Both Mark and Luke record the story of the ascension of the Lord Jesus, but not Matthew or John. Matthew of course, writes the Messianic royal Gospel and it is fitting therefore that he should keep the King on earth, among His people. John's is the Gospel of the glory of the Son of God. The Son is ever in the bosom of the Father and the ascension is not necessary in John's account. But it is befitting in Mark's Gospel that the perfect Servant of Jehovah should be taken up in vindication to glory. And in Luke's Gospel we likewise see the ascension to heaven of Him, who, on earth, walked as a perfect Man for God's pleasure. Here is heaven's approval and reception and exaltation of that morally glorious One for whom earth had no room.
Certain periods of time in the life of the Lord Jesus are delineated in the Gospels. There were thirty years in Nazareth in relative obscurity. There followed forty days in the wilderness of temptation. This was the prelude to three and a half years of public ministry. After His death there were three days of silence as He lay in the tomb. For forty days, as a Risen Man, He showed Himself indeed alive. And at the consummation of all these times and periods He ascended, taken up bodily into the heavens from which He had come.
Luke writes twice of the ascension; once in a few words at the ending of His Gospel (Luke 24.50-51), and again in a few words at the beginning of his second treatise, the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1.9). It is Luke who points out that most interesting observation, that our Lord ascended from Bethany. Why Bethany? We might have understood if He had gone up from Bethlehem, thus completing a circuit of glory, coming in and going out from the City of David. We could have appreciated also if He had ascended from Nazareth where He had been brought up. And had he gone up from Jerusalem in triumph; from the Temple Mount in public splendour, we could have appreciated that. But no; He chose neither Bethlehem or Nazareth or Jerusalem, but led them out as far as unto Bethany.
Bethany was precious to Him. There were hearts there that loved Him. This dusty village lay on the slopes of Olivet, less than two miles from the noise and bustle of Jerusalem. They had received Him there when the proud City had rejected Him. They had made Him a supper there when Jerusalem had no room for Him. He would now be received up in glory from the town which had received Him on earth. This was Bethany's reward for having extended its welcome to Him. He would imprint His last footsteps on Olivet and Bethany, and would go up from there to glory.
He lifted up His hands and blessed them. It was a priestly gesture. He was going up to become, as we love to call Him, the Man in the glory. He was ascending to a heavenly, priestly, Melchisedec ministry for His people. It was so beautiful that He should leave them with uplifted hands, pronouncing a blessing upon them. Would they have seen the nail prints in those raised hands? Did they see, in His holy palms, the price of their blessing?
While He was in the very act of blessing them He began to be parted from them. "I leave the world and go to the Father," He had said (John 16.28). And in a holy defiance of the law of gravity He began to ascend. Up and up, through the heavens and into heaven itself He ascended in His body of glory and a cloud took Him in. They watched until He had gone beyond the reach of their vision, and even then they continued to gaze into the heavens which had received Him. Did the disciples appreciate or understand what was happening? A real Man, a Risen Man, had gone up into glory. Were they aware of the momentous nature of what they had seen? Perhaps they were. Note that they did not grieve over His departure. They did not weep, with a sad sense of losing Him. Indeed, they worshipped, and praised, and rejoiced. There was a Man in the glory now, their Representative and Comforter. If was a time for great joy. They returned for a while to Jerusalem and to the Temple. This gospel of the perfect Man begins and ends in the Temple. It is a priestly gospel.
What does the ascension mean to the Lord Jesus? What does it mean to me? or to the Devil? or to the world? To Him it was a vindication of all that He was and of all that He had done, as the Father said, "Sit Thou on my right hand" (Psalm 110.1). For me it is the grand assurance and pledge, that where He is, there shall I be also (John 14.3). To the Devil it is the confirmation of his ultimate doom. The place and position that he coveted has been reserved for and afforded to the Risen Saviour. To the world it is a sad and solemn indictment. God has highly exalted the Man whom it cast out. The world will be judged accordingly. To the Church, His body, the ascension is the exaltation of her glorious Head. The Head of the Church has gone up far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named.
As we review, with Luke, the story of this Blessed One, how rightly do we exclaim, again and again, "Behold the Man." What manner of Man is this?"
3. The Miracle of the place where Christ was crucified:
"The place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him" Luke 23.33.
For the divinely conceived plan and work of redemption, nothing was left to chance and nothing occurred accidentally. God in heaven was in control of everything that took place. This is borne out in the Scriptures which record as history not only how wicked men put Him to death but also the scriptures declared prophetically many centuries before the event that Jehovah would smite Him. Unknown to a pagan Roman centurion with his four soldiers who nailed Him to that rough gibbet, God intended that His Son should be crucified where He was—at the place called Calvary. This may not be obvious to the superficial reader of the Scriptures, but it is clear to the serious student.
Surprisingly, little is said by the Gospel writers about the location of Christ's crucifixion. Its name, "Golgotha" meaning "The place of a skull" which probably alludes to the skull-lik shape of the hillock, is given in Matthew 27.33, Mark 15.22 and John 19.17 , but John alone says the name is a Hebrew word. Luke 23.33 names the place, as "Calvary", translated from the Latin Calvaria, without mentioning its meaning. Only John 19.20 makes a passing reference to its location by saying Jesus was crucified "nigh to the city." This indicates that the site was not in the city or several miles outside but it was nearby, without mentioning which side of the city. Unexpectedly, some help is found in the Epistle to the Hebrews 13.12 where this historical fact is stated, "Jesus . . . suffered without the gate". In the light of verses 10-13 of this 13th chapter, the Epistle was seemingly written while the Temple was still standing and probably just before its destruction at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. If so, barely 40 years had passed since the death of Christ, and so many people were still living who knew that Christ suffered outside the city gate. Being one of the "holy men of God (who) spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" 2 Pet. 1.21, the unnamed writer was led to link the location of Christ's death with the ceremonial ritualism of the Day of Atonement which would have been appreciated by Hebrew Christians living probably at Jerusalem, to whom the Epistle was sent. In the previous 11th verse which reads, "the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin", the inspired writer refers to the bullock of the sin offering for the high priest with his house and to the goat of the sin offering for the people, whose blood was taken by the high priest within the veil into the holy of holies of the tabernacle once a year and sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat. Such sprinkling of the bullock's blood was once upon the mercy seat for the eye of God to see, and seven times before the mercy seat for men's sin, after which the sprinkling was repeated with the goat's blood (Lev. 16.6,14f). Then the carcasses were "burned without the camp," says this New Testament writer referring to Leviticus 16.27.
Having set forth the type, the writer gives the antitype in verse 12, "Wherefore Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood," which signifies that the blood of Jesus is the means of setting apart believers unto God. The value and efficacy of the blood of Christ needs always to be stressed, particularly in these days of spiritual declension. Then the writer adds that Jesus "suffered without the gate", indicating that Jerusalem corresponds with the Israelites camp in the wilderness. As the bodies of the beasts for sin offerings were burned outside the camp, so Jesus as the true Sin Offering was slain outside the gate of the city.
Having established from the Scriptures that Christ was crucified outside Jerusalem, the question arises whether the city gate was on the north, south, east or west side. In the days of Nehemiah (about 445 B.C.), there were twelve gates in the city wall — ten are listed in chapter 3 and two in chapter 12 of his book. Reporting upon the repairs of the gates and city wall, such work was started and finished at the Sheep Gate (Neh. 3.1,32) which still existed by that name in the days of Christ (John 5.2, mgn.), and it was sited at the northeast corner of the city but north of the Temple. This gate was so named because the lambs were brought through it from a fold for sacrifice on the altar of the Temple. Therefore, the yearling lamb for the Morning Sacrifice at the third hour (i.e. 9.00 a.m.) was taken through this gate whilst the Lamb of God was led in the opposite direction through the same gate to be crucified at that very hour (Mark 15.25). Similarly, later in the day the lamb to be offered upon the Temple altar at about 2.30 p.m. for the Feast of Passover was brought through the Sheep Gate even as "Christ our Passover (Lamb)" had been led earlier in the day and "sacrificed for us" 1 Cor. 5.7. The background of this title, "Christ our Passover," is the great national emancipation of an enslaved people in Egypt. On that occasion, and for subsequent passovers, the selected lamb had to be "without blemish" Ex. 12.5. With this in mind, Peter says that Christ as the true Passover Lamb was "without blemish", that is, physically, "and without spot", that is, morally, by Whose "precious blood" redemption has been wrought for those who believe in Him (1 Pet. 1.19). For the Evening Sacrifice at the ninth hour (i.e. 3.00 p.m.) when the Lord Jesus dismissed His spirit (Mark 15.34,37), a lamb was brought through the same gate to the Temple altar.
For the Sheep Gate to be north of the Temple, through which Christ passed to Calvary, was not by accident. For the Lord Jesus to have been crucified on a hillock called Calvary, said to be only about 20 ft. high, lying north of the Temple was not a coincidence. But this northerly aspect appears to be connected with the side of the altar where the beast for an offering was slain, which goes back into Israel's early history. Speaking to Moses out of the Tabernacle, the Lord said that a burnt offering from either the herd or flock was to be killed "on the side of the altar northward" Lev. 1.11. The sin and trespass offerings were to be slain "in the place where the burnt offering is killed" Lev. 6. 25, & 7.If. For the meal offering, no animal was slain and so the rule did not apply. An exception was the peace offering which was killed "at the door of the tabernacle" Lev. 3.2. This northerly aspect, relating to both the type and anti-type, brings out the meticulous accuracy of the Scriptures.
Even during Messiah's millennial reign on the earth for which a new Temple will be built, described fully in chapters 40 - 47 of Ezekiel, there will be no departure from the divine principle where offerings should be killed. As the Lord's dealings with Israel as a nation differ from those with the church, the offerings will be restored, not for a re-instituted Judaism but a new order under a new covenant. Such sacrifices will be commemorative (not expiatory) of the already accomplished work of salvation by Christ on the cross. Like the Tabernacle initially followed by the first and second Temples (and presumably for the third Temple yet to be built), this last Temple for the millennium will face east. A gate with a porch will be sited on the south, east and north sides, but none on the west. In the porch of the north gate of the Inner Court, provision will be made for the burnt, sin, and trespass offerings to be slain on four tables, two on either side in this porch (Ezek. 40.28,35,39), which are the same three offerings mentioned in Leviticus.
This seemingly insignificant instruction to Moses millennia ago for these offerings to be killed on the north side of the altar must have been of importance in the sight of God Who gave it. Remarkably by the over-ruling hand of God, the northern aspect is also seen in the location for the sacrificial death of Christ as already indicated. For understanding the divine intention, the position of the sun in the sky needs to be considered. For instance, if the priest had stood on the south side of the altar for killing the animal then the sun behind him would have cast the priest's shadow upon the offering. This would have applied if the priest had stood on either the east or west side of the altar. In the northern hemisphere where the land of Israel is located, the sun never appears in the north which means there was no sun behind the priest as he stood on the north side of the altar to slay the offering and so his shadow was not cast upon it. This foreshadows and emphasises the importance that no shadow is cast upon the Person of Christ and His atoning work at Calvary. If a doubt creeps into the mind of a believer or if a depreciatory remark is made by a Christian concerning Christ's redemptive work on the cross, then a shadow is cast upon the Saviour and His vicarious sufferings. Despite widespread departure from the Scriptures today, the paramount duty of believers is still to defend the dignity of the Person of Christ and the continuing efficacy of His redemptive work at Calvary for this age and the millennial age to come. —(To be continued)
It may be that praying vocally is looked at somewhat askance in some circles today, and especially so when it is extemporary prayer. Perhaps that is an indication of the lack of heart exercise amongst God's people, life has become so easy that there is little apparent need for immediate, urgent prayer. Without knowing much of the detail of Asaph's life, it is apparent from this psalm at least, that he went through troubled times in his soul. Those troubles were such that he was constrained to break out into loud vocal prayer. "I cried unto God with my voice," and the experience was so intense that he repeats the declaration, "even unto God with my voice." There are of course times when silent heart prayer is more suitable. It is not likely, for instance, that the prayer of Nehemiah as recorded in Neh. 2.4, was audible to anyone but God. Nevertheless, real heart exercise can provoke opened lips as well.
But the marvellous thing as far as Asaph was concerned was not that he felt the inner urge to express his feelings as he did, but that "He (God) gave ear unto me." We don't know how he became aware of this in the prevailing circumstances, there is nothing in this particular psalm which details any answer or practical response. But sure he was, and there are times when just the consciousness of the presence of the Lord Jesus is answer enough to all of our problems. "They looked unto him and were lightened" (Ps. 34.5).
It is without any doubt true, that God does not want us to wait until we are in trouble before we go after Him in this way. But He does know us through and through and it may be that He allows some forms of difficulty to occur in order to turn us to Himself. For Asaph that appears to have been the case. "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord." That seeking was not a passing formal prayer, it was from his soul. "My sore ran in the night" or, as some translations have it, "my hand was stretched out in the night" i.e. in a beseeching gesture. In either case it was a prolonged experience, "and ceased not." It would seem that it was not practical or physical troubles that were the cause of Asaph's distress, "my soul refused to be comforted." We can be reasonably well placed as far as the things of this world are concerned but they by themselves will never give peace of heart. They might though, unfortunately, distract our attention and aspirations sufficiently to dull our spiritual desires. But for Asaph that was not the problem. "I remembered God and was troubled." The consciousness of the Lordship of Christ will, for believers, put any other seeming advantage and privilege we have into its right perspective and that can cause us some heart searching.
Now comes the admission with which some of us from our own experience, can have real empathy. "I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed." Those who have gone through such a trauma, though it might ultimately have had a beneficial outcome, would not blandly wish it on anyone else. It has to be endured to be understood and no amount of theorising or theological discussion can impress its reality on the uninitiated. "Selah," Think about that.
V. 4-9 Revealing of thought patterns arising from the above
His experiences caused loss of sleep which he attributed to God, "Thou holdest mine eyes waking (kept my eyes from closing)," as well as an inability to discuss the situation meaningfully with anyone else, "I am so troubled that I cannot speak." Both of these conditions, physical tiredness and spiritual loneliness are very distressing. We have however the assurance that, just like any other difficulty through which we may have to pass, the Lord Jesus has been there before us (see Heb. 4.25) . He understands bodily weariness (see John 4.6), and what it means to be isolated in the pathway we are treading (see e.g. John. 2.23-25). That is not meant to encourage masochism but to encourage us when there appears to be no evident immediate remedy for any situation in which we may be found.
It was not as though Asaph could find any consolation in looking back. "1 have considered the days of old — I call to remembrance my song in the night — my spirit made diligent search." Of course there were examples of deliverances which could be seen in the lives of others. There were even past experiences of his own which called to mind songs instead of tears. But, search as he might, they brought him no joy, no relief, everything now seemed to be on a totally different plane. Psalm 22, which is one of those most obviously prophetic of the Lord Jesus, shows Him going through this very experience (see Psalm 22.4-8), and that should give us the confidence to talk to Him about the matter, He will understand if no-one else does.
Asaph feels he has to consider other possibilities. He frames his thoughts in questions, put as though he cannot believe the answers could possibly be 'yes', that would mean the end of all hope. "Will the Lord cast off for ever? - doth His promise fail for evermore?" Can it possibly be that "God (has) forgotten to be gracious?" as if due to a lapse on His part. Worse still, "hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies?" Have our sins proved finally to have gone past the point of forgiveness. If any of these were true it would be, for us, unmitigated disaster. "Selah," Think about that.
V. 10-12. Consciousness of the wrong thinking behind the above questioning, and a turning instead to the things appertaining to God.
In his previous looking back, see vs. 5-6, he was taken up with times, people and eventually his own past. He recognises that in so doing, as with his questions, the pressure of events has caused him to look at things from altogether the wrong viewpoint. "This is my infirmity." His fault is understandable and is one into which we can fall only too easily in times of difficulty. It results basically from becoming over-occupied with the problem rather than with the One who can solve it. So the emphasis switches to what God has done and how that points to what He can do now. Not only does Asaph determine to look for the evidence, "I will remember -I will remember -1 will remember" but to consider his findings "1 will meditate also." But what is he going to remember, what is he going to meditate on? Not himself anymore but God, "the years of the right hand of the most High" - "the works of the Lord" - "Thy wonders of old" - "Thy work." When he has gone through the remembering and the meditating stages then he is ready to make known his findings to others "I will talk of Thy doings." There is very little point in speaking of the things of God without first making them our own, of knowing the reality of them in our own souls. "I believed, therefore I have spoken." (Psalm 116.10).
V. 13-20. The outcome of his meditations, a deeper appreciation of the Person, actions and attributes of God.
For the appreciation to even begin to be meaningful it is necessary to see things from God's side and since "Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary," it is only from there that we can see things as they really are. Asaph had found that out when he was worried about other seeming inconsistencies of life. On that occasion it was not "until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end" (Psalm 73.17). The first thing we realise when we are consciously in the presence of God is just what sort of Person with whom we are having dealings. A number of people in the scriptures faced that situation (see e.g. Isa. 6.5 and Rev. 1.17). The question it wrung from Asaph was, "Who is so great a God as our God?" But that greatness is largely portrayed here by its being put to the wellbeing of His people. "Thou art the God that doest wonders," and wonders that were visible for all to see, "Thou hast declared Thy strength among the people." What was the prime purpose behind that public display of power? "Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people." There were, it is true, a whole catalogue of unnatural occurrences linked to that redemption but they were minor compared to the measureless work of grace. "Selah," Think about that.
He now considers the lengths to which God went and the methods He used in the course of that initial time of redemption and then during their subsequent safe keeping. "The waters saw Thee, O God - the depths also were troubled." This might be seen as referring to the parting of both the Red Sea, at the commencement of their exodus from Egypt, and Jordan, at the entry into Canaan some forty years later. "The skies sent out a sound - the voice of Thy thunder was in the heavens - the earth troubled and shook." There were a number of times when this sort of thing happened. One of the most outstanding was perhaps at the defeat of the Amorites (see Josh. 10.6-14), when, from the human point of view, the total movement into Canaan was in jeopardy.
We may, like Asaph, know of, call to mind, and even meditate on such happenings, but they are not shown to us in order merely to arouse our curiosity or provoke logical discussion. If we look at them in that way they will still remain incomprehensible as to how they were actually executed and we will also fail to reap any spiritual benefit or guidance from them. God has never promised to explain how He accomplished these things, though He does want us to know why. It is so that His promises to His people may be fulfilled and that in their fulfilling He will be glorified and we will be blessed. As far as natural understanding and explanation are concerned, "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in great waters and Thy footsteps are not known."
But surely all that must have been traumatic for the people of God. That was an unnecessarily difficult pathway for them to be brought along wasn't it? Well, it is true that, resulting from their own repeated failures and back slidings, the Israelites had to go through many difficulties, but they were of their own making and God cannot be blamed for that. His purpose always was, and is, in grace. "Thou leddest Thy People like a flock," and who can we think of who has a greater concern for his charges than a shepherd. That leading was not done just by miraculous signs and supernatural means, though they were there in plenty, but, "by the hand of Moses and Aaron." These two individuals were ordained of God to be responsible to Him for the well-being of His people. He normally works in the same manner today, and those privileged to be His servants in that particular work must accept it as an undeserved privilege not an earned right. They need to remember as well that privilege is always balanced with responsibility. There is a balance too between the leaders and those led, the latter are enjoined to "obey them that have the rule over you (that guide you)" and the former that they shall "watch for your souls as they that must give account" (Heb. 13.17).
—Lessons from Joshua by R. Reynolds (Bleary, N. Ireland)
Those who have read the book of Joshua cannot fail to be impressed with the numerous references to stones or heaps of stones, insomuch that we are prompted to ask as future generations were anticipated to ask, "What mean these stones?" So many references cannot be without significance and the spiritual lessons which they suggest will be of value if learned and put into practice with the help of God. Those who have been saved for a longer time will have learned these lessons and discovered their important contribution to spiritual progress.
Canaan represents spiritual maturity, the goal of every believer and the place where God expected His people to reach eventually. He ever had it in mind that they should not rest until Canaan was gained and even there blessing would be commensurate with the progress they made in possessing the land. Josh. 1.3. It would not be theirs without effort, enemies had to be overcome, difficulties surmounted and inheritances appropriated. The task ahead seemed daunting to say the least but where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides and one is encouraged to see how God fought for His people and strengthened and supported them as they advanced. Weak they were in themselves, again and again the odds were overwhelmingly against them, often hopelessly outnumbered by their adversaries, yet victory after victory was theirs because God helped them to achieve the goal He had in mind for them. Fellow saint, the will of God may seem very costly, the path strewn with insuperable and innumerable obstacles but with the help of God, Canaan can be possessed and the great blessings of God can be enjoyed to a degree which the carnal Christian will never experience, therefore "let us go on to perfection". Heb. 6.1.
1. Stones and Jordan
The first reference concerns the twelve stones which were placed in the midst of Jordan (Josh. 4.9) although not always visible to the naked eye, faith apprehended the great fact of a memorial which marked the spot where the ark had been, judgment having been braved and the flood stayed. It can only be beneficial to us to have a fresh appreciation of the Cross and constantly remind ourselves of Him of whom the ark spake, our blessed Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Christ in that hour of darkness
Lost ones to save,
Braved Himself the ocean's depths
And battled the wave;
" Spiritual progress will never distance us from Calvary nor from that initial meeting with Christ. He is the foundation on which we build and our everlasting stay. Our every blessing stems from Him, "in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace," Eph. 1.7. All that we are and have, we owe to His death and shame and the memorial feast each Lord's day is an eloquent reminder of His sufferings which have made us free and His wounds by which alone we have been healed. Let nothing and no-one rob us of the joy of salvation and may Christ and His death become increasingly precious to us, otherwise little progress will be made.
Joshua 4.2,3 make it clear that twelve men were each to carry a stone up out of Jordan and carry it to the place where they were going to set up camp, namely Gilgal, the place of "rolling away," the place of circumcision. As Israel came to the borders of the land and let us remember, they were in the will of God, they encountered a great barrier — not only were they confronted by the Jordan but its swollen waters posed an even greater problem and threatened to keep the Israelites on that side that was so reminiscent of failure and disobedience. They might well have made excuses and remained in the lush pastures of Gilead and Bashan. They could, like their fathers, have been so easily infected with pessimism and discouragement but the knowledge that the Lord had delivered all the land into their hands (Josh. 2.24) inspired them with the confidence that victory was assured.
Nothing will embolden the Christian more than an appreciation of God's power and experiences and demonstrations of this personally in his life. It is vital for us to have such experiences — this is what enabled David to fearlessly face Goliath — he had already witnessed the power of God in his experiences with the lion and bear. This is what encouraged Elijah to confront the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, this is what encouraged Gideon to face the Midianites and each fresh witnessing of God's power enabled the Israelites to enter the next battle with increased confidence.
In ch.4 they saw such a manifestation of divine power as they would never forget — it must have reminded that of that former occasion, which succeeding generations must often have talked about, when God parted the waters of the Red Sea, affording safe passage through to His people. Josh. 4.23.
We hear of bygone days when the power of God was seen in the ingathering of souls, when the gospel flourished and the spirit of zeal pervaded the people of God and we wonder why conditions have changed so dramatically. God has not changed but we have. The God of yesteryear is the God of today, is the God of tomorrow. Exercised believers, desirous of doing His will, may yet experience the power and blessing of God as greatly as any of old. May God move us to separate ourselves from the spirit of the age, to swim against the prevailing tide and be encouraged with His own exhortation to the people of Malachi's day, "And prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." Mai. 3.10.
2. Stones and Gilgal
From the crossing they wanted to go directly to conquest, from the Jordan to Jericho but God caused them to encamp in Gilgal and undergo the painful experience of circumcision. Those stones signified separation and the fact that they were placed in Gilgal reinforced the idea of sanctification. Had not Joshua said in ch.3.5, "Sanctify yourselves:" Paul instructed the Galatians in ch.5.24, "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Real progress will be hindered if we do not mortify the deeds of the body and "put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt..." Eph. 4.22.
Oh, to be."a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use ..." 2 Tim. 2.21. Thus was the reproach of Egypt rolled away and subsequently Joshua was strengthened by the appearing of the "captain of the host of the Lord." 5.14. May God teach us the lesson of the stones in Gilgal, which were taken from Jordan, reminding us of the claims of the cross, the just demands of Christ upon us and our responsibilities in view of redemption.
It is the Apostle Paul who reminds believers of their responsibility in the words of 1 Cor. 6.19,20: 'Ye are not your own: for ye were bought with a price: glorify God therefore in your body' (RV). We want in our study to note two aspects of this responsibility: the direction of it, and then three spheres in which it is seen. The Direction of Responsibility
The Scriptures make it clear that believers are not meant to live entirely to themselves but to be mindful of their responsibility towards God (which is upward), towards others (outward relationships) and towards their own character and conduct (that is, inward). All we do will have an impact upon God, others, and ourselves.
The Spheres of Responsibility
There are at least three spheres in which this responsibility is seen. There is the divine sphere displayed in the life of the Lord Jesus upon the earth. Then there is the individual life of the believer. Finally there is the collective life of the assembly.
1. The Example of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 7.26)
The Lord Jesus is presented to us in three ways in this verse. We have His life upon earth, which was holy, harmless, undefiled. Then in His resurrection He was 'separated from sinners' (RV). This was not a condition but an action, for He was for ever separated from sinful men, never again to be subjected to their cruelty and wickedness. Finally He was made 'higher than the heavens', an honour bestowed upon Him by the Father, for 'God also hath highly exalted Him' in resurrection, exaltation and coronation. But we wish to consider the way He discharged His responsibilities upward to God, outward to others and inwardly to Himself while living on earth.
Upward Responsibility: A Holy Life
The Greek word for holy is hosios, which Mr. Vine suggests signifies one who fulfils all the divine obligations both in character and conduct. Of such a One the Father could open the heaven and declare 'This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased' (Matt. 17.5).
Outward Responsibility: A Harmless Life
The word harmless or guileless speaks of one whose motives and ways were completely free from unkindness. He never injured anyone, never had to apologise for a word or an action. It could be uniquely said of Him 'He hath done all things well' (Mark 7.37) and 'never man spake like this Man' (John 7.46).
Inward Responsibility: An Undefiled Life
Because He was undefiled and free from all taint He was incapable of contracting defilement. He was both sinless and not able to sin, for He said of Himself 'The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me' (John 14.30). The Apostle John confirmed this when he wrote 'in Him is no sin' (1 John 3.5).
2. The Individual Believer (Titus 2.11,12)
The grace of God manifest in the coming of the Lord Jesus accomplishes two things. First, it gives us a salvation that is past, present and future. Second, it instructs us how to live worthy of such a great salvation. This instruction is both negative and positive. Negatively we are to deny, to renounce once and for all, two things. The first is ungodliness, all that is contrary to God, including a lack of reverence towards Him, sadly only too apparent in our assembly meetings. We are also instructed to renounce all worldly lusts, or passionate desires for things of this present age, showing that the amusements of this world hold no attraction for us. Positively we are taught our inward responsibility to be sober, our outward responsibility to be righteous, and our upward responsibility to be godly. It is these three truths we want to focus upon.
Inward Responsibility: Sobriety
To live soberly entails balance, discretion and self-control. It should not be necessary to add that to partake of intoxicating drink is to lose a degree of self-control and act in opposition to the work of the Holy Spirit who supplies self-control or temperance (Gal. 5.19, RV margin).
Outward Responsibility: Righteousness
The grace that saves us demands from us a right and just relationship with our fellow men, both saved and unsaved, acknowledging the claims of others so as to have 'a good report of them that are without' (1 Tim. 3.7).
Upward Responsibility: Godliness Negatively we were instructed to renounce ungodliness, but the Christian life is not merely negative. We should therefore be godly, because the godly person ever seeks to live as in the presence of His God, able to testify like Elijah, 'As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand' (1 Kings 17.1). It should be noted that the words 'should live' are imperative: not an option but a command to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present evil age.
3. The Local Assembly (Phil. 3.3)
The first three verses of Philippians 3 are an exhortation to the church at Philippi to be joyful (v 1), to be warned of that which is false (v 2), and to be real (v 3), for this verse reminds them of who they were and what features were to mark them.
Who they were
Having warned of false teaching Paul informs the assembly at Philippi that 'we are the circumcision', that is to say, we are God's true people, for circumcision was the token of the covenant between Jehovah and Abraham (Gen. 17.11).
What features marked them as the people of God
There is once again a responsibility upward, outward and inward, but this time it applies to the assembly as a whole. Upward Responsibility : 'Worshipping by the Spirit of God' (RV)
The word for worship is often translated 'service', for all service that brings to God is worship, the presenting of our bodies (Rom. 12.1), to 'offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name' (Heb. 13.15). Such true worship takes place both inside and outside the assembly. But all worship must be the outcome of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and He will only guide in accordance with the Scriptures. Any service that has not the authority of the Word of God cannot be of His leading.
Outward Responsibility : 'Glory in Christ Jesus' (RV)
A plainer translation is 'we boast in Christ Jesus'. It was Paul who could write 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Gal 6.14). The church at Thessalonica knew something of this boasting for they bore the wonderful testimony that 'from you sounded out the word of the Lord' (1 Thess. 1.8)
Inward Responsibility : 'No confidence in the flesh'
What a challenge for us today! We boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. The flesh of course is that old nature which dominates all apart from the grace of Christ. But the believer has no settled persuasion in the flesh but rather has confidence in God (1.6). In verses 3 to 6, Paul lists all his natural gifts, plus his considerable personal achievements. If any man had reason to boast in the flesh it was Paul. Yet he counted all as one great big loss (v 7). No matter how talented we are in the natural man, it is still flesh. Let us therefore not look to the works of the flesh but to Christ for He only will enable us to fulfil our responsibilities upward, outward and inward.
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME I
Paper 4b—The Apostasy of Christendom and the Antichrist
Another consideration is then presented. Before the day of the Lord sets in, the apostasy must take place, and the man of sin run his course. "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away" (more properly "the apostasy") "first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition" 2 Thess. 2.3. This must not be confounded with other predictions. It is important to rightly divide the word of truth. In 1 Tim. 4.1 the same Apostle writes, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in latter times some shall depart from the faith." If the verses which follow be examined carefully, it will be seen that Popery is in view, with its Satanic hypocrisy and restrictions. The expression "latter times" therefore simply means times subsequent to the writing of the Epistle. 2 Tim. 3.1 presents a further stage in the development of evil: "in the last days perilous times shall come." We do not here read of some departing from the faith; the evil is much more general. Who can read the Holy Spirit's language in 2 Tim. 3.1—5, and fail to see that it is our own day that is so vividly described? "The last days" are running their course now.
But 2 Thess. 2 speaks of a later and more solemn period still. Grave as are the features of the "latter times" and the "last days," the Apostasy is immeasurably more serious. It means nothing less than a universal renunciation of all profession of Christianity. The Lord's true ones having been removed, and the Holy Spirit having left the scene, what is to preserve the mass from headlong ruin? Not that the nominal profession of Christianity will necessarily be abandoned immediately the saints are taken away. It will doubtless be maintained for a time. Many a religious building will be opened as usual, many a Christless sermon will be delivered then, as, alas! too often at the present time. But it will not continue very long. Liberal-mindedness (so-called) will prevail. It will no longer be deemed necessary to contend for this truth or that; the union of Christendom (of which one hears so much even now) will then be more than possible, only to be followed, under Satanic leadership, by the throwing up of the very name and form of Christianity.
Many really sincere souls find this hard to believe. They have so long cherished the thought that the Gospel is destined to convert the whole world to God, that it seems inconceivable that Christendom itself will become more corrupt and evil than even the heathen world beyond. But the testimony of Scripture must be honestly faced. Nothing is to be gained, but the contrary, by buoying ourselves up with false hopes and expectations. We really thus give the enemy an advantage, because a measure of blindness must inevitably result as to our present pathway in the midst of growing darkness and evil.
It cannot be denied that things are rapidly moving onward to the apostasy. God forbid that one should present a gloomier picture that is just, but the facts are patent to all. On every hand the inspiration of the Scriptures is called in question or denied; many indulge in the loosest and gravest speculations concerning the person of Christ; the fundamental doctrine of the atonement is set aside by multitudes; the eternal punishment of the ungodly is widely repudiated; and many more sorrowful details might be added. This is a day of compromise and surrender. Truths that our fathers suffered for gladly are lightly yielded now, as if they were the merest trifles; and those who suffered for them in the past are regarded by not a few with a kind of compassion, as over scrupulous and narrow, which a little nineteenth century enlightenment would have helped!
If such is the condition of things while the saints of God are here, what will it be when we are all gone? Scripture answers, Apostasy. Arising out of this is the revelation of the Antichrist, the man of sin. Man is a religious being naturally, and must have an object of worship. If God is thrown off, a Satanic substitute is accepted. This we have long seen in heathendom; presently it will be witnessed in Christendom. Satan will bring forward his man when the suited moment arrives, and present him to his dupes. Let it be distinctly understood that the Antichrist is a person. Some have thought the Apostle's remarks in 2 Thess. 2 to refer to the Papacy, but this is a great mistake. It is not a system, nor a succession of men, but an individual. The Popes, however arrogant and evil, have never gone to the lengths described here. The man of sin sets himself up above all that is called God or that is worshipped. He sets aside all objects of worship, true and false, and claims sole Divine honour. His seat will be in Jerusalem. "He sitteth in the temple of God shewing himself that he is God." Only on Mount Moriah has God ever owned a temple of a material character. During the Church period the temple of God is a spiritual thing. The saints themselves form His temple and the Spirit of God inhabits it (1 Cor. 3.16,17; 1 Pet. 2.5). But when the saints are removed to heaven, this is necessarily at an end. Then the material temple will come into view again. It will happen thus. A goodly number of the Jews will be found in their own land at the end of the age (indeed, many are returning at the present time). They will set about to reestablish their old system of worship, with its sanctuary, priesthood, and sacrifices. At the appointed moment the man of sin will introduce himself to them, claiming to be the long-expected Messiah. It will happen then as the Lord foretold, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" (John 5.43). His pretensions will be admitted by the blinded mass, the godly remnant, on the contrary, saying within themselves, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords" (Psa. 55.21). The elect are not deceived; a stranger will they not follow, for they know not his voice.
Antichrist will soon display himself in this true colours. At the first, he will form a covenant as the leader of the Jews, with the great power of the West for protection (Dan. 9.27). The godless mass will glory in this, saying, "We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through" (referring to their powerful Northern foe), "it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves" (Isa. 27.15). But this will not hold good long. In the midst of the week, i.e., the seven years of the covenant, the Antichrist, backed up by the Beast (the Roman head), will turn upon them, suppressing their worship, and will seek to force idolatry upon them. If it be asked, "How can this affect all Christendom?" the answer is, that Christendom's political chief and the evil one in Jerusalem are in league, consequently where the one has influence, the other has also. Christendom and the Jews will be together in apostasy, in the last days, strange as it may sound in some ears now. Has the reader ever weighed up 1 John 2.22? "Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son." Here we get the two forms of evil distinctly connected; the first part of the verse being Jewish unbelief, the second part Christian, or, more properly, Antichristian apostasy. Solemn thought! Where the light has shone the brightest the darkness will be the most dense very shortly.
There is restraint at the present time, as the Apostle shows: "And now ye know what with-holdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He Who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way" (2 Thess. 2.6,7). Evil intruded itself into the sphere of Christian profession very early, but though it is steadily but surely working, there is restraint, that it come not yet to a head. The "what" in verse 6, unnamed by the Apostle, is probably government. It is still true that "the powers that be are ordained of God" (Rom. 13.1); and while this is so there is at least a measure of check on human will. But presently Rom. 13.1 will cease to be true, for the supreme power in Christendom will receive his throne and authority direct from the Dragon (Rev. 13.1—4); then the way will be open for evil to show itself in its most extreme form.
"He" in verse 7 is the Holy Spirit. He dwells in the Church of God and in the individual Christian, and is here to guard the interests of Christ. He will not suffer the fearful impiety of which we are speaking to take place while He is present. But when the Church is removed He will quit the scene, and man will be left to the evil of his own heart, and to the devil.
Those will be days of fearful delusion. To help it on miracles will be performed, and these in great variety. Miracles are not necessarily proofs of Divine authority, whatever Papists may say; the devil can perform them, when God thinks proper to allow it. The coming of the man of sin is "according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (2 Thess. 2.9). Perhaps the most serious is the appearance of fire called down from heaven. This we find in Rev. 13.13. This was Elijah's great sign that Jehovah was the true God, which caused the people to fall on their faces and own "Jehovah, He is the God; Jehovah, He is the God" (1 Kings 18.38,39).
The judicial hand of God will be put forth in that day, as well as the power of Satan. It is righteous retribution from Himself. Men in Christendom have had the truth, but have not loved it; instead of believing it they have had pleasure in unrighteousness. God will remember all this in the day to come. His hand will be upon them. He will send them a strong delusion, that they shall believe the lie of the enemy. The truth not having been received (though known), the lie shall be to their eternal ruin. Some find it hard to believe that the (so-called) enlightened men of this day will soon bow at the feet of the man of sin; but it is solemnly true. Men who affect to despise their ignorant ancestors for bowing down to stocks and stones will presently be found doing what is immeasurably worse. Probably the strictly religious Jews of the Lord's day did not care to be told that the unclean spirit of idolatry will return into their midst with sevenfold virulence (Matt. 12.43-45). The last state of Judaism will be worse than the first, and Christendom will be in the same condition. The two systems, so opposed in principle, will be together in evil in the dark day that is at hand.
a. Wives and husbands—picture of Christ and the church 5.22-33 NOTE: Being filled with the Spirit, verse 18.
Affects the tongue and lips of the BODY. (Verse 19a)
Affects the HEART. (Verse 19b)
Affects the attitude of our SPIRIT. Verse 20, "Giving thanks always."
Affects the actions of the SOUL (Verse 21 forward) in its relationship towards others, in Marriage (v. 22-33); Family 6.1-4); Employment 6.5-9; spiritual warfare 6.10-23.
—Wives submit yourselves: (hupotassomai) Middle voice as verse 21. 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; I 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, (Phil. 2.3); and acts for the sole benefit of the other person, (Phil. 2.4). The present tense indicates that this is a habit of life.
—unto you own: (tois idiois) "It conveys the idea of what is special." (Expositors) It adds emphasis and intensity. He is her own exclusively.
—husbands, as: (hos) like as; as it were; just as.
—unto the Lord: (to kurio) "To the Lord." In submitting to her husband, the woman is ultimately submitting to Christ, trusting Him to work all things out for the benefit and well-being of all. She is to obey her husband as if he were Christ.
—For: (hoti) Because of the fact that. He is about to state why the wife should submit to her own husband.
—the husband is head: (kephale) 1. This word is used literally of that part of the body that guides and directs all the bodily function for the benefit, honour, and preservation of every member. 2. This word is also used metaphorically of headship.
—of the wife even as: (hos kai) "Just as also."
—Christ is the head (Kephale) of the church: Christ serves the church as the physical head serves the body. That this is the meaning is proven from the next phrase. —and He: The word is emphatic showing dependability of Christ as Head.
—is saviour: (soter) A Saviour, Preserver, Deliverer.
—of the body: The church is also called the "body of Christ." Ephesians 4.12. Husbands have the same responsibility as head. They represent Christ. The husband is to save, deliver, and preserve his wife. The emphatic can be translated, "He alone." Christ alone does this completely.
—Therefore: (alia) this word is used when showing a contrast and is usually translated "but" or "nevertheless." The meaning seems to be, "although Christ alone does all for the preservation of the body, and the husband may fail in his duty . . ."
—as: (hos or hosper) even as.
—the church is subject: (hupotasso) as verse 21, 22. To submit requires faith in the one submitted to. One trusts the one to whom she submits not to hurt her but to do everything with her best interests in mind.
—to Christ: The church is subject to Christ in the sense that it looks to Him for everything. Col. 1.18 in discussing the role of the body to the head, explains what is meant in the last phrase of the verse, "And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence." The word preeminence is from the Greek word, arxe, meaning "first place, at the beginning, in the eminent place, in the place of leadership." The church is subject to Christ to the extent that He is put at the beginning of everything.
—so: (houtos) in this way, thus.
—let the wives be to their own husbands: The wife is to treat her husband as though she were the church and he were its head.
—in everything: The wife is given no options. Everything that is done is to be subjection to her husband as the head. This gives no authority to the man but rather a perspective for the woman. She is to give her husband first place in everything. She is to treat him as a leader.
A leader is given the chief seat at a meal. 1 Samuel 9.22 And "Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlor, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which were about thirty persons."
He is given the best portion of the food. 1 Samuel 9.23, 24 "And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee. And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold that which is left! set it before thee, and eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day."
He is spoken of in the best possible way. Exodus 22.28 "Thou shalt not revile . . . nor curse the ruler of thy people."
He is addressed in the language of respect and honour. 1 Peter 3.6 "Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement."
—Husbands: (hoi andres) "You men" or "You husbands." —love: (agapate, present imperative tense of agapao) Intelligent affection, based on reason, choice and decision. It is not motivated to love by anything; in the object loved. The person loves regardless. Appearance, faults, and circumstances do not affect the love in any way. This love is manifested by actions. Love without action is useless, 1 John 3.18. Withheld love is hatred, 1 John 3.17. The word used is the present imperative tense. This tense calls for a long term way of doing something as a continual habitual action.
—your wives, even as: (kathos) "just as, in accordance with, being measured and characterized by . . ."
—Christ also loved: (egapesen, aorist indicative active tense of agapao) The aorist tense is used to indicate an action viewed as complete at a point in time. It shows an action wrapped up as a single package. It indicates effective or successful action. It may be translated "loved effectively, successfully, completely."
—the church: (ekklesia) A company that is called out and called together. In this context it is used of every person who is born into God's family.
—and gave: (paredoken, aorist indicative active tense of paradidomi) "To give up, deliver up." (The word is a compound word made up of "para = by the side of, and didomi = to give.")
—Himself: The Lord Jesus gave Himself up in death. —for: (huper) on behalf of it:
—That: (hina) To the end that, with the purpose that.
—He might sanctify: (hagiase, aorist tense of hagiazo) "To make holy, to set apart for God." It refers to deliverance from sins guilt by the blood of Christ. Please see 1 Cor. 6.11; Heb. 9.13,14; 10.10,14,29.
—and cleanse: (aorist tense of Katharizo) "To make pure, cleanse." It expresses "the way in which the sanctifying takes place." (Expositors) It is used:
for physical cleansing
moral cleansing or separation from evil. 2 Cor. 7.1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. James 4.8.
forgiveness, freeing from the guilt of sin. Titus 2.14; Heb. 9.14; 1 John 1.7,9. 1 John 1.7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.
—it with the washing: (loutron) a washing, a bath, or the water used for taking a bath. This word is only used here and in Titus 3.5.
—of water: The Lord cleanses His church in water. Paul explains what he means in the next phrase.
—by: (en) "in," giving the sphere in which this cleansing takes place.
—the word: (rhema) The spoken word. This refers to the word of God spoken in power to the heart. The Lord Jesus made a similar statement to His disciples in John 15.3, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." Water baptism is important for a person after he is saved from sin. However, it has no ability in itself to cleanse anyone. The blood of Christ cleanses us from sin and makes one fit for Heaven. The word of God cleanses the daily behaviour of the believer.
—that: (hina) "In order that . . ."
—He might present: (parastese, aorist active tense of paristemi) This is a compound word made of two parts, "para" = "by the side of;" and "histemi" = "to make to stand, set, place." It means literally, "to set beside, to make to stand by the side of."
—it: (auten eauto) Literally, "it Himself." That is, He will be the one that does the presenting.
—to Himself: It is Christ Himself who presents the church, setting it by His side. It is also to Himself that He present her. "The idea .... is that of the bridegroom presenting or setting forth the bride." (Expositors) she is placed by His side so that He himself can enjoy her as well as everyone else be able to see her.
—a glorious: (endoxan) (From "en" = "in"; and "doxa" = glory, honor) Literally, "Honoured, glorious, in resplendent array, splendid, gorgeous."
—church, not having spot: (spilos) "Spot, speck, fleck, stain, blot, or moral blemish."
—or wrinkle: (rhutis) "Wrinkle, fold, a disfiguring wrinkle, flaw or blemish. "The word referred to a wrinkle or fold on the face." (Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament)
—or any such thing: (ton toiouton) "The article gives the force of anything belonging to the class of such things as deform and defile." (Expositors)
—but: (alia) denoting a contrast
—that: (hina) "in order that"
—it should be holy: (hagios) As 1.1. To be set apart with God who sets eveil apart from Himself by His glory.
—and without blemish: (omomos) unblameable, without disgrace, without a stain.
How did and does the Lord show His love for His bride the church? How many things does the Lord take responsibility for regarding His bride as presented in verses 26 and 27?
Reputation (without blemish i.e., unblameable, or without disgrace).
I was born and brought up in Dromore, Co. Antrim, N. Ireland. There I went to Sunday School in the local Presbyterian meeting house, and learned the Scriptures which are able to make one wise unto Salvation, 2 Tim. 3.15. My mother was the first to be saved in the home, then my father.
They started reading the Scriptures for themselves, and as a result discovered things should be different.
Mr. Alex Cooke, a servant of the Lord came to Ballywatermoy Gospel Hall for a week of ministry meetings. He visited my parents and invited them to come and hear the Word.
The truth of the Word gripped their hearts, and the result was they were baptized, and gathered out and unto the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. That meant a move from the Presbyterian meeting house to the Gospel Hall.
As a lad I learned my sinnership and need of being saved through a faithful Sunday School teacher, Mr. Peter Herbison. However, it was in September, 1947, when Harold Paisley came for Gospel Meetings that the Holy Spirit took a dealing with me. I was convicted of my sin, and on the twenty third of September was converted to Christ through Eph. 2.8.
In April 1948 I was baptised and gathered out to the Lord's name. Soon after I became active in Sunday School work and open air meetings in the village of Kilrea, and other places.
I left Ireland in the year of 1953 and went to Canada where I worked for a few years, but kept busy in gospel work. I helped in gospel efforts and for a number of years in children's work in Lindsay, Ontario.
In the year of 1968, I felt the Lord was calling me to a wider field of service. It was in 1970 when I stepped out in faith with the fellowship of the Assembly in Peterborough and Oshawa.
I have tried to do the Master's will, spreading the good news, and strengthening the things that remain. God has blessed in salvation over the years and up until the present. So one presses on in the great work, what a joy it is to serve Him.
He deserves to be served with all the energy of which we are capable.
We shall find our best reward in the Lord's work if we do it with determined diligence.
(Our brother went to be with the Lord on 21st June, 1994.)