March/April 2005

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Contents

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

THE GARMENTS OF THE SAVIOUR
by Jim Flanigan

REASONS FOR WRITING
by D. S. Parrack

THE TEACHING OF 1 THESSALONIANS
by J. C. Gibson

ETERNAL SECURITY
by D. Richards

MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by G. Orr

GOOD TIDINGS FROM HEAVEN

QUOTES

 


Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

DEUTERONOMY

14) “LET US GO AFTER OTHER GODS”

Read Chapter 13

Deut.12 concludes with a warning against idolatry. When God's people took possession of the land, they were not to “inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise …,” v30-31. Deut.13, which deals with attempts to induce the children of Israel to turn from God to idols, clearly divides into three paragraphs each beginning with “If”, v1,6,12, and each containing the expression (or its equivalent), “Let us go after other gods,” v2,6,13. Idolatry could be introduced in three ways.

(1) By a false prophet, v1-5;

(2) By a family member or a familiar friend, v6-11;

(3) By fellow Israelites, v12-18.

1) IDOLATRY COULD BE INTRODUCED BY A FALSE PROPHET, v1-5

In this case, judgment must not be clouded by religious deception. A plausible argument and compelling evidence (“the sign or the wonder come to pass”) must not obstruct obedience to the Word of God. Everything must be tested by the Scriptures: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Is.8.20. The Jews at Berea “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” Acts 17.11. We should notice the following:

a) The deception by false prophets, v1-2
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods … thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams …” Whilst these instructions were obviously relevant to Israel in the past, they also remind us of future and present deception:

i) Future deception. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed … whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish …,” 2Thess.2.8-11. “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there: believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before,” Matt.24.23-25. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast …,” Rev.13.13-14. In each case, idolatry is involved. The “man of sin” will sit “as God … in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God,” 2Thess.2.4. The “false Christs” and “false prophets” are associated with the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” Matt.24.15. The “great wonders” performed by the false prophet will induce men to “worship the image of the beast,” Rev. 13.15. The Lord Jesus emphasised the danger to the elect at the end-time: “Go not forth … believe it not,” Matt.24.26. Every claim, however well attested by its proponents, was to be tested by His Word.

ii) Present deception. The ‘charismatic phenomenon’ with its visible, tangible and audible appeal, including the so-called ‘Toronto blessing,’ must not delude us. Its “signs and wonders” have convinced many that it is a genuine work of God even though it is in direct opposition to the Word of God. We can only successfully oppose and repulse false teaching by appealing to the Word of God. An observer must “hold fast the faithful word, as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and convince the gainsayers,” Tit.1.9. Even this will not silence the voices of error, for “evil men and seducers (‘juggling impostors,’ JND) shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2Tim.3.13. Our great bulwark against all error is to maintain original teaching. Paul was obliged to remind the Galatians that “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed …” Gal.1.8-9.

b) The defence against false prophets, v3-4
The presence of “a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams” tested the loyalty and devotion of God's people. “Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Centuries later, John wrote: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous,” 1Jn.5.2-3. This echoes the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” Jn.14.15. We shall have no delight in obeying the Word of God if we only regard this as our duty. The believer who can say with the Psalmist, “O how I love thy law!” Ps.119.97, will gladly and willingly obey His Word. The defence of God's people against idolatry is described in two ways:

i) Negatively. “Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet,” v3. It is disastrous to parley with error. We must not attempt to accommodate evil doctrine in any way. It is a grave mistake, for example, to abuse the biblical record of creation by suggesting that it has room for the theory of evolution.

ii) Positively. “Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him,” v4. This is ripe for development. There is more than enough material here for a series of sermons! For example, the last of the six exhortations, “cleave unto Him,” can be expanded with reference to Jer.13.11 and Acts 11.23.

c) The death of false prophets, v5

The New Testament tells us that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” both morally, 1Cor.5.6, and doctrinally, Gal.5.9. The false prophet was to be “put to death” for the following reasons:

i) He endeavoured to alienate them from God. “Because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God.” He was their Redeemer-God: “which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage.”

ii) He endeavoured to alienate them from the Word of God. “To thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in.” It is worth noticing that disobedience to the Word of God means disobedience to God Himself. We can only please God as we obey His Word.
This uncompromising response to false teaching reminds us that we must deal ruthlessly with anything in our lives that would lead us away from God. See Col.3.5. It also reminds us that the assembly must deal firmly with people who introduce moral or doctrinal evil. “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person,” 1Cor.5.13.

2) IDOLATRY COULD BE INTRODUCED BY A FAMILY MEMBER OR FAMILIAR FRIEND, v6-11

In this case, judgment must not be clouded by natural affection. The Scriptures abound with warnings in this connection. Eli was censured because he honoured his sons above God. See 1Sam.2.29; 3.13. Adonijah's attempt to gain the throne was the result of David's failure to discipline him in earlier years. See 1Kgs.1.6. Micah was told: “Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide; keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom,” Micah 7.5. In this case, even the closest relationships could harbour danger. The Lord Jesus told the multitudes that “if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children … he cannot be my disciple,” Lk.14.26. We must remember that these are not cases where “natural affection,” 2Tim.3.3, was lacking. The Word of God places natural relationships on the highest level. See Eph.5.22-23, etc. The passages cited above to cases where natural affection interferes with the claims of God.

These particular verses contain a solemn warning against any form of compromise because family or friends were involved. “Thou shalt not consent unto him … thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of the people,” v8-9. It is not unknown for assemblies to suffer because family interests have overridden the Lord's interests. The misdemeanours of family members have been tolerated, whereas the same conduct in others would not have been ignored. We should remember that we are not in fellowship as families, but as individual brothers and sisters in the Lord.

3) IDOLATRY COULD BE INTRODUCED BY FELLOW-ISRAELITES, v12-18

In this case, judgment must not be clouded by personal disinterest. The introduction of idolatry in one particular area posed a danger to the whole country, and could not therefore be regarded as an isolated case that was nothing whatsoever to do with anybody else. This section of the chapter contains more valuable lessons for general application. It would be most unwise to cite this passage in attempting to ‘excommunicate’ assemblies. We must not use the Old Testament to support practices which are not sanctioned by the New Testament. The following should be noticed.

a) The report, v12-13

Idolatry is reprehensible in any circumstances, see Rom.1.29-23, but it is especially heinous amongst people who have been specially blessed by God. Notice the emphasis here: it is a case of idolatry “in one of the cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there …” What a despicable way in which to treat the goodness of God! David did exactly the same: “I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master's house … Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in His sight?” 2Sam.12.7-8. How do we live and act in view of the blessings that God has heaped upon us?

b) the response, v14

“Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth and the thing certain …” See also 17.14. The facts must be established and verified. All too often we act on faulty information, and incur the censure in Prov.8.13, “he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We really do need to ask the question, “Doth our law judge any man before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” Jn.7.51.

c) The retribution, v15-16

The matter was to be dealt with thoroughly, reminding us that assembly discipline must be properly applied, always bearing in mind that its ultimate object is the recovery and restoration of the guilty party. See 1Cor.5.4-5, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The absence of reference to any particular people here, such as the elders, reminds us that the whole assembly both receives into fellowship and puts away from fellowship.

d) The reason, v17-18

Failure to deal with the sin of one city could only have an adverse effect on God's people in their entirety. The offending city, with its inhabitants, was to be utterly destroyed “that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers …” The sad story of Achan's sin illustrates the fact that the sin of one individual brings divine judgment on all: “But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing … Israel hath sinned … they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them … they have even taken of the accursed thing,” Jdg.7.1,11. The assembly at Corinth was to “purge out … the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump …”, 1Cor.5.7. We should never forget that our personal lives have an effect, for good or otherwise, on the assembly to which we belong.

— to be continued (D.V.)

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The Garments of the Saviour

by J. Flanigan (Northern Ireland)

11. GARMENTS OF GLORY

“He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood ... on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS,” Rev 19.13, 16.

This great chapter is introduced with four Hallelujahs. They are the only Hallelujahs in the New Testament, which indicates the greatness of the event. The King is coming, and the Hallelujahs are His heralds announcing His advent.
It was kind of God to entrust the writing of Rev.19 to the man who wrote Jn.19. In that chapter in John’s Gospel Pilate had called, “Behold your King,” and the same cry is so appropriate in Rev.19. But in Jn.19 the apostle had seen the King in shame, falsely accused and derided. The King had been crowned with thorns and robed in mocking purple. He had been tried and unjustly condemned by a Roman Governor. John had seen Him nailed to a cross, bereft of His garments and called by Pilate, “The King of the Jews”. In Rev.19 things are different. “Behold your King!” He comes now in garments of glory, adorned with many diadems, to be acknowledged by all as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

This chapter synchronises with other great chapters, such as Is.63, Ps.24, Matt.25. These chapters focus on differing aspects of the King’s advent and its relevance to Israel and to the nations, but Rev.19 occupies us with the King Himself, the glory of His Person. When Gabriel announced to Mary the miraculous conception and birth of her Child, he said, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end, Lk.1.26-33. Now we are to see the fulfilment of that word. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever,” Rev.11.15.

For the second time in the Revelation heaven is opened. Earlier, in ch.4, it had been opened to call John up into glory. From his sad and lonely exile and from the barrenness of Patmos he had been transported into the opened heaven. It is a picture of the rapture of the saints, called away from the scene of their earthly pilgrimage to be with Him whom they have loved. It is, in symbol, the call of the Bride to the Father’s house and to the marriage of the Lamb.

Now the Bride is seen again, in company with her Bridegroom as together they come out to be manifested to the world. It is the day of the gladness of His heart, and this is part of the reason for the four Hallelujahs, S.ofS.3.11. They mark the joy and the preciousness of the occasion for Him.

The Bride is suitably arrayed in wedding garments. She wears the finest of fine linen, clean and white. It is symbolic, denoting the righteousnesses of the saints, who have loved the Saviour, and lived for Him, and waited for Him and for this day. The Bride has a righteousness by imputation, and she has too, a righteousness of practical living while absent from Him, her Beloved.
Attention is now drawn to the King’s vesture. The sight is akin to Is.63, in that His garments are stained with blood. But also on His vesture His royal Name and title are written. The blood of His enemies and the greatness of His Name combine to make His vesture radiant with glory.

A problem arises in that the King’s garments are here stained with blood prior to any engagement with His enemies. This has led some to believe that this is His own blood, the blood of the cross. But such interpretation is error, there is no reference to Calvary here. As in Is.63 this is the blood of His foes. Others think that the description is anticipatory, looking ahead to the certain victory. However, this is not the first time that the King has engaged in battle with the enemies of the Lord, and perhaps there may be an allusion to past triumphs. Was He not the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, with drawn sword, who appeared to Joshua? (Jos.5.14-15). Was it not He who “in the ancient days, in the generations of old, cut Rahab (Egypt) and wounded the dragon”? (Is.51.9). And has He not already brought to nought the might of those earlier empires, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome? The King is already a proven Warrior and Conqueror and now He comes with the memorials of former triumphs upon His vesture. The mighty empire of the Beast and His confederates is now about to be vanquished as were the others.

The King has many names and titles. The Beast has an array of names too, but they are names of blasphemy, Rev.13.1; 17.3. The names of the Lord Jesus are all glorious. He has of course, a Name that no man knows but He Himself. It is both futile and irreverent to speculate. We must bow in wonder and in adoration before Him of whom He said Himself, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father,” Matt.11.27. He has glories inscrutable and unknowable so that His saints delight to sing:

But the high mysteries of His Name
An angel’s grasp transcend.
The Father only, glorious claim,
The Son can comprehend.

He is called “Faithful and True.” What a rebuke to men when He comes again! For three busy years of ministry the Faithful and True had brought the glad tidings to them. Why did they not believe Him? Why did they so callously reject Him who in faithfulness and truth had delivered the Gospel to them?

Not only so, but “His name is called The Word of God.” He is God’s Word, God’s only Word, His last Word, to men. He is the Alpha and the Omega. God has nothing to say outside of Him. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” All things were made by Him and yet, in wondrous grace, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. For thirty-three years He was the full expression of the character and heart of God in our world. Why did they not receive Him? When He comes in power and glory He will bear this Name, “The Word of God,” a reminder to men of the glory of the One whom they rejected.

Then, on His vesture and on His thigh, that great Name is written, “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” It was usual for the sword to be carried on the thigh, Ps.45.3. Here the Conqueror’s sword proceeds out of His mouth. It is the sword of His powerful Word, and on His thigh He bears the Name which portrays His rights to the kingdom. “King of Kings”! He is the Son of David, Heir to the throne. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. “He must reign”, says Paul, 1Cor.15.25.

And so, from the swaddling bands of true humanity, and the linen towel of real humility, and the purple robe of mockery, to the blood-stained garments of victory, we trace the pathway of our Beloved back to the glory from whence He came, and then to the throne. But wherever, however, we view Him, we must say, “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,” Ps.45.8. The fragrance of the ivory palaces is ever and always upon Him whom we love. —Concluded

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Reasons For Writing

by D. S. Parrack (England)

PAPER 7(a)

“Suffer The Word of Exhortation” Hebrews 13.22

Hebrews is a book which was for a long time approached with some trepidation because it had become something of a bone of contention. Could the first part of chapter six, for example, really be understood as meaning that some believers might slip back into unbelief and so into a state of no further opportunity of salvation? Is chapter three, using the example of the Israelites, really warning us that we cannot be totally sure of a place in “the promised land” until we actually arrive there because of the above referred to alleged possibility of slippage? Even some well known Bible teachers have come very close to at least inferring that these kind of things may be true. But what does the writer himself say about the aims and motives that led him to write as he did?

Right at the very end of his letter he says, “I beseech you brethren, suffer the word of exhortation.” To exhort means to give full encouragement, so that was his aim, and the above cited interpretations of his writing cannot possibly claim to come anywhere close to doing that. But he goes on “For I have written a letter unto you in few words,” 13.22. So, like John, see Jn.20.30-31, he is limiting his writing, but without in any way restricting the force of it, making it easier for his readers to follow the way he puts his case without being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of his argument.

But as we look back at some of the detail of his overall exhortation, we find that he is neither whipping up nor cajoling his readers into some form of response. He proceeds point by point, making it plain that what he says is supported by reliable and demonstrable facts. Each plank in his carefully laid out treatise, consists of a set of statements, with Scriptural support, followed by a plea prefaced by “therefore” or “wherefore.” His approach might be summarised as “Because of that being so, we then ought to ….”. Remember though, we are not attempting a detailed consideration of the whole book, we are just endeavouring to sort out the reasons for, and the methodological reasoning behind, what the writer actually wrote.

In ch.1 we are told very clearly who it is that we are to be pre-eminently concerned with in this letter. It is “God — in the Person of the Son,” 1.1-2 (JND). Not a human messenger, however dedicated or exalted, nor even a created heavenly being, but someone “so much better than the angels,” v4, and this latter statement is supported by Old Testament Scriptures right through to the end of the chapter. “Therefore” because of who it is that we are talking about, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard,” 2.1. His readers were facing problems resulting from the change from a God-given set of religious ordinances to something entirely new, so the writer says, consider seriously who is at the very heart of what you have entered into, to whom you have committed yourself.

But just how are we to view this Person, seen to be so superior even to angels when, and have no doubt about it, they themselves are in turn superior to humans. He too though was “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death — He also took part of the same,” i.e. flesh and blood, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,” 2.9 and 14-15. So He is shown as being the eternal Son of God and at the same time the One who suffered death on our account, giving Him the perfect credentials for being “a merciful and faithful high priest,” 2.17.

Based on those facts comes the exhortation, “Wherefore holy brethren, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus,” 3.1. So the Person on whom we are urged to centralise our thinking is now presented to us as the One who because “Himself hath suffered being tempted — is able to succour them that are tempted,” 2.18, which includes every one of us. Have your mind and heart centred on, and occupied by, Him, in all of the many varied aspects of His divine character.

But if that Old Testament system of God-designed worship was superseded by one which the epistle insists again and again is so much better, see e.g. 7.19-22, 8.6-9, 22-23; is it not just conceivable that this newer system might itself be replaced by something better still? No, says the writer. Just look again at who it is that has brought this new covenant into being. Not Moses, faithful though he undoubtedly was as a servant carrying out God’s orders in God’s house, see 3.5. Keep your eyes fastened on “Christ as a son over His own house,” 3.6. Just stop and think of those who claimed to be following Moses, what happened to them? Well, you may say, most of them, instead of getting into Canaan, died in the wilderness, see e.g. 3.11-17. But why did they not get in? “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief,” 3.19. Oh, they wanted to get away from the slavery of Egypt alright, who wouldn’t, but they never did really believe. How do we know that? God said of them “They do always err in their hearts and have not known my ways,” the present and past tense, “So” because of that “I sware in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest,” 3.10-11. Reliance on Moses, good leader though he was, or on Aaron, good high priest though he may have been, was insufficient to see them safely through.

Now, says the writer, with examples like that, “Let us therefore fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His (i.e. God's) rest, any of you should seem to come short of it,” 4.1. It was the “any of you” with whom he was concerned and about whom we should be concerned too. It was only too possible that there were some amongst that early group of professing believers who didn't really believe at all, just as is possible in our day. But, you may say, we have heard the gospel made a profession, being baptised. Quite so. “Unto us was the gospel preached as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them.” Why not? What went wrong? “Not being mixed with faith in them that heard it,” 4.2. Since there is, and always has been, the possibility of a misplaced dependence on knowledge, feelings or unjustified aspirations, rather than on genuine faith. “Let us labour (use diligence JND) therefore to enter into that rest, let any man fall after the same example of unbelief,” 4.11.

But isn't the sort of things being discussed here likely to cause doubts to rise in the minds of true believers about the genuineness of their faith? To start with, and infinitely more important than what we think or feel, God knows what the true situation is, see 4.12-13. Added to that we have already been shown the position held by the Lord Jesus now, “A merciful and faithful high priest,” 2.17. In Him, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin, 4.15. Because of that there is an unshakeable justification for the exhortation. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” 4.16. It is in times of need that help is most required and we are encouraged to come for it in total confidence because of the Person to whom we are coming and what He, as a Man, has gone through to make that necessary help both available and meaningful.

Well, it is understandable that any Old Testament high priest could “have compassion on the ignorant and those that are out of the way, for that he himself is compassed with infirmity,” see 5.1-2. But if our “Great High Priest — Jesus the Son of God” was, as we have already been told, “without sin,” 4.14-15, how can someone like that understand the inner feelings, the heart concerns, of someone as frail as I? “Though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered,” 5.8. He can understand and empathise perfectly because He has been through it all Himself. At some point along the road of trial, testing or temptation we fail, but He saw things right through to the very end and remained unsullied. So the level, the degree, of His enduring went far beyond anything that any of us have had, or will have, to suffer.

But although the writer is obviously very sympathetic regarding the problems being faced by his readers, he is not going to allow that sympathy to be misconstrued as compromise. Their failures needed straight talking as a first step to remedial action. He reproves them for being “dull of hearing,” v11, of “need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God,” v12. But none of that would be necessary if only you took to heart what you have already been told. Show that you are not, in spiritual terms, “a babe” but “of full age,” v13-14. I have made it clear to you that the only fully reliable foundation on which your Christian lives can be firmly established is the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection (full growth JND)” 6.1. “Full growth is directly linked in the original to “of full age,” 5.14.

What has been said so far then, was not meant to merely increase their knowledge per se, nor even just to allay any apprehensions they might have, it was to encourage them onwards. After a list of all the land already occupied by the Israelites, see Josh.12.1-24, God said to Joshua, “There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed,” Josh.31.1. But it was not just going to fall into their laps, they had to make it their own. Joshua said later to the children of Israel “How long are ye slack to go to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers hath given you?” Josh.18.3. Doubt feeds on lethargy and what we do not learn, or do not choose to enjoy, of God’s blessings we will soon come to believe are not perhaps for us. That was most certainly not what the epistle writer wanted for his readers, then or now. Rather “we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence (see “let us labour,” 4.11) to the full assurance of hope unto the end. That ye be not slothful but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” 6.11-12.

We might still though, perhaps have a hankering after what we see as the tangible certainties of a priesthood that appeared to be so disciplined and organised. But, asks the writer, why should you think like that when, from whatever aspect you view things, you have something far, far better? He points them back beyond the Aaronic priesthood to a person who much more clearly portrayed what God’s final purposes were “Melchisedec King of Salem, priest of the most high God.” His very name means King of Righteousness, “and after that also King of Salem, which is King of Peace,” who, “made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually,” see 7.1-13. If you want to know how God envisages perfect priesthood look at Melchisedic not Aaron “For He (i.e. God)” speaking of His Son, “testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec,” 7.17. We were shown, from a whole variety of viewpoints, the superiority of that order over that of Aaron, see 7.1-28, precisely in the words “Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum. We have such an high priest who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. A minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not man,” 8.1-2. The total transcending of that perpetual priesthood is spoken of in terms of it being “a more excellent ministry — a better covenant — established upon better promises,” 8.6.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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The Teaching of 1 Thessalonians

By J. C. Gibson (Scotland)

Paper 3: 1 Thessalonians Chapter 1

Letter writing, v1

Firstly we have the date of the epistle. It was apparently written from Corinth during Paul’s second missionary journey, after he had ‘departed from Athens,’ Acts 18.1. The authorities vary as to the exact date, but it was some time between AD50-54. Whatever date we take, it was roughly twenty years following the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ and is therefore acknowledged by most authorities to be the earliest of Paul’s inspired letters, though some would consider Galatians to be the first. It is structured like other secular letters written at the same time (though of course different from our modern informal practice in putting the sender’s name at the end). Compare Acts 23.26, ‘Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting.’

Secondly there are the dynamics of the evangelists. They had a united spirit, v1, ‘Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus.’ The three friends are again together after a time of separation with a united interest in the new converts at Thessalonica. In the service of the Lord Jesus Christ we must have the companionship of other believers.

They also had a mutual respect, v1, ‘Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus.’ Paul would naturally put Silvanus before Timothy, as he was an older and more experienced man. We need respect for others and especially those who are older than us.

Thirdly we have the description of the eklesia (church). The Thessalonian believers recognised gift. Some churches, for example Corinth, had doubts about Paul’s apostleship, and Paul had to remind them, but the Thessalonians saw Paul for who he was, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and he did not have to even mention it. How important for a church to recognise and encourage spiritual gift. Then there was a separation from the world. The word for ‘church’ translates the Greek word eklesia meaning a called out assembly of individuals. The expression ‘in God our Father’ suggests that this little company of Christians were separate from the surrounding heathen who believed in a multitude of deities. ‘In the Lord Jesus Christ’ distinguished them from the Jewish element in the city that bitterly resented Jesus of Nazareth, refusing to acknowledge Him as the Messiah. Positively, it speaks of complete separation from the world. Believers are to be completely different from everyone else, whether religious or irreligious. The church had a membership of locals, people who lived in the locality. There are some very large churches which could best be described as ‘preaching centres,’ where quite literally hundreds and on occasions thousands come from distant areas. This is not the will of God for the church, He wishes little testimonies scattered in various localities acting as beacons in the darkness. They enjoyed an intimacy of union ‘in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ,’ for the saved are brought into spiritual relationship with the Godhead. We are so close to God that we are described as being in Him, eternally secure, never to be lost: ‘Thou art my hiding place,’ Ps.32.7. They also had the highest regard for the Lord Jesus Christ. The statement ‘in God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ’ supposes the equality of the two and is a clear witness to the deity of Jesus Christ. The word for Lord is kurios, which translates Jehovah in the Septuagint. These saints believed in the full deity of the Lord Jesus. They also experienced an enjoyment of ‘peace’. Although suffering severe persecution they knew the peace of God in their hearts.

Memory training, v2-4

Let us all take care how we use our memory, as it can wreak havoc through grudge bearing or be used as a fountain of untold blessing for others. Firstly we see the frequency of their remembering. It was ‘without ceasing,’ adialeiptos. The same word is contained on an old papyrus letter, which was discovered in Egypt, written as far back as the apostle’s day, which speaks of an ‘incessant cough.’ It is not uninterrupted prayer, but constantly recurring prayer which is meant. It is not that they did nothing but think about the Thessalonian converts twenty-four hours a day, but routinely, on a regular basis, they remembered them.
Secondly there are the contents of their remembering. They remembered the Thessalonians’ excellencies, the Christian virtues that had begun to develop in them. Paul is not laying stress on these virtues alone, that is faith, love, and hope, but rather on what they produce. They are the essential, active ingredients of the Christian life, finding their expression in active work, patient toil, and enduring constancy. They had an active faith. ‘Work’, ergon, speaks of activity of effort and as believers we are to be active in the Lord’s service, and this activity is produced by our faith. The faith of the Thessalonians was no mere speculative belief, but energetic and productive. They had a labouring love. The word for ‘labour’ is kopos, which meant primarily to strike or beat and then to toil to weariness. There is a definite difference in the meaning of these two words for work for ergon might be a pleasant experience, but kopos implies great difficulty and effort. As Christians we should be willing to drive ourselves to the point of exhaustion in our service for the Lord and only love can prompt such laboursome toil. One of the famous mottoes of the SAS is ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’. Perhaps a Christian motto should be ‘When the going gets tough, the loving keep going.’

They had an inspiring hope. The word for ‘patience’ is hupomone, meaning to abide under, suggesting anticipation or endurance. The hope held out to the Christian in the Bible is not uncertain but a hope that is unquestionable and definite. As believers we should endure and continue despite the hardships of the way and the intensity of the suffering and this is only possible if we are inspired by a gloriously certain hope.

They also remembered the Thessalonians’ election, v4. ‘Know’ is oida meaning to know by observation, and Paul, seeing their changed lives, knew that they had to be God’s elect. Would it not be good if people, by observing our lives, could say without a shadow of a doubt that we were God’s elect? This election was divine, in that is was ‘of God’.

The results of their remembering were praise, ‘we give thanks to God,’ and then prayers. The order is undoubtedly significant, for we should always offer praise to God before we spread out our petitions before Him.

Public speaking, v5

God has chosen to work out His electing purpose through the vehicle of gospel preaching by His people. It is through the preaching of the gospel that those chosen before the foundation of the world, are to be called to salvation, 1Cor.1.21, and therefore it is vitally important to learn the qualities demanded of preachers. A personal commitment is essential, seen in the description by Paul of ‘our Gospel.’ This good news they preached meant something to them personally as they themselves had wholeheartedly embraced the message and in so doing received eternal life. To preach the gospel effectively it must mean everything to us: we have to make it our own before we can give it to anyone else. Vocal expression is seen in the expression ‘in word only’. The message came in the form of words, not mere acting or entertainment. They had a spiritual conviction, brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit, for the word came ‘also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.’ When preaching the gospel we should be 100% sure that what we are saying is absolute truth. Their flawless character is suggested in the phrase, ‘what manner of men we were among you.’ If we are going to preach about the righteousness of God, our lives should in some measure reflect that righteousness. Our lives must be consistent with the message that we declare. They had a selfless attitude, preaching ‘for your sakes’. In other words they did everything for the sake of the Thessalonians, and not for their own gain. In preaching we must always have the interests of our hearers at heart rather than our own.

Model making, v6-7

If preaching is God’s means of spreading the gospel, Christian example ensures the continuation of Christian character down through the centuries. The Thessalonians went from being mimics to being models. They were ‘followers,’ mimetai, in v6, from which we get mimics. They imitated both the missionaries and the Lord in the sense of experiencing deep-rooted joy despite suffering, ‘having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.’ The missionaries experienced simultaneous joy and suffering, Acts 16.22-25, and so did the Lord, Heb.12.2. This has been referred to as ‘the perennial Christian paradox’, joy in the midst of affliction. Having been mimics, they subsequently became models, v7, from being imitators they themselves became a shining example for others to follow. This is how Christianity is to continue down through the ages until the return of the Lord.

Trumpet blowing, v8

‘Sounded out,’ describes the volume of Christian testimony. This does not refer to their preaching, so much as what others said concerning them, since the verb ‘sounded out’ is passive, and v8 notes that ‘in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad.’ Moreover, in v9, ‘they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you.’ Thessalonica was strategically placed to be a centre for Christian witness and news of the conversion of the Thessalonians may even have reached Rome itself, Acts 18.1, 2. Perhaps Aquilla and Priscilla who had just come from Rome to Corinth where Paul was writing the letter, had told Paul of all that they had heard with regard to the church at Thessalonica whilst in Rome. I know of one young believer who was converted whilst at university. On his holidays when back at home he went to his old school to tell his teachers that he had become a Christian. They replied that they had already heard! The fact that he had got saved boomed out and spread quickly. We should ask ourselves, how many people know about our belief in Christ?

Life saving, v9-10

They were saved from the coming wrath of the great tribulation. Believers will not go through this, because we are not waiting for wrath but for the Lord Jesus who will take us away before it comes. They had commenced three new activities, which summarise the Christian life. Firstly, they were worshipping, having ‘turned to God from idols,’ and they now had a new affection in their hearts. ‘Ye turned’ translates epestrepsate, which means to turn around physically, Mk.5.30; so spiritually it denotes the turning that had altered the course of these idolaters’ lives so that they were now moving in the opposite direction from which they had been going. This language indicates that most were Gentiles, not Jews or proselytes, and suggests a ministry in Thessalonica directed to the pagan population, one that may have extended beyond the three weeks of Acts 17. Secondly, they were working with a new ambition, ‘to serve the living and true God.’ The Christian life is one of serving the living God as opposed to dead idols, the true God in contrast to the counterfeit gods of idolatry. Thirdly, they were waiting with a new anticipation, ‘for His Son from heaven.’ Their eagerness and expectancy suggests a readiness to meet the Lord, which should characterise each one of us in our daily lives.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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Eternal Security

by D. Richards (Canada)

Paper 1

The subject of the eternal security of the believer is one that seriously divides the people of God. On both sides believers sincerely claim to be guarding the truth of God. On the one hand, those who believe that it is possible to lose one’s salvation, teach that the doctrine of eternal security is an excuse for believers to continue a life of sin. On the other hand, those who believe in eternal security, teach that to deny the eternal security of the believer takes away from the value of the work of Christ and elevates the flesh. Which is correct? This is not a doctrine that we can discard as being of little importance. It is vital that we have a right understanding of what the Bible teaches on this subject.

That there are verses in the Bible that seem to support both points of view is undeniable. But, clearly, both viewpoints cannot be correct. The Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, and is totally devoid of contradictions. There are things in the Bible which we will never understand, after all, the Author of the Bible is an infinite Being. It has often been stated that, what is not clear is not vital, and what is vital is clear. So we should be able to resolve this particular difference of opinion.

The author of these papers will seek to look at a number of verses of Scripture that are used as material by both sides of the argument. Whichever viewpoint one takes, it is necessary to answer questions that arise from verses that appear to teach the opposite view.

From the outset the present author will state that his own conviction on this vital subject is that the moment a person trusts Christ as Saviour that person is eternally saved. We will approach this subject from this perspective, first of all looking at a number of verses and passages that clearly teach the eternal security of the believer. Then we will look at such verses and passages that, on the surface, appear to teach otherwise.

Jn.5.24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth [on] Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

First of all I will explain why I put the word “on” in square brackets. It does not represent a word in the original Greek text. We believe God, but we are not asked to believe on God. The object of our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps, before we look at the text we should look at what the Bible means by “believing”. Believing, in Bible terms, is not merely giving a mental assent to historical facts. Rather, it is a matter of putting one’s whole confidence in those facts. By way of a very simple illustration, in Bible terms I do not believe in a chair while I stand beside it saying “I believe that that chair can support my weight.” I believe in the chair when I sit on it, depending upon it to support my weight. In the text at the beginning of this paragraph the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says that the one who believes God “hath everlasting life.” That is, everlasting life is not something to hope to possess in the future, but something that is presently possessed by all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then He states that such believers “shall not come into condemnation (judgment).” All who have believed God, not only possess everlasting life in the present, but, as far as the future is concerned, they shall not come into judgment. You will notice that the Lord Jesus does not add any conditions, other than that of believing. He says nothing about being baptized (although this is desirable), nor does He say that we must hold on with all our might. It is simply a matter of believing what God says, firstly about ourselves (that we are sinners), and secondly, about his Son (that He died to provide salvation for us).

Jn.10.27-30 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

Once again, these are the words of the Lord Jesus Himself. First of all we must identify who are His sheep. In this chapter it is clear that in verse 26 (not quoted) the Lord is addressing the Jews, and He says to them, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep...”. So His sheep are those who believe. He says of such, “My sheep hear My voice.... and they follow Me.” Many will insist that following the Lord is essential to being one of His sheep. But, do sheep become the property of a shepherd by following him? Surely, if a sheep strayed from a flock, and began following another shepherd this would not constitute it one of the latter’s sheep. In actual fact the sheep do not follow the shepherd to become his sheep, but because they are his sheep. Following the shepherd is not the cause of them being his sheep, but rather, the consequence. Notice now what the Lord says in relation to His sheep, “I give unto them eternal life...”. This corresponds with what we saw in John 5: 24. But the Lord proceeds to say, “..and they shall never perish...”. Nothing can be clearer than this. As far as the present is concerned they have eternal life. As to the future, “they shall never perish.” Then He adds, “… neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” Those who are His sheep are in the double hand clasp of the God who brought the universe into existence, and upholds all things by the word of His power.

Rom.5.1,2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

The first clause of these wonderful verses, “Therefore being [literally “having been”] justified by faith”, speaks of a past experience. The tense of the original Greek implies an act complete in itself, settled and unalterable. The next clause, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”, expresses the result of having been justified by faith, and speaks of our present experience. The result of having been justified by faith is that now we have peace with God. Peace with God is not dependant upon our condition as Christians, but purely and simply upon the fact that there was a time in our lives when we were justified by faith. Added to this Paul says, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand …” The verb “access” is in the perfect tense. This expresses a past act with continuing results, so that the verse could read, “By whom we have had, and continue to have access by faith …” Our standing before God in grace is dependant solely upon that moment when we were justified by faith. But notice now the last part of verse 2, “and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “Hope” in the Bible is always something certain, but it is future, so that this clause could read, “and rejoice in prospect of the glory of God.” Notice here that there is no element of uncertainty! Why did Paul have such confidence that we can “rejoice in prospect of the glory of God”? Simply because we have been justified by faith. That one act of faith not only gives present peace with God, but also settles our future destination.

—to be continued (D.V.)

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MY CONVERSION AND CALL (93)

by George Orr (Brazil)

I was born in Dublin on the 27th of December 1918, the eldest of seven, and I dare not forbear to mention the prayers of parents and the Christian atmosphere with which I was surrounded. One Lord’s day in my early babyhood, a missionary brother from India came to our home for a meal after the breaking of bread in Merrion Hall. He was the saintly Mr. Handley Bird and I am told how he took me in his arms in prayer and asked the Lord for my salvation and that I might become a missionary.

When I was 6 years old, someone well meaning and with a care for my soul, got me to sign a paper confessing my sins and accepting salvation. I did it to please, but it wasn’t from the heart and I knew I wasn’t saved. I started work at 14, at a tea agent’s office. Here I found myself in the company of Christians that tried to force me or embarrass me into salvation, but because I was shy, I didn’t like to be cornered, so I became a resentful and rebellious teenager. I reached 17 years of age still on the broad way that leads to destruction, but God was merciful and on the memorable night of the 23rd of April 1936, I was at a Gospel meeting, having been invited in such a gracious manner by an elder in the assembly, Mr. Percy Jones, that I just could not have refused.

Mr. Harold Wildish of Jamaica was preaching from Exodus chapter 2, on Moses the child condemned to die but whom the King’s daughter saved. It was while he was speaking that I had personal dealings with God. I recognised myself as a sinner and pleaded with Him to look upon the cross in lieu of my sin. What a momentous moment to see oneself included in the work, one’s sins covered by the death of Christ on the cross.

Everything was changed as to outlook, I started attending all the meetings of the assembly and after some time, I was baptised and received into fellowship. I became involved with the activities of the assembly and I can remember the day when, with trembling knees, I stood on a platform for the first time.

God in His own way brought me to ponder Brazil and His work there. The believers in Merrion Hall had a missionary study class and prayer meeting, where they would read up and present the characteristics of various countries, the work of God there, the missionaries and the problems they faced and would pray for them, and sometimes we would have missionaries giving reports.

During this time I re-read “Adventures with the Bible in Brazil” by Fred Glass, that I had got years before in Sunday School. The book described rural Brazil, didn’t say anything about the big cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which we would come to know some years later.

I started corresponding with a missionary from Brazil living in England, wanting to know more about the country and the work there; and I began to feel I should go and help in the work. Then in 1939, the 2nd World War started and all civilian travelling stopped. But during the war, the idea didn’t leave me and was the subject of much thought and prayer.

At the end of 1941, my attention was drawn to a young lady and after much prayer and consideration, I arranged to go for a short walk with her. I wanted to be sure it was of the Lord and that she would also have a desire of serving the Lord wherever He would lead, so one of the first things I said to her was: “Did you ever have thoughts of the mission field?” Having established that we had that in common, by the time we returned to her house we were as good as engaged! Martha and I were married in Merrion Hall on the 4th of April 1944 and she has been a delightfully precious helper and is loved by all the Brazilian believers.

The war was still on and they were times when people had just about enough to eat since everything was rationed, and I started thinking that God could maybe have kept me in Brazil, but could He keep me and my wife also? I continued praying and seeking God’s guidance.

The war finished in May 1945 and after a while the ships started leaving our shores once more, for distant lands. While still seeking confirmation as to the will of God for us, one night in a ministry meeting, the preacher, the late Mr. J. B. Watson, an editor of the now defunct magazine, “The Witness,” read from Jeremiah chapter 1, and the words that caught my attention were: THOU SHALT GO, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.”

Early in 1947 we had a never-to-be-forgotten spiritual experience, when we sat daily for three weeks in North Wales under the teaching of the late Mr. W. E. Vine and Mr. Harold St. John. The latter went first to Argentina and then spent some six years in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a mighty teacher of the word and a lovely Christian gentleman. Those were weeks of great spiritual enrichment for us, and a lot was learned which stood us in very good stead over the years.

I spoke to the brethren about our exercise and they were happy to give us their full support and commendation to the work of the Lord. So arrangements were made, tickets bought and on the 18th of October 1947 we said goodbye to friends and family and left for Brazil, with a certain fear and conscious of our weakness, but trusting in the Lord. He has never let us down!

We arrived in Brazil on the 5th of November 1947, with a two-year-old son Stanley, little money in our pockets, knowing nobody in the land and not speaking the Portuguese language.

It was suggested that we leave the trunks with most of our luggage, stored in a Gospel hall and stay with an English missionary, Mr. Hollywell, that we hadn’t met before. Some weeks later there was a flood that destroyed much of our luggage, including our books. Mr. Hollywell helped us during those first few days until we found a place in which to live. He was a busy man for he knew his time of service was coming to an end. He died six months later of cancer.

Once we learned enough of the language to be able to communicate with the people, it was a great privilege to tell them the good news of God’s love, of the death of His Son and salvation available to all.

Most of our years in Brazil were spent in the states of Sao Paulo and Paraná, but on many occasions we travelled to other parts of the country, from the North, on the banks of the Amazon, to the South in the Rio Grande do Sul, to help in the work and to have fellowship with God’s people.

God has been good, He blessed us with a further six children and accompanied us each step of the way. What we have done for Him is not for me to say; all has been taken note of by the One that is able to evaluate what has been of gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and stubble.

In the past few years, due to health problems linked with advancing years and my wife having to go through some operations, we haven’t been able to go back to Brazil, but we still keep in touch, and still pray for the work, the workers and the friends we made.

At the beginning of August 2004, I had to have a heart pace-maker installed, and as I was going in to the theatre I told those that were there: “If anything goes wrong, don’t worry, my ticket to heaven has already been paid for!”

How little it is what we do for Him, when we think of what He has done for us!

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Good Tidings from Heaven

“BUILDING PROJECT”

It seems as if houses are being built on every possible site — in rural areas, between existing houses, in large gardens — anywhere where permission can be obtained! Sometimes it is a one-off house, while others build estates of houses. The builders vary in size from one-man businesses to multinational concerns. The materials differ also. Some are brick; others block; some are timber framed; some have PVC window frames; others have wooden frames. The possible variations are almost innumerable.

There is one building project that is going on silently. Men have little idea that it is happening. The building when finished will be immense. The expense has been tremendous. Yet the materials used are very poor. They are the very worst possible!

Jesus Christ, God’s Son said, “I will build my church,” Matthew 16v18. This building commenced on the day of Pentecost as taught in Acts chapter 2. That was about the year AD33. This project has been ongoing since then. Peter states, “Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1Peter 2v5. This structure is being built of people who are called “living stones”. They rest exclusively on Christ who is the Living Stone. Multitudes have been built in already and the building will soon reach completion.

Such an immense structure must have a tremendous foundation, and so it has! 1Corinthians 3v11 “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 2v20, “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone”. The Person of the eternal Son of God and His redemptive work upon Calvary’s cross is the only basis upon which this edifice can be built. No human effort, no religion, no attendance upon religious devotions, no zeal on the part of man can ever be the foundation upon which this can be built. His precious blood is the only price, nothing else will do. He only is the rock and to build on anything else is foolishness. Matthew 7v24-27, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Edward Mote wrote, “On Christ, the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

The material used is found in sin’s quarry. Paul went into the city of Corinth and began to work for God. Soon souls were saved and added, by God, as living stones. Were they the nice, respectable, good-living folk of the city? Here is how he described them, “… Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1Corinthians 6v9-11.

Dear reader, what God did for them He can do for you if you will repent and trust His Son who died for sinners upon the cross of Calvary.

We wait the completion of the building and then Christ will come and take it to be forever with Himself in the glory of heaven. Will you be ready when He comes?

On Christ salvation rests secure; The Rock of Ages must endure;
Nor can that faith be overthrown, Which rests upon the “Living Stone”.
 

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SEVEN GREAT DESIRES

that I might ...

have some fruit among you, Rom.1.3
shew my power in thee, Rom.9.17
gain the more, 1Cor.9.19
be partaker (for the gospel), 1Cor.9.23
know the proof of you, 2Cor.2.9
preach Him among the heathen, Gal.1.16
live unto God, Gal.2.19

by H. A. Barnes (England)


PRACTICAL TRUTH ‘in Christ Jesus’

faith in Christ Jesus, Col.1.4
ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, Gal.3.26
the faith which is in Christ Jesus, 1Tim.3.13
in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel, 1Cor.4.15
this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, Phil.2.5
we … rejoice in Christ Jesus, Phil.3.3
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus, Phil.4.21
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, Col.1.28
Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus, Rom.16.3
give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, 1Thess.5.18
all that will give godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, 2Tim.3.12

by H. A. Barnes (England)


Life is a brief spell of time in which we make choice where we are to spend eternity.

— Jim Campbell


The Garments of Jesus

by A. E. Pryke (England)

Into that body, fashioned
By God the Spirit's power,
He stooped in lowly splendour,
When dawned the settled hour.         Gal. 4.4

In swaddling clothes men found Him,
Fit token of that grace
That found no way too lowly,
With us to find a place.                     Luke 2.12

To all appearance helpless,
There in a manger laid,
Yet still the glorious First-born
By Whom the worlds were made.

So through those years of service,
His garments gave no sign
Of His essential glory,
And dignity divine.                         John 1.33

Yet faith in touching only
His mean robe's lowest hem,
Procured the power of Godhead,
That mortal flow to stem.                 Luke 7.44

And once a glimpse was given,
Upon the mountain's height,
Of glory's coming dawning,
In dazzling, holy light.                     Luke 9

His garment's lustrous whiteness
Proclaimed Him spotless King,
Fit ruler of God's kingdom
When He shall glory bring.

But e'er that glad day's coming,
His heart must feel the sting
Of Herod's bitter scorning,
As he mocks Him as king.                 Luke 23.11

In gorgeous robe he clothes Him,
To shame His innocence —
For none could justly question,
Or charge Him with offence.

Returned to Pilate's judgment,
His soldiers join the scorn —
They clothe Him in the scarlet,
And deck His brow with thorn.             Matt.27.28
In mocking adoration,
They speak His rightful place —
Yet only to disown it,
And spit upon His face.

And last, they gamble, heartless,
Beneath the cruel tree —
His seamless robe their object,
Lest it should rended be.                 John 19.24

’Tis past! His shame is ended,
Clean linen must adorn
That scarrèd, wounded body
Till resurrection's morn.                     John 19.40

And when that glad day's dawning
Arrives with morning light,
The clothes are found in order —
Put off without a fight.                     John 20.6-7

Laid by love's final tribute
To Jesu's spotless name,
Exchanged for glory's splendour,
And everlasting fame.


15 THINGS THAT ARE ‘FOR US’

God is for us, Rom.8.31
God delivered up His own Son for us, Rom.8.32
Christ died for us, Rom.5.8, 1Thess.5.10
Christ gave Himself for us, Eph.5.2, Tit.2.14
Christ suffered for us, 1Pet.2.21, 4.1
Christ laid down His life for us, 1Jn.3.16
Christ was sacrificed for us, 1Cor.5.7
Christ was made to be sin for us, 2Cor.5.21
Christ became a curse for us, Gal.3.13
Christ makes intercession for us, Rom.8.34
Jesus the forerunner entered is for us, Heb.6.20
He appears in the presence of God for us, Heb.9.24
The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, Rom.8.26
The Scriptures were written for us, Rom.4.24
A new, living way opened for us, Heb.10.20

by H. A. Barnes (England)


Cast Down — But Not Destroyed — 2Cor.4.9

J.V. Paterson, Scotland

What dreaded hours of winter time, the miss of fellowship sublime,
The longing, for that loving touch, that helped and soothed and shared so much,
Death’s cruel blow we could not stay, that took our dearly loved away.

In trying oft to ease this pain, one finds oneself down memory lane,
So many are these sweet recalls of happy days, and holy days, and all,
But oh, the pangs, in this reflection, and comfort fails in this direction.

Nothing it seems can fill this aching void that tortures heart and mind in this dark cloud,
Remembrances recall the past and joys that cannot time outlast,
They are but passing, time will run its course, cruel death to intervene, fruit of the curse.

Thus so it is our loved ones take their leave in different ways their passage to the grave,
We do not understand nor bow to scrutiny, the ways of God in His own Sovereignty,
But trustful just to leave in His wise care those whom He gave us, while down here.

And so the precious links on earth are broken and memory treasures words oft spoken,
Thus it must be our lot down here to sorrow, while faith looks on to that bright morrow,
Where sin and death and sighing are no more, in that blest place on Heaven’s eternal shore.

God gives the grace to die, and gives His grace to live, in rich supply,
Sufficient grace in all our need and in this grace along life’s path He’ll lead,
Forgive our selfish thought that would withhold from Thee, Thy loved and bought.

“I have redeemed thee thou art Mine”, purchased possession, they are Thine,
Fruit of Thy work upon the cross of shame, they gladly lived on earth to bear Thy Name,
And from the garden of their saintly bloom the choicest roses Thou dost pick for home.

They are far better now than ever they have been, “with Christ”, and on His breast to lean
In sweet repose beyond all anxious care, how blest our loved ones, happy there,
And what of us, left here with something yet to do, then do it, ‘til He comes for you.

Or ‘til death’s waters roll around us too, and we take our farewell, and bid adieu,
So work for Him while ’tis today, what He has planned for us will come our way,
He calms the storms and He wants us to know, no cruel wave our barks shall overflow.

We are but victims of sin’s awful doom, in death, the grave, and in the tomb,
Outcome of Adam’s sinful fall the book of Genesis recall, “dying thou shalt die”,
And dust to dust again return and in the streets the mourners mourn.

No hope some say, they know not God nor are acquainted with His Word,
For such in Adam, God did send His Son, to cross, to death and to the tomb,
But now He’s risen, up from the grave, in Christ alone is power to save.

We trust Him, love Him, wait His coming soon, at midnight, morning, or at noon,
We too shall look upon His face and marvel at the bounty of His grace,
We all together with our loved ones there, breathe in eternally that fresh and heavenly air.

With no more tears, or pain or sea the former things are passed away,
Forever, can we take it in, no more to sorrow, sigh, or ere again to sin,
Occupied with Him to be adored, enjoy the wondrous beauty of our Lord.

With Him what shall it be, constant unfolding throughout eternity,
His servants serve and see His face so radiant in that holy place,
This is our hope that lifts the drooping spirit up, and sweetens every drop of bitter cup.

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