(Meditations in Luke's Crospel) by JIM FLANIGAN, (Belfast)
13. His Resurrection
The days immediately following the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus were dark days for those who had loved Him. The holy Body had been taken down from the cross and laid in a rock-hewn virgin tomb in a garden outside the city wall. A great stone had been rolled across the entrance and sealed.
Gently they took Him down,
Unfixed His hands and feet,
Took from His head the thorny crown,
Brought forth a winding sheet.
Fine linen, fitly made,
Wrapped they around His face;
Where never man before was laid
Made they His resting place.
As yet the disciples had not seemed to grasp the truth that He would rise again. The two who walked the Emmaus Road were typical. Their countenances were sad. Their steps were slow. Their conversation was sorrowful as they communed together about the sufferings and death of the Saviour. Yet even as they walked and talked, the Redeemer was alive and His tomb was empty, except for the grave clothes He had left behind. Had He not said of His life. "I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again"?
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the great and glorious truth upon which both our preaching and our faith depend. "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Cor. 15.14). The Saviour's resurrection is the irrefutable proof that propitiation was made at the cross and it is the grand prelude to His ascension and exaltation into the heavens. It is a well attested and proven historical fact, and although acknowledging the impossibility of dealing with it fully in'One short meditation, nevertheless we must try to gather together for our encouragement some of the evidence that our Lord is indeed risen from the dead. "He showed Himself alive" says Luke, (Acts 1.3), and in a little while there was quite a band of human witnesses, able and willing to testify that He was indeed alive. They had seen Him.
Although John gives more details of the scene in the garden, Luke confirms that it was the women who came first to the sepulchre. Devoted women, last to leave His cross; first to visit His sepulchre. It was early in the morning; sunrise on the first day of the week; they came with spices to anoint Him whom they had loved. But the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. Angels appeared to them in their perplexity, with a question, and a message, and then another question. "Why seek ye the living among the dead?", was the first question of the shining ones. "He is not here, but is risen", was their plain message. "Remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee?", was the second question. And they then remembered His words, that He would be crucified and the third day rise again.
Mary of Magdala was there, with the other women. Mary, who, next to the man of the tombs in Gadara, is the worst case of demon possession recorded in the Gospels. How she loved Him who had delivered her from seven demons (Luke 8.2). Mary had followed Him in devotion since her deliverance, ministering to Him with other women. They brought the message to the Apostles, and Peter and John ran to the sepulchre. What follows, recorded in more detail by John, is most interesting.
John outran Peter and arrived first at the tomb. But of each of them it is recorded that they "saw" the linen clothes lying in the otherwise empty sepulchre. The word for "seeing" however, is different in each usage of it, and it is important to observe the changes in the word.
John arrived first. He did not go in, but stooped down and looked in, and he "saw" the linen clothes lying. The word here is Blepo. It is simple sight with no particular notice of details.
Peter then arrives and goes right into the sepulchre. There was a weeping chamber adjacent to the burial chamber, large enough to hold several persons. Peter "seeth" the linen clothes lie, but the word for "seeing" is now Theoreo. It indicates a careful perusal, an intent regard, observing details, wondering about an explanation of that which is seen.
John now goes in also, and he "saw" and believed. What did he see? How did he see? What did he believe? and why? The word now used for "seeing" is the word Eidon. It means mental perception; understanding; as one might say, having tried to understand some matter, and now seeing the things clearly, "I see it now!" John saw! He saw the evidence of a miracle as he intelligently regarded the grave clothes.
Both saw the linen clothes "lying". Why the several uses of this word "lying"? Would it not have been sufficient to say that they saw the grave clothes? No! Both Luke and John say that the linen clothes were "lying". They lay, extended in the long loose folds as when they had enwrapped the body of the Lord Jesus. But the precious body was gone, and the grave clothes "lay" on the bed of the tomb, perhaps depressed by the weight of the spices, the powdered myrrh and aloes which would still be in the folds. The clothes were undisturbed, lying where the holy body had once reposed.
And the napkin that had been about His head? It was still in its convolutions as when it had been wrapped around the Saviour's head in burial. It was likewise undisturbed, and not with the linen clothes, but in a place by itself, on the ledge where the Saviour's head had rested. John saw and believed. Thy mystery of the undisturbed grave clothes is no mystery to those who see in them the evidence of a miracle. Otherwise they are inexplicable. The Lord is risen indeed. He has vacated the tomb and has vacated also the grave clothes with which they had swathed Him. He has left them miraculously undisturbed, and He has gone, triumphantly, from the sepulchre.
Time and space prohibit the telling of the whole story. What a story it is, of the weeping Magdalene in the garden; of Peter and John; of the two who walked with Him to Emmaus; of the little band of women who met Him on the road and held Him by the feet; of the eleven in the Upper Room who saw His nail-printed hands and feet and wounded side; of Thomas who cried, "My Lord and my God", of the seven disciples who dined with Him by the lake-shore; and of those who met Him in the hills of Galilee. Then there were five hundred brethren who saw Him all at once (1 Cor. 15.6); and later there were Stephen, and Paul, and John, who saw Him in glory.
Faith has no doubts. He who suffered and was slain is now alive, risen and ascended. With the eleven we say, "The Lord is risen indeed". And with a myriad other voices we sing —
2. The Miracle of the time at which Christ was put to death:
The day and even the hour of Christ's death was not within the bounds of human reckoning. The time was not devised by man but determined by God. The Jews' rejection of Christ appears to have been closely linked with such timing as seen in John's gospel, and such rejection of Him is seemingly brought out in the fourth gospel more than the other three. The reason is undoubtedly the fact that the Lord's Humanity, which the Jews could not dispute, is set forth in the three synoptic gospels, but His Deity, which was unacceptable to the Jews, is stressed in the gospel of John.
Unlike other gospel writers, John at the beginning of his gospel makes a clear statement concerning such rejection of Christ by saying, "He came unto His own (i.e. 'His own things'—neuter plural) and His own (i.e. 'His own people'—masculine plural) received Him not" John 1.11. The Jews' hostility was not a passing phase but a persistent hatred with the intent to kill Him which, unknown to them, they could not achieve before the divinely appointed hour. The unseen restraining hand of God upon men in their last evil attempts to slay the Lord Jesus particularly around the time of a feast in Jerusalem may be traced in the fourth gospel.
After a visit to Galilee, the Lord Jesus went up to Jerusalem half way through the week-long Feast of Tabernacles and in one of the courts of the temple He taught the people. Soon they were debating whether "this man" was "Christ." Then the rulers sought to take Him to the Sanhedrin for trial but no man laid hands on Him, "because His hour was not yet come" John 7.30. This meant that, in the purpose of God, "His hour" to be put to death was not at the Feast of tabernacles which is figurative of Messiah's millennial reign on earth.
Consequently, the Jews were providentially prevented from arresting Him, although it was their intention.
On a later occasion in the temple, Jesus was in the treasury where worshippers put their offerings in one of the thirteen brass chests placed in the Court of the Women, beyond which only men were permitted. As He taught the people in this court, there arose among His listeners a mis-understanding about the Fatherhood of God and a failure to perceive the true nature of Christ. Friction flared among the Temple rulers, but no one ventured to arrest Him — "for His hour was not yet come" John 8.20. Again, the Lord Jesus was not touched by His enemies, because it was not yet the divinely appointed time for Him to die.
An interval of about two months passed between the autumn Feast of Tabernacles (John 7.1,14,37) which was decreed initially by God (Lev. 23.33f) and the Feast of Dedication (John 10.22), instituted by men to commemorate the cleansing of the Temple in 165 B.C. During this winter feast, Jesus walked in Solomon's porch, a colonnade on the east side of the Court of the Gentiles around the Temple, where He was accosted by some Jews. Replying to their question whether He was the Christ or not, He said eventually, "I and My Father are one," The word "one" is not masculine indicating the Father and Son are one Person but neuter, signifying the Father and Son (as two distinct Persons) are neither superior or inferior to the other but each is One in Essence and Substance besides possessing Oneness in Equality and Being. Understanding the implication of His words, the Jews immediately took up stones, as on an earlier occasion, to stone Him saying, "because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God" John 10.23f, 30ff. Voicing once more His divine relationship with His Father, the Jews "sought again to take Him," not for stoning but to arrest Him for the Sanhedrin (as they had earlier, John 7.30). "But He escaped out of their hand" and took refuge beyond Jordan (John 10.38ff). Once again, His opponents were restrained from stoning or arresting Him, because the Feast of Dedication was not the time of year in the purpose of God for His sacrificial death.
Three months after the Feast of dedication, the Feast of Passover was at hand and pilgrims from afar flocked to Jerusalem. Knowing that the religious leaders had conferred together and were fully committed in putting Him to death, Jesus had withdrawn Himself from the public eye by going a few miles into the country but He realised that He could not absent for long with the Passover drawing near (John 11.53—12.1). Five days before this Paschal Feast, Jesus came to Jerusalem where He was acclaimed triumphantly to be "the King of Israel" by the people. Then certain Greeks whose desire to "see Jesus" was conveyed by Andrew and Philip to Him. Apparently without meeting them, He said "the hour is come," knowing this was the divinely appointed time, "that the Son of Man should be glorified" (John 12.12f, 20-23). On past occasions, the inspired writer had reported "His hour was not yet come," but this time the omniscient Lord said, "The hour is come." If He were just 'a man' as the Jews had alleged earlier, He could not have made such a declaration but, being "God" incarnate which the Jews rejected, He was able to make it.
Soon the day for the Feast of Passover dawned when the passover lamb was slain and offered upon the altar located in the Priest's Court of the Temple and when Christ, the true Passover Lamb, was sacrificed (cp. 1 Cor. 5.7). On that very day when the hour was come, which was the "third hour" (i.e. 9.00 a.m.) for the yearling lamb of the morning sacrifice to be offered upon the Temple altar, then "they crucified Him" Mark 15.25.
Six hours later "at the ninth hour" (i.e. 3.00 p.m.) when the lamb for the evening sacrifice was offered, "Jesus . . . gave up the ghost" (Mark 15.34,37, cp. Ex. 29.38f).
Neither before nor since Calvary, not only the year but also the day and even the hour, has such precision been known for the time of death for any other man as that for Christ. This timing was not accidental or coincidental—it was truly miraculous.
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME I
Paper 4a—The Apostasy of Christendom and the Antichrist
We will now consider the march of events in Christendom after the removal of the saints to glory. The coming of the Lord will by no means, alas! clear the field of Christian profession. To many thousands, it is feared, He will have to say, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not" (Matt. 25.12). True, they carry the lamps of profession, but they are oilless; they fear His name, but they have never come into living contact with Him; they sing His praises with their lips, but have never known His love and grace in their hearts. All such will be left behind at the rapture, however loud their plea. What will be their future? This we now propose to consider.
Many have thought the era of the Gospel to be the final one, and that the millennium will be an outcome of it, brought about by diffusion of truth, and the spiritual subjugation of the whole world to Christ. But Scripture speaks very differently. The millennium will be brought in by desolating judgments, not by Gospel labour; and as for the present period of favour and privilege, instead of ending in universal glory, it will terminate in darkness and apostasy.
There is a sad consistency in all the history of man. Every dispensation has ended in gloom. Man has failed in whatever circumstances God has placed him. The period of innocence ended in the fall and expulsion from the garden; the age of conscience resulted in the flood; the dispensation of the law terminated in the rejection and murder of the Messiah; and more might be added. The Church period will have no different ending, all New Testament Scripture being witness. We will quote a few proofs. In 2 Tim. 3 we read, "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come." Then follows a dark description, reminding us of heathen depravity as told out in Rom. 1. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." This is very solemn. Clearly there was no thought in the Apostle's mind of the professing Church and the world becoming better and more suitable for Christ. Look also at verse 13 of the same chapter. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." Consider, too, the short Epistle of Jude. There the course of evil in the professing Church is traced from its first introduction by the enemy by means of certain men who crept in unawares, until the Lord's appearing in judgment. The evil is not eradicated, But goes on intensifying until the Lord Himself arises to deal with it. Recall also the Lord's parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt 13.24-30. The enemy sowed the tares soon after the wheat was sown, and they grew on together until the harvest, when the great and final separation comes.
With all this may be connected the warning in Rom. 11. There the Apostle shows that Christendom has taken the place of Israel in the earth as regards the outward privileges and responsibility. The Jewish branches of the olive tree were cut off because of unfaithfulness, as every one knows. But what of the Gentiles, who have succeeded them as wild branches grafted in? "Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God : on them which fell, severity ; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness : otherwise thou also shalt be cut off (Rom. 11, 20-22). This does not touch the question of individual salvation, which is eternally secured in Christ ; it is dispensational responsibility. Who will pretend that Christendom has continued in the goodness of God? Judgment, therefore, must fall, though not until the cup of iniquity is filled up by the apostasy of the last days.
To this we will now turn. Observe the way in which the solemn subject is introduced in 2 Thess. 2. The Thessalonians at the time of the writing of the Epistle were in deep distress. They were passing through sore tribulation. Paul alludes to "all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thess. 1.4). The enemy had let loose his rage upon them, because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. He had wrought in another way also, which was much more serious. He had succeeded in instilling into their minds the idea that the day of the Lord had set in, and that the great tribulation connected with that solemn epoch was upon them. A letter even had been sent to them, pretending to be from the apostle Paul, confirming them in the notion. All this wrought very sadly among them. The brightness of their hope, which the Spirit commends so warmly in the First Epistle, became clouded, and deep gloom settled down upon them.
Yet one simple consideration would have materially helped them. The Old Testament Scriptures, in speaking of the day of the Lord, speaks of it as judgment on the ungodly. In that day the tables will be turned. The Lord's friends will then be at rest in His blessed presence, while His foes will be in adversity. This thought would have assured the Thessalonians ; but unfortunately our hearts are such, that often in a time of difficulty we forget what would prove real help and comfort to our souls.
Observe carefully the Apostle's words : "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Lord is present." This is unquestionably the correct reading of this important verse. The Authorised Version is manifestly wrong here. How could the inspired Apostle write beseeching them not to believe that the day is at hand, when elsewhere he says, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand"? (Rom. 13.12). It would be a flat contradiction, which can never be in the scriptures, where all is of God.
On the contrary, he begs them not to be persuaded that the day of the Lord had come. But on what does he ground his exhortation? On the coming of the Lord Jesus to gather together His own. In no way could he have presented the distinctness of the two events more clearly. The coming of the Lord for His own is one thing; His day (introduced by His appearing in glory) quite another. The saints are to be removed to heaven before the last great crisis; but inasmuch as the whole Church of God was still on earth, how could the Thessalonians suppose that it had arrived? Such is the reasoning of the Apostle, at once simple and reassuring. —to be continued (D.V.)
No. 2—Psalm 76 v. 1-3. The Person of God, His place and His power
It is one thing to know about God, what He requires of us, what He has done, what He has promised, but it is another thing altogether to know Him as a Person. Paul could say "I know (Him) whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day" (2 Tim. 1.12). The apostle's commitment and assurance was related to a Person, not a doctrine or a creed, and it is only on that basis that we can really have dealings with God.
So Asaph asserts, "In Judah is God known." He will straightway start talking about what God has accomplished in their territory, but that is not the point here. It is not just that God has done something but that He is Someone. "His name is great in Israel." As it is assumed this psalm was written before the division of Solomon's kingdom into two, it is not intended to differentiate between the two and the ten tribes in this context. It is sufficient to say that whilst, as seen from v. 2, the central place, the capital of the united Kingdom was in Judah, God had shown Himself in His greatness to the nation as a whole.
It is suggested that Jerusalem, spoken of here under its former name of "Salem," had always been a place where God made Himself known in a special way. The first mention in the scriptures of any kind of priesthood relates to that of "Melchizedek, king of Salem - the priest of the most high God" (Gen. 14.18). The reference to "His (God's) tabernacle" is probably not in connection with the tent used for worship in the wilderness, but intended to show the temporary nature of such an abode. After all, even when the far more elaborate and durable temple was built it was acknowledged by Solomon that no edifice or structure made by man could possibly become the permanent, settled dwelling place of God (see e.g. 2 Chron. 6,18-20).
God's choice of Jerusalem was confirmed by Him to David, (see e.g. 2 Chron. 6,4-6) and the more fortified part, Zion, became generally known as David's city (see e.g. 2 Sam. 5,6-9). When we read therefore of, "His (God's) dwelling place in Zion," we are thinking particularly of the stronghold of the city, that which gave Jerusalem its strategic significance. This may be seen as a picture of the church. God has promised to be with and in His people (see e.g. 2 Cor. 6.16) and that promise will never be broken, but the strength of it is not in or dependent upon us. It is in the One who is the foundation of the church, on whom it is built and on whom its security depends (see Matt. 16,15-18).
That strength however, not just to deter attackers but to positively repel and defeat them, does not mean that Jerusalem signifies aggression. The name of the original settlement, Salem, in fact means peace (see Heb. 7.2), and the power of the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus is directed to bring us out of the tyranny of Satan (see e.g. Heb. 2.14,15), into peace with God (see e.g. Rom. 5.1,2). "The arrows of the bow,,the shield and the sword, and the battle (the weapons of war)" have been broken in a once-for-all victory and it is in the good of that triumph of His that we as believers now stand (see e.g. 1 Cor. 15.57). "Selah," think about that.
v. 4-9. Attributes of God and His activities on behalf of His people
In this section the psalmist directs our thoughts very positively Godward and only mentions benefits towards the end (see v.9). The words are addressed personally to God (see e.g. the "Thou art," of vs. 4 and 7), rather than telling us about Him.
"Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey." Having shown the emptiness of all that he was or had in himself, Paul sums up his aspiration for this life by saying, "That I may know and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Phil. 3.10). It was to be all "Him" and "His." The attractiveness of a coming day when his life in this world would have been drawn to a close was also centred on the Person of the Lord Jesus. "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better" (Phil. 1.23). There are certainly blessings in this life for which we should be thankful and there are assurances of even more and greater blessings in a time yet to be, but the superabounding blessing is our relationship with Him, His ability to captivate us wholly with His love, His beauty and His attractiveness.
These thoughts tend to bring before us the attributes of God, what He has done to shield us, to deliver us, from the powers that would attempt to wean or drag us away from Himself. "The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep." Even the most seemingly able to prevail against us have been foiled. "None of the men of might have found their hands (can lift up their hands)." Mighty they may be, but not when compared with the might of God deployed on our behalf (see e.g. Psalm 45.3,4). His might is not necessarily displayed in an outward form. We may have our own ideas and preconceptions as to how it ought to be exhibited but God is not only "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask" but also, "above all that we - think" (Eph. 3.20). In the case of Asaph's writing it was not that "the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea" (Ex. 15.3), but, "At Thy rebuke 0 God of Jacob both the chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep." Whilst the former is more melodramatic, both ways of dealing with an aggressor are equally effective.
But men ought not to think that because God sometimes deals in that way, by restraint rather than positive stricture, that He will always do so. That can cause complacency, as if He is not to be taken too seriously. But, "Thou, even Thou, art to be feared and who may stand in Thy sight when once Thou art angry." It may very well be that God does deal even with His enemies in compassion at times, however, from experience we know that it is always so. "Thou didst cause judgement to be heard from heaven" (see e.g. Judges 5. 19,20), "the earth feared and was still."
What does Asaph see as the primary aim of God acting in this way? It happened "when God arose to judgement." Yes, it was a merited punishment but its purpose was, "to save all the meek of the earth." The Egyptians had deserved judgement because of their continued rejection of God, but the purpose behind those judgements was to secure the release of the captive Israelites. Indeed, if only the Egyptians as individuals believed God's word through Moses and acted on it they too could be spared (see e.g. Ex. 9.20,21). Isaiah, speaking of God's activity in angry judgement, refers to it as "his work, his strange work - his strange act" (Isa. 29.21). He has done everything that is possible for Him to do in order that He may justly refrain from exercising such judgement (see e.g. Rom. 3.23-26). If individuals will not avail themselves of the opportunities for forgiveness so presented to them then divine justice will follow its inevitable cause. "Selah," think about that.
V. 10-12. God's power in the face of man's intransigence. Our response, and His.
It cannot be denied that natural man does wield power and usually in an unstructured manner, but only to the degree that God allows. That divine control only goes to make plain His omnipotence in relation to man. "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee." In case men think that they are free to do just what they please, God's control may take the form of actual curtailment, "the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain."
In the light of that restraining and, as an added impetus for believers, the accepted grace of God, we are encouraged to "vow and pay unto the Lord your God." The psalmist is not interested in mere promises, as in a vow. He looks for the actual carrying out of those promises, the paying, a fulfilment of commitments voluntarily entered into. But it is necessary for us to put ourselves into such a position anyway? If we are going to find ourselves in a straitjacket because we were naive enough to promise something which we cannot realistically give or do, wouldn't it be better just to keep quiet? Yes, strange as it may seem to some it would. Who says so? God does. "Better is it that thou shouldst not vow, than that thou shouldst vow and not pay" (Eccl. 5.5). But that is neither an easy way out, nor an excuse for not being fully committed. God sees our level of commitment to Him as indicative of our appreciation of Him. "Let all that be round about Him bring presents unto Him that ought to be feared." That is a strong encouragement not a command. God is looking for a freewill offering and that can only come, in the ultimate, from an affectionate heart.
If there is no such affection, no commitment, no willingness to voluntarily submit to God, then there is no other pathway open than judgement. "He shall cut off the spirit of princes, He is terrible to the kings of the earth." "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins - it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10.26,31). This is the end of all apostasy. —(to be continued, D.V.)
II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD'S MASTERPIECE 4.1-6.23 E. Walking in wisdom 5.15-6.9
1. Spirit filled life 5.15-21
—See: (blepo) Look carefully, observe, take heed.
—then: (oun) It has a resumptive force, "then, accordingly, to proceed,". —that: (pos) "how".
—ye walk: (peripateo) Literally, "to walk around." It signifies the whole realm of a person's activities.
—circumspectly: (akribos) "Exactly, diligently, . . . strict conformity to a standard." (Expositors) This standard is namely the will of the Lord as verse 17. Rhemes translates it, "warily, carefully." Each step is important in the walk.
—not as fools: (asophoi; from a = negative; and sophos = wise) unwise.
—but: (alia) used when showing a contrast.
—wise: (sophos) a) a skilled expert. Romans 16.19 (b) Learned with acquired knowledge. Romans 1.14,22 (c) The application of acquired knowledge by forming the best plan and using the best means for its execution. Romans 16.27; Titus 1.17; Jude 25 (d) "One in whom action is goverened by piety and integrity." 1 Corinthians 6.5; James 3.13.
We are to have knowledge of the true way. Jeremiah 6.16. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
as the fool who misses the way. Jeremiah 6.16b. But they said, we will not walk therein. Matt. 7.14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
We are to follow the light that falls on our path — Proverbs 4.18. But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
be as the fool who knows not at what he stumbles. Proverbs 4.19. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
We are to foresee dangers ahead and prepare against them.
The wise considers the remote consequences. Proverbs 22.3 "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:
be like the simple who pass on and are punished.
but the simple pass on, and are punished.
We are to have Christ our wisdom for our companion.
Proverbs 13.20 "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise:
be as the fool who seeks the company of fools.
but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
—Redeeming: (Present middle voice of exagorazomai; from ek = out of; sometimes used for intensity as a prefix; and agorazo = To buy, purchase, redeem.) "Buying up for yourselves." (Expositors) "To secure for one's own use, to redeem from loss." (Wigram).
—the time: (kairos) Not just "the time," but "the FIT time," the opportunity. It may have the meaning of
"seizing the opportunity" by doing what you can while you are able,
"buying back the present time which is now being used for evil." The cost of the purchase is presenting your body a living sacrifice. Romans 12.1.
Buy opportunities for yourself to preach Christ by acting wisely (v.15), living like Christ (v.1-2), and reproving the darkness (v.8-13).
—because: (hoti) used when stating a fact.
—the days are evil: (poneros) Wicked, wrong, morally evil, malicious, malignant. The word refers to active evil that has a wicked influence on others. The word is used to describe Satan.
—Therefore: (dia touto) For this cause. He may be referring to verse 16 in particular or to the main theme of walking circumspectly.
—be ye: (ginesthe) Literally, "become ye."
—not unwise: (aphrones) Without reason, senseless, lacking moral intelligence. "The word refers to imprudence or folly in action." (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament). This is a very strong term.
—but: (alia) indicating a strong contrast again.
—understanding: (suniemi) "Intelligent, comprehending knowledge." (Expositors) "To understand thoroughly". (Wigrams) The ability to reason by bringing various ideas together and seeing how they relate to each other logically.
—what the will: (thelema) will, purpose, design, sovereign pleasure. It is used in the execution of a decision. There are at least two words translated "will" in the New Testament. They are thelema and boule. They are used in the same verse at Ephesians 1.11. Boule is usually translated "counsel." It refers to the fact that a wise decision has been made by God. The word implies intelligence and deliberation. The way that God carries out His decision is called His "thelema" and is usually translated "will."
—of the Lord is: As God fulfils His plans in our life, we are not to act senseless and foolish, but rather, we are to trust in His wise purposes. God's actions are not without good reason. Sometimes He hides His plans from us. Even this is part of His wisdom.
NOTE: The word Lord, is used of all three Persons of the Trinity. The will of the Lord is the will of the Trinity.
Romans 10.9. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Luke 10.21. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.
2 Corinthians 3.17. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
—And: (kai) One example of being unwise is now given, followed by how to avoid it.
—be not drunk: (methuskomai) To be made drunk, to become intoxicated.
—with wine: (oinos) The general word in Greek for wine. Three expressions are used for wine in the scriptures.
Oinos = This wine is fermented as indicated by the bursting of wineskins in Matthew 9.17; Mark 2.22; Luke 5.37. This passage in Ephesians also indicates that it is an intoxicant.
Gleukos = We get the English word "glucose" from this word. It refers to sweet wine. It is translated "new wine" in Acts 2.13. This is also fermented wine which can result in intoxication as indicated by the accusation made against the disciples and the defense that Peter made in verse 15.
"Fruit of the vine:" When the Lord Jesus instituted His supper, He referred to the contents of the cup as the "fruit of the vine." (Matthew 26.29; Mark 14.25; Luke 22.18; John 15.4). This was an idiomatic expression referring to fermented wine that had been mingled in water. This was the type of wine that was used at the Passover suppers as practiced and taught by the Rabbis. (John Lightfoot; "A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica;" Vol. 2; P. 351).
—wherein: (en ho) Literally, "in which"
—is excess: (asotia from a = negative; and sozo = to save) Literally,"not saving." The adverb is used of the prodigal son in Luke 15.13. The noun is usually translated "riot." It refers to one who wastes his substance for sensual gratification. There is nothing of a saving quality in that type of life. It neither helps the alcoholic nor anyone else. The end result is an abandoned, destroyed life, as that of the prodigal son.
—but: (alia) This word is used to indicate a strong contrast— how to be wise.
—be filled: (plero5) to fill up; to cause to abound; to furnish or supply liberally.
—with: (en) "in"
—the spirit: The article is absent in the Greek text. The phrase should read, "be filled in spirit." The phrase may have two different meanings, (a) His own spirit is to be filled with what follows in verses 19 and 20. (b) He is to be filled in the sphere of the Holy Spirit resulting in the following behaviour.
—Speaking: (laleS) To speak; converse with; talk to.
—yourselves: (eautois) Reciprocally, i.e., "One to another."
—in Psalms: (psalmos) Impulse, touch. Songs of praise and worship, especially in the Old Testament.
—and spiritual: (pnematikais) An adjective expressing the idea of belonging to, pertaining to, and having the characteristics of the Spirit.
—songs: (hodais) This word refers to songs in general (secular or religious). The word is qualified by the word "spiritual." Paul thus designates that he is referring to spiritual songs only as the ones that we are to communicate to others.
—singing: (ado) a word meaning "to sing."
—and making melody: (psallontes) Primarily, "playing on a stringed instrument." In O.T. to sing with a harp, sing Psalms: in N.T. to sing praise.
—in your heart: The sphere of the melody is now explained. It is "that melody that takes place in the stillness of the heart." (Expositors).
—to the Lord: Two types of praise are mentioned. (1) Vocal speaking and singing. (2) The "unvoiced praise of meditation and inward worship." (Expositors).
—Giving thanks: Another way that being filled with the spirit will affect us.
—always: (pantote) At all times; ever.
—all things: (panton) circumstances, situations, and incidents as coming from God. The context eliminates the unfruitful works of darkness mentioned earlier in this chapter in verse 3-13.
—unto God and the Father: The title designates One who is both God and Father at the same time.
—in the name of: (en onomati) The name in the scripture refers to everything that a person is. It refers to the reputation, character, power, authority, or honour of a person. Doing something in a person's name, means that you are doing it in regard and respect of that person.
—our Lord Jesus Christ: He is the One in whose name we give thanks. Our very physical existence is due to His work at Calvary. Every situation in life is due to the fact that we exist on planet earth. The greatest of all gifts that He desires us to have is eternal life. John 5.39,40. "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."
—Submitting yourselves: (hupotassomai) This sentence introduces another result of being filled with the spirit. The word means "to rank under." It is a military term. The one who submits recognizes that he is responsible to and for others, (Rom. 13.14; 1 Cor. 8.1-3). He may be equal to others in intelligence, understanding and ability, but for the purpose of order, the other may have a higher position. He honours others better than himself, (Philippians 2.3); and acts for the sole benefit of the other person, (Philippians 2.4).
—one to another: All that are filled in the Spirit will have this attitude.
—in the fear: (phobo) Respect, awe and caution, resulting from seeing God in His true perspective.
Matthew chapter 12 records a real crisis in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here, for the first time, we read of a council of the Jewish leaders (v.14, see also 22.15, 27.1,7; 28.12) held for the purpose of planning the death of the Lord Jesus. Thus, in this chapter it becomes abundantly clear that He would be finally rejected by the Jews as a nation.
But, at the same time, it would be difficult to find another chapter in the Gospels revealing so many different aspects of the glory, both personal and official, of the Christ of God.
In verses 1 to 8 He is Lord of the Sabbath, defending the liberty of His own and desiring mercy and not sacrifice.
Verses 9 to 13 reveal Christ as the Good Physician and true Shepherd of His people. As ever He performs a divine work with all the humility of a servant, and so, verses 15-21, quoting Isaiah 42, show that He is the chosen Servant of Jehovah in Whom His soul is well pleased.
Next there is a great contrast with this when He defends the name of the Holy Spirit against the blasphemy of the Pharisees (verses 22 to 32). The Lord declares that, casting out demons by the Spirit of God, He was, as the divine Warrior, binding Satan and spoiling his house.
After this, in verses 33 to 37, He gives us the parable of the trees and their fruits. Surely He alone corresponds to the description of the good tree — the good Man who "out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things".
In verses 38-45 Christ compares Himself with Jonah and Solomon. With the Lord's help we hope to meditate upon this in this article.
Finally, seeing that He was already being publicly rejected by the leaders of the Jews, His earthly people, He, as the Son of God, shows who belongs to His heavenly family, viz. — "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven" (verses 46 to 50).
We find three similar expressions in this chapter which reveal the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1) In this place is One greater than the temple (Matt. 12.6).
Greater in His divinity and greatness. Here the Lord declares clearly that He is God. Who could be greater than the temple but He who said, "Now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually" (2 Chron. 7.16). In his prayer at the dedication of the temple, Solomon asked, "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house which I have built!" (2 Chron. 6.18). The lowly Son of Man, whose disciples that very hour had availed themselves of the privilege of the poor and plucked ears of corn to eat, was claiming nothing less than to be the great Jehovah who honoured Solomon's temple with His glorious presence, He who in truth inhabits eternity and fills all things.
Greater in His holiness and beauty. The glorious temple there in Jerusalem was but a type or figure of the glory and majesty of the Son of God. The gold, silver, copper, precious stones, etc., all spoke of Him, as the Psalmist says, "In His temple every whit of it uttereth His glory" (Psalm 29.9 margin). In the temple everything spoke of the glory of the One who is greater than the temple. In our day the local assembly is His temple (1 Cor. 3.16). May His holiness and moral beauty be reflected in us.
2) A greater than Jonas is here (Matt. 12.41).
Greater in His sacrifice. In the context the Lord affirms that Jonah's experience is a figure of His own death and resurrection (see v.40). Jonah allowed himself to be thrown into the sea to save the men that were with him in the ship from perishing in the storm. But really the tempest was all Jonah's fault. Christ, however, although guiltless, gave His life, the Righteous for the unrighteous, in order to save from eternal ruin everyone who believes: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4.25).
Greater in His mission. Jonah was eventually used by God to save a city and call its inhabitants to repentance. The Lord Jesus had a much greater mission: "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4.14).
Greater in His love. When, by the grace of God, the Ninevites repented, "It displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry." But, what a contrast! the Lord Jesus, contemplating once more the unrepentant city of Jerusalem, "He . . . wept over it."
3) A greater than Solomon is here (Matt. 12.42).
Greater in His kingdom. During his reign, Solomon ruled over all the land that God had given to Israel, and also subjugated the neighbouring countries. However, in Psalm 2:8, God says to His Son, "Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession". He already has all authority in heaven and on earth, authority over all flesh (see Mat. 28.18 and John 17.2), but the day is coming when "the earth shall be filled with with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2.14).
Greater in His glory. The Lord Jesus said on one occasion, "Consider the lilies of the field . . . even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matt. 6.28,29). Obviously, He who made the lilies of the field has still more glory than they: "O LORD my God Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment" (Psalm 104.1,2); He is the brightness of divine glory, the express image of the divine essence (Heb. 1:3).
Greater in His wisdom. With respect to Solomon we read, "Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men", "the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment" (1 Kings 4.30,31 and 3.28). But the One who gave that wisdom to Solomon (1 Kings 4.29) is here, and He is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1.24). He it is who speaks through Solomon in Proverbs 8.22,23, "The LORD possessed Me in the beginning (John 1.1) of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning (1 John 1.1), or ever the earth was". Here is the One "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2.3).
Greater in His riches. "King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom"; he had so much gold that he "made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones." (1 Kings 10.23,27); "Silver . . . was not anything accounted of in the days of Solomon" (2 Chron. 9.20). But the One who was speaking to the Pharisees that day (in Matt. 12), although with the lowly appearance of the Son of Man who had not where to lay His head, was He who gave all those riches to Solomon, He who is the owner of all things. "All things were made by Him, and for Him" (Col. 1.16), "Whom (God) hath appointed heir of all things" (Heb. 1.2). He is "Lord over all . . . rich unto all that call upon Him" (Rom. 10.12), and, "though He was rich ... He became poor" to make us rich in Him (see 2 Cor. 8:9).
Dear reader, have you ever considered this? "A greater ... is here"? That when we meet in His name, counting on His presence in the midst (Matt. 18.20), it is that same supreme Person who is among us? Greater than the temple in His divinity, greatness, and beautiful holiness; greater than Jonah in His mission of boundless love and saving work; greater than Solomon in majesty, glory, wisdom and riches. Do our attitude, conduct, and way of speaking demonstrate our belief that our glorious Lord is in the midst? Do our humility and obedience show that we reverence His holy presence? "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him" (Psalm 89:7).
My parents were saved a few years after I was born. I cannot remember many details, but I do remember the time it happened. They had been Presbyterians and were attending a special mission being held by a well known clergyman Mr. W. P. Nicholson. It was during these meetings that my parents were awakened to their need of salvation. They were both very startled one night when the preacher said "Dear friends if you are not saved yet and you die on the seat in this meeting your soul will be in Hell before we can carry your body out of the building". This forthright kind of preaching did not appeal to them and they left the meeting quite angry and decided never to return. At that time my father was working beside Mr. Alexander Jebb (a believer), who said he agreed fully with what Mr. Nicholson had said. Mr. Jebb then asked my parents to come along with him to Ebenezer Gospel Hall where Mr. Walter Norris (a Welsh evangelist) was having gospel meetings. It was at these meetings my parents were saved and later baptised and received into fellowship in Ebenezer Belfast. My parents desire then was that their relatives should hear the gospel so they asked the believers to have cottage meetings in our home. Lasting impressions were made on my mind at that time as I sat at the fireside listening to the gospel and to the singing of the hymns. I was also sent to Sunday School and attended the Sunday evening gospel meetings. I always thought that before I could be saved, it would be necessary for me to have weeks or months of deep soul trouble and anxiety, and therefore had to wait for God to bring me into this condition. It was not that I was resisting, but just careless and hoping that one day by some miraculous means I would find myself saved. A few of the believers spoke to me from time to time. I remember one of the brethren asking me, "Don't you think it is time you were- saved? "I did, notanswer as I was -embarrassed that he had singled me out in front of my companions, and from then on I always avoided him. I knew he was a man of God who longed to see me saved, and after I was saved, he was the first person I went to see, to tell him the good news.
My first serious thoughts about eternity were when I was 12 years old and on holiday in Donaghadee. While standing near the harbour one afternoon I saw a little boat capsize, and the two occupants were drowned. Their bodies were brought out of the water and laid on the pier, and as I looked at them the brevity of life was impressed upon me. A few minutes before, these men were alive and enjoying themselves just like myself, now they had gone out to meet God. I realized that God was speaking to me at that time.
The Lord spoke to me again a few years later when one of my companions was killed while we were playing cricket. His parents were believers and he had been brought up in circumstances similar to my own. It was a sad home and especially sobering to us his companions, to see his heart broken parents.
As I became older I began to have less interest in meetings, and more desire to enjoy the things of the world. I resented my parents restrictions, not realizing their desire was to hide me from the world, just as Moses parents sought to hide him from Egypt.
One of my relatives from Armagh (a Roman Catholic) who knew nothing about the gospel came to spend a holiday at our home. He suggested to me that we should go together to the local cinema and I readily agreed. As we sat in the balcony of that cinema, my thought was, "This is a much better place than the Gospel Hall, there is no one here to preach or sing hymns". I thought when I get older this is the life I want. Suddenly, to my surprise a large group of people appeared on the screen and began singing — "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun Doth His successive journeys run — His kingdom stretch from shore to shore — Till moon shall wax and wane no more." I became very unhappy as I realized that even in that building God was speaking to me and I could not escape the reality that some day I would have to stand before Him. I told my cousin I did not want to stay any longer, and reluctantly he came out with me and we went home.
Many faithful men came to Ebenezer Gospel Hall to preach the gospel. Men such as Mr. Hawthorn Bailey, Mr. W. McCracken and Mr. Sam Thompson and others preached regularly. Although I did not have much interest in what they were preaching, yet I was always impressed by their earnestness and sincerity. One occasion stands out clearly in my mind when Mr. Thompson preached from Heb. 3.15 "Today if you will hear His voice harden not your hearts." I did not want to harden my heart, but I could not understand how to be saved. The Word of God says "Salvation is of the Lord", and I realize after many years experience, that it is only God who can open the understanding.
I shall never forget that night well over 50 years ago when I came home from the usual Sunday night gospel meeting. I had been there with a number of other young people and none of us showed much interest in the meeting. Later that night as 1 got into bed at 11.40 p.m. the thought suddenly came to me "The Lord is coming and if you are not saved you will be left behind for judgment".
I had often heard preachers speak about this but it never had much effect upon me. Now the reality of it gripped me for the first time, and I became very anxious to be saved. I made up my mind, I must get this matter settled now. I want to be saved tonight. In my distress I said, "Lord I am a sinner please show me how I can be saved." Immediately the words of John 3.16 came before me, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." I thought, if God loved the world, then He must have loved me, I believed too that God gave His beloved Son to die for me, and if I believe on Him, (that is rest on what Christ did and what God said) then I am saved. I just accepted what God said and immediately I knew I was saved. I told the good news to my parents. I knew they were a bit doubtful by the way they spoke to me, and my father replied, "Well time will tell"! When I went back to my room again, I got down on my knees and for the first time in my life I could truly call God my Father. I said, "Father although my parents may not think I'm saved, yet I know that I am, for I believe Thy word."
"How wondrous the redemption plan
designed by God for ruined man.
His Blessed Son in death laid low
that He might endless life bestow".
A few years later at the age of 17 I was baptised and received into the Ebenezer Assembly, Belfast.
As time went on I became interested in the Ligoniel district of Belfast. With other young men of my own age we visited from house to house and distributed tracts in that area. Later a converted publican opened his home to us for gospel meetings His conversion had given us great encouragement in seeing the change that God had wrought in His life. I had made up my mind that I would never be a preacher but I felt happy to help in other ways. The first night I attempted to take part publically was when the arranged speaker failed to arrive. One of the older brethren apologized and intimated that two young men will tell us the story of their conversion, after we sing the next hymn. We were shocked beyond words when he announced our names. My companion, (who like myself had never preached before) saw that I was quite nervous, and he tried to encourage me, suggesting that he would speak first and take as much time as possible, and this would give me time to think what I was going to say. He also said that the secret in preaching is to keep calm and don't get excited. He walked to the platform but when he turned and looked at the audience he forgot all the good advice he had given me, and his message was finished in about 3 minutes. I didn't take up much more time than he did, and we both decided that we would never try to preach again. We were really humiliated and got out of the hall as quickly as possible. However, one of the older sisters spoke to us later and encouraged us to keep at the preaching. After a time we thought we should try to take part in open-air meetings and sometimes we had good numbers of people who stopped to listen to the gospel. Ligoniel was a good training ground for us, and also for others who were later commended to the Lord's work in other lands, for example, brethren Sydney Maxwell and John Gray, (both late of Canada) and Tom Bentley (Malaysia).
In 1944 I attended the Easter Conference in Belfast where over 2000 believers were gathered. On the Tuesday morning four or five missionary brethren took part, and all, (without exception) told of the great need for workers in the various countries. In the evening meeting Mr. Frank Knox (a well known and faithful servant of the Lord in N. Ireland) spoke and read from Isa. 6.8. "Whom shall I send and who will go for us"? He reminded us of the great need of a perishing world, and of the many countries where there was not a man for God. As he repeated the question several times "Who will go?" the challenge came to my heart, and I felt that God was speaking to me. I made up my mind there and then, that if the Lord was directing me in this way, I would be willing to go.
On occasional Saturday afternoons a few of us would go to Belfast harbour, so that we could visit people in the various ships that docked there, from different parts of the world. On one occasion I was able to have a conversation with an elderly African who told me he was saved. We were not able to communicate too well, as he could only speak a little broken English, but he indicated to me that Africa needed missionaries, and that I should go there. I came home that day and thought over the conversation with that dear man and his earnestness to try and understand the Scriptures. I decided that if the Lord directed me to go Africa, I would be willing to obey.
As a child I received a Sunday School prize — a book entitled, "The Life of Robert Moffatt". (Missionary to Africa). After I was saved I began reading this book, and I became further interested in the continent of Africa. I began praying if it was God's will I should go there, He would enable me to meet someone who could give me guidance. At that time the late Mr. James Geddis who laboured for the Lord in N. Rhodesia (now Zambia) was home on Furlough. I arranged to meet him and we had a long conversation together. He assured me of a welcome if I decided to join him. I wanted to be sure that I was taking the right step, and asked the Lord for further confirmation. Around that time I was asked to join Mr. Robert Craig in a series of gospel meetings in a suburb of Belfast.
Mr. Craig mentioned to me that he had been preaching the gospel for years and at every series the Lord had always saved souls. He indicated to me that if no one professed at these meetings, it would be the first time without any blessing.
This made me very concerned for I felt if the meetings are a failure, there would be no one else to blame but myself. I made it a special matter of prayer and asked the Lord to confirm that He wanted me to go to Africa, by saving someone at these meetings. Mr. Craig took ill for a few days and during his absence, the Lord came in and saved two young women. However, my main exercise in going to that area was to see a young man and his sister saved. They had been the subject of much prayer. I had previously asked the Lord that if he wanted me to go to Africa with Mr. Geddis, that He would give me a sign by saving this brother and sister on the same night, and also that they would be baptised on the same night. Neither of them attended that series of meetings. A short time later I was asked to join Bob Boyle (now of Canada) in meetings in a portable hall in the outskirts of the Ligoniel area, where brethren James Moore, Bob Milligan (now at home with the Lord) and a few others carried on a Sunday school, and a weekly gospel meeting. Good numbers attended and the Lord saved a few souls. After the 3rd week of these meetings, the brother and sister I had been exercised about in the previous meetings, began to attend. A few nights later the young man was in great distress and said he was not going home until he was saved. His sister who had gone outside, later returned, saying "I cannot go home — I must get saved tonight". We talked and read the Scriptures with them for a long time, and then suggested they should go home and return the next night both wept and refused to leave. At 12.30 a.m. as the young man read the Scriptures, the Lord saved him, and he immediately began to try to explain to his sister. About an hour later the truth dawned upon her, and her tears were turned to joy! They both went home rejoicing. (A year later both were baptised on the same night, and thank God, still continue to go on well in their respective assemblies.) Although the Lord had answered this prayer in such a remarkable way, I still asked Him for further assurance. Sometime later I was invited to preach in the Ardmore assembly. I asked the Lord to give me another token by saving a soul that night. When the meeting was over I was putting on my coat to leave. Everyone had gone and I was disappointed that no one had been saved. Just then a number of young ladies came back to the hall and one of them was crying. When I asked what was the matter, she told me she had been saved in the meeting, as I quoted John 3.16. I asked her, "Then why are you crying?" and she replied "I'm crying for joy". (Time proved that she was truly saved that night, and she is well known and held in high esteem in that area.) Soon after this, one Saturday afternoon while still deeply exercised before the Lord as to His will for my life the words of Judges 18.9 came very forcibly before me, "Be not slothful to go . . . and to possess the Land." I knew that this was a direct message from God to me, and soon afterwards I made my exercise known to the brethren of Ebenezer assembly, who assured of their full fellowship and commendation to the work of the Lord.
In 1946 in company with Mr. Geddis and Mr. Finegan we left Belfast for N. Rhodesia. Since that time, the Lord has given us the joy of seeing a few souls saved not only in Central Africa but also here in S. Africa. To God be all the glory! I look back over all those years and although at times there was much unfaithfulness on my part, yet the God who sent us has remained faithful, and in the words of Joshua we can say, "Not one good thing hath failed of all the good things that He promised to do."
God's Spirit within us still teaches, Just how, and for what we should pray, It's vital, with God, there's communion, At the start and the end of the day.
Of course, in the hours of daylight, We need constant strength from above, So in trials, and times of temptation, By prayer, we should promises prove.
God listens to each word we utter,
If on Him our burdens we cast,
We'll daily resort to the practise,
As we learn from the times that are past.
Admit to our Father our failures, And know that our sins He'll forgive, Rely on Him daily for guidance, Is the way that a Christian should live.
It's no good just thinking we're perfect, Because the new life we've received, That teaching will stop all our praying, By Satan we'll then be deceived,
This body in which we dwell daily, Is our problem and enemy sure, Through it we are conscious of failings, But cleansing through prayer makes us pure.
—W. E. Beynon (S. Wales)
AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST
Is an ambassador at liberty to alter or modify the terms of his instructions because he doesn't quite understand the "how" or the "why" of them? Shall he tamper with or distort or tone down or explain away the statements and proclamations of his Sovereign in order to shield himself from laughter or scorn or reproach? Surely not. Let us who are ambassadors of Christ beware how we alter His Word.