March/April 2010

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Contents

ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY BIBLE CLASS
by J. Riddle

CHILDREN'S WORK
by R. Plant

SALVATION AND HOW TO POSSESS IT
by J. Ritchie

THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU
by M. Sweetnam

BY FAITH MOSES
by T. V. D. Schyff

PSALM 24
by C. Jones

A MEDITATION IN THE SONG OF SONGS
by T. J. Blackman

REMEMBRANCE - NEGLECTED BUT REVIVED
By B E Avery (England)

GOOD TIDINGS FROM HEAVEN

QUOTES

 

 


Assembly Testimony Bible Class

by J. Riddle (Cheshunt)

DEUTERONOMY

 

44) "Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live"

Read Chapter 30.11-20

In our previous paper, we suggested that this chapter may be divided as follows:

  1. The Assurance of God’s Blessing, vv.1-10;
  2. The Availability of God’s Word, vv.11-14;
  3. The Alternatives before God’s People, vv.15-20.

1) THE ASSURANCE OF DIVINE BLESSING, vv.1-10

We summarised these verses in this way:

  1. Remembrance, v.1;
  2. Repentance, v.2;
  3. Regathering, vv.3-4;
  4. Resettlement, v.5;
  5. Regeneration, v.6;
  6. Recompense, v.7;
  7. Rejoicing, vv.8-10. This brings us to:

2) THE AVAILABILITY OF GOD’S WORD, vv.11-14

Having dealt with God’s commandments and statutes, v.10, Moses emphasises two things about them, leaving them without excuse. He stresses that they are clear, v.11, and close, vv.12-14.

a) They are Clear, v.11

"This commandment which I command thee this day, is not hidden from thee". As we have noticed, it is amongst "those things which are revealed" 29.29. But more than that, it is ‘not beyond intellectual grasp’ (Raymond Brown). God’s Word is intelligible. "The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" Isa.35.8. This does not imply that all "wayfaring men" are "fools": "Those that go [this] way - even fools, - shall not err [therein]" (JND). J.A.Motyer defines "fools" as "those who will always go wrong given half a chance...who lack steady, guiding principles". The Scriptures are often a great deal simpler than preachers make them!

b) They are Close, vv.12-14

"Neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us ... Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it". God’s word is accessible. But not only accessible: it was in their mouths to the extent that they were to "teach" His word to their children" and "talk" about it in the common round of life, Deut.6.7; it was in their heart to the extent that it pervaded their thoughts. Perhaps, however, the expressions "in thy mouth" and "in thy heart" simply emphasise that God’s Word could not be nearer. It was known to them, with the object of making them "doers of the Word" Jms.1.22. The expression, "do it", occurs three times in these verses.

When Paul quotes these verses, Rom.10.5-8, showing that God has both fully revealed Himself to us in Christ and drawn near to us in Him, he emphasises "mouth" and "heart". "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" Rom.10.8-10. Saving faith will be accompanied by public confession. It has been said that ‘if I have been truly saved on Sunday, I will confess Him on Monday’.

3) THE ALTERNATIVES BEFORE THE PEOPLE, vv.15-20

Having laid before the people the terms of the covenant, Moses now:

  1. States the Alternatives, v.15-18;

  2. Makes an Appeal, vv.19-20.

a) The Alternatives, vv.15-18

He calls the first alternative "life and good". The means by which they could enjoy these blessings follows: "I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it" v.16. He calls the second alternative "death and evil" and amplifies their meaning: "But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; then I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it" vv.17-18. The same alternatives lie before us: either to obey God’s Word, in which case we will enjoy our rich spiritual inheritance, or to disobey Him, in which case we will forfeit the blessings that God wants us to enjoy.

b) The Appeal, vv.19-20

"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live; that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him; for He is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." To "choose life" does not mean survival, or even existence. Life and death are both modes of existence. It means love for God ("that thou mayest love the Lord thy God"), obedience to God ("that thou mayest obey His voice"), and nearness to God ("that thou mayest cleave unto Him"). The Lord Jesus called this "life ... more abundantly" Jn.10.10. The continuance of the nation, and the enjoyment of their inheritance, depended on their relationship with Him. Solomon said, "Forsake the foolish (‘follies’, JND), and live" Prov.9.6. To resort to idolatry would be disastrous. It would cut them off from the very source of national life, for "He is thy life, and the length of thy days".

As believers we should be able to say, ‘He is our life’ or, in the words of the apostle Paul, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" Phil.1.21; "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live (which seems quite illogical); yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ..." Gal.2.20; "when Christ, (who is) our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" Col.3.4. The Lord Jesus said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" Jn.17.3.

- to be continued (D.V.)

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Children's Work

By R. Plant (England)

Paper 13 - What can I do to help?

 

Perhaps some may be saying, "I would love to be involved in some way with the work amongst children but either have no gift or feel that I am now too old or infirm to adequately assist. So what can I do?"

Prayer

It has rightly been said that prayer is the Christian's vital breath and we would all have to honestly acknowledge that we do not pray enough. Well, children’s work is no exception since without prayer we cannot hope to achieve very much for the Lord and His glory. So what can you pray for?

The Government - Pray that Christian based teaching will continue to be granted in our schools despite the swing away from Christian values and beliefs to that of a multi-faith, multi-cultural society.

The Schools - Keep praying for the schools in your area, that the door will be opened or remain open for assembly based workers to have access in order to teach Bible stories and show the children the way of Salvation. Also pray that Christian teachers will be given freedom to teach the Scriptures without compromise and have a real influence and direction in the schools.

The Assembly - Pray that those who work with the children on a weekly basis will be given the time and desire to prepare properly for each meeting so as to be fresh with their material and interesting in their presentation to the children. Pray that they might know wisdom in dealing with problems that might arise, so as to give relevant help to any searching child. Also, that they might be helped of God as they seek to make known the gospel to the children. Furthermore pray that the workers will be preserved from any false accusations that could damage the assembly testimony.

The Children - Ask the workers to furnish you with names of some of the children who attend the children’s work so that you can pray for them specifically by name. Also ask if there is anything specific you could pray about in relation to each child. You may want to pray for the parents or other family members so that as the gospel is being taught each week to the children it might lead to whole families being saved. You could go along to the children’s meeting and experience the work first hand. This will give a feel for the work and perhaps identify some children for whom you can pray.

The Future - Please pray that new workers will be raised up who have the necessary gift and enthusiasm to continue this most vital work for God. Also pray that those currently involved will know when the time is right to hand over the responsibility of the work to others.

Harmony - An important part of any work for the Lord is that there might be harmony and oneness of mind about all that will take place. A constant prayer that there will be no bickering or jealousy, just unity among the workers will be appreciated. It is also good to pray that those currently involved in the work with children will see the potential in others and not stifle and suppress it but actively encourage and develop it.

 

Secondary Involvement

If you are retired there may be many ways that you could assist in the ongoing children’s work in the assembly. Remember that many of those seeking to run the work are also busy holding down full time jobs as well as seeking to bring their own families. You may remember what the added pressures of assembly life meant to you during your own working years.

It may be that you have some special skills (not necessarily of a spiritual nature) that could be actively used in the children’s work. Perhaps you were a carpenter or have a flare for art and now that you have more time, you would be able to produce some very useful material if you knew the need. Please ask those involved with the children’s work, as they might well be able to furnish you with full employment once again! I know I could! You may never know the need unless you ask since the workers may be too reserved to ask you.

You may have good computer skills that could be beneficial in the children’s work. Maybe you could produce memory texts for the children to take home and colour in. There may be a need for large-scale texts to be printed out for use in teaching the verse. If you have a good clipart package there is a strong possibility that you could put together a very useful series of gospel illustrations that would greatly help in enhancing the presentation of the gospel lesson. Ask if there is a need or go along and assess the need personally and offer your help. In the majority of cases it will be readily accepted.

Conducting children’s work well, properly and professionally is very costly! Perhaps you may prayerfully think about giving specifically for this work in your assembly. Elders in assemblies need too to appreciate the costs involved from prizes to presentation materials and support the ongoing work accordingly.

Finally, it is always greatly encouraging for those who work among the children to see the older saints coming along to the meeting and taking a real interest in the work. Your presence and prayers will be so much appreciated both during the meeting time and in private. An added advantage of you attending the work is that the more believers there are who are present the greater the effect on the meeting in calming the children down and allowing the Holy Spirit to work. Make no mistake about it, your presence will make a real difference.

It is my sincere prayer that these short articles on children’s work will at least have provided some ideas and hopefully a challenge to all who have read them to really put much effort into this wonderful work of reaching boys and girls for the Saviour.

(Concluded)

 

(The author of these articles, brother Robert Plant, is prepared to provide details of contacts that he has found helpful in preparing material for his work among children. Please contact him directly. His email address is rkplant [at] ntlworld.com).

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Salvation And How To Possess It

Some saints are afflicted with doubts regarding the possession of salvation and this new series is designed to highlight the truth of assurance. These papers are taken from an old (undated) book called “Salvation and How to Possess it,” published by J. Ritchie

SAFETY & CERTAINTY

By W. Hoste, B.A.

It is one thing to be safe, another to be sure. The two things should neither be divided nor confused; they rest on different grounds. Safety depends on something in which I am - a sufficient refuge; consciousness of safety on something in me — a sufficient assurance. I must know my refuge is secure. A woman of weak nerves finds herself suddenly in the heart of an air raid; in hysterical terror she rushes to the first opening marked "shelter", which happens to be a tube station. She is taken down by the lift, and is now perfectly safe; yet, though safe, she may not at first be perfectly sure of it. She still trembles with fright, and only with difficulty are her fears allayed by the knowledge of her security. She is not more safe now than before, but she is more sure and therefore more comfortable. The same principle comes through being in Christ - the Refuge for sinners: assurance, from knowing that in Him we are secure.

Salvation rests upon the work of Christ; assurance upon His Word. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures," 1Cor.15.3,4. This is the shelter of God’s providing, the old one, the only one. Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner only worthy of the judgment of God? Is the language of your heart, "God be merciful to me a sinner"? Then flee to the Refuge, it is for you. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." To the Ephesians, the Apostle wrote, "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast" Eph.2.8,9.

But how could He address such words to men who were lately steeped in idolatry - "worshippers of the great goddess Diana"? The previous chapter tells us. These people had heard the Gospel from His lips, and had believed on Him of whom that Gospel speaks. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" Eph.1.13.

Like the Thessalonians, they had turned to God from idols, "to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven." Now they knew they were saved because God said so. "By grace are ye saved."

In ch.20.30,31 of his Gospel, John tells us why he wrote it. "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name." Possession of eternal life was to be theirs through faith in Christ; but how were they to know that they possessed it. It was for this the Apostle wrote his first epistle. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life,"5.13. Thus the work of Christ gives salvation, and the Word of God the assurance of it.

But there is a false security, against which a warning is needed. Millions are slumbering in it to their terrible danger. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." This verse occurs twice in Proverbs, in ch.14.12 and in ch.16.25; and the double occurrence shows the importance the Spirit attaches to the truth conveyed. Cases have been known, during the air raids in the late war, of persons believing themselves to be secure in so-called bomb-proof buildings which were not proof at all. In one case the refugees were being kindly regaled with food and drink at the expense of the proprietors of the building. Fear was far from their thoughts, when a bomb made a direct hit and wrecked the place from attic to cellar, many in it being crushed to death. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," that is no true peace, but there is a false peace in which thousands lie, rocked in the arms of Satan. "The whole world lieth in the evil one," and his lullaby is, "Peace, peace," when there is no peace. Conscience hardly troubles such. Their charity towards themselves abounds. They are not vexed at the thought of their sins, for as they say, they are better than most, and as good as any. If they have committed a few sins, and who has not, God is too merciful to bring them to remembrance, and they quite believe, if there is a heaven, they will get there. They have never broken the law of the land; nor have they done anything very wrong in the eyes of the world, but on the contrary have done good turns to their friends when it has come in their way.

All this at the best is only their private opinion about themselves, and all will allow that a good character written and signed by a man seeking employment would prejudice rather than advance his interests. The question is not what do we think of ourselves, for "the heart is deceitful above all things," and the man who trusteth in his own heart is "a fool"; but it is, what does God say? He declares, "There is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God" Rom.3.22,23. "The heavens are not clean in His sight, how much more abominable and filthy is man which drinketh iniquity like water?" Job.15.16. Then we have the testimony of a prophet of God to his own and his people’s condition, "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" Isa.64.6.

Such is God’s valuation of writer and reader — "sinners," "come short," "abominable and filthy," "unclean," even our best things, "filthy rags," a faded leaf driven by the wind. How can such an one have true peace? Religious man is conscious that all is not right. He recognises the fact of sin, but he hopes by his own efforts to counteract it and commend himself to God. "Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish his own righteousness, he has not submitted himself to the righteousness of God" Rom. 10.3. His Righteousness, like the spider’s web, comes from himself, and like the fur and feathers of beast and fowl, partakes of his own nature. It is a sinful righteousness, because produced by a sinful nature. The fig-leaf aprons of Adam and Eve were their own ephemeral invention. The fruit and flowers of Cain’s offering were the product of his own toil. His altar, so to speak, was covered with the same fading leaves that veiled his parents and which could not be accepted. The man without the wedding garment might have had one, since it is evident that one had been provided for each invited guest. He, however, preferred his own garment, his own homespun righteousness. The true garment is heaven-made. He was cast out, for only those who had on the royal robe were meet to be there.

It is a comforting thought that God has, in view of His own requirements, always made sufficient provision for the sinner. Instead of the fading fig-leaves, He provided coats of skin: instead of the offering of fruit, He ordained the slain lamb. In view of the flood, He provided the Ark, and all within were divinely safe. Not a drop could penetrate the gopher wood, pitched* within and without with pitch, a figure of the atonement of Christ. The water that buried those outside buoyed up those inside. The more it poured, the higher they rose — so perfect is God’s salvation.

* The word translated "pitched" in Gen.6.14 is that usually translated "made atonement."

On the Passover night, over each Egyptian door could be seen the emblem of their deity — a winged sun. On every Israelitish house there was a triple splash — the blood of the Passover lamb. The former was powerless to ward off the judgment, but God Himself intervened between the blood-sprinkled house and the destroying angel. Now what was it made them safe? It was the blood alone, for Jehovah had said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you." Here we have a picture of the world today. Judgment hangs over all. And the blood of Christ sprinkled on the heart by faith, or in other words, appropriated by the sinner for his own individual need, alone can avert the judgment.

"Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus."

In the six cities of refuge we see yet another provision of God for the case of the manslayer. These cities were evenly distributed throughout the land, three on the East and three on the West of Jordan; and a way was prepared so that they might be accessible to all. How dangerous the case of the manslayer outside the city. At any moment he might feel the sword of the avenger of blood. But how safe he was the moment he came within the walls of the city. He was as safe as God could make him. Now Christ is the antitype of these cities. He is the only refuge for the sinner. How safe are those who have fled for refuge to Him.

But how did the manslayer know he was safe within the walls of the city of refuge? He had God’s Word for it, which it would have been sinful to doubt. How did Noah know he was safe in the Ark? He had built it by God’s own command, had entered it by God’s invitation, and he too had God’s Word to assure him of his security, so it would have been sinful to doubt. In like manner the children of Israel within their blood-sprinkled homes were safe. Heaven and earth must pass away before one hair of their heads could perish. But how could they be sure? Again, they had God’s Word for it, and it would have been sinful to doubt.

Doubts may seem to some a sign of humility, but they are really a sin against God. Had the Israelites mixed up their own worthiness or their feelings with the promise of Jehovah they would have rightly doubted; for they were utterly unworthy, and their feelings might vary like the shadow. Had they said, "We don’t enjoy the lamb as we should;" "We don’t feel as sorry as we should for our sins." "There may be still leaven in our homes which we have not discovered and put away;" it might all have been true, but what had that to do with their safety? Absolutely nothing. If you have not such a good appetite as Moses next door, eat what you can, but if the blood is on your door, you are as safe as Moses.

Had the manslayer argued, "I don’t feel as sorry as I ought, for having slain my fellow; therefore I am not safe," the priest might have answered, "it is the city that makes you safe, not your repentance."

Had Noah and his sons discovered that they were dirty while in the Ark, would that have affected their safety? No, indeed, it was the Ark, not their cleanness, that made them safe. We may discover much evil in our hearts; we may judge its root and confess its fruit, but have we truly come to Christ as guilty sinners and trusted in His precious blood alone to cleanse? If so, we are saved by His grace, and we know that we shall never perish, for we have God’s Word for it, and it would be sinful to doubt.

—to be continued (D.V.) 

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The Hope that is in You

by Mark Sweetnam (Republic of Ireland)

Paper 1 – The Hope and Hopes of the Believer

In the early decades of the fourteenth century, the Italian poet Dante Alighieri published his Inferno. As one of the three parts that make up his Divine Comedy, the poem records Dante’s journey through hell. It is entirely a work of fantasy, with scant relationship to Biblical teaching. However, amongst all the grotesque punishments described by the poet, there is one detail that strikes a chilling note of reality. On the gates to hell Dante finds inscribed the phrase "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here". Despite the poet’s ingenuity in devising appropriate punishments for the classes of sinners he imagines, the absence of hope is the feature, above all others, that gives hell its horror.

The Horror of Hopelessness

In our gospel preaching we rightly emphasise this aspect of hopelessness but we do well to remember that we speak to those who are, even in time, described as being "without hope" Eph.2.12, and as "others which have no hope" 1Thess.4.13. This world is filled with people without real hope. They hope for the best, desperately following leaders who promise to bring hope, but this vain pursuit provides only the illusion of a bulwark against the utter hopelessness of a sinful soul.

Amidst the counterfeit political and religious hopes of this world, the gospel stands solitary and unique as a message that imparts true hope. As believers whose faith is fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been given hope. We are "begotten … unto a lively hope" 1Pet.1.3, we "have hope in Christ" 1Cor.15.19, and we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God" Rom.5.2. With faith and love, hope is one of the Christian graces, the essential characteristics of a believer in the Lord Jesus. This hope ought to mark us out in a hopeless world.

Understanding the Hope of the Believer

At times, though, our understanding of the concept of hope is somewhat deficient. This is partly, no doubt, a result of the complexity of the subject, but it also has something to do with the comprehensive view of Scripture required to understand the concept of hope. While we can turn to 1Corinthians chapter 13 for a definition of love, or to Hebrews chapter 11 for examples of faith, we do not have a single chapter dealing with hope and so, to understand this vital concept, we must correlate quite a number of Scriptures. It is worth remembering that hope is linked with the head and, by extension, with the mind in 1Thess.5.8, with the understanding in Eph.1.18, and with the reason in 1Pet.3.15. It is truth for the head, as well as for the heart.

One of the most important steps in understanding the nature of hope is to draw a distinction between the hope and the hopes of the believer. As Christians, we have a glorious variety of hopes – that is of promised events to which we look forward. The Rapture, for example, is a hope of the believer, and the manifestation of Christ is another. These events are the objects of our hope, of that disposition of mind that looks forward to the fulfilment of God’s promises, and that makes it possible for us to live presently in the expectation of them. The hope of the believer, then, is this set of mind.

A Spiritual Hope

It is important to understand that this hope is a work of grace, brought about by the work of the Spirit of God. Probably we all know people who are naturally optimistic by disposition, just as we know incurable pessimists. However, the hope of the believer is not the result of an habitual disposition. Rather, as Romans chapter 5 demonstrates, it is by faith "we have access ... into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" v.2. And the hope produced by the Spirit upon believing is nurtured and increased by the same Spirit: "we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" vv.3-5. Later in the epistle, Paul stresses, once more, the supernatural origins and nature of hope: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost" Rom.15.13.

A Scriptural Hope

The same chapter reveals a further vital feature of hope – it is founded upon the Word of God. We all have aspirations, there are events that each of us would love to see happen, but, unless these events are promised in Scripture, we cannot be said to hope for them in the Biblical sense. Thus Paul reminds us that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" Rom.15.4. Our hope must rest on a Scriptural foundation if it is to have value, if, indeed, it is to be hope at all.

A Sure Hope

It follows from this that the hope of the believer is based on certainty. This is an important point because, in normal usage, hope indicates uncertainty. An unbeliever may hope to win the lottery: if he somehow knew he was going to win he would no longer hope, because, for him, hope implies uncertainty. The contrast with the hope of the believer could not be greater. We hope because we are certain, because the promises of God make us sure. This is the aspect of hope that the writer to the Hebrews gives expression to in chapter 6: "God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus" vv.17-20.

A Settling Hope

These verses remind us of another feature of our hope. As the anchor of our souls it makes the future relevant to the present. Our hope enters into what is heavenly and future, making it relevant to our present life, allowing us to live the "here and now" with the stability and sureness that comes from the "then and there". Clearly, those things for which we hope are future: they have not happened yet, for if they had we would no longer hope for them – "what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" Rom.8.24. 1Corinthians chapter 13 reminds us that faith, hope, and love abide for the present but, in the words of Matthew Prior’s versification of that glorious chapter, the time will come when,

Constant Faith, and holy Hope shall dye,
One lost in Certainty, and One in Joy.

Until that day may God grant us help to "rejoice in hope" Rom.12.12, not "moved away from the hope of the gospel" Col.1.23, but manifesting that hope through that gospel in a dark and hopeless world.

— to be continued (D.V.)

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"By Faith Moses"

by Tony van der Schyff (Wynberg, South Africa)

Read: Hebrews 11.24-28

Paper 1 – Moses’ Parents

 

The faith of Moses must be seen against the backdrop of the faith of his parents. This is often overlooked when considering this passage of Scripture and we do well to observe the spirituality and deep trust of the parents of Moses, who became known as "the man of God", Deut.33.1; Josh.14.6. A comparison can be made with Timothy whose faith needs to be seen against the backdrop of a grandmother, Lois, and a mother, Eunice, 2Tim.1.5, two women who were instrumental in the spiritual upbringing and training of this young man. The apostle Paul reminded Timothy, "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" 2Tim.3.14-15.

Our personal faith [trust, reliance, dependence] upon and in the true and living God is of vital importance. In a day when the devil is assiduously active in his efforts to undermine the faith of many, it behoves us to keep our eye firmly fixed and focused upon our Blessed Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, "the author and finisher of faith" Heb.12.2. The devil is in the business of sowing doubt into the minds of believers, just as he did in the Garden of Eden with our first parents. The doubt cast upon God’s Word, "hath God said?" led to the fall of man, the introduction of sin into the world and man’s spiritual separation from God. The whisperings of the Wicked One are on the increase in this modern age. In a very disturbing and subtle way believers are being taught by men ignorant of the Scriptures to doubt, dilute and even discard certain precious truths related to our eternal salvation in Christ.

We shall consider the following concerning the faith of Moses’ parents as an introduction to this study before pondering the faith of Moses himself:

  • Their Background.
  • Their Baby Boy.
  • Their Buoyant Faith.

Their Background - Read Ex.2.1; 6.20; Num.26.59; 1Chron.6.3.

These Scriptures tell us that the name of Moses’ father was Amram, whose name means "an exalted people of God". His mother’s name was Jochebed, whose name means "honourable glory of the Lord". Amram’s name is mentioned fourteen times in the genealogical tables. He is twice referred to as the husband of Jochebed and four times as the father of Moses and Aaron. Jochebed is only mentioned twice, on both occasions as the wife of Amram. She is mentioned once as the mother of Moses and Aaron, and once as the mother of Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Both were descendants of Kohath who was one of the sons of Levi, thus they are priestly people, as are all believers of this age, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" 1Pet.2.5.

Observe the fact that although Amram married Jochebed who was his aunt, Num.26.59 [this was permissible at the time, but later disallowed, Lev.18.12] they were a pious couple with a personal, potent trust in Jehovah. Jehovah had blessed them with three children, Aaron (who was later to become Israel’s first high priest), Miriam and Moses. What an important lesson for us in our day and age when we are seeing with growing alarm, professing Christians becoming entangled in the unequal yoke which the Scriptures warn against, 2Cor.6.14-7.1. How imperative that when choosing a life partner, the believer in Christ chooses someone who is "in the Lord" 1 Cor.7.39, and that, by implication, means the choice must be "of the Lord" and also "from the Lord"! These imperatives will always make for a wholesome spiritual relationship and a healthy Christian testimony, whether in the marriage, business, social or any other association or relationship.

Their Baby Boy

O.T. Scripture gives details of the circumstances prior to the birth of Moses - see Exodus chapter 1. The Israelites were in Egypt where they "were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them" v.7. But the land in which they had been blessed under Joseph’s administration had become the land of their bondage when after the death of Joseph and all his generation, "there arose a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph" v.8. In the spiritual sense, Egypt will always speak to us of the world and its insipient influences.

There were three matters that indicated the opposition of Egypt to God’s people. These were: the ruthlessness of the Egyptian taskmasters who "made their lives bitter with hard bondage" v.14; the religious darkness of Egyptian idolatry, and the wrath of the king in commanding the midwives to kill every male child born v.16. However, through the darkness of these conditions there shone one bright gleam of hope as seen in the fearlessness and faith of the midwives who "feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive" v.17. God will always honour faith. "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that He made them houses" v.20-21. Then came the birth of the child who was to become known as Moses.

From Ex.2.10 we learn that his name was given as Moses [Heb. Mosheh] which means "drawn or taken from the water". In the Coptic language it means, "saved from the water". In O.T. times in particular, the meaning of names was always very important. There was always a spiritual meaning attached to the name in which the character and conduct of the person named would be manifested in some way or another. When we turn to the N.T., our Lord Jesus said to His disciples on one occasion, "…rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" Lk.10.20, so that even if the meaning might perhaps be obscure, the memorial thereof is indelibly inscribed in the record of heaven, even in the book of life [the Lamb’s book of life], Phil.4.3; Rev.13.8; 17.8; 21.27. In his life, Moses was frequently associated with water experiences. At the waters of the Red Sea, Ex.14.16-31, God turned their seeming defeat into superlative deliverance! At the waters of Marah, Ex.15.20-25, He turned the blight of bitterness into the sweetness of satisfaction. At Rephidim [which means "place of rest"] which Moses renamed Massah ["temptation"] and Meriba ["strife"], Ex.17.1-7, Jehovah turned their carnal complaint into clear crystal cascading water! Then at Kadesh, Num.20.1-11, despite being told to "speak to the rock" Moses disobeyed Jehovah’s Word and "lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice…". However, Jehovah turned the angry stroke of His servant into abundant streams of water, but because of the unbelief of Moses and Aaron, they were denied the privilege of bringing the children of Israel into the land that Jehovah had promised! All of the above situations yield lessons but they lie outside the scope of this paper.

Sometimes we too pass through waters of deep trial and testing and the waters are so deep that we can sink beneath their billows. Sometimes so dark that we are swept away by its force. But just as Jehovah’s Word to Israel was, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee…" Isa.43.2, so we today are assured of our God’s gracious deliverance through every ‘water’ of trial and testing that we might be called upon to pass through! We have the promise of His ever-abiding Presence and His ever-enabling Power and we need not fear!

— to be continued (D.V.)

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Psalm 24

By C. Jones (Wales)

It is often said that the Psalms 22,23 and 24 form a trilogy referring respectively to the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, His continuing care and protection of His people and His future glory. These Psalms deal with the Lord’s work as Saviour, Shepherd and Sovereign and are sometimes described as the Psalms of the Cross, the Crook and the Crown.

Psalm 24 was written by David with immediate reference to the time when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem from the land of the Philistines, 2 Sam.6.12; 1 Chron.15.16-27. It was sung on the first day of each week as part of the liturgy in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Psalm can be viewed as referring to the risen Lord’s glorious ascension back to heaven after glorifying His Father and making possible our salvation through His suffering, bleeding and death on the Cross.

This Messianic Psalm can, however, be seen primarily as describing the triumphant return of the Lord to Jerusalem. It is concerned with coming events on earth in the Millennium, when the victorious, triumphant Lord comes to Jerusalem with great glory. He is the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, King of kings and Lord of lords, and He will come to occupy, as of right, the throne of world domination.

The Earth Is The Lord’s, vv.1,2

The majestic words of Gen.1.1 tell us, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth". The earth and all that exists belongs to God, v.1. He is "The most high God, possessor of heaven and earth" Gen.14.19. All things are His, Ps.50.10, for He created them, Jn.1.3; Ps.33.6. God "created all things by Jesus Christ" Eph.3.9: they "were created by Him, and for Him" Col.1.16. He created, out of nothing, all things that exist: He made, sustains and maintains them, Col.1.17; Heb.1.3. Who can imagine or measure the power and energy involved in creation? God has founded and established the earth and it continues, v.2; Eccl.1.4; Ps.119.90.

The Lord was rejected at His first coming to earth as God "manifest in the flesh" 1 Tim.3.16, one day, however, He will be acknowledged as King of kings and Lord of lords and every knee will bow to Him, Phil.2.10. He "must reign", 1 Cor.15.25, and He will deliver the whole creation from the "bondage of corruption" Rom.8.21, which sin has caused.

Who shall ascend? vv.3-6

In v.3 the questions are asked "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place?" The "hill" is Mount Zion, which is associated with secular power, and the "holy place" is Mount Moriah, which is associated with the Temple. The answer to the questions that were raised in v.3 is found in v.4, "He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully".

The redeemed remnant of Israel and redeemed Gentiles who have come through the Great Tribulation and been saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will enter the "kingdom of God" Jn.3.3,5. They will have come "out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" Rev.7.14. The shed blood of the Lord is "precious blood", 1Pet.1.19, and avails for all, in every dispensation, who put their faith in Him, for "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" 1 Jn.1.7.

Those who enter the Millennium will have "clean hands, and a pure heart" since they will have been washed and freed from their sins in His own blood, Rev.1.5. They will be blameless and not guilty of vanity, corruption or falsehood or of swearing by what is false, v.4. They will be living holy and righteous lives which are pleasing to God and will be in a fit state to worship and serve Him with reverence. They will be blessed by God, v.5, and will seek Him as did Jacob, v.6

The King of Glory, vv.7-10

Men crucified the "Lord of glory", 1 Cor.2.8, and He is referred to five times as the "King of glory" in vv.7-10. He "spoiled principalities and powers" Col.2.15, and was victorious over Satan, Heb.2.14,15, the grave, sin and death, Acts 2.24; 1 Cor.15.15,54-57. Those of us who have been saved will see His glory, and will see the head that was once crowned with thorns, Jn.19.2, crowned with many crowns, Rev.19.12.

Victorious kings used to return to their capitals in conspicuous, triumphal processions, and when, in the Millennium, the victorious Lord and those with Him approach the gates of Jerusalem in triumphal procession they will call for the gates and doors to be opened so that the King of glory might enter, v.7. In reply, a question will be asked, "Who is the King of glory?" and the answer will be, "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle", v.8. The command for the gates to be opened will be given a second time so that the King of glory, the victorious, pre-eminent, all-sufficient Lord Jesus Christ might enter, v9. Again the question will be asked, "Who is this King of Glory?", and this time the answer will be, "The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory" v.10.

The "Lord of hosts" is the title of God that was used for the first time in 1 Sam.1.3. Hannah, one of Elkanah’s two wives, was barren and prayed saying, "O Lord of hosts, if thou … wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life" 1 Sam.1.11. Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel who became a prophet and a judge in Israel. The name "The Lord of hosts" makes us think of God as ruler and controller: it brings before us His sovereignty and omnipotence. When David confronted Goliath, David said to him, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel" 1 Sam.17.45. David slew Goliath, and "David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him" 2 Sam.5.10.

The Lord is the "King of glory" and ultimately He will be given the glory and honour which are His by right as Creator and Redeemer. Such is the infinite power of God that He can speak as if that which is in His purpose, and is yet future, has already been accomplished. There is no power, which can prevent His will being done. God will establish the Lord Jesus Christ as King in Zion, this is Jerusalem, and, during the Millennium, He will rule over the entire universe in absolute power, Ps.2.6; Isa.2.3,4. Then there will be the true peace, prosperity, stability and happiness for which men have longed. He will be supreme as Prophet, Priest and King. Zechariah, speaking of the Lord in the Millennium, wrote, "He shall build the Temple of the Lord; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne" Zech.6.13. The Lord will unite in Himself the offices of King and Priest.

We live in very troubled, dangerous, confused and chaotic times, when changes are taking place at an unprecedented rate in many aspects of human life and experience. There is strife socially and economically within nations and strife between nations. Men’s hearts are "failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" Lk.21.26. Knowledge is increasing and many are travelling from one place to another attempting to achieve peace and stability, Dan.12.4, but there will be no peace until the Lord Jesus Christ returns in power and glory and rules in righteousness.

It is so good for the trusting believer to know that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" Dan.4.25. God is omnipotent and is working all things in accordance with His all wise and eternal purpose. By grace we know the truth of the words "greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" 1 Jn.4.4, and that we are being "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time", 1 Pet.1.5. The Lord will never leave us nor forsake us, Heb.13.5, and He always lives to make intercession for us, Heb.7.25. The Lord of hosts, the King of glory, whose triumphant entry into Jerusalem to sit on His throne and rule over the whole universe is spoken of in Psalm 24, loves and cares for each one of us. He never changes and is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" Heb.13.8.

We read that "the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge", Ps.46.7. The Lord Jesus Christ is with us. God cares for us and protects us, and works all things together for our ultimate and eternal good and His glory, Rom.8.28. God is worthy of all praise, thanks, love and obedience, for He is God and we are truly blessed as we read in Ps.84.12, "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee". Soon "we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" 1 Jn.3.2. In eternity we shall be with the Lord of hosts, the King of glory, Who loved us and gave Himself for us, Gal.2.20.

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A Meditation in the Song of Songs 1.1-3

By T. J. Blackman (Wales)

"The Song of Songs"

 

In the holy place the veil came between the priest and the presence of Jehovah, but the Holy of holies was so described because of the immediate presence of God, dwelling between the cherubim, above the mercy-seat. We suggest that the Song of Songs is so named for a similar reason. Here we come face to face with the Lord Jesus in His inmost chamber. Here we can contemplate His beauty and feel the warmth of His affection.

Other inspired songs may bring us into His courts, Ps.100.4, and even into the holy place where everything speaks of His glory, Ps.29.9 margin. But in the Song of Songs we are within the veil in the holiest of all.

In Ecclesiastes we are face to face with the total emptiness of everything "under the sun": "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity". In the Song of Songs we have the joyful fullness of our relationship with Christ, and also the reasons why we so often fail to enjoy it.

The Song of Songs most holy is
Of sacred Writings sent from God:
Each soul who for the Saviour longs
Must read these lines with feet unshod.
 
No greater song was ever sung -
It tells of Christ’s deep love for me,
And of the love which from my heart
Flows back to Him so feebly.

"Which is Solomon’s"

In this, perhaps more than in any other inspired writing, the penman fades into the background. Solomon began very well, but his last days only served to distance the people from their God rather than to draw them near. His name (meaning ‘peaceable’) simply points to the One through whom God "made peace through the blood of His cross" Col.1.20, that He might draw us near, and who "is our peace" Eph.2.14, that He might keep us near.

This best of songs extols His love
Who ever yearns to draw us near.
If Solomon was great and wise,
One greater far than he is here.

"Let Him Kiss Me With The Kisses Of His Mouth"

Often in the Old Testament we notice that where the text speaks of "the commandment of the Lord", the margin gives "at the mouth of the Lord", e.g. Lev.24.12; 1Sam.12.14. This shows how personal God’s communications are - they are expressions of His love and concern for His people - every word is God-breathed.

Here, as the tried and troubled soul
True comfort and assurance seeks,
Each precious word comes like a kiss -
In tender love the Saviour speaks.

"For Thy Love is Better Than Wine"

"Wine is a mocker" Prov.20.1. True satisfaction and joy are only to be found in the Lord. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" Ps.37.4. Even on the eve of Calvary, the Lord both taught and prayed that His disciples’ joy might be "filled full" Jn.15.11; 16.22,24; 17.13.

Wine lends a passing joy and mocks
As sweet delusions reign within.
Thy love, blest Bridegroom of my soul,
With heavenly joy my heart would win.

"Because of the Savour of Thy Good Ointments Thy Name is as Ointment Poured Forth"

Biblical names are often significant. This is especially the case with Divine names. The names and titles of the Lord are not given at random on the sacred page, but always reveal something special about Himself and His ways in connection with the context. To those who love Him every Divine name is a fragrant revelation of Himself. Where saints are gathered unto His name, its sweet aroma fills all the house, Jn.12.3. When His servants go forth in His name, God "maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge" by them "in every place" 2Cor.2.14.

His name’s not like a fragrance sealed
Within its flask and still unknown;
But, like pure spikenard freely poured,
Loved and adored by all His own.

"Therefore do the Virgins Love Thee"

Scholarship may help us with the meaning of words, but to appreciate this book something else is needed. Many recent commentators on the Song of Songs manifest great erudition, but cannot see anything more in it than that which is suggested by their own carnal minds. "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled" Titus 1.15. It is only those whose hearts are purified by faith, Acts 15.9, who can even begin to see the real meaning of this beautiful song.

The pure in heart are blessed indeed,
For they see God in Jesus’ face:
Cleansed by His blood, they love Him now
For whom their heart once had no place.
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Remembrance - Neglected But Revived

By B E Avery (England)

The seven feasts of Jehovah recorded in Leviticus chapter 23 were commanded of God to be kept annually. However, this did not happen: the people failed and these feasts had to be revived. We shall consider a few of these occasions and see that there can be recovery to the mind of God even in our day.

The Passover had been sadly neglected but in 2 Chronicles chapter 30 it was revived under Hezekiah. v.5 tells us of "a long time" since it had been kept "as it was written". This neglect was now past and the people of God revived. In v.26 we are informed that "since the time of Solomon" there had not been such "great joy in Jerusalem". Returning to the Divine ideal always brings ‘great joy.’

The next occasion is during the revival under King Josiah, 2Chron.35.1. Only a few years were to pass before the Babylonish captivity. This time the Passover had not been kept in such a fashion since the time of Samuel, v.18, which was about 500 years previously. We learn that the passing of time is no excuse to continue in practices that are not of God.

Another Old Testament reference to the observance of the Passover is Ezra 6.19. Only a remnant is back in the land, but they kept the Passover. Previously they had offered a sacrifice at the dedication of the rebuilt temple, of 712 animals. Compare this with Solomon’s 146,000 animals; Hezekiah’s 19,000 and Josiah’s 41,400 - see 2Chron.30.24 and 35.7-9. In Ezra’s day they did the best they could. This is an encouragement to us in a day of small things especially when we recall the commendation of Mary by the Lord Jesus, "She hath done what she could" Mk.14.8.

The final Old Testament reference, which we shall highlight, is in Neh.8.17, concerning the feast of Tabernacles. The law is being read to them by Ezra and is being interpreted, v.1,8. On the second day, v.13, they read about the feast of Tabernacles, v.14, and are exercised to obey. This had not happened since the days of Joshua, v.17, which were around 1,000 years before! No wonder there was great gladness, surely in God’s heart too!

We look back over 2,000 years of church history and recall the mighty power displayed then. We can know recovery and joy in His service if we re-read the Scriptures and obey what is found therein. This will bring pleasure and glory to Him as well as great blessing to us.

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Good Tidings from Heaven

DEPARTURE LOUNGE

We had relaxed with a cup of coffee as we chatted with happy expectancy about our long anticipated holiday. We were enjoying browsing through the great range of duty free goods and wondering what the various family members would appreciate as a little gift, when the announcement was made calling us to go to the departure lounge.

We made our way to the gate and found a seat where we would await instructions for boarding. I looked across the departure lounge and there were lots of people and from all walks of life. Babies were there as were senior citizens; the rich were there who were allowed to embark to first and business class at their leisure and the poorer were there also; there was a sports team of very fit young people and there were others who required walking aids and even wheelchair assistance.

I thought this is just an illustration of life. Dear reader, we are all in the departure lounge, soon to leave for eternity. Every one of us must take the journey from time to eternity sooner or later. Age, gender, riches or their lack, will make no difference; we must all die. A wise woman commented, "For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again" 2 Samuel 14v14. We may ask, "why?" and the answer is found in the Bible, "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" Romans 5v12. Every person is constituted a sinner by God because Adam sinned and because of sin we must die.

We were looking forward to arriving in a most pleasant place for a much-needed holiday, but do you look forward to eternity? Then there are only two places, heaven or hell. To which of these places are you going? I am so glad that I am going to heaven. Some will say that is just presumption, no one can know where they will be until the judgment day. Such reasoning must be brought to the Bible and there we find that God has said, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" John 3v36. This is very clear. If we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we shall have everlasting life and be in heaven but if we do not, the opposite is true and we will be in hell. The Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life" John 6v47. This tremendous truth is underscored in John 5v24, "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."

We shall soon depart this life, but please ponder well the question, what is my final destination?

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Quotes

In living for others I faded away. The Lord Jesus, thirty years
of living, three years of serving, one tremendous act of dying,
nineteen hundred years of praying.
          J Douglas

To whom Lord...

By Henry V. Porter

To whom Lord can I go but Thee
When flesh is weak and faith is low?
For Thou alone canst strengthen me
My heart assures me this is so.
 
When anxious thoughts would hedge me round
Let Thy blest Word my comfort be,
Thy promises in it abound
Shine on each page — illumine me.
 
Deliver me from dark despair
Increase my faith — restore my joy,
O Lord my God — now hear my prayer
May songs in night be my employ.
 
So set my mind on things above
That I no longer doubt or fear,
So shall I keep within Thy love
And know Thy presence ever near.

 


Holy Bible - A book unique among all other volumes

This book reveals – the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practise it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the Judgment and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents. It is God’s Word, the Book of all books – have you read it today?

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