PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
MIRACLES AT CALVARY
by John B. D. Page
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
by A. D. Thropay
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
by D. C. Hinton
by D. McAllister
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by G. C. Goff
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98) VOLUME I
Paper 6b—The Restoration of Israel
Having considered these reasons for their restoration, let us examine some of the statements of Scripture as to it. Turn to Ezek. 37. Here we have the Prophet in the midst of a valley of dry bones. He was told that these bones represented the whole house of Israel. "Behold, they say, our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts" (verse 11). Death is here used to describe their national condition. Death is variously used in the Word of God: (1) It describes the spiritual condition of the unconverted (Eph. 2.1); (2) The separation of soul and body; (3) The final doom of the ungodly (Rev. 20.14); and (4) national dissolution, as here. The following passages may also be consulted: Isa. 26.13,14,19; Dan.12.2.
Ezekiel's vision in no way speaks of the resurrection of dead men, as such, nor the conversion of sinners, though the chapter has at times been used for both these purposes. It is the national awakening of the people of Israel to the possession and enjoyment of their long-lost glory. With this corresponds the words of the Apostle in Rom. 11.15: "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" This is the work of God alone; the time the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not till then will God look upon them with favour, nor put out His hand to restore them.
Any attempt to re-establish them in their land and national position prior to that day, however well-intentioned, will only end in disaster. Let this be well pondered. While on the other hand it is a serious thing to ill-treat or oppress the Jew; on the other hand it is solemn to interfere with the governmental dealings of God by attempting to reinstate them in their possession. They are scattered and broken under the hand of God. He it was Who expelled them for most serious reasons. Who will essay to reverse His sentence? It is no mere accident that has befallen them, but the righteous judgment of God. Ere they can have true restoration Israel must receive at the hands of Jehovah double for their sins (Jer. 16.18; Isa. 40.2). He, and He alone, is entitled to fix the time when their warfare shall be accomplished"an"d the indignation shall cease (Dan. 11.36).
Isaiah 18 is a highly interesting chapter in connection with Israel. It seems to predict an effort by some maritime power to gather them just before the time of the intervention of Jehovah. The chapter is not a burden, but a call. "Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: that sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!" (verses 1, 2). The land is not named, but three marks are given: (1) it is a distant land; (2) it is a maritime power; and (3) friendly to the Jews. There is no need to speculate as to its name; events will show in due course.
But Jehovah is not in the movement, His time not having arrived. However, He draws attention to it: "All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountain, and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye. For so the Lord said unto me, I will take My rest, and I will consider in My dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest" (verses 3,4). The language may be obscure to some of our readers, but it clearly shows that while men are mistakenly active, God is not moving, but from His heavenly dwelling place He notes what they-are doing. He considers their action; but He takes His rest, the due moment not having arrived for deliverance.
Will the enterprise succeed? Will the divine sentence of exile and chastisement thus be reversed for Israel? No. "For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches. They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountain, and to the beasts of the earth, and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them" (verses 5,6). Man's scheme will thus be blasted. When all seems fair, and success seems certain, disaster will come. The people thus restored will but fall a prey to the powers around. With this Scripture before us we need not be surprised at any attempt to reinstate scattered Israel in the land of their fathers. The closing verse of the chapter shows that when Jehovah intervenes on behalf of His people the results will be glorious and full. The once scattered and peeled people will be presented to Himself to be settled in peace for ever around his long-loved centre, the Mount Zion.
We will now consider the details of this. When they were expelled from the good land long ago it was in two parts. The ten tribes were carried away by the kings of Assyria; the two tribes, forming the kingdom of Judah, by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. Scripture is silent as the home-going of the two tribes. It simply regards them as in the land during the events of the last days. They will return in unbelief, and will acknowledge and suffer under the false Christ. They will either rebuild the temple, or adapt to their use some other existing building. Anyhow, we read of "the temple of God" and "the holy place" (2 Thess. 2.4; Rev. 11.1,2; Matt. 24.15).
The mass of them will be very pleased with their leader, though the godly will have their misgivings from the first. He will come to them in his own name, and will be received, as the Lord Jesus warned (John 5.43). As their head he will form a seven years' convent with the Roman beast for protection, &c. This Jehovah describes as a covenant with death and an agreement with hell (Isa. 28.14-22), denouncing the pride and impiety which leads up to it. The reason of this covenant is apparently their dread of the Northern foe, called "the overflowing scourge." But their agreement will prove worthless, for their dreadful foe will chastise them nevertheless; and what is worse, their chosen leader will himself prove a worse enemy within—a veritable wolf in the fold. Alas, for guilty Judah! When the Christ of God came they knew Him not. They discerned not the things which belonged unto their peace, nor the time of their visitation. Therefore the sorrow and scourging, the darkness and delusion. The appearing of the Lord Jesus will deliver the godly remnant of Judah from this terrible enemy and persecutor. Matt. 24.29-31 makes this perfectly plain. He will answer their agonised cry for help and deliverance by His appearing in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. He will appear to their joy, and those who hate them shall be ashamed (Isa. 66.5).
The re-gathering of the ten tribes will follow. The great trumpet shall be blown, and those who are ready to perish shall be brought together to worship Jehovah in the holy mount at Jerusalem (Isa. 27.13). The trumpet of Matt. 24.31 refers to the same event, I have no doubt. Then will the feast of trumpets be fulfilled (Lev. 23.23-26). When the silver trumpets were first instituted in connection with the tabernacle, they were for the calling together of the people (Num. 10.1-3).
What a home-coming it will be after long centuries of wandering and desolation! What joy to God, and what blessing for the people of His choice! And, also, what a meeting of the tribes after dreary ages of separation and estrangement! Isa. 49.18-23 graphically describes their meeting. To those already in the land—the two tribes—the Lord says: "Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together and come to thee." They shall clothe themselves with them as a garment, and the land will be too narrow by reason of the inhabitants. It is all most touchingly described by the Spirit. "Then shalt thou say in thine heart, who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?" Well may they ask. For centuries Zion has been bereaved of her children. Long has the land kept her Sabbaths. But when Jehovah's time comes, how marvellous and glorious the change!
He will see to it that His own are brought home in a manner befitting the people of the Lord. The Gentiles shall bring Zion's sons in their arms, and her daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. Kings shall be their nursing fathers, and their queens their nursing mothers; and they, the ransomed of the Lord, shall return with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Isa. 49.22,23; 35.10).
Many wonder where these tribes are at the present time, and much time and labour have been spent in the endeavour to settle the question. But why should Christians exercise themselves as to such a matter? Where Scripture is silent, we do not well to be curious. Faith is assured that God knows their whereabouts, and that He will make it manifest in His own time and way. The table of shewbread in the sanctuary of old with its twelve loaves was ever before the Lord, and during the darkness the light of the golden candlestick shed its rays upon them (Lev. 24.1-9). This is night for Israel beyond all question; but the eye of God is upon them, not one of the tribes is forgotten before Him. He knows where to lay hands upon them when He requires them for restoration and blessing.
—to be continued (DV)
Miracles at Calvary (9)
by John B. D. Page (Weston-Super-Mare)
9—The Miracle of Christ's Death
In narrating the death of the Lord Jesus, none of the four evangelists says, 'and He died'. Although they use such or similar wording when mentioning the death of others, they refrained from adopting it for recording the death of Christ. Throughout the Scriptures the phrase is found frequently, but initially in the genealogical table of Genesis chapter 5 where it occurs eight times (v. 5,8,11,14,17,20,27,31) starting with Adam and then from generation to generation until the days of Noah, covering a period of about 1,700 years. Its repetition in that early chapter emphasises the universality and inevitability of death in those primeval times and according to other Scriptures there has been no change through the succeeding centuries even until the present century.
That this recurring phrase in the Bible is not used of Christ in the gospels is important, because Christianity is the only religion in the world which is founded not on a man's philosophy, but upon facts of history. The New Testament Epistles set forth Christian teaching which is developed from historical facts concerning the Lord Jesus Christ — His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension which are faithfully recorded facts in the four Gospels. For instance, if one or more of these evangelists had said, 'and He died,' then it could be deduced that Christ's death was inevitable as death is with all men; that death had power over Him as it has over all humans; that the sinlessness of Christ would be undermined; — to mention only a few gross errors concerning the Person of Christ. To avoid such dreadful heresies, the Holy Spirit restrained the gospel writers from using the phrase in respect of His death.
Of Christ, these holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit to say that He "yielded up the ghost" Matt. 27.50 and "gave up the ghost" Mark 15.37; Luke 23.46; John 19.30. These expressions are never used in the Bible of any other dying person, differentiating the death of the Lord Jesus from every other death. Of course, He was different in His Person, because He is God incarnate, totally God and totally Man. Therefore, His death was different — not in the sense that He feigned or swooned death, for His death was real like that experienced by other persons, and its reality is attested by the Scriptures — but the differences make His death unique, and are worth recounting.
First, the death of Christ was different, because it was an entirely voluntary and conscious act of His will which is clear from the phraseology used. Matthew 27.50 says He "yielded up the ghost" which, according to some writers, fails to bring out the proper force of the Greek, and so the better rendering is He 'dismissed His spirit', or 'He sent forth His spirit'. Therefore, His spirit did not depart from His body against His will but, by exercising His will, He sent forth His spirit.
John 19.30 says He "gave up the ghost" which, although a different Greek word, means that He 'delivered up His spirit' and still retaining the thought that His death was volitional. Both Mark 15.37 and Luke 23.46 state He "gave up the ghost" and select another Greek word which means literally He 'breathed out' or 'expired'.
For a fuller understanding of the thought behind these three verbs as used by the respective gospel writers, A. W. Pink's comment is worthy of quoting in extenso. "In Matthew 27.50 we read, 'And Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice yielded up His spirit.' But this translation fails to bring out the proper force of the original: the meaning of the Greek is He 'dismissed His spirit'. This expression is appropriate in Matthew, which is the Kingly Gospel, presenting our Lord as 'The Son of David; the King of the Jews.' Such a term is beautifully suited in the Royal Gospel, for the Lord's act connotes one of authority, as of a king dismissing a servant.
"The word used in Mark — which presents our Lord as the perfect Servant — is the same as in our text — taken from Luke, the Gospel of Christ's perfect Manhood — and signifies, He 'breathed out His spirit'. It was His passive endurance of death.
"In John, which is the Gospel of Christ's Divine Glory, another word is employed by the Holy Spirit: 'He bowed His head and gave up the spirit' John 19.30, or 'delivered up' would perhaps be more exact. Here the Saviour does not 'commend' His spirit to the Father as in the Gospel of His humanity but in keeping with His Divine Glory, as One who has full power over it, He 'delivers up' His spirit!"
In using these verbs, not one narrator uses the imperfect tense which would have implied that His death was a prolonged struggle but they adopt the aorist tense to indicate that His breath was momentary. This is further borne out in the surprise expressed by the Roman Governor when approached by Joseph, of Arimathaea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, for the body. Knowing that a crucified person may take up to nine days to die, "Pilate wondered if He was already dead." To ensure that Jesus was dead, Pilate "called the centurion, (and) he enquired of him if He had long died." Then, "when he knew from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph" (Mark 15.44f, N.Tr.). These scriptures show clearly that the death of Christ was not caused by extended exhaustion which was unusual, but His death was transitory — He died after only six hours, which had never been known before. Such a miracle was due to the voluntary surrender of His life at a pre-determined moment of time.
Second, the death of Christ was different, because men were powerless to kill Him which is evident from His own lips. Referring to His life, He said, "No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself John 10.18, by which He meant that no man had the power or right to kill Him but He alone could lay it down in death. Having declared earlier that He could do nothing of Himself (John 5.30; 8.28), this was the one thing which He claimed to do of Himself. On a later occasion concerning His death, He foretold, "The Son of Man shall be betrayed into the hands of men; and they shall kill Him . . ." Matt. 17.22f, which is not contradictory of His earlier utterance but, when the hour had struck, He allowed Himself to be betrayed, arrested and killed by sinful men. This is made clear by the Lord Jesus Himself during His civil trial before Pilate who asked Him, "knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, . . .?" The divine Prisoner answered, "Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above: . . ." John 10.10f. Expressed in another way, even Rome with all its power was powerless to do other than carry out the will of God in this case.
Contrary to all other men, this Man had the sole right to submit Himself to death and so, for Him alone, death was a deliberate and decisive act that He took. Thus, His death was entirely voluntary and it was not possible for Him to be held by the power of death for a moment longer than He chose.
Third, the death of Christ was different because He was impeccable — He was not liable to sin and He had within Him no bias to sin — and yet despite His utter sinlessness He died. In view of His unqualified impeccability, death had no claim upon Him. This meant that His life could not be terminated by death which has been the norm for all men since primeval times when by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, in consequence of which death has passed upon all men down through the ensuing centuries. With the advance of medical science, death may be deferred and human life prolonged but there comes a time when men of medicine are powerless to prevent death. This unseen power of death is illustrated from Israel's priesthood, consisting of a long succession of priests, none of whom was able to continue in office by reason of death (Heb. 7.23).
As the Lord Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, sin was not transmitted to Him and so He was intrinsically sinless not only in His whole being but also in thought and deed (1 John 3.5; 2 Cor. 5.21; 1 Pet. 2.22) which was evident during the days of His flesh. Unlike the death of sinful men, His death was not the result of sin but of His own volition He "tasted death for every man" Heb. 2.9. For all men, there is the undeniable fact of death —"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" Heb. 9.27, meaning that for the sinner death is first and before divine judgment. With Christ, the Sinless One, the order is reversed. Owing to His abhorrence of sin, God refrained from gazing upon His Son during those three hours of darkness when He "bare our sins in His own body on the tree" 1 Pet. 2.24 — He thus endured that dreadful judgment of God for our sins after which He died. Then He commended His Spirit unto His Father. None before had ever done that at death. Other differences concerning His death are found in the Scriptures, but these three will suffice.
Unlike other human beings at death, the Lord's body did not experience corruption (Acts 2.27). This miracle, foretold centuries before in a Messianic Psalm (Psa. 16.10), is attributed to the fact that in Him is no sin — His utter sinlessness.
In His Person, Christ is unique. His birth was unmatched. His life was unparalleled. His death was unequalled — "the Prince of Life" died!
—to be continued (D.V.)
Assembly Testimony Bible Class
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCHES No. 6 — Fellowship
In our previous study, we noticed that "they that gladly received his word were baptized", Acts 2.41. But that was not the end of the matter. The passages continues: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers", v.42. in our next few studies, God willing, we must consider the important subject of "fellowship." It is worth noting, if only to make us read our Bibles with more care, that the reference to "fellowship" here is not exactly the same as our commonly-used expression, 'in fellowship.' The following rendering emphasises the point, 'And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles', J. N. Darby. It is all too easy to alter the sense of a passage by unwittingly adding or deleting words to make it fit a traditional interpretation! Even so, we must now attempt to address this enormous subject by taking, first of all, a broad view.
The original New Testament word ('koinonia' and its associated words) is not uniformly translated in our Bibles, and in this study you will find the translation in capitals where it occurs in the verses quoted. Whilst Acts 2.42 has the first mention of the word "fellowship" in the Authorised Version, a kindred word ('koinonos') occurs earlier. The following references clearly illustrate the meaning of "fellowship": "The sons of Zebedee which were PARTNERS with Simon", Luke 5.10. (Note, "partner" in v.7 is a different word). "If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been PARTAKERS with them in the blood of the prophets", Matt. 23.30. "Fellowship", therefore, means partnership, or, a sharing in common.
But we must not think for one moment that Christian fellowship is just a pleasant get-together by people with common aims and interests. Christian fellowship is placed on the highest possible level because it exists in the realm of fellowship with God. In fact, we could not possibly enjoy fellowship with each other, apart from fellowship with God. The following verses illustrate the exalted realm in which our fellowship is located:
- "Our FELLOWSHIP is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ", 1 John 1.3.
- "God is faithful by Whom ye were called unto the FELLOWSHIP of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord", 1 Cor. 1.9.
- "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the COMMUNION of the Holy Ghost be with you all", 2 Cor. 13.14. See also the expression, "FELLOWSHIP of the Spirit", Phil. 2.1.
Quite obviously therefore, Christian fellowship is not just another 'fellowship', of which there are many in the world. Bearing in mind that its source and character makes it absolutely unique, we can now give some thought to the following:
A) The Basis on which Fellowship Rests
The Lord's supper proclaims this most clearly: "The cup of blessing which we bless (meaning, 'to speak well of, with the idea of thankfulness) is it not the COMMUNION of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break is it not the COMMUNION of the body of Christ?", 1 Cor. 10.16. The historical order, i.e. "body . . . blood" (see Ch.ll), is reversed in Ch.10, because the subject of the passage is fellowship, rather than remembrance as in Ch.ll. Christian fellowship rests upon the blood of Christ. This is stressed again in the expression, "PARTAKERS of the altar", v.18. This refers to the peace offering in Lev. 3 and 7.11-34. The distinctive feature of this offering is the fact that God, the priest, and the offerer, all had their portion of the offering. All had fellowship in what was offered on the altar. The lesson is simple, but beautiful: we enjoy fellowship with God in appreciating the value of Christ's death at Calvary.
B) The Way in which Fellowship is Displayed
We can do no better than to group some of the relevant passages, and leave the context in which they occur for personal study. It is excellent to quote the Scriptures, but better to do so with reference to their context. This makes for accuracy in interpretation. It has been well said that a text taken out of its context becomes a pretext — for anything you want it to mean! Fellowship is displayed:
i) In service.
Think about the following: "Your FELLOWSHIP in the gospel from the first day until now", Phil. 1.5. "The right hands (notice the plural here) of FELLOWSHIP", Gal. 2.9. "He is my PARTNER and fellow-helper", 2 Cor. 8.23.
ii) In suffering.
Think about the following: "The FELLOWSHIP of His sufferings, Phil. 3.10. "As ye are PARTAKERS of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation", 2 Cor. 1.7. "Ye became COMPANIONS of them that were so used", Heb. 10.33. "Rejoice inasmuch as ye are PARTAKERS of Christ's sufferings", 1 Pet. 4.13.
iii) In stewardship.
Think about the following: "Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the FELLOWSHIP of the ministering to the saints", 2 Cor. 8.4. "Your liberal DISTRIBUTION unto them", 9.13. "DISTRIBUTING to the necessity of saints", Rom. 12.13. "Let him that is taught in the word COMMUNICATE unto him that teacheth", Gal. 6.6. (See also Phil. 4.5, Heb. 13.16, 1 Tim. 6.18.). "A certain CONTRIBUTION for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem", Rom. 15.26.
C) The Areas at which Fellowship Stops
The fact that "Our FELLOWSHIP is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ", should regulate all ourrelationships, and this is clearly expressed in 2 Cor. 6.14, "What COMMUNION hath light with darkness?" This principle should govern our conduct in every situation. For example: "Have no FELLOWSHIP with the unfruitful works of darkness", Eph. 5.] 1; "Neither be PARTAKERS of other men's sins", 1 Tim. 5.22; "He that biddeth him God speed is PARTAKER of his evil deeds", 2 John 11. These passages make our position perfectly clear should our associations, whether ecclesiastical or otherwise, require us either to deny the word of God, or to compromise the word of God.
D) The Duration to which Fellowship Extends
Fellowship involves us all in privileges and responsibilities. It brings joy and gladness, together with stress and strain. But the suffering, stress and strain is, comparatively speaking, "but for a moment" (2 Cor. 4.17). A "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" awaits us, and then, with Peter, we will each be "a PARTAKER of the glory that shall be revealed", 1 Pet. 5.1. Our fellowship then will be without distraction, and will be so for ever.
In the meantime, make sure that YOU are continuing "STEADFASTLY ... IN FELLOWSHIP."
by A. D. THROPAY (California)
II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD'S MASTERPIECE 4.1-6.23 F. Weapons of Warfare 6.10-20
Above: (epi) Its root meaning is "upon." With the locative case, as ..here, it emphasizes position. In this case, it means, "upon, at, over, before." (Dana & Mantey)
all: (pasin = in the locative case) Some take this to mean, "above all your other armour." Others understand this to mean "above all the other shields." The reason for this will be seen later.
taking: (analabontes — nominative plural masculine participle, aorist of analambano) "having taken up or received up."
the shield: (thureos) A large oblong or door shaped shield. It was sometimes covered with leather, which when soaked, can quench fiery darts. These shields were also used to form the tortoise shield. "Now the manner of making a tortoise is this. Those that are in the front set their shields stoutly against the walls, and to these others coming close join their shields, and to these again others. These shields being closely fitted together are as the shell of a tortoise, neither can any darts pierce through them." (The story of the last days of Jerusalem, by Alfred J. Church, M.A., P. 14)
Some believe that the picture portrayed here is an individual shield which the soldier lifts above his other armor for protection. Others see the picture as a soldier who lifts his shield up in harmony with the other soldiers for the mutual protection of all.
of faith: (tes pisteos — genitive of identity) "the shield which is faith." Faith is trust, confidence, reliance, dependence on God. Our protection is in God, not in ourselves. The various pieces of our armour have value only inasmuch as they are placed there by God. God protects those who are helplessly dependent on Himself.
wherewith: (en ho) Literally, "in which." Faith or confidence in God is a protection sphere.
ye shall be able: (dunomai — the word is future in tense) As verse 13. To have power and ability.
to quench: (sbesai — aorist, infinitive active of sbennumi) To extinguish or quench
effectively and completely, all: (panta — in the accusative) = altogether, wholly, in all ways, in all respects. (Thayer, Wigram).
the fiery: (pepuromena accusative participle, perfect passive of puroo) kindled, flaming, burning.
darts: (bele) A spear, arrow, or dart. "The burning arrow is a powerful weapon, made of turned iron, ... on it a ball whose weight is increased by lead; it has, ... fire attached, being surrounded by tow and daubed with pitch; when kindled it destroys the enemy either by wounding or burning." (TDNT Vol. V, p. 314 footnote, quoted from Aen. IX, 705) There are smaller burning arrows also. "The arrow is made of cane articulated between tip and shaft by fissured iron; it is curved like a weaver's spindle on which linen threads are spun, . . . and takes into its belly fire with combustible material. And when, shot fairly slowly from a not too taut bow, for it would be extinguished by too rapid flight, it strikes somewhere, it burns stubbornly, and if water is poured on it, causes stronger bursts of flame, and can be put our by no other means than sand spread over it." (TDNT, Vol. V, P. 314, Footnote quoted from Amm. Marc, 23,4)
The significance of the fiery darts or arrows: The Hebrew word "Chets" is used seven times in an evil sense. (1) The tongue that talks behind another person's back to injure — Psalms 11.2 "For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart." (2) The tongue that lies about other people — Proverbs 25.18 "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow." (3) The deceitful tongue that pretends to be your friend but in reality is your arch enemy — Jeremiah 9.8 "Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait." (4) The teeth (representing the mouth) that sets a trap for others — Psalms 57.4-6 "My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah." (5) Bitter, rebellious words against a person — Psalms 64.3 "Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:" (6) The person that deceives another person — Proverbs 26.18, 19 "As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?" (7) The woman who tempts a man to sin, then accuses him and ruins his reputation — Proverbs 7.21-23.
of the wicked: (tou ponerou — genitive singular or poneros) the word was used in verse 13 of the "evil day." Here it is used of the "evil one." It refers to Satan who is the one behind the dart throwing. The fiery dart (or Longue) is itself set on fire by Hell! James 3.6.
And: (kai) and or also
take: (dexasthe) "The verb has its proper sense here, not merely 'take.' but 'receive,' i.e. as a gift from the Lord, a thing provided and offered by Him." (expositors)
the helmet: (perikephalaia — peri - around; kephale = head) The helmet was to protect the soldier from a knock out blow to his head, or from a fatal hit there. Once knocked out, the brain can not think clearly to defend the person, or continue fighting. In this state, the head loses its authority and the person is powerless. (In Ephesians, the head is the symbol of power or authority. (See 1.22; 4.15; 5.23)
of salvation: (tou soteriou = genitive of identity) The helmet which is salvation. The helmet is the present experience of the Lord's deliverance when a believer is under atack. Salvation or deliverance is God's work. It is a gift to us. (Psalm 37.39; Proverbs 21.31; Jeremiah 3.23; Lamentations 3.26; Jonah 2.9)
and the sword: (fen machaira) a short sword of dagger.
of the Spirit: (ton pneumatos = genitive of origin) "which comes from the Spirit."
which is the word: (rhema) The word is used for a spoken or uttered word. There is no article before this word in the Greek text.
of God: coming from or belonging to God. The sword of the Spirit is God's word spoken at the precise mement of need. Cp. the Lord Jesus when He was tempted. Three times He used the sword of the Spirit when He said, "it is written . . ." Matthew 4.4, 7, 10.
praying: (proseuchomenoi — present middle of proseuchomai) A general word used for prayer to the Divine being. It describes the manner or attitude by which verse 10—17 is fulfilled and in which we are to stand.
always: (en panti kairo) in every season. That is, not merely during conflict, crisis or special occasions, but in all kinds of times.
with: (dia) through, by means of all: (pases) every kind of type of.
prayer: (proseuche) Prayer in general. Comprehensive prayer, including all aspects (petition, thanks, prayers, etc.)
and supplication: (deesis) This word almost always means, "Real asking." A specific petition.
in: (en) This word is used to indicate the sphere or element in which the asking takes place.
Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the sphere in which all true efficient prayer occurs.
and watching: (agrupnountes) To be wide-awake, watchful, alert, attentive, paying close attention.
thereunto: (eis auto touto) "unto this very thing."
with: (en) in.
all perseverance: (proskarteresis) The noun is only used here, although the verb is used many times. It is a compound word made up of two words meaning, "Towards" and "to bear up patiently." It means to continue patiently, thoroughly, intensively and diligently with intentness and determination. To be persistent and patient.
and supplication: (deesis) as above
for: (peri) concerning all the saints.
The order in the Greek New Testament shows the connection with prayer and the rest of the armour. Although, prayer is not part of the armour, the armour cannot be used without it. ". . . through all prayer and supplication praying in every season in Spirit and unto this very thing watching with close attention in all perseverance and supplication concerning all saints."
and for: (huper) on behalf of.
me: Paul does not want the Christians to think that he does not need their prayers, that: (hina) "in order that." Pray for a specific purpose.
utterance: (logos) communication (Ephesians 4.29), speech (I Corinthians 2.1), utterance (I Corinthians 1.5, Colossians 4.3), word (Matthew 8.8,16). These are words to be imparted to him to speak by the Holy Spirit.
may be given: (didomi) The word to give is in the aorist passive tense. This word holds the position of emphasis in the sentence. The utterance is regarded as a gift.
unto me that: (en) "in," marking the occasion in which this gift is necessary. I may open: (anoixis) this word is used for the act of opening anything.
my mouth boldly: (en parresia) Primarily, "freedom in speaking." Then it is used for "frankness and unreserved plainness in speaking." (Expositors and TDNT)
to make known: (gnorizo) "to make known, reveal, declare."
the mystery: (to musterion) as 3.3—6. "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; . . . That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:"
of the gospel: That is, the mystery "belonging to the gospel." The mystery of the church cannot be divorced from the gospel. In the gospel we are entitled to heaven. Our joys come to us from there. In the church, we are placed there now (Ephesians 2.6).
for: (huper) "on behalf of."
which I am an ambassador: (presbeuo) To travel or work as an ambassador. "To be or to act as one who is sent. To bring a message, to negotiate." The ambassador legally represents the political authority which send him." (TDNT) "A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign sovereign or government as the resident representative of his own sovereign or government or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment." (Websters seventh New Collegiate Dictionary)
in bonds: (en halusei) Literally, "in a chain." The word was used for a necklace. It was also used for the handcuff by which the prisoner was attached to his guard (Acts 12.6, 21.33). (Expositors)
that: (hina) in order that,'this word introducing the second reason why Paul desires prayer.
therein: (en auto) "in it," that is, the chain joined to the guard. Compare Philippians 1:12-14.
I may speak boldly: (parresiasomai) the future tense is used her indicating that Paul desired their prayers that he might speak plainly, boldly, freely, and confidently in the future as well should he be required to continue to wear these intimidating chains.
as I ought: (dei) As John 3.7 "ye must be born again." It is a necessity produced by God's purposes. "As it is necessary for me to speak."
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. C. Hinton (Uxbridge, England)
Living in a day when marriage is either considered to be a ceremony with little meaning or of no importance at all, we do well to consider seriously its true meaning afresh. In doing so it is imperative that we base our conclusions solely upon the statements of Scripture and not upon the teaching, practices or even customs of men. Nor must we allow sympathy for others, even if they be our own relatives, to colour our conclusions.
What is Marriage?
The bringing together of a man and a woman to be "one flesh" was a divine institution and its principles were to apply universally down through the centuries. This was to be binding on all people, not just believers in our Lord Jesus. That is why the Lord took His questioners back to "the beginning", Matt. 19.4. There, in the garden of Eden, Jehovah made clear His views on marriage before sin entered to mar His creation. His principles never change.
Marriage was to be the foundation of family life and was to establish a new family unit. This is seen as the apostle quotes Gen. 2.24 in Eph. 5.31 "For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined unto his wife: and they two shall be one flesh." Previously the man would have been under the headship of his father, but now in marriage, he is the head of a new family. The fact that in Gen. 2, father and mother are mentioned, before either of these relationships existed, proves that principles are being laid down for future generations.
It is important to be clear as to when a marriage is regarded by God as taking place. With Adam and Eve this was as soon as God had presented Eve to Adam. "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:" Adam was then described as "her husband", Gen. 3.6; Eve as "thy husband," and "his wife", Gen. 3.17,20. This was despite the fact that the marriage was not consummated until ch.4. Thus we read in 4.1, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived,". Therefore the argument that marriage is only effective in the sight of God when it is consummated is totally flawed. Note the order inspired by the Holy Spirit in Ruth 4.13, "So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son."
Moreover the fact that marriage was divinely instituted and is union produced and recognised by God today, causes us to realise how important is the statement, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Matt. 19.6. Man has no authority to legislate in this sphere.
In this land there is a legal ceremony which is to be carried out before the marriage is legal. Surely this is when marriage is divinely recognised. It is clear with respect to believers, since their views are uttered in His presence. Other lands have other procedures which are equally valid as recognizing a new relationship.
Pattern for Marriage
God only provided one wife for Adam and that was Eve. This was to be a pattern for the future and we must not take as our example the subsequent practices of either the patriarchs or of Israel. It is significant that the first mention of plurality of wives comes in connection with the evil man Lamech, Gen. 4.23. The requirement that an elder must be "the husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3.2) does not mean that other men could have more than one wife. He was to be a "one wife man", meaning his affections were to be given to one woman only.
When considering the subject of marriage, we must not forget its spiritual significance. Eve was created to be a help meet for Adam. This was a role that could not be fulfilled by any of the animal creation. Gen. 2.20, "And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. She was to support him in every way and was to enable him to reveal the full depths of his character — his love, care and every other devoted trait. This is applied to the relationship between the risen Christ and the church, "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." The full display of divine love and care is to be seen in Christ's relationship with the church. The apostle develops this thought in a later chapter. The marriage union, the most intimate that can be experienced on earth, is a picture of the unique union between Christ and the Church. Eph. 5.32, "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." It is essential to keep this in mind when considering the permanence of marriage. Anything which would spoil this application is obviously contrary to the mind of God and should not be tolerated or practised. —(to be continued, DV).
by David McAllister (Zambia)
B. The Analysis of Amillennialism (continued)
Question 2: Will the promises be fulfilled literally (to Israel) or spiritually only (to the church) ?
All are agreed, Amillennialists included, that there are many prophecies in the Old Testament, and also in the New, which have not been literally fulfilled; in particular ones relating to a time of unprecedented tribulation and a time of unprecedented peace on earth the earth. The Amillennialist says that these were never intended to refer to literal events on earth; they have a spiritual fulfilment only. We therefore need to try to determine whether or not we can expect a literal fulfilment for these Scriptures.
The following points are put in favour of a literal fulfilment:
- If we consider again the promises given by God in the Abrahamic Covenant, there are many promises which all must agree have been fulfilled literally. He was promised a great nation stemming from him; blessing; a great name; blessing for those who blessed him; cursing for those that cursed him; blessing for all families of the earth through him; that he would have an heir; that he would be the father of many nations; and that kings would come out of him. These promises have been fulfilled literally. There is not the slightest need to spiritualise any of them. Now when we come to the issue of the promises regarding inheriting the land, which are part of the same covenant, in view of the fact the other promises were literally fulfilled, surely we are entitled to expect that the promises regarding the land will be (also) literally fulfilled. Consistency of interpretation will not allow for anything other than a literal fulfilment. To suggest otherwise is to accuse God of inconsistency; a very serious charge indeed.
- In Genesis 15, Abraham is told by God that it is "this" land which the Lord brought him out of Ur, to inherit (v7). This can only mean the physical land of Canaan. Abraham asks how he will know he is to inherit it (v8), and in response God solemnizes the covenant in a most emphatic way, indicating to him beyond doubt that he will inherit the very land he is standing on. God emphasises again that it is "this" land (vl8). And as if any further proof were needed that it is the literal land of Canaan He is talking about, God precisely delineates its boundaries in vl8—21. In the same passage God predicts the period of suffering in Egypt, referring to it as "a land that is not their's" (vl3). This clearly refers to a literal land, and it was fulfilled literally. Abraham would have had no doubt whatsoever that God was referring to literal land throughout this passage. To suggest that when God gave such a clear and specific promise and description of the land, He did not have in His mind any intention of ever giving Abraham the land, is not only to rob language of any meaning; a serious enough error in itself, but, more seriously, it is to accuse God of deliberately deceiving Abraham.
- Later references in the OT (e.g. Gen. 50.24 and Ex. 32.13), and, very significantly, in the NT as well (e.g. Acts 7.3—8 and Hebrews 11.9), categorically state that the land Abraham and his seed were promised was the literal land of Canaan.
- But the Amillennialist sometimes goes even further than this. He says that when God made these promises to Abraham's "seed", He was not referring to Abraham's natural descendants at all; He was referring to believers, whether Jews or not. Thus the nation of Israel has no entitlement to the blessings.
Another look at Gen. 15 will answer this point: In vl3 we have already seen that God says "Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's", and He goes on to describe the affliction in Egypt, and the Exodus (vl3—16). Thus the term "thy seed" must refer here to the nation of Israel. By no stretch of language or imagination can it mean the church. Abraham would have had no doubt that the term "thy seed" was literal. So for other references to his seed in the promises given. Thus again, on grounds of consistency, of interpretation and the impossibility of God trying to deceive Abraham, we cannot make the word seed mean the church here. Moreover, in Gal. 3.8, 15 Paul makes it clear that the promise "In thee shall all nations be blessed" is fulfilled ultimately in Christ. He was literally a descendant of Abraham, so again the word seed is to be taken literally.
(The writer is aware that the term "seed of Abraham" is also used in a spiritual sense in the N.T. He is not avoiding that issue, and will come to it later. But that is not what we are attempting to determine at the moment. We are trying to decide whether the promises in the OT were meant for Abraham's literal seed or his spiritual seed, and the above reasons would point to the fact that they were given to the former, and hence will have a literal fulfilment for the nation of Israel.)
Moreover, the promises of the covenant are stated as having been given not only to Abraham's seed, but also to Isaac's "seed" (Gen. 17.19) and to Jacob's "seed" (Gen. 28.13). To support their theories, many Amillennialists must construe the OT references to Abraham's seed to mean his spiritual seed, due to NT references calling all believers the seed of Abraham. No such construction can however be made from the seed of Isaac or seed of Jacob, as NT believers are never referred to as "Isaac's seed" or "Jacob's seed". The only way these terms can possibly be taken is literally.
Other uses of the word "seed" in Genesis include 7.3, 9.9, 38.8, 46.6, 48.11, and 48.19. Examination of the context in each case shows that each must refer to literal descendants. Neither is there any reason to believe that in the Abrahamic Covenant it refers to anything other than literal descendants.
- The above discussion has been largely confined to the Abrahamic Covenant, but the argument for literal fulfilment goes much further than that. Frequently in the OT we have references to Christ's first coming, which were fulfilled literally (e.g. that He would be a descendant of David, that He would be born in Bethlehem, that He would be born of a virgin, descriptions of His earthly ministry, the manner of His death, and the circumstances surrounding it). There is not the slightest doubt but that these prophecies were literally fulfilled. But in the same OT, there are many prophecies regarding His return to earth, judgments, a blessed future for Israel, and a time of peace. Often these are side by side with prophecies of His first coming. For example, we do not doubt the literal fulfilment of Isa. 53 at the Lord's first coming. Why then doubt the literal fulfilment of Isa. 11 and 12 at His second coming? Consistency demands a literal fulfilment for these as well. It is absurd to suggest that everything that has been fulfilled up to the first coming was meant literally, but everything else spiritually only.
- There is not a single scripture that the Amillenniaiist can produce in order to substantiate his claims that OT promises of the land have been spiritually transferred to the church. Never in Scripture is the promise to Abraham cancelled, never is it stated or implied that the literal boundaries given are only of spiritual significance, and never is it indicated or even hinted that the church inherits these promises. If the Amillenniaiist proposes that the promises have a totally different meaning than the plain sense of their words, the very least we can expect is a clear statement from scripture to back up his claims. This has never been produced, only lot of convoluted arguments, which we will consider later.
Thus we conclude that the promises given to Israel in the OT must be literally fulfilled, and this can only happen in a future literal reign of Christ on earth. There must be a Millennium.
Question 3: Is the church a distinct entity, seen only in the NT, or did it exist in OT times as well?
If, as the Amillennialist would have us believe, the church is nothing more than full-blossomed Israel, and is not distinct from Israel, then he can with some justification say that she fulfils the OT promises to Israel.
On the other hand, if it can be shown that the church is not the subject of OT prophecy, then it follows that it cannot be the fulfiller of the OT promises to Israel.
The following shows that Church is distinct from Israel:—
- The use of the word "mystery" to describe many of the major truths of the church. Four verses in particular give us the meaning of the word "Mystery":
- Rom. 16.25: "the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began"
- Col. 1.26: "The mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints"
- Eph. 3.4,5: "The mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit"
- Eph. 3.9: "the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God"
Thus we clearly see that a mystery is a truth hidden in the OT but revealed in the NT.
Now let us look at some things pertaining to the church which are described as a mystery, and which thus are new revelations in the NT, and not in the OT:—
Eph. 3.1-12. This describes the mystery of the one body, which Paul calls a "new man" in 2.15. Nothing could be clearer: the church has not been incorporated into Israel, nor is it a fulfilment of it, rather it is an entirely new and distinct entity. In v 9 it is stated that it was "hid in God" from "the beginning of the world" and in v 10 it is stated that it has been revealed "now". There could be no clearer statement of the fact that the church is not in the OT.
Col. 1.27. This describes the fact that Christ indwells each believer. "Christ in you" was never the case for individual Israelites, let alone Gentiles. Something never revealed heretofore has been revealed and realised in the church.
Eph. 5.32. This speaks of the relationship between Christ and the church. It is a mystery, never before revealed. The description of God as the husband of Israel was known (Isa. 54.5). The relationship of Christ to the church is distinct.
1 Cor. 15.51,52. This describes the rapture of the church. This was not revealed in the OT.
Thus, so many major truths concerning the church are clearly indicated to have been hidden before and have been revealed in the NT. The church must therefore be seen as distinct from Israel.
- The Lord Jesus in Matt. 16.18 says, "I will build my church." The tense is future, clearly showing that when the Lord Jesus spoke, the church was not yet in existence.
- The church's purchase and purification depends on the shed blood of Christ (Acts 20.28 and Eph. 5.25-27). Therefore it could not have existed before the death of Christ.
- The church is the body of Christ, and this Head and body relationship is consequent upon Christ's resurrection and glorification (Eph. 1.20-23).
- Entrance into the body of Christ was by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12.13), and this did not take place until Pentecost, so this fixes the beginning of the church at Pentecost.
- The word "church" is never used of Israel in the NT (or the OT for that matter) in the sense of being the body of Christ. The use of the word "church" in Acts 7.38 and Heb. 2.12 refers to a congregation or assembly of people, and would be better translated as such, as was done elsewhere, e.g. Acts 19.39,41. Acts 7.38 no more proves that the church was in the OT than Acts 19.40,41 proves that the riotous mob at Ephesus was the body of Christ! The Amillennialist's use of Acts 7.38 to try to prove that the church as the body of Christ was in the OT shows just how short of evidence he is.
- In the NT, there are many references which refer to the church and Israel as being distinct, e.g. 1 Cor. 10.32; Rom. 9.4,5; 11.1-27.
—to be continued, (D.V.)
MY CONVERSION AND CALL (37)
by Eric McCullough (Iowa, U.S.A.)
Perhaps the highest privilege of all is that of being born into a Christian home; a home where God is honoured and His word obeyed. Such was true of the writer. I was saved on March 14, 1938, just 5 months before my 13th birthday.
My parents left the shores of Ulster for Nova Scotia in the year 1924 to labour for the Lord there. My father had been commended to the work of the Lord from Matchett St., Belfast in 1913. After a time in Donegal, S. Wales and a year in Norway, hearing about the need in Canada from the late John Knox McEwen, they moved to Nova Scotia where I was born.
My recollections of the summer months as a boy, were of living in the back of old store buildings and other lodgings as my father pioneered with the gospel. This meant attending meetings nightly from my earliest days. I cannot remember a time when I did not desire God's salvation. I can say what was said of Timothy; "That from a child thou hast known the Holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." Thoughts of the coming of the Lord, and the fact that if I died as I was, a sinner, I would never be in Heaven, often spoiled any joys that I had. At times when awakening during the night, the first thought in my mind was, perhaps the Lord has come; and I would listen at the door of my parents room to hear if they were still breathing and then with a sigh of relief go back to bed.
When quite young my parents moved to the state of Connecticut; as at that time, the roads in Nova Scotia during the winter months were often blocked with snow and it was impossible to move around and have gospel meetings. Boyhood days were spent returning to Nova Scotia each summer; a 3 day journey by car in those days.
When a boy in S. School, a godly Sunday school teacher, Mr. Bunting from Ireland, often impressed eternity on his class of boys as he described a hill outside our city; mentioning that if a little bird filled its beak with sand, and if possible, flew away to another planet, returning every thousand years. Then he would say, "boys, when that hill is all removed, eternity will have just begun." This would go like an arrow to my conscience and 1 would try to imagine what eternity would be like, and worst of all, to be lost for the great forever.
God spoke loudly to me on a number of occasions. I often dreamed that I was falling and falling and there was no bottom, and then wakening to be thankful that it was only a dream. One time in particular was at the death of my grand-father in Clough, N. Ireland. I did not know him. When my mother received the news of the home-call of her father, I can still hear her say; "son, if you ever expect to see your grand-father, you will have to get saved." All of these knockings by the Holy Spirit kept eternity before me.
It had been 17 years since my parents had been in Ireland, so they decided to go for a visit in June 1937 before their parents all died. This visit was to be for a few months, but my father became engaged in gospel meetings and it extended for 14 months. The hand of God was in all of this.
The school year was spent in Bangor and my S. School teacher in Central Hall was Mr. T. E. Wilson's father. He too made many impressions on my young heart as he reminded us of our need of salvation.
Mr. David Craig began a series of gospel meetings in Central Hall in Feb. 1938. I attended those meetings every night, and trembled as he preached about death, Hell and eternity as well as telling of the work of Christ upon the cross to meet the sinner's need. He preached for 6 weeks from the prophesy of Isaiah. God worked in those meetings and a dozen or so were saved. I was deeply convicted of sin by this time, but told no one. The last night of the meetings came, a Sunday night, and I left the hall a troubled soul longing for God's salvation. A class-mate of mine spoke to me outside as he could see my concern and told me that salvation was just like receiving a gift. He offered me his pen and said that all I would have to do to make it mine was to receive it. He persuaded me to go back into the hall and speak with Mr. Craig. We sat down on the little chairs in the Sunday School classroom at the front of the hall and he opened his big Bible and read verse after verse to me, but all seemed dark. I had learned these verses in the Sunday School, but there seemed to be no help for me. I thought; surely God knows that I want to be saved, why doesn't He save me? After a time Mr. Craig, the wise soul-winner that he was, said "let us pray and you can go home."
I walked the mile or so home alone and when nearly there a car stopped beside me; it was Mr. Craig. He had thought of another illustration that he felt might help me. We sat down on the running board of his car and he told me about a man who was drowning and a life belt thrown to him. All he had to do to be saved was to take hold of it. But there was no help for me. I thought, I will never be saved and will just have to go to hell in spite of all the gospel that I had heard.
That was a restless night for me, at times dozing and wakening with the thoughts of never being saved. In the morning, my mother came into the room and said; "Eric, are you saved yet?" I said "No mother, but I would love to be saved." She simply reached for a little Bible that was on the dresser and opened it to Isa. 53. 5. Then she said, "Just read this verse and put your name in" and left the room. I read; "But He was wounded for "my" transgressions, He was bruised for "my" iniquities: The chastisement of "my" peace was upon Him." As I often tell, I did not finish the verse. It dawned upon my soul for the first time, that the Lord Jesus had died for "my" sins upon the cross nearly 2000 years ago. At that moment, the joy of God flooded my soul and 1 knew that I was saved. The burden of sin was gone and I had peace for the first time in my life. This was March 14, 1938, about five minutes to 9 o'clock. If I had been looking at my watch, I could have told you the very second when the great transaction took place. Now I had the assurance of Heaven and knew that I was ready if the Lord should come.
Those early days were happy days as with other boys we rode around the coast district of Bangor with gospel tracts and stood with the brethren at open air meetings.
We returned to the U.S.A. in Sept. 1938 on the Athenia, the first passenger ship to be sunk by a U-boat in W. War II. A year or so later the war broke out and like all young men at that time, at 18 years of age, we faced the draft. I spent 26 months in the U.S. Navy as a conscientious objector. God spared my life and after being discharged, I went to the city of Chicago, 111. to the Chiropractic College at Government expense. Upon graduation in 1950, I was married and we told the Lord that wherever we found a place to live, office space to rent, near a good assembly, we would consider settling there. I had obtained licensing in the states of Iowa and Wisconsin, so like Abraham; we "went out, not knowing whither we went." The only city that we found both a place to live and office space was Cedar Falls, Iowa. We settled here in 1951.
This was 14 miles from the assembly in Stout where we found happy fellowship with believers.
Soon we were busy with open air meetings on Saturday evenings and gospel meetings on Lord's day. I had meetings at times in empty school houses and community buildings with the late Mr. Oliver Smith, a true pioneer who laboured in these parts. Summer vacations were spent in tent work with Mr. Smith, Paul Elliott and others.
There was an increasing exercise about the gospel and a burden for the lost in spite of the fact that my practice was growing. I tried to forget about giving all my time to the work of the Lord, but God was impressing us with the fact that there was more to life than success in business. At times, God would bless our efforts in the gospel and often Mr. Smith would say; "Anyone can work on spines, but not everyone can preach the gospel." He was a real source of encouragement to me and we had many happy times together. I made known my exercise about the work of the Lord to my wife and she was in complete agreement. This is an essential, particularly in this country when at times months are spent away from home and loved ones. We had 2 little girls by this time and I wanted to be sure of God's leading and was looking for definite guidance from Himself. One summer while away from home, spending time in a gospel tent effort, I was reading through Joshua in my regular reading. When I read verse 5 of Chapter 1, the words: "as I was with Moses, so shall I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee" seemed to stand out on the page. This seemed to be the voice of God to me and it was unmistakable. At that moment I bowed my heart and told God that I would give the rest of my days to His work. Upon returning home, I told the brethren about my exercise and decision to sell my practice. They asked me if I would be at the prayer meeting on Thursday night, and I told them I would. I thought nothing of this as it was our usual practice to be there. When we arrived, the hall was packed. Mr. Oliver Smith was there, also Mr. Paul Elliott and both of them told of times that we had been together in the gospel. Then they asked me to tell something of my exercise as to the work of the Lord. I said a few words, as I had realized that this was our "farewell." At the close of the meeting, a brother handed me an envelope that contained a letter of commendation that I had not asked for, also a gift of fellowship from those kind believers.
I could hardly take it in. What a clear evidence of the leading of God in our lives.
The mail carrier, who was a patient of mine, asked me what salary I would be getting at "this preaching" as he termed it. When I told him that I had no guarantee of any salary, he questioned rriy sanity. I will never forget the day I made the last deposit in the bank. The bridges were burned, and I had a sinking feeling as the devil said; "you have bought your little girls their last ice-cream cone."
However, I recognised this as the enemy and can attest to the grace of God who has met our every need.
It is over 35 years ago since we stepped out in faith to serve the best of Masters. We have proven the faithfulness of our God, and can say with the apostle; "Having therefore obtained help from God, I continue unto this day."
Will close with the word of the hymn writer:
- If I can only tell Him as I know Him,
- My redeemer who has brightened all my way;
- If I could tell how precious is His presence,
- I am sure that you would make Him yours today.
- But I can never tell Him as I know Him;
- Human love can never tell all love divine;
- I only can entreat you to accept Him;
- You can know Him only when you make Him thine.
- A girl, a slave, a captive maid,
- To speak for God was not afraid,
- For in the presence of her mistress,
- She sought to soothe her much distress.
- Her master was a man of valour,
- Yet 'twas revealed his skin changed colour,
- Which made it known, he was a leper,
- This was why she wished to help her.
- Never had it been revealed,
- That leprosy could e'er be healed,
- Yet she spoke up, a way of cure,
- A statement made, so very sure.
- So Naaman furnished with a letter,
- Set out in hope of being better,
- At first, he went along the way,
- Approached the King that very day.
- The opened letter, the King was white
- With rage, was this meant for a fight?
- But no, the Prophet made it known
- That healing power came from God's Throne.
- Instructed him to dip in Jordan,
- If healing was to come to Naaman,
- Seven times, no more, no less,
- This word caused Naaman awful stress.
- Yet finally he was persuaded
- To carry out the word unaided,
- By wisdom was he reconciled,
- His skin was like a little child.
THE GOOD NEWS
Is it not interesting to note that the word NEWS is made up of the first letters of the four points of the compass : North, East, West, South? At our Lord's birth the angel said, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2.10) And Isaiah revealed God's invitation, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth : for I [am] God, and [there is] none else. (Isaiah 45.22).