The beginning of a year is marked by reflection and anticipation. We reflect on the past year and while, undoubtedly, there is failure over which we grieve, we surely find much which bows us in praise, thanksgiving and worship to our faithful God. We also anticipate the coming year with all its potential for living for God and within each heart there arise spiritual desires and aspirations. How we long to love Him more, reflect Him more clearly and serve Him better.
We know from experience there are desires which will lead to sin. This is seen in the garden of Eden, "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Gen. 3.6). However, the Psalmist would teach us of those desires which are the portion of all who are spiritual.
REALITY: "Behold, thou desirest truth in the in ward parts:" (Ps. 51.6). Without the desire for reality before God our Christian lives will degenerate to Pharisaism and hypocrisy. We must constantly remember we live in the full blaze of His searching and all-seeing eye.
SCRIPTURALLY: "the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." (Ps.19.9,10). There never has been a day when more literature was published. It is possible to find books on every subject and there is the temptation to fill our minds with mere worldly knowledge. The desire of all the godly, as stated by the Psalmist, is to be occupied and enraptured with the scriptures. What a change there would be if all who read this little magazine had the desire, in this year, to spend far more time delving into the "treasure chest" of the word of God!
TESTIMONY: "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple." (Ps. 27.4) These are days when few are prepared to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the assembly. As a result, numbers are dwindling and, tragically, some assemblies are closing. Oh, for a desire begotten of real love for God and His word to "dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life." This will maintain a testimony moving in Philadelphian conditions until the Lord comes.
PRAYERFULLY: "He will fulfil the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them." (Ps.145.19). We sometimes wonder why there is so much obvious weakness among us. Is it because we do not "fear Him" and thus have desires which are in accordance with His will? We need saints who will have spiritual aspirations and have the power to move the hand of God and thus pray rich blessing upon His people.
PERSONALLY: "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that 1 desire beside thee." (Ps.73.25). This is the loftiest, highest, grandest of all our desires — just to desire God. This is true Christian maturity as seen in the "fathers", 1 Jn 2.13 "I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning."
ULTIMATELY: "he bringeth them unto their desired haven." (Ps.107.30). We are truly thankful that we shall all land in heaven which is our "desired haven". This could happen at any moment as we look forward with eager anticipation to the coming again of our beloved Lord Jesus to the air to rapture us to glory.
We trust all who read this magazine will seek reality before Him, read the scriptures with exercise, enjoy being gathered to His Name, pray with true spiritual desires, get to know God and thus be able to say without reserve "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Rev. 22.21).
It must not be supposed, however, that they are all Israel who are of Israel (Rom 11.6). The two tribes, as we have seen, will be severely sifted in the land under Antichrist, and but a third part will be brought through the fire for blessing (Zech. 13.8,9). The mass will follow the Deceiver to their everlasting ruin and sorrow. The ten tribes will also be sifted, though not quite in the same way. They were not guilty of the grave sin of the rejection of the Messiah, as their brethren were. Judah will be the greater sufferer, being responsible before God for that fearful crime. Still, the other tribes will be put through the sieve, as Ezek.20.34-38 shows. Jehovah will bring them into the wilderness before restoring them to Canaan, and will there plead with them face to face. They must pass under His rod, that the rebels and the transgressors may be purged out. The remnant will then be brought in, to be uprooted no more for ever; for Jehovah will plant them in their own land, with His whole heart, and with His whole soul, as the Prophet assures us.
Then the nation will be one once more. They have been a divided people since the days of Rehoboam. Solomon's serious defection from the Lord caused the rending of the nation after his death. Jeroboam was divinely permitted to lead ten tribes away from their allegiance to the house of David (1 Kings 11.12). They have never been united since that day. They were often in open conflict with each other, the larger company being invariably in league with the kings of Syria. Then came the yet greater separation, when the ten tribes were deported by the kings of Assyria. These have never since been restored to their own possession.
The prophet Ezekiel was instructed as to their future unification in a very simple way. He was bidden to take two sticks, and to write on the one, "For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions:" and on the other, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions;" and was then to join them to each other, making them one stick in his hand (Ezek. 37.15-17). Thus will Jehovah do for Israel by-and-by. Their divisions will be healed, these always being the fruit of sin and failure, whether in Israel, the world, or the Church of God.
In the coming day of glory, Israel will have one King and one centre. Christ will be their head, the true David, the man after God's own heart (Ezek. 37.24,25; Zech. 14.9,16,17; Hoz.1.11; 3.5). Then they will sing in reality, "Hosanna to the King of Israel that cometh in the Name of Jehovah." In the past it was but the excitement of nature, the cry changing in less than a week to "Away with Him. Crucify Him. We have no king but Caesar." In the future it will be a real work of the Spirit of God, producing sentiments in their hearts of a divine and abiding character. What a King Christ will be to them! David and Solomon both typified Him, but in what a faint degree! David sinned, and brought the pestilence among the poor sheep in consequence; Solomon dazzled them with glory and splendour, but the yoke was heavy and the oppression severe; and the bright season of glory ended in gloom and disaster. But the true David will bring peace and blessing to His people; the true Solomon will display before them a brighter glory, but His rule will be in righteousness and equity, with no defection on His part at the end. God has only One whom He can entrust with universal rule—His beloved Son, the Son of Man.
Not only will Israel then have but one King; they will have but one centre also. The ancient rivalry between Jerusalem and Samaria will be heard no more; Zion will be exalted to its rightful place as the chosen resting place of the Lord, the city of the great King. It will be an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations (Psa.132.13,14; 48.2; Isa.50.15). "Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God" (Psa.87.23). From thence will the whole earth be administered, and from it will go forth the law and the word of the Lord. Jerusalem has long been trodden under foot by the Gentiles for the sins of her children, but God will yet favour her dust and take pleasure in her palaces. When the arrogant Gentile has been humbled to the dust, Jehovah's long-loved Zion will be restored to its divinely-appointed place in the earth.
When Zion is restored Israel will possess the sanctuary of God once more. This was a distinguishing mark of old, and it shall be so again, in the day to come. "I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore . .. and the nations shall know that I Jehovah do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in the midst of them for evermore" (Ezek.37.26,28). The plan of the new temple may be seen in Ezek.40,&c. The Shekinah cloud which left so reluctantly in the day of Israel's transgression will return again to their joy. The priesthood will be restored, and the sacrifices, and some of the feasts. The sacrifices of the future will, of course, be commemorative in their character, looking back to the one great sacrifice which is the foundation of all blessing, whether for heaven or earth. Of the feasts, all will be restored but the feast of Pentecost and the Day of Atonement. The first is now having its accomplishment in the call of the Church of God; the second will be completed in its last part when the great High Priest comes out of the heavenly sanctuary, and shows Himself to His own.
Though Israel will thus have the sanctuary of God once more, they will be, as it were, but its guardians. God intends the Gentiles to have a part in the blessings and privileges of it. "Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar: for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people" (Isa.56.7). Year by year the spared ones of the nations will go up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Tabernacles (Zech.14.16). This will not arouse Jewish enmity or jealousy then. They will no longer be the coldly conservative people that they have been. In the early days of Christianity it drew out all their rage that the Gentiles should even hear the Gospel, though they had no regard for it themselves. What changes grace works! In the Day of their blessing, they will gladly share with others the favours so richly bestowed upon them, and will thus fulfil their high and holy mission in the earth.
The whole nation will be converted. When they are brought under the power of the New Covenant, God will put His laws in their hearts and write them in their minds.
They will not need to appeal to each other's consciences as to sin, nor to exhort each other as to the Lord, for all will know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer.31.31-34). A mighty change, surely, when we consider their present alienated state!
A fresh outpouring of the Spirit will also be experienced at that time. The early rain fell on the Day of Pentecost, and marvellous have been the results. The latter rain will fall on Israel in the day of their millennial glory. God will put His Spirit within them, pouring Him out from on high (Ezek.37.14; Isa.32.15). Joel's prophecy, quoted by Peter in Acts 2, will then be completely accomplished. No fresh outpouring must be looked for until then. During this period of grace the Holy Spirit is here as the birthright portion of every individual Christian and of the Church of God. It is ours to walk in the Spirit and to be filled with Him. Many are vague as to this. They observe that the spiritual condition of the Church at large is low, and deplore it, but think that the only corrective is another outpouring or baptism of the Spirit. This is not the case, however well-intentioned the souls may be who think so. The real need is more simple faith in the mighty fact that the Holy Spirit is present on earth. Let us use the power we have, and God will honour the effect.
When Israel is thus converted and blessed with the Spirit the link of relationship between them and Jehovah will be fully restored. Israel has been an unfaithful wife to Jehovah, playing with many lovers, so that He has had to put her away. But the time of her widowhood is drawing to a close, the Lo Ammi sentence will soon be reversed, and God will once more have pleasure in His people. In the past she did not know, in her blindness, who it was that really loved her, and gave her corn, and wine and oil, and decked her with jewels; but when grace operates in her heart, she will turn to Him in contrition and repentance, that she may be received to his heart once more. "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her (or, speak to her heart) ... And it shall be at that day, saith Jehovah, that thou shalt call Me Ishi (my husband); and shalt call Me no more Baali (my lord). I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name" (Hos.2.14-17). The Book of Psalms and the Song of Solomon open up to us the dealings of God with Israel in that day; the one showing His work in their consciences and the other His work in their hearts. Israel shall be His in reality in that day of glory.
Those will be days of universal blessing. Not by our means will God fill the earth with His glory, but by means of restored and converted Israel.
The following is their language rather than the language of the Church of God:—
"God be merciful unto us and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us, that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise Thee, O God, let all the people praise Thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Let the people praise Thee, O God, let all the people praise Thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us: and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him" (Psa.67).
Well might the Psalmist say, as he thought of the coming glory: "Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious Name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen and Amen" (Psa. 72.18,19). —(to be continued DV)
The Roman custom was to leave the corpses of crucified criminals to putrefy on a gibbet. But in their meticulous observance of the Sabbath that no bodies should remain on a cross, the religious leaders of the Jews requested Pilate to have the victims' legs broken, which was apparently not an uncommon practice for hastening death, and then their bodies could be taken away. With Pilate's consent, the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then the other criminal "but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs" John 19.33. As the soldiers "saw that He was dead already", they were eye-witnesses of the fact that He was really dead and was not in a swoon as alleged by the enemies of Christianity. Finding Jesus already dead, they refrained from breaking His legs. Unknown to those unbelieving soldiers, the unseen hand of God restrained them from that evil deed, so that a Scripture, although not primarily Messianic, was then fulfilled literally concerning Jehovah's care for His intrinsically righteous One, "He keepeth all His bones: not one of them is broken" Psa. 34.20. But John sees another Scripture fulfilled in Him as the true Passover Lamb whose bones should not be broken (Ex. 12.46; Num. 9.12).
Although Jesus was dead, "one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water" John 19.34. The reason for the soldier's action is not mentioned unless, not having known a crucified man to have died so quickly, it was his way of proving whether Jesus' body was dead or alive. Probably knowing the soldier's inhuman act to be unusual, John, without naming himself, adds immediately, "And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true." He means that he is not relying on hear-say but as an eye-witness he "saw" the soldier piercing the side of Christ and the issuing forth of blood and water, and so he claims his testimony to be true and trustworthy. The purpose of such valid evidence is, he says, "that ye might believe" (John 19.35) — what actually occurred.
The soldier need not have pierced the side of the Lord Jesus, particularly as it was not the usual practice. By departing from Roman custom, his action was a miracle because he pierced not the side of the sinful men on either side but rather that of the sinless Man on the central gibbet. As one writer says so aptly "Even the soldier's spear was guided by the Father's hand." Scripture is silent whether His right or left side was pierced, but the wound was deep because a few days later the risen Christ told Thomas, who doubted His resurrection, to thrust his hand into His side (John 20.27). From His wounded side, there flowed blood and water. This fact, of course, is of immense importance in relation to the sacrificial aspect of the Lord's death.
Suppose for a moment that the side of Christ had not been pierced. Then no blood and water would have come forth, and there would have been no record of blood shedding. A bloodless sacrifice, lacks any efficacy. This is illustrated from the two earliest recorded sacrifices in the Scriptures — Cain brought of the fruit of the ground for an offering unto the Lord whilst Abel offered a firstling of his flock, "and the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and his offering He had not respect", Gen. 4.3ff. Hence in the primeval history of sinful man, a bloodless sacrifice was unacceptable to God and blood had to be shed for divine acceptance of a sacrifice. Through the succeeding centuries, there was no deviation from the principle that blood was to be shed for a sacrifice to be acceptable to God. According to the Old Testament, "it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" Lev. 17.11, and this fundamental truth remains unchanged in the New Testament which says "without shedding of blood is no remission" Heb.9.22. Consequently, for the sacrificial death of Christ to be efficacious, His blood had to be shed at Calvary. In that fact, there lies the miracle that the soldier should have pierced Christ's side, from which blood and water came forth.
"In Him is no sin," says John in his First Epistle 3.5, and so His blood, unlike that of sinful men, was not polluted by sin. Therefore, Peter rightly refers to the "Precious blood" of Christ who is "without blemish and without spot" 1 Pet.1.19. Furthermore, it may be argued aright "how much more shall the blood of Christ" be effective (Heb. 9.14) not only in this church age of grace but also in the millennial age of righteousness to come. To mention only a few of the benefits derived from the precious blood of Christ, we are "now justified by His blood" Rom. 5.9, "we have redemption through His blood" Eph. 1.7, and then peering into the future having made peace through the blood of His cross", the Father will by His Son "reconcile all things unto Himself Col. 1.20, during the kingdom age.
The pierced side of the Lord Jesus is relevant to His future coming with power and glory to the earth as pointed out by a converted Jew. If a man should claim to be the messiah of Israel, he is obliged to prove his lineage. This is not possible, because all records of tribal genealogies were stored in the temple and were destroyed with the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. However, there is one exception. The Lord Jesus Christ, whose genealogy as in Matt. 1.1-16, will have this credential at His second coming, and it is His wounds that were inflicted at Calvary. In anticipation of that day, He Himself says prophetically, "they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced" Zech. 12.10.
We have described some of the features of a local church (Study 4) and noticed, amongst other things, that people who belong to a local church are baptised Christians (Study 5). It should therefore follow that having been saved and baptised, we should give very serious consideration to the place in which we should gather with fellow-believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Quite obviously, if we love the Scriptures and desire to obey them, we will seek fellowship with believers who endeavour to meet, sometimes in weakness and always in humility, in accordance with New Testament principles of gathering. In this connection, we must ask, and attempt to answer, three important questions:
1) WHY SHOULD WE BE IN FELLOWSHIP THERE?
The answer to this question lies in the wide variety of New Testament statements about the local assembly. (The change from the word "church" to "assembly" is not intended to highlight a denominational distinction, or to push a 'party line', but simply to emphasise the proper meaning of "church": see Study 1). Here are three passages which emphasise, in different ways, the character of the New Testament assembly:
A) ITS PRECIOUSNESS
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which ('wherein', JND) the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood ('the blood of His own', JND)", Acts 20.28. In the margin of the New Translation, Mr. J. N. Darby observes that 'God could not be said to die or suffer; nor flowing of blood be applied to Him.' This statement refers to the blood of the Lord Jesus, God's own Son, and does so with reference to a local assembly. After all, Paul is addressing the "overseers" of the assembly at Ephesus. The apostle deals here with a range of subjects in a few words, including the preciousness of the local assembly. It is so valuable to God, that He purchased it with precious blood. Never despise an assembly, however small and however weak. It is here described as "the church of God."
B) ITS PURPOSE
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth", 1 Tim. 3.15. The expression, "house of God", recalls the words of Jacob, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven", Gen. 28.16-17. But there wasn't a building in sight! The words therefore refer to the dwelling-place of God, whether or not a building exists,
and in the New Testament, they refer to the people who meet in a building, and certainly not to the building itself! The solemn responsibility of the assembly is to maintain and display "the truth", that is, "all the counsel of God", Acts 20.27. The assembly is to be "the pillar ... of the truth." This refers to a column which supports the weight of a building. See W.E. Vine: 'Stulos' is used of a local church as to its responsibility, in a collective capacity, to maintain the doctrines of the faith by teaching and by practice. The assembly is to be "the ground ... of the truth." This carries the idea of a support or bulwark, and stresses that the assembly is the place where truth is held, particularly when attacked.
C) ITS PURITY
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall destroy (same word as "defile"); for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are", 1 Cor. 3.16-17. Whilst Paul later refers to the believer's body as "the temple of the Holy Ghost", 6.19, the expression "temple of God" here refers to the local assembly. This emphasises that it is a sacred place.
We have therefore noticed that the local assembly is (i) "the church of God"; (ii) "the house of God"; (iii) "the temple of God." This is the place to which you come if you desire the fellowship of a local assembly. It requires careful thought. It is not a case of joining a social club.
2) HOW SHOULD WE BE IN FELLOWSHIP THERE!
Fellowship, as we have seen, has the idea of sharing — a sharing in common. But sharing what? We must be clear that entering assembly fellowship is far more than 'breaking bread.' But having said that, 'breaking bread' is, amongst other things, an expression of assembly fellowship. "The bread that we break, is it not the communion (the same word as fellowship") of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread", 1 Cor. 10.16-17. In passing, it is a very serious matter to come only to the Lord's supper, and not to support the remaining assembly meetings and activities. People who do that, without good reason, are in fact acting a lie: by 'breaking bread', they say that they are in fellowship, but that simply isn't true. So what do we share when we are in fellowship with an assembly of the Lord's people?
A) ENJOYMENT OF THE PRIVILEGES OF THE ASSEMBLY
See, for example, Acts 2.42-47: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers . . . And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart." There is great joy in engaging in praise, prayer and worship together, in serving together, and in benefitting from the word of God together. The hymnwriter puts it admirably:
Great the joy when Christians meet!
Christian fellowship how sweet.
B) ACCEPTANCE OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE ASSEMBLY
The assembly is the place where believers participate and contribute. They are beneficiaries under assembly privileges: they are, equally, benefactors with assembly responsibilities. This means that they function as members of a body. See 1 Cor. 12. They share the stresses and strains; bear the burdens; undertake the work. It involves being present: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is", Heb. 10.25. Fellowship is more than meetings, but meetings are important. There is something seriously wrong when believers habitually absent themselves from assembly gatherings. We must not think that we can be genuinely 'in fellowship', and not be involved in the assembly's life and activity.
3) WHO SHOULD BE IN FELLOWSHIP THERE'!
First of all, let's say it again: saved and baptised people. Note the order in Acts 2.41-42, and Acts 18.3-11. Having said that, let's say carefully that fitness for assembly fellowship must not be equated with spiritual maturity, or vast Bible knowledge. But those who enter assembly fellowship must be prepared to accept the principles of assembly life. These are not man-made. If they were, there would certainly be scope to question them: but they are not. All entering assembly fellowship must recognise those features discussed in more detail in Study 4, viz (i) The Lordship of Christ; (ii) The sole sufficiency and authority of the word of God; (iii) The sovereignity of the Holy Spirit; (iv) The priesthood of all believers.
If you are considering entering the fellowship of a local assembly, don't object if you are asked about your salvation and baptism, and do not be surprised if the elders, as they should, outline the teaching of Scripture as it touches the local assembly. A qualification for fellowship is willingness to obey the Bible. Otherwise, the assembly will not benefit you, and you certainly will not benefit the assembly.
II. THE BEHAVIOUR OF GOD'S MASTERPIECE 4.1-6.23 G. Conclusion 6.21—24
But that: (hina) In order that
ye: This word has the emphatic position in the Greek text as though he is distinguishing them from others, also: (kai) This Greek word "has its proper force of also." Thus others besides the Ephesians were interested in Paul's affairs, may know: (oida) To get knowledge, understand my affairs: (ta kat erne) "My circumstances."
and how I do: (ti prasso) "How I fare." This word prasso means to "practice, carry on, conduct business, be occupied with the matters at hand." (See TDNT, Expositors, Thayers) This explains what he refers to in the last phrase. "My circumstances, that is, how I carry on with business and the matters at hand (while in prison). . ."
After reading such a great letter, it would be wonderful to see how an individual who enjoys the blessings of God in the Heavenly sphere conducts himself and carries on business in the earthly sphere where there is hunger, pain, suffering, imprisonment and fighting.
PRINCIPLE: Remember, all physical things created by God are pictures of the Heavenly spiritual realities. The sun represents God's glory (See Rev. 21.23; Isa. 60:19). The sound of the ocean and of thunder is compared to His voice (Ps. 29.3), etc. Similarly, all earthly activity in the believer's life must reflect what occurs in the Heavenly sphere. The believer can only succeed victoriously in the affairs of earth if he handles them from the Heavenly realm. Before a believer can put to death his members which are upon the earth (Col. 3.5), his life must be in Heaven (Col. 3.1-4)
Tychicus: This man is mentioned several other times in the Bible so that we know a few things about him. References to him are always in association with Paul the apostle. They appeared to be close friends. (1) He was a native of Asia, possibly from Ephesus (Acts 20.4). (2) He was with Paul at Ephesus and went with him when Paul purposed to go to Macedonia near the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 20.1-4) (3) He was with Paul when the letter to Colosse was written (Col. 4.7) (4) He was with Paul when he was near martyrdom (Titus 3.12; II Timothy 4.6-12).
a beloved: (ho agapetos) "The dearly loved . . ." The article is used before the word beloved. This indicates that he was known for being dearly beloved. These were general sentiments, not just those of the apostle Paul.
brother: Each person who is saved (or "born again" John 3.3) has God for a literal Father. This makes each believer a literal brother or sister in God's family. These relationships are more real than the physical earthly relationships which are only pictures of the true.
and faithful: (pistos) dependable, trustworthy, loyal.
ministers: (diakonos) One who personally serves others. A servant who has a specific work to do. Sometimes this word is translated "deacons." This word is used for an individual believer who serves others. This service may be physical and material service (Acts 6.1-7), or it may be spiritual service such as teaching. (I Tim. 4.6).
In the scripture the word "diakonos" is used as follows:
The waiter at a meal — John 2.5,9.
One who distributes food and/or money among the widows of the church — Acts 6.1-7.
One who serves a master — Matt. 22.13.
Believers should serve one another—Matt. 20.26; 23.11; Mark 9.35; 10.43.
The Christian is a servant of Christ in the sense — John 12.26.
One who serves a spiritual power whether good or evil — II Cor. 11.14,15; Eph. 3.6,7; Col. 1.23
One who serves God — Timothy was called a servant of God (I Thess. 3.1-3) in that he comforted and established the saints concerning their faith.
One who teaches — Timothy was told that he would be a good minister of Jesus Christ if he laid the truth of God before the brethren — I Tim. 4.6.
Government authorities are called diakonos — Romans 14.1-4.
Paul calls himself a servant of the church—Col. 1.25; I Cor. 3.5 in: (en) denoting the sphere of his faithfulness.
the Lord: That is, he is a faithful minister in all things pertaining to the Lord.
shall make known: (gnorizo) To make known, reveal, declare.
to you all things: (panta) Tychicus, who worked closely with the apostle Paul, would be able to tell other Christians about the apostle.
whom I have sent: (pempo) To send or dispatch on any message. The epistolary aorist tense is used. This means that he is writing in the past tense as though he has already sent Tychicus. In reality, Tychicus is probably bringing this letter with him.
unto: (pros) towards
you for: (eis) with a view towards, unto
the same purpose : (auto touto) "This very thing."
that: (hina) In order that
ye might know our affairs: (ta peri hemon) Literally, "the things concerning us."
and that he might comfort: (parakaleo) To call along side to help, exhort, encourage, and comfort."
your hearts: The Lord revealed that the heart was the source of every thought, word, and deed at various times during His earthly ministry. See Matt. 12.34,35, Matt. 15.19, Mark 8.20-23, Luke 6.45. Their hearts were obviously troubled as they thought of Paul in prison. Tychicus would be able to comfort them as he related to them the facts of how the apostle was used in prison as an instrument for God's glory.
Peace: (eirene) "A state of untroubled, undisturbed, well-being" (Cremer). "That which brings into unity." (Young) It describes (1) that harmony between God and man brought about through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5.1) (2) harmony between believers (some of which may have been enemies prior to conversion — Eph. 2.13-18) produced through faith in Christ. (3) the inward calmness and harmony of spirit enjoyed in the heart of a believer who knows that his God has all things under His control (Phil. 4.6,7).
be to the brethren: Paul concludes his letter by wishing that the Christians will enjoy the peace of God.
and love: (agape) A sacrificial attachment based on reason, selection, and choice from seeing in that person a need for love. This person loves the unattractive in spite of, not because of. He loves regardless of what is done or not done.
faith: (pistis) A strong conviction or belief which produces confidence. Faith works through love. Gal. 5.6 "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love." Love is seen where true faith in God is evident.
from God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ: Peace and love associated with faith have their origin, manifestation and strength from the Father of all and Christ the Head of all. By associating these with both the Father and Son equally, Paul ascribes equality to the Father and Son in the Godhead.
Grace: (charis) The unlimited (Rom. 11.6), unmerited (Eph. 2.8), unselfish (II Cor. 8.9), loving favour of God to the sinner which produces "leaping for joy" and "thankfulness."
be with: (meta) As verse 23.
all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity: (aphtharsia) "incorruption" Rom. 2.7; I Cor. 15.42,50,53,54; II Tim. 1.10. "Imperishableness." "That quality of the changeless and undecaying." (Expositor's) It is a love that knows neither change, diminution, nor decay." (Ellicot quoted by Expositor's) It is a love that has God as its source and the Lord Jesus Christ as its object. This word stands in direct contrast to the deceiving, crafty and cunning men who learn their wiles from the devil. (Eph. 4.14; 6.11)
Lessons from the Book
Principle 1. Ephesians enables the believer to look at the finite from the perspective of the infinite.
It is looking at the finite from the infinite that gives life a true perspective. Looking at the infinite from the finite is impossible. Looking at the finite from the finite gives a narrow minded perspective. Looking at the finite from the infinite gives me a broad perspective and enables me to share in the way God sees things. "It is not looking towards, but looking outwards from eternity that makes it possible for one to contemplate the life of this world without terror and distress." Harold Begbie in "The Shadow"
Principle 2. The physical realm is a reflection or picture of the spiritual realm. The realities of heaven are pictured on earth through the physical creation. Ephesians teaches us that the New Creation is also a picture on earth of Heavenly realities.
The facts of the Gospel assure a person of Heaven. The mystery of the Gospel places the believer in Heaven now. From the Heavenly realm he can portray spiritual reality on the earth for the benefit of others.
Principle 3. The entire book was built on the principle that God's spiritual blessings, (the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished and accomplishes for us) as revealed by the Holy Spirit produce behaviour that is pleasing to God.
The Principle is Expressed in a Nutshell in Rev. 2.4-5
THE FACTS OR BLESSINGS: The facts are referred to as the "first love" in Rev. 2.4 "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
The first love is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are complete in Him. All we will ever need is found in Him.
The Christian is admonished to return to Christ and all the facts concerning Him. Rev. 2.5 "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen." Remember when Christ was everything to you?
REPENTANCE: A return to the first Love produces repentance, or a change in mind. For this reason the Lord asks the assembly at Ephesus to "repent" next in order.
GOD PLEASING BEHAVIOUR: A change in mind produces a change in behaviour, "and do the first works." Paul's Letter begins by presenting the blessings that the believer has in Chps. 1-3. At the end of Ch. 3 he prays for the Holy Spirit to strengthen the believer and give him comprehension of the unknowable. He ends with practical exhortations to the believer. Yet he always associates these-with facts or blessings that we have in Christ.
The Holy Spirit in the Scriptures takes great care to stress and emphasise the permanence of marriage. It is clearly taught that this is a union which can be severed only by the death of one partner. The "law of last mention" is very important here as we quote the last references in the scriptures to this subject. "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband." (Rom.7.2); "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7.39).
Some will suggest the gospels were written later, but they record teaching given earlier. Also the objection that the apostle says "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord:" and therefore his teaching is not relevant, is invalid. The fact that the Holy Spirit has permitted his word to remain on the page of Holy Scripture, is proof positive that this is part of divine inspiration. In fact the references quoted above just reinforce the words of the Lord Jesus in Mark 10.10-12 and Luke 16.18 concerning the indissolubility of the marriage bond.
There are also incidental references in the scriptures which go to underline this indissolubility. The Lord Himself said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her." Mark 10.11. Notice the words "against her". Whatever legal process had been gone through, in the sight of God the original wife was still his wife. The same thing is seen when John the Baptist rebuked Herod for "marrying" Herodias "his brother Philip's wife", Matt.14.3. Even though adultery had taken place and she was living with another man, God still viewed her as Philip's wife.
DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
This subject inevitably leads to the matter of divorce and "re-marriage, which is so prevalent today. The scriptures previously quoted, Rom.7.2 and 1 Cor.7.39, make it crystal clear that the marriage union cannot be broken or annulled in the sight of God — it exists as long as both parties are alive. This view is corroborated by the teaching of the Lord Jesus in the following passages:
Mark 10.11, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.";
Lukel6.18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."
In the light of this, how do we interpret the Lord's words in Matt. 5.32, "whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:", repeated in Matt. 19.9?
On the surface, the Lord would appear to countenance re-marriage following divorce on the grounds of immorality. This would mean that He contradicted the clear statements already quoted and this is unthinkable. The Saviour's words must, therefore, be interpreted in a way that does not contradict either the quotations from the epistles or the words recorded in the other gospels. "No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." (2 Peter 1.20). Or "is of its own solution", Newberry.
Much has been written about the meaning of "fornication" in these verses. Sometimes, when writing to Gentiles, it is used to describe immorality of every kind, both before and after marriage. Examples are 1 Cor.5.9, "I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators"; 1 Cor.6.18, "Flee fornication". In neither case can we possibly restrict the application of the verses to a particular form of immorality, since that would mean there was nothing wrong with other forms. The Corinthians would attach the Gentile meaning to the word, giving it a wide application. All should be aware that many words in scripture do not have precisely the same meaning on each occasion they are used. A few easily recognised examples are, salvation; peace; coming; faith. Therefore we will not be surprised that the word "fornication" is used in different ways in different scriptures. Moreover the fact that Matthew wrote his gospel with the Jewish nation particularly in view must be born in mind when considering Matt.5.32 and 19.9.
Furthermore, in these verses, two different Greek words are used, namely "fornication" and "adultery". Since the Lord would not have chosen different words merely for the sake of variety, there is obviously a difference in meaning between the two. To deny this is tantamount to a denial of plenary inspiration.
It is well known that with the Jews the betrothal period was considered to be the start of the marriage. During the time between the betrothal and the wedding feast the woman was often referred to as "the wife". This period of betrothal had a legal standing, different in every way from the modern idea of the engagement period. Thus Joseph was told by the angel "fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:" Matt. 1.20. This was "before they came together," Matt. 1.18. Legally Joseph was entitled to "put her away" on the ground of fornication, that is seeming immorality during the betrothal period. It is firmly believed by the author, that this is the limited period to which the Saviour referred in Matt. 5.32 and 19.9. Once the marriage had been celebrated at the wedding feast, the Saviour's words would give no authority for "putting away".
To quote another, "we believe that every fair minded reader will follow us in concluding that the parenthetical phrases "saving for the cause of fornication" and "except it be for fornication" in Matt. 5.32 and 19.9 respectively, are not to be taken to contradict the whole trend of His remarks wherein He is setting forth the indissolubility of the marriage relation and the union into one flesh of two bodies, but simply to allow of the termination of a betrothal contract if the woman is found guilty of impurity before the marriage is consummated."
The fact that the Saviour was referring, in Matthew, to a circumstance that could only apply to a Jewish situation is borne out by no reference being made to it in either Mark or Luke. These two records are definite. Mark.10.11,12, "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." Luke 16.18, "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from (her) husband committeth adultery."
These verses clearly teach that even if a couple are divorced according to the law of the land, this has no Divine approval and their marriage is still valid in the sight of God.
In the light of the above, no one who has been divorced and seeks "remarriage" can truthfully vow in the sight of God "I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I may not be joined in matrimony to . . .", as long as the original matrimonial partner is still living. Neither can such a one say truthfully before God "I do take thee to be my lawful wedded husband/wife". To make such statements is to profess that the laws of men override the commands of God.
This leads to the further truth, that believers should never participate in a cermony where those who have been divorced are involved.
Question 4: Will the nation of Israel be restored, or is their setting aside permanent?
If the Amillennialist is right, then there is no future for the nation of Israel in the purpose of God. If he can prove that God has cast them away irrecovably, then he has a very strong case for his Amillennialist position. If on the other hand we can show that there is a future for Israel, then his argument is doomed.
A couple of points before looking at the evidence:—
Firstly, many of the points cited above are also evidence for the restoration of Israel as a nation. For example, proving that the promises to Israel were unconditional is proof that Israel will have to be restored. Also, proof that the promises will be fulfilled literally to Israel is proof of their future restoration. Thus in this section we will look only at evidence not yet considered, but we should bear in mind that the restoration of Israel is essential in view of what we have already seen.
Secondly, we must confine our evidence in this section to the NT. Whatever OT Scriptures could be quoted as evidence (and there are many) the Amillennialist will not admit it, but will claim it has to be spiritualised away. We thus confine ourselves to NT Scriptures.
(a) There is one passage which will be more than sufficient to totally prove that Israel will be restored. The Scripture in question is Rom. 9-11. No-one can deny that the subject of this section is the nation of Israel. At the start of each chapter: 9.3-5; 10.1-3; 11.1,2 we are left in no doubt that physical Israel is being referred to; it cannot by any stretch of imagination be the church. Many verses, particularly in ch.ll, indicate that Israel's fall is not final (e.g. v.2,11,12,15,23,24). However of particular concern to us is 11.25-27. Again it must be stressed that these verses must refer to literal Israel, as phrases such as "blindness in part is happened to Israel" (v.25), "turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (v.26), "I shall take away their sins" (v.27), "As concerning the gospel, they are enemies" (v.28) cannot by any means refer to the church.
These few verses show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Israel's blindness is partial (v.25), temporary (v.25), will cease when the Deliverer comes out of Sion (v.26), and removes their ungodliness (v.26) and sins (v.27), and saves them as a nation (v.26).
(b) Several times people spoke to the Lord Jesus when He was on earth, mentioning the hope of the coming earthly kingdom, and the Lord never contradicted them. Of particular interest and significance is Acts 1.6,7, because it was after the ultimate rejection by the nation (the crucifixion), and also because it specifically mentions Israel's restoration. When the disciples ask Him, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?", the Lord's reply, had the Amillennialist been right, would have been undoubtedly to make it very clear to them that such a thing was never going to happen. On the contrary, however, His reply confirms that it will happen ("the times and the seasons"), but it is not for the disciples to know when it will happen. But undoubtedly the Lord's words would have left the disciples in no doubt about the fact that it would happen.
(c) Other examples of references by people to the earthly kingdom include:—
—James and John's mother in Matt.20.21-23
—those who thought the kingdom of God should immediately appear, in Luke 19.11
—the dying thief spoke of the Lord coming into His kingdom in Luke 23.42.
In every case, the Lord does not even hint that there is not going to be an earthly kingdom, but is clear that it will not be immediately. But come it will, indeed He Himself makes many references to His literal earthly kingdom (e.g. Luke 22.30, when He speaks of the apostles sitting on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel).
(d) Passages such as Acts 15.14-17 show that in the present age God is taking from the Gentiles "a people for His Name" (v.14), and that "after this" (v.16) Israel will be restored (v.16) and there will be universal blessing (v.17).
Thus we see that there is going to be restoration for the nation of Israel. This cannot take place under the Amillennialists' scheme. Either we accept the evidence of the above (and many other) Scriptures or we accept the Amillennialist theory. We cannot do both. —to be continued (D.V.)
Matt 19.14. Jesus said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven".
The disciples rebuked those who brought little children to Jesus, but our Lord had to rebuke them, and He blessed the little children and laid His hands on them.
He also took a little child and set him in the midst and said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven". Matt.18.3.
Luke 18.17. "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein".
These incidents show the love of the Saviour for children.
Great emphasis should be laid on children's work, and those who labour amongst them should be given every support and encouragement. When a child is won for the Saviour, it is not only a soul saved but also a life. What an awful world it is, in which they are growing up: it has it's arms wide open to lure them into wrong paths.
Looking into their faces, who knows there could be a "David Livingstone", a "James Chalmers", a "Mary Slessor" amongst them.
The following simple observations are penned, with the hope that they might be an encouragement to those who are engaged in children's work. A saved child can be used for His glory and the blessing of others, Isa. 11.6. "A little child shall lead them."
In 2 Kings 5. A little maid has been taken captive by the Syrians and learnt that her Master was a leper. She said "Would to God my lord were with the Prophet who is in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy". Through the little maid's message Naaman was cleansed.
In Acts 23, a plot was made by the enemies of Paul the Apostle to kill him. This was known by Paul's sister's son, and the chief captain listened to the information of this young man and Paul's life was saved.
A multitude of people followed the Lord all day and were tired and hungry. The Lord turned to Philip saying, "Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? John 6.5. Andrew answered, "There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves and two small fishes". Through the willingness of this lad to give to the Lord what he had, the five thousand were fed, notwithstanding the unbelief of Andrew, "What are they among so many".
Such usefulness is often the result of patient labour with children when they are in infancy and childhood.
What a lesson we learn from the words of Pharoah's daughter to the mother of Moses, "Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages". What better wages would we desire than to see the child being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
In Genesis 21 Hagar wept when Abraham sent her away with the lad Ishmael and said, "Let me not see the death of the child". But God heard the voice of the lad (He still does), and called unto Hagar "Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand".
What an example we get in Timothy regarding our responsibility to our children.
Paul reminds him of the godly nurturing that was his from his Grandmother Lois, and his Mother Eunice. 2 Tim. 3.15. "That from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto Salvation" Phil.2.20. Paul could say of him, "I have no man like minded".
In Gen. 44. Judah took the responsibility of caring for Benjamin, and when Joseph required him to stay in Egypt, let us notice the earnest pleading of Judah to Joseph "How can I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me"? Judah was prepared to make a great sacrifice for Benjamin, May we be willing to do the same.
In 1 Sam.1.11. Hannah vowed to God that she would dedicate her child unto the Lord all the days of his life. As a result Samuel obeyed the voice of God in the Temple in his early years and became a mighty Prophet for God. 1 Sam.3.19. "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground".
Prov.22.6. "Train up a child in the way he should go and, when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Let us never despise the day of small things, rather let the fire of our love so motivate us to bring our children to the Saviour.
Behold what great works have been kindled through childlike faith.
Psalm 127.3. "Children are an heritage of the Lord".
Our children are very important people, let us regard then as such and do everything to bring them to the Saviour in their youth before the evil days come Eccl.12.1. Look into the eyes of a child, and you detect implicit faith in what you say.
Never make a promise to a child unless you are absolutely certain that you are able to fulfil it, otherwise that child will begin to doubt your word.
Isaiah 40.11. "He shall gather the lambs with his arms, and carry them in his bosom".
May we patiently labour amongst these little ones who have childlike faith, so that we will be able to say, "I have given them Thy word". John 17.14.
As we cross the threshold of another year, we become increasingly conscious of the imminence of the Lord's return. Conditions, so comprehensively and accurately described in 2 Tim. 3 are upon us and to an advanced degree. "Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (v.4. J.N.D.), bemoaned the dear apostle and it is prudent for us, as believers, to examine our own hearts, which can be so easily affected by prevailing conditions in the world around.
". . . the love of many shall wax cold." (Matt. 24.12). Characteristics of the last days.
Are we aware of falling temperatures in our hearts as the chilling blasts of a sin-obsessed world blow all around us? Do we attend meetings out of a sense of duty?
Are we beginning to find Christianity a drudgery or do we delight in the things of God, gladly serving out of devotion?
". . . thou hast left thy first love." (Rev. 2.4) The charge of the last days.
Has Christ been displaced in our affections and priorities, or can we truly say, ". . . there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee"? (Ps. 73.25).
"Simon . . . lovest thou me more than these?" (Jn. 21.15) The Challenge of the last days.
In this high-pressure age, with so much clamouring for our time and attention, we do well to put ourselves in the place of Simon and allow the Lord to search our hearts. Is there anything we love more than Him?
"Keep yourselves in the love of God . . ." (Jude 21) The Cure for the last days.
What a warming, healing effect this will have upon our hearts — may we allow nothing to rob us of the appreciation and comfort of His love.
May we be preserved and have help of God to "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (1 Jn. 2.15) but be amongst those who "love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4.8).
We are constrained to give thanks to our God as we reflect upon His faithfulness and help in providing for the continuing publication of "Assembly Testimony". Since the commencement of the magazine of 1952, circulation has increased steadily and it is a real encouragement to receive letters of appreciation from believers in many lands.
We most sincerely appreciate the contributions and exercise of all who write articles and express our heartfelt gratitude to those individuals and assemblies who have supported so bountifully through their practical fellowship. No one who shares in any way in the work associated with the magazine, receives any monetary consideration.
We are especially thankful to our Editor who discharges his heavy responsibility so cheerfully and efficiently and to the Secretary and his wife who labour so faithfully and willingly in this time consuming work. We are likewise grateful to our accountant who audits gratuitously and to our brother John Glenville for his valued services.
In closing we ask the favour of your continued prayerful interest, that, through the magazine, the Lord will be pleased to further encourage and edify His people.
I had the priceless privilege to have godly parents, who were most consistent in the Buckie Assembly. When I was younger I did not really appreciate this wonderful heritage I had been brought into but sadly misjudged it. In my teens I was rebellious and the appeal of the world allured me. I had to learn by experience the pleasures of sin are only for a season. God was speaking in many ways, but most loudly in my teens. My youngest brother, a lad of nine years, was on holiday from school. He loved a ride in the milk lorry and would get up early to wait for the milkman at the front of our house. One morning as I was leaving for work, I spoke to my little brother as he waited for the milkman. The next time I saw him was face downward on a stretch of sands and rocks, drowned. While gazing down on that still form a voice seemed to say. Young man "If that had been you — you would have been in Hell". After experiencing the world's pleasures I was dissatisfied, disillusioned and disappointed. I brought grief to my parents and many a tear to my mother's eyes.
God's Spirit began to work and I was convicted of my sin and troubled about eternal judgment. On the 6th of January 1958 even before the gospel meeting began I had made up my mind I would accept Christ as my Saviour. At 6.50 p.m. that night I repented of my sin and took God at His word and believed and accepted Christ as my Saviour. My usual habit after the gospel meeting was to go to a Cafe and listen to all the latest pop music, it was the time of juke boxes. While sitting in the cafe with some of my friends, I said "I accepted Christ as my Saviour tonight and should not be here". When I confessed Christ I got the joy and assurance from Rom. 10-9. The next day I had 19 cigarettes in my jacket and a lighter, I said. I'll not need that again and got rid of them. I stopped all the usual habits - 2 Cor. 5.17 was true in my experience.
Immediately I began witnessing to all as the opportunity was given and some professed faith in Christ. I was baptised two months later and added to the Buckie assembly where I was brought up. We were greatly encouraged and well fed in the assembly. My desire for souls grew as we witnessed and often spent our holidays helping Evangelists in various series of meetings. Several mature brethren, including some of my local brethren, had said "It's time you were out in the work." God spoke to me through Matt. 9.38 the phrase SEND FORTH labourers—(general); Matt. 10.5. These twelve Jesus SENT FORTH"— (specific); then in Matt. 10.16. "Behold, I SEND YOU FORTH"— (individual). I was married with two little children. My wife and I were challenged finally with the words of I Chron. 29.5, "And who then is WILLING to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord." Were we Willing?— Yes! I made known my exercise to my local brethren and I was heartily commended on May 1969. For these years I have had the great honour of serving the Lord Jesus Christ and God has been pleased to use me in a little way. I mainly work in the north of Scotland in the Highlands and Islands pioneering and preaching and teaching also. We can testify that God is faithful, He cannot deny himself. May we be faithful, till we see His face.
And still He prayed, in accord with His Father's will.
Betrayed and sold by one who knew Him well,
Rejected by His people Israel,
Beaten and mocked by cruel Roman bands,
Upon the cross they pierced His feet and hands.
My God! My God! why art Thou far from me?
The Saviour cried upon that awful tree,
No mind can grasp the sorrows of God's Son,
Nor comprehend the vict'ry which He won.
—Matthew J. Cordiner, Kilwinning.
The Sadhu Sundar Singh passed a crowd of people at the foot of the Himalayas putting out a jungle fire. Several men, however, were standing gazing at a tree. "What are you looking at?" he asked. They pointed to a nest of young birds on a tree whose branches were already alight. Above it was a bird flying wildly to and fro in great distress. The men said, "We wish we could save that nest, but the fire prevents us from getting near to it."
A few minutes later the nest caught fire. The Sadhu thought the mother-bird would fly away. But no! She flew down, spread her wings over her young ones, and in a few minutes was burnt to ashes with them. Turning to the bystanders the Sadhu said: "We are amazed at this wonderful love; but please think that when such astonishing love is seen in this little creature, how much more wonderful must His love be Who has created such an unselfish nature. The same infinite love brought Him down from heaven to become Man, so that by giving His own life He might save us who were dying in our sins."