VERSE 4. Here, the description of the "man of sin," "the son of perdition" continues; this is one of the darkest verses of the N.T. It shows his attitude towards (i) formal religion at that time, and (ii) the true God. Formal religion will be rejected since he takes over the temple, while the true God is rejected because this man of sin will seek to parade himself as God. Strictly, the verse is a continuation of the titles in verse 3; he is called "the opposer" and "the self-exalter."
The word oppose appears some eight times in the N.T. When the Lord was here, because He healed on the sabbath day, there were "adversaries," (Luke 13.17). In the present dispensation, Paul commented that "there are many adversaries" to the gospel (1 Cor. 16.9), while the same root appears in the practice of being "contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Tim. 1.10). In the future, it seems that this man of sin will oppose even false religion, such as Mystery Babylon. In other words, his self-exaltation will form his supreme ambition to be above his follows in every political, religious and social sphere of society. As one who exalts himself, he will be abased, even to the lake of fire (Rev. 19.20). As one who seeks to present himself as God in his self-exaltation, he will be a follower of Satan, of Lucifer, who once wanted to exalt his throne and to ascend into heaven so as to be like the Most High, (Isa. 14. 12-15). What a contrast to Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself even unto death, and was then exalted by God with a name above every name (Phil 2. 6-11).
By exalting himself "above all that is called God," this man of sin would also dominate over mere formal religion. For even today there are many that are called gods — "gods many, and lords many" (1 Cor. 8.5), and certainly there will be many in the future, but this man will attempt to sweep it all away, substituting himself in place of all "that is worshipped" or everything that is an "object of veneration." Clearly this is used in a bad sense, and can also be noted in the idols in Athens which Paul called "your devotions" (Acts 17.23), and in the heathen's worshipping and serving the creature (Rom. 1.25). The man of sin will reject everything that does not have him as its religious centre, contrasting with the exalted status of the Lord Jesus, having the pre-eminence in all things.
The words "as God" in our verse are usually omitted from the text. But this man will sit "in the temple of God." There are two Greek words for "temple" in the N.T. One means the totality of buildings and courts—seen from the exterior; there the Lord sat and taught. The second word implies the inner sanctuary — seen from the interior, the position of priestly ministrations. This word shows that there will be a Jewish shrine at that time, and the man of sin will occupy this inner sanctuary. In the O.T., it was desecrated by idols, but in the future by a man. It was in this inner temple that the 30 pieces of silver were cast down (Matthew 27.5), suggesting that Judas entered the forbidden precincts to do so. The Lord Jesus said that "the abomination of desolation" will be set up in the holy place (Matt. 24.15), answering to the image—idol of the first political beast to be set up by the man of sin (Rev. 13. 14-15).
This man will show "himself that he is God." Men have claimed that often over the years, including some of the Popes. But this will be the ultimate claim, following that made by Satan (Isa. 14.14). Unfortunately, men are all too willing to accept such a claim, and even to make it of their heroes, when they said of Herod, "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man" (Acts 12.22). This will be the climax of the Lord's words, "there shall arise false Christs . . . and shall show great signs and wonders" (Matt. 24.24). Men will accept the anti-Christ, since they will be blinded to believe the lie (2 Thess. 2.11). Note that the blessed Lord never paraded His deity; rather He showed forth the Father. But this man of sin will be entirely self-centred.
VERSE 5. At this point Paul broke into his exposition, by observing the necessity of remembering past ministry and teaching on this subject. Hence ministry must be stimulating, informative, instructive, interesting, true, convicting and memory-forming, gaining both the mind and the heart, so as to remain in the memory. Boring and uninteresting presentations are of no avail. The Lord's words had always the former ring about them, enabling the two men in Luke 24.6 to say, "remember how he spoke unto you ... in Galilee." In the two Epistles to the Thessalonians, Paul was insistent upon the necessity of recalling past ministry, whether oral or written. Thus he wrote, "ye remember . . . our labour and travail" (1 Thess. 2.9); "we told you before that we should suffer tribulation" (3.4); "ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God" (4.1); "to work with your own hands, as we commanded you" (4.11); "traditions . . . taught . . by word" (2 Thess. 2.15; see also 1 Cor. 11.2; 15.2); "when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (3.10). Evidently the profitability of ministry is proved by its later manifestations in life.
VERSE 6. In verses 6-7, the argument of Paul shows that now, before the day of the Lord, this man of sin cannot be manifested because of a restraint (the word "withholds" is the same as "let" in verse 7, meaning hinders). This verb is translated in many different ways in the N.T., such as seize, stay, keep, possess, hold fast, retain. For example, we "hold fast" our confidence, and the profession of our faith, (Heb. 3.6; 10.23). In our present verse, the holding fast is to keep any possible manifestation of the man of sin hidden and in check. He will not in fact be revealed until the restraint is removed, when he will finally rise out of the earth, as John saw in his vision, (Rev. 13.11). Now this can only be a divine Restrainer; man with all his capabilities (and not even believers) could not resist such Satanic power. Men even now cannot hold back the tide of present increasing lawlessness. Rather the Restrainer is the Spirit of God, working directly as abroad in the world, and through the Lord's people as the salt of the earth as a present preservative against a blossoming forth of a full manifestation "in his time." That is to say, the revelation of this man of sin cannot take place until a determined time. (Thus the Lord could not be crucified until his "hour" had come). In the order of Revelation 13, this time will occur just after the rise of the political beast and dictator out of the sea (13.1), dominating over a confederacy of nations to form the revived Roman Empire in the period known as the day of the Lord.
VERSE 7. A "mystery" is something hidden until it is revealed or manifested. Thus the "mystery of godliness" (1 Tim. 3.16), was the life of Christ, from His manifestation in the flesh until the time when He was received up in glory. When all was fulfilled, that holy life ceased to be a mystery, at least to those who had eyes of faith to appreciate it. This "mystery of iniquity" is a mystery now, since it is yet to be revealed—it cannot be revealed in the church age. Nevertheless, it works in an elementary way at the present time; the bud appears now, though the full flower will come later. Even in the present age, the hidden energy of Satan mixes error with truth often appearing to be in Christ's Name. According to the apostle John, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh even in the present age are manifesting the spirit of anti-Christ; this is "even now already ... in the world," yet it is something that "should come" in the future (1 John 4.3). As there are many anti-Christs in the world, demonstrating that "it is the last time," so shall anti-Christ come in the future (2.18). The present spirit of religious confusion is examined by Paul in Epistles such as 1 Corinthians, Galatians and Colossians.
But now the bud fails to open out into the flower, because "he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." How thankful we must be that there is a Restrainer now, else the true testimony would be overwhelmed; "greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world," (1 John 4.4). The Spirit in the saints is far greater than Satan in the world; we therefore should not underestimate the Spirit's presence and His work in believers, and how this affects the world. This does not appear to be the work, testimony and example of believers themselves, for we are weak when contrasted with the power of unbelief. But this restraining is the unseen influence of the Spirit in a big way, preventing the hideous flower from ripening from the existing bud. Thus, during the Lord's lifetime, the evil bud in the heart of men whereby they would kill Him, could not ripen until the appropriate hour—"they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come," (John 7.30). In other words, there was a restraint that they could not explain!
And this restraint will continue to subdue the manifestation of the ultimate evil "until he be taken out of the way."
It may appear strange that there has been controversy over the meaning of this phrase, essentially by those who refuse to see that judgment must precede the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth. Literally, the word-for-word translation of the Greek text is "until out of the midst he becomes." Some take this to mean "until lawlessness be developed out of the midst," or "until the mystery appears in full view," thereby denying, in effect, the Restrainer as the Holy Spirit being removed when the church is taken to be with the Lord. But Paul's whole argument is that the restraining hand of God will be removed, and then licence will be taken by many.
The Greek words for "out of the way" appear several times in the N.T. For example, the angels shall sever the wicked "from the midst of the righteous" (Matt. 13.49; see Acts 17.33; 1 Cor. 5.2; 2 Cor. 6.17; Col. 2.14). But it is a fact that this Greek phrase does not appear elsewhere in the N.T. with the verb "become." However, W. Kelly, in his exposition on these Epistles to the Thessalonians, quotes many classical writers who use the same construction, and the contexts show that the meaning must be that of removal, and not that of development. We are therefore on safe ground to believe that "until he be taken out of the way" refers to the rapture, after which the man of sin will be revealed.
Thus note that the Spirit is prominent in Revelation 2-3 where the churches are addressed, but this prominence disappears after chapter 4, since the church has by then been taken, and evil develops from chapter 6 onwards when the church is no longer seen on the earth.
Malachi—The Messenger Of God For Today
by E. R. Bower (Malvern)
This chapter is a favourite with those who choose texts for our calendars, in particular v. 6, "I am the Lord, I change not."
Says one, "The Lord never changes. His plans and purposes are sure of accomplishment. His promises can never be broken. His love never wavers, and putting his full confidence in that fact, the believer finds abiding rest." (F. J. Horsfield).
Another : "What peace it brings to the Christian's heart to realize that our heavenly Father never differs from Himself. He is always receptive to misery and need as well as to love and faith. He does not keep 'office hours' neither does He change His mind about anything. God never changes." (A. W. Tozer).
vv. 1-6; A promise and a warning. Two messengers are promised—John the Baptist (Matt. 1.2) and the Lord Whom they sought. And who was the One they sought? The last verse of chap. 2. tells us—the God of judgment. The same Lord — the God of judgment — would come suddenly -— unexpectedly—to HIS Temple. Yes, the One they desired and looked for—on the surface, at least—was coming. "But who may abide the day of His coming?" Cf. Rev. 3.1-6.
When the Lord did come to His Temple—His Father's House—He came first time as a Babe (Luke 2) and Simeon could say, "... that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." A time of testing. "Judgment must begin at the House of God : and if it first begin AT US, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God." (1 Pet. 4.17). He will come "in the twinkling of an eye" to His Temple—"know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" So wrote the Apostle (1 Cor. 3.16) (and if ever we remember John 3.16, we should remember with it, 1 Corinthians 3.16).
Purification of the leaders of the people—the priests— would lead to righteous offerings, and the putting away of evil from among them. Notice the thought of Peter (1 Pet. 5.1-4), "The elders which are among you I exhort . . . feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lords over God's heritage, but BEING EXAMPLES TO THE FLOCK. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
"And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." (1 John 2.28).
vv. 6-12. God's love for His people never changes, otherwise they would have been consumed long since, for they had not changed either! They were still a stiff-necked people—just like their fathers. Zechariah had pleaded (1.3-4), "The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say unto them, 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts, 'Turn ye unto Me,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'and I will turn unto you,' saith the Lord of hosts. 'Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried saying, 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts; 'Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings:' but they did not hear, nor hearken unto Me,' saith the Lord," and Malachi renews the plea to return, but in effect the reply is, "Why return, when we are not 'away'?
Because they were 'away' from God, they were robbing God. What they now say is, "First, we are 'away,' and now we are 'robbers.' Tell us in which way we rob God?" The reply? "In tithes and offerings." All were guilty of this withholding from God—hence they were under a curse. What was God's due in this matter of tithes and offerings? "The first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God." (Ex. 23.1-19).
"All the tithe of the land, whether of seed ... or of the fruit ... it is the Lord's." (Lev. 27.30-33).
"The best of the oil, . . . wine, and . . . wheat, the first-fruits . . . they shall offer unto the Lord." (Num. 18.12; cf. Num. 18.21-24; Deut. 18.4; see also Lev. 3.1-17; 7.11-21; 7.28-36). A tithe was the very least they were obliged to give, but think of the many offerings in addition to the tithe!
God waits for His portion of our lives—"Bring ALL the tithes into the storehouse." Why? "That there may be meat in Mine House, and prove Me now herewith."
We look for answers to our own "Why is there no blessing?" Could lack of tithes be the answer?
A N.T. equivalent? Simply stated by our Lord, it is, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6). Cf. 2 Chronicles 31.10; "And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadoc answered Hezekiah and said, 'Since the people began to bring the offerings into the House of the Lord, we have had enough to eat, and left plenty; FOR THE LORD HATH BLESSED HIS PEOPLE; and that which is left is this great store."
And in practice? It is believed that there are at least three vital principles which govern our 'giving,' or, better, our 'offerings.' These are (1) As God prospers us—"Upon the first day of the week let EVERY ONE OF YOU lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him"—a 'laying in store' (as in the days of Hezekiah) for the House of God otherwise known as the 'household of faith.' (See 1 Cor. 16.2). A word here for those who are the 'stewards' of the offerings —be careful how the Lord's monies are spent! From the pocket of the offeror to the 'bag' is a small step, but that step is irrevocable. No longer 'mine,' it is His. And a word for the offeror—this offering is second only in its importance to the breaking of the bread and the taking of the wine. (2) According to his ability. "EVERY MAN according to his ability"—and this also is for the relief of the brethren. (Acts 11.29). Ability means that to which we may put our hand. (3) As he purposes. "EVERY MAN according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity : for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that ye, always having sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Cor. 9.1-15). There are no exclusions. It is EVERY MAN as he is prospered ; according to his ability; and as he purposes in his heart.
"Giving" is so often related to our 'goods' or our 'wealth,' but what of our TIME? Someone has said that Romans 12, 1-2, demands TOTAL COMMITMENT OF 100% of the Christian's income, and this may well be true, too of the Christian's time, for even our daily toil is 'unto the Lord.' The same writer suggests that we should give EVERYTHING TO THE LORD, and take back just sufficient for our needs, pointing out that so often we keep 100% for ourselves, and give Him the 'left-overs.'
Under the old economy every Israelite had to set aside 'unto the Lord' every year at least one fifth of his time (as distinct from his private devotions). "Beside the sabbaths of the Lord, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings which ye give unto the Lord." (Lev. 23.38). "Beside . . . beside . . . beside . . .
beside." This was under 'law,' but what about under 'grace'? Upon two occasions the Apostle speaks of 'REDEEMING THE TIME' (Eph. 5.16; Col. 4.5). 'Redeem' means literally to 'buy out'—hence to use every opportunity. If we gave just two hours a day 'unto the Lord'—including our private devotions, it would still fall far short of a tithe of our time per year.
vv. 13-15. "Your words have been stout against Me" saith the Lord. How? "It is vain to serve God : and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts?" Service and worship had become a waste of time ; the wicked were far better off. Look what they did, and look how they prosper. Not only an attitude of mind, but an attitude reinforced by their actions—and their unspoken thoughts.
w. 16-18. Things looked bad, but amidst all this pretence of worship there were those who FEARED THE LORD." Notice how they used THEIR time. They "spake often to one another." And they had something and someone to talk about for they thought upon His Name." This is true fellowship.
Ps. 138.2 reads, "I will worship toward Thy holy Temple, and praise Thy Name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth : for Thou hast magnified Thy word above Thy Name." At least one expositor applies a capital 'W for 'word.' Phil. 2.9 speaks of the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ whom "God hath highly exalted, and given Him a Name which is above every name."
And as these believers of the closing days of recorded O.T. history thought and spoke of the Name, there was Someone who listened to their conversation—"The Lord hearkened and heard." And the heavenly tape-recorders were switched on "and a book of remembrance was written before Him." We recall the sleepless night of a great king, Ahasuerus, who read in the book of his chronicles. These O.T. believers were 'His'—His 'special treasure.'
It has been written that the CHARACTER of these believers was such that they feared God and thought upon His Name; that Holy Name. Their CONDUCT was such that they spoke often with one another. Their FUTURE was such that a book of remembrance was written.
Notes on Revelation
by Jim Flanigan
"THE WOMAN AND THE DRAGON"
There are four interesting women in the Book of the Revelation; two of them are good, and two are evil. Jezebel, in ch. 2, is, as we have seen, the prophetess of spiritual and moral error. Babylon, in ch. 17, we shall see to be the very epitome of corruption and apostasy. In the Bride of ch. 19 we shall see the King's compansion in glory. Here, in ch. 12, the woman is Israel. John calls her appearance "a great sign." He uses this word some seven times in the Revelation, this being the first. The other references are 12.3, 13.13, 13.14, 15.1, 16.4, and 19.20. In our Authorized Version the word is variously translated signs, miracles, or wonders, and the thought appears to be that here is something remarkable and extraordinary, a phenomenon in which some important truth is being signified (SIGN-ified).
The woman is clothed with the sun, with the moon at her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. We have before seen, that sun, moon, and stars, are consistent symbols of government, and of course there may well be an allusion to Genesis 37, where Jacob and Rachel and the Patriarchs are so seen in association with Joseph. One day the Nation will share the glory of the rule of the Heavenly Joseph, in glad acknowledgement of His Sovereignty. However, it is important to note that this sign is "in heaven;" this view of Israel is heaven's view. It is Israel, not as she is now, nor as she has been, but as God intends her yet to be. But, as is so often the case, that glory is arrived at by an avenue of suffering.
The woman travails. She awaits, in pain, the imminent arrival of her Child. For centuries, in suffering, Israel waited for Messiah. But what is the meaning of this strange verse, Isaiah 66.7? "Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child." The sad fact is, of course, that Israel's real sorrow is yet to come. Her darkest days and most bitter sufferings are yet to be, and this though Messiah has already come. As we know, her Child came unrecognized. "The world knew Him not." "His own received Him not." He has come, but Israel is unaware of it. The long promised, long awaited One has been, and still the Nation groans, and will groan, until He comes again. Unparalleled tribulation will yet be hers, before her true deliverance comes in the recognition of Jesus as Messiah.
There appears a second sign—a great red Dragon. There is no difficulty with this symbolism; the Dragon is explicitly identified as Satan, the Devil, the Old Serpent. Thirteen times in the Revelation the Devil is called "the Dragon." If numbers have any meaning in Scripture, (and they seem to have), then "thirteen" is the number of disorder, of anarchy, of defection, and of lawlessness. Indeed, in its first mention in Scripture, the number thirteen is associated with rebellion (Genesis 14.4). Eight times in Revelation we have the name "Satan," and five times He is called "the Devil;" another thirteen then, in relation to the evil One. As Satan, He is the Adversary, or Opposer. As the Devil, Diabolos, He is the Slanderer, or Accuser. The Old Serpent is the cunning, crafty One, whose wiles we know. It is a title reminiscent of Eden and Eve. In the Dragon, however, we see His monstrous cruelty, and perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in that which is called "the slaughter of the innocents." The Dragon stood by when Messiah made His Advent. In the Roman Empire of that day He waited in the person of Herod the Great. His intent was, that by the instrumentality of that wicked King, He would devour, in infancy, the true King of the Jews. Herod was an Edomite, a half-caste puppet King who had received his authority from the Caesar. The Dragon would use him to destroy the infant Christ. But earth's powerful potentates were really helpless, and Heaven's apparently helpless King in a manger was all-powerful. The innocents were slaughtered, and Rachel, Jewish Motherhood, wept for her children, but Messiah was preserved. In keeping with the context of the passage, Egypt, Nazareth, Galilee, Judea, Golgotha, Cross and Tomb, are all here omitted. The Man Child is "brought forth," and "caught up." Now, in the spirit of Psalm 110 and Psalm 2, God's decreed and destined Ruler waits in the Heavens until the day of His manifestation in power and glory.
Our thoughts are now projected beyond this present mystery period, and we are again concerned with the Woman, Israel. The Dragon is wroth, and the woman will suffer at His hand. But she is preserved by a God who numbers the very days of her suffering. It is not here "three and a half years," as in other places; not even "forty two months;" but "a thousand, two hundred and sixty days." The God who wipes away every tear, numbers every day of His people's sorrow.
There is war in Heaven. The opposing forces are commanded by Michael and by the Dragon. Michael, the Archangel, in the five Biblical references to him, is ever associated militantly with Israel. With his angels he now prevails over the Dragon who is cast out. Chronologically, it is the midst of the seventieth week (Daniel 9). It is interesting too, that by a count of verses we have now arrived at exactly the middle of the Book of the Revelation. How thrilling it is, that right in the heart of the story of God's dealings with Israel and the Nations, Satan is defeated and the triumph and glory of Christ is proclaimed, verses 7-10.
But if Heaven rejoices, it is not so on earth. "Woe to the inhabiters of earth and sea." He who once was "Lucifer," the Day Star, is now cast out of the heavens, to earth. He has drawn with Him a third part of the heavenly populace, and now, defeated in the heavens, and knowing that His time on earth is short, He directs His hatred towards the Woman in a most fearful way. There will be, in these days of vengeance, a .Satanic onslaught against the Jew. We remember, however, that a remnant of the Nation will have acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, and will be preaching the Cross, (v. 11). For these there is a double persecution, who suffer because they are Jews, but who also are the special objects of Satan's wrath because they are Christ's (v. 17). But the Nation is preserved. The Serpent pours out a torrent of persecution, but in the wilderness of the world the annihilation of the Jew is neither permitted nor possible. In a strange, paradoxical way, world opinion has ever been against Israel, and yet the same world calls out in indignation at the atrocities which have been inflicted upon her. It will be so during the coming travail. Earth will somehow protect the Jew from the venom of the Serpent, and by the ministry of the sealed servants who keep the testimony of Jesus the Messiah, there will eventually be a remnant Nation to greet that Messiah when He appears in glory.
So, in this chapter 12 we have introduced to us several of the chief personalities of the last days. In the next chapter there emerge the two most dominant men of those days— the Beast and the False Prophet.
Some Assembly Features And Functions
by B. Currie (Belfast)
FUNCTION OF GOVERNMENT
We have already noted that the sphere in which overseer-ship is exercised is that of the local assembly and the following words indicate the work that they undertake :
(a) Labouring—1 Thess 5.12; 1 Tim. 5.17—They are not committee men who meet to decide on the colour of the hall or sign cheques for the expenses, but they are men who toil until weary for the good of the assembly.
(b) Leading—1 Thess 5.12, 1 Tim. 5.17—In the verses cited the same word is translated "are over" and "that rule" and really means to go before, to lead.
(c) Admonishing—1 Thess 5.12—The word 'warn' in v.14 is the same as 'admonish' in v.12 and literally means 'to put sense into.' This is a difficult, thankless and yet all too often a necessary task.
(d) Shepherding—1 Pet. 5.1-4; Acts 20.28—In these passages the thought of shepherding is contained in the word 'feed' which means 'tend as a shepherd.' We should also note that the word 'oversight' in 1 Pet. 5.2 is also translated as visitation in 1 Pet. 2.12, Lk. 19.44. The teaching is clear—one who does not visit the saints is not an overseer. The work then of a pastor is to visit the saints so as to assess their spiritual, and indeed material state and administer food, care and help as necessary. Another has said "Pastors in assemblies are invaluable; pastors of churches are unscriptural."
(e) Watching—Heb. 13.17 — The idea of watching in the other three N.T. references (Mk. 13.33; Lk. 21.36; Eph. 6.18) is always associated with prayer. The bishop is a man who like Habakkuk (2.1) watches from his tower while in touch with God. He watches for the enemy so that he can protect the weary or the straggler who are exposed to attack, i.e. he guards as well as guides the flock.
(f) Ruling — Heb. 13.7,17,24 — This word is translated "Governor"—Matt. 2.6; Acts 7.10; and "chief"—Lk. 22.26; Acts 14.12, 15.22 and contains the thought of presiding. In the last analysis as far as men are concerned, these are the men who exercise authority in the assembly and they must be obeyed (Heb 13.17). The man in Matt. 18.17 is put away from the assembly, not necessarily because of his original sin, but because he would not bow to the authority of the assembly. This does not mean that we are to follow every dictate of men who may have assumed authority in the assembly. Every situation must be controlled by the scriptures and the injunction of Acts 5.29 always obtains.
FUTURE OF THOSE WHO GOVERN
As with all service account must be given of our stewardship and that of being an undershepherd is no exception (Heb. 13.17). Those who have exercised overseership faithfully as to the Lord, leading and not lording over the saints can look forward with joyful anticipation to "the crown of glory'.' (1 Pet. 5.4).
Such a day will truly recompense the difficult and often thankless task done by a true shepherd. It should however be a challenge to us all that this reward will not be given indiscriminately.
The Doctrine of Man
by the late William Hoste
THE FALL OF MAN (Anthropology)
We now come to man's testing and fall and its result.
1. MAN'S TESTING
(a) Why should man be tested? some one may ask : Why not let well alone and allow him to enjoy the intercourse with his Creator he already experienced and the fruits of Paradise? Was he not God's creature and as such pronounced, "very good"? Were not his powers though necessarily not yet fully matured, of a very high order? The fact that he could suitably name the beasts of the field and the. fowls of the air, when called to do so, would prove he was no degraded savage, just emerging from bestiality, as the Evolutionists pretend, but possessing high qualities of intuitive wisdom. And on the moral plane had not God "made him upright" (Eccles. 7.29), and not only innocent, but positively good, with neither knowledge of nor bias to evil? All this and more is true, but God's purposes are neither stagnant nor stunted, but worthy of Himself, infinite, divine. Man the crown of creation and the image of God, was capable of boundless development God-ward, but only as God by His Spirit worked it in him. In contrast with the lower creation he was responsible to God; he was not only under training, but under probation. Man as a free moral agent must be tested. Certainly he could not be obedient with nothing to obey. What else could manifest his choice of the will of God, but a revelation of that will in the form of some definite command or prohibition? Accordingly the test came in a triple form, comprising (1) a permission: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat;" (2) a prohibition : "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it;" (3) a warning: "For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2 : 16, 17). (b) As to the character of the test, the objection has been raised that spiritual results ought not to have been made to depend on an external act, but rather on obedience to some distinctly moral principle. But how would such a test have been convincing in the case of unfallen beings, with no bias against what is moral? It would have been no test at all. Others have objected to the smallness of the prohibition. They could understand some great command being important enough, but how could life and death hang on eating a certain fruit or not? Such an objection is not very profound. The smaller the test the easier to pass it. There was no mysterious quality of life and death in the forbidden fruit. It might have been a pomegranate, a plum or any other fruit tree. It only got its qualities, by being chosen for the test. The prohibition was perfectly comprehensible, easy to avoid, and the consequences of failure explicitly laid down. What more easy than to abstain from one tree, when partaking of it meant certain death, and there were a myriad others to be freely eaten of. It was the simplest imaginable test. Had it been passed successfully, I do not think any further test would have been posed in the history of the world. It would have led on to endless blessing and man would have for ever become immune to sin and death. To transgress such a command was sheer wanton wickedness! How differently the last Adam obeyed the test of infinite severity to which He was called—to lay down His life on the Cross! That act means endless glory to Him, and endless blessing to all united with Him by faith.
2. MAN'S FALL
The application of the test was, for reasons not revealed, permitted to Satan, the arch enemy of God, already the originator of the angelic fall. Possibly had anyone less applied it, it might have been alleged that God had unduly shielded man. That a literal serpent was possessed by the Devil, as the most suited of the animal kingdom by subtlety and splendour for his purpose, there can be no doubt, for the physical degradation of the serpent tribe, qua beast of the field, of which, of course, it is unaware, marks the unconscious part it played in carrying out Satan's designs. It is equally clear, to anyone subject to Scripture, that more than a beast was involved. Our Lord speaks of the Devil as "as a man-murderer (anthropoktonos) from the beginning" (Jn. 8:44; cf. 2 Cor. 11:3 with 5:14). In the Apocalypse, in which the terrible personality of Satan emerges so clearly, he is twice spoken of as the 'Old Serpent' (i.e. 'of old') (ch. 12:9; 20:2). The Tempter seeks first to confuse the issue to the woman by misrepresenting the prohibition, then to deceive her into believing his lie, by instilling into her mind the idea that God was withholding good from her. But there was no lust to draw her aside and entice her (James 1:14) and no shadow of a reason for disbelieving God and believing Satan. On the contrary every reason cried aloud to stop her, but "being deceived, she was in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2.14) and straightway herself became a temptress: "Adam was not deceived," but with full knowledge transgressed, deliberately choosing to share Eve's fate and disobey God.
3. RESULTS OF THE FALL
The history of Man began with a Fall, not a Rise whatever man may make himself believe to the contrary. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned" (Rom. 5.12). Evolutionists say we rose from the brutes; Neotheo-logians that we "fell upstairs;" Higher Critics that "at that moment conscience made its appearance," but these are the mere euphemisms of theorists with little knowledge of men and things.
(a) The first result of the Fall was self-consciousness : "They knew they were naked." They must hide from one another their true condition. "They sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons." The whole system of the world to-day, especially of the civilized world, is a system of make-believe; "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie" (Ps. 62.9). Keep your sorrows to yourself and appear happy, even though the reverse—so argues man to-day—which, whilst right enough in its way, does not eliminate the heartache. As long as man is self-centred, he can only be miserable. He must at any cost be hidden from himself, and money-getting, pleasure-seeking and the pursuit of fame are the fig-leaves which serve.
(b) The second result was that both Adam and Eve died.
spiritually that very day. They did not cease to exist; they did not die physically. Externally they seemed the same as before; but God had said "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" and unless Satan's denial was true they did die in the sense intended then and there. A mysterious and marked change passed over their moral being. A gulf yawned between them and their Creator. When they heard His voice, they were afraid and hid themselves. Death is not cessation of existence, but separation of existence. This condition of spiritual death has been perpetuated down the ages. All have participated in the Fall. All have been born in sin and shapen in iniquity and all remain so, whether moral or immoral, religious or irreligious, Jew or Gentile, till born again of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds the Ephesian saints of their pre-conversion days, "Ye were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2.1), and our Lord describes the conversion of the believer as "a passing from death unto life" (John 5.24).
Whether the spiritual part of man is derived from the parents according to what is known as "Traducianism," or directly originated in each case by a creative act, as the "Creationists" teach, has been much discussed; the former seems more consistent with the transmission of a fallen nature and the general facts as known to us.
(c) Thirdly, the earth was cursed for man's sake. Henceforth man must eat bread by the sweat of his brow, and woman, perform her natural part in pain and sorrow. Degradation fell on the serpent and the final judgment pronounced on its great antitype under the heel of the Deliverer —the seed of the woman.
(d) Fourthly, bodily death too ensued, as an indirect result of the Fall. The tree of life to which man had hitherto had free access, must now be withheld, lest he eat and live for ever in a sin-infected body. Clearly there was nothing in that tree to counteract the guilt of sin or affect the soul in any way, but it seems that its fruit was just what was needed to renew the wear and tear of the years on man's bodily frame. "In my opinion," writes Augustine,* "Adam was supplied with sustenance against decay from the fruit of the various trees and with security against old age from the tree of life." Accordingly we read two solemn sentences, "So God drove out the man;" "and Adam died" (Gen. 3.24; 5.5).
*De Peccatorum Meritis etc., I. 3.
In conclusion, does not the condition of the world, with its daily round of wretchedness, sin and crime, agree better with the doctrine of the Fall, than with the hypothesis of evolution? The Genesis record cannot be thrust aside as allegory so easily, as some would wish, for it has the im-primateur of history and experience, for those who are not quite deaf to the voice of God in Scripture and their own conscience. Itself breathes reality. If man never fell, why did he suddenly take to hiding from God, and cover his act with mean excuses? How did his firstborn become a murderer? In Genesis 1.21 we read that "God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good," should we not expect, were evolution true, that after two thousand years of progress everything would have risen to a still higher grade of excellence? What we read is that "God saw that every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6.15), and that the world was so full of violence and corruption that it had to be swept away with Deluge. The expedient of merely expunging a distasteful record does not commend itself to thoughtful men. The truth is man became guilty, lost, and sinful by his fall and perfectly helpless, either to atone for his sin or regain his lost estate. He has been falling ever since and is falling still, witness the late War, and worse is promised. Had not God come down in infinite grace to seek His fallen creature, his case were indeed hopeless.
Focus On Fundamentals
by J. B. Hewitt (Chesterfield)
(17) The Death of Christ (continued)
(B) THE WEALTH OF IT
The wonder of the death of Christ emphasises the glorious power of His blood as the only means of redemption. The wealth of His death is seen in the words "That He Might," revealing the glorious purpose of God, Christ died as a "sin-bearer." Paul, Peter and John link His death with our sins (1 Cor. 15.3; 1 Pet. 3.18; 1 John 3.5).
1. A NEW DESTINY - 1 Peter 3.18 - IN RELATION TO GOD.
The Cross is the pivotal event in history. In spite of its mystery there is meaning. Peter learned to accept the necessity of Christ's sufferings (Acts 3.18). He urges the saints to bear suffering patiently, and refers them to the cross for their inspiration and example.
Christ's sufferings are unique both in character and in consequence. He achieved our reconciliation to God. The sin offering aspect is in view here. (Lev. 10.17; 16.22; Isa. 53.12). This verse 1 Peter 3.18 gives us salvation in its fulness:—Expiation, substitution, crucifixion and resurrection, vindication and coronation (v. 22). Christ's death is atoning —"for our sins," substitutionary—on our behalf (Mark 14.24; 1 Tim. 2.6); final—"once for all" (Heb. 9.26; 10.10,12); effective—"to bring us to God." On the cross the Saviour made there a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction for "the sins of the world." (John 1.29). There is salvation through His suffering; pardon through His pain; and life through His death.
2. A NEW DELIVERANCE - Heb. 2.14; 1 John 3.8. - IN RELATION TO SATAN.
Two of the purposes of Christ's Incarnation are the destruction of the Devil (v. 14) and our representation in heaven as High Priest (v. 17,18). It is for the help of men and not of angels, that Christ came (14-16 R.V.). The success of His work has two aspects, the devil's destruction, and our deliverance.
IDENTIFICATION (v. 14a) a body of flesh and blood. "Took part"—the humanity was self-assumed. He took, He did not inherit or receive a body. Existing in His divine nature, He took part in our nature, sin apart. He was made like unto His brethren in every respect. He assumed true and perfect manhood.
DESTRUCTION (v. 14b). Destruction here means the loss of well-being rather than loss of being. It means to nullify or to bring to nought. For the believer Satan's power has been made void, render inoperative his power over man founded in sin. He received a death wound at Calvary, He is a defeated foe and his doom is sure (Rev. 20.10).
EMANCIPATION (v. 15) from fear, for Christ is our Kinsman (v. 14a) Redeemer (v. 14b), Avenger (v. 15). Our risen Lord now has "the keys of Death and Hades" (Rev. 1.18), complete authority over them. For the believer the fear produced, namely, death as penal and bondage, has been abolished by our Lord. There is now no uncertainty, horror and gloom for Christ brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel (2 Tim. 1.10).
3. A NEW DISCOVERY - Gal. 1.4,5. - IN RELATION TO THE WORLD.
Here is the Gospel, guilt—"our sins," grace—"He gave Himself," gratitude—for deliverance, and glory to God and the Lord Jesus. The profound utterance in verse four, is the foundation on which the truth of this Letter rests.
AN ACKNOWLEDGED SAVIOUR (v. 3b). His full title is a splendid argument for the Deity of Christ, who, in this salutation is made one with the Father. He is Sovereign, Saviour and Sanctifier.
AN ACCEPTABLE SACRIFICE (v. 4). The value of the blood shed on Calvary rests upon the nature of the One who gave it. Christ was both the Priest who offered the sacrifice and the Sacrifice that was offered (Heb. 10.12).
OUR ABHORRENT SINS. He left His glory - lit. throne, to die for our sins (1 Cor. 15.3). He gave Himself FOR my sins to save me FROM my sins. He gave this inestimable treasure for our sins, a ransom so immeasurable to rescue us. "Our," Christianity lies in the personal pronouns. His death was Voluntary; it was for our sins, and, therefore, Vicarious and as it was to deliver us from evil, it was also Ethical; and being according to the will of God, it was Effectual, and victorious and yet all too many Christians are more absorbed in being conformed to the world than in being transformed by the Lord (Rom. 12.2).
ADORATION OF HEART (v. 5). As the apostle contemplates the wonder of God's redeeming love in Christ, his overflowing heart bursts forth in a doxology, a song of praise to God.
4. A NEW DYNAMIC - Gal.. 3.14 15. - IN RELATION TO THE SPIRIT.
In this chapter Paul champions the truth that Justification is by faith in Christ Alone. We need redemption from the
curse of the Law that is upon us all. Christ is our Redeemer (v. 14). These saints have turned their eyes from the Saviour to a sorcerer (v. 1). They had received the Holy Spirit (v. 2), yet were trying to be perfect by the flesh instead of by faith (v. 3). The Lord Jesus enters life's arena as our champion to do battle for us. We have been brought back from slavery at the tremendous cost of Christ being made a curse for us (v. 13; 2 Cor. 5.21). He paid the debt to set us free. Our Benefactor (v. 15). Two gracious purposes of His death are here, (1) the extension of blessing to the Gentiles as well as to Jews; and (2) the outpouring of the Spirit upon all who trust Christ.
"The blessing of Abraham" is justification by faith (Gen. 15.6; Rom. 4.20—5.11). We have a new standing with God, and a new dynamic in the life. A totally new indwelling life-principle. The Law has been satisfied and we are justified by faith (v. 13,14), and sanctified by the Spirit, with His gifts and graces as promised through faith.
5. A NEW DIGNITY BEFORE GOD - Gal. 4.5,6. - IN RELATION TO THE FATHER.
The theme of this chapter is faith and freedom. The word for bondage, or slavery, appears twelve times. Trace the word for freedom used here. The application of the teaching —"even so." It is Ethical (v. 3). Before Christ came the world was in its nonage, and in bondage to rudimentary things. Christ is the answer to this problem.
HISTORICAL (v. 4,5). Where can we find a clearer statement of the fact that Christ was both divine and human? He 'was possessed of perfect deity and perfect humanity. "Made of a woman" brings Christ into relation with the human race, "under the law," brings Him into relation with the Jewish nation. Christ was sent not only to Reveal God but to Redeem man.
SPIRITUAL (v. 6,7). Adoption is "son-placing" by the actual impartation of Divine life. Faith in Christ brings us into the Family. The privilege of sonship (v.6) and heirship, for Sonship involves Heirship. Our relation to God is no longer servile but filial. From the penalty of sins to the legacy of sons—what an amazing transition! Redeemed, related and made rich, sonship comes to us from the Three Persons of the Godhead.
6. A NEW DIRECTION - Titus 2.14. - IN RELATION TO LAWLESSNESS.
Grace is viewed here dynamically. Its revelation in Christ (v. 11), leads to a definite act of renunciation made effective by daily self-denial. Redemption and sanctification are ours through our Saviour's self-sacrifice. We are His own possession full of burning zeal in doing. Our expectation is the coming Lord and His claims will be vindicated at His manifestation in glory.
A DEFINITE DESCRIPTION OF DEITY, "the great God" an expression unique in the N.T. This is an assertion of His equality in glory with the Father. Our salvation proceeds from none less than God Himself. The designation of Christ as God is in harmony with other Scripture (John 20. 28; Rom. 9.5; Heb. 1.8; 2 Pet. 1.1).
THE PURPOSE OF REDEMPTION (v. 14). Viewed both negatively and positively. Its price—the setting free from slavery or a death sentence by the payment of a price, "the ransom" (1 Tim. 2.6). We are rescued from the power of sin, bondage in iniquity His death was a definite voluntary act. It was an exhaustive act.—"Himself." His whole unique personality, not merely His blood. It was substitutionary, "for us," (Matt. 20.28; Mk. 10. 45). Positively—"to purify." Not only freed from the consequences and power of sin, but the dignity of being His own possession. By character and conduct we are to reveal .that we belong wholly to Him.
7. A NEW DOMINION - Rom. 14.9. R.V. - IN RELATION TO CHRISTIAN LIVING.
Believers belong to Christ because they have been brought with a price (1 Cor. 6.20). He wants to be "Lord" of every department of life (v. 7-9). The resurrection of Christ is seen to be the basis of His Lordship over His people. The Lordship of Christ is true, not only of the subjects here mentioned, but also of the whole of the believer's life. The recognition of His Lordship will enable us to tolerate differences so long as they do not involve dis-obedience to the Word of God. It will enable us to become large-hearted Christians, emphasizing unity in things essential and liberty in things nen-essential. Christ's right of possession is founded upon
His Death and Resurrection. Lordship belongs to the sphere of redemptive accomplishment. As the triumphant Mediator he has been invested with absolute sovereignty over both the dead and the living. As God, he hath a universal dominion over all; but as Mediator, he hath a more special dominion over all the Father gave to him in resurrection (Matt. 28.18; Phil. 2.9,10).
He is designated Lord (Acts 2.36). He deserves to be Lord (Rom. 14.9). It ought to act as one of the strongest deterrents for not breaking the bonds of fellowship (Rom. 14.1-12). "He is thy Lord" (Psa. 45.11). "My Lord and my God." (John 20.28). Meditate on "The Cross in Galatians." A means of rescue and emancipation (1.4); of removal and identification (2.20); of restoration and inspiration (3.1); of redemption and introduction (3.13); of relationship and inheritance (4.4-7); of reproach and persecution (5.11); of reproduction and separation (5.24) and of rejoicing or exultation (6.14).
by W. W. Fereday
This is a very comprehensive term, for it covers sentiments so widely different as the criminal's dread of his judge, the reverence of the child for its parent, and the respect of the wife for her husband. When Scripture states of Gentiles and Jews alike that "there is no fear of God before their eyes" (Rom. iii. 18) it means that God has no place in their thoughts, and that His commandments are not suffered to have any restraining influence upon their ways. Terrible condition truly, especially when we remember that man was created by God for Himself to walk with Him, and to do His will.
Of Abraham and Job, among others, it is expressly said that they feared God. Seeing that moral alienation is stamped upon the whole human family, such fear of God is the fruit of Divine grace alone. This is abundantly manifested in the case of the dying thief. At first a reviler of the Son of God in the hour of His woe, we presently hear him saying to his fellow, "Dost not thou fear God?" (Luke xxiii. 40). As he drew near to eternity God rose up before his soul, and he became filled with reverential awe. His own evil, and the infinite holiness of his Creator, overwhelmed him as he reflected upon them.
When the reality of guilt is brought home to a man he cannot but be filled with dread. Thus Felix trembled as Paul pointedly urged upon him the claims of God. There will be a universal trembling when the great Judge appears in the clouds of heaven, and every eye beholds Him. But to every soul whose confidence is in Christ and the precious blood He shed, the Divine message is, "Fear not." Such are entitled to know that their sins have been adequately atoned for and put away for ever. Their hearts turn gratefully to the God of infinite love Who provided such a costly sacrifice for them. Dread is at once displaced by love. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment" (I John iv. 18). The Holy Spirit, who is then conferred upon them, is not the spirit of fear, but the Spirit of sonship whereby they cry, "Abba Father" (Rom. viii. 15). From that moment we "serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life" (Luke i. 74).
But though dread is thus banished from the believing soul, reverence remains and deepens as God and His word become more fully known. Hence the exhortation, "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb. xii. 28). Along with this there is developed an inward horror of sin in its every form, and an earnest desire to walk in complete separation from it. "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Prov. viii. 13). He who wallows in sin, whatever his religious profession, has never known our God.
The Flesh And Our Old Man
by Edward Robinson (Exmouth)
There are two great enemies of the Christian : they are not external, indeed they might be summed up in one word, 'himself.' They are termed in the Scriptures 'the flesh' and 'our old man.' In the minds of some the two are practically indistinguishable; they are by no means identical, in fact. Those same Scriptures indicate quite clearly that they are to be separately identified and understood. This will be apparent when we see that the one ('the flesh') remains with us as long as we are in the body. On the other hand 'our old man,' as we shall see, is to be dealt with summarily.
There is, therefore, a battle to be waged : in regard of the flesh it is continuous. This, of course, is not intended to make the Christian introspective (to be inward looking leads to defeat), but rather that he should be always on the alert and by the Spirit have the ability to discern (by no means easy) between the flesh and the Spirit. Paul deals extensively with the warfare in chapters 7 and 8 of the Roman Epistle. Connecting the law with the flesh he says 'Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be (married) to another.' (7.4). This truth is beautifully typified in the case of Abigail, married to (identified with) a churlish man, Nabal. The only way of release for her was by way of his death (typically, as to the flesh, her own), to free her to be married to another, David (1 Sam. 39.25). The lesson for us is clear; death has to be applied to ourselves as in the flesh in order that we might be set free to be to another, even Christ. It is good to begin with the knowledge that the outcome of the war, (although some battles may be lost), and complete victory, is assured. Paul sums this up by saying that we have the first-fruits of the Spirit and are now 'waiting for the redemption of the body.' (Rom. 8.23). The redemption of the soul has already been secured by faith in the precious blood of Christ.
'Our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed' (annulled, J.N.D.) (Rom. 6.6). The great baptismal chapter thus describes our former nature before conversion, 'our old man!' How far-reaching is baptism in its instruction, perhaps initially understood only as a matter of simple obedience. In this context the crucifying of our old man is viewed doctrinally, that is as having in the mind of God already been totally accomplished. Ephes-ians, however (surprisingly full of practical exhortation in an epistle of such heavenly elevation), presents the practical aspect of the exercise, 'that ye put off concerning the former conversation (manner of life) the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.' (Eph. 4.22). He goes on with this positive line 'and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.' (vv. 23,24). And these verses but re-inforce two earlier verses (20,21), 'But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus.' He had been referring to the manner of life of the Gentiles, which also had marked them in their unconverted days. What a powerful lever, 'so learned Christ.' This will surely be a lifetime education for us all, initially, of course, as Saviour and Lord, but deepening with every passing day, month and year. We may profitably learn Christ in the narratives of the Gospels, but so much more is involved, necessitating a daily walk and personal communion with and nearness to Himself. Only so shall we in reality put off the features of 'our old man' and put on 'the new man, which after God (according to the divine nature) is created in righteousness and true holiness.'
The importance of the theme is again emphazised by the apostle in the Colossian Epistle. Reminding them of the ways in which they once walked 'when ye lived in them,' he continues 'seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him; where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor un-circumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on, therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering . . . And above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.' (3.9-14). It is interesting that Paul here uses the Greek word for new (Neos), signifying (the new man, v.10) fresh or youthful, 'renewed in knowledge,' always retaining the freshness of youth. By contrast, in Ephesians (4.24), he says 'And that ye put on the new man (Kainos), which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 'The Greek, kainos, signifies what is wholly different. Perhaps, by illustration, we speak of new potatoes (Gk. Neos, young, fresh) but of a business being under new (Gk. Kainos) management (different). Both renderings are appropriate in regard of this definite movement of putting on the new man, where it is evident Christ is in view. It is also clear that the way for this to take place is preceded by the putting off, that course in which we once walked and the man offensive to God, our old man.
Hymns And Their Writers(12)
by Jack Strahan (Enniskillen)
"JESUS THE VERY THOUGHT OF THEE"
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX (1091—1153)
The Dark Ages were still casting their shadows over Europe when Tesselin, a medieval knight who had fought in the first Crusade, returned to his castle on Les Fontaines near Dijon in Burgundy and there joined his wife, the Lady Aletta. To this noble couple a son was born in the year 1091; they called him Bernard. Possessed of every favour and advantage, of high birth, of personal beauty and of gentle manner, influential and well educated, this world held great promise for Bernard. Lady Aletta prayed for her boy and desired that he would be "a saintly messenger of God," and though she didn't see her prayers answered, she died in faith when Bernard was just 14.
At the age of 22, Bernard entered monastic life in the Cistercian Monastry of Citeaux near Dijon. He was talented, brilliant and possessed of an irresistible influence with great powers of entreaty—characteristics that marked him out for leadership. Such was his influence, that on entering monastic life, he persuaded an uncle and two brothers to join him. The ascetic practices of the Order of Citeaux were stringent, but Bernard observed them diligently, even to the extent of sometimes endangering his health. In the monastry, his austerity and perseverance brought him admiration and promotion and thus after two years, he was sent forth from Citeaux as leader of a group of 12 monks to found a daughter institution. Locating a spot in the pathless forest of the "valley of Wormwood," they set to work and, with Bernard as their abbot, transformed that site and called it Clairvaux, "the Valley of Light." With his extraordinary influence, reputation and leadership involving him with kings and with popes, Bernard's fame soon rapidly spread, but his happiest days were spent within1 the monastery at Clairvaux. There he enjoyed communion with God. Martin Luther testified of him, "If there ever lived on earth a God-fearing and holy monk, it was Bernard of Clairvaux." He died in the monastery at Clairvaux in 1153 in his 63rd year, weary of this world and glad to be at rest.
Bernard of Clairvaux had extraordinary talents; he was an eloquent preacher and a great theologian with a rare literary ability. His contributions to hymnology were in the form of poems written in Latin. The two best known which have been preserved to us are (1) "Jesu dulcis memoria"—a poem on the name of Christ, and (2) "Jesu mundi Salutare" a meditation on the suffering Saviour. The latter consisted of 350 lines and was divided into 7 parts. The seventh part on the suffering face of Jesus Christ was translated into German by Paul Gerhardt over 500 years later, and from the German there have been several English
translations, of which perhaps the best known is the very beautiful rendering by Dr. J. W. Alexander, "0 Sacred Head! once wounded." Bernard's other poem, "Jesu dulcis memoria" has been termed by Dr. Scaff as "the sweetest and most evangelical hymn of the Middle Ages." Some have expressed doubt as to whether Bernard did write this poem, but the best authorities are satisfied that it came out of the monastery at Clairvaux and that Bernard must have been its author. In its Latin original, the poem consisted of 42 stanzas, of 4 lines each. David Livingstone tells us in his journals how he crooned it to himself in the wilds of Africa, "That hymn of St. Bernard on the name of Christ, although in what might be termed dog-Latin, pleases me so; it rings in my ears as I wander across this wild, wild wilderness." There are several complete and some partial translations into English, but the most familiar are those of the 19th Century by Edward Caswell and Dr. Ray Palmer.
Jesus the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
0 Saviour of mankind!
(tr. by Edward Caswell).
'Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.
We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the fountain-head,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.
(tr. by Ray Palmer).
John Mason Neale has given to us another lovely rendering, "Jesus! the very thought is sweet."
No word is sung more sweet than this,
No name is heard more full of bliss,
No thought brings sweeter comfort nigh
Than Jesus, Son of God most high.
Jesus, to God the Father gone,
Is seated on the heavenly throne :
My heart hath also passed from me,
That where He is there it may be.
What precious meditation of Christ is expressed in this treasured poem of Bernard of Clairvaux! The theme is rich and full of beauty. The person of Christ had filled and satisfied the heart of Bernard in the Dark Middle Ages within the monastery at Clairvaux. There, again and again, with soul athirst, he had turned aside from earth's best bliss to seek communion with Christ. Oft he had withdrawn from the oppression of sin's dark night, to rest in the light and warmth of the Saviour's presence.
His name thrills our hearts. His memory is sweet. When absent, our hearts are longing and our spirits restless. Communion with Him. mates the heart to burn and we long for Him to stay.
Yes, today, there is a sweetness in Christ for hearts that are tired of earth's tasteless fare. There is a kindness with Christ known and cherished particularly by those who have fallen; and there is a fulness in Christ sufficient to fill the emptiness of rest-less seeking hearts.
The Meal Offering
by James Neilly
As we would view the Lord in every way,
His Grace revealed to us upon life's way,
His TRUTH, His meekness, plainly all display,
The fineness of the flour.
As we consider how each step He took,
The Spirit's power, Lord help us as we look,
From Birth till Death, as in His Holy Book,
The fulness of the oil.
As once more we would venture closely near,
His tender touch, His patience, kind, sincere,
None else at all, could all in one appear,
The fragrance of the frankincense.
As we would try, again, to enter in,
To learn about His sorrow, sore within,
The suffering caused to Him alone by sin,
The fierceness of the fire.
His sweet preserving influence try to share,
His precious words in season spoken there,
His Life affording fulness everywhere,
The freshness of the salt.
These truths admixture from Him all that's good,
A wondrous foretaste, here of Heavenly food,
They speak to us, as nothing ever could,
The first fruits of the field.
"Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields," is our Lord's command. He saw there a harvest without reapers, sheep without a shepherd. And it has been remarked, tru'ly enough, that some do not feel, because they do not look. Let us look earnestly, and not merely see thoughtlessly. Then, by the grace of God, we may be stirred to real depths of fellow-feeling, which shall issue in some degree of fellow-suffering, in the Spirit's power.
"He leadeth me beside the waters of quietness" (Psa. 23.2, mar.) There must be at all costs some Upper Room in our lives where Christ gathers us about Himself . . . Those whose lives are withdrawn, it may be by suffering or by some compulsion which shuts them off from the more active work of the world, may here be among the best benefactors of mankind ... But it is ever needful for us all to keep quiet places in our lives and preserve our souls from being overwhelmed in the rough seas.