July/August 2008

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Contents

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

THE TRUTH OF GATHERING TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
by I. W. Gibson

MEDITATIONS IN ISAIAH 9.6
by J. M. Flanigan

CHILDREN'S WORK
by R. Plant

PSALM 110
by C. Jones

BENAIAH - 1 CHRONICLES 11.10-25
by M. Minnaar

AN ARROW FROM THE QUIVER OF GOD
Author unknown

GOOD TIDINGS FROM HEAVEN

 


 

 

Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

DEUTERONOMY

34) “Thou shalt REMEMBER THAT THOU WAST A BONDMAN IN EGYPT”

Read Chapter 24.6-22

In our previous study, we suggested that this chapter, with its emphasis on protection, may be divided as follows

1. protecting married women, vv.1-4;
2. protecting early marriage, v5;
3. protecting the household, v6;
4. protecting personal liberty, v7;
5. protecting public health, vv.8-9;
6. protecting personal feelings, vv.10-11;
7. protecting personal comfort, vv.12-13;
8. protecting employees’ rights, vv.14-15;
9. protecting innocent people, v.16;
10. protecting disadvantaged people, vv.17-22.
1. PROTECTING MARRIED WOMEN, vv.1-4

We have already noted that the Lord Jesus explained the necessity for this provision in saying, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts (the hearts of the men), suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so,” Matt.19.8.

2. PROTECTING EARLY MARRIAGE, v.5

The hard-hearted man above gives place in the chapter to the ardent suitor, who makes it his business “to cheer up his wife which he hath taken.” Infinitely better! We must now proceed to the rest of this absorbing chapter:

3. PROTECTING THE HOUSEHOLD, v.6

“No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.” This provision, together with those in vv.10-13,17, deals with the welfare of people in debt. In this particular case, the lender was prohibited from taking “the handmill or the upper millstone” (JND) as security for the loan. The reason is clear: this household equipment was essential “for grinding the corn each day, and without them any family could be in serious difficulties; a woman in debt would not be able to prepare the most basic food for her already deprived children” (Raymond Brown). The hard-hearted husband at the beginning of the chapter evidently had a hard-hearted relative in the financial world who demanded collateral. It is not unknown for even the Lord’s people to cause mayhem by insisting on what they call “their rights”, however technically correct, to the exclusion of kindness and consideration for others. We have a case in Neh.5. 1Cor.6.1-8 should also be read in this connection.

4. PROTECTING PERSONAL LIBERTY, v.7

“If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.” Without, for one moment, forgetting the clear indictment of slavery and “people-trafficking” (God’s Word is always up to date), it is worth noting that the New Testament warns against the spiritual counterpart of this practice. C. A. Coates puts it like this: “Men-stealers had been at work both in Galatia and at Corinth; self was their object, not Christ nor the good of the brethren.” See, for example, 2 Cor.11.19-20, “For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise (ironical). For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you (if any one get [your money], JND), if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” As C. A. Coates points out, “Paul warned the elders of Ephesus, where there was the greatest light, that “from among your own selves shall rise up men speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” That would really be stealing the brethren. Teaching brethren ‘amongst us’ must studiously avoid recruiting followers, but it has to be said that, sadly, there are believers who accept everything some Bible teachers say without even thinking about their pronouncements. We all need “good Berean blood” in our veins! Acts 17.11.

5. PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH, vv.8-9

It was of the utmost importance to scrupulously observe the regulations regarding the isolation and readmission to society of men and women suffering from leprosy. The “law of leprosy,” Lev.14.57, is spelt out in detail in Lev.chs.13-14. Failure to abide by these instructions could result in the rapid spread of this contagious disease in the community. For this reason, a leprous man was “to dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be,” Lev.13.46. In the simplest of terms, the well-being of God’s people rested on their obedience to His word: “Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so shall ye observe to do.” (Now read Heb.13.17). We should also notice that the priests (who “served as local medical officers of health,” Raymond Brown) acted in strict accordance with the Word of God. They were not free to act on their own initiative, or to introduce alternative ways of dealing with the disease. It was certainly a case of “Thus saith the Lord”: “as I commanded them, so shall ye observe to do.”

It has often been pointed out that leprosy is a vivid illustration of sin. Both are highly infectious, and for that reason sin in the assembly must be dealt with thoroughly, though always with a view to the repentance and restoration of the guilty party. The testimony at Corinth had become besmirched by the conduct of one of the believers in the assembly, with the danger that the evil could spread. See 1Cor.5.6.

The instructions in relation to leprosy are accompanied by a solemn warning: “Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth from Egypt.” See Num. ch.12. Miriam was stricken with leprosy because she did not accept the authority of Moses, and failure to recognise the God-given authority of “the priests the Levites” would not go unpunished. The warning could not have been expressed in a more appropriate way: “Miriam became leprous, white as snow,” Num.12.10.

6. PROTECTING PERSONAL FEELINGS, vv.10-11

These verses deal with the collection of pledges (security) against a loan. “When thou dost lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to secure his pledge. Thou shalt stand outside, and the man to whom thou hast made a loan shall bring out the pledge to thee without” (JND). Raymond Brown deals with this splendidly: “The Lord was concerned with the deprived man’s feelings as well as his poverty. It was difficult enough for him to cope with his financial problems; there was no reason why he should also be exposed to unnecessary emotional strain … That someone should enter his poor home in order to take away his few remaining possessions would be a degrading act, and God promulgated a law which prohibited such a thoughtless action.” This highlights the need for thoughtfulness in our dealings with each other. Sometimes we just do not think about what we are saying and doing, with consequent hurt and distress for others. We must pay good attention to the exhortation, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another (‘shewing grace to one another’, JND margin), even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (‘shewn grace to you’, JND margin),” Eph.4.32. This leads to:

7. PROTECTING PERSONAL COMFORT, vv.12-13

C. A. Coates puts it nicely: “Our brother’s comfort is to be more to us than our own interest. … And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God.” Coates continues: “But someone will say, What about righteousness? Well, if your brother blesses you, that is better than having his pledge or your money!” We can say that in showing such mercy and consideration, the lender is laying up for himself “treasures in heaven,” Matt.6.20.

Cain asked the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gen.4.9. The Scriptures make it clear that we do have a responsibility for each other’s welfare. Paul draws attention to the anatomical wisdom of God in saying, “God hath tempered the body together … that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another,” and then makes the analogy, “Now are ye the body of Christ, and members in particular,” 1Cor.12.24-27.

8. PROTECTING EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS, vv.14-15

In the previous statute, the poor man blesses his creditor for his thoughtfulness, v.13, but here the poor employee cried to God against his oppressive employer. “Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor … At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon him; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.” Compare Mal.3.5, and Jms.5.4, “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.” Ps.34.15-16 reminds us that “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” In Col.4.1, Paul addresses Christian employers: “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” It is imperative that believers, whether employers or employees, should “give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully,” 1Tim.5.14. There is no injustice in the Lord’s harvest field! He will amply repay! See Jn.4.36, “He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.”

9. PROTECTING INNOCENT PEOPLE, v.16

“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” Compare Num.35.33; Jer.31.29-30; Ezek.18.20. Amaziah certainly obeyed this clear command: “He slew his servants which had slain the king his father. But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses … the fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin,” 2Kgs.14.5-6. Blood feuds and vindictive reprisals, common-place amongst Israel’s neighbours (and increasingly common-place today) were not to take place amongst God’s people under any circumstances.

Without pressing the point too far, it is not unknown for a believer to be “put to death” because they are associated with an assembly which does not meet some people’s criteria, and it is not unknown for an assembly to be “put to death” because a believer is in fellowship there who does not attract some people’s approval. It has been said “be careful about building gallows for other people, because you might be hanged on them yourself!” See Esther 7.10.

10. PROTECTING DISADVANTAGED PEOPLE, vv.17-22

These verses deal with the welfare of the “stranger … the fatherless … the widow,” vv.17,19,21. These were all deprived members of Israel’s society and their needs — justice, v.17, clothing, v.17 and food, vv.19-21 — were to be addressed with particular care. Offences against them are roundly condemned by the prophets. See, for example, Isa.1.23; 10.2. This reminds us that the local assembly should be a community of caring people. Amongst other things, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” Jms.1.27.

It is noteworthy that in this passage, the Lord reminds His people on two occasions of their deliverance from Egypt vv.18,22. “Only a few decades earlier … when they were utterly without freedom, security and protection, God came to their help, and intervened as their Saviour and Deliverer. Now they must act mercifully and generously towards others” (Raymond Brown). As redeemed people we must not be so self-indulgent that we garner every sheaf, v.19, strip every bough, v.20, and clutch every grape, v.21. The Lord Jesus “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again,” 2 Cor.5.15, and this will be displayed, amongst other ways, in genuine concern shown by provision for fellow-believers.

-to be continued (D.V.) 

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The Truth of Gathering to the Lord Jesus Christ

By Ian W. Gibson (Winnipeg, Canada)

PAPER 6

The Truth of Gathering in Prospect — 2 Thessalonians 2v1 In this verse, Paul points us forward to the day when the Church in its entirety will finally be gathered around the Lord Jesus Christ, when He comes again; “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.” What a tremendous prospect that is for the Church, when the Lord Himself descends out of heaven to the air, the dead in Christ are raised, and together with those alive He will draw every child of God to Himself, to gather His own, together unto Himself. He will then be the unrivalled object of our affections, as we gather eternally to Himself in changed and glorified bodies, fitted for the glory of heaven.

The New Testament Greek word for “gathering together unto” in this verse (episunagoge, from which is derived the word synagogue), in the noun form, it is found in the New Testament only here and in Heb.10.25, “Not forsaking the assembling (i.e. the gathering) of ourselves together as the manner of some it is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We must all, as individuals, be greatly exercised and influenced by the knowledge that at every gathering of the assembly He is in our midst. Such a truth should mean that we will be exercised about our attendance at the gatherings of the local assembly, and not neglect them since Christ is there. Every gathering is another blessed opportunity and immense privilege to be in His presence, to be where He is, and He is the One who is so worthy of our presence.

There will be times when duties of employment and family, legitimately prevent perfect attendance, but the bent and habit of our lives should be organised around our attendance at the gatherings of the saints. The saints should be able to depend upon our consistent presence; they should be surprised when we are not there, rather than be surprised when we attend. When perhaps you get home from work late on a weeknight, exhausted from a busy day of work, and there is the assembly prayer meeting and bible study to attend, the truth of gathering to Christ in the midst should be the deciding factor in our decision.

This word for “gathering together unto” is also found in other New Testament Scriptures in the verb form; the first such reference is in Matt.23.37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wing, and ye would not.” The Lord is weeping over the city, for it had been His great desire to gather them together unto Himself, and yet they would not receive Him, they would not have Him, and we see how it broke the heart of Christ. He laments for those who would not gather to Himself. So in the assembly, He desires so much to have His own gathered unto Himself, and to be enjoying our presence with Him. What sadness it must therefore bring to His heart, when believers have little interest in the gatherings of the assembly, and little interest in gathering unto Himself.
And we can miss so very much spiritual blessing and encouragement when we absent ourselves from the gatherings. In Jn.20, Thomas was not with the other disciples the first time the Lord appeared in their midst; Jn.20.24 “Thomas … was not with them when Jesus came.” He missed out on tremendous blessing, seeing the risen Christ, and even receiving the Holy Spirit when the Lord had breathed upon the other disciples. Who can know what blessing we are missing, if we are not in attendance where Christ is?

So then, the future prospect of gathering to Him in the air in a coming day becomes the great motivating principle for assembling ourselves together, to gather around His Person today in the gatherings of the assembly. Just as the Lord will be the gathering centre of the raptured Church when He comes, so He is today the gathering centre for us in the assembly. We all long for that gathering in the air. There is no believer who does not want not to meet Him in the air and so to be gathered around our Saviour; and no true believer will miss that gathering. But really, the true measure of how much we feel that, and how much we long for that future prospect of gathering to Him, will only be shown today by how greatly we desire to gather today around His Person in the gatherings of the assembly. Thus Paul is beseeching the Thessalonians, “by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.”
We have a little preview of this wonderful prospect of gathering around Christ in heaven in Rev.5, where we see Christ as the freshly slain Lamb in the midst of heaven’s throne, and He is the centre of all praise and worship. He alone is worthy and able to take the seven-sealed scroll from the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne. It is because of His finished work on Calvary’s cross, when by the shedding of His precious blood, He eternally satisfied God. Thus He has the right to take this book, the very title deeds of the universe, He has every legal, moral and divine right to reclaim it all for God, to redeem His purchased possession.

The rest of Rev.5 details that tremendous, unprecedented response of praise and worship of the Lamb, God’s Son. Beginning with the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders, they fall down and worship before the Lamb in the midst of the throne. Then, there is that innumerable company of angels surrounding heaven’s throne, all saying with a loud voice “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and blessing,” Rev.5.12. Then, it is every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, all similarly praising and worshipping Christ, all “fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever,” Rev.5.14. Truly no tongue can be silent, Christ is the centre of all worship, He receives that which is His right, and indeed the very opposite of what He received from men when He first came to this earth.
We might well read such a chapter as Rev.5, and wonder “what will it be like, to be there and to take part in that.” Well, every believer in Christ will surely be there to participate. But let us remember, what God is purposing for His Son in heaven in a future day, He is already accomplishing in measure today, in local companies of believers, who gather around Christ on the first day of the week, to worship and praise and adore the freshly slain Lamb. In our remembrance of Christ, He must be the centre of all our worship. What is it that occupies our thoughts on a Sunday morning? Of course, we are truly thankful He has saved us, and it is absolutely right to give God thanks for it. But we need to get beyond ourselves, such that Christ alone is the centre of our worship, and we gather to remember Him, and to speak to God about the worth and beauty and glories of His dear Son.
In conclusion, we must ask ourselves, what is the assembly all about? Why do we attend the local assembly? How do we decide where our allegiance belongs? Do we gather just to be with the other Christians? The saints are always a blessing, we can enjoy their fellowship and help and encouragement, but the assembly is not to be just like a Christian social club. It is not primarily the people we gather with, but it is specifically the blessed Person we gather to, the risen Lord Jesus. We must all grasp this truth: the local assembly is all about Christ and it is all for Christ. The last recorded gathering in New Testament Scripture is Laodicea, and it serves as a dire warning, because at Laodicea the door was shut, but with Christ outside the door, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Rev.3.20. That is the general trend of this world’s religion, keeping Christ outside, and it is all heading up towards that coming Babylon system of Christ-less religion.

The assembly must be distinctive, with Christ at the centre of every local assembly, the centre of His gathered people. If this does not motivate us, it is possible that assembly life will become familiar and routine and ultimately arduous. But the truth of gathering with the risen Christ in the midst will never be arduous. Do we believe it? Of course we do. But may the Lord exercise our hearts before Him, so that we always value it, treasure it, and act in accordance with it.

—concluded

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Meditations in Isaiah 9.6

by James M. Flanigan (N. Ireland)

PAPER 6 — THE MIGHTY GOD

It is difficult to understand how anyone can read this verse with its clear references to Messiah, and then deny the Deity of Christ. There is no doubt whatever that the verse predicts Messiah, the Child born and the Son given, whose Name is called Wonderful, and who will one day carry the government of the universe. Yet in the clearest of terms the same Messiah is now called “The Mighty God.” El gibbor says the Jew in his lovely Hebrew tongue, gibbor meaning strong; mighty; powerful; valiant; and El being a Name of God which again implies “The Almighty”.

If confirmation of our Lord’s Deity was needed, this is one of eight occasions where the Lord Jesus is directly called God. For those who wish to pursue the other references they are, Matt.1.23; Jn.1.1; 20.28; Rom.9.5; Tit.2.13; Heb.1.8; 1Jn.5.20.

However, it is instructive to see that during the days of His ministry here on earth the Saviour wore divine titles, exercised divine attributes and accepted divine honours. These were titles, attributes and honours which belonged exclusively to Deity and an observance of these must surely convince any honest mind that the Man of Galilee was indeed God.

1. He Wears Divine Titles

Even before His miraculous birth the Saviour was called “Emmanuel” meaning “God with us”. In an earlier paper we have seen that our Lord was, in an unique way, the Son of God, the Son of the Father. Even the proud Jews recognised that His claim to such unique Sonship was a claim to equality with God, Jn.5.18. It was indeed a claim to Deity. He Himself used the great title “I am” many times, recorded especially in John’s Gospel. Perhaps it may be said that the title was concealed within other phrases but it is appreciated clearly by those who love Him that when He said, “I am the door, I am the bread of life, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the way,” that He was, in these and other similarly worded expressions, using the great “I am” title of Godhood. Several times in the Book of Revelation He is referred to as the “Alpha and Omega,” the beginning and the ending. It will be obvious from other occurrences of this same expression in Revelation that this is a title of Deity and our Lord Jesus wears this divine title with glory.

2. He Exercises Divine Attributes

It is all but impossible to count the many miracles that Jesus did while here among men. Perhaps some thirty or thirty-five miracles may be identified but there are so many many occasions where the multitudes came to Him and it is simply recorded that “He healed them all,” Matt.12.15. How many? We cannot tell. But what a variety of miracles He wrought.
His earliest miracle was in Cana of Galilee where He made the water wine. Again, early in His ministry He touched a man full of leprosy and healed him immediately. Sometimes, as in the case of the leper and the blind, He touched men. Sometimes others touched Him as did that poor woman with the persistent haemorrhage who in faith reached for the border of His garment. Sometimes there was no touch at all but simply a word, and that remotely, as with the son of the nobleman and the servant of the centurion, Jn.4.46-54; Lk.7.1-10, these both at Capernaum. Then of course, He calmed the tempest on the Sea of Galilee with a word, and calmed also the fears of the frightened fishermen, and on three occasions He even raised the dead. Truly He exercised attributes that belonged alone to Deity. How can anyone doubt that He is El Gibbor, “The Mighty God” and how true is that lovely verse by an anonymous poet

“The deep, the demons, and the dead,
Were subject to the word He said;
Unveiling thus His power and might
To exercise His Godhead right.”
3. He Accepts Divine Honours

There were several occasions when men acknowledged the Saviour’s Deity and He accepted such honour. It was very early in His ministry that He was so acclaimed by the demon, crying out “I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God,” Mk.1.24. Again, there can be no doubt that when both Peter and Martha alike confessed Him to be the Christ, the Son God, that this was indeed a confession of their Lord’s Deity, Matt.16.16; Jn.11.27. As has already been noted, in the mind of the Jew the claim of Jesus to be the Son of God was considered to be a claim to equality with God and therefore a claim to Godhood. “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God,” Jn.5.18.

Perhaps however the greatest and best-known example of men acknowledging our Lord’s Deity is that of Thomas. Thomas had missed that meeting of the disciples when the Saviour had appeared to them, risen from the dead. Thomas was sceptical when they told him what had happened but graciously the Lord appeared in their midst again when Thomas was present. Having seen the wounded hands and side of the risen Master, Thomas exclaims, in words beloved by those who know the Saviour, “My Lord and my God,” Jn.20.28. It was a clear acknowledgement of the Lordship and the Deity of the Lord Jesus.

Yet, on none of these occasions was there any rebuke from the Saviour for the offering of such honour to Him. Barnabas and Paul may well reject such honours for they were confessedly “men of like passions” with those to whom they preached, Acts 14.11-15, but Jesus was in truth God Incarnate, a Divine Person come among men in wondrous grace.
How rightly then do we call Him “The Mighty God.” He may be “The Child Born” in the simplicity and humility of Bethlehem’s manger but the immeasurable stoop was voluntary. This was the condescension of One of the great Tri-unity, whose glory shone out during the days of His flesh for those who were willing to see and acknowledge. The titles of Deity, the attributes of Deity, and the honours of Deity all belong to Him of whom we sing —

“Thou art the everlasting Word,
The Father’s only Son,
God manifestly seen and heard
And heaven’s beloved One.
In Thee, most perfectly expressed,
The Father’s glories shine,
Of the full Deity possessed,
Eternally divine!”

          (Josiah Conder)   

Was that, as many believe, a fragment of an early Christian hymn that Paul quotes in 1Tim.3.16? “God was manifest in the flesh.” It was indeed a mystery; confessedly and without controversy it was a great mystery, that the Infinite should become an Infant; that the Omnipotent should become Dependent; that the Son of the Father should become the Son of Mary; that the Creator should become a Carpenter; that the Eternal should come into Time.

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail! Incarnate Deity!”

          (C. Wesley)

We bow our hearts in worship and in wonder and say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God.” The great truth of our Lord’s Deity is foundational, fundamental and essential to the faith of all those who own Him as Saviour and Lord. He is the Mighty God!

—to be continued (D.V.) 
 

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Children's Work

By R. Plant (England)

PAPER 3 — How to try and make the children’s work more fruitful

We have mentioned in a previous paper that prayer and the Word of God are the foundational elements of children’s work. However, alongside these lies a commitment to action! So just how do we go about getting the children to come in to our Sunday schools and Children’s meetings? The following suggestions may already be in place in your assembly but it is always good to stop and take stock of our situation and see if improvements can be made. The Saviour told us to “Go into all the world,” Mk.16.15, so that seems a good place to start.

Go and get them

Nowadays children hardly ever walk anywhere. Why bother when parents are on hand to chauffeur them around! We need to understand that any work with children will demand time and effort in picking them up. Of course in the day and age in which we live we cannot just cruise around looking to pick up children from anywhere. If an assembly mini-bus is not available or if the assembly does not use a regular bus, that is recognisable by the children and their parents, then cars will have to be used. There are many advantages with this approach. The driver can go to the various doors in order to collect the children and good contacts can be established with the parents. It also allows a more personal rapport with the children in the car. However bearing in mind the present age, it is wise to ensure that two adults travel together in each vehicle and preferably male and female. It only takes one accusation, however untrue, to ruin a whole testimony! The children of today are generally much more worldly wise than believers, so it is good to be sensible in these matters. The Saviour did instruct us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” Matt.10.16.

Go and tell them

So you have an exercise and transport but no children! How do we tell them about the meetings being organised just for them? The distribution of literature advertising the various meetings is still a good method, but ensure that the quality is up to the 21st century. Black on white with no pictures was fine in the 1950s but is now hopelessly out of date. Try to introduce a little colour, not gaudy but just enough to catch the attention. Also add a picture or two as this tends to break up the writing and make it more pleasing to the eye and easier to read. Try to keep the text to a minimum so as to get the message across straight away. Do not be afraid to quote the “Word of God” on these leaflets. Some saints produce excellent literature but never include one Scripture, which is an opportunity lost. Remember others will read that leaflet and thus read the Word of God! Once they are produced then get out and deliver them around the relevant areas. A quick survey of any area will usually easily indicate the presence of children or otherwise. There is no point for instance in spending time pushing leaflets through the doors of homes where older people live. If you feel confident enough, do not hesitate to knock the doors because personal contacts are indeed the best.

The writer makes use of a loudspeaker system fitted to his car for announcing series of children’s meetings. This does get attention and works fairly well. Although at present there is no national law to hinder the use of this technique, it would be advisable to obtain permission from the police and local authority just in case any local by-law existed that might be contravened. The other thing to bear in mind using loud speakers is do not do the same area each night. Although a forty five second announcement may not seem long to us, it can be infuriating to someone inside their house in the middle of their favourite TV programme when a car pulls up each night or every week and deafens all within the house!
Another most effective way to contact children is through the visitation of your local schools and a future paper will cover this in more detail.

Go and make contacts

Most of those who come to any sort of meeting do so as a result of personal contact. Many contacts with children can be made in this way through picking up your own children or grandchildren at school, speaking to your neighbours and their children or just getting to know your children’s friends from school. Once you have gained the confidence of the child’s parents there is seldom an objection to an invitation to Sunday school or Children’s meetings. Be aware though that parents usually let their children decide as to whether they want to attend or not. The days of parents compelling their children to attend Sunday school sadly are long since gone. The more contacts that can be established the better. Of course, there are no better people to make contacts than our children. Children do attract children, so if our regular children attending the Sunday school or Children’s meetings enjoy it they should be encouraged to bring other children along with them and given a reward when they succeed.

Provide suitable prizes

Incentives too are a good idea and usually very popular with children. Many assemblies use a points system to encourage the children to come. Points are gained each week and occasionally a shop is provided where the points can be exchanged for prizes of differing values. Again, in providing prizes ensure that they will be prizes that the children will appreciate. A selection of Bibles only will not get too many children keen to return each week. Consider the incorporation of good well-produced Christian storybooks, tapes and even DVDs that present the gospel. On a smaller scale there are very nice pens, pencils, rulers and rubbers that can be purchased that children will appreciate. There are a couple of good websites that produce attractive sticky labels that you can design yourself with a suitable Bible text. These are great as they can be stuck onto notepads and other items that can be purchased easily and readily in the ‘cheap’ bookshops/stationers that can be found on most high streets. A cheap but attractive gift can then easily be produced.
Also ensure that there are prizes available to cover a wide variety of age ranges and abilities. Incentives of a more immediate kind can be provided for the best-behaved, new starters and those who have brought friends. When others see the prizes provided it could encourage them to get more involved. These prizes can include chocolate bars, sweets, pens, booklets, bookmarks, etc. Any assembly wanting to support an active children’s outreach must be prepared to invest finance into the various children’s works. To be stingy in this way will only lead to a lack of interest and a drop in attendance. Remember, “God loveth a cheerful giver!” 2Cor.9.7.

Make the meetings interesting

Children will not be compelled to attend if they find the activities dull or boring so this needs to be borne in mind as we seek to boost the numbers. There is nothing Scripturally wrong with a little life about the children’s work! So don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic with the children. A dull monotonous approach will certainly result in lack of interest among the children. A future paper will detail in more depth how to use and make visuals but children turning up to a meeting and having to sing choruses that others know but where there are no words provided will not make them feel part of the proceedings. Again, producing the memory text on computer before the meetings and adding a little splash of colour will enhance the presentation greatly. Always remember too that it is children you are addressing so keep all messages short and very simple. There is no point telling them they are sinners needing to repent to gain God’s salvation without explaining and if necessary illustrating what sin is, what repentance is and what salvation is. There are now several places where suitable visual aids can be procured that will greatly enhance your message and help to keep the children’s attention. I well remember going to a place to take a series of children’s meetings and carrying in all my various visual aids. An older brother was standing watching me and on one occasion as I passed by he remarked that brother so and so never needed all this paraphernalia when he was taking children’s meetings. I kindly asked the older brother when that had been. After some thought and discussion I was informed it was probably around 1948! We do really need to appreciate that times have changed and the children who live in this sophisticated hi-tech world will find someone standing for half an hour preaching the gospel both dull and very boring. A short illustrated ten minute message including a quiz and some good Bible based choruses will be much more readily accepted and be much more likely to interest the children enough to make them return week after week.

—to be continued (D.V.) 

 

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Psalm 110

by C. Jones (Wales)

This beautiful Psalm was written by David. All Scripture is inspired by God, 2Tim.3.16 reveals God and is a revelation from God. In seven verses, this prophetic Psalm gives a marvellous and wonderful insight into the omnipotence and omniscience of God. It enables us to learn of communication within the Godhead concerning events which will come to pass.
Psalm 110 is Messianic. It is quoted in the New Testament and applied to the Lord Jesus Christ more often that any other passage from the Old Testament. It is referred to in Matt.22.41-46; Mk.12.36,37; Lk.20.41-44; Acts 2.34-36; 1Cor.15.25 and Heb.1.13; 5.6; 7.17,21; 10.12,13. Although the Psalm was written by David, there is nothing in it of his life or experiences. It has in view the Lord Jesus Christ, and a believer who meditates on the Psalm will be blessed and led to worship. The Psalm speaks of the deity, priesthood, triumphs and rule of the Messiah.

Messiah exalted, vv.1-3

V.1 tells us what the Father said to God the Son when He ascended back to heaven after His time on earth. We read “The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord (Adon), Sit thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” The opening words of this verse might be translated literally as “The oracle of Jehovah unto my Lord.” What follows is a solemn oracle of Jehovah. Jehovah, who has an un-derived, eternal existence and is unchanging, speaks to the Son, David's Adon, his Sovereign Lord and Master, the One who has to be obeyed.

In Matt.22.41-46, we read that the Pharisees, when asked by the Lord “What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?” answered correctly, saying “The Son of David.” The Lord then, referring to Ps.110.1, asked them how David could call Him Lord when He was David's son. The Pharisees were unable to answer the Lord's question because they did not believe in the deity, and hence the eternal existence, of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ is God, Jn.1.1,2, but he became flesh, Jn.1.14 RV, being born of a virgin, Isa.7.14; Matt.1.18-21. He was of “the seed of David,” Rom.1.3; Matt.1.1; Lk.1.32; Acts 2.29,30. He is the “root and the offspring of David,” Rev. 22.16. He was “God with us,” Matt.1.23; “God was manifest in the flesh,” 1Tim.3.16. In Ps.45.6, we read of God speaking to His Son and addressing Him as “God” when He said “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” The Lord was like us in every way apart from our sin, Heb.4.15. His Humanity was unique in that it was Holy and He could not sin. Whereas Adam and Eve sinned, seeking to become like God, Gen.3.5,6, in the Lord Jesus we see God voluntarily becoming man.

Sadly, neither the Pharisees nor many people today realise that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten, eternal and beloved Son of God. In Jn.1.1,2, we are told of the Lord's eternal existence. He spoke of the glory He had with His Father “before the world was,” Jn.17.5. He was “before all things,” Col.1.17. The Lord could say “Before Abraham was, I am,” Jn.8.58. He possessed full deity before His incarnation, during His life on earth and throughout His sufferings and death on the Cross. The Lord Jesus Christ is God, and now sits “on the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb.1.3. He is greater than all, greater than David, who had no earthly master, and greater than angels, for, “to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?” Heb.1.13.

Jehovah said to the Lord “Sit Thou at My right hand,” that is, the place of privilege, honour, dignity, strength, glory and authority which only the Lord can occupy. The Lord will sit there until God makes His enemies His “footstool”. In 1Cor.15.25, we read “He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” The Lord's suffering was over and now He was to experience “the glory that should follow,” 1Pet.1.11.

The inevitable consequence of rebellion against Almighty God will be the pouring out of His holy wrath on those who oppose Him. At the battle of Armageddon, the Lord Jesus Christ, God's anointed, will defeat those who are the enemies of God.

In v.2 we read of the “rod” or sceptre of rule. God says to His Son “rule Thou.” The Lord has been at God's right hand for two thousand years, and one day He will appear in glory. His enemies will be made His footstool and He will rule in their midst. He is going to rule for one thousand years during the Millennium. He will rule from Jerusalem over the entire world, v.2, and during this time, all rebellion and opposition will be immediately put down. The Lord will exercise universal dominion and rule with perfect justice and “with a rod of iron,” Ps.2.9; Rev.2.27.
In the Millennium, those who have been saved will love Him and serve Him willingly and voluntarily, yielding themselves to Him like freewill offerings, v.3. In that day, the Lord's people will be clothed “in the beauties of holiness,” they will be “clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” Rev.19.14. The Messiah will lead His people who will be endowed with youthful vigour and, as each droplet of dew in the morning reflects the sun, so each believer will reflect the glory of the Lord.

Messiah, the eternal Priest, v.4

In v.4 we learn that Jehovah has sworn that the Lord is to be Priest for ever. Jehovah makes an unchangeable decree, saying to His Son, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is both King and Priest. No person has legitimately combined these two offices since the days of Melchizedek. God did not allow the offices of king and priest to be combined in one person, and when King Uzziah attempted to do so he was smitten with leprosy, 2Chron.26.18-21. The word “priest” is used for the first time in Gen.14.18, where we are told that Melchizedek was “king of Salem” (Jerusalem) … and he was the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was a priest but not of the Aaronic, Levitical order. The Lord came of the tribe of Judah, and, in Zech.6.13, we can read the prophecy concerning the Lord that He “shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne.”

Very little is revealed in the Word of God of Melchizedek whose name means “King of righteousness.” We are told that he met Abraham and blessed him, “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better,” Heb.7.7. Abraham gave him one tenth of the spoils he had taken in battle. All this signifies that Melchizedek was superior to Abraham and to Levi who was a descendant of Abraham, Heb.7.9,10. No details are given of the life or death of Melchizedek. Nothing is said concerning his parents. The Scripture says he was “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually,” Heb.7.3. The priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ is eternal and superior to the temporary Aaronic priesthood. The Levitical priests offered up sacrifices daily. The priests were men and were sinners, Rom.3.23, and the High Priest had to “offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's,” Heb.7.27. The Lord, being sinless, did not need to make an atonement for Himself, but offered Himself once for the sin of the whole world, Jn.1.29; 1Jn.2.2, and “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God,” Heb.10.12.

Messiah, conquering and ruling, vv.5-7

It is stated in v.5 that the Lord Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, v.1, is going to conquer and rule. The verse says “The Lord (Adonai) at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath.” Adonai is a plural form of Adon. Messiah is to leave His position at the right hand of Jehovah to conquer, judge and rule on earth. All opposition will be put down, including Satan, the Beast and the False Prophet, Rev.19.20; 20.2,3. The nations will be judged: there will be terror and devastation and vast numbers of people will be killed in the day of His wrath, v.6; Rev.19.11-21.

The Lord will “wound the heads over many countries,” v.6. The word translated “heads” in this verse is singular and could refer either to the man of sin, 2Thess.2.3-10, or Satan who, at the end of the Millennium, will be cast into the lake of fire, Rev.20.7-10. The Messiah will conquer and overcome all opposition from the highest to the lowest. His might and power will be infinite and irresistible as He carries out the will of God His Father.

In the last verse of the Psalm we read “He shall drink of the brook in the way.” Most commentators refer this to the all conquering Messiah refreshing Himself as He pursued His enemies. He, like Gideon's faithful men, remained alert at all times. However, it seems to the author of this paper that the all glorious and powerful Messiah would not need to refresh Himself and so it may be better considering this as a reference to His days on earth.

If this is so, then in the first verse of the Psalm we have a clear, unequivocal reference to the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first verse we have a reference to the time of His incarnation, obedience and humiliation. The Lord “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name,” Phil.2.8,9. One day every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Phil.2.11.
Having been told in v.6 that the head over the nations has been wounded and crushed, we read in v.7 of the Lord's head being lifted up. When He was on earth He said “the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head,” Lk.9.58, but in Rev.19.12 we learn that the same head which had once worn a crown of thorns, Matt.27.29, will be seen wearing many crowns.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Priest and King. We “have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” 1Jn.2.1, who ever lives to make intercession for us, Heb.7.25. Believers have the privilege and honour of serving Him with loving obedience and should walk worthy of the calling wherewith we have been called, Eph.4.1, to the glory of God and our exalted and glorified Lord and Saviour.

 

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Benaiah - 1Chron.11.10-25

by Marius Minnaar (New Zealand)

PAPER 1

Introduction

Reading through the lists of names in Chronicles and other passages can be somewhat boring. Why did God include such seemingly dry and uninteresting name lists in the Bible anyway? We could probably give some historical, doctrinal and practical reasons, but that would still fail to really answer the question fully. We are very sure that every list of names in Scripture is there for a purpose. The Holy Spirit never wastes any words, and would not inspire the biblical writers to include “fillers” just to fill up the Bible. So why did the Holy Spirit record these names for us? Rom.15.4 provides the answer, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Thus everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Genealogies can be used to authenticate the historicity of Biblical accounts, because there are those who believe that the Old Testament stories are merely legends and stories of Jewish culture. However, genealogies of men like Abraham, Moses, David and many others, tell us of men who actually lived at some point in history. This makes it harder for critics to categorize these accounts as mere tradition, folklore or myths. Thus we see that that these boring lists of names limit the destructive criticism of the Bible!

In 2Sam.23 we have a list of David’s mighty men. This list is also included in 1Chron.11. These are the men who joined David in the wilderness and in his rejection, when he was in disfavour with King Saul and obviously before David came to the throne. Among others, these men joined him then and became his army of loyal supporters. We read in 1Sam.22.2 that “everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” David became their leader. These very men accomplished great things for David and because of their outstanding achievements, they are listed as David’s “mighty men”. It would be good for us to see what teaching and encouragement we can find for our own souls from David’s mighty men.

It is very significant indeed that God keeps a detailed record of the names and achievements of David’s fighting men. It indicates to us that God observes and also records our personal service too. These men are remembered by name, and if the soldiers of David are remembered, how much more does God notice, record and reward the faithful soldiers of David’s greater Son. Others might not be aware of our secret, private or behind-the-scenes service for Christ, but God sees, notices and knows that, and will reward every act of faithfulness accordingly. These mighty men were all very great, but some had greater records, greater rewards and greater responsibilities, according to their acts, achievements and courage.
Here are some of the names worth mentioning: Josheb-Basshebeth, v.8, and Abishai, vv.18-19, overcame great odds. Eleazar, vv.9-10, stood and fought the enemy even though he was at the point of exhaustion and his fellow soldiers had retreated. Shammah, vv.11-12, defended the position and provision of God’s people. Spiritual warfare is very draining at times. Even though others may ‘throw in the towel’, great victory comes to Christians who stand fast and don’t give up.

Benaiah, vv.15-17, with two others, broke through the enemy lines in response to David’s longing for a refreshing drink from the well of his hometown, Bethlehem. They overcame the enemy and brought the water to David at great personal cost and that in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Benaiah went on to become the Commander-in-Chief of all Israeli forces under King Solomon, 1Kgs.4.4.

There are thirty more mighty men recorded in vv.24-39, but not much is said about them- however, their names are given. Are our names recorded on heaven’s list of mighty Christians?
The first book of Chronicles tells us how David’s followers grew from a handful of distressed, indebted and discontented men in the cave of Adullam, to a mighty and very successful army for God. David becomes king at Hebron, 1Chron.11.1-3, and conquers Jerusalem. One of the first things David did was to appoint Joab his commander over all, in honour of his leadership in this attack. After the Commander-in-Chief had been appointed, other ranks in the army were sorted out. There were three distinct groups of mighty men besides the vast army of brave soldiers:

1. The first group of mighty men.
2. The second group of mighty men.
3. The group of thirty valiant men.

This was quite a transformation from the little army of distressed and discontented men of ch.10! Now they are a well-disciplined and well-resourced team led by gifted and mighty leaders, with David as king and Joab as military commander, all of them serving God and doing His will.

1Chron.11 and the parallel passage in 2Sam.23, tell us about David’s three groups of mighty men. The first two were groups of three mighty men and the third was a group of thirty mighty men. They were highly trained soldiers who fought with David and for David and under David. The first group of three mighty men who were the chiefs of the armed forces, received higher honour than all the rest. The second group of three was not as high or important as the first three, but mightier than the third group. The third group comprised the thirty valiant men who were the commanders of the various divisions of the army. These men and their achievements are described for us in these verses. David’s spiritual character had a tremendous impact/influence on his contemporaries. His devotion to Jehovah commanded their respect and inspired them. The men under his command knew well that David as their great leader was directly under the command of God; and it was this characteristic of David that led to their absolute courage, loyalty, love and devotion to him. Also, while fleeing from Saul he knew what it was to suffer with his people; he knew what it meant to be oppressed, wrongly accused, hated, rejected for no cause, abused — something most leaders and kings seldom experience. That was why he so well understood the feelings, sufferings and fears of his followers/mighty men/soldiers — he was one with them: in fact, in some ways, he was one of them.
This reminds us of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who also knew what it was to be hungry, thirsty, rejected, suffer and falsely accused. Whatever we experience on our Christian pathway, He also experienced, only to a much greater extent. He set us an example by word and deed, and this should inspire us to follow His footsteps. He is the Perfect King (Matthew), the Perfect Man (Luke) and also the Perfect Servant (Mark). He, the great Lord and Master was willing to step lower than the disciples when He washed their feet. He, although He was one with God, respected headship in the Godhead by perfect submission to the will of His Father: He only spoke the words that the Father gave Him, and said that His meat was to do the will of the Father. In a greater sense than David does He take note of our deeds, remembers and acknowledges our service, and will subsequently reward us according to our service under His leadership.

David was never occupied just with his own victories and achievements, but fully aware, interested and occupied with those of his soldiers and followers: he kept a special roll of honour of those men who had shown outstanding courage for the sake of their God, their leader and their people. They appear in descending order of their bravery and achievements.

— to be continued (D.V.) 

 

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An arrow from the quiver of God

(An encouragement to those who distribute tracts)

A lady was once distributing tracts on board a steam-packet; and, amongst others, she handed one to a gentleman. She passed along the deck, and as she returned she was deeply pained to see him tear the tract in fragments and fling it overboard. She simply said, as she walked past him,” You will have to account for that.”

The gentleman thought no more of the matter. The tract was flung upon the waters, as he imagined, and he forgot all about it. But not so the living God. He had not forgotten either the tract or the man who had torn it up. He caused a little scrap of that torn tract to be blown by the breeze into the gentleman’s bosom; and that very night as he was undressing to go to bed, the fragment of the tract fell out of his bosom. He took it up. It was but a very small scrap; but it was just large enough to contain two words of immense weight and deep solemnity, namely, God and Eternity; and along with these two words, the lady’s pointed utterance came back to his memory, “You will have to account for that.”

Thus, then, this gentleman had before his mind those three grand and solemn realities, God — Eternity — Judgment. Tremendous words! He lay down, but not to sleep. There was no sleep for his eyes, or slumber for his eyelids that night. He was full of tossing to and fro till the morning. The words, God, eternity, and “you will have to account for that” rang in his ears, and sounded deep down in his heart.

He arose from his couch and sought to drown his anxiety in the cursed intoxicating cup. But it would not do. He awoke from his wine only to feel with augmented force those solemn words, “God! — Eternity! — Judgment to come!” In short an arrow from the quiver of God had entered his soul. He had thought to get rid of that little tract to drown that silent messenger. But no; God had His eye upon him. God sent the breeze and caused it to blow that identical scrap of the torn tract into his bosom. Of the scores of scraps into which the tract had been torn, not one would do but that very one, because it contained the very words which the Eternal Spirit meant to use as an arrow to pierce his soul.

How marvellous are God’s ways! Who but an atheist could doubt that the hand of God was in that breeze which blew that little fragment into the gentleman’s bosom? Blessed be His name, He knows how to reach the soul; and when He begins to work, nothing and no one can hinder. He had His eye upon that precious soul, spite of all his enmity and all his efforts to turn aside the arrow which sovereign grace had aimed at his heart. The gentleman thought to get rid of the tract; but God was determined that just so much of the tract should lodge in his bosom as contained the arrow that was to be lodged in his heart. In vain did the gentleman seek to get rid of his impressions, to stifle his convictions. His misery increased, his anxiety became more intense. There was but one thing which could heal his wound and that was the precious balm of the gospel, the soothing virtues of the blood of Christ. He was brought under the sound of the gospel, and his troubled soul found rest in the finished work of Christ.

And now, reader, what sayest thou to these things? Hast thou ever felt aught of the awful solemnity of those words, “God — Eternity — and Judgment to come?” Remember, we earnestly pray thee, thou hast, sooner of later, to meet God — to stand before the Judge. Do think of this! Think of what it will be to meet God out of Christ — to stand, in all thy sins, before the Great White Throne, where every man will be judged according to his works — to spend a never ending eternity in the dreadful flames of hell. We confess the thought is perfectly appalling.
Eternity! What an overwhelming word! Say, beloved reader, art thou prepared for it? If not, why not? Why delay another moment? Why not flee now — just now, to the arms of a Saviour-God who stands ready to welcome thee to His bosom? Oh! do come, we earnestly beseech thee! Come to Jesus, just as thou art. Trifle not the god of this world any longer to blind thine eyes, and deceive thine heart. Let not the pleasures of sin and the fascinations of the world any longer detain thee. Flee from the wrath to come. Time is short. The day of salvation will soon close, the acceptable year of the Lord will speedily pass away from thee. The door of mercy will soon be closed upon thee for ever.

Do, oh! do, dear sinner, listen to the warning note once more sounded in thine ear. God calls thee. Jesus calls thee. The Eternal Spirit calls thee. Turn not away thine ears. Say not, “Time enough.” Thou knowest not what the next hour may bring forth. It may be thou wilt never see another sunrise; and oh! the thought of being cut off in thy sins and consigned to an everlasting hell is intolerable. We long for thy salvation. We would entreat thee by all that is grave, solemn, and momentous, to come this very hour to Jesus. Trust Him and thou shalt never perish. Believe in Him and thou shalt be saved. May this paper prove to thy precious soul an arrow from the quiver of God!

But ere the trumpet shakes
The mansions of the dead,
Hark, from the gospel’s cheering sound,
What joyful tidings spread!
Ye lost ones, seek His grace
Whose wrath ye cannot bear;
Fly to the shelter of His cross,
And find salvation there.
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Good Tidings from Heaven

RESCUE FAILED

On 30th January 2008, a boat got into difficulties close to the harbour at Rathlin Island, off the North Coast of Ireland. Three fishermen were on board and were in danger from the heavy seas. The £2m RNLB ‘Katie Hannan’ lifeboat was launched to save them and it arrived at the scene bringing hope to those who needed to be rescued. However this rescue vessel was hit by a large wave and was driven onto the rocks, just at the mouth of the harbour where it stuck fast. It was pounded for days by the tremendous waves, was driven further up the rocks and the hull suffered severe damage. The glad news was that the Rathlin Island Coastguard crew rescued the three people.

However there are lessons for us to learn on the journey from time to eternity. We all are constituted sinners in the sight of a Holy God. This truth is clearly taught in the epistle to the Romans, chapter 3 v.23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” chapter 5 v.12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Because of this we are in danger of the judgment of God and we need rescued or saved. Thus the apostle Peter preached, “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.

This begs the questions, “Are you saved?” and if not, “How can I be saved?” To effect the rescue off the rocks at Rathlin Island, men had to jeopardise their lives. There have been occasions when brave men gave their lives in attempting to rescue others from danger. To rescue us from our sins the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life as a sacrifice on the cross at the place called Calvary, outside Jerusalem’s gates. What made this so special was the fact the He is the Son of God and He came from heaven to bring salvation to us — lost, guilty and hell deserving sinners. Also special is the fact that every single person who wants to be rescued, can be — He has never failed; there is no possibility of Him undertaking an unsuccessful rescue attempt.

The apostle Paul recorded, “… our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver (rescue) us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father,” Galatians 1.3,4. This great rescue operation was planned by God, “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved,” John 3.17. It was the reason why Christ came, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19.10; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” 1 Timothy 1.15.

To be saved from the stricken boat the fishermen had to rely wholeheartedly on the skill of the coastguards. So with the salvation of our souls — it cannot be done by ourselves, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” Ephesians 2.8. It is obtained by faith alone, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” Acts 16.30,31.

It may be that you are near to salvation, just like those in this illustrative story, who were at the mouth of the harbour, but you could be so near and yet be lost. Do not waste any more time. Are you willing to trust the Saviour and be rescued from the lake of fire or will you reject His love and perish in your sins?

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