BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan
ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
THE KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL
by G. H. Hutchinson
PAPERS ON PROPHECY
by W. W. Fereday
by H. W. Graham
by J. Adams
DAVID'S MIGHTY MEN
by D. S. Parrack
by C. Jones
ELISHA AND THE THREE KINGS
by R. Webb
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by J. Beattie
(Meditations in Matthew)
by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)
20. Crumbs from the Table; Bread in the Wilderness (Ch.15)
The Lord Jesus detested and repeatedly denounced the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. The disciples remarked that He had offended the Pharisees, but the King will judge hypocrisy wherever it is found. Our chapter begins with a religious criticism of the disciples for eating with unwashed hands. It was a transgression of the tradition of their elders. There was nothing in the Mosaic law about such, but Judaism had an oral law which had been committed to writing by the Rabbis and called "The Talmud". This they reckoned to be not only equal to the written Mosaic law but actually superior to it. The Talmud contained endless, sometimes ludicrous, additions to the law as given to Moses, and the Talmudical regulations regarding eating and washing and the manner and means of washing were complicated to say the least. The Saviour points out to them that they, in a more serious way, transgressed the commandment of God. They had a clause in their Talmud which released a man from the obligation of the well-known fifth commandment that a man must honour his father and his mother. They might indeed have been offended, these scribes and Pharisees, but they were hypocrites. They were blind leaders of the blind, concerned with outward show and neglecting the inner purity of the heart and mind.
The King leaves them. He travels north to the borders of Tyre and Sidon and is met by a distraught Canaanitish woman. What a contrast to the religious hypocrisy He has just left in Jerusalem! The woman implores Him as the Son of David. Did she think that such an approach would grant her favour? She had no rights in David, this Gentile woman, but the awful state of her demon-possessed daughter had brought her in faith to the feet of One whom she truly believed to be the Son of David, the Messiah. The Saviour, testing her faith, hides His grace momentarily. He was only sent, He says, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. She worshipped Him. Her cry was compelling, "Lord, help me." Still Jesus will test her. She was an outsider. It was not right to take the children's bread and throw it to dogs. "Truth, Lord," she acknowledges, but argues that even those little dogs under the table eat of the crumbs which fall as the children eat. It was, like the faith of that centurion in Capernaum, greater faith than He had found in Israel. "O woman, great is thy faith." In that very hour her daughter was healed. How such incidents as these must have cheered the heart of the Saviour, rejected by the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees but received by the faith of a Canaanitish woman, just like that Samaritan outcast of Sychar.
Our Lord travels south again, towards the sea of Galilee. He went up into a hill by the lake-side and, as ever, the multitudes came. Well did Isaiah write: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light," Isa.40.2. It was the land of Zebulon and Naphtali. It was Galilee of the Gentiles, and the light was shining upon them. They brought their lame, their blind, their dumb, their maimed, and many others. They brought them right to His feet and He healed them. What days were those! The multitude wondered and glorified the God of Israel
But now a former problem recurs. "I have compassion on the multitude" He says. For three days they had been with Him, these throngs. They were hungry. It was, of course, the disciples who had the problem, in spite of what He had wrought before in similar circumstances. "Bread in the wilderness?" they exclaim, and such a multitude! In reply to His question they say that they have seven loaves and a few little fishes. Again, as formerly, he commands the crowds to sit on the ground. The King will do everything in an orderly fashion. Besides, they need rest as well as food. He still provides both for the obedient soul.
He took the seven loaves and the fishes. He gave thanks. He brake them. He distributed to His disciples who in turn distributed to the multitude. Four thousand men there were, and women and children. They did all eat and were satisfied and there were gathered up afterwards seven baskets full of fragments. How dignified it all was. How similar to the feeding of the five thousand it was.
It is important to note the references to the two miracles in the next chapter (ch.16.9-10; and see also Mark 8.19-20). These references are important because some critics there are who say that there was but one feeding of the multitude and that the writers of the Gospels have confused and duplicated the record of this miracle. Here, however, the Saviour Himself refers to two separate and distinct occasions. There were five thousand fed, and there were four thousand similarly fed. That there were two miracles is confirmed by the Lord Jesus.
What is the significance then of the seven loaves and the seven baskets, and of the three days that the people were with Him. All is perfection. In the study of Bible numerals, these numbers three and seven speak of completeness and perfection. The third day too, might remind us of resurrection. One day, when the King returns to earth, there will be twelve baskets, and seven baskets, for Israel. The nation will enter into blessing and into government. A risen and glorified Messiah will ensure the millennial blessing of the people whose scribes and elders once rejected and crucified Him.
The Saviour now dismisses the multitude and journeys to Magdala, home of that other once demon-possessed woman whom He delivered, and who, it seems, followed Him ever after right to Calvary and to the Garden Tomb. Who has not heard of Mary of Magdala?
—to be continued (D. V.)
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
(5) ENTER ESTHER, PART B Read Chapter 2.12-23
We have already noticed that the opening two chapters describe three principal events (1) The removal of Vashti; (2) The selection of Esther; (3) The loyalty of Mordecai. So far as the selection of Esther is concerned, we suggested in our last paper that there are three strands to this part of the story: (A) Esther and Mordecai, v5-11; (B) Esther and Hegai, v12-25; (C) Esther and Ahasuerus, v16-20. We have considered the first of these, which brings us to:
B) ESTHER AND HEGAI. v12-15
We have already noticed that Hegai, "keeper of the women," was most impressed with Esther, and that he had "preferred her and her (seven) maids unto the best place of the house of the women," v9. There is little need to comment on the procedure described in v13-14. R. Sinker (Ellicott's Commentary), writing on v3, says it all: 'Called Hegai in v8; a eunuch whose special charge seems to have been the virgins, while another, named Shaashgaz, v14, had the custody of the concubines. The whole verse shows, as conclusively as anything could do, in how degrading aspect Eastern women were, as a whole, viewed. It was reserved for Christianity to indicate the true position of woman, not man's plaything, but the help meet for him, able to aid him in his spiritual and intellectual progress, yielding him intelligent obedience, not slavery.' J. G. Baldwin says: 'Though these girls had every luxury, and could choose any adornment to enhance their beauty, they returned from the king's presence to the house of the concubines, mere chattels, awaiting the king's pleasure, if indeed he ever remembered them again.'
The statement that Esther was "fair and beautiful," is confirmed by the fact that "she required nothing but what Hegai the king's chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her," v15. She needed no adornment (see v13): the "oil of myrrh" and "sweet odours" were sufficient. Whilst there can be no comparison between the situation at Shushan and the Christian wife, we are at least reminded of 1Pet.3.3-5: "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible...".
We are also reminded that if Esther entered the presence of Ahasuerus in the sweetness of the cosmetics provided by Hegai, we "are unto God a sweet savour of Christ," 1Cor.2.15. When Paul received the gifts from the assembly at Philippi, he described them as "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God," 4.18. The two words rendered "odour of a sweet smell" occur in Eph.5.2 which describes the fragrance of Christ Himself.
C) ESTHER AND AHASUERUS. 16-20
"And the king loved Esther above all women ... so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti." This was followed by "Esther's feast." It all looks very romantic. Until, that is, we read vl9: "And when the virgins were gathered together the second time...". Whilst the passage does not give the purpose of this gathering, there can be little doubt that it was for the same reason as the first, v2-4. We must remember that Ahasuerus was a polygamist, and was constantly adding to his harem. It all contrasts starkly with Eph.5: "Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it," v25. Ahasuerus gave Esther a crown and made her a feast: Christ "gave Himself."
But there's something else. Esther "obtained grace and favour" in the sight of Ahasuerus because of her beauty. But we enjoy divine grace in its truest sense. See 2Tim.1.9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace...".
- Chosen, not for good in me,
- Wakened up from wrath to flee...
We were "chosen ... in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," Eph.1.4.
Let's face it, the whole affair was shallow and empty. It was all outward show. Ahasuerus was only interested in beautiful women and sensuality. It all turned on "fair young virgins," v2-3, and pleasing and delighting the king, v4,14. The whole court was obsessed with this — in exactly the same way as society today. Youth, beauty, physical attraction ... There is "nothing new under the sun." Society has yet to learn that, "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion," Prov.11.22. Natural beauty is temporary, but our spiritual beauty in Christ is eternal.
We come now to the last of the three principal events described in the opening two chapters of this book:
3) THE LOYALTY OF MORDECAI
This is described in 2.21-23. We have already noticed that Esther ch.1,2 describe God's prior provision for His people. A crisis loomed and God knew all about it. The removal of Vashti, the selection of Esther, and now, the loyalty of Mordecai, were all part of God's providential care for the Jews. Mordecai uncovered a plot to assassinate Ahasuerus, and the culprits were duly "hanged on a tree," v23. Two statements are particularly significant.
A) "Esther certified the king thereof in Mordecai's name," v22. Mordecai could have remained silent about the plot. After all, Ahasuerus was a heathen king. He was Emperor of Persia, and the land of his fathers was not just a province in the mighty Persian Empire. But he took steps to save the life of the king. On the other hand, perhaps Mordecai was acting in his own interests, and in Esther's interests. Had Ahasuerus died, Esther would no longer be queen, and Mordecai would have no
representation at court. Whilst we cannot know what was in Mordecai's mind, we do know that God was again at work behind the scenes. We also know that Rom.13 teaches that we are "to render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour," v7. This is because "the powers that be are ordained of God," v1. 1Pet.2 reinforces this: "As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness (wickedness), but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king," v16-17.
B) "it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king," v23. Mordecai could have sought recognition for his loyalty to the king. Had he done so, events could have taken a totally different course. The happy consequences of his humility are spelt out very clearly in ch.6. The man who sought no honour for himself, became "the man whom the king delighteth to honour." This recalls 1Pet.5. "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. But Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time," v5-6.it also recalls another "Man Whom the King delighteth to honour." He sought no recognition on earth. "Tell the vision (on the Mount of Transfiguration) to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead," Matt.17.9. The Lord Jesus waited the Father's time, and "God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name," Phil.2.9.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Graeme Hutchinson (Belfast)
Jehoshaphat No. 1 (Paper 6)
Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, 2Chron.l7.1, was king of the Southern nation of Judah for 25 years. Unlike his Northern contemporary, Ahab, Jehoshaphat was, for the most part, a spiritual man. Within 2Chron., four chapters are devoted to his life (17-20). We can summarise the record as follows:
(a) 2 Chronicles 17: A Focused King
The beginning of Jehoshaphat's reign over Judah was encouraging. Whereas his father had ignored the Lord towards the end of his career (16.12) Jehoshaphat was determined to seek Him, 17.4. Instead of his father being his model, the king took one of his forefathers, David (17.3). In this intriguing chapter we can note the:
Determined to guard against the influences of the Northern Kingdom, 17.1 reminds us that Jehoshaphat was quick to erect defences against the opposition. We too are engaged in warfare, 2Tim. 1.3-4, and proper use of the 'whole armour of God,' Eph. 6.10, is essential. What is true of the believer individually is also true collectively within the assembly. Safeguarding against enemy intrusion is vital for the healthy survival of the assembly.
With idolatrous practices pervading the Northern Kingdom, it is interesting to note that Jehoshaphat 'sought not unto Baalim', v3. Certainly at this stage of his life, the king was prepared to be different from his contemporaries. Moreover, v6 indicates that his heart was 'lifted up' not for bad — as happened to Uzziah, 26.12 — rather it was in the 'ways of the Lord.' The result was that the king was rewarded in 'abundance', v5. Do we follow the call of 2Cor.6.17: 'Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate'? The record of Scripture illustrates that such people will be rewarded.
Three years into his reign, Jehoshaphat sent five princes, v7, nine Levites, v8a, and two priests, v8b, to teach the law throughout Judah. A number of practical points can be gleaned from the verses. Firstly the teachers were numerous (and varied). D. B. Long remarks that 'this would give balance and variety to all the teaching, something best done through different types of teachers rather than a stereotyped one-man-ministry type of arrangement' (Revival; A Study in Biblical Patterns, 1993, p.173). The same arrangement should hold for assemblies following New Testament principles, Acts 13.1. Secondly, the teachers were named. Proven men, not novices selected on the spur-of-the-moment! The same should hold today, Acts 11.26,13.1 and 16.2-3. Finally, for Deut.17.20 to be fulfilled, the teachers were necessary. Focusing on the law, v9, and spreading it throughout the nation guarded against sin and departure. The same prominence must be given to the Word of God today, Acts 18.26 and 20.27.
Diligence to the Lord and His Word was repaid with peace, v10, praise, v11, power, v12, and prosperity, v13. In the spiritual sense, these blessings will accrue to the believer who similarly regards the Lord and His Word. The promise spoken by the Lord to Eli is appropriate: 'them that honour Me I will honour,' 1Sam.2.30.
Having placed such value upon the land, it was necessary that adequate protection was given. Amongst those assigned with the responsibility were Amasiah 'who willingly offered himself unto the Lord,' vl6; Eliada, 'a mighty man of valour,' vl7; and Jehozabad, 'ready prepared for the war,' vl8. Men who were not only equipped for the job but eager to do it! Within every assembly there is a need for believers (especially men, who are equipping themselves for the work, knowledgeable in the Word, and showing an eagerness to follow the instructions. Timothy is one (male) example, 2Tim.2.15; 3.15 and Phil.2.22, while Priscilla is another (female) example, Acts 18.16 and Rom.16.3-4.
(b) 2 Chronicles 18: A Fallen King
What a change takes place with Jehoshaphat between chapters 17 and 18. In the former he was 'against Israel,' 17.1, in the latter he 'joined affinity with Ahab', 18.1. In tracing the sad record of Jehoshaphat's compromise with the sinful king of Israel, we can notice the:
2Chron.17.1 remarks that it was when 'Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance' that he developed the disastrous and sinful union with Ahab. In the first instance, the 'riches' suggest that the material prosperity enjoyed by Jehoshaphat led to his downfall. The Scriptures faithfully record that, for those individuals blessed with riches, the tendency is for them to develop the notion of self-dependency, lTim.6.17. The 'honour' would convey the problem of pride. Thoughts of self-dependency created thoughts of self-importance! How true are the words of Solomon: 'Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall,' Prov. 16.18. Moreover the passage of time may well have dimmed Jehoshaphat's ability to discern evil. For example, Scripture suggests that Jehoshaphat was around 52 when the events of 2Chron.18 took place (see 1Kgs.22.40,51,41 in that order). If he died when he was 60 , 2Chron.20.31, then the events in 2Chron.18 took place towards the end of his life, and examples of men such as Noah, Gen.9.20-23, would highlight the dangers of old age!
The union or compromise with Ahab created numerous problems for the nation of Judah — not only during the reign of Jehoshaphat but also for many years thereafter. Initially the impact was felt personally. Not only was Jehoshaphat close to death, after being mistaken for Ahab, 2Chron. 18.29-32, but the immediate family circle was affected as well. For instance, a friendly relationship with Ahab appears to have cultivated a similar relationship with his son, Jehoram, and Ahab's daughter (Athaliah), for they both married, 2Kgs.8.16-18! 2Chron. 20.35-37 also indicates that the desire to join with Israel was firmly embedded with Jehoshaphat — he repeated the same pattern with Ahab's son — Ahaziah!
The impact of the compromise was then felt nationally, for the legacy of the compromise recorded in 2Chron.l8 lasted for many years. As 2Chron.21.4-6 records, the evil heart of Jehoram and the influence of his wife and father-in-law were such that he committed heinous acts of sin and wickedness.
The final area where the impact of the compromise was shown was spiritually. Not only was Jehoshaphat rebuked for working alongside an ungodly nation that 'hated the Lord,' 2Chron.19.2, but the end result was that his daughter-in-law tried, unsuccessfully, to destroy the whole seed of David, 2Chron.22.10. This attempt was unquestionably Satanic, for it was aimed at thwarting the purpose of God which sought to bring His Son along this royal line, Matt. 1.8,16.
2Chron.18 stands out as a great warning chapter against compromise. Engaging in unholy alliances with the opposition creates problems for the individual believer which inevitably permeates the assembly. The end result is that spiritual decline is present for many years subsequent. Better to follow the guidance of Eph.5.11: 'have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.'
In our next paper we shall consider the record of 2Chron.19 and 20.
See paper 1 for details of Bibliography/Figures
—to be continued (D. V.)
by The Late W. W. Fereday (written in 1897/98)
11(d)—The Bride, the Lambs Wife
When the city was measured with the golden reed, its length, breadth, and height were found to be equal. Tested by divine righteousness no inequality or unevenness is detected. How different now! We often see much unevenness, if not positive crookedness, and it causes our hearts pain. But how complete the change in the day of glory! Christ's own perfection will be everywhere seen, to the delight and admiration of all. "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper," speaking of divine, though not Godhead, glory, Rev.4.3; "And the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass" — divine righteousness everywhere seen. The precious stones follow, into the details of which we cannot now enter. They show that every kind of beauty will be displayed in the glorified. God's own character will be seen in all; all His excellencies will be manifested as never before on earth.
Each gate was of one pearl. This reminds us of the well-known parable in Matt.13.45,46. From whatever point the holy city is viewed, there is the memorial of the deep love of Christ — that love which led Him into unutterable depths that we might be His for ever. "The street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass." "The street" is emblematic of intercourse. How sweet and perfect will this be with each other in the glory! Our intercourse is frequently marred here, through the unwatchfulness of our hearts. In glory it will be according to divine righteousness, agreeable to God, and a delight to us.
No temple was seen in the Holy City, in contrast with the earthly. Israel's metropolis will possess the Temple of God once more, Ezek.40, etc; at once a privilege and joy. But this cannot be for the heavenly saints, who are to enjoy a nearness to God peculiarly their own, through Christ's redemption. No part of the heavenly city is more holy than another; the presence of God and the Lamb fill it throughout.
Nor is there any need of created light, for the glory of God is there, and the Lamb is the lamp thereof. The homage of the kings of the earth will gladly be paid to the Lamb's wife, and the nations shall walk in its reflected light. Not only so, but from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, through the city, a river of blessing will flow, for the benefit of all. Eternally fruitful the glorified will be, and, during the millennial age, will minister to the nations for their healing. Creation's scars shall all be removed.
These are some of the glories that await us. Every sentence in Rev.21,22, is divinely full, and, blessed be God, divinely true. His own matchless grace will make it all good in all His own, for Christ's glory. These are glories and joys that will never fade. It is refreshing to contemplate the Bride in her eternal condition, after considering her millennial relationship and connections. When all things are made new, the Holy City, New Jerusalem, will come down from God, out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, Rev.21.2. Still a bride. The freshness not departed, the first glow of love not vanished. The Bridegroom's love perfect for her, and hers perfect for Him, and that for ever and ever.
—to be continued (D. V.)
by H. W. Graham (Eire)
The vast majority of people believe in infant sprinkling. Can it be possible that they are all mistaken and that a very small minority is right? It is quite possible and most probable. Where in Scripture is it found that truth ever lay with the majority? In the days of the flood, were Noah and his seven companions right or were the majority? Were the vast majority that condemned Christ to be worthy of death right, or were the few failing disciples? Following the analogy of Scripture it is not likely in the matter of infant baptism that the majority would have the truth.
When the matter is mentioned it is customary to be told that the Saviour said: "Suffer little children to come unto Me." Now if there is a passage of the Bible that witnesses against baby baptism, this is it. Children were brought to Christ, not for baptism, but that He should put His hands upon them and pray. The disciples rebuked those who brought them, but the Lord reproved the disciples, put His hands on the children and blessed them. He neither baptized them nor commanded His disciples to do so. He said that of such is the kingdom of God, not of children, but of such as become like little children, and thus receive the kingdom of God. The little ones of whom He spoke were those who believe in Him. Please read the following passages: Matt.18.1-14, 19.13-15; Mk.10.13-16; Lk.18.15-17.
It is also common to be told that as children were circumcised in the Old Testament so children should be baptized now. Supposing it were so, it could only apply to male children, and would give no ground for baptizing females. The argument is that as circumcision, the seal of the old covenant, was applied to children so the seal of the new likewise. But baptism is never described as the seal of anything. The Holy Spirit is the seal given by Christ Himself to those who are His, Eph.1.13; 4.30. Circumcision was first given to Abraham as a seal of the faith he already had, Rom.4.11. Then it was given to all who were Abraham's descendants by natural birth, without any condition as to the personal faith of the parents. It was a sign borne in the body that the person was of the nation of Israel and entitled to a share in the national blessings. The uncircumcised were cut off from the nation but this had nothing to do with individual salvation, Gen.17.9-14. If baptism corresponds to circumcision it is strange that Jews already circumcised were also baptized on believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, as happened at Pentecost, and on other occasions. Later when some insisted that baptized Gentile believers, must also be circumcised, it is most strange that the reply was not made that baptism had taken the place of circumcision, Acts 15.1-5.
Some bring forward such phrases as "The promise is unto you, and to your children," Acts 2.39, and say that therefore children should be baptized. But children here are descendants not babies just as in the phrase "children of Israel."
Others tell us that whole households were baptized on the faith of the head of the family. Usually the Gospel divides families, Matt. 10.34-39, but there are cases when every individual in a household believes the Gospel and as believers all are baptized. Such was the case of Cornelius, Acts 10.44-48; 15.7-9; Lydia, Acts 16.14,15,40; the jailer, Acts 16.30-34; Stephanas, 1Cor.1.14-16; 16.15. No infants are mentioned, all those baptized believed, were brethren, ministered to the saints. Some suggest that Lydia's children were baptized. They have to suppose that she was married, that she had children, that they were still infants and that they were with her in Philippi. Quite an imaginary foundation on which to build!
Another straw at which drowning baby sprinklers despairingly grasp is the phrase in 1Cor.7.14: "Now are they (the children) holy." Therefore, they say, such should be baptized. The fact is that the passage does not deal with salvation and baptism. It treats of the problem whether the believing partner in a marriage should separate from the unbelieving one. The answer is negative because the unbeliever is sanctified by the believer, not, of course, in a spiritual sense. The unbeliever is not saved and sanctified without personal faith and is not to be baptized. In the same way the children of such a marriage are holy (sanctified) but are not therefore the subjects of baptism.
Hannah dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord, 1Sam.1.21-28, and, so we are told, parents dedicate their children at baptism. Parents certainly should dedicate their children to the Lord, bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Eph.6.4, teach them the Word and ways of God and pray for them and with them. All this is normally done by Christian parents who do not believe in infant baptism and without any ceremony of dedication.
It is the height of folly to teach a child that he has been born again at baptism and when he grows up to teach him that he must be born again. Or to tell him that at baptism he was introduced into some special class and later to teach' him that there is no difference for all have sinned.
Infant baptism is a heathen practice which had its origin in Babylon and, like many other practices from the same source, was adopted by apostate Christendom. When the reunion of Christendom is brought about then infant baptism will be the basic lie of the false system.
After all it is anti-biblical and anti-Christian. Holy Scripture nowhere gives a shadow of authority for any such practice. In the Bible a Christian is one who has acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and has believed in Him unto salvation, Rom.10.9. This is obviously beyond the capacity of an infant.
All who have an interest in the eternal welfare of children should beware lest the first step in spiritual things is a step in the wrong direction. The first step is likely to determine the direction to be followed and the destiny to be reached. Baptism has absolutely no influence on the destiny of those who die in infancy, but it can have an influence for evil on those who live to the age of reason and are deceived into resting on it for salvation. It is clearly the duty of Christians to shun all complicity with a practice which has such fatal consequences in so many cases.
The positive teaching of Scripture is clear and plain for all who are not wilfully blind. It teaches the voluntary submission to baptism (not sprinkling) of everyone who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation and has thus become His disciple, Acts 8.36; Mk.16.16; Matt.28.19.
by J. Adams (N. Ireland)
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOUSE:
In the previous paper we noted that the house in Prov.9.1 had seven pillars, and we have been applying this to those seven things mentioned regarding the assembly in Acts 2.41-42.
- The pillar of a SOUND CONVERSION - 'They that gladly received His Word';
- The pillar of a TRUE CONFESSION - 'were baptised';
- The pillar of a HAPPY COMMENDATION - 'were added unto them';
- The pillar of SCRIPTURAL CONDUCT - 'continued in the Apostle's Doctrine';
- The pillar of SAINTLY COMPANIONSHIP - 'fellowship';
- The pillar of BLESSED COMMEMORATION - 'breaking of bread';
- The pillar of SWEET COMMUNION - 'prayers'.
We have briefly considered the first four.
5. The pillar of SAINTLY COMPANIONSHIP. - "fellowship."
1Jn.1.3 teaches that every believer has fellowship with the Father and the Son. In v7 we have fellowship with all other believers, 'If we walk in the light, as He is in the light we have fellowship one with another...' This has to do with divine life. However, in this paper, we are dealing with ecclesiastical fellowship in the assembly where we share in the joys and if necessary in all the tears of the assembly. It is like rowing a boat where we all pull on the same oars and at the same time. Moses came down the mount and asked, "Who is on the Lord's side?" Ex.32.26. He wanted to know who were in harmony with the mind of God. Those that danced around the calf had evident disregard for God's mind. To be on the Lord's side we are always on the side of His Word. If not on the side of His Word we cannot claim to be in fellowship. We must never go against His Word.
Fellowship is not merely to be enjoyed on Sunday morning. With Paul it was going in and going out with the saints continually, Acts 9.28. An expression of fellowship is seen in that we will be, as far as possible, in attendance at all the assembly meetings — the prayer meeting, the ministry meeting, the gospel meeting, etc. Fellowship with the Gospel, Ministry, Worship. Fellowship will be manifest in our giving, 'as the Lord has prospered us,' 1 Cor. 16.2
6. The pillar of BLESSED COMMEMORATION. - "breaking of bread."
The Breaking of the Bread was instituted by the Lord Himself and is celebrated on the first Day of the week, Jn.20.9; Acts 20.7; 1Cor.16.2.
Our authority is found by precept in 1Cor.11.23 and by practice in Acts 20.7. It is an expression of fellowship, lCor.10.16, and a feast of remembrance, 1Cor.11.24. In Jn.20.24 we learn that Thomas missed out on that blessed occasion when the Lord Jesus stood in the midst and showed unto those few disciples that were present His hands and His side. Should it not be our deep exercise of heart to be present on the Lord's day at the breaking of bread, not alone bowing to His authority, musing upon His agony, but also awaiting His soon coming again, lest at His coming He finds us at home?
As we remember Him we undoubtedly worship Him. We recall that the wise men from the east, Matt.2, worshipped when they saw Him. They opened their treasures and presented gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh. We can see in
7. The pillar of SWEET COMMUNION. - "prayers."
Praying is a mark of a true child of God. It marked Paul at the beginning of his spiritual life, 'Behold he prayeth,' Acts 9.11. It was a prominent feature of assembly life, Acts 4.31; 12.5; Rom.15.30; Eph.6.18; 1Tim.2.1.
It is good to learn of an Elijah and a Daniel who prayed. It is also good when an assembly prays. There are four things that we look for in the assembly when it comes to the work of God and prayer is one of them.
- There must be Purpose in the work itself. The thought of enlargement, Isa.54.2. It is not just a matter of a few brethren deciding to try a few meetings. That word "try" rules out purpose. No, it should always be an assembly exercise to preach with purpose. Hence they will stretch forth the curtains of prayer, getting the whole assembly to pray with a definite burden for the souls of men.
- Next is Progress. If an assembly begins a work on the principle of trial it will likely never call for extra seating to be arranged. However should an assembly begin a work on the principle of purpose then there will soon be the need to lengthen the cords.
- The third thing is Power. I once lived beside a working corn mill driven by water. The power came from the big wheel. Once this wheel was started, only one thing could stop it. That was the miller shutting off the water supply. The lesson is clear, if we are going to have the power necessary in and for the work we must keep the wheel turning and never close off the source.
- Finally we must learn then what Prayer is. It is first having a regard for Him that is invoked. We learn however, if our prayer is going to be heard we must have no cherished sin, Ps.66.18 or unforgiving spirit, Mk.11.25 or carnal motive, Jms.4.3. There is no room for formality or asking amiss but a simple desire for the Glory of God. We must have a definite burden.
—to be continued (D.V.)
2 Sam.23.8-39 and 1 Chron. 11.10-47
by D. S. Parrack, Somerset, England
Paper 1 — ELEAZAR
The roll of honour listing the mighty men of David's following during his rejection, twice recorded in Scripture, is somewhat akin to Paul's remembrances at the end of his Roman letter. What memories must have been conjured up for the apostle as each name was dictated to Tertius, yet how little is known by us of most of these so lovingly called to mind. In the case of David's captains, it is, as far as the majority are concerned, merely the name and place of origin which is given. With a few, however, we are afforded a brief glimpse of the actions which set them apart as a select company in the services and counsels of their king.
There was Eleazar (God is helper), second only to Adino, chief among the captains. Together with two of his companions and David, he found himself left to face the marauding Philistines when the rest of the people had fled. It may well be that we might feel ourselves as isolated in our Christian warfare as was this little band. The writer to the Hebrews envisaged such a feeling of loneliness when he wrote so comfortingly to remind them of God's promise and our response to it. "He hath said, I will never leave thee or forsake thee. So that we may boldly say. The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me," Heb.13.5-6. David on one occasion, found that not only were his followers unwilling to stand by him, but indeed spoke of stoning him for circumstances over which he had no control and for which he was no more to blame than they were themselves. We read that "David was greatly distressed — but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God," 1Sam.30.6. No recriminations, no reciprocal vindictiveness, but like the blessed Lord Jesus Himself, in willing trustfulness He "committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously," 1Pet.2.23.
The object of the enemy's attack was "a parcel of ground, full of barley." Such a seemingly small thing for which to stake the lives of the foremost leaders. But these men had known what it was to be short of food, to spend days and weeks in the mountains and wildernesses where sustenance was not easily found. They were responsible for the well being of those who had put themselves under their care, though they had run away, and food was of prime importance. How much store do we set on maintaining a food supply for the saints? How much experience have we had of hungering after the word of God so as to value its truths as worth standing firm for? The motives which will enable such a stand to be taken are not bigotry or legality, but a desire to see God honoured and his people nurtured.
Such warfare is not easy, it demands constant effort and vigilance. Of Eleazar we read, "He smote the Philistines till his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword." Paul admonishes the Galatians, "Let us not be weary in well-doing" again linked with a promise, "for in due season we shall reap if we faint not," Gal.6.9. Physical and mental weariness we cannot avoid. Even of the Lord Jesus we read "therefore being wearied with His journey," yet He had a source of supply ever present in fulness for He could say to his disciples, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of ... My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work," Jn.4.32-34. It is this example which we are exhorted to follow, for we are told to "consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weaned and faint in your minds," Heb.12.3.
Though the odds were so great, indeed they were so great as to exclude a victory from human resources, the outcome was that, "The Lord wrought a great victory that day and the people returned after Him only to spoil." Paul could write of the experiences which brought him to a point where "we despaired even of life, but we had the sentence of death within ourselves that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead" 2Cor. 1.8-9. The outcome of his enforced distrust in himself was a positive trust in God for his then present circumstances, resulting in his exultant cry, "Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ," 2Cor.2.14. Whilst it was Eleazar who fought and the Lord who wrought the great victory, it was the people of God who reaped the blessing, returning only to spoil. What benefits we have received through the battlings of others; what enjoyments are ours because of the faithful continuance in truth by brethren in the past. May we not be found wanting in our turn to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ," 2Tim.2.3 and to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints," Jude 3. Should we be so prepared, we will find that indeed "God is helper."
—to be continued (D. V.)
by C. Jones (Cardiff)
The one hundred and fifty psalms are divided into five books. Each of these books corresponds with one of the books of the Pentateuch. Psalm 90 is the first psalm in the fourth book and this book, which contains Psalms 90-106, corresponds with the book of Numbers. In the fourth book we see the consequences of the failure of the first man, Adam, the victory of the Second Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His ultimate rule over all things.
Psalm 90 is entitled "A Prayer of Moses the man of God." It is the oldest psalm and, apart from the book of Job, is probably the oldest of the Scriptures. It was written by Moses in the wilderness after the events recorded in Num.14. The children of Israel arrived at Kadesh-barnea and twelve men were sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan. Because the evil report of ten of the men caused the people to fear and refuse to go up to possess the land, they were condemned by God to wander in the wilderness for a total of forty years, until all over twenty years of age, a whole generation, had died and been buried in the desert. Only Caleb and Joshua wanted to do the will of God and they tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade the people to go up and possess the land. These two men ultimately entered Canaan.
The people had seen clear evidence of the power of God and His care and love for them. Whilst their families were sheltered by the blood of lambs they had seen the first-born in Egyptian families killed. God had brought them out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, and had destroyed Pharaoh's chariots. They had been protected, fed and guided by God right up to Kadesh but there they refused to believe and trust Him. Despite God's goodness to them they had often, in the past, complained, disobeyed and failed to trust God, and now judgment fell.
We shall divide the Psalm as follows:
- v1-6: The Eternal God and Mortal Man;
- v7-11 Sin and Wrath;
- v12-17 Grace and Blessing.
The Eternal God and Mortal Man, v1-6
Moses, the man of God, had himself been sorely tried during the journey through the wilderness by the behaviour of the children of Israel, and in the midst of trial, disappointment and change he speaks in the first verse of Psalm 90 of the God who had been their dwelling place, their refuge and help in all generations. Moses' trust was in the eternal, almighty God who never changes, Mai.3.6, Heb.13.8, Jas.1.17. The word used for Lord in this verse is Adonai which means Sovereign Lord, Master, Ruler or Owner, One who should be obeyed. Adonai is the plural form of the word and makes us think of the Trinity.
God was the God of Moses' father and the patriarchs, Exod.3.6 and Moses could look back to the experiences of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. We can look back over the years which have elapsed since the time of Moses and can learn of God's holiness, grace, love, power and faithfulness in His dealings not only with the patriarchs but also with Moses himself and men like Joshua and David. We know of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, His crucifixion, resurrection and promised return. We know too of the life of Paul and God's care for the church and each of us to the present day, and we can gratefully say with Moses "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations," v1. In His sovereignty, grace and love, God has cared for, protected and preserved His people and will continue to do so. In Him is our comfort and rest for "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." Deut.33.27.
Verse 2 reminds us that before creation there was the eternal, self-sufficient God "from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." In Co.1.17 we read of the Lord that "...He is before all things, and by Him all things consist."
The following verses, 3-6, stress the frailty of man and the brevity of life. These thoughts are in complete contrast to those in the preceding verses of the eternal, infinitely powerful, sovereign God. We are dust "...dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return," Gen.3.19.
People die and return to dust. This is a very solemn thought, but those saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ know that although the body "...is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption," 1Cor. 15.42, and Paul goes on to say "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," 1Cor.15.55-57. Death is not a haphazard event. God is in control and determines the time of death. It is He who says " ... Return, ye children of men," v3. God decides when men die and return to dust.
God is outside of time, but being omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, Ps.139, He knows every detail of all that happens and is in ultimate control of all things. To us a thousand years is a very long period of time in which so much happens in the history of the world. To God, however, it is as "...yesterday when it is past..." v4, 2Pet.3.8, or a watch (three hours) in the night. Men are carried through this brief life as with a flood flowing along. Life is like a short sleep, v5, or grass that springs up and then withers, v6. As the hymn says, "Life at best is very brief," it soon passes, Job 8.9; Ps.39.5,103.15,16; Jas.4.14, 1Pet.1.24.
The devil would blind the minds of unbelievers, using the pursuit of wealth, pleasure, status and all manner of distractions so that they do not face the realities of the brevity of life, the existence of heaven and hell and the fact that "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," Heb.9.27. By the grace of God the believer has a sure hope of eternal bliss in heaven, Col.1.5, Ps.16.11. Unless they are saved before death or before the Lord returns, unbelievers have no hope, Eph.2.12, 1Thess.4.13.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by R. Webb (England)
2 Kings 3
The three Kings were in sore trouble. Two of them were ungodly men, the other a backsliding servant of Jehovah.
Jehoram was the son of Ahab. He began to reign over Israel in Samaria. 'He wrought evil in the sight of the Lord, v2, 'Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin,' v3. However, he did purge away some of his parents' grosser evils, v2.
The King of Edom was just a man of the world with no relationship with God.
Jehoshaphat was King of Judah. How could he associate himself with such a pair with any expectation of aid or blessing from God. When he returned from helping Ahab at Ramoth — Gilead the prophet remonstrated with him thus, 'Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate Jehovah'? 2Chron.19.2.
When he joined himself with Ahaziah in a commercial enterprise, he was divinely informed that Jehovah would break his ships, a catastrophe which really happened, 2Chron.20.35-37.
What is sorely needed amongst God's saints is the spiritual energy to say 'No', at whatever cost, when invited by the world to co-operate with its schemes. The three Kings sought to subjugate Mesha King of Moab.
2Kgs.3.7. When Jehoshaphat was invited to help he replied 'I am as thou art, My people as thy people, My horses as thy horses.". Oh the shame of it; should he not rather have said, 'I am opposite of what thou art'?
We have got to stand firm for God in this day. There are many who say you must move with the times. Jeremiah clearly states, 'Stand ye in the way and see and ask for the old paths where is the good way and walk therein,' Jer.6.16.
The allied Sovereigns took a route to avoid Moab's fortified cities and found themselves with no water and Jehoram cried out in despair. Jehoshaphat asked if there was available a prophet of Jehovah by whose means they might inquire of him, v11, and they go to Elisha. Jehoshaphat acknowledged 'the word of Jehovah is with him.' If he had sought the word of God before venturing forth he would not have found himself in such a difficulty. Elisha bade Jehoram go to the prophets of his father and mother, knowing well that he sought water not God. However, in v14 Elisha distinguished between God's servant, even though in a backsliding condition, and the evil men with him.
His next words are remarkable, 'Bring me a minstrel.' His spirit was checked while the ungodly were before him. He felt it imperative to abstract himself in order to get into proper touch with God. How we all need at times to get alone with God. While the minstrel played, the hand of Jehovah came upon Elisha, and he prophesied the Lord would meet their need and victory over rebellious Moab should follow. How good is our God!
God's way of blessing on this occasion contains some very important principles. The scene of it was a valley, ie, the low place which is the place of repentance and self judgment. When God's people get down low enough before God the blessing is never lacking. Ditches have to be dug in order to hold what God had to give. The deeper the ditches, the more water they got, the greater the blessing from God. We must never limit God.
There is a lot of earth to be done away with ere the blessing of God can really fill our souls. It is very remarkable the blessing came in the morning when the meal offering was offered, v20.
Frequently in the Scripture do we find the blessing at the hour of sacrifice. Keeping contact with our Lord and the remembrance of His death will enable us to war successfully against His foes and ours.
by Jim Beattie (Ontario, Canada)
I was born on February 3rd, 1943 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. My parents were Christians and both were very active in an evangelical Baptist church. Without exaggerating, I can say they had only two goals for their life: the will of God for themselves; and the will of God for their children. Both parents are now at home with the Lord.
Through the searching of the Scriptures, my parents became exercised about gathering to the Name of the Lord and came into assembly fellowship firstly in Parkgate Gospel Hall and then in Bloomfield in Belfast. They taught us from our infancy that we needed to be saved and, of course, we sat under the Gospel every Lord's Day evening. As long as I remember I wanted to be saved. I never had any doubt that this was the all-important issue of life.
I was naturally shy and it embarrassed me when people asked me if I was saved. I suppose because of this, I told people who asked me, that I was saved even though I knew I wasn't. Some would ask me when and how. I know they meant well, but because of my shyness I made up a story telling people a time, place, and manner how God saved me. It was not a false profession in the normal sense of the word. I knew it was false and the longing to be saved never left me.
In 1952, my father came to Canada and settled in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1953, he sent for my mother and the four children. I was bothered that I had this false profession and thought I could get rid of it when we moved to Canada. But people had heard that "I was saved" and I felt forced to go on with my profession.
In the summer of 1957 I spent a couple of weeks with some boys. As far as I knew they were from homes where the parents were not saved. Some professed to be saved during the time we were together and this troubled me. They did not have the blessing of a Christian home, yet they were saved and I wasn't. I remember struggling over my false profession one evening and finally I faced the fact that I could go on no longer in my lost condition. I did not tell anyone. I just determined that I was not going to delay any longer, but try to get the matter settled.
Having heard the Gospel all my life, I assumed I would know how to be saved. I had memorised Bible verses and listened to others tell how they were saved. I had spoken to my friends about the importance of being saved as well as pointing out to them that it was "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us..." Tit.3.5. What I didn't realise was, "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God," Rom.3.11. I thought I understood. During the rest of 1957, God patiently taught me I did not understand — that I was lost.
I believed salvation was not by works. I tried to "believe", and to "see" the Lord Jesus dying on the cross for me. I tried everything that people said had made them a child of God. It was hopeless. On January 1st, 1958, as I sat in a New Year's Day meeting at the Kensington Avenue Gospel Hall in Hamilton, Ontario while someone ministered the Word to the Christians, I reviewed the previous months of useless effort. As I sat there, it dawned on me that I was going down to hell and couldn't do a thing about it. This was where the Lord had been patiently bringing me to in the previous months. I knew that moment that I was a lost sinner.
Just then, the verse I had tried so hard in the previous months "to use" to be saved, Acts 16.31, was brought back to my mind. But the words, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" took on new meaning. I had thought it had been telling me to believe and be saved. In fact, it was telling me to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." My focus had been on believing. I had left the Lord Jesus out of the picture. At that moment it was different. I understood for the first time it was not believing that saved, but the Lord Jesus. I did not understand much at that moment, but I knew I was saved.
Almost immediately, I felt I was in a dilemma. The Christians believed I was already saved and I had been acting the part. I was too embarrassed to tell them that I had just been saved. Eleven months passed before I told anyone. My younger sister expressed a desire to be baptized and I had been quietly pondering taking the same step. I especially recall telling my mother that I had not really been saved until the beginning of the year. Mother had difficulty believing that I had not been saved all along, but as the years went by she finally accepted that the former story was just made up.
I was baptized on November 16th of 1958 and received into assembly fellowship in the Kensignton Avenue Gospel Hall the following Lord's Day. Although many who knew me might not have thought so, I felt shy and was reluctant to take public part. I did it, but it took a lot out of me and the last thing I expected was that I would ever be in the work of the Lord. I had no desire for it. I told others who expressed interest in it that I would never be a preacher.
Yet there was an interest in spreading the Gospel. Two other younger brethren my age, helped by the encouragement of those older than we, became involved in children's meetings, open-air meetings, as well as helping in the regular gatherings of the assembly. We also purchased a printing press and printed tracts for a number of years for our own use and the use of others. Although I had a longing to reach out with the Gospel, I still felt inadequate at preaching and, though I wondered if it might be possible. I really never expected to be in the work of the Lord full time.
What made me seriously consider the possibility was a servant of the Lord speaking to me at a small conference in Victoria Road, Ontario, northeast of Toronto. This brother, whom I hardly knew at that time, came up to the car I was sitting in and said to me and to another young brother, "I expect to see you in the work of the Lord some day." This was the first time I ever thought anyone would seriously consider that I might be suitable for the work. It came as a surprise — especially when it came from a man who was respected amongst God's people. That was the beginning of my exercise toward full time work. Nothing changed at that time. I continued to help in the local assembly as well as open air work and printing. I also had a Sunday School class. Yet now at the back of my mind was the question as to God's plan for my life in this direction.
In 1964 I graduated from the School of Medical Technology and began working in a hospital in Hamilton as a Medical Laboratory. Technologist. My superiors had hopes I would continue training for an advanced degree and take charge of the department I was in. But I was now thinking about the need of the work of the Lord. During my teenage years, I had done a lot of reading of missionary books and pioneer works and my concern was for the people who had never heard the Gospel. We had tried our open-air work in the outlying areas of the large city of Hamilton.
Eventually I was made acting charge of the Haematology department in the hospital. In 1968, the chief pathologist wanted me to have further training in a larger hospital in view of making me full charge of the department. I was concerned about this. I was not unwilling to take further training, but it would mean that the hospital would be out three months wages for me for this further training. I felt that if the hospital invested time and money in my further training and I left for the work of the Lord soon after, it would be a poor testimony to give them nothing back for it.
One evening I went downstairs to the family room to pray about the Lord's will. I asked the Lord if He would ever want me to be full-time in His work. I told the Lord I felt it was only fair to the hospital that they knew if ever I would be leaving them for the Lord's work. I prayed about this for a long time, but as I prayed a Scripture reference kept coming to my mind and I was finding it distracting. It was not my practice to especially look for isolated Scriptures to confirm God's will to me. Thus it did not strike me that the Lord might be seeking to speak to me in this way. Finally, in exasperation, I thought I would look up the Scripture reference so that I could continue to pray without distraction. I looked up Is.61.1, not knowing what it said, I read "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound," Is.61.1. I have to say that I literally trembled when I read it. I believed that the Lord was answering the question that I had been praying about.
With that in mind, I spoke to the chief pathologist and explained that although I had no time frame in mind, I believed I would eventually leave the hospital for the work of the Lord. He said that in view of the possibility of my eventual leaving, he would start looking for someone else to take the charge position. I expressed my happiness with that. On my lunch break later in the day, I went out and sat in my car and read "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward," Heb.11.24-26. I felt content that I had been willing to let go of opportunity in this world even though I had no definite time in mind for the work of the Lord.
But from that moment, doors began to open. As my wife, Joyce, and I prayed more about the work of the Lord, we felt we should approach the brethren about it.
One evening I called one of the elders on the phone to ask him if I could discuss with the elders our going into full time work. His response was, "Jim, we have been waiting for this." I did meet with them and they were of one mind that we should go into the work of the Lord. That was in the latter part of 1968 and in January of 1969 we moved to Bothwell, where we still reside. Brother Metcalf from Sarnia, Ontario, and I teamed up together and worked in the town of Wallaceburg about 30 miles away. We went into the town not knowing a single person living there. God in His grace saved souls and after a few years an assembly was planted.
As we look back to those first days and over the years that have passed, we can only thank God for His grace and goodness. The years since God saved me have been happy years and the work of the Lord has been very satisfying. I have never had a single regret that I left Medical Technology behind. My greatest desire is that the years ahead will bring more glory to the Lord than all the years that are past.
With an increasing awareness of the potentially dangerous side-effects of drugs and medicines, many people are now resorting to other therapies in the hope that a cure can be effected without the hazardous risks of prescribed treatments. So great is the swing towards alternative medicines that it is now a multi-million pound business and customers are prepared to pay substantially for treatments perceived to be safer.
There is however, a disease which rages within every human being, which is behind every ill affecting humanity and for it there is only one cure. Many have tried other means to bring about a remedy but their efforts have been frustrated. I refer to the plague of sin which has affected the lives and souls and destinies of all since the creation of man. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all that hath sinned: "Rom.5.12. It resulted in the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden and since then its sinister presence has been known and felt in every heart.
Its seriousness was reflected upon by James, who wrote, "...and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death," Jms.1.15. Paul recorded, "For the wages of sin is death;..." Rom.6.23. God had earlier issued this warning, "...the soul that sinneth, it shall die," Ezk.18.4. Prophets, at various times, had informed the nation of Israel of the consequences of sin, stating that their sins had separated between them and God, Is.59.2. Be warned — sin defiles, sin disappoints, sin damages, sin deceives, sin debases, sin destroys and worst of all, sin damns.
After the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God asked Eve, as yet unaware of the seriousness of their act of rebellion, "What is this that thou hast done?" Gen.3.13. God, even then, knew full well the sad legacy of their sin — broken hearts, blighted lives, bereaved families, disease, destruction, death and ultimately damnation.
Alas, there are diseases today for which there is no known cure and research continues unabated to provide relief from many distressing conditions. I am glad that with confidence, having experienced its power in my own life, I can tell you there is a tried and proven remedy for 'the worst of all diseases.' It is the precious blood of Christ. Faith in Him who died for sins upon the cross, will instantaneously and eternally deliver you from the dread consequences of your sins. Do your sins trouble you? Have you been awakened to understand the horrendous consequences of unforgiven sins?
Then, my friend, let me tell you of the great Physician whose cleansing and keeping power I have known for over thirty years. He can heal your sin-sick soul and give you the assurance that your many sins have been pardoned and no longer may you dread banishment from God. All this He can offer you freely — no payment or penance is needed, since on the cross, He paid in full the price of your freedom. Are you prepared to abandon all your futile efforts and cast to the wind your worthless plans and ideas and trust Him alone for cleansing and pardon?
There is no other remedy, there is no other Saviour, 'Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,"Acts 4.12. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," Jn.3.36.
Sin is deadly, sin is serious and without the Saviour, its penalty is inescapable. Dare you hesitate? — come at once, come as you are, trust Christ and know the healing touch of -the Saviour of sinners.
- Moral courage is power to resist fashionable error and maintain unfashionable truth.
- —S. G. Goodrich
- Prejudice is a time-saver — it enables you to form a judgment before you gather the facts.
- Nothing can be right that arrests one's spiritual progress or silences one's testimony.
- —J. Douglas
- Freedom is not the right to do as you please but the liberty to do what you ought.
- —W. Trew
TUNE: SUPREMACY ("Thou art the Everlasting Word")
- Utter perfection fills our gaze,
- As we His path retrace,
- Undeviating in His ways,
- And full of truth and grace;
- REFRAIN: As each fresh glory comes to view,
- Worship and praises burst anew.
- His thoughts were pure, His words were clear,
- With all authority,
- So powerful, tender and so dear,
- In lovely harmony;
- His wonders, miracles and signs,
- Declare His Sonship true,
- He graciously with sinners dined,
- Yet welcomed in by few;
- His glorious Person, works and ways,
- Engage and thrill our heart,
- And will to everlasting days,
- Food for our souls impart;
- Matthew J. Cordner, Kilwinning