March/April 2000

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Contents

BEHOLD YOUR KING
by J. Flanigan

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

THE KINGS OF JUDAH AND ISRAEL
by G. H. Hutchinson

PROPHETIC PICTURES OF THE LORD
by J. E. Todd

BELIEVER'S BAPTISM
by J. D. McColl

CHRISTIAN CONDUCT IN A MODERN WORLD
by W. A. Boyd

THE ROLE OF SISTERS IN THE ASSEMBLY
by J. Grant

MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by L. B. Carswell

GOOD TIDINGS FROM HEAVEN

QUOTES


BEHOLD YOUR KING

 
(Meditations in Matthew)

by Jim Flanigan (Belfast)

25. Service and Suffering (Ch.20)

Chapter 20 is in four parts, the first of which is the longest, comprising the first sixteen verses, almost half of the chapter, and dealing with service in the vineyard. The second part is very brief, where in three verses, 17-19, the Saviour foretells His suffering and death, and His ultimate resurrection. There follows the third section from verses 20-29, in which the ambitious mother of James and John seeks places of honour for her sons in the expected kingdom. Our Lord's reply is to explain that true greatness in the kingdom is not as it is in the world and He also predicts for them a share in His sufferings. The chapter closes with the story of two blind men whose sight is miraculously restored. These thirty-four verses range from the vineyard to Calvary and to the kingdom. The King is here in sovereignty in the vineyard, in suffering at the cross, and in miracle-working power in His kingdom.

It will be noticed that this parable of the labourers in the vineyard is a sequel to the Lord's words at the close of ch.19. "Many that are first shall be last," He had said, "and the last shall be first." This is repeated at the end of the parable in vl6 of ch.20. There may be, as some suggest, a veiled reference here to the coming in of the Gentiles at a later hour than the Jews, to whom the Gospel came first. However, the dominant thought in the parable is that the Lord of the vineyard is sovereign and in His sovereignty He can reward His servants as He so desires. Peter had said, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore?" Would there be a particular reward for this? The parable expounds the Lord's answer.

To those who are the first to be hired in his service the Lord of the vineyard promises a penny a day, and this is agreed, but in the market place at the third hour, and again at the sixth and ninth hour, and even at the eleventh hour, he finds labourers who are idle and hires them likewise. The evening hour having arrived, the labourers are called to receive payment for their labour and there is murmuring. They present themselves, as directed, from the last to the first, from the eleventh hour labourers to those who had laboured from early morning. "They received every man a penny," and to those who had laboured all the day, through the heat of the Eastern morning and afternoon, this seemed unjust. Those who had wrought but one hour had been made equal to them and it did not seem fair. The Lord's answer is a blending of statements and questions. "Friend, I do thee no wrong." Had there not been an agreement for a penny? Take what was agreed and go. "Is it not lawful for me to do whatl will with mine own?" "Is thine eye evil, because I am good." So the last shall be first, and the first last.

What is the relevance to us, in the principles outlined in this kingdom parable? Two great lessons, at least, are here. First, the Lord of the vineyard has sovereign rights, which must not, dare not, be questioned by the labourers. He does what He wills and is neither accountable nor answerable to any man for what He does. Happy is that labourer today who serves in the consciousness of the sovereignty of the Lord of the harvest. Second, that servant who serves for the glory of the Lord will not labour with his eyes on a reward. He will serve in the joy of serving Him who has called him. If the Lord will reward His labourers, as He has promised, then this is still sovereignty, but it is sovereign grace, that He should give reward for doing what was just a pleasure to do for Him.

Much of our Lord's ministry to His disciples was given as they walked along the highway. It was perhaps the opportune time to talk with them privately. Now, along the way, He will tell them of His forthcoming crucifixion. Notice that travellers to Jerusalem always go "up to Jerusalem." Even when, geographically, it might appear that the way to the City is down, from northern parts, still it is "up to Jerusalem." Apart from the fact that the City is some 2,500 feet above sea level, there may be an indication that there was a moral elevation in the City which was known as "The Holy City." "We go up to Jerusalem," the Saviour told them, and He alone knew all that Jerusalem held in store for Him. There would be betrayal, trial, and condemnation, followed by mockery, scourging and crucifixion. Jews and Gentiles would unite in rejecting Him. But He would rise again on the third day. Of course the disciples could not, or would not, accept it, as Peter had said on an earlier occasion when the Lord had made a very similar announcement about His death. "Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee," Matt.16.21-22. It was easier to think of glory.

There is a certain sadness, that then, at the very moment when the Saviour was speaking to them of His approaching betrayal and suffering, Salome, wife of Zebedee and mother of James and John, should approach Him with a request regarding her two sons. She desired places of honour for them at His right and left hand in His kingdom. There was something insensitive about it, that, almost in the very shadow of His cross they should be thinking of place in the kingdom. "Ye know not what ye ask," says the Lord. Then He asks, "Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?" They reply, "We are able." Notice that it is the sons who answer Him. If the initial request came from their mother, does it not seem that James and John at least knew of it, if in fact they had not prompted her to ask for them?

They would indeed share in His suffering. Although there were aspects of His sufferings in which no others could have a part, yet, in some respects, these disciples would suffer similarly to their Lord, being mocked, scourged, imprisoned, and even put to death for His sake. "We are able," they had said, and it came to pass. When the other ten disciples heard of it they were indignant. Why? Were they really upset that such a thing should be asked at such a time? Or does it rather suggest that they too coveted the positions to which the sons of Zebedee aspired? Were they angry that others were pre-empting them, stepping in before them? In any case, positions in the kingdom were the prerogative of the Father alone.

It is now that the Lord takes the opportunity to teach them again what true greatness in the kingdom really was. Of course He had already tried to teach them this when they had earlier enquired as to who was the greatest, Matt.18.1-4. In the kingdom, He explained, it was not the same as it was in the world. In the world men were ruthless, desiring, like the princes of the Gentiles, to exercise dominion and authority. Men of the world wanted position and place, but among these men who were His disciples it would not be so. It was a paradox, strange but true, that in the kingdom if a man wanted to be chief, he must become a servant. The great ones among them would be those who were willing to be ministers and servants, deacons and bondslaves. Even the Son of Man in the midst of them had become a servant, and in His humility would be obedient to the extent of giving His life as a ransom for others.

They left Jericho now with a great multitude following. Notice the alleged discrepancy here. Matthew says that it was "as they departed from Jericho." Mark also says, "as He went out to Jericho, Mk.10.46. Luke however says, "as He was come nigh unto Jericho," Lk.18.35. There is no discrepancy. Some answer the difficulty by suggesting that these were two different miracles, one coming into Jericho and the other going out. Others think that the blind men called for mercy as the Lord and His disciples were approaching Jericho but that the healing actually took the place on the other side of the town as they were leaving. Perhaps the more likely explanation is that there were two Jerichos. There was an old Jericho and a new Roman town, just as today there are two Jerusalems and two Nazareths, old and new. If the miracle took place between the towns then both statements are true, going in to one, and coming out of the other. As to the fact that Matthew speaks of two blind men, whereas Mark and Luke speak of one, note that neither Mark or Luke say that there was only one. There is no mistake and no discrepancy, but as Matthew Henry quaintly remarks, "If there were two there certainly was one!" Does this Gospel of the Kingdom of Matthew speak of two because of the divided and blind condition of the Nation? The blind men did then what Israel will do in a day to come, they confessed Him as the Son of David, and in compassion the Messiah restored their sight. The miracle united them in a glad vision of Him whom they now followed in the way. So it will be with the Nation when the King comes.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

ESTHER

 
(10) FAVOUR WITH THE KING, Part 2 Read Chapter 5 again

In Part 1 of this study, we suggested that this chapter can be divided as follows:

  1. Esther approaches the throne, v1-2;
  2. Ahasuerus accepts her invitations, v3-8;
  3. Haman anticipates victory, v9-14.

We have already given some thought to the first section of the chapter, which brings us to:

2) AHASUERUS ACCEPTS HER INVITATIONS. v3-8

Instead of making her request at the king's invitation, v3, Esther invited him to a banquet where he evidently expected the request to be made. Hence his second invitation: "What is thy petition? it shall be granted thee; and what is thy request? even to half of the kingdom it shall be performed," v6. But the request was delayed for the second time: "Let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do tomorrow as the king hath said," v8. On the human level, this double delay hardly seemed sound policy. 'Her second refusal was tempting fate. Postponing her real request another time was a most questionable gamble; any number of things could go wrong in the interval between the two dinners: the king's benevolent mood could change, for example, or Haman could learn of Esther's true feelings towards him, or of her relationship with Mordecai.' Carey A.Moore.

Why the delay? Haman was the king's favourite, and possibly Esther felt that her influence with the king was not sufficiently strong. Another banquet might get him in a really good mood! Or perhaps her courage failed at the last moment.

On the other hand, there was nothing underhand about Esther. Haman was present throughout. It must also be said that Esther's actions certainly saved the king's face. He might have been hard put to explain a sudden change of mind had Esther approached him without Haman present. But the circumstances described in Ch.8 gave Ahasuerus all the justification he needed.

One thing, however, is very clear: it was not God's time. God had already determined that Ahasuerus needed a little insomnia plus some nice light reading to while away the hours! Having done that, He would then give Esther the opportunity and courage she needed to intercede for her people. We're back to God's providence: remember - 'pro' and 'video.' (God's 'video' is infinitely far better than the other sort!). Now, what lessons can we learn from all this?

  1. We needn't delay in making OUR requests. We don't have to catch God in the right mood. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers." 1 Pet.3.12. Remember, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace..." However, we must not forget that we should always approach the throne of God in a worshipful spirit, rather than blurting out our requests immediately.
  2. We must not camouflage our real purpose. If we arrange meetings for Gospel preaching, then let us make it quite clear that this is what we are about. People are hardly likely to be impressed if you advertise a talk on flower arranging, and then tell the audience that they're hell-deserving sinners! (Not quite so exaggerated as you might think). Paul asked his brethren at Ephesus to pray "that utterance might be given unto me, that I might open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak." Eph.6.19-20.
  3. We must be careful about rash promises. Supposing Esther had asked for "half of the kingdom!" (Under current U.K. divorce legislation, she would, presumably, have got it!. Perhaps she should have asked for "half the kingdom", and then ensured that her half contained all the Jews. That would have solved the problem!). Herod said exactly the same thing in Mk.6, only to be asked for the head of John the Baptist. Jephthah vowed "whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering." Jud.11.31. We all know what happened: you can argue till you're blue in the face, the passage is clear: he "did with her according to his vow which he had vowed." v39. So be careful what you say — or sing.

3) HAMAN ANTICIPATES VICTORY. v9-14

Before we look at the end passage itself, it might be helpful to glance at the prophetic message of this book. At the end-time, the Jews will again be under threat of annihilation, and Haman, whilst a picture of Satan, as we have seen — is also a picture of the "man of sin." Consider the following:

  1. His name. "This wicked Haman," 7.6. See 2Thes.2.8, "Then shall that Wicked be revealed..."
  2. His power. Hainan's rise was meteoric, and he had the power of life and death throughout the Persian Empire. Rev.13 makes it very clear that the power of the "man of sin" is universal. (You will have to decide whether the "man of sin" in 2Thes.2 is the first or second beast of Rev.13! The question is not so easily answered as you might suppose! But both have universal power).
  3. His pride. Just listen to Haman boasting to his wife and friends. Now listen to another boast. "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." 2Thes.2.4.
  4. His hate. Haman worked through political power for the Jews' destruction. It will happen again. See Rev.13.15.
  5. His death. Hainan's death was sudden and complete. One day he vaunts himself: the next day he hangs by his own rope. He was terrible whilst in power, but it was only for a few years — at the most some four or five years; compare 2.16 with 3.7. The end of the "man of sin" will be similar. "Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." 2Thes.2. 8. We should also notice that Haman had ten sons, and they were slain too. You might like to read Rev.17.2-13 in this connection.

Now, back to Esther Ch.5. The outstanding feature of Haman in this passage, is his pride: notice

A) His selfish pride

Pride can have some nice angles. We talk about "taking pride in our work', and about a 'proud father' or a 'proud mother.' But here is boastful pride.

  1. He was proud of his possessions. "And Haman told them of the glory of his riches..." vll. He was soon to learn that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth", Lk.12.15.
  2. He was proud of his posterity. "And the multitude of his children." Well, Ps.127 tells us that "children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward," v3.
  3. He was proud of his promotion. "And all the things wherein the king had promoted him..." Listen to this: "Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south, But God is the judge, He putteth down one, and setteth up another," Ps 75 5-7
  4. He was proud of his privileges. Listen to him in vl2 Apart from the king, he was the sole guest

It's all summed up in Jer 9 23-24 "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me "

B)  His injured pride

'Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting in the King's gate " vl3 Pride of position consumes people Revenge is the fruit of pride

C)  His placated pride

His wife and friends have the answer, v!3 Revenge will be sweet "Then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet " Everything looked good for Haman But Ch 6 follows Pride itself is destructive We leave ch 5 with Mordecai condemned to death by 'a prince of this world ' See 1Cor 2:8

 —to be continued (D V)

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The Kings of Judah and Israel

by Graeme Hutchinson (Belfast)

Amaziah (Paper 11)

Similar to other kings, Amaziah suffered from one weakness, insufficient strength to resist the enemy and so maintain the momentum of the early years For most, the words of Gal 5 7 would have been appropriate 'Ye did run well, who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth ' Concerning Amaziah we can observe

(a) His Ancestry

2Chron 24 27 and 25 1 provide insight into who Amaziah's father and mother were, Joash and Jehoaddan respectively Although his reign of twenty nine years was to be similar to that of his father's, 2Kgs 14 3, his mother, if not in practice, certainly in name would have given much spiritual help Jehoaddan means 'Jehovah's Delight' (Newberry margin) Moreover, she was of Jerusalem and so would have been well acquainted with the true God Perhaps it was through her contribution that Amaziah knew what pleased the Lord and so was able to do that which was right in His sight, 2Chron 25 2 Rehoboam, 2Chron 12 13, and Ahaziah, 2Chron 22 2, were two kings who had no such privileges.

Certain characters in Scripture who progressed in the things of God can trace their routes right back to a godly mother Timothy is one example, 2Tim 1 5, 3 15, and Paul spoke of one who performed such a role, Rom 16 13 Remember that to appreciate godly mothers is not only to follow the pattern of Scripture, Prov 15 20, Matt.19.19, but is also to reproduce the character of the Saviour Himself, Jn.19.26,27.

(b) His Attitude

Irrespective of the sad events that would have surrounded his coronation, Amaziah began his reign with his heart in the right place, toward God, 2Chron.25.3,4. Initially he executed Zabad and Jehozabad who had killed his father. In this he demonstrated two important features: knowledge, he knew the words of Deut.24.16 that judgment must be for personal sin and then obedience, he did not go beyond the Law. Within the assembly there is a need for such individuals, those who not only know the content of the Word but who seek to apply nothing less. Remember what was said of the Apostle Paul when he spoke to the elders of Ephesus: 'I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God,' Acts 20.27, RV.

(c) His Army

2Chron.25.5 provides information regarding his gift as a military man. In organising the defences, the verse would indicate a number of practical truths. He was structured, emphasising the role of the 'captains'; strenuous, going through the whole nation seeking suitable recruits and yet selective, only the 'choice' men were favoured that were twenty years old and over. Amaziah was obviously interested in defending his nation against any possible invasion or attack. Obviously from our own perspective there are two applications. Firstly, when it comes to defending the truth do we show the same commitment as Amaziah, lTim.1.18? Secondly, in the spiritual sense would we be classified as skilful handlers of the spear/sword, Heb.4.12, and shield, Eph.6.16?1

1   Perhaps the example of Adoni-bezek in Jud.1.6 is an appropriate description of many present-day believers. Having neither thumbs, preventing the use of the sword, nor toes, reducing the likelihood of cutting a straight path through the Word, 2Tim.2.15.

(d) His Associations

Despite having an army of 300,000 Amaziah still felt the urge to hire an additional 100,000 'mighty men of valour' from the Northern Kingdom of Israel, 2Chron.25.6 2 Perhaps this suggestion was sound in the military sense, but the man of God was to argue otherwise. The intended association was:

2  As the total number in Amaziah's army was only 300,000, greatly down on the size that prevailed under the reign of Asa, 2Chron.l4.8, due to the losses sustained under Jehoram, 2Chron.21.17, and Joash, 2Chron. 24.24, he felt the need to supplement his army.
• Unholy

Amaziah sought help from a nation that had departed from God, 2Chron.25.7. Had the king not learnt from the example of Jehoshaphat, whose reign clearly demonstrated the disastrous consequences of unholy alliances? Clearly, the desire to succeed was greater than the desire to stay within the confines of the 'rulebook'. Remember the instruction of 2Tim.2.5, we are in a race; there is a reward to be won; but the crown is only awarded to those who obey the rules.

• Unnecessary

When Amaziah obeyed the warning of the man of God and sent the Israelites home, 2Chron.25.11-12 indicates that he was still victorious over the enemy, Edom, 2Kgs 14:7, 2Chron 25:14 Thus, his father lost a war that he should have won because he depaited from the way, 2Chron 24:24 Here, his son was victorious because he obeyed the word of the Lord We too will only enjoy the sweetness of victory when we lemain committed to God and His way, 2Tim 2:4

It is also worth observing that although Amaziah defeated the enemy, he did not altogether avoid the consequences of his sin, 2Chron 25 10,13 Just look at what would have been avoided had Amaziah never hired the Israelites in the first place' Remember that whilst we have One who is gracious enough to forgive us our sins, yet we can still suffer the repercussions

What an insight Amaziah received of God Observe His pattern, we must depend solely upon Him and not look to others for help His provision, the benefits of fellowship will fai outweigh the cost, 2Chron 25 9, Heb 11 25 His powei able to destroy the enemy and deliver us safely from defeat

(e) His Arrogance

Following the victory over the Edomites, Amaziah returned with an idolatrous heart, 2Chion 25 14 Perhaps he was only following the example of his father who similarly worshipped the false idols, 2Chron 24 18 However, notice what the arrogance was directed towards

• God's Word

When the prophet asked Amaziah why he should worship idols who could not even save their own people, 2Chron 25 15 the king responded in anger, v16 Pride and feelings of self importance can only result in one outcome we fail to listen to the Word for we feel that we know better'

• God's Way

Ignoring the Word of God led Amaziah down an avenue that was to prove disastrous He asked for war against the Israelites, when no such instruction was given Despite the king of Israel s refusal to engage in battle, notice the parable, 2Chron 25 18:203, Amaziah obviously felt able to achieve victory Result Israel won, Amaziah was captured, the wall of Jerusalem was partly destroyed and the temple was ransacked.

3 The thistle Amaziah demanded of the cedar Israel that the cedar give his daughter as a wife for the thistle's son. For such haughtiness, the thistle was overrun by a wild beast, Israel

When we fail to listen to Gods Word due to our own feelings of pride and self-importance, the battle against the enemy will be lost, because we go in our own strength Much better to have the attitude of Jehoshaphat, completely dependent upon the Lord when faced with the enemy, 2Chron 20:12

(f) His Assassination

Although Amaziah survived being killed by the king of Israel, he still suffered the same death as that of his father by means of a conspiracy, 2Chron 25 27 Sadly we have another king who commenced his reign in a positive fashion, only to fall away towards the end Surely we must learn from these lessons, continue steadfastly, Acts 2:42

See paper 1 for details of Bibliography/Figures

—to be continued (D V)

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PROPHETIC PICTURES OF THE LORD

by J. E. Todd (England)

1. THE SERVANT

It is the prophet Isaiah who portrays the ministry of the coming Messiah as service to God. Isaiah declares that many serve God, Israel for example, 44.21, but God will be served supremely and perfectly by the Messiah. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth", Isa.42.1. This Servant will serve God by bringing in a covenant with God which will enlighten all nations. "I ... give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles", v6. This will be a new covenant, "New things I do declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them", v9. This will result in great joy for all those who accept this covenant, "Sing unto the LORD a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth", vlO. All this is fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ as quoted in Matt.12.17-21, "That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet", vl7.

Again Isaiah prophesies, 49.1-13, and speaks of the servant of God, "My servant", v6, arising out of God's other servant Israel, v3. This prophecy speaks of Him as the Saviour of the world. "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation to the end of the earth", v6. This is confirmed in the good news of Christ, as the apostle Paul quotes Isa.49.6, "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad", Acts 13.46-48.

Yet again Isaiah prophesies of God's Servant, "His servant", 50.10. Here emphasising the Servant's obedience, the most necessary characteristic of a servant, v4-6. He would obediently declare what the Father told Him, "The Lord GOD ... wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned", v4. "The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear", v5, the opening of the ear is suggestive of life-long obedience. Of the servant in Israel the Scriptures say, "He shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever", Exod. 21.6.

The Servant's obedience would continue with unswerving determination despite the difficulties and sufferings-:

"I was not rebellious, neither turned away back" v5.
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered to death," Mk.10.33.
"I gave My back to the strikers," v6.
"When he (Pilate) had scourged Jesus," Matt. 27.26. "I hid not my face from shame and spitting," v6.
"And they spit upon Him,", Matt. 27.30. "I set My face like a flint," v7.
"Get thee behind me, Satan," Matt. 16.23.

But His service will finally triumph, "He is near that justifieth me Behold, the Lord GOD will help me, who is he that shall condemn me9" v8-9 "Declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead," Rom 1:4

Once more Isaiah prophesies of God's Servant, this time of His suffering as the sin-offering, "Behold, My Servant," 52:13-53:12 "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," v3 But, "Behold My Servant shall prosper," 52 13 (RV margin) His offering would be perfect, final and complete

"He was wounded for our transgressions," v5
"The LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all," v6
"For the transgression of My people He was stricken," v8
"Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin," v10
"For He shall bear their iniquities," v 11
"He bare the sin of many," v12

Finally, Isaiah prophesied of the liberating and joyful results of the Servant's service It is indeed, "Good tidings," 61 1-3 "Good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound," v1 The Lord Jesus Christ publicly applied this piophecy to Himself in the synagogue at Nazareth as recorded in Luke 4:16-21 'He (Jesus) began to say unto them, This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears,' v21 Then there is the joyful response of those who accept the good news Beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of despair, v3

The Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all these prophecies as the perfect Servant of God, providing a salvation available to all "Christ Jesus who, being in the form of God, thought it not iobbery to be equal with God but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a Man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Phil 2:5-8

 —to be continued (D V)

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Believers' Baptism

A Defence of this important New Testament Ordinance

by J D McColl (Australia)

Paper 2

Baptism docs not bring us into newness of life!

Rom 6 1-11 eloquently shows the present relationship of the believer to sin in view of his justification as stated in chaps 1-5 Does the justifying grace of God, and the propitiatory work of the Saviour, lead to a life of sin or a life of holiness7 This is answered by Paul in 1-11 by the statement that the believer died to sin in the death of Christ Christ died for us and for our sins, but it is also true that we died with Him as to our sin, and all that we were in Adam was put to an end then In Him the believer died and in Him the believer rose We were associated with Him in His death and we were associated with Him in His resurrection That fact became a blessed reality to us when we believed Baptism is the symbolic expression, or illustration of death, burial and resurrection In it the believer affirms, expresses and declares his death, burial and resurrection with Christ If it is observed that water baptism is the counterpart of the believer's spiritual union with Christ in death, burial and resurrection, the teaching of this great passage will be held in proper balance Let it be underscored that faith alone brings us into spiritual union with His death and into newness of life with a risen Lord.

In baptism the believer confesses the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, not merely as historic facts, he also confesses to a spiritual experience, that he himself, through faith in Christ, has become associated with Him in His death, burial and resurrection, and that henceforth he is to reckon himself "to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus," Rom 6:11

Water cannot save us, but what baptism in water symbolises can, 1Pet.3.20-22.

Verse 20 reads, " when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water, or, were brought safely through the water" The reference in Heb 11:7 reads, "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house " The flood waters were not a type of baptism, it is not a type and an antitype but of two types corresponding with each other, ie. the ark in the flood waters and baptism The ark going through the waters was a figure of that which our baptism as believers is also a figure, l e the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Just as Noah and his family in the ark were separated by the waters of the flood from the sinful and doomed world in which they formerly lived, so believers are separated from the world and its sinful associations by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, of which baptism is the symbolic expression In this way baptism is the answer (demand) of a good conscience toward God That which my conscience demands (requires) in order to be a good conscience toward God, is found in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, which is symbolised in my baptism. It tells that I am no longer in Adam fallen, but in Christ risen. The flood fell upon the Ark, and so all the waves and billows of divine wrath went over Christ when He stood as Surety at Calvary. But the Ark did not remain under the deluge. It was by these same waves of death borne to a new world, and all who were in it. As believers all our sins have been put away, all that we are as sinners has been ended, put out of sight, and now raised up in Christ to a new life, in a new world. Therefore, water baptism is the expression of the believer's identification with Christ in all this.

Household Baptism and Infant Sprinkling. What does the Bible teach?

The baptizing of a household is one thing but 'Household Baptism' is something else. The former is fully supported by Scripture, the latter is answered by a stoney silence from the Word of God. There is not a single verse in support of such a theory. What are the supposed benefits of household baptism? It professes to introduce unregenerate persons into a sphere of external profession. But this is to change a divine ordinance into a mere ceremony, and encourage hypocrisy.

The practice of the book of the Acts is clearly consistent, and abundantly plain: "Then they that received his word were baptized," Acts 2.41; "When they believed ... they were baptized ... both men and women," Acts 8.12; "If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest," Acts 8.37; "Many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptized," Acts 18.8. This connected sequence must not be tampered with or changed in any way. The argument based on Acts 16.31, that the household of the jailor at Philippi was baptized on the ground of the faith of its head, is fallacious, for the words are not, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be baptized, thou and thy house,' but 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.' The household believed, therefore the household rejoiced, and the household was baptised. Otherwise we have a picture of a household baptized and rejoicing, not because its individual members had believed, but because one of them had! Nothing is said of the composition of the household, but if there were an infant in it then that infant must have shared in the rejoicing as well as in the baptism.

The argument drawn from 1Cor.7.14, "The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband else were your children unclean;, but now they are holy," is equally an argument for the baptizing of an unbelieving wife or husband. The argument is rather that as no woman would think of leaving her children because she had become a Christian, but would remain with them because of her love for them and to discharge her obligations to them, and as remaining with them is not inconsistent with her new relation to Christ, neither then is remaining with her unsaved husband inconsistent with it. The only question is whether the husband is willing to remain with her, a question that does not arise in the case of her children. The passage has nothing whatever to do with baptism.

Baptism of children, baptism of adults, and baptism of a household in virtue of the faith of the head, or both parents, are practices unknown to Scripture; they are defended not by appeal to the plain meaning of the Word of God, but by arguments drawn from alleged Scriptural analogies. The only baptism to be found, whether in the teaching of the Lord or of his apostles, is the baptism of believers, those who by their own act of 'receiving Christ,' Jn.1.12, have become Christians.

To support the theory of 'household baptism' and 'infant baptism' reference is usually made to "the house of Stephanas," lCor.1.16 baptized by Paul, and in lCor.16.15, it is said they "addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints. Babies do not normally serve, they need to be served. There is also the "house of Lydia," Acts 16.15 and the advocates of "infant baptism" make much of "Lydia's baby." But all this is speculation, and we have to suppose that she had a family and brought them all the way to Philippi from Thyatira. The 'household' mentioned could have been her retinue of servants, who could carry her merchandise. We are told in Acts 16.40 that there were "brethren" in the house of Lydia, who were comforted by Paul and Silas, before they departed. On the matter of the 'sprinkling of infants' do not let us be deluded by the superstition that such an act of sprinkling a few drops of water on a child's face, and whatever words may accompany the act, can in any way regenerate that child's spirit, or in any way affect its spiritual welfare in time or its destiny in eternity. See how the truth of the Gospel is disguised out of recognition, and its purpose thwarted, and how myriads of people are deceived into supposing that all is well with them because they have been baptized, whereas they are still in their sins, the wrath of God abiding on them, John 3.36.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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Christian Conduct in a Modern World

by Walter A. Boyd (South Africa)

Paper 3

No.2 — THE CONSECRATED LIFE (Continued)

 
(b) The Believer and the Church

Romans ch.12 continues from the high point of verses 1-2, to show the practical consequences in a believer's life that is in a right relationship with God. Paul is showing what many have found experientially, that if we are right with God personally, we will have little trouble in our relationship within the assembly, v3-8. Carnality and pride are both the products of the flesh and ought never to be seen. They are the cause of so many problems in assembly life. The only way they can be manifested is through those who know nothing of the truth of consecration in vl-2, experimentally. A life consecrated to God will not be easily provoked to mar relationships in the assembly.

Ch.12.3-8 — The Believer and the Church

The consecrated life is now viewed in its relation to the Church of God. Hitherto, the life of the believer has been dealt with in its individual aspect. We now see that the consecrated life cannot be lived in isolation, other believers must be taken into account. In these verses, as in lCor.12, the Church is likened to a human body with its unity of life and diversity of operations. The consecrated life fits into the harmony of the overall activity of the body and works for the good, not of the individual member but for the whole body. We contribute to the functioning of the body by putting effort into the local assembly which, while not being a microcosm of the body, certainly has body-like features and characteristics. A believer's contribution to assembly life ought to be for the benefit of the whole assembly. This is a basic premise that is often ignored. In the present selfish world, there is a danger that we can be affected by the common attitude, "what can I get out of it for myself?" A truth to be remembered is that we get out of assembly life in blessings, what we put in, in terms of spiritual effort.

In v3, the apostle stresses a Right Attitude to Self. The basic requirement is that there should be an adjustment of outlook in respect of self. Gifts given by God, are not for self-praise but for the blessing of other members of the body. Whatever place we have been given to occupy in the Church of God, there is no room for pride or high esteem of self. Whatever ability has been bestowed by God, its exercise ought to be for His glory and the good of others. This, of course, cuts across the thinking of the modern world in which we are encouraged to have a sound self-esteem. Indeed, the world tells us that many personal dysfunctional problems are the result of a low self-esteem. This is clearly contrary to God's Word. These truths are emphasised by the Apostle as follows,

The Advice of the Apostle in these matters is not based on worldly wisdom, nor indeed out of mere experience. His words are inspired by the Holy Spirit and designed for the good of the .believer and the Church. The words of Paul are those of one who has received the grace-gift of apostleship which enabled him to speak with authority. These are not suggestions by a servant of God but rather a direct command through His apostle to "every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think... "

His advice highlights the Avoidance of Self-Esteem. One of the distinguishing marks of the consecrated life is humility. It is possible for a believer to think "highly" of himself in the sense that he thinks himself better than or superior to others. This is pure conceit and is a great danger. In light of the mercies of God in vl, we should have "low" thoughts about self and "high" thoughts of Christ. That being the case, we will exhibit the humility of Phil.2, where in v3 we are each to "esteem other better than ourselves." This has nothing to do with relaxing a firm stand for the truth of God but certainly has everything to do with my attitude in standing firm. It will not change my position on essential doctrine but will change my attitude to other believers in matters of relationship where no Scriptural principle is involved.

Appreciation of God's Gift will mean that instead of high-mindedness, there will be sober-mindedness. There must be a sensible and humble approach to the matter of place within the Church and the gift that God has bestowed upon us. In the matter of gifts, everyone is involved and not just the individual. Gifts are not for the selected few of superior ability. God has given to "each one the measure of faith" which enables him to fulfil his own particular responsibilities within the body. This must "be understood and appreciated to ensure the harmony intended by God and the blessing needed by every member of the body. This is not the faith of conversion (the context is clear about that) it is rather, that God assigns to each the measure of faith necessary for our particular gift and its functioning within the body for His glory

Having established in v3 the necessity for a right attitude to self, Paul then moves in v4,5, to the Recognition of the Body. The figure of the body is introduced at this point in his reasoning to demonstrate the relation of Christians to each other, their unity and the variety of their gifts, yet all in harmony Paul advances the lesson by using a direct comparison to the human body and the Church V4 takes up the reality of the human body as a figure and states three elementary facts, (1) it is one, (2) it has many members, and (3) each member has a different function "Many members one body all members have not the same office." In verse five he applies those facts to the Church, not by direct comparison to just say that the unity and variety within the church is similar to the human body It is more that they are a body, they are the body of Christ. A unique entity, has never been seen before that will enjoy relations with Christ in glory and be the eternal display of His grace in glory We are, he says, one body in Christ and members one of another.

Having identified the features of the body with gifts, he now shows in v6-8, the unity and variety within the body of Christ expressed in the possession and practice of the various gifts We have the Responsibility of possession. The various gifts according to the grace given to us (see v3), are grace-gifts bestowed upon us by the grace of God Without going into detail, seven gifts are enumerated.

  • Prophecy — impartation and interpretation of Divine revelation
  • Ministry — service of God and for the benefit of the body
  • Teaching — exposition and explanation of the truth
  • Exhortation — encouragement of the saints from the Scriptures
  • Giving — support of the work of God
  • Rule — exercise of authority in leadership
  • Showing mercy — relief for the needy

Each gift is necessary and for the good of the Body as a whole With the various gifts identified, the Apostle then attaches to each its own Responsibility of Practice. The response of practice must measure up to the responsibility of possession They are to be exercised in the fullness of stewardship and with the glory of God in view

  • Prophecy — "according to the proportion of our faith "
  • Ministry — "let us wait on our ministering " (Its continual exercise)
  • Teaching —"on teaching " With patient instruction
  • Exhortation — "on exhortation " With loving encouragement
  • Giving — "with simplicity " With liberality
  • Rule — "with diligence " With diligent determination
  • Showing mercy —"with cheerfulness " With full hearted cheerfulness

If each member exercises his gift appropriately, there will be perfect harmony and consistent growth of the Body will be the result The purpose of the Church's presence in the world will be fulfilled and glory will be brought to God and Christ The consecrated life is thus a life of useful service.

—to be continued (D V)

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The Role of Sisters in the Assembly

by J. Grant (Scotland)

No.2 — THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL

They had worked with Paul in the spread of the gospel, but now their fellowship in this work had come to an end A dispute, the nature of which we are not made aware, had destroyed the bonds of service, and now they were at variance with each other Yet these women, who may have been Euodias and Syntyche, had been part of the group who expended time and effort in their zeal for the spread of the good news of salvation They were not regarded as "junior" members of the group of workers Wuest translates the words of Paul in Philippians chapter 4 regarding them as "women of such a character that in the good news they laboured and contended in perfect co-operation with me as a team of athletes would " These godly sisters were part of the "team of athletes" and Paul's concern was that the brother whom he addresses as "true yokefellow" should help these women who had laboured with him in the gospel to settle their dispute, so that their fellowship will be unimpaired and the work of the gospel will again be furthered with their help

But, how did they labour in the gospel? It is clear from the teaching of Paul in other Scriptures that they did not preach publicly when the assembly was gathered together Public testimony in this way is limited to the males It is significant that while it was women who were first at the tomb on the morning of resurrection, it was to women the message of the angel came, "He is not here for He is risen, as He said Come see the place where the Lord lay," Matt 28:6, it was to women that He appeared, as they ran to bring the news of the resurrection to the disciples, and before whom they bowed and held His feet in worship as He said "Be not afraid," yet the public witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in 1Cor 15 is that of men only

It is, however, a very narrow view of gospel work, which limits it to the man who is preaching on the platform Such preaching is the Scriptural means of declaring the truth, but it is not the only means of labouring in the gospel What then is given to sisters to do?

Looking back again to the words of Wuest "they contended as a team of athletes would," it is clear that these two sisters poured effort into the gospel with as much commitment as Paul They did not see themselves as being excused service in the gospel because they were women The role was not inferior then and it is not now It is different from that of men, but assembly gospel witness suffers greatly when it is not carried out Married women, whose husbands are out at work, will find that they can become much closer to the local community than their husbands They meet other women and will quickly become aware of the fears, difficulties and problems, which many face This is not done in a spirit of interfering in the affairs of others, but in a spirit of godly concern The shallow, stressful society in which we live has created loneliness and problems which few are willing to share. Willingness to help and share the burden will mark godly women in a world where few care for others.

Quite apart from helping with the problems of others, the gospel can be spread in the ordinary conversation of daily life. Once again sisters have opportunities which may never be given to brethren. The writer remembers well a sister who told her neighbours, whenever opportunities arose, of the contents of the message to which she had listened at the gospel meeting on the previous Lord's Day evening. In that simple quiet way she was spreading the "good news" to many who would never come into the Gospel Hall.

But labouring together in the gospel presents sisters with other opportunities which men never have. When Paul came to Corinth, Acts 18.1, as far as we know, he was unknown in the city. He found there a believer, Aquila, whose trade as a tent maker gave Paul the opportunity of working with him in his daily occupation. This Paul did to supply his needs (what we would think today of a "full time servant" who decided to do this that he might not be chargeable to any) and he "abode with them," Acts 18.3. Here Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, could serve in a way that was not open to her husband. As the head of the house Aquila would welcome Paul into his home, but Priscilla would have the privilege of providing the necessary hospitality. This service is labouring "in the gospel" and must not be regarded as little importance. For many a servant of the Lord, the welcome given and the hospitality offered has provided cheer. Let no sister underestimate the effect on the meetings of a friendly welcome and a warm, spiritual atmosphere in the home, when a visiting preacher, perhaps feeling the loneliness of being away from his family and visiting an assembly where no one is known personally, is feeling a little "down". "Gospel preachers should not feel that way" you may say, but at times they do! Obviously the great part of the burden of entertaining and hospitality falls on the sisters and those who have given themselves to this work have learned that it requires disruption of their normal daily routine, sacrifice, energy and understanding.

Even then the scope of sisters work is not exhausted. The preacher speaks to those who come to the meetings, but who brings them? The trend today is to have the believers and their families at gospel meetings, with fewer present who have no family connection with the meetings. The writer knows sisters who can be relied on to bring "strangers" into gospel meetings. It is not wise for men without their wives, to invite women to come along to meetings, but sisters on their own can extend such an invitation, and the women who accept, and in some cases their husbands, have heard of the Saviour. Those who give themselves to this work and encourage many with whom they come into contact to come along to hear the gospel must be prepared for the time, effort and even disappointments which this work brings. It is, however, a vital service and the quiet unobtrusive manner in which it is consistently pursued will have its reward.

The work of sisters in the gospel is, thus, invaluable. Many a series of gospel meetings would have made little impact if it had not been for the quiet persistent work of sisters whose testimony in the area enables them to bring people to meetings, and whose prayers for the salvation of sinners are fervent and continual. An assembly with such sisters in blessed indeed! 

—to be continued (D.V.)

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MY CONVERSION AND CALL (63)

 
by L. B. Carswell (Brazil)

I cannot recall any occasion in my life when I didn't want to be saved. I respected those who were saved because I knew they will be among the citizens of heaven — I would have given anything to have what they had.

I attribute these desires to the sheltered and careful upbringing by my parents who, shortly after my birth were both saved and eventually received into the fellowship of the assembly in Banbridge, N. Ireland. As a result of their consistent effort to have their family of five under the sound of the gospel, the great gospel facts became engraved on my heart — I was convinced that the gospel was the key to happiness in this life and the next.

It wasn't until I was in my mid-teens that I really took the matter of my salvation seriously. At that time the imminence of the Lord's return became, what seemed to be, a daily worry. I couldn't continue running the risk of being left behind at the coming of the Lord so I decided that it was time I was saved.

A series of gospel meetings commenced in Drumnahare, Loughbrickland in the month of October 1973, the preachers being Mr. J. Martin and Mr. T. McNeill. I attended and listened with great interest. In the sixth week, after trying everything possible, all hope that I should be saved was taken away. Returning home after the meeting on the Wednesday night of that week I came to "an end of myself and wondered how could I ever be saved. I remembered the good counsel given to me a few hours earlier — to read Isa.53.5 and this I did. Pondering over the contents of that verse I was directed, in thought, to the Cross and the reason for the death of Christ. It suddenly occurred to me that Christ had died for me -— for my sins upon that Cross and that all I had to do was to rest on Him. This I did in that very moment on the 16th November, 1973. Fearing a false profession, I wondered if I was really saved but those words of Acts 16.31 chased away the doubts: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." As a hopeless sinner I had believed on the Lord Jesus to the saving of my soul.

After my conversion to God, the prayer of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 seemed to be my prayer: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Six months later I was baptized and received into the fellowship of the assembly in Banbridge. Some dear brethren took me under their wing and introduced me to preaching the gospel in the open air. At that time the assembly had a Saturday night open air meeting the whole year round in the town centre and I soon became very much involved. I was introduced to Sunday School work and preaching on the Lord's Day evenings and in this way my interest in the gospel seemed to develop. I never thought that, one day, I would be preaching the gospel in a foreign land but had resolved that, if it was the Lord's will, I would do it. Secular employment took me to Cookstown in 1979 where I found lodgings with an elderly sister who was in the assembly there and, as I didn't want divided interests between two assemblies, the brethren in Banbridge commended me to the fellowship and care of the saints of that Co. Tyrone town. Being convinced that the Lord guided me there made me very content and the assembly in Cookstown became a real spiritual home. At that stage I regularly visited the assemblies in Stonewall and Longford in Eire and, at times, thoughts of the possibility of living in that region dominated my mind but the assembly demands in Cookstown seemed to relegate my going to the Republic to an inferior place.

In 1984 I married my wife Beth and, together, we set up home in Cookstown. We shared the same interests and, even before marrying, had agreed that if it was the Lord's will for us to preach the gospel in another land we would go. However, our lives became centred on the work of God in the Mid-Ulster region.

In 1986 the firm for which I worked announced the closure of their premises in Cookstown and their intentions to relocate themselves in Antrim and requested that I move with them. This meant that we were abruptly uprooted from our snug corner and, after considerable exercise, decided to gather with the saints in Clonkeen. We were led to realise that no matter how much we think we are needed we can be done without.

Upon coming to Randalstown to live, thoughts of going to a foreign country increasingly occupied our minds — but so did the questions, ie, how could one be sure that it was God's will before taking such a big step? That particular question was answered for us at the Lurgan conference 1991 by Mr. F. Stallon giving ministry from 1Tim.4.1; "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly ...". We resolved to wait for that unmistakeable clear word from the Spirit. We weren't going to move until we were 100% sure. Other thoughts searched our hearts — How could we expect God to use us in a foreign land without first having used us here at home, and, in all good conscience, how could we expect the assembly to wholeheartedly recommend us to the grace of God without first having proved ourselves in their midst? We thought these reasonings had good foundation and were worthy of consideration. An opportunity to share in gospel meetings with brother R. Eadie in Clonkeen came in 1991 and we accepted the invitation hoping to receive further light as to the will of God. The meetings proved to be encouraging with much reason to conclude that going abroad was a big possibility — but we weren't sure. Other invitations quickly followed to help in meetings in Ballybollan, Ahoghill, Dunmurry, Magherafelt and Kells and were precious occasions of proving God and of becoming more convicted as to His will.

The formidable question was: "Which country?" Right away two countries were stroked off the list — Brazil was one — because I thought in my ignorance that they were well evangelized. Bro. T. Matthews remarked to me in private after a report meeting in Clonkeen regarding the more than 300 cities in the Rio Grande do Sul where, as yet, no gospel work was carried on. This was very illuminating.

After a period of resisting thoughts of Brazil a brother in Christ said to me one night; "Lindsay, If I were you I would consider going to Brazil." This came as a shock but immediately I thought that I should. Praying about Brazil was very easy — we seemed to be at home in the Presence of God with these thoughts on our heart After "putting out the fleece" on a number of occasions we became convinced that it was Brazil for us — but we were afraid to take the next step.

At the beginning of 1992 I was meditating on the early chapters of Exodus about the reluctance of Moses to obey the call of God in spite of such clear indications. "What a foolish man," I thought, "If I were Moses I would have obeyed much earlier." Suddenly, my conscience smote and I concluded that I was as bad as he. I became thoroughly ashamed of myself in the Presence of God and Ex.4.14 made me very afraid "And the anger of God was kindled against Moses." How could I continue to disobey?

We approached the brethren of Clonkeen and related our exercise and they, without reservation, gave us the right hand of fellowship. So on the 9th of December 1992 we arrived in Brazil "assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them," Acts 16.10

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Good Tidings from Heaven

 
TRAVELLING TO A FIRE

Some while ago a number of people commenced a journey which, they thought, would take them safely to their desired destiny They entered the Mont Blanc tunnel as they had done, perhaps, many times before The travellers were all different There were private cars, commercial lorries, men, women and children all on the same route Unknown to them, before them lay disaster They were unwittingly travelling to a fire'

I would remind each who is reading this little paper that everyone of us is on a journey also It commenced the day of our bir th and will not end until we arrive in eternity We need to be aware that we are not creatures of time alone The Word of God, the Bible, says in the Old Testament book of Genesis, in 2 7, "the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul " This is confirmed in the New Testament in 1 Cor 15 45, "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul " My dear reader, we are bound for eternity The biggest question you will ever face in life is, "eternity where9"

The Bible teaches there are only two places, heaven or hell Is it possible that you are unwittingly heading for the fire9 You may be content and happy, moving in a carefree manner through life, just like the people entering the tunnel, but disaster may be just ahead You may not agree there is a fire The testimony of another who lived without God is, "have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame," Lk 16 24 How close you are to eternal fire is known only to God Again we read in Prov 27 1, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth " Also, Jms 4 14, "For what is your life9 It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away " You need to be prepared for eternity and meeting God.

There is only one way in which this can be done and that is through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should, not perish, but have everlasting life For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved He that believeth on Him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God " Jn 3 16-18 When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He bore and exhausted the judgment of God against sin and that work is credited to all who trust Him and they shall never perish On the cross of Calvary He cried, "It is finished " Isaiah the prophet wrote, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all," Isa 53 5,6 Peter records in his first epistle in 2 24, "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree," and in 3 18, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God "

If you realise you are travelling to the fire, listen to the advice of other preachers, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts 16:31

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QUOTE

 

A CORN OF WHEAT

"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone "

— John 12 24
 
Be thou God's, "Corn of wheat,"
The end thereof is sweet,
Deep joy is in it
Welcome the barren ground'
Here after will be found
Fruit to abide, abound — On! and thou shalt be crowned!
Gods joy is in it

You either sow such a grain of wheat for others to benefit, or you may eat it1 — i.e. consume it in self-gratification! But that will result in no fruit nor honour for God or others 1 he Lord Jesus said, "For this cause came I "


Selected Poems

by Abraham Patterson (Dungannon, Co. Tyrone)

An Evening with Christ — A Night to Remember
(A meditation on Luke 4.40-44)
At the setting of the sun they came,
And brought out all the blind, diseased and lame
Not even one was turned away,
That came to Jesus on that happy day
 
His healing hand was laid upon each head,
At His command, disease and sickness fled,
Nor could it stay when He would give command,
For even life and death are in His hand
 
The cruel demons too were heard to cry,
"Leave us alone, Thou Son of God most high "
At His command He broke the power of sin,
Thus liberating those they dwelt within
 
As night drew on, all to their homes, they went,
Not now with broken health or bodies bent,
But all rejoicing, praising, eager now to tell,
Of Jesus Christ who had done all things well
 
Some that were blind, they lingered at the door,
To view the sights they'd never seen before,
The moon, the stars that twinkle up on high,
In that vast canopy, we call, the sky
 
Those who were deaf, who never heard before,
Now stand m wonder, listening at the door,
Hearing the dogs that bark and crickets sing,
The murmuring brook, the joy of everything
 
And now, though many years have all gone by,
The same compassionate Saviour waits on high,
To cleanse and break the power of in-bred sin
And welcome all who put their trust in Him

Dust to Dust

(A meditation on Gen.3.19 "Dust thou art and unto dust shall thou return)

Dust thou art and unto dust shall thou return
These weighty words should cause your heart to burn,
In ponderous thoughts regarding life's short stay,
Where you will be when life has passed away?
 
Oh! where shall I be then, when life is o'er?
No greater thought could mortal mind explore
One of two destinies before you lies,
It's hell's dark gloom or heaven's bright home on high
 
This frightening thought no mind could comprehend,
The vast eternity that never, never has an end
Countless as the grains of sand in depths of sea,
Vast, vast eternity awaiting you and me
 
What shall I do to gain the heavenly bliss
And be assured of endless joy and peace?
I'll trust in Hun who bore my sins on Calvary's tree,
Calmly, sweetly resting that He died for me

LOVE LIES BLEEDING

One's pen had once been pointed like a dart,
Alas' 'tis wielded now with heavy heart,
The sacred citadel of family life
Asunder torn is now, by marital strife,
Strife that runs its sordid, turbid course
And terminates in unscnptural divorce.
Here, a bleeding heart lies desolated,
There, a loving marriage devastated
Oh! weep with me all ye that prize your home,
And ope' with me the priceless, hallowed tome,
That lauds the sanctity of wedded state,
Ne'er countenances t'evil current spate,
When broken lives and tender souls he wounded,
High time it is let clarion call be sounded!
Enough of this such miserable, craven preaching,
This sophistry, this vain pretext for breaching
Promised fidelity's "I will!" "I will!"
Engraved, they remain in God's reckoning still,
In spite of faithless friends, relentless foe,
"From the beginning it was not so,"
Let us denounce with each God given breath,
The certainty of "one sin unto death,"
As far as thus enabled to foresee,
The adulterous marriage of a divorcee,
Whose erst'while spouse does yet remain alive,
But only wrests the Scripture to contrive,
To overturn, to thwart and to frustrate,
Decree divine, "Putting away I hate "
 
        John Glenville (Cornwall)
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