What an awful irony is this, that He who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords should be led, bound with cords, to be tried before a pagan Governor. Yet this is the story of this great chapter. With reverent footsteps we follow the King's pathway to the cross. The long night in the house of Caiaphas is over now. The morning has come. Israel's Chief Priests and elders bring their Messiah, their prisoner, to Pontius Pilate, their Roman lord.
Judas Iscariot is full of remorse. Perhaps he did not think that it would come to this. Could Jesus not have eluded them, evaded them, and escaped this? When Judas saw that his Master, whom he never calls Lord, was condemned, he returned to the priests and elders with the blood money. "I have sinned," he exclaims, "I have betrayed the innocent blood." That was his problem, they retorted, and he threw down the thirty pieces of silver and departed from them to hang himself. Even the hanging was not the whole story, for when either the branch or the rope broke he fell headlong at Aceldama and his body burst asunder in a fearful sight, Acts 1.18. It had been night when Judas left the Upper Room. It has been dark for him ever since. He lost both his silver and his soul, and his money bought a burying ground for aliens. It was all a fulfilment of Scripture. The quotation is from Zech.11.13. Since Jeremiah was the author of the lengthy prophecies of both "Jeremiah" and "Lamentations," it is likely that his name was then used to describe the whole collection of prophetical writings, just as today we speak of the Psalter as being "The Psalms of David," even though David wrote less than half of them.
Jesus stood in calm dignity before Pilate as the Governor asked Him, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered in the affirmative, "Thou sayest." To the accusations of the chief priests and elders He answered nothing, and again, when Pilate asked Him if He had heard their witness, He answered nothing. Pilate marvelled. His wife dreams, and is troubled, and tells him so.
At Passover time there was a custom. Any prisoner, at the will of the people, could be set free. Pilate introduces the name of one Barabbas, an insurrectionist, a murderer, and a notable prisoner. Which of them would he release? Barabbas or Jesus. What a contrast it was. The name "Barabbas" means "The son of the father." Which was it to be? Jesus, the true "Son of the Father," or Barabbas the murderer? At the instigation of the priests the crowd clamoured for the release of Barabbas, but what then would Pilate do with Jesus, called Christ? The answer came, "Let Him be crucified." Pilate protested but could prevail nothing. It was a weak and spineless Governor who washed his hands of it all, protesting his innocence of this condemnation of an innocent man. Nevertheless, the apostles in prayer link him with Herod and their rulers as being against Christ, in fulfilment of Ps.2, Acts 4.27. Barabbas is released. Jesus is scourged. Why scourged if innocent? He is delivered to be crucified.
In the common hall the mockery gathers pace. They strip the Saviour, then robe Him in scarlet, perhaps the cast-off tunic of some Roman soldier. They put a crown of thorns upon His holy head and a reed in His right hand. They bow the knee, acclaim Him King of the Jews, and spit on Him. Robe! Crown! Sceptre! Homage! Anointing! All in mockery of His kingship. They then smote Him on the head with the reed. Note the painful order. Had they smitten Him with the rod first, and then crowned Him with thorns, this would have been suffering enough, but, they put a crown of thorns on His head, then smote the thorn-crowned head with the rod. What agony! After the mockery they put His own garments on Him again and led Him to Golgotha to die. It was early morning. He would be crucified at nine o'clock. The suffering would continue until three o'clock in the afternoon and He had already spent a long sleepless night in the house of Caiaphas. It was a strange procession that made its way out to Calvary, through Jerusalem's narrow streets and across the highway to the hill.
Beneath an Eastern sky,
Amid a rabble cry,
A Man went forth to die,
Thorn-crowned His lovely head,
Blood-stained His every tread,
Cross laden, on He sped,
They crucified Him. They gambled for His garments. They sat down to guard Him and they wrote above His head, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." The thieves at either side of Him railed on Him. Passers-by reviled Him. The rulers mocked Him. Then, for three hours the darkness hid Him from their view until it was rent by the awful cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" They did not understand it. Some thought He called for Elias and touched His parched lips with a sponge filled with vinegar. Another loud cry and He yielded up His spirit. As the earth quaked the veil of the temple was rent, and the rocks were rent too. Graves were opened and the bodies of sleeping saints arose, to appear in the holy city after His resurrection. It was a dark afternoon of mystery and wonder. The centurion and his men were moved with fear. Women who had known Jesus, and loved Him, and had ministered to Him, stood afar off beholding. It looks as though they had never left the scene of His suffering. Had they indeed watched here for six hours, Salome and the Marys?
When the evening began to draw in, that man came, of whom it has been said that he accomplished his life's work in an afternoon, Joseph of Arimathaea. He had already acknowledged in his heart the greatness of the Nazarene. Was it the sight of the suffering One and the little remnant of the faithful who stood by the cross that finally brought Him in to the open? He was a rich man, but he became a beggar. He went to Pilate and begged the body of Jesus and Pilate granted him his request. With the help of his colleague Nicodemus —
Gently they took Him down,
Unfixed His hands and feet;
Took from His head the thorny crown;
Brought forth a winding sheet.
A new tomb hewn out of the rock. A clean linen cloth. A great stone. These tell the story of the burial of the Saviour. Joseph gave his tomb, a freewill offering. Did he realise that it was but a loan? That it was being borrowed? For three days only it would be needed and would be returned to him. The interest on his loan would be that his name would be inscribed in every Gospel and that all those who loved the Saviour would love him too for his reverent handling of the Beloved on that dark day of crucifixion. And the Marys watched!
However, the Chief Priests and the Pharisees are not content yet. They refer to our Lord as "that deceiver," and they remembered what perhaps His disciples did not remember. He had said that after three days He would rise again! They want the tomb well sealed, and secured with a guard. "Ye have a watch," Pilate says, "go your way." Is there a certain irony, or fear, or premonition, in what he then adds, "Make it as sure as ye can!" How sure would that be? They made it sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch. A Roman seal and a military guard! Could these hold the Lord of Life and Glory? The next chapter gives the answer. Today every evangelist rejoices to preach what these men feared, "He is risen from the dead!"
Whatever else we say about Haggai, we must not call him a 'Minor Prophet!' He is part of the 'twelve-jewelled crown of the Old Testament,' and in any case, there is nothing 'minor' about a man described as "the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message!" Unlike the majority of his colleagues in the 'book of the Twelve,' Haggai is mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, and this will help us to introduce him. In this introduction, we will endeavour to cover the following:
The circumstances of his ministry;
The cooperation with Zechariah;
The content of his prophecy.
1) THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS MINISTRY
In this connection, we must address (a) The general background to his ministry, and (b) The immediate background to his ministry.
a) THE GENERAL BACKGROUND:
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi form a distinct group in the 'Book of the Twelve.' They all preached after Israel's return, in BC 536, from their seventy-year captivity in Babylon, and this has earned them the title, 'the post-exilic prophets.' This means that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which deal with the same period, become compulsory reading. Without going into fine detail, the five books fall into the two groups:
Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah. The cross-references are clear. See, for example, Ezra 5: 1-2. The principle event is the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem.
Nehemiah and Malachi. The deterioration described in Nehemiah 13 evidently continued, and Malachi was obliged to address the decline amongst God's people. The principal event is the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem.
b) THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND:
This is described in Ezra 4.23-24, "Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius, king of Persia."
Sadly, God's people meekly accepted the situation. They blithely put God's interests 'on hold,' and energetically pursued their own affairs with the excuse, "The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built," Hag.1.2. There is not the slightest hint of mourning or regret, and no cry to God for help. (Compare Ezra 3.3 and 5.5). However, building work recommenced, after some fifteen years, in the second year of Darius, Ezra 4.24 and Hag.l.14-15, as the result of the stirring ministry of Haggai and Zechariah. See Ezra 5.1-2. Whilst Ezra tells us that Haggai and Zechariah "prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem," the two prophets tell us themselves what they actually said!
2) THE CO-OPERATION WITH ZECHARIAH
Whilst Haggai does not mention Zechariah, and Zechariah does not mention Haggai, we know that the two prophets worked together in happy fellowship. We must pursue this subject with particular reference to Ezra 5.12, and 6.14. There are valuable lessons here for us all. We must notice:
The character of their ministry. "Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews." Jer.23.16-22 describes false prophets, but we also learn that the true prophet "stood in the counsel of the Lord, and hath perceived and heard His word," v18. The prophetic ministry involved fellowship with God. There is all the difference in the world between an address and a message. An address means time in the study, but a message means time in the study, and in the sanctuary. We tend to hear more addresses than messages. But don't reserve criticism for preachers: we all need to pray more over our service for God.
The emphasis on their ministry. We know very little about Haggai and Zechariah personally. But we do know a great deal about their ministry. This is important. We tend to place importance on a preacher's background, connections and personality, rather than on his service for God. Paul makes the point quite forcibly in lCor.3.5, 'Who then is Apollos, and who Paul? Ministering servants, through whom ye have believed, and as the Lord has given to each,' JND. The RV is even more emphatic: 'What then is Apollos? and what is Paul? Ministers through whom ye believed; and each as the Lord gave to him.'
The arrangement of their ministry. Both men began to preach in the "second year of Darius the king," but they certainly didn't get under one another's feet! Notice when they preached:
Haggai: 6th month: see 1.1;
Haggai: 7th month: see 2.1;
Zechariah: 8th month: see 1.1;
Haggai: 9th month: see 2.10;
Zechariah: 11th month: see 1.7.
We must notice that these men only preached once they had received "the word of the Lord." We read this on each of these five occasions. So we can now understand why the prophets didn't take any meetings in the 10th month. There was no word from the Lord. It would have been quite wrong for them to preach, and if they had done so, God would have been obliged to say, "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied," Jer.23.21.
The harmony between Haggai and Zechariah in this way illustrates lCor.14.40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." This verse summarises previous teaching in the chapter: for example, "Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints," v29-33. There was co competition, collision, chaos or confusion amongst God's servants in Ezra 5, and there will be none today if we are all in fellowship with God.
Haggai and Zechariah evidently belonged to different age groups. Whilst it is sometimes inferred from Hag.2.2 that the prophet was one of the "ancient men," Ezra 4.12, it is quite certain that Zechariah was a young man, see Zech.2.4. It is therefore not unreasonable to think of these two men as older and younger respectively. We have only to think of Moses and Joshua in the Old Testament, and Paul and Timothy in the New Testament, to see the importance of older and younger believers working together.
The variety in their ministry. Whilst, as we have seen, the two men worked harmoniously together, their ministry was quite different. C. E. Hocking puts it nicely: this is 'a grand illustration of the blending of ministries, the complementary character of their teaching effecting the desired result. Haggai's stirring words were aimed at the conscience. The Spirit convicted his hearers as he cuttingly asked, Is it time, O ye?" (1.3). Zechariah's ministry however was directed to the heart. (Note the order). 'He indicated in his visions and prophecies the coming glories of "that day." He urged unbounded enthusiasm in the work of God's house in the light of the future prosperity and blessedness of Zion.' C. E. Hocking continues, 'How important for the spiritual welfare of God's people and the furtherance of His work is a ministry aimed at conscience and heart, combining challenge and comfort, leading to thought and action. '(The Work of Reconstruction': Precious Seed, Jan./Feb. 1958).
The authority of their ministry. Their preaching was "in the name of the Lord God of Israel," v1. This was not an empty statement. For example, as we have already noticed, "In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord, by Haggai the prophet, unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest," Hag.1.1. Our authority is no less: 'And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power (authority) is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (make disciples of all nations), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commended you," Matt.28.18-20. There is no such thing as 'the teaching of the church,' but we gladly acknowledge the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of the Word of God.
The example of their ministry. "And with them were the prophets of God helping them," v2. So Haggai and Zechariah were more than 'platform men.' Having delivered their messages, they rolled up their sleeves (better, 'girded themselves!') and got stuck into the work with everybody else. They were "ensamples to the flock." Ministry is more effective when the servant is an example of his own teaching. Hence lTim.4.11-12, "These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers in work, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Hence Tit.2.6-7, "Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works." See also lPet.5.3. The Lord Jesus was the perfect example of His own ministry, see Acts 1.1.
We ought to say that this was certainly not 'a flash in a pan.' Haggai and Zechariah kept on preaching. See 6.14, "And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo." C. E. Hocking has a very pertinent piece here: 'In order that God's work might prosper, more than a weekend's ministry or the presenting of a fine address at a weeknight gathering will be needed. Consequently and consecutively, God's whole counsel will need to be unfolded to the saints.'
They gathered on the broad boulevards of Babylon: insignificant individually; and scarcely less so as a company, even though fifty thousand strong. Nevertheless, confident in divine purpose and timing, they gave evidence by their assemblage and attitude that they were forsaking settled comforts. Their aspirations were over the far horizons with God, even though they had still to apprehend that for which also they had been apprehended. We shall follow their progress with interest. Our interest will centre initially on the early chapters of the book of Ezra.
The people we shall observe are Jews, mainly descendants of those taken forcibly to Babylon fifty-one to seventy years earlier. This deportation was entirely the consequence of Judah's sin. God used the Gentile monarch Nebuchadnezzar and his armies as His agents of chastisement. These forces came against Judah and Jerusalem and took away captives on three occasions:-
BC 606, during the fourth year of Jehoiakim King of Judah, thus commencing the 70 year period of "the captivities" or "the servitude". Daniel and his three stalwart companions were carried down to Babylon at this time together with "certain of the children of Israel and of the king's seed, and of the princes." Vessels from the house of the Lord were also taken to Babylon, 2Kgs.24.1-6; 2Chron.36.5-7; Jer.25.1, and Dan.1.1,2.
BC 598, when Jehoiachin King of Judah was taken captive to Babylon. Also some ten thousand captives were taken from Jerusalem including princes, mighty men of valour, craftsmen and smiths. The prophet Ezekiel was also deported at this time. More treasures from the house of the Lord were taken as well, 2Kgs.24.6-16; 2Chron.36.8-10.
BC 587, that is nineteen years from the first deportation, the house of the Lord was burnt at Jerusalem, thus commencing the 70 year period of "the desolations". The city wall was broken down and the city destroyed. Those who escaped the widespread slaughter were carried away as captives to Babylon. So also was Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, who had his eyes put out after his sons were killed before his face. Only the poor of the land were left behind as vinedressers and husbandmen. Again, further vessels from the house of the Lord were removed, 2Kgs.25.1-21; 2Chron.36.15-21; Jer.52.
The sins that occasioned God's expulsion of His people from their land were many and varied. Except at times of revival and recovery, turning aside from God's word and the encroachment of idolatry was prevalent. Often the rulers "did evil in the sight of the Lord." Indeed the widespread shedding of innocent blood was something "which the Lord would not pardon." Salutary are the words: "And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy," 2Chron.36.15,16.
Lack of reverence towards God and a diminishing appreciation of His Word leaves believers today similarly open to the encroachment of idolatry. Worship of position, prestige, power and pleasure will prevail. Materialism, the acquisition of status symbols, the desire for social advancement will predominate. Present achievement, personal fulfilment and financial prosperity are the objects of principal worship in the free world, so called. Those who seek such goals incur spiritual impoverishment. "And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul," Psa.106.15. Spiritual potential becomes stunted and the influence of Christian testimony declines. Be in no doubt, as the Lord's people in this day, we are losing too many potentially useful saints as captives to capitalist Babylon. And our spiritual treasures are almost completely plundered. "How is the gold become dim! ... The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!", Lam.4.1,2.
But in Ezra ch.l we have one of those precious periods of recovery. In Babylon a remnant of those remaining of the kingdom of Judah purpose, in the will of God, to return to Jerusalem to re-establish the house of the Lord. Their exercise was fortified by the Word of God. No doubt many had found great encouragement from the fact that, approximately 175 years earlier, God prenominated the Persian king Cyrus saying "He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid," Isa.44.28. They had a sovereign God and a sure word of prophecy. So have we, and more.
Further prophecies, given over 60 years earlier to Jeremiah, were also relevant. These also apply to any seeking revival conditions today, "Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart," Jer.29.12,13.
That verse contains the key to spiritual recovery. We would all do well to ask ourselves the question "with exactly how much of my heart am I searching after the Lord?" Do ask it. Ask it honestly. In your soul, before God, ask it now!
The first step in God's creation was the creation of light. 'Darkness was upon the face of the deep ... And God said, Let there be light; and there was light,' Gen.1.2-3. Without light nothing can live, nothing can grow and nothing can be seen. "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun," Ecc.11.7.
The prophet Isaiah foresaw that the life-giving light would first dawn in Galilee. 'In the former time He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time hath He made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined,' Is.9.1-2, R.V. Matthew records the dawning of this great light when the Lord Jesus Christ began His ministry in Galilee. 'And leaving Nazareth, He (Jesus) came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: that it might be fulfilled which is spoken by Esaias the prophet saying, ... The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up', Matt.4.13-16.
The prophet Malachi foresaw the intensity of that purifying light. "But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings (rays)," Mal.4.2. While healing and purifying the lives of men and women of faith, that same light will burn up the evildoer. "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be the stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch," v1.
The apostle John opens his gospel by pointing to the fulfilment of these prophetic pictures. 'In Him (the Word) was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended (overcame, R.V. margin) it not... That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,' Jn.1.4-5, 9. Here is explained the twofold meaning of this prophetic picture of the Light. When the Light of divine perfection shone in the life of Christ, the darkness of sin could not extinguish it, v5. Also that Light lights up the pathway, v9, whereby sinful man might be reconciled to God, as children to a Father. 'But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name,' v12.
The Lord declared Himself to be that Light, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life," Jn.8.12. Here the Lord portrays Himself, His work and His teaching as illuminating the pathway of life for all who believe. He confirmed His authority to make such a claim by giving sight to a man who had lived in the darkness of blindness since his birth, Jn.9.1-41. "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world," Jn.9.5. This event and the resulting teaching make clear the role of Christ as the Light of the world. Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that they which see not might see; and they which see might be made blind," Jn.9.39. Those who humbly confess that they do not know the way to God and turn to Christ for direction, their faith brings the light into their lives enabling them to see the way to God. But those who in their arrogance, like the Pharisees, v40, think they know the way to God, their lack of faith in Christ ensures that they continue in darkness, and are therefore blind. For without the Light, which is Christ, we cannot see the way to God. Jesus said, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness," Jn.12.46.
(6) ABRAHAM AND THE GREATEST PRIESTHOOD (Heb.7.1-28)
"Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec," (Heb.7.17,21) We have been looking together at how Abraham is used in the New Testament to develop and teach important doctrines. In the previous paper, we looked at Heb.6, to see how the promise that God made to him is an encouragement to us, as it shows we can have total confidence in God's unfailing promise to us. Now we move into Heb.7, where Abraham is again introduced, so that we can be taught great things on the greatest priesthood — "the order of Melchisedec."
The readers of this epistle were familiar with "the order of Levi," the priesthood which began with Aaron the high priest, in the book of Exodus, and which had continued for many years. The writer shows us in this chapter that believers have a greater priesthood — "the order of Melchisedec," and a greater High Priest — the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will consider this passage in three sections:-
The Person and his Story: the Character Examined, v1-10.
The Priesthood and its Superiority: the Change Expounded, v11-25.
The Priest and His Suitability: the Credentials Explained, v26-28.
1. The Person and his Story: the Character Examined, v1-10
Melchisedec is introduced to us in Gen.14.17-24, where we see him meeting Abraham after the slaughter of the kings, blessing him, and Abraham paying tithes to him. From what Moses records about Melchisedec in this short passage, and from what Moses does not record, the writer to the Hebrews draws two main points:
A. His similarity to the Lord, v1-3.
In v3, the writer says that Melchisedec is "made like unto the Son of God." In these first three verses of the chapter, he gives some points that show the likeness:
He was both a king and a priest, v1. This was impossible under the Levitical system. Aaron was a priest, but could not be a king. It was forbidden for kings to be priests, as King Uzziah found to his cost, 2Chron.26.16-21. The Lord Jesus Christ is both King and Priest; indeed, the very Psalm (110) which will be quoted more than once in this chapter shows Him as both.
His titles. His name, Melchisedec, means "Kings of Righteousness" and he was "King of Salem," meaning "King of Peace." These two, righteousness and peace, are often associated together in Scripture (e.g. Ps.72.7; 85.10; Isa.32.17; Heb.12.11; Jms.3.17,18). The order is significant — there can only be peace with God on the grounds of righteousness. That is what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us, as we read in Rom.5.1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus Melchisedec, by his titles, speaks to us of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no record of his genealogy, his parents, or his birth. This was very unusual in Genesis, a book which is greatly concerned with generati-ons-and parentage. For the Levitical priests, their genealogy was crucial. But none is given for Melchisedec. Thus he is a picture of Christ in His eternal pre-existence and Sonship.
There is no record of his death. This pictures the Lord Jesus Christ, who is made "after the power of an endless life," v16.
There is no record of his priesthood ending. This foreshadows the unending priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has an "unchangeable priesthood," v24.
B. His superiority to the Levites, v4-10.
The writer invites us to "consider how great this man was," v4. Several points of consideration show his greatness with respect to the Levitical priesthood:-
v4-6a: "even the patriarch Abraham," the revered father of the nation, paid tithes to him, thereby recognising his greatness. In v5,6, the writer points out that the Levites, who are descendants of Abraham, receive tithes as a legal requirement. It does not show them to be greater than "their brethren." But Melchisedec received them from Abraham voluntarily. There was no legal requirement for Abraham to pay tithes to Melchisedec — he was not even part of the nation. The fact that Abraham paid tithes to him, voluntarily, shows his greatness.
v6b,7: Melchisedec blessed Abraham, and the lesser is blessed by the better. Thus, by blessing Abraham, Melchisedec showed his own superiority. The word "blessed," v6, is in the perfect tense, literally "hath blessed," showing the permanent nature of the blessing; it shows the ongoing superiority of Christ's priesthood to that of Aaron's.
v8: The Levitical priests die; the witness of Scripture depicts Melchisedec as living. Scripture, for example, records thedeath of Aaron, but not the death of Melchisedec. What is omitted from the record is used by the inspired writer to show Melchisedec to be greater.
v9,10: in a sense, Levi himself paid tithes to Melchisedec. He was descended from Abraham, so when Abraham paid tithes to Levi, he was doing it on behalf, not only of himself, but also on behalf of his great-grandson, Levi. This again was a tacit acknowledgment of Melchisedec's superiority to Levi.
2. The Priesthood and its Superiority: the Change Expounded, v11-25
Having introduced Melchisedec, shown his resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and pointed out his superiority to Levi, the writer now goes on to expound for us the "change," v12, in the priesthood, from that of Levi to that of Melchisedec.
We will look at this in four sections, each of which gives an argument for the superiority of the order of Melchisedec over that of Levi. Melchisedec's is superior:
A. By virtue of the Change, v11-14.
There was a need for a "change," v12, for a new priest to arise, after the order of Melchisedec. This is indicated in Ps.110.4. If, however, the Levitical priesthood had brought perfection, what need would there have been for another priest to arise, after the order of Melchisedec? v11.
This is no small matter. There was a law concerning the institution of the priesthood, v12. Under that law, only those from the tribe of Levi could be priests. But "He of who these things are spoken" (the Lord Jesus Christ), v13, is from the tribe of Judah, a tribe from which one could not become a priest, v14. Thus, for one from Judah to be a priest, the law would have to be changed; it was a "necessity," v12.
Now, why would all this change be necessary, if the Levitical priesthood brought perfection? It would not have been necessary. The fact that change was necessary proved that the new order (of Melchisedec) must be better than that of Aaron.
B. By virtue of the Commandment, v15-19.
In v15, we read, "after the order of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest." The word "another" here means "another of a different kind." There was a "commandment," v16,18, in the Old Testament, by which priests were instituted. Some features of this commandment are given:
No permanence:- It was "carnal," v16. This does not mean that it was sinful, but that it pertained to the natural, transient life of the body — it was temporary in nature.
No power:- It was characterised by "weakness," v18. It lacked the power to purge the conscience, to give life, or to help a person to obey God.
No profit:- It was characterised by "unprofitableness," v18. It did not bring about benefit to the sinner.
No perfection:- It "made nothing perfect," v19. For example, it did not make a person's behaviour perfect, or give him a clear conscience.
Therefore it has been "disannulled," v18. The commandment by which the priesthood was appointed has been set aside. With what has it been replaced? By:
The arising of "another priest," v15;
The bringing in of a "better hope," v19, which ensures the profit and perfection which the old commandment lacked: "by the which we draw nigh unto God," v19.
Unlike the old commandment, these have brought:
Permanence: "an endless life," v16;
Power: "the power of an endless life," v16;
Profit: "by the which we draw nigh unto God," v19;
Perfection: "the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did," v19.
The Lord Jesus Christ is "after the similitude of Melchisedec," v15. This shows that Melchisedec and the Lord Jesus Christ are not one and the same person. But the above shows that His priesthood is superior to that of the Levites:- It is based on a life that can never end, and a hope by which we draw nigh to God.
C. By virtue of the Consecration, v20-22.
How were the priests consecrated to priestly service in the Old Testament? Not by an oath, v21. Why not? Because their priesthood was only temporary.
Not so for our Lord Jesus Christ. He was made a priest by an oath, given in Ps.110.4, and quoted here in v21. There is no possibility of any change to this, since it is written "The Lord sware and will not repent," v21, and it is "for ever," v21. The thought is in many ways similar to that in 6.13-17, and considered in the previous paper: God's word is enough, but Him stating it with an oath give us double assurance. And who is the "surety," v22, of this covenant, the one who will ensure that it is carried out? The Lord Jesus Christ, v22. It is sure indeed!
Thus we see that in the method of appointment to the priestly office, the Lord Jesus Christ is superior to the Aaronic priests:- he was appointed by an inviolable oath, something which the Old Testament priests were not.
D. By virtue of the Continuation, v23-25.
The Old Testament priests did not "continue," v23, because of death. Death put an end to the service of Aaron, and all the priests. Thus there were "many priests," v23.
The writer introduces a contrast in v24: "But this man" — "He continueth ever," v24, and "ever liveth," v25. Thus he has an "unchangeable priesthood," v24. His is not passed from one to another. He is a "priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." What was true of Melchisedec as far as the Scripture record is concerned (no beginning nor ending, and a priesthood that is not transferable) is true of the Lord Jesus Christ in actuality.
Therefore He is able, v25, "to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him." This verse is often applied to the salvation of sinners, but surely it must refer to His work for His people. He is able to preserve His people, right to the end of our wilderness journey, because "He ever liveth to make intercession for them." It is for His own people that a priest makes intercession, and this He does for us, and will continue too, right to the end. What a superior priesthood! Aaron could not intercede for his people after he died — our Great High Priest ever lives to intercede for us.
So the writer has argued clearly for the superiority of Melchisedec's priesthood, and thus for the superiority of that of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has done so by considering the change in the law of the priesthood, the disannulling of the former commandment, the oath by which the Lord Jesus Christ was made priest, and his endless life. Now he will conclude.
3. The Priest and His Suitability: the Credentials Explained, v26-28
The writer introduces this section with the words "For such an high priest became us," v26, He is totally suitable for us. Why? Because of:
A. His sinlessness, v26.
Five lovely facts are stated about Him in this verse, which were not true in full measure of any of the Aaronic priests:
"holy" — His relationship to God;
"harmless" — His relationship to His fellow-men;
"undefiled" — His state of inward purity;
"separate from sinners" — Whether this refers to His walk on earth, or His separation from sinners in heaven today need not worry us too much, because both are true. In both cases, "separate from sinners" describes Him accurately;
"made higher than the heavens" — His exaltation.
Each of these points is worthy of much consideration, but this paper has already been lengthy, and we must pass on.
B. His Sacrifice, v27
Two of the major works of the high priest were intercession and making sacrifices (for his own sins and those of the people's, v27).
As far as our High Priest is concerned, He does intercede (as we saw in v25), but He does not offer sacrifice, because:-
He never made sacrifice for "his own sins," because He did not have any;
He does not make sacrifice for "the people's," because He has already done it, "once, when He offered up Himself," v27, in contrast to the "daily" sacrifices of the priests.
Thus He is greatly fitted to be our High Priest, because of His once-for-all sacrifice upon the cross.
C. His Sonship, v28 Clear contrasts are given:
"the law" — "The word of the oath, which was since the law;"
"maketh men" — "Maketh the Son;"
"Which have infirmity" — "Consecrated for evermore."
Whereas the law appointed to the priesthood men, who have infirmity, God's oath appointed His only Son, Who is perfected for evermore.
The conclusion is unmistakable: our Great High Priest, after the order of Melchisedec, is superior to all other priests, and His order is superior to all others. It is the greatest priesthood.
What a blessed portion indeed is ours, who have this High Priest interceding for us. But what is the alternative? What of those who do not have a Great High Priest, Who can preserve to the end of the journey? What is their future? This solemn subject, in which we will again see Abraham introduced, will be the consideration (God willing) in the following paper.
As we move in our studies from chapter thirteen into chapter fourteen it is important to notice the insertion of "but" at the commencement of v1 by the Revisers, whilst JND's New Translation inserts "now." Thus we are alerted to the fact that we are moving from the general injunctions to a Christian citizen to the more specific matters of a considerate life. This theme runs through to 15.13. We shall deal with the subject matter in this section under the following headings;
14.1-4 — Receive the weaker brother:
14.5-9 — Recognize Christ as Lord:
14.10-13 — Refuse to judge others:
14.14-23 — Respect the weaker brother
15.1-7 — Reflect the mind of Christ:
15.8-13 — Remember God's programme:
Ch.14 is that of Christian liberty exercised out of Christian charity. It deals with the mutual considerations in which the law of love must operate with regard to those aspects of conscience and scruple where there is no sacrifice of Scriptural precept or principle. This section is full of unexpected surprises that should act as a wake-up call to the narrow minded or punctilious. One who is legalistic in his approach to the Word of God or rigid in his attitude to the people of God, will not enjoy a study of this section of Paul's writing. Christian conduct must take others into account and must make allowance for personal scruples. These things cannot be brushed aside as trivialities or niceties for we are called upon to give due consideration to the differing views or others in matters where there is no sacrifice of truth. We usually feel comfortable with the idea that everything is either right or wrong and often judged so by our own opinions. Ch.14 is going to show us that this does not hold good, we find here that what is right for one may be wrong for another. Some are weak and some are strong and each one must consider the other.
In the first part of Ch.14 we have Christian Liberty established and in the second part we are instructed how to use that liberty. There must be a constant expression of loving consideration for others. It should be mentioned again that in this chapter the apostle does not have vital truth in mind: fundamental issues are not involved. With spiritual and practical wisdom the Apostle deals with the variegated shades of life in a first century assembly. He makes it clear that whatever differences there may be, the paramount considerations are the interests of the gospel and the well being of others.
1. Receive the weaker brother, Ch14.1-4. The Apostle now returns to the subject of a Christian's relationship with fellow-believers. Even though he is entering upon a very delicate subject, he deals positively with the difficult matter of fellowship with believers who hold different views to ours. How grateful we ought to be for the guidance the chapter gives to this vexed question. So often when we meet those in the assembly with a different viewpoint on a matter, we either automatically retreat into our shell and avoid them, or go on the attack hoping to change their mind. The guidance by Paul in this section is threefold:
Reception is enjoyed (v1).
Differences are to be recognised (v2,3).
Judgment is forbidden (v4).
Reception is enjoyed (v1). The command in verse one is clear and unambiguous — the stronger is to receive heartily the weaker. Weak faith is no barrier to reception. This is not speaking of assembly reception but rather personal acceptance one of the other. The strong brother in good conscience believes that he can eat everything but the weak brother believes with equal conviction that he should eat only herbs. The brother who restricts his diet to herbs only, is identified by Paul as "weak," however, no mention is made of being right or wrong. He is weak or limited in his apprehension of Christian liberty and all that he has been brought into in Christ. When I come across a believer who is such as this, I must show him acceptance and fellowship. With regard to those recently saved we should not make the mistake of expecting too much too soon. We should not demand that they demonstrate a grasp of truth and a maturity that has taken others years to reach. Then, having shown the weaker believer acceptance and fellowship, we are not to introduce them to disputes about the opinions of men. Neither should we sit in judgment upon his personal scruples. It is sad to see some whose growth has been stunted by the foolish actions and attitudes of over-zealous believers. Some feel that to be faithful to the truth of God they must state where they stand in respect of controversial matters at every opportunity. This can be very damaging to the young or those weak in faith, and if they have to abuse the liberty of a public platform to do so, they will certainly do so and indulge their pride. All that is accomplished by such behaviour is to offend those who are spiritually mature and grieve their spirit and stumble those recently come to the faith by introducing them to disputes. This is usually a false "faithfulness" that is prepared to sacrifice the clear teaching of the Word of God in this chapter, on the altar of their stand for a "doubtful disputation." In summary then, in the matter of personal reception, one of the other, there are two guiding principles. Firstly, the weak faith of another does not prevent him entering the sphere of my fellowship, and secondly, when received into that sphere he should not be introduced to disputes and questions.
Recognition of differences is required, v2,3. There were those who felt it necessary to abstain from meat and perhaps from drinking wine, (see v21). They confined themselves to vegetarian food. In having these scruples they displayed a weakness showing that they had not entered into the full liberty that was theirs in Christ. The Apostle shows again his astuteness as a student of human behaviour and nature. He shows us what these differing attitudes will lead to if not corrected and controlled by the Word of God. The weak brother will end up sitting in judgment upon the strong brother. These attitudes will result in serious discord among the people of God, which would be a gross denial of the grand truth revealed in conversion — that they are both received freely by God. In this we are expected to show no less grace than God showed to us in conversion. There must be a human respect that is based upon divine grace and reception. If I cut a brother off from personal fellowship and acceptance because of his scruples or my strength in a matter on which there is no vital teaching, I am in direct contravention of this passage. Is it not true that this is the very area in which many disputes arise?
Judgment is forbidden, (v4). Because of the freedom that the stronger enjoys, the weak brother is ready to charge him with laxity and unfaithfulness. Is the Apostle not just identifying the tendencies of the flesh that are familiar to us? It is natural for a strong person to despise one who is weaker and for a weak person to judge one who is strong. We do well to emphasize three key expressions in this verse.
"Thou that judgest" — Rebuke of interference.
"Another man's servant" — Responsibility of the servant.
"His own master" — Regard for the master.
Rebuke of interference — "Thou that judgest:" judging one another outside the realm of the Word of God is definitely wrong. Such behaviour and the attitude that gives rise to it, is condemned a number of times in the New Testament. In Jms.4.12 the condemnation is in the form of a question, "who art thou that judgest another?" In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord says, "Judge not that ye be not judged," Matt.7.1. What right have we to set ourselves up as a judge of fellow-Christians? To do so is usurping the Lord's prerogative. This does not mean that we are to accept blindly everybody and everything that comes across our path. John tells us to "try the spirits," Un.4.1. In lCor.14, those speaking as prophets are to be subject to the discernment of others with the same gift. There is a balance, but the very fact that there is a balance in this truth, means that there are two sides to be balanced one against the other . How one-sided we are by nature!
Responsibility of the servant— "another man's servant." As Christians we are servants of the Lord and not of man. At this point the responsibility of the servant is indicated in the words, "to his own master be standeth or falleth." Those who are the servants of the Lord are accountable to the Lord for everything they do. Their first concern should be to please Him but if they fail, it is the Lord they have failed. The Master's will is not the same for each of us and we are individually responsible to find out what that will is. What the Lord's will is for another's life, is no concern of mine. That other is not my servant, he is another's servant and solemnly that other Master is the Lord.
Regard for the Master — "his own master." How solemn for one to interfere in the sacred and specific relationship and responsibility of another Christian to his own Master. To ignore the teaching of this passage in either my public ministry or my private movements amongst the Lord's people, is going to cause hurt and serious offence down here and then I will feel shame at the Bema when I have to account for my meddling in the affairs" of the Lord. While the servant recognises his own responsibility to the master, he is aware of the master's regard for him — "Yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand." This means that each servant has divine enabling to help him to stand and do what is right before the Lord. If these two truths reach my heart with power and conviction I will be able to resist the temptation of the flesh to dictate to others in matters of personal relationship to the Lord and service for Him. Each servant has his own responsibility to the Lord and resources in the Lord to execute that responsibility to the glory of God.
I was born into a godly home, the eldest of five. I have two brothers and two sisters. My older sister is married to Harry Wilson and they serve the Lord in Brazil. My parents were saved in their youth and were in Assembly fellowship in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, as were my grandparents on both sides. Of my grandparents I can remember only my mother's mother, Mrs. Lockhart. A sister of mother's, Miss Mary Lockhart, served the Lord in Zambia with the Geddis family. Our parents read and prayed with the family daily, and always had our salvation as the priority, as all godly parents should. When old enough we were brought to Sunday School and to all the meetings so that we were always conscious of the need to be saved.
Grandmother was a sickly woman, and often came to live in our home until her health improved. Because of her illness she had plenty of spare time and was faithful in reading the Scriptures, explaining the Bible stories and impressing upon us eternal values. We dearly loved our granny. But around Christmas 1942 she came to live permanently with us, and it was evident that she was not at all well. She passed into the presence of the Lord on 14th February 1943.
I had never before seen a dead person, and as I beheld her cold still form, God spoke to me. I thought, if that was my body where would I be? I had to admit, I would be in hell, lost forever. At bedtime as I went up stairs, I made up my mind that if there was salvation to be found I would not sleep until I obtained it. 1 started to read my Bible, and tried to trust, tried to believe. I read and re-read all the precious verses that I heard others had got saved through, but somehow I could not get peace. Then I began to consider, if there is no salvation for you, where will you be in eternity? I well remember saying, "Lord if you send me down to hell that is all I deserve, I am a guilty sinner." In that moment Rom.10.9 came into my mind, and I had not been reading it! "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." And before I had finished that precious verse I was saved. I got down on my knees and thanked God for saving a sinner like me. I could hardly sleep that night, delighting in such a deliverance, and praising the Lord for saving me.
The next day I thought that was far too simple, that could not be salvation, and I spent a miserable time. The devil seemed to put those doubts in my mind. The late Tom Campbell took my grandmother's funeral, and as he was leaving our home he said to me as he shook my hand, "George, is it not time you were saved?" He held my hand and said, "Maybe you are saved." And he still held my hand, wanting a response. I was in a turmoil. I said, "No I am not." I got away alone and read Rom.10.9 again. It had not changed! That precious verse with the three "shalts." I knew that I was saved, but I had told Mr. Campbell a lie! That was soon remedied.
After a time the late Mr. Fred Bingham came to Dungannon for some Gospel meetings. I had been greatly burdened about baptism, for that is the next step on the Christian pathway. I made my desire known to the elders of the Assembly, and Mr. Bingham baptised me. I was then received into assembly fellowship. It is good to be convinced of the Assembly Principles at an early age, and to seek to be exercised and to be a help in all the activities of a God constituted company of believers. This I did. I commenced a Sunday School in a village, some three miles from Dungannon, in a dear sister's home, in fellowship with my home assembly. We gathered some twenty to thirty children to hear the Gospel. Then I went with various brethren to preach on Lord's Day evenings. After some time I became interested in the spread of the Gospel a little further. There was a little Gospel Hall about 10 miles from home, where an assembly once met, called Carricklongfield. The assembly there had ceased to function, but with another young brother we had Gospel meetings, where I saw a young woman profess to be saved. We tried another place in an empty house and were encouraged by numbers of neighbours coming nightly. Those were my beginnings of the spread of the Gospel.
Our late, highly esteemed brother, Alex Lyttle came to live in the area. He asked me to motor him to various places to preach. I look back with joy to those times. For although not at all well at times he gave great encouragement. With a brother, Will Gracey, we obtained the Orange Hall, in the village of Donaghmore to have some meetings. We asked Mr. Lyttle if he would feel well enough to join us. He agreed and those times were choice indeed. He and Will preached three nights and I preached six.
Mr. Jim Martin asked me to join him in the old hall at Tullylaggan. I was loath to do that at first as he very often continued for nine or ten weeks, and I had not done any more-than six weeks. However I agreed to go with him, and the Lord gave much help, souls were saved and we went on for sixteen weeks! With him we moved a few miles away, and again the Lord blessed the Word in Salvation. Some months later he pitched a tent in Newmills in a time of rain. The local river was swollen and some nights the water was up to the platform. Two teenage boys were saved, one was the son of Will Gracey and the other was our eldest son.
Although I had gone into my father's business by this time, and I really loved my work, the greatest business was being neglected. One morning in the shop I collapsed, and was hospitalised with a stomach ulcer. This gave me exercise ... I again began to seek places to sound out the Gospel, in Orange Halls etc. and in portable halls around the area.
One morning I was dusting a display of glass and china ornaments, when I heard God's Voice saying to me, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" Matt.20.6 I was not idle, but I felt that there was more important work to do. My father was still alive and active, and it was really his business, and I did not like to annoy him. But the plight of lost souls kept coming before me, until I had to tell him my exercise. He gave me liberty to sell, or let the shop. But just how to wind up I was not sure. In January 1981, I told my brethren in the assembly of my exercise, and they gave me the right hand of fellowship.
As I relied upon advice from the auditors, they told me to run the business till the end of the year 1981. That was a time when many places were bombed and burned. We were next door to a cinema and in March, the whole area was set alight and more than half of our premises was burned. The Lord was forcing me to preach the Gospel! Soon we got wound up at the end of 1981, and in January 1982 in the company of brother Sam Maze we both went over the border into Co. Monaghan for our first series of Gospel Meetings together. We spent some three years there and had very fruitful times. Then in the company of other brethren I went to Co. Fermanagh. In 1987, our second son married a Canadian sister from the Clinton Assembly, Ontario. They lived for a time in Beamsville. In 1990, the saints in Grimsby, Canada, asked me to have some meetings. Brother Paul Glenny, from the Hamilton Assembly, joined me in the visitation there. Some souls professed salvation and a young sister was restored, and received back into the assembly.
In 1994 I was asked to join Sammy Maze, in Madison in the State of Maine. After the conference in Clinton, Ontario I was to have meetings in Nova Scotia. When I arrived, my brother in the flesh and in Christ, Jim, met me at Halifax. He had to call at Kentville Hospital on his way home. While there, I suffered a severe heart attack, necessitating open heart surgery. After five weeks in Halifax General Hospital, I was flown home to Ireland, and for a time concluded that my preaching days were over. But I praise the Lord that I can move about fairly freely and without pain, and am able to continue to serve Him in a somewhat limited way, in tract distribution and preaching at the weekends, etc.
Truly the prayers of the Lord's dear people have been answered in a marvellous way. I went back, in 1997 to Nova Scotia to thank the surgeon who operated on me, and he said that he thought I would never "make it" although he did the surgery. I really felt that I was like "the leper who returned to give thanks."
Pray for Dr. Idris Ali, a fine surgeon but he had no ear for the Gospel. I left him a copy of God's way of Salvation, and spoke to him of his great need.
In spite of all we can raise our Ebenezer and say, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." 1Sam.7.12.
When we hear something sensational, startling or even shocking, we are inclined to ask, "Are you sure?" — not because we doubt the integrity of the person relating the incident but we want to be absolutely sure of the facts. Truth can be terrifying and facts can be frightening and we want to be certain before passing the story on. '
Dear friend, in view of an unending eternity we cannot afford to be unsure as to our destiny and yet how many are building on the shifting sands of supposition when they could be safely grounded on the firm foundation of fact and faith.
You can be absolutely sure as to the matter of salvation for God has revealed the truth you need to know in the clearest of language, without ambiguity so that you need not be confused.
There is only one 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.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life," Jn.3.16.
When the awakened jailor in Philippi asked Paul and Silas, "What must I do to be saved?", he was not told a way of salvation; the answer of the imprisoned preachers was not a suggestion but the only solution to the plight of the despairing man. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts 16.31.
There is only one door to Heaven. "I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, ..." Jn.10.9.
There is only one means of cleansing. "... the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin," 1Jn.1.7.
There is only one way to Heaven. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me," Jn.14.6.
There is only one Mediator between God and men. "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus; Who gave Himself a ransom for all," 1Tim.2.5,6.
There is only one sacrifice acceptable to God. "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" Heb.10.12. Calvary's Cross, the only refuge! Calvary's Cross, the only plea! Calvary's Cross! Oh, blessed shelter On it God's salvation see!
Dear friend, close fast the door on unbelief, trample underfoot every rising doubt and for the first time in your life, trust Christ, believe His Word and depend alone upon the work He accomplished at Calvary as being fully sufficient to save you from hell and take you to Heaven.
There is no other remedy for your sin, there is no other way to Heaven, there is no one else anywhere who can meet your need but with absolute confidence we commend Christ to you for your unhesitating trust, being persuaded that "he that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life," Jn.3.36.
Can you be sure? Listen to the unequivocal certainty of God's Word. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the Name of the Son of God," 1Jn.5.13.
"The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God" Rom.8.19
The earnest expectation
Of all nature is abroad,
Waiting the manifestation
Of the true sons of God.
I am watching for the morning
That shall set the captive free,
And shall turn the chains of bondage
Into glorious liberty.
Paul's letters were not written from Paradise but from prison.
You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
THE LAST JUDGMENT
Roland Entwistle (Killyleagh)
The throne is sec,
Awesome, in power and reign
Steadfast, while others long in
Dust have laid their glory vain.
The throne is great,
Vastness, in outcome and extent,
Centre of judgment, decrees unsaved
To dark despair, for demons meant.
The throne is white,
Perfection, in the sentence shown
Unerring, the witness sure that
All condemned, died not Christ's own.
The Judge is seated,
Majestic; creations works have fled
His face, no mercy interceding
Pronounces sentence of the dead.
The dead are raised,
Rankless, no earthly dwellings shared,
Glad to the dens unseen
To creep, but none are there!
The dead make call,
Unanswered, echoes within each heart
The first tormenting endless pang,
And God's last word "depart"!
The books are opened,
Unaltered, records of life's mire,
Sins forgiven past, eternally,
The smarting stripes, the lake of fire!
Revelation Ch.20 v11-15
Dear reader, Please understand that your neglect of Salvation now will mean your appearance before this last great tribunal. It will not be to decide your eternal punishment, but to prove it. Only one way of escape offers you the only refuge "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom.6.23. Soon it will be too late, seize it now!