September/October 1995

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Contents

PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday

MIRACLES AT CALVARY
by John B. D. Page

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

EPHESIANS EXPOUNDED
by A. D. Thropay

AMILLENNIALISM EXAMINED
by D. McAllister

INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE
by Albert L. Leckie

GUIDANCE
by J. A. Ronald

MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by G. C. Goff

QUOTES


PAPERS ON PROPHECY

by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME I

Paper 6a — The Restoration of Israel

The ultimate future of Israel is very different from that of Christendom. The latter will plunge into the darkest kind of apostasy, as has been already shown, with no restoration afterwards; whereas Israel, after the severe purging of the latter-day crisis, will be brought into blessing and earthly glory. Scripture is blessedly full and plain as this. Any who have difficulties as to the Jewish question will do well to ponder prayerfully, in the first instance, Rom. 9.11. After having unfolded in the previous chapters the indiscriminate grace of God proclaimed in the Gospel, the Apostle takes up the special promises made by God to Israel, and explains His dealings with regard to them. First he shows that God is sovereign, and acts as He pleases. This really explains Israel's history in the past. God chose Isaac not Ishmael, though both were the sons of Abraham. Later He chose Jacob in preference to Esau. In this case both were children of one mother (which Isaac and Ishmael were not), and born at the same time. Again, He spared Israel in His sovereignty when they had forfeited everything by their worship of the golden calf, saying, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Rom. 11.15). Thus Israel's place in the past was due to the sovereignty of God. There was no question of special merit or desert : He willed it, and that is all. On the same principle He has set them aside during the present period because of their sins and rejection of Messiah, and is dealing in sovereign grace with the Gentiles.

But has He done with the seed of Abraham for ever? By no means. The Apostle raises the question, "I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew" (Rom. 11.1,2). He then proceeds to show that God has a remnant during the present time, while the spirit of slumber is upon the mass of the nation. These of course are incorporated in the Church of God, the body of Christ. But this is not all. God has not forgotten them as a people, and intends to reinstate them in His divine favour, with the full pardon of all their sins. They have been cut out of the olive tree because of their defection, but they shall be brought in once again. In verse 23 we are shown that this is possible, "God is able to graft them in again;" in verse 24 that it is probable, "How much more shall these ... be grafted into their own olive tree?" Then the Apostle rises higher still in his reasoning and shows it to be certain, "Blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." And so all Israel shall be saved : as it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (verses 25,26).

There are three reasons why God must restore the people of Israel : (1) His Word; (2) His Name; and (3) the death of Christ.

  1. His Word. The promises of God to Abraham, confirmed later to Isaac, were unconditional. In sovereign grace He appeared to Abraham and said, "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed ... all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever . . . unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Gen. 12.3; 13.15; 15.18). These promises have never been really fulfilled. Israel has never inhabited the whole extent of the land, as here described. True, it was all under tribute in the days of Solomon, but that was not a sufficient answer to the promise of God. His intention was that they should inherit the land themselves and enjoy it apart from the presence of the stranger. Further, it is patent to all that they have not yet had any of it for everlasting possession; for what they did take possession of they lost after a while by reason of sin, and were dispersed among the Gentiles. Let none suppose that because this was the case, there is no future glory for them. Though they have been unfaithful to God, He will not be unfaithful to them, but will make good all His word. This is strikingly reasoned out by the Holy Spirit in Gal. 3.15— 18. There we read, "Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulled, or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise : but God gave it to Abraham by promise." This is very simple. Their law-breaking has not cancelled God's word. His promises were unconditional and before the law. They remain therefore to be made good at the end; for it is impossible for God to lie.
  2. His Name. When at the first He called Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, God said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is My Name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations" (Ex. 3.15). More than this, He distinctly connected them with Himself under His Name Jehovah: "I am Jehovah, and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by My Name Jehovah was I not known to them" (Ex. 6.2,3). This Name expresses His unchangeableness, as Mai. 3.6 shows; in it, therefore, is bound up the restoration of the people, however guilty and undeserving. They have changed towards God, but blessed be His Name, He has never changed towards them, though obliged because of their sins and unbelief to hide His face from them, as it were, for a season. Let the following splendid declaration be pondered by all who think that God has done with Israel: "Thus saith Jehovah, if heaven above can be measured and the foundation of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all they have done, saith Jehovah" (Jer. 31.37). This is magnificent surely, and worthy of the God who uttered it.
  3. The Death of Christ. This is an additional reason, and a grandly fundamental one, why God will yet show mercy to guilty Israel. Does the reader remember the prophecy of Caiaphas in John 11.49-51? It was that Jesus should die for the nation.

No doubt his thoughts about the matter and the thoughts of the Holy Spirit were very different, but his words contain the truth nevertheless. Believers should see more in the cross of Christ than the mere putting away of our sins. Thank God ! He has borne our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Pet. 2.24); but there is a part in that cross for Israel also. They will be brought to know this by-and-by. During Israel's long dark night of unbelief the memorial of that precious sacrifice is before God (Lev. 6.9). When the Lord Jesus is manifested in glory, they will mourn for Him, as Zechariah speaks. They will learn in that day that He whom their fathers pierced was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities (Zech. 12.9-14; Isa. 53.5). What a discovery for Israel! what a lesson to learn after ages of unbelief! Thus will God place them—and that everlastingly—under the shelter of the precious, once-accomplished work of Christ.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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Miracles at Calvary (8)

by John B. D. Page (Weston-Super-Mare)

8. The Miracle of the Lord's bowed head:

Writing several decades later than the other three evangelists and as an eyewitness of what transpired at the Cross, John gives several details which are peculiar to his gospel. When Jesus had proclaimed aloud that His work was finished, "He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost', John 19.30 . This is not mentioned in the other gospels.

To a reader ignorant of a crucified person's actions, this brief comment may seem to be of little or no consequence, but John knew otherwise. As all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, even a word, phrase or sentence may have spiritual significance. The natural man with his unrenewed mind sees it as foolishness whilst the carnally minded Christian, still a babe in Christ, does not comprehend it, but the spiritual Christian is taught of the Holy Spirit and has the mind of Christ for appreciating these things (1 Cor. 2.14 — 3.1).

When death is from natural causes, a bowed head is the obvious action because the will ceases to exercise power over muscles and nerves. Therefore, where there is a lack of rigidity like that of the bones, then those parts of the body fall forward.

With crucifixion, death is not immediate but delayed. As soon as the gibbet with its victim is erected vertically, the head of the crucified person droops forward and rests on the chest. Although alive and conscious, that person is powerless to hold his head in the normal upright position due to the weight of the body causing a downward drag.

That is what John saw as he looked at those crosses, but he observed one exception which he recalled and recorded many years later in his gospel. The head of the Victim on the middle cross did not hang helplessly like that of the others, but at the right moment Jesus "bowed His head" as He was about to dismiss His spirit. This expression implies that the Lord Jesus up to that moment of time held His head erect, firm, steady, and unmoved for six hours even under excruciating pain because He had refused earlier a drugged potion for relief from it.

With these facts in mind, it is apparent that the miracle lay in the Lord's ability to hold His head up— right in a normal position which, although not stated by John, is obviously implied and understood by an oriental reader in Bible times. Equally miraculous was His capacity with a clear mental faculty to exercise His will decisively for the deliberate action of bowing His head at the moment when He knew that His redemptive work was fully accomplished as understood from the inspired text, "When Jesus therefore had . . . said, It is finished : ... He bowed His head . . ." The reason why only John recounted this miracle may be his presentation of Jesus as the Son of God (John 20.31), Who alone could perform it.

Although not mentioned in the fourth gospel, it was presumably with His head bowed that the Lord Jesus quietly commended His spirit to His Father just before dismissing His spirit according to Luke 23.46. In his gospel, Luke portrays Jesus as God's ideal Man Who, with His head bowed as a sign of reverence before God when praying, as practised by the Jews (Ex. 12.27; Neh. 8.6), He voiced quietly His last prayer, "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit."

When believers pray, an attitude of reverence remains important, although it is sometimes lacking amongst some today. The Lord Jesus in His dying moments apparently bowed His head for praying and His example may be emulated by Christians for their private devotions or silent prayer when gathered together as an assembly. When praying under prison conditions, Paul said, "I bow the knee unto the Father . . ." Eph. 3.14; cp. Luke 22.41, and so kneeling down is a reverential posture for prayer which may be adopted in the home or at a prayer meeting preceding a public meeting as practised by some Christians. Standing up (cp. Luke 18.11,13; Psa. 135.2) for audible worship in prayer on the Lord's Day morning or when praying at the weekly prayer meeting is a sign of reverence before God. Without being legalistic and allowing for local custom concerning the right or wrong posture of prayer, there is the principle of reverence which should not be overlooked when addressing the Lord in prayer.

According to the gospels, this seems to be the only recorded occasion when the Lord Jesus "bowed His head" with which He drew His first advent to a close.

The second advent of Messiah to the earth will, in contrast, open with the lifting up of His head, as foretold by the Psalmist. In Psalm 110, which is confirmed in the New Testament to be Messianic, the Lord Jesus is foreseen as the King-Priest, pre-figured by Melchizdek. In the second stanza (vv. 4-7), the scene changes to the battlefield as from the 5th verse, where Christ is introduced as the Sovereign "Lord" (Adonai, Heb). In a horrifying conflict, "He shall wound the heads over many countries" (v.6). The climax is then reached "therefore," in contrast to the wounded heads of His enemies, "shall He lift up the head" (v.7), that is to say, as the victorious Monarch, He will lift up His head triumphantly for initiating His millennial reign on the earth. —to be continued (D.V.)

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Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

1. THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES 5 — Baptism

We said in our last study that local New Testament churches comprised baptised believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, men and women who had made a public declaration of faith in Him. As we shall see, baptism is far more than a ceremony: it is a statement of the principles on which Christians conduct their lives. Let's make a brief survey of New Testament teaching on the subject in the following way:

1) The Authority for Baptism

It certainly isn't 'our idea.' The words of the Lord Jesus are perfectly clear: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you", Matt. 28. 18-20. Baptism therefore carries the highest authority in the universe. These familiar words deserve most careful study, and all we can do here is to notice the following:

  1. The scope of baptism. "Go ye therefore and teach all nations. Baptism is mandatory for believers in all countries and in all cultures. It embraces Jew and Gentile, religious and irreligious, civilised and uncivilised, rich and poor, great and small.
  2. The association of baptism. "Go ye therefore and teach all nations." J. N. Darby renders the word "teach" as "make disciples." So baptism is associated with discipleship. W. E. Vine points out that 'a disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent.' We correctly use the phrase 'believer's baptism'; in view of this verse, it might be slightly more accurate to say 'disciple's baptism.'
  3. The duration of baptism. "Even unto the end of the world (age). So baptism was not instituted by the Lord Jesus for a limited time, such as the apostolic period. Baptism is to be practised as long as men and women become disciples of the Lord Jesus by believing the Gospel.
  4. The significance of baptism." Baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This is not so much a formula to be repeated at baptism, but an explanatory statement. Baptism expresses a relationship with God. The words, "baptising them in the Name" are better rendered, "baptising them into the Name", see JND footnote.

It's worth noting that baptism is always 'to' a person; see 1 Cor. 10.2, "and were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." The Israelites were identified with Moses in this way.

2) The Mode of Baptism

The word 'baptism' in itself indicates total immersion. In fact, it consists 'of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from 'bapto', to dip)', W.E.Vine. The word was used for dyeing a garment, and that involved plunging the article into and under the liquid. It was used to describe drawing water from a well. The bucket had to be plunged in order to be filled with water. Sprinkling the dye on the garment, or sprinkling water into the bucket, hardly meets the requirement of the word!

This is borne out by practice in the New Testament. See John 3. 22-23, "John also was baptising in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there." See Matt. 3.16, "And Jesus, when He was baptised, went up straightway out of the water." See Acts 8.38-39, "they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptised him. And when they were come up out of the water . . ." Bearing in mind that baptism involves burial, and therefore a grave, sprinkling is obviously most inappropriate!

3) The Qualification for Baptism

It is faith in Christ. "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, Mark 16.16. This verse does not teach that baptism is essential to salvation from divine wrath, since it continues, "but he that believeth not (omitting reference to baptism) shall be damned (condemned)", but it does teach that baptism is essential to salvation in its fullest and completest sense, that is, the salvation of the life. The one requirement, faith in Christ, is stressed in Acts 2.41, "Then they that gladly received His word were baptised", and 18.8, "Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed, and were baptised." Baptism does not make a person a Christian: they are baptised because they already are Christians.

In this connection we should note Acts 22.16, "Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the Name of the Lord." At first glance, this seems to contradict our conclusion that faith in Christ alone is the one qualification for baptism. We must remember however, that Saul of Tarsus was the arch-persecutor of the church. His sins were forgiven at conversion, but in his baptism he publicly declared for all to see and hear that the man who was "before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious", totally repudiated his past life.

4) The Meaning of Baptism

If baptism does not make people Christians, then what does it mean?

  1. It is an act of obedience. Not to the church, or to the elders, but to the Lord Jesus. In one sense, it is voluntary:
    • Christians request baptism. But it is equally obligatory. There are no optional extras in the Christian life. "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." As we have already noticed, the Lord Jesus said, "Go ye therefore and teach - make disciples - of all nations." Baptism is therefore evidence of a disciple's obedience. See 1 Pet. 3.21, "The answer (demand) of a good conscience toward God."
  2. It is an act of confession. It is a confession by the person baptised that they are following a new life in Christ. Baptism states the basis of all Christian life and conduct, namely, that the old life-style has ended, and a new life-style has commenced. We must understand that this change does not take place at baptism, but at conversion. Baptism is a declaration of something that has already taken place. A moment's thought will make this clear: since baptism is, amongst other things, a burial, the person involved must be already dead! Now a word of warning: if our lives do not reflect this change of life-style, then our baptism is nothing less than a farce.
    • The termination of former life and commencement of new life, is so fundamental that the the Bible uses the words "death" and "resurrection.' See Rom. 6 in this connection. Hence immersion = death, and re emergence = resurrection. In baptism, we make a public declaration of our identification with Christ, and our commitment to Christ. Hence, salvation - baptism - assembly fellowship. The reason for this order of events is clear: the assembly is, or should be, a place of total commitment to Christ.
  3. It is a statement of faith. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ, were baptised into His death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life", Rom 6.3-4. In baptism, we not only publicly confess our faith in Christ, we also confess the basis of our faith.

We must conclude our brief study by asking two important questions:

  1. Have you been baptised? If not, and you are a believer, then you must now consider the matter very seriously.
  2. If you have been baptised, are you displaying daily the truth of your baptism?
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EPHESIANS EXPOUNDED

by A. D. THROPAY (California)

Paper 25

II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD'S MASTERPIECE 4.1-6.23 F. Weapons of Warfare 6.10-20

 

Verse 10

Finally: (to loipon) 1. Finally, or "as for what you have still to do in addition to what has been said." (Meyer) 2. "As for the rest." (Newberry, Interlinear) 3. "Henceforth," or "from now on."

my brethren: This is the first time that the word "brethren" is mentioned in this letter.

be strong: (endunamousthe) The present imperative tense indicates that this command is to have repeated and practical use. The word means to be empowered, to receive strength, to be strengthened. The passive voice indicates that this strengthening is done by Another. The believer is to allow God to make him strong.

in: (en) this indicates the sphere in which the strengthening is to occur.

the Lord: (kurios) He does not mention the name of Christ here. Notice that there is no article before the word Lord. The absence of the article indicates that character or quality is in view. In the sphere where Christ has the character of being Lord, a believer is given power. This strength comes from the Holy Spirit through the believer depending or relying on His Lord. Note the example in Acts 2. When the Lord was exalted, the Holy Spirit gave power to the disciples. Acts 1.8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 2.32,33 "This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by he right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear."

and in: (kai en) again designating the sphere in which the strengthening takes place.

the power: (kratos) The same word used in 1.19. It is power as shown in action; power as force, mastery, or strength.

of His might: (ischus) inherent, passive might or power possessed by one. It is an attribute, element, or quality of His inmost being. The Phrase is not to be reduced to "in His might power." (Exp.) The phrase means, "the efficiency of the active power which expresses inherent might." (Exp.) or "in the active efficiency of the might that is inherent in Him. (Exp.) or "the efficient energizing of the powerful force proceeding from His attribute of power."

Verse 11

Put on: (enduo) To put on, invest, array. The middle voice indicates that we are to put the clothing on ourselves. The aorist imperative tense indicates that this is to be a commitment to a decisive and effective choice. It is a command to be done instantly.

the whole armour: (panoplian) This is a Greek word for complete or total armour.

We not only need Divine equipment, but we need it in its completeness, of God: (Genitive or origin, source, or possession) The armour belongs to God and comes from God.

that: (pros) "Toward." Here, it refers to mental direction towards; an aim or an object. (Expositors) "With a view towards."

ye may be able: (dunomai) To have power or ability. The infinitive present indicates that this power and ability is continuous.

to stand against: (stenai pros) The phrase means literally, "to stand facing towards." It is the language of soldiers used for standing one's ground instead of taking, flight. (Expositors) THE SOLDIER HERE IS NOT AGGRESSIVE BUT STUBBORN; NOT FORWARD BUT FIRM.

the wiles: (methodeia) Primarily, "to pursue a plan." Then, a deliberate but deceitful plan or scheme. It is crafty, subtle, malicious scheming.

of the devil: (diabolous — genitive of source) Literally, "To throw through." Primarily, to accuse, slander. The genitive case indicates that the devil is the origin of the evil scheming although a human may be the agent.

Verse 12

For: (hoti) "Because of the fact that."

we wrestle: (pale) A contest between two opponents in which each attempts to throw the other down. The winner throws his antagonist down flat with the ground, and hold him there with his hands on his neck. — This is an apt description of the devil's (accusers) activity. The word emphasizes the personal, individual nature of the encounter. (Ellicot)

not against: (pros) "facing towards."

flesh and blood: This phrase is used four times in the New Testament. (Matthew 16.17; I Corinthians 15.50; Hebrew 2.14; here). It refers to man in his weakness and dependence.

but: (alia) in sharp contrast.

against: (pros) "facing towards."

principalities: (arche) Literally, "a first one, a leader." A governmental authority, ruler. As 1.21, This would be an angelic being given leadership over other angelic beings.

against: (pros) "facing towards."

powers: (exousias) Authorities, those with delegated authority. Those with permission to use power. These may rule underneath principalities.

against: (pros) "facing towards."

the rulers: (kosmokratoras) — This is a compound word consisting of "kosmos," = the world; and "krateo," = "to be strong; to be superior to others." It refers to one who lays hold of someone, subdues him, or gets him under his power. These are spirit rulers who dominate the world. (Cp. Daniel 10.10—13, 20— 11.1).

of the darkness: (tou skotou — Genitive of source or cause) These are world powers in charge of producing or retaining moral and spiritual darkness in this world.

of this world: (aionos) "Age." Their time is limited to this present age as their sphere of activity is limited to this world.

against: (pros) "facing towards."

spiritual: (ta pneumatika) The spirits or spirit forces.

wickedness: (ponerias — Genitive of quality) There essential character is wickedness or evil. This is an evil which causes pain, misery and anguish in others. The person is not satisfied with being corrupted himself, but must corrupt others as well. He actively attempts to destroy others by causing them to sin. (Trench) Solomon describes them in Proverbs 4.16. "For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall." Compare similar word in I Corinthians 5.13 (Poneros).

in high places: (tois epouraniois) As 1.3, in the upper heavenlies. Verse 13

Wherefore: (dia touto) Because of this.

take unto you: (analabein) This is the accepted term for taking up arms.

the whole armour of God: (panoplian) This is a Greek word for complete for total armour. We not only need Divine equipment, but we need it in its completeness, (as verse 11)

that: (hina) in order that.

ye may be able: (dunomai) To have power and ability. The subjunctive mood in the aorist tense indicates that there is a potential need to have the armour on at a point in time. Be prepared just in case.

to withstand: (anthistemi) A compound word meaning literally, "to stand against." To oppose, resist. The forces of verse 12 are implied.

in the evil: (poneros) 1. Full of labour and hardships 2. Of bad nature or condition, wicked, evil. (Thayer) "Bad, unsound." Matthew 6.23; 7.17,18; "Evil, wrongful, malevolent." Matthew 5.11, 39; Acts 28.21; "Evil, impious, wicked." Matthew 5.37, 45, 9.4.

day: (te hemera) The article in front of the word "day" marks it out "as in some sense or other a single day, a time of peculiar peril and trial." It refers to a time of "violent temptation and assault whenever that may come to us during the present time," (Expositors) or by whatever instrument, a person, persons, organization, or government, etc. N.B. Satan copies God and also works through people.

Verse 10

and having done: (katergazomai) "doing thoroughly, working out, labouring intensely, especially accomplishing a difficult task." (see Expositors)

all: (hapanta — nom. acc. pi. neut. of hapas) the whole, everything. That is, having done all in your own power.

to stand: The person that remains standing when no more can be done must stand in the power of God. This is why we are told to be strengthened in verse 10. Proverbs 21.31 "The horse is made ready for the day of battle: but the victory belongs to the LORD." (RSV)

Verse 14

Stand: (stete) The aorist imperative calls for a specific and definite decision. "Take your stand!"

therefore, having your loins: (ten hosphun) The pelvis at the hip level.

girt about: (perizonnumi) To bind oneself around with a girdle. The soldier's girdle was a basic and primary part of his armor. It was used to keep the other parts in place, supported his sword, helped to keep him in an erect, soldierly posture, and allowed him freedom of movement.

with: (en) in

truth: (aletheia) That truth which is reality.

  1. Objectively — truth concerning God and Divine things as revealed in scripture. It is knowledge of an acquaintance with Christ, Truth Himself.
  2. Subjectively — the manifestation of Christ, the truth, in our lives as we are open, truthful, real, and sincere.

and having put on: (enduo) As verse 11, To put on, invest, array. The middle voice indicates that we put the clothing on ourselves. The aorist tense indicates that this is a completed action in the past.

the breastplate of righteousness: (dikaiosune -— The phrase is genitive of identity). "The breastplate which is righteousness." Compare Isaiah 59.17 "For he put on righteousness as a breastplate . . ." Righteousness is right conduct and actions that are pleasing to God. Literally, "in accord with the way pointed out." — The quality of being morally right, just, fair. A righteous person, is a person of character. The Lord Jesus Christ is not only the Righteous One, but He is righteousness! I Corinthians 1.30 "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Through dependence on God, the character of Christ is manifest in us. As the metal breastplate protects a soldier's physical life against a fatal wound; so righteousness protects a Christian soldier's life of testimony from a fatal thrust from his attacking spiritual enemies.

Verse 15

And your feet shod: (hupodeo) The middle voice in the aorist tense means, "having put or bound your own feet." with: (en) in. The soldier's shoe protected his foot from a crippling wound, while at the same time allowed him to walk confidently and quickly, the preparation: (hetoimasia It means, (a) Preparation in the active sense, making ready, (b) A state of preparedness. That is, ready for action. The shoe is the state of being ready or prepared for any assault, of the Gospel: (tou euangelliou — genitive of origin) "preparedness which comes from the Gospel."

of peace: (eirenes — genitive of contents) "Whose message is peace." The Gospel has given the believer peace with God. (Romans 5.1) It is "a peace which alone imparts the sense of freedom, relieves us of what burdens us, and gives the spirit of courageous readiness for the battle with evil." (Expositors) An expanded translation of this verse is, "And having bound your own feet in the preparedness which comes from the Gospel whose message is peace." Knowing that we have peace with God through no merit of our own, we need not be afraid of anything that the enemy might do. The God who saved our souls from Hell freely, will certainly take care of us now that we belong to Him. Compare Romans 8.31-34 "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

The equipped soldier is not only ready for being attacked, he is also ready to preach the Gospel of peace to the one assaulting if they will hear. This indicates, that he loves his enemy and has beautiful feet. Compare Isaiah 52.7. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that published salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" 

—to be continued (D.V.)

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AMILLENNIALISM EXAMINED

by David McAllister (Zambia)

B. The Analysis of Amillennialism

We need to consider what are Amillennialism's main points. Perhaps the clearest way to do so would be to contrast it with what has generally been held in assemblies over the years, that is:-

When God spoke to Abraham, He made a number of promises to him, promising a blessed future for his seed. These promises were totally unconditional, and thus they will be fulfilled literally to the nation of Israel. These blessings have not been transferred to the church, which is distinct from the nation of Israel, and is a mystery which was not revealed in the Old Testament. After the church has been removed from the earth and the Great Tribulation has taken place, Israel will be restored as a nation to its place as the people of God. Christ will sit on the throne of David, and there will be a period of peace and justice on earth for 1000 years, which we thus call the Millennium, during which the many promises given in the Scriptures will be fulfilled.

And now, by contrast, the Amillennial position:-

When God made the promises to Abraham, these promises were conditional upon obedience by Abraham's descendants. Due to the nation's disobedience, they forfeited these blessings, so that they will not be fulfilled literally to the nation of Israel, but rather spiritually to the church. The church is not a distinct entity revealed in the New Testament; rather, it did exist in the Old Testament, and consists of all believers, from Old Testament times right up to now. There will be no restoration of the nation of Israel. Christ will not return to sit on the throne of David; such references in the Scriptures are fulfilled by His present session at His Father's right hand. There will be no 1000-year reign. The promises of peace and justice in the Scriptures are presently being fulfilled spiritually in the blessings of the church.

Clearly both views cannot be simultaneously correct! In analysing the above views, it would be easy to get into deep water quickly and to lose sight of where we are going. So we will set ourselves 5 questions to answer; questions which deal with key differences in the above 2 points of view:-

  1. Were the promises given to Abraham unconditional or conditional?
  2. Will the promises be fulfilled literally (to Israel) or spiritually only, (to the church)?
  3. Is the church a distinct entity, seen only in the NT, or did it exist in OT times as well?
  4. Will the nation of Israel be restored, or is their setting aside permanent.
  5. Will Christ reign on the throne of David, or does this refer to His present glory in Heaven?

We will seek to answer each question in turn. In the interests of space, Scripture references will be given, but the passages will not be quoted. This is because it is assumed that the articles will be read with an open Bible alongside, and that every reference will be looked up and read carefully. The Scripture references are of immeasurably more value than anything that will be said about them.

Question 1: Were the promises given to Abraham unconditional or conditional?

If they were conditional, then Israel could forfeit them by disobedience. Doubtless there was much failure in the nation, so if the promises were conditional, then we have no right to believe that Israel has any hope of receiving them. If, on the other hand, the promises were unconditional, then Israel's failure does not nullify them, and they must be fulfilled to Israel.

The following show that the promises were unconditional:

  1. Once Abraham had obeyed God and left his country and kindred, the covenant with him was stated and repeated several times without any conditions whatsoever (Gen 12 .1-3; 13.14-17; 15.1-7, 18-21; 17.1-18). If it had been conditional, God would have stated the conditions, as He did in the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19.5; see also Deut. 28.1-15).
  2. Not only was the covenant repeated and amplified to Abraham several times; it was also repeated to Isaac (Gen. 17.19; 26.2-4) and Jacob (Gen. 28.13-15), always without any conditions attached. By the time we have reached Gen. 28 and God states it to Jacob, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have all failed in different ways, yet the covenant is unaffected. It is not nullified by failure on the part of the nation.
  3. The Abrahamic Covenant is explicitly referred to as "everlasting" in Scripture (Gen. 17.7,13,19; 1 Chron. 16.16,17; Ps. 105.9,10). A covenant which can be broken by man is not in any sense, everlasting.
  4. In solemnizing the covenant (Gen. 15.9-17), only the Lord passed through the pieces. Normally both parties to a covenant passed through the pieces. In this case the covenant did not depend on man for its fulfilment, but entirely on God.
  5. Even in the midst of apostasy, God states that He will not cast aside Israel (e.g. Jer, 31.35-37). Failure on the part of the nation does not nullify His promises.
  6. Failure on the part of an individual to be circumcised resulted in that person individually losing out on the blessings of the covenant (Gen. 17.14). This shows that disobedience by an individual affected only his own relationship to the covenant; it did not nullify the covenant.
  7. In the New Testament, after the nation of Israel has committed the worst sin possible: rejecting and crucifying the Messiah, it is specifically stated that the covenants are still theirs (Rom. 9.3,4 and Ephes. 2.12). Even their rejection of Messiah did not nullify God's covenants with them.
  8. In Rom. 3.1-4, which is most definitely regarding the nation of Israel, Paul makes it abundantly clear that the lack of faith on the part of individual Israelites in no way nullifies the faithfulness of God: "For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged".

(i) In Rom. 11.1,2, Paul categorically states that "God hath not cast away His people which he foreknew". We will return to this passage later, so will not add further here.

There are further reasons, but we trust that sufficient has been said to show that the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant are unconditional, and that thus those which await fulfilment (notably the extent of the borders of the land given in Gen. 15.18-21) will surely be fulfilled. Israel's disobedience has not nullified the promises of God. 

—to be continued (D.V.)

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The Indissolubility of Marriage

by the late Albert L. Leckie (Airdrie, Scotland)

PART 3.

(This is the transcript of a message given by our late brother at the London Convention in July 1988. This explains the somewhat colloquial style of the article. - Ed.)

Now we must deal rather hurriedly with the second matter:

ii) Are there no exception clauses?

It is important to observe that there are no exception or apparent exception clauses in the epistles. The question then arises, "why is there this exception clause in Matthew's gospel only?"

Let me first quote the exception clause again, Matt. 5.31-32, "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Please notice this is part of the Lord's teaching in the "Sermon on the Mount". In Matt.19 our Lord repeats the exception clause in His reply to questions by the Pharisees who sought to tempt Him. The first question was this, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?" In reply, our Lord takes His interrogators back to the first marriage in Eden's garden where, as we have already seen, the man and the woman became one flesh and our Lord significantly adds, v6, "Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

The Pharisees reply with yet another question, v7, "Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" Our Lord s reply to this is most enlightening, He says "You have made a mistake, it was never commanded, it was not mandatory, Moses SUFFERED it, not because of the sin that had been committed, but because of the hardness of your hearts." Furthermore He said, "Moses may have suffered this, BUT FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO".. Then our Lord repeats the exception clause of the sermon on the mount, v9, "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

The exception clause is not in Mark's gospel. In Mark 10 the Pharisees ask our Lord the question, v2, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?" "For every cause" is omitted as we have in Matt.19. Our Lord deals with this as in Matt.19 and He repeats "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." When our Lord is in the house, away from the Pharisees and alone with His disciples, they ask Him again of the same matter, vlO. His reply must be noticed, particularly on the two matters wherein it differs from Matt. 5 and 19. VI 1,12, "And He saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." The two matters in which Mark differs from Matthew are these: i) Our Lord makes no mention of the exception clause. It will not do to say that Mark is assuming his readers are acquainted with Matt. 5 and 19 and therefore there is no requirement to repeat that exception clause. Brethren, this is too serious to make an assumption of that nature. Furthermore it has been accepted that Mark wrote before Matthew.

In Matthew 5 and 19 mention is made only of the man putting away his wife, but in Mk.10 it is different. The man putting away his wife AND the woman putting away her husband are both mentioned.

Now we come to the question, "Why is the exception clause found only in Matt?" I must hurry over this since my time is gone. The answer is simply this, the exception clause must be understood in its Jewish setting. The Lord's teaching on divorce in Matt. 5 is part of the sermon on the mount and the Jewish character of that sermon is declared beyond dispute, e.g. Matt. 6.32, "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:)". What the Lord is saying is that if the Gentiles seek such things as food and clothing, the godly Jew does not. That establishes the Jewish setting. Furthermore, in Matt.5 our Lord states that in His teaching He was filling out the law. Five times He said "Ye have heard...but I say unto you". "Ye have heard" referring to the reading of the law and additional Rabbinical teaching in the synagogues. "But I say unto you" is His teaching as He fills out the law. Thus it is, my dear brethren, with His teaching on divorce. Notice the language of Matt. 5.31,32 "It hath been said, ... But I say unto you," The filling out is, "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Brethren, in Mark 10 our Lord takes the matter completely out of its Jewish setting. How do I arrive at this? We have noted that the Lord speaks, not only of a husband putting away his wife, but the wife putting away her husband. Under the Jewish law the husband might put away his wife but not the wife her husband. Thus Mark 10 cannot be in the Jewish setting AND THERE IS NO EXCEPTION CLAUSE.

What of the exception, "saving for the cause of fornication,"? (Matt. 5.32). What is meant by fornication? Please notice that fornication and adultery are not always synonymous. Indeed they cannot be, when in the same verse both are mentioned as they are in Matt. 5.32, "That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Supposing we accept that fornication and adultery are synonymous then both Matt. 5 and 19 involve a rather absurd situation. The woman is put away for the cause of adultery and is caused to commit adultery. There would therefore be just the perpetuation of the same sin, from one adulterous state to another. But we discover that frequently adultery and fornication are mentioned together. Said our Lord in Matt.15.19, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:" 1 Cor. 6.9, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,"; Gal. 5.19, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness," (the RV omits adultery). Brethren, the conclusion must be, that when they are mentioned together, in the same verse, in juxtaposition, they cannot be the same. When fornication is mentioned by itself it refers to harlotry in a general sense, but when it is mentioned with adultery then the difference is just this, fornication is pre marital; adultery is marital. If that is so then Matt. 5 and 19 must be accepted in its Jewish background of fornication during the time of espousal. The Jewish espousal extended over a long period of time and was considered virtual marriage, when the couple became bound for all purposes save living together. That was the situation between Joseph and Mary in Matt.l - it must be understood against that Jewish background. Then when Mary was found to be with child during the espousal period, Joseph was minded to put her away, he had the choice of two things: i) He could bring Mary to the law courts to be judged and punished; ii) He could put Mary away by a bill of divorcement, without stating the case "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily."

My dear Christian friends, I must conclude. This is what our Lord is dealing with in Matt. 5 and 19 - it is that exception clause, not divorce in the state of actual marriage, but during the period of Jewish espousal. Thus the only bill of divorcement permitted, not commanded, is for fornication committed during the period of espousal, in its Jewish setting, never to the actual marriage bond. One would love to say more but time has gone rather rapidly. 

—(concluded)

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GUIDANCE

Oh for a vision and a voice to lead me,
To show me plainly where my work shall lie!
Look where I may fresh hindrances impede me,
Vain and unanswered seems my earnest cry.
 
Hush! unbelieving one; but for thy blindness,
But for thine own impatience and self will,
Thou would'st see thy Master's loving kindness,
Who by those hindrances is leading still.
 
He who of old through Phrygia and Galatia,
Led the Apostle Paul, and blessed him there,
If He "forbid to preach the word in Asia,"
Must have prepared for thee a work elsewhere.
 
Courage and patience! is the Master sleeping?
Has He no plan, no purpose of love?
What though awhile His counsel He is keeping,
'Tis but maturing in the world above.
 
Wait on the Lord ! In His right hand be hidden,
And do not forth in haste to strive alone;
Shun, like a sin, the tempting work "forbidden";
God's love for souls, be sure, exceeds thine own.
 
The Master cares, why feel, or seem, so lonely?
Nothing can interrupt real work for God:
Work may be changed; it cannot cease, if only
We are resolved to cleave unto the Lord.
 
None are good works for thee, but work appointed
Ask to be filled with knowledge of His will,
Cost what it may—why live a life disjointed?
One work throughout, God's pleasure fulfill!
 
But if indeed some special work awaits thee,
Can'st thou afford the waiting time to lose?
By each successive task God educates thee,
What if the iron be too blunt to use?
 
Can walls be builded with untempered mortar?
Or fish be caught in the unmended snare?
Must not the metal pass through fire and water
If for the battlefield it would prepare?
 
O thou unpolished shaft! why leave the quiver?
O thou blunt axe! what forest can'st thou hew?
Unshapen sword! can'st thou the oppressed deliver?
Go back to thine own maker's forge anew?
 
Submit thyself to God for preparation :
Seek not to teach thy Maker and thy Lord!
Call it not "zeal"! it is a base temptation:
Satan is pleased when man dictates to God.
 
Down with thy pride! With holy vengeance trample
On each self-flattering fancy that appears.
Did not the Lord Himself for our example,
Lie hid in Nazareth for thirty years?
 
Wait the appointed time for work appointed,
Lest by the Tempter's wiles thou be ensnared;
Fresh by the oil wherewith thou art anointed;
Let God prepare thee for the work prepared.

—submitted by J. A. Ronald (Canada)

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MY CONVERSION AND CALL (36)

by Gaius Campbell Goff (Oregon, U.S.A.)

For six generations my family have been associated with Christians who gather in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Great-grandmother on my father's side was saved and gathered out under the preaching of the early brethren in Plymouth, England. From that beginning on the Goff side of the family and my grandfather, D. R. Scott's conversion in Northern Ireland on my mother's side, our family has been confronted with the Gospel for 150 years. So from earliest memory I wanted God's salvation for myself.

In February of 1952, two Irish evangelists, Mr. L. K. Mcllwaine and Mr. Sydney Maxwell, came to a town near our farm where the Forest Grove, Oregon assembly had an outreach work. In my teens and the middle child of a family of five children, I was just beginning to enjoy my independence as a person in a way I hadn't before. Ambition to accomplish something great was in my heart and although I loved farm life I found great fascination in history, economics and government. My father made it clear that we would be at every meeting in time for him to attend the prayer meetings before the Gospel preaching so our family timetable was advanced one half hour.

Father and mother and the two oldest children in our family were all saved and expressed a real interest in me getting serious about salvation. One night after a Gospel meeting, mother asked me to do her a special favour. As I love her very much I agreed and she passed me a Gospel tract entitled "Forty-eight Hours in Hell!" and looking seriously at me she said, "You promised to do what I asked and I want you to read that before you sleep tonight."

Needless to say sleep came very slowly after hearing the Gospel and then reading such a convicting message.

The next night for some reason, my father sat next to me in the meeting on a row where I sat with six of my friends. During the meeting I noticed tears coming down Father's cheek and wondered what had happened because I had not seen him cry before. Then it dawned upon me that those who loved me most had more concern about my soul than I did myself. Listening then more carefully than ever before I became greatly convicted of the fact that I was a sinner and consequently would shortly be in hell. The closing hymn "Almost Persuaded" affected me so much because I realised for the first time that the "prayers rising from hearts so dear" couldn't save me from such an awful hell as privileged people like I would be in.

In my anxiety I stayed to talk to the preachers. One read me a number of scriptures and asked me to explain them out loud which I did through my tears. Wanting to help him to help me I said, "Sir, I have learned all that at home, in Sunday School and at the meetings."

Quickly he shut his Bible firmly, got up from the chair and replied, "Then I guess you know too much to be saved," and he left the room.

As the door shut behind him and I was alone in that room I was sure I could never be saved because I knew the way of salvation but for some reason couldn't understand what I knew. Then the door opened and the other evangelist said to me, "Tell me the story of the Passover!"

I thought, "Well what in the world does that have to do with me wanting to be saved?"

"Go ahead, tell me the story," he insisted.

So I told a very condensed version of the passover story and he replied, "No, no. That's not the way the story goes;" and proceeded to say, "God said the firstborn was going to die on the 14th day of the first month. And God said they were to take a lamb without blemish and keep it four days. And God said they were to kill it in the evening. And God said they were to catch its blood in a basin. And God said they were to put the blood on the doorposts and lintel with hyssop. And God said they were to go inside and stay there eating the roast lamb. And God said, 'When I see the blood I will pass over you.' "

"Now. What is the difference between your story and mine?"

After a few moments of thought I answered, "I told you what I thought the story was and you told me what God said."

"Exactly right. Now what did God say?"

In my mind I searched to answer the question and the answer was clear, "He wanted to see the blood and was willing to pass over whoever was inside no matter who they were or what they had done if the blood was there."

The preacher then said, "That was then, for those people. Now how about today for us?"

Right away I understood that for God, He saw the blood of Christ to satisfy His just claims against me and for me I understood the death of Christ was for me. God and I were both looking at the Lord Jesus Christ. He to fulfil His demands, and I as a helpless sinner reconciled to God by the blood of Christ. What relief there was when I read Ex.12.13; John 3.36; 1 John 1.7; John 5.24. God and I brought together by the blood of Christ! This was a choice between heaven and hell.

A few years later when I was in university I was confronted with another choice which was very difficult as I still had ambition and visionary plans for myself. Over a period of three months the Lord dealt with me as His child as to whether I would choose heaven over earth. The battle between a wilful child and patient Father was hard but the peace after surrender was so good that it can't be expressed. As a result of this I was able to spend some time with an aged servant who was a tract distributor and found joy in this service.

In 1960 I had a phone call from Mr. Herb Harris from Newfoundland asking if I would come to help out in the Gospel work on the boat as other brethren were unavailable at the time and he knew our family and also that I had done some work on diesel engines similar to those on the boat called the "M.G.M." I went to help this aged man and was privileged to be with him in a village where there had never been any evangelical witness of any kind. Other workers came and went during that summer but the two of us stayed there. I didn't preach too much; mainly in the open air but I took children's services each night. Toward the end of the summer when it was time for me to leave there were only the two of us on the boat one night and he asked me if I would be willing to stay on longer as there was a large number of people attending, interest was good, souls troubled but no one saved as yet. Now I had to choose between walking by faith or walking by sight.

Before I gave him an answer I spent quite some time in prayer and asked the Lord to assure me if it was His will that I stay by using me personally to lead one of three men who were coming, to the Saviour. We had been reading in Acts 10 and > when the next night one of those men asked me to come to his house to explain the Gospel more it seemed just like Acts 10.6.

Late that night that man came to Christ. The next day his wife and the second one of the three men. Others then professed to be saved and I was assured the Lord wanted me there at least for the winter. During that winter over fifty were saved there. From January until June I was there alone but greatly experienced the presence of the Lord even though I had never done much preaching before. The people there didn't know the difference and thought I was the greatest they had heard! There was no assembly in that area so I was not able to be with believers in an assembly but what a joy after they were baptised to be able to "shew the Lord's death till He come" with saints that had never observed such a-thing in their lives.

After a year and a half in such outreach work there and in other such villages, my home assembly, and Mr. Harris with whom I was to work for the next eight years until his death, felt it was the will of the Lord and direction of the Holy Spirit at that time to "recommend me to the grace of God for the work that was set before me."

Four years later I met the woman who is now my wife, and Linda and I have been able to share in the work of the Gospel, seeing people saved, assemblies planted and, thank God, going on in scriptural ways. To God be all the glory!

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Quotes

 

ONLY PAPER

A murderer in U.S.A. was granted pardon by the President. He refused to accept it and insisted upon receiving the death penalty. The warden of the prison wired for instructions. The answer came back: "A pardon is only a scrap of paper until it is accepted."

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1.15).

—Selected


GARDENS

'Twas in a garden where God walked,
That man and woman hid,
They'd tasted of forbidden fruit,
Which knowingly they did.
 
They disobeyed their God's command,
Through option of self will,
Their own free choice had caused that sin,
And mankind does it still.
 
Another garden saw mans' choice,
And God's own Son betray,
With feigned affection, led the mob,
To one who was the Way.
 
'Twas in a garden in a tomb,
Which riches bought, the best,
The owner, helped, had body begged,
There laid his Lord to rest.
 
Creators' hand in nature seen,
To inner soul should tell,
How gardens have affected man,
Where first in sin he fell.
 
So when we in a garden stroll,
Just ponder on these things,
Though nature round us, God displays,
His Love the real peace brings.

—W. Beynon (S. Wales).


TELLING OTHERS OF HIS LOVE

Henry Moorhouse, the "boy evangelist" who made such a profound impression on D. L. Moody, preached, in Moody's church in Chicago, for six nights on John 3.16, "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." Moody wrote, "I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw . . . The seventh night came, and he went into the pulpit. Every eye was upon him. He said, "Beloved friends, I have been hunting all day for a new text, but I cannot find anything so good as the old one; so we will go back to John 3.16."

I remember the end of that sermon. It was this: "My friends, I have been trying to tell you how much God loves you, but I cannot do it with this poor stammering tongue. If I could borrow Jacob's ladder and climb up into heaven, and ask Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Almighty, to tell me how much love the Father has for the world, all he could say would be: '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.' "

—(Selected).


SONNET FROM THE SONG OF SONGS

Unique among the others of the wood
Distinctive in His leaf, and flower and fruit
The shelter of my soul and sweetest food.
He is my apple tree — God's tender shoot.
 
His head is of the finest gold you'll get
A picture of His glorious deity.
Yet dove-like eyes so pure, so fitly set
Reminds my heart of His humanity.
 
His cheeks and lips like spice and flowers sweet
His perfect hands as beryl in golden rings.
Marble and gold His beauteous legs and feet
When He, upon the mount, His gospel brings.
 
The Chief of all the thousands unto me!
The altogether Lovely One is He!

—Matthew J. Cordiner, Kilwinning

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