ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle
TESTIMONY IN TROUBLOUS TIMES
by I. McKee
THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by J. Flanigan
REASONS FOR WRITING
by D. S. Parrack
FIVE REASONS FOR HOLY LIVING
by J. E. Todd
by E. W. Rogers
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by B. E. Owen
YOU ARE NEEDED
by J. Voisey
by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)
9) "The Lord Thy God Led Thee... And Fed Thee"
Read Chapter 8
Deut.ch.8-10 review events during the journey from Horeb to Beth-peor. Ch.8 recalls God’s preservation and protection in the wilderness; see v2 and v15-16. Ch.9 recalls God’s pardoning mercy in the wilderness; see v7. Notice His mercy at Horeb and at Kadesh-barnea, etc. Ch.10 recalls God’s provision in the wilderness. He gave them the law, priesthood and leadership.
Deut.ch.8 divides into two clear sections.
(1) “Remember,” v1-10: “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee,” v2.
(2) “Forget not,” v11-20: “Beware that thou forget the Lord thy God,” v11.
In both sections, God “led” them, v2,15, and God “fed” them, v3,16.
The first section commences with an exhortation: “observe to do,” v1. The second section commences with a warning: “beware,” v11.
The chapter begins with possession, and ends with perishing, v19-20.
1) “REMEMBER,” v1-10
As we have noticed, the section commences with an exhortation, v1. “All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do.” Israel’s possession and enjoyment of their inheritance depended on their obedience to God’s Word. We are in exactly the same position. We began our Christian life on the principle of obedience, Rom.6.17, and we are to continue on the same principle, 1Pet.1.14. We must never forget that the Word of God is binding upon us. We are required to obey commandments. See, for example, Jn.13.34, 1Cor.14.37, 1Thess.4.2. There are no optional extras in the Bible! “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” Jn.14.15.
Notice the three results.
(a) “That ye may live.” This was quite literal. See, for example, 4.4, “But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day.” Obedience is equally the key to enjoyment of spiritual life. See Heb.12.9, “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” Eternal life is not just living for ever, it is a quality of life, see Jn.17.3.
(b) “that ye may multiply.” This too was quite literal. See, for example, 6.3 and 7.14. Sadly, division is more commonplace today! Oh for the conditions described in Acts 9.31!
(c) “That ye may go in and possess the land.” Like the Levites, 10.9, the Lord is our inheritance. We can only enjoy Him when we obey His Word. We can say that even now, let alone in heaven, He is “an inheritance, incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away!”
But Israel was not required to obey a tyrannical God. He had displayed faithfulness and mercy towards them in:
(A) Preserving them in the past, v2-6, and
(B) Providing for them in the future, v7-10.
A) Past preservation, v2-6
“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness.” God led them, v2, and God fed them, v3, in the wilderness.
i) God led them, v2
They were to remember “all the way” in which He had led them. This included (a) God’s grace and (b) God’s government. Both are described in 1Cor.10.1-10.
a) God’s grace. See 1Cor.10.1-4. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant …” Five things follow.
Firstly, “all our fathers were under the cloud.” This emphasises the protection they enjoyed. See Ex.14.19-20.
Secondly, “all passed through the sea.” This meant deliverance for Israel, and defeat for Egypt. They all passed beyond the sphere of bondage.
Thirdly, “all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” They were baptized unto the authority of Moses. Israel was not an undisciplined rabble. The Lord Jesus instructed the apostles to ‘make disciples of all the nations,’ Matt.28.19, JND.
Fourthly, “all (did) eat the same spiritual meat.” The love that delivered them was the love that provided for them. The manna is described as “spiritual meat” with reference to its origin. It is called “The corn of heaven” in Ps.78.24.
Fifthly, “all (did) drink of the same spiritual drink.” Like the manna, it is described as “spiritual drink” with reference to its origin. It was divinely provided. The words, “and that Rock was Christ,” imply that the water was provided by His ‘personal presence’ (W. E. Vine). Then they were to remember:
b) God’s government. See 1Cor.10.5-10. “But with many (most) of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” Notice, again, five things:
Firstly, that “we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” This evidently refers to Num.11.4. They lusted after the food provided by Egypt. We must be careful that we don’t do the same.
Secondly, “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play,” see Ex.32.1-6. Notice Aaron’s attempt to make idolatry respectable: “And Aaron made a proclamation, and said tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” As a result, “there fell of the people that day about three thousand men,” Ex.32.28.
Thirdly, “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” This resulted from the “counsel of Balaam,” see Num.25.1-9, 31.16.
Fourthly, “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents,” see Num.21.4-6. Israel’s discouragement engendered total dissatisfaction with God, and with Moses.
Fifthly, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer,” see Num.16.14-40. “But on the morrow (after the death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram) all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord.” Israel resented divine discipline.
So they were not to forget the lessons of the journey, and we shouldn’t forget them either, see 1Cor.10.11. Notice the expressions “to humble thee, and to prove thee, and to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no.” It has been suggested that the object of these lessons was to prove to Israel what was in their own hearts, and make them understand their own weakness, teach them self-distrust, and deliver them from pride and self-sufficiency. But it seems more likely that God, Who read their hearts in any case, looked for tangible evidence of their obedience. Compare Deut.13.3 and 2Cor.2.9.
ii) God fed them, v3-4
All we can do is to draw attention to the manna, and recommend the subject for detailed personal study. We must notice here:
a) The divine provision. “He … suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna.” (Notice their complaint in Ex.16.3: “Ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger”). God withdrew one thing, and provided something better! Compare Elijah’s failing brook, and the unfailing barrel of meal and cruise of oil.
b) The divine purpose. “That He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This is the first of the Lord’s three quotations from the book of Deuteronomy, see Matt.4.4,7,10. The Lord Jesus was the true Israel in the wilderness. The Word of God was His sole sufficiency. He did not say, ‘I know … think … feel,’ “It is written.” He said, “I live by the Father,” Jn.6.57. Compare Isa. 50.4-5.
There are lessons of great importance for us here, and we must notice the following:
(a) Our dependence on the Word of God. But this involves more than public teaching and exhortation.
So (b) Our dependence on the Word of God for life itself. The Word of God is essential for every aspect of life. Not just for sermons. Not just for the assembly. But for life: “man shall not live by bread only.” Compare 32.46-47 and 30.20.
(c) Our dependence on ALL the Word of God. It is all essential: “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Notice too the authority of the Word of God. It “proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” We cannot differentiate between the Word of God, and God Himself. See Gal.1.6, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him (not just the gospel) that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”
God not only fed them, v3: He clothed them, and provided health care, v4. The section ends with an exhortation, v5-6. Love provided: but that same love chastened, see Heb.12.5-13. It has been well said that chastening is educative, preventive, and corrective. If we cannot trace God’s disciplining hand in our life, we might well heed the advice, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” So, they were to remember the past, and consider the present. Now, after past preservation:
B) Future provision, v7-10
Notice the character of the land. “For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land.” It was “a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it,” v9. We too have “a good land,” with no scarceness” and no “lack.” We have been “blessed … with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Eph.1.3. But, sadly, like Israel, we can lose the good of it through disobedience.
We should notice the seven things provided in the land. “Wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates … a land of oil olive, and honey.” There were six things in Egypt: “the fish … the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick,” Num.11.5. We should give some thought to “seven” and “six!” Because of Israel’s sin, the land did not yield its bounty, but it will do so in the Millennium.
This section also ends with an exhortation, “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee,” v10. It concludes on a positive note: “bless.” “Praise is comely,” Ps.147.1. We must remember the injunction in Heb.13.15.
2) “FORGET NOT,” v11-20
As we have noticed in our introduction, this section commences and concludes with a warning. The substantial reiteration of the previous section reminds us that, like Israel, we are prone to forget. Notice the exact wording here: “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God.” We so often enjoy His blessings, but forget Him! The order in the previous section is now reversed:
A) Future prosperity, v12-14
Once again, Moses refers to the land. While in v7-10, the provision of the land is emphasised, here it is prosperity in the land. Notice the reference to building houses, increasing herds, and amassing wealth. This could be dangerous, hence the warning, “Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God,” v14. Prosperity could invade the heart and evict the Word of God. Compare 6.6. The New Testament sounds similar warnings, see, for example, 1Tim.5.17. Remember Laodicea!
B) Past protection, v14-17
Once again, Moses refers to the wilderness. “And thou forget the Lord thy God … who led thee through the great and terrible wilderness … Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna.” Notice, again, the repetition. We do need to be reminded of things we already know! See 2Pet.1.12-15. Notice, however, that whilst these verses refer to past provision in the wilderness (as in v2-4), they add protection from harm, see v15. Notice, too, that the purpose of the lessons in the wilderness is expanded. “That He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee (compare v2), to do thee good at thy latter end.” See, again, Heb.12.11.
The chapter ends with a warning against self-sufficiency, v17-18. We too must beware of this as well. “Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.” The warning intensifies in v19-20. Forgetfulness and disobedience would result in destruction. People ‘perished’ literally because of disobedience, and it will result in terrible damage to our spiritual lives as well.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by Ian McKee (Northern Ireland)
Paper 19 — Taking a stand (Ezra Chapter 10.5 - 12)
The time for grief is passing. The time for action arrives. Those deep feelings, which caused Ezra such distress in the presence of God, now impel him to act. He accepts his responsibility. “Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware,” Ezra 10.5. Not only was Ezra prepared for decisive action but now the chief priests and the Levites are also bound by a solemn covenant before God to do whatever is necessary. And the general public were similarly committed.
Having reached this point it might have been expected that Ezra would simply give orders, delegate authority and impose deadlines with the intention of bringing all to speedy resolution. But quite the contrary. “Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away,” Ezra 10.6.
The man who had been so deeply affected by the reports of this dreadful sin as to be distraught and prayerful in public was similarly affected, in an ongoing way, in private. Ezra’s public grief was not contrived. He was the same man in private. He adopted a position similar to that of Moses on Sinai, “I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.” Deut.9.18. So Ezra continued to intercede and mourn over sin. As long as the sin continued, he sorrowed. Although he had secured the people’s commitment to act, that, in itself, was not enough. He recognised that he needed the power of God, which could only be found by continued seeking and self-denial.
While Ezra sought the presence of God in private, the civic rulers “made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together unto Jerusalem; And that whosoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the congregation of those that had been carried away,” Ezra 10.7,8. This message, proclaimed by heralds in the streets, would then spread by word of mouth throughout the entire Jewish community in Judea. Given that the Jewish colony was concentrated within approximately one day’s journey from Jerusalem, three days were sufficient to effect the proclamation throughout the whole territory and provided sufficient time for every able-bodied adult male to make the necessary arrangements and get to Jerusalem by the time stipulated. However, there was no time for hesitation or delay. And to enforce compliance, the proclamation was accompanied by threat of property forfeiture and loss of citizenship.
In the face of such stern sanction it is not surprising that we read, “Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days.” Ezra 10.9. This was on the twentieth day of the ninth month, for God takes note when restoration begins. Many people came from Jerusalem itself. Others came from outlying towns and villages. But all gathered. They “sat in the street of the house of God,” or the court before the Temple, “trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain,” Ezra 10.9. Inclement weather did not deter them. The matter was of such moment that they trembled as much from the consciousness of guilt and the dread of its consequences, as from the physical discomfort.
Then Ezra stood up to speak. He came straight to the point. There was no sermonising in the rain. “Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do His pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives,” Ezra 10.10,11. The sin was declared plainly. It was not inter-racial marriage. Rather they had taken, from the nations around, women with whom they lived. The remedy was also declared plainly: confess wrong, judge the sin, separate from it and do the will of God.
While there was gross sin in many specific instances, there was also a general decline in understanding the need for separation from the ungodly nations around. Although we have focused on the specific sin, and so we should for God identifies it and its perpetrators on the page of inspiration, nevertheless we must recognise that it was the end result of a general retrograde process. The people of God, in relation to the ungodly around them, had moved from a position of distinctive separation to one of carelessness. Early contracts may have been portrayed as mutual co-operation, benign social interaction, perhaps leading on to joint business ventures or other associations, but the end result of this process was moral sin! And once one illicit relationship is established without necessary corrective action being taken, others will follow.
Liberty, so called, led to license, which was nothing less than the ancient sin deployed by Balaam. “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods,” Num.25.1, 2. This constituted “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication,” Rev.2.14. In Ezra’s day, and in ours, decline both in spiritual tone and distinctiveness in testimony, may result in a parallel deterioration in moral rectitude.
“Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must it be,” Ezra 10.12. This was a positive, united and determined response. Anything less than this resolution to quit sin will fail. But, as we shall see, it would have been much less painful had the leaders among the people of God dealt with this sin immediately it became manifest. Sin does not improve with time! There is nothing, therefore, to be gained by a forlorn hope that, somehow, things will improve by avoiding the issue. Clearly, they will not!
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)
7. THE GARMENT OF MOCKERY
The Saviour is now on His way to the Cross and it is Matthew who writes, “they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe,” Matt.27.28. Mark says, “they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head, and began to salute Him, Hail, King of the Jews,” Mk.15.17. John records that “they put on Him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews!” Jn.19.2-3. It was indeed a robe of mockery, this purple robe. If it was, as many think, a cast-off faded tunic of some Roman soldier, then the original brighter scarlet of the officer’s cloak may have faded to a purplish hue. Others suggest that the term “purple” was, of old, a general description for all shades of red, shades which would vary from scarlet to purple according to the texture of the cloth and the direction and intensity of the light shed upon them. Whichever is true, every believer knows of course, that there can be no discrepancy. Everything harmonises when the full story is known.
The purple robe was but a part of their mockery of our Lord’s Kingship. It was associated with a crown, a sceptre, anointing and homage. Every king wore a crown, and so they platted a crown of thorns and put it on His head. He wore it with dignity. Although intended for His dishonour, it was in fact, a Victor’s crown. It has endeared Him to those who love Him, and with deep affection His people sing —
O head once filled with bruises,
Oppressed with pain and scorn;
O’erwhelmed with sore abuses,
Mocked with a crown of thorn.
All kings had sceptres too. They were symbols of rule, emblems of authority and power. So they gave Him a mocking sceptre, a reed in His right hand. He carried it patiently, knowing, as they did not, that one day He would wield a rod of iron and break His enemies in pieces like as if they were but a potter’s vessel, Ps.2.8. Then, callously, they took the reed and smote Him on the thorn-crowned head, cruelly beating the thorns into His brow. He remained silent, uncomplaining in it all. As Peter later writes, “When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not,” 1Pet.2.23.
The anointing was shameful. Matthew records, “And they spit upon Him,” Matt.27.30. So had they done also in the house of Caiaphas, “Then did they spit in His face.” Matt.26.67. It was a despicable thing and Jew and Gentile alike were guilty of this contempt of the Son of God. Mock homage then followed as they bowed the knee and hailed Him King of the Jews.
But to return to the purple robe. It was early morning, and the Saviour stood silently before the Governor who weakly protested to the people that he could find no fault in Him. “Then came Jesus forth,” John records, “wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe” and then, Pilate’s well known cry. Did it pierce the morning air? “Ecce Homo”! “Behold the Man”! What a sight that was! The King of glory crowned with thorns and robed in mocking purple.
Roman soldiers, of course, were not expected to know that to succeeding generations of Christians there would be a tender, yet powerful, significance in this robe of purple. Many centuries earlier Jehovah had given instructions to His earthly people Israel regarding the building of a Tabernacle in the wilderness. Now this was a portable structure which was carried by the people as they journeyed towards Canaan. There were many vessels and pieces of furniture which had to be transported with due care and reverence, and explicit directions were given concerning these. The largest of all the Tabernacle pieces was the great brazen altar, the Altar of Burnt Offering. On this altar the various sacrifices were consumed while the smoke of the burning ascended in a sweet savour to God.
This great altar foreshadowed Calvary and that one supreme sacrifice and offering which would fulfil and make obsolete all that had gone before, “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” Heb.10.10. As the Altar of Burnt Offering, with all its typical significance, was being carried in the wilderness by the Levites, it was covered with a purple cloth, which was spread upon it, Num.4.13.
How accurate was this ancient type! Covered with a purple cloth, the altar stained with the blood of many victims! Now, in the closing chapters of the Gospels, the Saviour of whom the altar spoke is covered with a purple robe, and is on His way to the place of sacrifice. Perhaps He alone, in that vast crowd, remembered the purple cloth which covered the brazen altar.
Then, says Mark, “When they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him,” Mk.15.20. Whatever happened to that purple robe we do not know. Likely it would now be cast aside as being irrelevant. But believers in the Lord Jesus see the significance of it, and see too, the meaning of that word of the Psalmist, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee,” Ps.76.10. Pagan Roman soldiers covering the Man of Calvary with a purple cloth on His way to the cross! Well did those heavenly visitors on the Mount of Transfiguration speak of His exodus which He would accomplish. He was, Himself, arranging the details of His departure out of the world. He was ordering everything, even to the wearing of that purple cloak in which He was presented by Pilate to the people.
Is this the Saviour’s last earthly garment until loved ones will wrap Him in linen grave clothes at the end of the dark day of crucifixion? Soon they will, at Calvary, take His own garments from Him, and gamble for them at the foot of His cross. Meanwhile, that purple robe lies discarded somewhere. It has served its purpose, and in spite of the evil intentions of men He wore it with honour. The patience and dignity with which He endured the mockery has made Him so precious to His people. In their quiet meditations they envisage Him standing there with Pilate, wearing the purple robe and the crown of thorns, and they love Him the more for all that He has endured. They follow Him with reverent step to the place of His crucifixion and death and they sing as they worship —
O Jesus Lord, how can it be,
That Thou should’st give Thy life for me;
To bear the cross and agony,
In that dread hour on Calvary?
O Calvary! dark Calvary!
Where Jesus gave Himself for me;
O Calvary! blest Calvary!
’Twas there my Saviour died for me.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by the late W. Trew
(This is a copy of an address given in Shield’s Road, Motherwell in 1954)
(Submitted by J. D. McColl, Australia)
Let us take one illustration of what is involved. Human ordination in ministry is a necessity in every sect of Christendom. I have a friend. He was a Baptist minister, in charge of one of the largest churches in his country. He became deeply exercised before God about his position, as he read and studied the Scriptures. At last convinced that denominationalism was unscriptural and a great evil and that his own position as belonging to a system of clerisy was condemned by the Word of God, he severed his connection with it at tremendous cost and he is now serving the Lord happily among the saints in assemblies and being greatly used of God.
Was he right or wrong? I hold that he was right. But if clerisy was a very wrong system for him, it is equally condemned by Scripture, for every child of God. “For any man or body of men, to assume to licence and so authorise the preacher of the Gospel, is, on their part, an intrusion upon the sovereign rights of Christ the only Head of the Church.” The fact of the matter is, that nothing other than the Church of God has a right in Scripture to exist. No child of God has Scriptural authority to be associated with anything else. A human system has no Scriptural authority for its existence, and it is certain that, if it has no Scriptural right to exist, it has no right at all.
That brings me directly to what I want to say: — “I cannot fulfil the terms of my commission as given me by my Master, and as illustrated in Paul’s service, in any denomination.”
A young lady came to us one evening in a town in which we were having tent services. She said, “Will you be happy to baptise me? I have learned from my reading of the Scriptures that I ought to be baptised. I cannot do that in the church to which I belong. But I have no intention of ever leaving my church. Under these conditions will you baptise me?” We said, “Yes, right gladly.” And we did.
She was a Sunday School teacher, and some of the girls in her class were saved. Then she realised that she was made responsible by the terms of the commission, to teach them what she had learned of the Lord’s Will concerning baptism. It came to the minister’s ears, and he came to her. “Iris, is it correct that you are teaching baptism by immersion to your girls?” “Yes,” said Iris. “Well, you know you cannot teach that here,” said the minister. “Not teach that here? Why not? It is clearly taught in the New Testament as the Will of the Lord for every believer,” said Iris. “That is not the point at all,” said the minister. “You cannot teach here what is contrary to our articles of association.” Said Iris, “well then, if there is no place here for God’s Word, there cannot be a place here for me.”
Cases like that I could multiply again and again. But in this case, notice two things:
(a) In order to obey what she had learned of the Lord’s Will, she had to step outside of her denomination, within the limits of which she had no liberty to obey the Will of the Lord. For in that system there was no place for the authority of the Word of God.
(b) She found it a practical impossibility to fulfil the terms of the Lord’s commission within the limits of her denomination. And that is always true. Which fact leads me to say two things: —
(a) I have no moral right to go into any denomination and preach what I know to be the truth of God, but which is contrary to their articles of association.
Here is a group of people. They subscribe a sum of money to erect a building in which to perpetuate a Methodist cause. They pay for heating and lighting. They have all the organisation of Methodism. They invite me to occupy their pulpit instead of their usual minister. Under their auspices, I go. At their invitation, I preach. They have not invited me to preach in order to smash their constitution; and if they had known that I intended preaching what, if believed, would smash their constitution, they never would have invited me. I say that I have no moral right to go to them at their invitation and under their auspices, to use the building their money has provided, the lighting and heating their money is paying for, and the congregation their industry has assembled, in order to teach truth that will smash what they are seeking to build. The minister who invited me to occupy his pulpit, is a gentleman, and he thinks that I am also a gentleman, and he has the right to expect me to behave as a gentleman. If I accept his invitation, the only honest thing to do is to draw a line beyond which I must not go in my ministry. But that is unfaithfulness to my Lord and to my hearers and to the terms of my commission.
A friend of mine is quite free to preach in any denomination to which he may be invited. We were talking together about it and I said to him, “If you were invited to preach to the Methodists next Lord’s Day, you would spend this week in deep exercise before God for your message. Let us suppose that God laid on your heart the story of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. You would do what the evangelist did on that occasion and preach Jesus unto them. When you came to where the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptised?’ “What would you do?’ I waited to hear his answer. He thought about it carefully, and then very honestly said, “Under the circumstances I would have to stop before I came to that.” Exactly so; for we have no moral right to preach there what is contrary to their articles of association, though we know it to be the truth of God. But to deliberately resolve to limit ourselves in our ministry and withhold God’s truth, is unfaithfulness to the Lord, and only proves my contention, that we cannot fulfil the terms of our commission in these places.
(b) Then again, I question, if I have the legal right to teach in any denomination what is contrary to their articles of association.
This hall in which we are gathered is governed by a Deed of Trust in the hands of Trustees, who are legally responsible to see to it that the hall is used only for the purposes for which it is intended. It would be illegal for a Christadelphian to preach his doctrine here, because it would be clearly contrary to the Deed of Trust. I take it that the same is true of the buildings owned by the denominational unions. So that, if my teaching of “All the counsel of God” in one of these systems became a matter of law, I would find myself in the wrong.
Therefore I have no moral right to preach in a denomination much that I know to be the truth of God; I have probably no legal right to preach there much that I know to be the truth of God; since I cannot preach there and fulfil the terms of my Master’s commission, I cannot preach there at all.
That seems to me to be clear and logical, and these considerations have made my path of service plain.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by D. S. Parrack (England)
"That thou mayest know the certainty of those things" Luke 1.4
By recording that “many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things most surely believed among us,” Lk.1.1, Luke makes it plain that in the early church era there were a good many more ‘gospels’ in circulation than just the four which we now have in the N.T. But such a profusion of material, rather than promoting greater understanding or assuring greater reliability, can often cause a sense of bewilderment or confusion. What Luke set out to do, specifically for Theophilus, but, for us too, was to present a clear, concise and wholly dependable record. Not to replace or supercede “those things which are most surely believed among us,” but to assure our minds of “the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed,” Lk.1.4.
The pressures of physical persecution, endured by believers from the N.T. period right through, in some parts of the world, to present times, here, in the so-called West, have been largely replaced by more subtle, and in many cases more dangerous, problems. Today we have a plethora of manuals, commentaries and aids to learning, many of which may have some merit, but few of which are without a degree of leeway for argument, dissent and contention. What we need is a thoroughly reliable guide to steer us through such minefields, such an array of ‘helps’.
That is what Luke saw as being Theophilus’ problem and why he set out to provide just such a guide. It must have been difficult for Theophilus though, to decide on what basis he could judge the value of this new set of records against those already available to him and which were presumably in general circulation amongst, and being generally accepted by, his fellow-believers. Was there any independent standard which he could use or must he just rely on Luke really “having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first,” Lk.1.3. We, thankfully, do not have that problem. We accept Luke’s gospel as being a part of Scripture, all of which is “given by inspiration of God and is profitable,” 2Tim.3.16. Instead of having to compare Luke’s gospel with other people's writings, we can use it itself as part of the gauge, the perfect standard, against which everything else, written or oral, must be judged. Such assessing need not, indeed should not, be just destructive criticism or inbred scepticism. We are, after all, told that the Bereans “received the word (i.e. Paul’s teaching) with all readiness of mind,” but even so, after that “they searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so,” Acts 17.11. There are probably teachers, and we have confidence in their written and oral ministry, but they may get things wrong from time to time. The Scriptures though will never let you down, they are the touchstone against which everything should be judged, especially so if you have reason to wonder about the reliability of something which you have read or been taught.
There are people whom we may accept as being very sincere in what they write or say, but they may be sincerely wrong. Paul could say of some of his own nation that “I bear them record that they have a zeal of (for JND) God.” Surely we can accept the teaching of someone like that. “But” continues the apostle their zeal is “not according to knowledge,” Rom.10.2, which means at the best it was misinformed religious zeal and that is, by itself, of no worth.
If you feel that you are not clear regarding certain facets of what you are being, or have been taught, even of some things which are held in your own circles as sacrosanct conventional wisdom, certainly ask for help from someone whom, based on past experience, you have confidence in. But, gently, ask him, or her, to show you from the Scriptures why they follow that particular line. To teachers among God’s people comes the injunction “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples,” Isa.8.16, and to all of us in our consideration of what is being taught. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isa.8.20.
Luke recognised what was a potentially growing problem, a need that would develop as more and more would-be teachers entered the field. His aim was to provide a source of spiritual understanding which was totally reliable. That provision in the shape of what we know as ‘Luke’s gospel’ is, as just a small part of Scripture as a whole, available to us now. It is there for us, as and when we too perhaps become a little unsure of “those things wherein thou hast been instructed,” Lk.1.4. But if we don’t turn to it, use it, the purpose for which it was written will not be achieved as far as we are concerned.
—to be continued (D.V.)
by J. E. Todd (England)
2. BECAUSE I HAVE BELIEVED
In the original Greek of the New Testament some words can form more than one part of speech. As a noun ‘pistis’ is normally translated as ‘faith,’ but in its verbal form ‘pisteuo’ it is normally translated as ‘believe.’ Therefore to believe and to have faith are one and the same thing in the New Testament.
Unfortunately the word ‘believe’ in everyday English can be a rather weak word. It may mean only the mental acceptance of something as being true. Or even an expression of doubt, in the sense of, “I believe it is so, but I am not sure.” But the word as used in the New Testament is a strong word. So strong indeed that sometimes it is translated ‘to commit.’ For example in Jn.2.23-24. ‘many believed in His name … But Jesus did not commit himself unto them.’ The word ‘believe’ and ‘commit’ are the same word in the original Greek. The word ‘commit” means ‘to trust’ or even better ‘to entrust.’ To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ means to entrust ourselves to Him.
There is a false concept of faith which exists in some quarters. It is that faith and knowledge are mutually exclusive. This means first of all that if we know something to be true, then trusting in it is not an exercise of faith. If we realise that faith is trust then this false concept of faith is shown to be nonsense. For we would be saying that because something is known to be trustworthy we therefore cannot have faith in it! When we have knowledge our faith can be strong. So the facts of the revelation of God in Christ are recorded in Scripture as the sure foundation of our faith. Second, this false concept of faith is not affected by knowledge. This caused the mythical schoolboy to cynically exclaim, “Faith is trying hard to believe something that you know is not true!” The person who puts his trust in something that is known to be untrue is not a Christian, he is a fool.
But faith can go beyond knowledge, we can walk by faith in God amidst the vicissitudes of life which we cannot understand. We can trust God where we cannot trace Him. Faith is simply trust.
We cannot just have faith. For ‘to believe’ is a transitive verb, that is it must have a direct object. We just cannot believe, we must believe in something or someone. The object of our faith as Christian believers is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The power of our faith lies not in the strength of our faith but in the object of our faith. A passenger on the aircraft has complete faith in the safety of flying and so enjoys a peaceful flight. Another passenger, flying for the first time, is frightened, having little faith in the safety of flying, he spends the flight in a state of acute anxiety. But the safe arrival of both passengers at their destination has nothing to do with the strength of their faith in the safety of flying, but it has everything to do with the trustworthiness of the aircraft to which they had entrusted themselves. A strong faith in human religious leaders (e.g. the Pope) or religious denominations (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses) will save no one, but a weak faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will save anyone. ‘A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax (i.e. a wick) shall He not quench, Matt.12.20.
The fact that we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ means that we have entrusted ourselves to Him. This is saving faith. This of necessity must mean three things.
First, it means we trust Him for who He is. He is presented to us in Scripture as God manifest in the flesh. ‘The Word was God … the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” Jn.1.1,14. In Scripture the term ‘Son of God’ means ‘God the Son.’ This entails accepting His sole authority in all spiritual matters.
Second, it means we trust Him as the unique Saviour. His way, via the Cross, is the only way of Salvation. ‘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.
Third, it means we trust Him as our risen living Lord, to rule our lives by His holy example and His holy teaching. This third result of our believing in Him, that is our entrusting of ourselves to Him, is another continuous reason for His holy example and His holy teaching to reveal itself in our daily living. ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of (in) the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me,’ Gal.2.20. This is the visible proof of our invisible faith, ‘I will shew thee my faith by my works,’ Jms.2.18. ‘herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be (‘prove to be,’ R.S.V.) My disciples,’ Jn.15.8.
Holy living is the acid test of our believing in the Lord Jesus Christ
—to be continued (D.V.)
by E. W. Rogers (England)
Jude’s epistle specially relates to intruders among God’s people who seek to subvert the faith. Nevertheless, as all the rest of Scripture, it has a warning voice for those who desire to walk according to truth. This is notably so in the case of the above verse.
Cain was marked by self-will, Balaam by self-interest, and Korah by self-importance. The common factor in all was SELF. How unlike the Lord Jesus! He was the way, the truth and the life, the very antitheses of Cain’s way, Balaam’s error, and Korah’s perishing.
Not heeding the lesson of his parents’ useless figleaf aprons, Cain offered of the fruits of the ground. Only the death of a substitute could provide a covering for the guilty, but he would not take that way of regaining an acceptable standing before God. So opposed was he to it that he slew his brother Abel. Cain insisted on having his own way. That is why it is called “the way of Cain,” v11.
The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, said even before He came here, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God.” When confronting the Cross He said, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” His “meat and drink were to do the Will of Him that sent Him.” It was ever true of Him that He “sought not of His own will but the Father’s Will.” There was no self-will with Him. He “always did the things that pleased” the Father.
Nor should self-will be with us. We should “… live the rest of our time in the flesh … to the will of God.” Among other things, self-will refuses to acknowledge, practically, that the believer has died with Christ. Like Abraham, who clung to Ishmael, we seek to keep self alive. It is pleasant to the flesh and so easy to find a plausible excuse for allowing it. Yet the plain fact is that “Christ died for us that we should no longer live to ourselves.” Never forget that self-will works insidiously, and often wears a deceptive and pious cloak. It is easy to be deceived by it.
The histories and prophecies of Balaam are deeply instructive: the name Balaam is of ill-fame in both Testaments. Against his own will he became God’s mouthpiece, but his motives were evil. The king of Moab offered him gifts and honours and, in order to obtain them, he persisted in a course rebuked by the dumb ass. He intended to curse God’s people: that he did not do so is no credit to him. If he could not do this he corrupted them at Baal Peor, and this pleased Balak and achieved his desired end.
Balaam is of the same sort as Micah’s fee-bargaining priest, and Elisha’s greedy servant Gehazi. He is akin to Simon the sorcerer. Their gains are called in holy writ “filthy lucre.” The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, religious evil not excluded.
Christendom is riddled with this form of self-interest, notwithstanding the example of the Lord Jesus who though rich became poor. “Even Christ pleased not Himself.” Besides which, His servant Paul “coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel,” but rather than give occasion to any to have the slightest ground for supposing otherwise “he laboured with his own hands,” whilst he evangelized.
This danger is with us all. Self is so dear that we utterly dislike the thought of anything that might not contribute to its comfort and ease. What strange thoughts Balaam must have had of Moses who had renounced Egypt’s pleasures to lead such a people through such a wilderness! Men like Nehemiah who are willing to leave a good post in a palace and throw in their lot with a distressed people in a ruined city are rare today.
The root of Korah’s rebellion was just this: he could not bear another standing in greater prominence than he. He felt his claims to be as good as, if not better than, those of Moses and Aaron. He would have them deposed and, of course, himself put in their place. He had no regard for God’s appointment.
Like Diotrophes he loved the pre-eminence: like the Pharisees he loved the chief seat. He did not accept the rule that “whosoever humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Like the “Man of Sin” yet to come he would exalt himself above all.
Yet none abased Himself as low as the Lord Jesus nor was any exalted so high. Read again Phil.2.5-11, and see from what heights he came and to what depths He went. But those who exalt themselves will be abased, as the histories of Haman and Nebuchadnezzar attest. It is innate to human nature to assert the importance of self, but it is the work of grace in a soul which esteems another better than one’s self.
The abandonment of self-will, self-interest and self-importance is perhaps the hardest of all lessons. It can only be learned as we sit before the Lord, and like David say: “Who am I?” “If a man thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Whatever we are spiritually we owe to divine grace: we received from God whatever gift we have, and “if thou hast received it, why boast?”
Only as the Cross is kept in view can self, in every form, be renounced. For the Cross is the end of the man who believes: he hung with Christ on it.
by B. E. Owen (Canada)
In 1933, under the preaching of the late Sam McEwen, as a young couple, dad and mom were reached and saved. Before salvation, they lived for the world and its pleasures. Mom loved the dance floor. Dad was known as ‘the second Al Capone “ in his neighbourhood. I was born on November 1943. Like so many who read these lines, I had the wonderful privilege of being raised in a Christian home. I of course knew nothing of my parent’s former years. From my earliest memories I can recall living in a home with loving caring parents who sought to bring us up in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. Going to meetings, was the accepted norm in our lives. As time went on I soon realised that my dad was very active in the preaching of the gospel, not only from the pulpit, but also in his place of employment. Wherever we went on vacation, going to all the meetings was part of the agenda. From my earliest childhood memories, the LORD had first place in our home.
It was November 22nd, 1950, winter in Canada. After school my mother had arranged to have a birthday party for me. A few of my friends were invited. After the games, meal, cake and ice cream and of course ‘presents’, when every one had gone to their respective homes, it was finally bedtime. As usual my mother came in and prayed with me and tucked me in for the night. Lights out! Time to sleep. However, I did not go to sleep right away. I lay there thinking about the activities of the day.
To the following I have to give credit to the Holy Spirit of God. We can safely say, “Except the Spirit of God call a man he is none of His.” To my knowledge, before this date, I cannot recall ever having an anxious thought about getting saved.
As I lay in my bed thinking about the events of the evening, particularly my birthday party, my thoughts began to centre on the birthday of Another. At that moment, everything that I had ever been taught about the Son of God, His birth, His Life, and His Death on the cross passed through my mind in an orderly fashion. I thank God for Christian parents, faithful Sunday School teachers and for preachers of the gospel who had laid the foundation for November 22, 1950 and for all eternity.
“And when they came to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him.” I lay on my bed, my thoughts centred on the Cross and on the One who was nailed there. I think for the very first time in my life, I stopped and questioned “Why?” Why did God allow wicked men to crucify His Son? Why? I began to weigh up the evidence as I knew it. Jesus was the Son of God. He never committed a sin. He could not commit a sin. Then why was He on the cross?
It was then that my thoughts turned inward. I knew that I was a sinner. The Bible says so! Having been raised by loving parents who believed that “if you spare the rod you spoil the child,” I could remember times when they practised what they preached. They were never cruel, but in love for my soul, they administered what had to be done whenever needful. Every time I received chastening, it was a reminder that I was a sinner.
Like a window opening in my soul, the answer to “Why?” dawned upon me. I realised that JESUS DIED FOR ME! I was the guilty sinner, but Jesus died for me! Oh the joy and peace that flooded my soul that night. I remember speaking out loud in the darkness of my bedroom, “Thank you Lord.” I often look back to the night of November 22nd, 1950 and thank God for his marvellous love and grace for saving me.
From early in my youth the Lord put it in my heart to be a missionary. My parents and Sunday School teacher made sure that I got good reading material, much of which gave excellent accounts of missionary endeavours in many different regions of the world. As a youth the school was my mission field. Later on, wherever I was employed, I sought to win others to Christ. In my very late teens, while still living in my parent’s home, I can remember a time of deep soul searching and waiting on God. For about a week I had no desire for food. One day on my knees, with my Bible open before me, I was reading from Romans chapter one. In view of what I had been reading and meditating on, these three Scriptures impressed themselves upon my mind.
v.14, “I am a debtor”;
v.15, “I am ready to preach the gospel”;
v.16, “I am not ashamed”.
It was while meditating on these portions that the Lord spoke to me in a real way. I totally surrendered my will to His Will. I knew that He had a purpose for my life, and I was willing to follow wherever He would lead. The burden was lifted. The tears flowed. My appetite for food returned. To me, this memory is just as real as the night that He reached and saved me. Unknown to me, around that same time, about five hundred miles away, the Lord was dealing with my wife-to-be in a similar manner when Carolyn too, yielded her will and future to the Lord’s Will.
We were married in September 1964. Whenever missionaries visited the city of Toronto we made it our business to get out to hear them if possible. We did not know where the Lord was leading, but our minds and hearts were open. The late William Bell of Trinidad gave a report at our assembly, which made an impression on us. The following year Daniel Ussher or Trinidad gave a report. On two occasions we invited Danny and Audrey over for a visit to ask a lot of questions about the work in Trinidad. In 1968 we spent the month of February in Trinidad. We returned home, but left our hearts there. On route home from Trinidad to Toronto we had a stopover in Antigua. There we met Les and Annie Crossly. It was a very short visit at the airport. Once we were airborne again I looked down on the little island of Antigua, which looked like a bowl of dust in the blue Caribbean and said to Carolyn, “They will never get us to Antigua.” I am sure that the Lord heard me expressing my will, not His.
About five years passed. A lot of water passed under the bridge. The Lord had to deal with me. Finally I got to the place where I told the Lord, I would go wherever He would lead. I carried a map of Trinidad in my Bible Bag waiting to talk with my elder brethren,
I recall late one evening driving along the Queen Elizabeth Highway, en route to Grimsby. As we drove over the Burlington Skyway, Carolyn and I were again discussing our exercise. We made the decision that we would approach our brethren and ask for their prayers in this matter. On our arrival home we found two letters waiting for us. One was from a missionary in the West Indies, inviting us to join him in the work. The second was from a Christian business man. He asked if we intended to remain in secular employment or go out full-time. If we planned to remain in secular employment, he had a very attractive position to offer us. Humanly speaking, his offer would have been very tempting. Realising this I immediately wrote to the business man and thanked him for his kind consideration, but declined his offer, knowing that the Lord had a better plan for us. The brethren agreed to have a meeting with us, but it never happened for a long time. Waiting is hard on the emotions. We had given up an attractive position. About a year passed.
Visitors were expected for the weekend. As our friends came in the door, the first thing they said was, “Did you know that Les Crossly of Antigua has had a stroke?” Carolyn and I just looked at each other. We knew. Within a very short time we were on our way to Antigua, and the rest is history. We were three years in Antigua and seven years in St. Lucia. From 1984 I spent time seeking to be a help to little assemblies throughout the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. We spent eighteen months in Grenada and visit other islands like St. Lucia, as He guides. We thank God for what He has done in the islands and for what He continues to do, and look to Him for the future.
As we look back over our experience, we are thankful to the LORD for His so great Salvation, and then for the privilege and honour of serving Him, the best of masters. We do not know what the future holds, but we do know the One who holds the future.
by J. Voisey (Wales)
“Say ye that the Lord hath need of him” (Mark 11.3).
These words were spoken of an ass, a humble beast of burden, for things written aforetime were about to be fulfilled, and the ass was part of the prophecy. He was to carry the King: for “behold thy King cometh unto thee: He is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” It was a noble service. On this occasion, the Lord Jesus Christ was coming to them in peace and humility, so war chariots, war horses and the noise of battle were to have no place, for so the prophet had foretold, but when ultimately He will come in judgment, He will be upon a white horse, His eyes will be as a flame of fire, and out of His mouth will proceed a sharp sword. Zech.9. 9,10; Rev.19. 11-16.
He will ride upon this particular beast. Of course, the “Lord Jesus Christ is Lord of all,” and “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” but “He has need of him.” We should never forget the sovereign will that guides all our steps, nor underestimate the importance that the Lord attaches to every aspect of His service and every one of His servants. There were those in the church at Corinth, who were inclined to look down on others who seemed less able and were in humbler positions than themselves. They were forgetting that it is God “who set the members in the Body as it hath pleased Him.” To one is given this task, and to another that task, but none is to be considered inferior to the other, nor can one member of the Body say to another, “I have no need of thee.” Rather, those who are “more feeble, or less honourable, or uncomely” should be given “more abundant honour,” so that there will be mutual care, love and respect for all in the fellowship, without strife or personal vainglory. For what has anyone of us, but that which we have received of the Lord? The Corinthians were also inclined to exalt some of God’s servants above others, 1Cor.3.4, and Paul specifically reminded them of the need of a proper attitude to Timothy, when he wrote “he worketh the work of the Lord as I also do.” 1Cor.12.14-26; 16.10.
The ass was an unclean animal but the fact that this one was still alive was proof that it had been redeemed, Ex.13.13. So it is with us. The gospel of the grace of God is proclaimed to all, and the Lord Jesus Christ uses every one of His redeemed people in His service. Whatever their individual background, their natural abilities, or even their nurturing environment and social position, out of all that full and rich diversity, He will find a place for everyone. How gracious and significant it is that the Lord should condescend to say of an ass, “I have need of him.” Sometimes God used those whom we might suppose to be able and particularly gifted, such as Moses, and Isaiah and Paul. He also uses an insignificant man, from an insignificant family, living in an out of the way place like Gideon, and a brave but poor shepherd lad like David, and a common working man like Amos and even fishermen-disciples, who in the eyes of the unbelieving Jews, were only “ignorant and unlearned men” (“but they had been with Jesus”).
The Lord knew where this ass was and always God knows where His people are, whose hearts He may touch, and find them willing, sometimes after a little persuasion perhaps! So He commanded a poor widow woman in Zarephath to sustain His prophet Elijah, and sent Ananias of Damascus to tell the newly-converted Saul of Tarsus, “what he should do.” Whatever service it is He calls us to do, let us do it willingly, with thankfulness and joy, for we serve a loving, gentle Saviour and Master, and whatsoever we do let us do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, Col.3.23.
“Oh use me Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and how and where;
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.”
(Frances R. Havergal)
ARE YOU PREPARED?
Recently, I received an advertisement in the mail encouraging me to purchase medical health insurance and the heading consisted of the words that entitle this article. The testimonies of various people were included which suggested that there was the possibility of me being involved in some accident or contracting some illness, events totally unforeseen, which would leave me in such a state that I would require constant support. One said, “The options facing me were institutionalisation, being looked after by my family or finding the money to lead an independent and as normal a life as possible … I never thought this would happen to me … I wasn't prepared for it.”
I suppose we all need to consider the future and be prepared for it as well as possible. Yet this is all built on a supposition and a doubt. We can suppose a situation; we may be involved in the accident, we may contract the disease, but we may not. It might never happen to us.
There is however, something for which we must prepare. It is not supposition, it is an absolute and unchangeable reality. It is a meeting with God. We read in the Old Testament book of Amos, chapter 4 verse 12, “prepare to meet thy God.” This meeting is inevitable and cannot be avoided. It is described as an appointment in Hebrews 9v27, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” I ask you, dear reader, “Have you made preparation to meet God?”
Some may answer that they try to do so by living a good life, being religious, doing good works, hoping that all their efforts will earn them a place in heaven. What does the Bible say about this? Isaiah 64v6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Again, Ephesians 2v8,9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Again, Titus 3v5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”
It is not possible to earn a place in heaven since that suggests we can put God in our debt, thus obligating Him to reward our good living with a place in eternal glory! It is obvious that we cannot do that. If salvation is to be our portion and we are to be prepared to meet Him, it must be of His grace. In the Old Testament God had a place which was marked by the blood of a sacrificial victim and He said, “there I will meet with thee,” Exodus 25v22. God will meet with us on the basis of sacrifice and shedding of blood. There is only one place where He will meet with you, “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him,” Luke 23v33.
The Person who was crucified was the Only Begotten Son of God, who came into this world to make atonement for our sins and to lay a basis whereby we could meet God without fear of punishment.
“He took the guilty sinner's place, and suffered in His stead,
For man, (oh miracle of grace), for man the Saviour bled.”
John 3v16,17, “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.”
If we accept the Lord Jesus as our Saviour by faith, then we will meet Him in the air as our Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4v16,17 and we shall “ever be with the Lord.” The alternative is to meet Him in our sins and be banished from Him forever. If we meet Him here as the Saviour, we shall meet Him then as a Friend. If we do not meet Him here as a Saviour we will meet Him then as a Judge.
The 7 Immediate Healings Noted By Mark
immediately the fever left her, 1.31.
immediately the leprosy departed from him, 1,42.
immediately he arose, took up the bed, 2.12.
straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, 5.29.
straightway the damsel arose, and walked, 5.42.
straightway his ears were opened … and he spake plain, 7.35.
immediately he received his sight, 10.52.
by H. A. Barnes (England)
Though far from God by nature
By grace are we brought nigh;
Cleansed by the blood so precious
From sins of scarlet dye;
Henceforth with joy and gladness
In singleness of heart;
Let’s serve our Lord and Master
And ne’er from Him depart.
As pilgrims in the desert
May we each passing day;
Sustained by heavenly manna
Pursue our homeward way;
Our one ambition ever
That God be glorified;
While waiting for the morning
When Christ shall claim His Bride.
In glory then forever
Shall we the praises swell;
Of Him who died to save us
From an eternal hell;
Of Sovereign Grace the riches
Shall God in us display;
Then loudest Hallelujahs
Shall sound harmoniously
By the late James H. Wilkinson (Co. Tyrone)
Faith in God makes me faithful for God.
God … had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles, Acts 14.27.
a great door and effectual is opened unto me, 1Cor.16.9.
a door (at Troas) was opened unto me of the Lord, 2Cor.2.12.
praying … that God would open unto us a door of utterance, Col.4.3.
I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, Rev.3.8.
‘Behold, a door was opened in heaven,’ Rev.4.1.
by H. A. Barnes (England)