised, taking His place with a believing remnant, responding to the call of Jehovah through John Baptist. This is great humility on the part of Jesus. He had nothing of which to repent, but He stands with a repentant people in Jordan. It was His gracious acknowledgement of John's preaching and His identification with those who were obedient to the Word. As another has said, "He saw His sheep in the dark waters of death and He fain would be with them". As He stands in the Jordan water He prays, and upon this dependent Man in prayer, the heavens open in visible and audible approval of Him. The Father speaks, and the Spirit descends, abiding as a tender dove upon the gentle Lamb of God.
In ch. 5.16 His ministry has truly begun. Preaching and healing, and calling disciples after Him, He moves in Galilee. By the Lake shore He ministers to a multitude of their sick as the Sabbath sun is setting. The Sabbath had left them in their sickness. The law cannot help. But the end of the sabbath is the dawn of the Lord's Day and the Saviour embarks upon His miraculous ministry. Great multitudes come to hear and to be healed, until He withdraws Himself into the wilderness and prays. Has He given His servants an example? Can we be too busy? Ought we, as the Master, sometimes withdraw ourselves from the bustle of service to engage in holy communion with the Father?
In ch. 6.12 we are allowed to see the intensity of His intercession. On the mountain side He continued all night in prayer to God. This does not imply the endless vain repetition for which He rebukes the Pharisees. It is continuing, earnest, prevailing supplication and communion with God, after which He will name His twelve apostles and then return to the people again, to minister to them. He came down from the mount of intercession to a great multitude who had travelled from as far away as Jerusalem and Judea and the sea-coast of Tyre and Sidon, that they might hear Him and be healed.
In ch 9.19 He is at prayer again. Notice that He is "alone", praying. Note too, that in the previous verses He is ministering to a crowd of some five thousand, but He leaves the thousands and is now alone. From the multitude to the solitude He has retired to pray. Coming from prayer He asks His disciples, "Whom say the people that I am?". It is perhaps well known that ch. 9 is a climatic chapter in Luke's Gospel. Soon the hour of rejection will come and the Saviour will commence His journey back to Jerusalem, and to Golgotha. What has the nation decided, He is asking. Who say they that I am? Then, for His own comfort and for theirs, He asks, "But ye, whom say ye that I am?." Peter, bold spokesman for the twelve, answers unhesitatingly, 'The Christ of God". Approaching this crisis moment in His ministry, the Saviour is alone, praying.
In ch. 9.28 we find Him yet again in prayer. Once more He will avail Himself of the privacy of the mountain side. He ascends the mount (Hermon?) to pray, and He takes with Him Peter and John and James. And as He prayed He was transfigured. His countenance and His garments are radiant with glory. They are joined by two more men, Moses and Elijah, and the conversation is about His forthcoming exodus which He would accomplish at Jerusalem. Heaven and earth are united in glory. Peter, John and James, who had come up from the plain below; Moses and Elijah who had come down from the glory above; Jesus, transfigured, all-glorious, in their midst, in an unforgettable hour of communion. All this on the Holy Mount, the mount where He had prayed. It is almost too much for the men of earth. They are heavy with sleep. But when they awake they see His glory. Soon they must descend again, to begin the journey to Calvary.
In ch. 11.1, for the sixth time in Luke's Gospel, Jesus prays again. His disciples watch and wait and listen, and then ask, "Lord, teach us to pray". And He taught them. He gave them a pattern prayer, not to be repeated mechanically as in much of Christendom, but to be observed as a model of brevity and beauty, of intimacy and dignity, the language of reverence, of intelligence, and of obedience. There is simplicity and sincerity, and all in a spirit of dependency. What beautiful language is this. We speak as children to a Father; as subjects to a King; as servants to a Master; as pilgrims to a Guide. And the Lord exhorts them, "After this manner therefore pray ye" (Matt 6.9).
In ch 22.41 we see the Saviour in prayer on the eve of Calvary. This is holy ground. We approach with feet unshod. It is a garden on the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane. "Gethsemane" means, "The Olive Press". It is the place where the oil is crushed out of the olives. And so we see Him, pressed, crushed, in the exceeding sorrows of the garden. He had brought Peter, James and John so far, but no further. In His sorrow He must go beyond them a stone's cast. They had seen His glory on another mount. Now, on Mount Olivet, they are to witness the beginnings of His agony, earnest, agonising prayer, and blood-like sweat and tears.
Garden of gloom appalling,
Where, in His sore amaze,
Earthward in anguish falling,
Prostrate, the Saviour prays;
Prays in exceeding sorrow,
Prays, on the ground bowed low,
Facing the dark tomorrow
Full of unmeasured woe!
In the garden we have the very heart of true prayer. "Not my will, but thine, be done". In such a spirit we too must pray, acknowledging God's rights and bowing to His will; asking, content with what He sends, knowing that it is always for our good and for His glory.
A lot of so called Christian activity has no foundation in the Holy Scriptures and therefore cannot be of God. All believers need to have the assurance that the work in which they are engaged is begotten by the Holy Spirit and will therefore be in accord with the Word of God. There will be no reward at the Judgement Seat for anything which is done outside the rules and therefore is unlawful, 2 Tim. 2.5. We wish to consider a few of the exercises which are the produce of the activity of the Holy Spirit.
1. Led of the Spirit
This expression is often used in relation to the gatherings of the Lord's people, when some brethren claim that they were led of the Spirit to take part. The term is used only four times in the NT, twice of the Lord Jesus, Matt. 4.1; Luke 4.1 and twice of believers, Rom. 8.14; Gal. 5.18. None of these scriptures has any reference to particular meetings of Believers.
In relation to the Lord Jesus both references have to do with His temptation. As previously noted in these articles, He was the only One who was constantly full of the Holy Spirit and therefore constantly led of the Spirit.
In relation to the believer the phrase has to do with the normal round of life. Obviously to be sensitive to the Presidency of the Holy Spirit in the gatherings of the saints, one needs to be submissive to His guidance each day.
Rom. 8.14 indicates that those who are led by the Spirit of God reveal in their lives the dignity of the sons of God. This is manifested by those who "walk after the Spirit," v4. If Rom. 8.14 is positive, telling us what we are, the second reference in Gal. 5.18 is negative and tells us what we are not — "if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under law." Again close by in the same context we find the expression, "walk in the Spirit," vl6.
Thus to be led of the Spirit is to walk in the Spirit and vice versa, and ought to be the habitual manner of a believer's life.
2. Worship in the Spirit.
The A.V. of Phil. 3.3 reads, ". . . which worship God in the Spirit,". Both the R.V. and J.N.D. read, ".. . who worship by the Spirit of God,". Thus to worship is an exercise which is the product of the Holy Spirit. The word translated worship in this verse is "latreuo" which means "to render religious service," (Vine). The spiritual nature of worship is confirmed in John 4.23, 24. The word translated worship here is "proskuneo" and literally means "to kiss towards", and hence "to make obeisance, do reverence to", (Vine). Both words are used by the Lord Jesus in reply to Satan during His temptation, "Thou shalt worship (proskuneo) the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (latreuo)," Matt. 4.10. It is clear therefore that both worship and service are spiritual exercises.
The implications of this are most practical, and mean at the very least that there is no necessity for anything material in our worship or service. The introduction to Christian service of social matters, films, games, music, soloists etc., is all an unnecessary embellishment of the true gospel. Similarly in respect of worship. In John 4.20 the woman of Samaria associated worship with the mountain (Samaritan worship) or with Jerusalem (Jewish worship). However the Lord taught her that genuine worship was neither material, as associated with Jerusalem, nor false, as associated with the mountain, but is "in spirit and in truth," v. 23,24. The introduction of ornate buildings, a bedecked priesthood separate from the laity, a visible altar, visible incense, choirs, singers and music etc. all belong to a material form of worship and have no place in this present dispensation. In fact to be consistent, those who advocate such introductions should also return to animal sacrifices. The horror of such a thought rises in the breast of all who acknowledge the finished, and all sufficient, work of the Lord Jesus on Calvary. Just as those animal sacrifices have been rendered obsolete by His death so have all other material forms of worship since we now move in spirit "into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," Heb. 10.19.
3. The Fruit of the Spirit.
This is often misquoted and called the fruits of the Spirit, but the word in Gal. 5.22 is in the singular — fruit. It really indicates the complete quality of Christian character. The fact that it is spoken of as a fruit indicates a slow growth which is the outward manifestation of an inward power. This inward power is the Holy Spirit and as He has His way in our lives He will produce this beautiful fruit which can be summarised as Christlikeness. Some have the mistaken notion that fruit is confined to gospel preaching and seeing souls saved. However to bear fruit (John 15) is available to all saints regardless of their gift or public ability and is in essence the development of the features of Christ. This, and not preaching or teaching, is the high water mark of Christianity. It is God's will that we should be like His Son, and this He shall ensure will be accomplished, Rom. 8.29.
It is important that we all, but especially the young in Christ, appreciate that the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of a believer is neither something sensational nor spectacular but is seen in the development of, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."
In conclusion please note that God gives us at least four commands as to our responsibility in relation to the Holy Spirit:
Gal. 5.16 — Walk in the Spirit;
Eph. 4.30 — Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God;
Eph. 5.18 — Be filled with the Spirit;
1 Thess. 5.19— Quench not the Spirit.
For Godly living and the development of the fruit of the Spirit it is imperative that we obey these commands.
Paul quotes again. This time it is from Psalm 4.4 in the Septuagint Version.
—"Be angry: (present imperative passive tense of orgizӧ) this is a command to keep on being angry, indignant, enraged. This anger is connected with what is prohibited in verse 25 and with what will be prohibited in verse 28; that is, deliberate falsehood and stealing. Our anger is to be limited to those things which injure God, His Son and His Body. Anger which is the result of personal injury and with a desire to retaliate is prohibited in the last phrase of this verse as well as in verse 31. The Lord's demonstrations of being indignant were limited to occasions when His Father's house and honour were at stake due to dishonesty and thievery within the temple. He was never angry because of things that were done to Himself personally.
—and sin not": (me hamartanete — present imperative tense of hamartanO, negated). It means, "Stop sinning and continue to refuse." That is, do not fight falsehood with falsehood or any other sin. Regarding the Lord in the temple, He did not fight their stealing by stealing from them or by destroying any of their possessions.
(a) He did not do anything that would cause injury to the animals nor loss of money to the money changers. John 2.15 "And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;"
(b) Doves, which could have been lost, the Lord did not touch, but rather "said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise." John 2.16 Perhaps the best method to prevent sinning is to follow the last part of the verse being quoted from Psalms 4.4 "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still, Selah." If you commune with your own heart upon your bed, you will not say anything that you might regret later. If you "be still" you will not do anything that might be regretted later.
—let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (parorgismos) Anger that is provoked by some action done to you by another person. Anger that is mixed with exasperation or violence. Compare 6.4. Such wrath or anger is forbidden.
NOTE: ACCORDING TO THIS VERSE, WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN ANGER OR WRATH! Compare Jonah 4.1-11. Especially verse 9, "And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death."
—Neither give: (didōmi) give, grant, bestow. As verse 26, Present imperative tense in the negative. "Stop giving ..." —place: (topon) room, space, opportunity.
—to the devil: (diabolos) Accuser. The word means literally, "to throw through." The devil uses things that the believer does to accuse God in front of others. He does this by using people to gossip about things done and said by believers. We are to stop doing and saying things that provide subject matter for gossip. The most damaging gossip is done among those who profess to be Christians.
—Let him that stole: (ho kleptōn) The verb is in the present tense in the Greek. "Let him that steals." Stealing was not entirely condemned in the Roman society in which they lived. Therefore, some Christians saw nothing wrong with stealing like others.
—steal no more: This is the present imperative tense negated as in verse 26. "stop stealing."
—but: (de) in distinction from stealing.
—let him labour: (koplaō) To be wearied or spent with hard labour and continue to do so. This is set in contrast to the laziness associated with stealing.
—working: (ergazomai) To work, exerting oneself; To do business.
—with his hands: This phrase answers to the type of work that he is to be occupied with. He is to do something involving his own hands.
—the things which is good: (agathos) "that which being good in character is beneficial in its effects." (See W. E. Vine) Rather than use his hands to steal, doing that which is selfish and harmful towards others, he is to use his hands for that which is of benefit to others.
—that: (hina) in order that; to the end that.
—he may have: (echo) To have, have ready, to be furnished with.
This implies that he has an emergency savings fund.
—to give: (metadidōmi — from meta=with; didōmi=to give) "To share with; to give a part with."
—to him that needeth: (chreia) "A pressing lack of something essential." Lit. "to him that has an urgent need."
—Let no: (pas . . . mē) Lit. "not any"
—corrupt: (sapros) a) Rotten, putrid, corrupt, vicious
b) Bad, profitless, worthless (Matthew 7.14,18; 12.33; 13.48; Luke 6.43; here.
(These are the only places in the New Testament where this word is found.)
—communication: (logos) "word, speech, communication," etc.
—proceed out of: (ekporeuomai) To go or depart out of a place.
—your mouth: This corrupt speech which is never to exit from the lips of a Christian includes not only offensive and off-color talk, but also any talk that has no purpose or any profit to the listener.
—but: (alla) This word is used to show a contrast.
—that which is: (ei tis) Literally, "if there be any good."
—good: (agathos) that which being good in character, is also beneficial in its affect on others.
—to the: (pros) "towards, with a view to, in respect of."
—use of: (tes chreia) "need, a pressing lack of something essential" as in verse 29.
—edifying: (oikodomē) "To build up." Our communication should be geared towards benefiting those who have a pressing spiritual need by building them up spiritually.
—that: (hina) in order that; to the end that.
—it may minister: (didōmi) "give."
—grace: (charis) favour, benefit, kindness. The unlimited (Romans 11.6), unmerited (Ephesians 2.8), unselfish (2 Corinthians 8.9), loving favour of God to the sinner which produces "leaping for joy" and "thankfulness."
—unto the hearers: The purpose of Christian speech is to build the listeners up by imparting a spiritual blessing to them so that they will receive the enjoyment of God's grace in their lives.
—and: (kai) the conjunction shows that verse 30 is a continuation of verse 29. It refers particularly to "Corrupt communication."
—grieve: (lupeite — present imperative of lupeC) To occasion grief, sorrow, distress or pain.
—not: (mē) a negative particle associated with the present imperative is used to forbid a continual or habitual activity. It means, "Stop grieving," that is, by corrupt communication.
—the Holy: (hagios) This word describes the character of the One we are not to grieve. This is an "apartness" type quality that characterizes God alone and distinguishes Him from all other beings. "To be holy He does not conform to a standard. He is that standard. He is absolutely holy with an infinite, incomprehensible fulness of purity that is incapable of being other than it is." (A. W. Tozen "The Knowledge of the Holy).
—Spirit: (pneuma) This describes the name of the Person as well as the nature of the One we are to avoid grieving. The Holy Spirit is invisible, intangible, and omnipresent
—of God: These words describe the Person and origin of the One we are not to grieve. The command is made more solemn by calling the Spirit "Holy" and "Divine." We are to avoid grieving God's Holy Spirit.
—whereby: (en hō) Literally, "in which."
—ye are sealed: (sphragizō) it is in the aorist tense. "Ye were sealed. The seal was used:
To make something secure against unlawful tampering (as the tomb, Matt 27.66; the Den of Lions, Dan. 6.17).
To mark out as one's own possession (as the 144,000 Israelites in Rev. 7.2-8; and those who are saved now, 2 Tim. 2.29).
To keep secret (Rev. 10.4; 22.10), to conceal (Cp. Psalm 5.11 margin).
—unto: (eis) with a view towards.
—the day of redemption: (apolutrōsis) a releasing effected by the payment of a ransom; deliverance or liberation procured by the payment of a ransom. This time, the word refers to the time when the believers are raised, their bodies changed, and their presence transferred up to Heaven.
When we consider the fact that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, it makes the seriousness of profitless, worthless language greater; let alone allowing foul or putrid language to proceed from our lips!
—Let all: (pasa) Every kind of every form of
—bitterness: (pikria) Bitterness of spirit and language; harshness — In Acts 8.23 it is used of extreme evil; "gall of bitterness." In Romans 3.14 it is used of evil speaking and in Hebrews 12.15 it is used of "bitter hatred." Compare the Servant of the Lord in Isaiah 50.5 "I was not rebellious." In Hebrew the word is "marah" and means "bitter."
—and wrath: (thumos) A strong agitated passion and emotion resulting in an outburst of wrath from inward indignation.
—and anger: (orgē) Primarily means "mental bent." It signifies anger as an abiding condition of the mind, frequently with a view to take revenge. See W. E. Vines Dictionary. "Orgee" is less sudden in its rise than thumos, but more lasting in its nature.
We are not to be close friends with a person like this, in order to avoid becoming like him. Proverbs 22.24,25 "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul."
God's righteousness is never produced or gained through a man's wrath or anger. James 1.20 "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." The word translated "wrath" in this verse is "orgee" the same Greek word under discussion.
Note that there have been four words describing wrath or anger in this chapter. Two in verse 26 and two in this verse.
—and clamour: (kraugg)
"To croak or cry with a loud and raucous voice"
"To demand with cries" (T.D.N.T.)
It refers to "clamour" and arguing in Acts 23.9
It is used of an anxious cry in Revelation 21.4 where it is eliminated from those in the presence of God in Heaven. — It suggests a rough or raucous sound. It is taken from the croak of the raven. It is used here of the violent assertion of ones rights; real or supposed. It is a person who is loud and insistent, trying to force his will on others by his loud, aggressive and intimidating way of speaking.
—and evil speaking: (blasphēmia) We get the English word "blaspheme" from this Greek word. It refers to "slander or injurious speech with reference to an authority, leader, or guide usually."
—be put away: (arthētō — Imperative passive tense of "airo.") Take away, remove.
—from you, with: (sun) "Together with, in company with."
—all: (pasē) Every kind, or every form of.
—malice: (kikia) May mean "wickedness" in general (Acts 8.22; 1 Corinthians 5.8; 15.20; 1 Peter 2.16) or "ill will" and "malice" in particular. (Romans 1.29; Colossians 3.8; Titus 3.3; James 1.21; 1 Peter 2.1) Expositors.
Note: Everything mentioned in this verse is opposite to the character of God and therefore cannot be practiced by an individual depending on God for his behaviour. Verse 32
—And be ye: (ginesthe) "become ye" or "show yourselves." They are to abandon one mental attitude and perspective for another.
—kind: (chrēstos) Mild, gracious, good-hearted, pleasant, and agreeable. This word is used of God in Luke 6.35 "kind"; Romans 2.4 "goodness of God." It is used of Christ in Matthew 11.30 "My yoke is easy"; 1 Peter 2.3 "gracious." It is also used of believers in 1 Corinthians 15.33.
—one to: (eis) unto; towards.
—another, tenderhearted: (eusplanchnos) (from "eu" =well; and "splanchnon" = the inward, innermost organs) It means literally, "of good heartedness." W. E. Vine — It is one who can be easily touched with the feelings of others. A sensitive, compassionate, person. Hence, tenderhearted. It is translated "pitiful" in its only other occurrence in the New Testament, 1 Peter 3.8.
—forgiving: (charizomai) (From "charis" = grace; and "didomi" = to give) It means literally, "to give graciously," hence, "to forgive." It is forgiveness seen by gracious acting or giving towards the offender.
—one another: (heautois) each other.
—even as: (kathōs) according as; in accord with.
—also God for Christ's sake: (hō Theos en Christō) Literally, "God in Christ" as 2 Corinthians 5.19.
—hath forgiven you: (charizomai) As above, but in the aorist tense; "did forgive you." It may refer to the date of receiving God's free salvation or to the forgiveness implemented when Christ died. (See Expositors) — God's forgiveness is free, gracious, merciful, loving, giving, ungrudging, complete, and final. Compare Hebrews 8.12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 10.17 "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."
Note:—1. Everything mentioned in this verse is in keeping with God's character. A Deliver who demonstrates these qualities is demonstrating the character of God. 2. Kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness are mentioned in reverse order to how they proceed from the believer, but in actual order perceived by the recipient.
Kindness is doing things that are of benefit and service to others (regardless of their own behaviour) using our BODIES as the expression of our SOUL.
Tenderheartedness is the source of kindness. It is our SPIRIT having compassion on others
Forgiveness is the source of compassion. Forgiveness begins in our HEART, which, when indwelt by God Himself, treats others as God treats them.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to contemplate the judgments of God, and be altogether free from alarm; but such is the happy portion of the believer in Jesus. The accomplished work of Christ has turned judgment aside for all who believe—it will not, and cannot fall upon any of them. We have the sure word of the Lord Jesus for this—"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life" (John 5.24). Here faith rests, and takes up the triumphant challenge, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8.33,34). Blessed certainty! Precious God-given assurance!
It is quite possible that some of our readers have been taught differently as to this. The confused idea has long prevailed in Christendom, that there is to be a great general judgment at the end of time, into which all, whether saved or lost, must come; and that there can be no real certainty as to one's eternal future until that day. This is a profound mistake, grievous in its results, and in plain defiance of the Lord's precious word in John 5.24. If the believer walks thus uncertainly, what real affection can there be towards God? And how can there be the heavenly tone in the daily walk that God looks for in His own?
The truth is, that every believer is placed by God beyond judgment We are no longer "in Adam" exposed to death and judgment, but "in Christ" where there is no condemnation (Rom. 8.1). No only so, but we are "clean every whit," "holy and without blame before Him in love," loved by the Father with the same love wherewith He loves His Son (John 13.10; Eph. 1.4; John 17.23,26). As Christ is, so are we in this world. God can no more bring the believer into judgment for his sins, than Christ Himself. Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4.17-19).
It is of the first importance that the Scriptures should be rightly divided as to this solemn theme. For clearness' sake, we will consider the matter in the following order:
The Judgment Seat of Christ for Believers.
The Judgment of the Quick.
The Judgment of the Dead.
1. The Judgment Seat of Christ.—In 2. Cor. 5.10 we read, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Here the Apostle's language is very general. "We" includes every soul that has ever lived in this world. * Believers are not to be exempt; all must be manifested before Christ. Not necessarily on the same day, as some affirm, nor with the same issues. Indeed there are two classes plainly shown in the Scripture: those who have done good, and those who have done evil. Our bad was dealt with at the cross of Christ, when the blessed One bowed His holy head beneath the righteous judgment of God, and nothing remains to be dealt with but the good which we have wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. The ungodly, on the contrary, when they stand before Christ at a later day, will have no good to show ("there is none that doeth good, no, not one"), and will be dealt with in righteousness for all their bad. The thought of this filled the heart of the Apostle with holy concern. The terrors of the coming day for those who know not God and have not believed the Gospel, were before him, and made him earnestly labour that souls might be delivered from the wrath to come. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5.11).
* ['Many of our brethren prefer to interpret this as 'we believers'. Ed.]
It is a solemn, yet blessed, thought for the believer that everything is to come out before Christ.
We need have no fear or alarm. We shall then be in a glorified state, as the earlier verses of 2 Cor. 5. show. We shall stand at the judgment seat in bodies fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Lord Jesus; for, prior to this manifestation, He will come for us and gather us out of this scene, and place us in the Father's house. When I read there the whole story of my life, I shall see fully the wonders of His Divine grace. We shall then know the full truth about ourselves, and shall adore and magnify the precious grace that has made us what we are.
But how anxious this should make every saint to walk and serve day by day so as to please the Lord! Our service will all come out there. "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them" (Matt. 25.19). Those who have built on the foundation gold, silver, and precious stones will receive a reward. "Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour" (1 Cor. 3.8). Every little bit of faithful and true service for Christ will be fully recognised then. A cup of cold water will not lose its reward. All is written in heaven by the loving, yet holy hand of Him who notes every bit of good in His own, while not ignoring their evil.
How gracious of Him to reward any! Whatever fruit we have borne, whatever good we have done, has been really the action of His own indwelling Spirit. It is, as Augustine has said, "God crowns not our merits, but His own gifts. Because He makes them ours, He rewards them, just as if they were our own virtues." He will take real pleasure in saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant,. . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matt. 25.21-23).
But what if the Christian's service is bad? Thank God, it will not endanger his salvation, which depends not on service, but on the accomplished work of Christ. But he will be a loser, as we read, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" (1 Cor. 3.15). Solemn thought! The Lord may have to disown the toil of a lifetime because it has not been according to His revealed mind and will. It is not quantity the Lord looks at, but quality. That which flows from real love to His holy person, He values highly, as we may judge from His gracious words to her who lavished on Him her ointment of spikenard (Matt. 26.6-13).
How true it is that "the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Sam. 16.7). Man would be disposed to bestow the reward where the greatest display has been, and the largest results (outwardly) have been obtained; but it may be found in the coming day that the best prizes will be carried off by those who have made but little stir in Christendom, and whose names have been but little known, but who have nevertheless served Christ loyally and faithfully according to their measure and opportunities. Not that it must be inferred from these remarks that only service for Christ will be reviewed at the judgment seat. The whole life will come out either for praise or blame. The Apostle brings this forward when exhorting slaves, in Col. 3.24,25. He comforts them by saying, "Of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ" They might have unreasonable and unjust masters, but the Lord took notice of all, and will reward duly by-and-by. Then the Apostle throws out the word of warning, "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons."
Let every Christian therefore look well to his ways. In the light of all this, how are we living? How are we serving? Soon we shall stand before Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Soon will His holy eye look over all our record, and His holy lips will pronounce His mind as to it. Will our lives in the home, in business, and everywhere else bear His close inspection? Will our service bear the all-searching test of His holy Word? Is it pursued because we love Him and owe all to Him, or is it carried forward for mere self-exaltation and for the strengthening of party? Let us be real. Better far to have the examination now, while there is time to correct, than to let all go on to the judgment seat, where we may find ourselves eternal losers.
Such is the judgment seat of Christ for those who believe in His Name. It is no question of visiting sins upon them, but of manifestation. Rewards will be dealt out, and places in the millennial kingdom allotted, according to faithful service here below. Not that reward is the motive for service or godliness. That would be legalism. Love to Christ is the spring, the rewards come in as encouragements for our souls by the way.
How precious it is to meditate on the LORD'S names or tides, both in the Old and New Testaments, it strengthens our appreciation of His PERSON and reveals to us the character and attributes of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For example 'Emmanuel : God with us' reminds us of His coming into this world to declare God's love and to bring to men a 'so great a salvation.' We shall consider three expressions in the Scriptures which magnify the Name of God's Son and declare His Greatness.
(1) HIS EXCELLENT NAME. Psalm 8.1.
Among the various descriptions of our Lord's Name, nothing is greater than to read it is 'Excellent,' He is Jehovah, the great 'I AM.' Isaiah gives a wonderful list of five names unique to our Saviour,' and HIS NAME shall be called Wonderful: Counsellor : The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.' These names are inexhaustible, but the hymn writer seems to express our thoughts: -
"Join all the glorious names of wisdom,
love and power,
That mortals ever knew or angels ever bore,
All are to mean to speak His Worth,
Too mean to set our Saviour forth."
"O Lord our God, how excellent is Thy name throughout the earth."
(2) HIS EXQUISITE NAME. S. of S. 1.3.
"As ointment poured forth" suggests the fragrance and the sweetness of the character of our blessed Lord as displayed in His perfect life while here on earth. Remembering that Eastern ointment is not solid but rather fluid, it helps us understand how Mary anointed (poured forth) her alabaster box of ointment on the feet of her Lord: an expression of true worship and adoration. We also read that "the odour (fragrance) of the ointment filled the house," and wherever or whenever we worship in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the fragrance of His presence and the sweetness of His Person 'fills the place' and should also fill our hearts with praise and adoration.
"His Name shall shed its fragrance forth along Life's thorny road."
(3) HIS EXALTED NAME. Phil. 2.9.
How wonderful to know that our Saviour who was once 'The Man of Sorrows' is now 'The Lord of Glory': He humbled Himself: ... but God has highly exalted Him and given Him a NAME above every name : Phil. 2.9. This exalted Name is described in Revelation as 'Alpha and Omega.' 'Faithful and True' and 'The Word of God.' Although He has 'a Name that no man knoweth' Rev. 19, one day He will be known as 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords.'
A traveller chanced on a beautiful villa, situated on the shores of a beautiful lake in Switzerland, far from the beaten track of tourists. He knocked at the garden gate, and an aged gardener unlocked its heavy fastenings, and bade him enter. The aged man seemed glad to see him, and allowed him around the wonderful garden.
"How long have you been here?' the traveller asked. 'Twenty-four years.' 'And how often has your master been here meanwhile? When was he here last?' 'Twelve years ago.' 'He writes often?' 'Never once.' 'From whom do you receive your pay?' 'His agent in mainland.' 'But he comes here often?' 'He has never been here.' 'Who does come then?' 'I am almost always alone—it is very, very seldom that ever a stranger comes.' 'Yet you have the garden in such perfect order, everything flourishing, as if you were expecting your master's coming to-morrow!' 'As if he were coming today, sir, today!' exclaimed the old man.
"Surely I come quickly (suddenly). Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22 : 20).
"Your heart's a garden, God has sown To give your life the work it needed. Some day He'll come to pluck His flowers, So mind you keep your garden weeded."
One can view with pleasure the portrayal of the Lord Jesus Christ as the KING in the gospel according to Matthew, where the Lord is viewed walking so majestically and uprightly in a manner which caused more than one person to assume that at any moment the Lord would set up His Kingdom on earth (Matt. 17.4, 29.9). The Lord's genealogy is traced through Abraham, David and the other Kings in Chapter 1.1-16. Mark portrays the Lord as the PERFECT SERVANT always abounding in the work which the Father had given Him to do. The words 'immediately', 'straightway' and 'forthwith' are prevalent in the gospel record, (see also Mark 6.2,10.45). The servant's genealogy is not given in the gospel record. Luke presents the Lord as a dependant MAN in an attitude of prayer (e.g. Luke 6.12, 9.28, 11.1). His perfect Humanity is elaborated upon in some detail throughout the gospel record. The details of His mother, His birth and His boyhood are readily given in Chapter 2. The Lord's genealogy is traced back to the first man Adam in Chapter 3.23-38. It is worthy of note that the 42nd book in the Bible is Luke, whilst the 42nd name in the genealogy of Matt. 1 is that of the man Jesus Christ. John's gospel makes known that the Man Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, the Word of God, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1.1, 14). There is no genealogy in John's record since the Son of God is without beginning of days nor end of life. He is from everlasting to everlasting.
Complimentary to these general views of the Lord in the four gospel accounts, a careful study of Mark's gospel reveals the Lordship of Christ (Mark 7.28,10.51). The Kingship of the Lord is found in Luke 19.38,23.2, 3, 37, 38. The Lord is portrayed as Servant in Matt. 12.18. Glimpses of the Lord's humanity are found in John 1.36, 4.6, 8.6, 11.35, 13.5. Though He is referred to as a Man 18 times in the book, it is to these particular five mentions in John's gospel that we wish to refer.
The first mention we have is Jesus walked John 1.36 "and looking upon Jesus as He walked he (i.e. John) saith, Behold the Lamb of God!" The word walked (Gk. Peripateo) used figuratively signifies the whole round of the activities of the individual life. (Ref. W. E. Vine NT words). John Baptist could observe that this Man's conduct was unique, set apart from any other and was characteristic of God Himself. As a consequence of this, two of John's disciples followed the Lord" and the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus." John 1.37.
The second glimpse we have is set at a city of Samaria called Sychar," .. . Jesus therefore being wearied with His journey sat thus on the well... "John 4.6. The Lord in His perfect humanity was feeling the burden of the way. In addition to being weary, He was also thirsty (4.7) and probably hungry (4.8). Does not this remind us of David's experience in his rejection 2 Samuel 17.29 as he, and also the people who were with him were hungry, weary and thirsty in the wilderness and three men came to minister to them of their substance? The city Shechem (NT Sychar) was also the place where they laid the bones of Joseph (Joshua 24.32). Joseph was another man who had been rejected by his brethren. Samaria was a place generally avoided by the Jews on their journey through to Galilee. But Jesus "must needs go through Samaria" John 4.4. The Samaritan woman progressively found that the man she spoke to at the well was not only a Jew (4.9), and a Prophet (4.19), but the very Christ (4.29).
As a consequence "many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did." John 4.39; "And many more believed because of His own word" John 4.41.
The third glimpse we have is John 8.6 "Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground". The Scribes and Pharisees had caught a woman in the act of adultery and had referred to the law of Moses saying" . . .that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him but Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground." John 8.5,6. "So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground." John 8.8,9. Their pious and evil hearts would merit their names being written in the earth (Jeremiah 17.13). "and they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one . . . "John 8.9.
The woman was left alone with the Lord. The Lord said to her ". . . woman where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee ... she said, no man Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. "John 8.10,11. As a consequence this woman was set free uncondemned by God or man.
The fourth glimpse we have is in John 11.35 "Jesus wept." The Lord had rejoiced with those who rejoiced at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, where He manifested forth His glory (John 2.11). Here the Lord wept with those that wept at the graveside of Lazarus. He shared with the grief of Lazarus' two sisters Martha and Mary. Both had said to the Lord individually "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died". (John 11.21,32). The consequence was that Lazarus was raised from the dead with miraculous power." ... He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound with a napkin, Jesus said unto them, Loose him and let him go". John 11.43,44. Further to this many of the Jews "believed on Him" (John 11.45.) "believed on Jesus" (John 12.11).
The final glimpse of the Lord's humanity is in John 13.5 "after that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded". Here is a remarkable scene which one could have expected to see recorded in Mark's gospel, as the Lord takes the servant's place. The record of this event in John's gospel should draw extra attention to this detail. The very Son of God takes the servant's towel. As a consequence the disciples learned two very important lessons to put into practice after the Lord had left them and which we can very much apply to ourselves:
(1) The importance of having to have our feet washed from all the contamination which we have contracted in our pilgrimage walk whilst being in the world, though not of it. This is not cleansing from sin but from moral defilement. The Lord stated "he that is washed ncedeth not to save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. .. "John 13.10. The two words for "wash" in this verse have different meanings. The first mention "washed" indicates bathed all over, whereas the word "wash" means to wet only a part of the body. We have been cleansed fully by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ," ... and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1.7).
(2) We should take the lowest place in the assembly and be subject to one another. Peter seemed to have learned this lesson as he later writes" . . . Yea all of you be subject to one another and be clothed with humility ..." 1 Peter 5.5.
May these glimpses of the Lord's humanity as recorded in John's gospel encourage us to look deeply into the scriptures and learn the lesson of the Lord's actions as He graced this scene with His presence.
"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2. Tim. 3. 15.
These words that were written of Timothy could well have been written about the present writer. I am thankful to God for the home into which I was born and for parents whose greatest desire for the family was that they would be saved and live to the glory of God.
I was born on December 5th 1942 in the town of Garvagh, Co. Londonderry, N. Ireland. Father and Mother were both saved and in fellowship in the assembly gathered to the Lord's Name at Killykergan. We were taught the word of God in the home, in Sunday School and in the Sunday evening Gospel meetings. When special series of gospel meetings were held in the area we were always there. That being the case I cannot remember a time when I did not know that I needed to be saved if I was going to be in heaven. As a young child the thought of the Lord's coming troubled me from time to time and many a Sunday night after a solemn meeting there were desires within my soul to be saved. Sad to say I did not attend to these promptings of the Holy Spirit in my soul and many golden opportunities of being saved while young were lost.
The time came when I went out to work each day and saw something of what the world had to offer. I am thankful to God that I was preserved from it. Not so much because I did not have the desire to go after it, I was a sinner and the nature within longed after the things of the world, but respect for my parents and for the Gospel kept me from being involved in many things that would have taken me far away from God.
The first time I had real concern about eternal matters was in 1959 at the age of 16 when Mr. H. Paisley and Mr. J. Milne were having meetings in a tent at Coleraine. We were there most nights and after a number of weeks some of the young people from the assembly at Killykergan were reached and saved. This spoke to me and I began to settle down to listen to the Gospel. As the warning note was sounded out I longed to be saved and delivered from Eternal Judgement. Sad to say I was not saved at that time, the meetings finished and I became careless and indifferent again.
After Easter 1960 Mr. H. Paisley and Mr. T. Campbell commenced meetings in Limavady Gospel Hall. When I heard about the meetings, I knew we would be going every night and again I knew what the preaching would be like, the solemn warning of coming judgement. I made up my mind to seek salvation with all my heart. Mr. Paisley took me by the hand coming out of the door the first Monday night and said to me, "Uel, you know what we want to hear about you in these meetings" That spoke very loudly to me, to think of the preacher having such a concern for me. I had the mistaken idea that to be saved I would have to be very, very anxious. How true the words of the hymn; 'All the fitness you require is to know your need of Him.' After meetings I would read Luke 16, Rev. 20. and meditate on the reality of the truth contained to see if I could really feel anxious enough to be saved. The words of Proverbs 29.1 were often in
my mind; 'He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy!' This truth troubled me and I was afraid that God would cut me down and I would be lost forever. On Thursday morning 16th June I was standing at the door of our home waiting for the car to come to take me to work. I was thinking I would go to work and forget about it all, I even thought that I was not as concerned as I had been before. Again Proverbs 29. 1 came to my mind; I thought what will happen to me if I do not get saved at these meetings? With reality the thought came before me, God will cut me down, then I asked myself another question; What will happen to me if God cuts me down in my sins? Immediately the words came to my mind, I will be tormented day and night forever and forever. I realized as never before the dreadful reality of Eternity, of Eternal judgment in Hell and the Lake of Fire. I cried to God to have mercy upon me. That Thursday morning at work, in a corner at the back of the building where I was, I got down a number of times on my knees and cried to God not to let me die in my sins and go down to Hell forever. Thursday being the half day I was home early and went down to the river that runs at the bottom of the garden of our home. Sitting down on a big stone under the trees I read quite a few well known verses but all was dark as far as salvation was concerned. I had with me the booklet called, 'God's way of Salvation'. I began to read it from the beginning, and after a time I read words like these; "on the ground of Christ's finished Work, God invites and beseeches you to accept salvation." I pondered over these words, I realized that God was satisfied with the work of His Son upon the cross and because of His death He offered me salvation. I was enabled by simple faith just to accept from the hand of God His Great Salvation. After such a time of trying to be anxious enough, trying to believe etc. I could have sung;
'How simple God's way of salvation,
Not trying or doing ones best,
But simply believing on Jesus,
The weary and sinful find rest.'
What joy in the home, my oldest sister had been saved for some years, and then just a few days after I was saved my other sister was saved to complete the family in Christ. A few weeks later I was baptized and received into the assembly at Killykergan. There I found all that was necessary for my spiritual development. There were those with a shepherd heart who took a personal interest in us to guide and help encourage. There were those who through their practical ministry sought to show us how we should live in this wicked world. Then there were those who sought to open the scriptures and teach the young in Christ the basic truths of the Gospel and of the assembly. We firmly believe that a scriptural assembly is a spiritual home and the training ground for future service for the Lord.
A few months after conversion our dear brother Mr. Joe Turk-ington was in Limavady Gospel Hall telling of His work for the Lord in Venezuela. He had a map on the wall and told of parts of Venezuela where as yet there were no assemblies. That night the desire was created within my soul to pray for Venezuela and for those parts with no assemblies. Over the next few years many a time I thought of Venezuela, my problem was not the sacrifice of leaving home to go, nor the difficulties I might have to face, but the big question in my mind was, "Would the Lord want me to go?" I often told the Lord in sincerity that I would love to go to Venezuela, I counted it the greatest privilege that could be conferred upon me to be permitted to be in His service and take the Gospel there, if only I could be sure that that was His will for me.
One incident stands out very clearly in my mind; I knew that brother Mr. Joe Milne had been in Limavady for the week end and upon returning from work early that Monday I wondered if he would have called at our home in Garvagh on his way to Belfast. I longed to have a chat with him. When I got home I found Mr. Milne there and also learned that his car had broken down and he needed some one to take him home. When we were on our way I wondered if I could bring myself to talk to him about my exercise. But that was not necessary as he commenced the conversion by saying that he had been wondering if I would have any thought about the Lord's Work. I told him I had but was too nervous to say that I was thinking about Venezuela. He gave me advice that day which I consider was from God. He said that we should make sure that where ever we went we would be free to carry out the principles we had learned in the assembly at Killykergan. "Too bad", he said, "to arrive in a place and find that things were carried out in a different way." Then he asked me if I had a girlfriend to which the answer was no. He said, "Be very careful regarding that step as a man could have an exercise to go to serve the Lord and find that his wife did not share that exercise."
Some time after that the Lord brought Rae and I together, we are so thankful to be able to trace His guiding hand in that all important step. One of the first things we talked about was the possibility of the Lord's Work and Venezuela and found that that was upon both our hearts.
We continued to look to the Lord to guide and to make the way clear. I wrote to brother Mr. Joe Milne and told him that we continued to be exercised before the Lord and felt that if ever we went anywhere it would be to Venezuela but were quick to add that we were not sure. A verse of scripture had been much in my mind during those weeks; Job. 16.19. "Also now, behold, my witness is in heaven and my record is on high." I often pondered over it and wondered why the Lord was bringing it before me. We soon received a reply from brother Milne and I can tell you that letter gave me a surprise. He said that he had not been surprised to get our letter as he had been thinking about, and praying for us the morning our letter arrived and he felt that it was like the case of Cornelious, God was working from both ends. He also said that he had mentioned the matter to the other workers there and they all would be happy to have us with them in the work and suggested that we should speak to our brethren about commendation.
I wondered what to do. As far as we knew, neither our families nor our brethren knew of our exercise and I thought that soon the news would come back from Venezuela that we were thinking of going so we had to make a decision. I asked myself a question, "If anyone was to ask you why you think you should go to Venezuela. What would you say? It was then that Job 16. v. 19 came to my soul with freshness. My witness is in heaven, we could call God to witness all the circumstances He had called us to pass through, (it came to me like this; we have God for it). That gave us peace so I decided that I should speak to our brethren. I am thankful to say that all were most helpful and did all they could to encourage us. We left N.I. in July 1968 with our twin boys, then four months old and arrived here in September. We spent our first months with Joe and Ruth Turkington and are thankful for all they did to help us to settle. Now 24 years have passed and we are so thankful to the Lord for bringing us here and for giving us even a little part in the work He is doing. It has been a joy to labour with our dear brethren and we are thankful that we are one as far as Assembly Principles are concerned. We do value prayer that God will raise up others to take the place of those who no longer are with us. 'Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.' Matt. 9. 38.
There in God's presence with the sanctified throng,
Waiting to meet us who mourn their decease,
Soon shall we meet in the haven of peace.
—by Oliver G. Smith (U.S.A.)
May be sung to the tune of "Have Thine Own Way, Lord"
I have a Friend that's really close, closer than any other,
In fact I've proved what the Bible says, He's closer than a brother.
"A friend in need is a friend indeed" is a saying that's really fine,
But the deed, indeed, that supplied my need, was done by my Friend divine.
A life laid down shows the greatest love, when laid down for one's friends, But my Friend showed His Father's love, which He to all men sends.
So what do you think of my Friend divine, who's love is always tiue? He wants to be your Friend as well, because He died for you.
—W. Beynon, S. Wales.
A BEAUTIFUL COMPLEXION
An elderly Christian lady, with a beautiful complexion, was asked what kind of cosmetic she used. She replied, "I use for my lips, TRUTH: for my voice, PRAYER; for my eyes, PITY; for my hands, CHARITY: for my figure UPRIGHTNESS; for my heart, LOVE." —Selected
When witnessing, if people ask, "How do you know it's true,"
Remember that they can't deny what Christ has done for you.