November/December 1956

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Contents

Unity
Wm Bunting

The Temple of the Lord are These
William Williams

The Lamentations of Jerimiah
F. Cundick

The Bones of Joseph
A. McShane

Some of the Last Written Words of the Late Mr J. H. Todd, Australia

Quotes

She Spake of Him

Hate Not!


Unity

By Wm. Bunting

WHAT now is the sum of the things which we have considered? Is it not just this, that God’s ideal of practical unity for His people can only be attained by them in measure as they adhere to the principles of unity so clearly enunciated in Scripture? “Any infringement of these principles”, says Dr. R. C. Edwards of Australia, “is a breach of the unity of the Spirit. Unity may be achieved by such infringement, but not the unity of the Spirit” (our italics). It cannot be too often repeated in this day of compromise and consequent confusion, that unity after God’s heart is not a unity which sets aside certain aspects of truth as though they were non-essential, and which tolerates error. It is not a unity in general—a unity of differing creeds. It is a unity built upon a sound scriptural foundation, which enthrones Christ as Lord in all matters of faith and ethics, and which humbly bows in willing obedience to His every precept.

Encouragement

For our encouragement, let us remember that amidst all the weakness and failure by which we are surrounded, it is just as possible to manifest this oneness in a corporate way to-day as ever it was, and that it is in fact being manifested by hundreds of godly assemblies in different parts of the world. What is more, we know of nothing in Scripture to indicate that it will not be possible so to do until the very end of the Church period. The testimony may at times have to be borne in great weakness. For example, the writer some months ago celebrated the Lord’s Supper in a meeting in which there were present but two other saints. It was in a large Irish town where we were surrounded by Roman Catholicism and superstition, but that gathering in His precious Name though small and despised by the religious world, was nevertheless an expression of the unity of the Spirit. The commands of the Lord relating to this oneness abide whatever outward circumstances may be, and must never be regarded as obsolete, or as impossible of fulfilment. Indeed, experience has proved that Divine principles are universally adaptable. They are workable in lands in both East and West. Read “It Can be Done,” by our esteemed brother, William Williams, who has a valuable paper in the present magazine, and you will learn how effectively they operate in the dark, priest-ridden land of Venezuela. Above all, these principles are worth maintaining, and never, we believe, since the early days has it been more important than it is just now, to preserve the glorious heritage which they comprise. For our encouragement, let us remember that if we are prepared to do so .at all cost, the Lord’s presence and power will not fail to give us the necessary enabling, even in the darkest and most difficult times. If His parting command to His own was, “Teach them (the saints) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” He was careful to add, “and lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the age” ; and to Him, the risen and exalted Saviour, has been committed “All power ... in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28. 18-20). What limitless resources then are at our disposal, and will be at our disposal, until the desert sands are crossed!

Separation

It is important, however, that we should have a clear apprehension of what our adherence to these principles demands. It demands a clean-cut separation from all that is inconsistent with scriptural teaching. The demand is absolute, for apart from this separation, which so many New Testament passages enjoin, it is quite impossible to give full expression to the unity of the Spirit. This truth may not be popular with many, but Scripture insists upon it, and God will not, yea God cannot, deny His Word. “The first step in confessing the unity of the church of God,” says C.H.M., “is to step out of the divisions of Christendom. Let us not stop to ask what is the second step. God never gives light for two steps at a time. Is it true that there is one body? Unquestionably. God says so. Well then the divisions, the sects, and the systems of Christendom are plainly opposed to the mind and will and Word of God. Truly so. What are we to do? Step out of them. This, we may rest assured, is the first step in a right direction. If our standpoint is false, our whole range of vision must be false. We must get to a true standpoint, and then our entire range is correct. It is impossible to yield any practical confession to the unity of the church of God while we stand connected with that which practically denies it. We may hold the theory in the region of our understanding, while we deny the reality in our practical career. But if we desire to confess the truth of the one body, our very first business—our primary duty, is to stand in thorough separation from all the sects and schisms of Christendom.

“ ‘But’, some may enquire, ‘Will not this involve the formation of a new sect, and that, too, the narrowest and most intolerant of all sects?’ By no means. It may seem to be so, in the judgement of mere nature—even religious nature. But the question is, are the divisions of Christendom according to God? Are the many bodies of the professing church in accordance with the ‘one body’ of Eph. 4? Clearly not. Then it is our divinely appointed duty to come out of them, and it is impossible that the discharge of a divinely enjoined duty can ever lead to sectarianism or schism ; nay it is a direct and positive testimony against it ; and, furthermore, the first grand step toward keeping the unity of the

Spirit in the bond of peace is to step out of the divisions of Christendom. And what then? Looking to Jesus ; and this is to continue right on to the end. Is this—we repeat the question—to form a new sect, or join some new body? By no means ; it is but fleeing from the ruins around us to find our resource in the all-sufficiency of the Name of Jesus. It is but leaving the ship at the bidding of Jesus, to keep the eye fixed on Him amid the wild watery waste, until we reach in safety the haven of everlasting rest and glory.”

(Remainder of this paper had to be held over).

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"The Temple of the Lord are These"

By William Williams

JEREMIAH had to witness to Judah as the people rebelled more and more and thus prepared themselves for the Babylonian captivity. Through His servant, God pleaded with the nation. He reminded them that they were still dear to Him: " I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the winderness.” (Jer. 2: 2). But they paid no heed. The priests said not, “Where is the Lord?” The pastors transgressed and the prophets prophesied by Baal. God charged them with “committing two evils”—forsaking God “the fountain of living waters,” and then to keep up an appearance, making “broken cisterns which could hold no water.”

Jeremiah delivered message after message, but they fell on deaf ears. The people were so far away from God that they could not see their own wickedness, and so deaf that they could not hear either His pleadings or threatenings of punishment. But let it be understood that they had their religion, their forms and ceremonies, their feasts and fasts ; but God and His Word were not in the whole thing.

In Ch. 7: 4 He again speaks to them :    “Trust not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.” By repeating the lie they began to believe it. But God calls it “lying words.” They would not learn the easy way, they had to learn the hard way. God gave them their fill of idols in Babylon, and 70 years so cured them of idolatry that we never read of their going back to it again.

Now something analogous to all this is happening amongst the assemblies. God’s Word and God’s order are being slowly but surely set aside in a subtle, clandestine way, so that only the Christian in touch with God can notice it. Often when you ascend a high mountain in Venezuela you do not notice the mist until you feel the cold, damp air. Others afar off can see that you are in the cloud. So it is spiritually. Each time we go home we see the new innovations. A leading brother wrote to us last week, saying, “Pray for us. The young people are taking hold and we can do nothing with them!”

Now, notice, that these movements do not disown being “gathered to the Lord’s Name”. Oh, no! “The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these.” They seem to think that because they say that they are gathered to the Lord’s Name, that is enough. Not so. Merely stating Matt. 18: 20 does not justify them. Being gathered to His Name will bear its own evidence, not by repeating words merely, but by acting in a godly way. Gathered to His Name means subjection to God’s Word in all things, owning the Lordship of Christ in complete separation from the religious world in its many forms. Will God again let His people learn the hard way by a return to Babylon? God forbid!

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The Lamentations of Jeremiah

By F. Cundick, Luton

IT is my purpose to quicken our appreciation of a neglected book of the Sacred Canon of Scripture by drawing attention to some general facts concerning it, namely, its structure, subject and significance.

THE STRUCTURE

Here is a collection of five poems properly arranged in the five chapters of the Authorized Version. The feature about these poems which must give special interest to the student of the Hebrew language is their arrangement in acrostic form. In chapters one, two and four, the initial letter of each verse follows the order of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter five contains the same number of stanzas or verses, but the alphabetical arrangement disappears there. In the third chapter, each verse in every succeeding set of three begins with the same Hebrew letter. It will be observed by the careful reader that in this chapter the sixteenth letter of the alphabet, ‘A-yin’, is out of its normal order (see mar. of vs. 46, 49). Regarding this change Lightfoot suggestively writes, ‘The letter A-yin which is the numeral letter for LXX was thus, by being displaced made remarkable, to put them in mind of the 70 years, at the end of which God would turn again their captivity.’

These word-shrines, built for the feelings of the pious Hebrew, convey to us some important lessons:

1. Orderly ministry of the word of the Lord.

Haphazard, rambling statements are hardly in keeping with the teaching of the New Testament regarding the exercise of spiritual gift in the assembly of the saints. The soul of the minister of the word of God should be in the condition described by a great man as ‘unprepared preparedness’ for spiritual ministry.

2. True devotion to God is not mere lip-service.

'Every letter of these poems is written with tears, every word the sound of a broken heart'. God hears the heart, though without words, but He never hears words without the heart (see Mark. 7: 6).

3. The sweetest strains of music come out of the deepest sorrows.

We have missed the meaning of human history, if we have not seen that out of the shadows of suffering have sprung the greatest benefits for man. The observation of this fact of human experience and history caused the poet to write:

'The mark of rank in nature, is capacity for pain,
And the sweetness of the singer makes the sweetness of the strain.’

For the child of God, this principle is indelibly engraved upon the Cross. It is the deep sorrow which the Lord of Glory bore upon the shameful tree, that will cause the anthem to swell around the throne to the ineffable joy of the Throne-Sitter, the redeemed, and the hosts of heaven. Let the believer endure whatever may befall him, in this light, that ‘he may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God’ (2 Thess. 1:5).

THE SUBJECT

Allusion to this has already been made, but the reader will be confirmed that the poems constitute a series of memorial hymns of the great national disaster in the overthrow of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 586 B.c. by reading the following references : ch. 1: 20; ch. 2: 11, 12; ch. 3: 4; ch. 4: 9, 10; ch. 5: 10. The failure of the Egyptian army to relieve the besieged city of Jerusalem, the growing severity of the siege, the desperation and flight of king Zedekiah as recorded in 2 Kings 25: 1-7, are surely in view in ch. 4: 17-20. To this great disaster—the collapse of Israelitish government—all the poems and their general phraseology best apply. The book, as another has said is, ‘A sanctuary in verse dedicated by a nation to the remembrance of a common sorrow'.

The phraseology of the first poem describing the enslavement of the people earns for it the name mara {bitter). Compare vs. 1, 2, 4, 7, with Ruth ch. 1: 20, 21. The second poem which opens with the destruction of the city expressed in the pathetic words, ‘How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger, and cast down from heaven to earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not His footstool in the day of His anger!' suggests the name Hormah (Utter-destruction). The sad notes of personal sorrow concerning the affliction of the people sounded in the third, cause us to think of Bochim (weeping) for a summary description. The grieving poet writes, ‘Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people’ (v. 48). The desecration of the temple by the enemies of the people, the blackening of its precious gold by the smoke of the fires of destruction, brought to view in the fourth poem, brings to mind the name Ichabod {Where is the glory). The last poem reveals some beams of hope. Despite the ravages wrought upon the poet's beloved land and people, his heart is moved in faithful intercession before God. Mizpeh {the watchtower) may serve to summarize this attitude. The choice of these names by no means imparts a sense of complete satisfaction, but in suggesting them one hopes that poet brethren will provide something more comprehensive and appropriate.

THE SIGNIFICANCE

Having thus gathered in some degree the themes of the book, we may now reflect upon them. What are the implications for us?

We first turn our gaze upward to the throne of the Eternal God to learn a little of His character. The poems bear solemn witness to God’s unerring governments for His people. No better saying could be found to call attention to its unveiling of Divine dealings than that of Rom. 11: 22, ‘Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God '. Think of God’s severity. The whole destruction of the city is regarded as God’s work. The armies of the Chaldeans were but instruments in His hand to remove the disobedient people from their city and land. The systematic thoroughness of the judgment is expressed forcibly in chapter two: 'The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion : He hath stretched out a line, He hath not withdrawn His hand from destroying’ (v. 8). That God is obligated to remove a community that degrades the testimony of His character, is a sobering truth. If the people of God would consider more this searching truth how different things would be. Its influence upon our relationships, our regard of one another, and especially our obedience to the order of God's house, would be evident (see 1 Pet. 4: 19).

As regards God’s goodness, the whole of the Book of Lamentations is a touching revelation of God’s compassion for, and feeling with, His people in their affliction. ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed’, writes the poet, ‘Because His compassions fail not, They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness’. In all the afflictions of the people He is afflicted. Clouds may hide God from His people, but will never hide His people from Him. The perfect expression of this Divine compassion is seen in the Blessed Man heading the procession up the slopes of the Olivet Road. When He saw the sight of the proud city in the morning sunlight, it brought such a mighty rush of compassion to His soul that He wept aloud (see Luke 19: 41-44). Let us gaze long upon those glistening tears, that we may preserve our hearts from a bitter spirit, and the wrath ‘that worketh not the righteousness of God’.

Next let us observe the reactions of a faithful man of God. The exercises of a pious man are always instructive and inspiring. See how he endures suffering for his testimony. ' Mine enemies chased me sore, like a bird, without cause. They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me’ (Ch. 3: 52, 53). Here is suffering not from the people of the nations around, but from the people of God who were faithfully loved and served. A renowned godly man wrote : ‘What suffering can be like that of one who shares the suffering of God’s people without being able to turn away the evil, because they refuse to hear God’s message?’ Yet despite suffering he remains sympathetic towards the people of God. Although his prophecies and warnings are vindicated by the events of the destruction of the city, he does not indulge in exultation, but rather is consumed with sorrow. If his word was ‘like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces’, his heart beats in time with God’s, compassionate and tender. It is the prophet who feels most deeply the sorrows of the punished people, the people who had rejected his faithful yet loving warnings.

The prophet-poet is so heavily burdened that he turns in supplication to Jehovah. Having no quarrel or struggle in his heart, he is able to supplicate the throne of God on behalf of his people in full fellowship with God. ‘Thou, 0 Lord abidest for ever ; Thy throne is from generation to generation. Wherefore dost Thou forget us for ever, and forsake so long time? Turn Thou us unto Thee, 0 Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old. Unless Thou hast utterly rejected us, and art very wrath against us’ (ch. 5: 19-22 R. V. mar.). God remains despite the great loss of the city ; He reigns although the earthly king has been removed ; He restores, for He abideth faithful to His promises. May the Lord raise up such intercessors of power today!

There remains yet one more direction to scan—the general mass of the congregation of the Lord, ‘the sons of Zion’ as they are designated by the poet. From one angle this is the most heart-searching of the views in the book. Conditions of our time are so much like them. The sufferings of the people bring to light their sins. What were they? Is there help in this unveiling to diagnose the heart-grieving conditions of the present generation of God’s people? Look now at the leaders of Judah, first, the priests. The poet’s description is vivid. ‘The iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just . . . they have wandered as blind men in the streets, they have polluted themselves with blood, so that men could not touch their garments’ (ch. 4: 13, 14). These privileged men were the prime movers in the attempt to silence the word of the Lord, by assassinating the faithful prophets of God! The resultant abhorrence of the priesthood is understandable in light of this. Here is THE breach of fellowship with Jehovah. Suppression of the word of truth is ever the effort of mere formalists in spiritual affairs.

Now look at the prophets. The poet mourns, ‘Thy prophets have seen vain and foolish things for thee ; and they have not discovered thine iniquity, to turn away thy captivity ; but have seen for thee false burdens and causes of banishment’ (ch. 2: 14). ‘Instead of grappling with facts they indulge in fancies ; instead of exposing sin they excuse it ; instead of convicting they were consoling’. If the failure of the priests was in communion, the failure of the prophets was in communication. The enemy of the people of God has always attacked these vital lines of contact with God. Let us beware of the enemy's tactics, and keep the doors of our hearts open to the reception of God’s eternal truth. Small wonder these people of old were prepared to compromise their national calling, when such influences were at work. The poet mourns of ‘lovers’ (ch. 1: 19) meaning, of course, the nations with whom the people had made alliances. These alliances failed of their purpose in the day of calamity. True power and influence could only be theirs in remaining separate from the godless ideas and sins of the nations around. When leaders of the saints reason and behave after the manner of the priests and prophets of Jeremiah’s day, the element of compromise, which is ever destructive of Christian character, will increase. It would be far beyond the scope of this article to point out the great losses sustained by Jerusalem through the disaster depicted in these poems. Let men who propound the ideas of the nations around think twice! If preservation of witness for God is the motive, then let it be in God’s own way.

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The Bones of Joseph

By A. McShane

THERE are frequent references in Scripture to human bones, but none of them is more interesting to consider than those concerning the bones of Joseph. No less than four times and in four different books is our attention drawn to them. In the Old Testament they are first mentioned by Joseph himself when he was at the point of death (Gen. 50: 25) ; they are again referred to in Exodus 13: 19, where we are told that Moses took them with him out of Egypt ; and finally, in Joshua 24: 32 we learn of their burial in Mount Ephraim. Thus they form a link between these three great historical books. If we look again at these references we see that the bones were with Israel in their afflictions in Egypt, in their passage through the wilderness, and in their conquests of Canaan. Furthermore, in the Genesis passage they are spoken of in association with the patriarchs—-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose bones were already resting in Canaan ; in the Exodus passage they are associated with Moses ; and in the Joshua verses they are seen buried in the same country as Joshua and Eleazar. In the New Testament reference to them—Heb. 11: 22—Joseph’s commandment concerning them is specially noted as an evidence of his faith.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that, in the Bible, a distinction is invariably made between a dead body or corpse, and a skeleton or bones. The former denotes the remains of one who has recently died, while the latter is used of what is left after the flesh has wasted away.

When we consider the respect shown to, and the interest taken in, the bodies of the departed, both by Egyptians and Israelites, and the care these peoples took in burying their dead, we are clearly justified in seeking to discover why the body of Joseph was kept unburied for a period of not less than two hundred years. There must be some important lessons to be learned from this fact, and to some of these we will now attempt to call attention.

With regard to Joseph himself, these bones show him to be as distinct from his brethren in death as he was in life, for we are told by Stephen in Acts. 7: 16 that when they died their bodies were carried over and buried in the tombs of their fathers in the land of Canaan, whereas when he died his was left lying in a coffin in Egypt. It was not that he had no interest in the promised land, for it is very evident that although he had spent over ninety years in Egypt, he nevertheless died a true Hebrew. Earlier, when his brethren met him in Egypt, he appeared to them to be an Egyptian. He spoke as an Egyptian, dressed as an Egyptian, and behaved as an Egyptian ; but when he lay dying, there was not a trace of the influence of Egypt about him. Although his life from boyhood days had been spent there, and during most of this time he had little contact, it would seem, with his brethren, yet at the time of his death he was as much interested in Canaan, if not more so, than any of them. Neither the frown of foes nor the favour of friends blurred his vision of his native land. While speaking his last words, his mind was turned back to his fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and particularly to the God Whom these patriarchs served. His faith embraced the promise to Abraham recorded in Gen. 15: “Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs . . . and they shall come out with great substance” (vs. 13, 14) ; and while he would not be spared to go forth with them in life he desired to go with them in death. As it were, he sought to share their experiences, whether in Egypt, or in the wilderness, or in Canaan. He would not lie mouldering in his grave in Egypt whilst his people were returned to their own land.

The fact that Joseph spoke of his bones implies that he was aware that deliverance would not be soon. He foresaw, as the passage already quoted makes clear, that not until the fourth generation would the “Exodus” take place. He knew that by the time his people would leave Egypt, his body, in spite of Egyptian art, would be wasted away until nothing but bones remained.

We need have no doubt in our minds that Joseph intended his bones to be an object lesson to the nation of Israel. Each time they beheld the coffin they would be reminded of their guilty past and of the fact that they, or their fathers, had been the cause of his being taken down to Egypt. Symbolized in that chest was the story of cruel dealing, of pitiless handling, and of crafty deceit. Much as they would have liked to forget the past, the unburied bones made this impossible. Not only did the bones speak of his brethren’s past sins, but they also spoke of their suffering saviour. That silent preacher proclaimed afresh in their ears the story of a great deliverance. They owed their existence to the one whose body had been placed in that coffin. Another lesson, and perhaps the chief one in Joseph’s mind when he gave the instruction regarding them, was that these bones were meant to teach Israel that Egypt was not their home. The prosperity while he lived and for years after he died, must have made the land of their adoption attractive to them, more especially when we take into account that they were settled in the most fertile part of it, namely Goshen, the pasture lands of which would be difficult to surpass for feeding their cattle and sheep. But the words of Joseph, “God shall surely visit you,” reiterated, as it were, from his coffin, could never be forgotten so long as his bones were with them. In like manner, when sore affliction became their lot, the same words, backed home by the same sight, would bring no small comfort to their aching hearts. They could not despair of deliverance while it was possible to recall the promise associated with these bones.

At length the day of emancipation came, when the hosts of Israel assembled for their march to the Promised Land. In spite of the chaos in Egypt, the excitement of being free, and the trouble of taking all their belongings with them, they did not neglect to fulfil the request of Joseph. “Moses,” we read, “took the bones of Joseph with him” (Ex. 13: 19). For forty years in the wilderness and for quite a period after they entered Canaan, they carried their sacred burden, until, at the death of Joshua, it was deposited in Shechem.

It is interesting to compare the two arks carried by Israel into Canaan. (The Hebrew word translated, “coffin,” in Gen. 50 is elsewhere translated “ark”). In the one wooden chest was the memorial of their sin prior to their entering Egypt ; in the other chest were the memorials of their sins after they had left it. As a result of rejecting Joseph they had to carry his bones for years ; as a result of breaking the law they had to carry it written on stones.

The closing scene of Joseph’s life and his request regarding his bones, remind us of another scene, where He, of Whom Joseph was a type, gave commandment to His disciples on the eve of His death. In the Upper Room, Christ instituted the supper with its two symbols, and commanded that we keep it in remembrance of Himself. The memorials, bread and wine, remind us, as the bones of Joseph did the Israelites, of our past sins, and of Christ’s sufferings so needful to put them away. Just as Joseph’s bones proclaimed his death, so these memorials proclaim the death of Christ. If the Israelites owed their earthly all to the one whose remains were in the coffin, so we owe our all to the One remembered in the emblems of the supper. Not only do the symbols point back to Calvary, but they turn our thoughts forward to the time of our “Exodus,” when we shall bid good bye to earth and enter forever the land of our inheritance. Of them we can truly sing:—

Sweet memorials, till the Lord
Call us round His heavenly board.

Just as the promise of Joseph was fulfilled to Israel, so the promise of Christ’s return will be fulfilled to us.

As we have seen, Israel obeyed the dying request of Joseph, so it behoves us to meet the dying request of our Lord and Saviour with an even more willing response. “Until He come” then, may we be found at His table with, as it were, one eye on His past sufferings at Calvary and the other on the glory that awaits us.

Once Israel possessed their inheritance Joseph’s bones were buried out of sight for ever. So we too, when we reach our heavenly home, will have finished with the emblems, bread and wine.

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Some of the Last Written Words of the Late Mr. J. H. Todd, Australia

FOR twenty years I was associated with the China Inland Mission, for in 1894 when I believed God was calling me to serve Him in China, I offered myself to that Mission and was accepted by the Canadian Council and went forward to China early in 1895. In 1899 I had to leave China on account of ill health and returned to New Zealand, where for some years I acted as Secretary to the C.I.M. Then in 1906 I was asked to take up the position of Australasian Secretary in Melbourne, and I continued there till the end of 1914. In 1913 I had a nervous breakdown and was away from work for nearly a year, during which time I was very greatly exercised before God about my position and spent very much time in prayer concerning it. Quite a number of factors were brought before me which showed most clearly that the only course open to me was to resign all connection with the C.I.M. and devote myself to service for God as He should guide. I had to recognise that in my position as Secretary, where I was responsible for dealing with candidates so as to be able to advise the Council regarding each as fully as possible, I was not supposed to test them with regard to certain truths which might conflict with their denominational connections. Hence I was responsible, along with other members of the Committee, for the acceptance and sending forth of men and women holding and teaching things which I knew to be contrary to the Scriptures. There were those who held Infant Baptism, and would propagate it. None recognised the Scriptural principles of gathering to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread each first day of the week. Some did not hold the truth regarding the imminent return of the Lord; and others again, connected with the Methodist denomination, were not clear on the Eternal Security of the believer. All were going out in some denominational connection and I had come to see that all denominational bodies took a name and that meant division amongst the people of God and was certainly wrong and contrary to the mind of God. From the Acts of the Apostles too it was clear to me that all missionary effort and all Gospel work should emanate from a church or assembly. For when the first Missionaries went forth in Acts 13, no Committee or Mission or organisation of any sort was formed, but God spoke to the leaders in a church. And throughout that book it is churches or assemblies that are the centre of all Christian activity. The Apostles, too, did not go out simply to preach the gospel so that men and women might be saved, but wherever souls were won they were baptised by immersion and were gathered into churches or assemblies and so instructed and nurtured in the truth. And each church formed became a centre from which the truth was proclaimed. Also in each church Elders were appointed to rule, a practice confirmed by the teaching of the Apostle Paul (1 Tim. 3, Titus 1), but no such order as clergy or official position as bishop was known.

To continue to act in the position I was in meant serious compromise with truth, for it meant that I must act directly contrary to what I knew to be the teaching of the Word of God. I knew that the baptism of believers individually by immersion was the truth; that it was the appointment of God for believers to gather around the Lord’s Table each Lord’s day to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread and that the communion service at which some cleric or other presided was contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Also I knew that all testimony and service should tend to the building up of assemblies meeting Scripturally, and that while every true believer in Christ is a member of His Body and should be enjoying fellowship with all other believers, yet because of error in doctrine or any conduct inconsistent with Scriptural teaching such fellowship would be hindered. All efforts connected with denominational organisations, whether considered undenominational or interdenominational, were for the building up of what was contrary to the mind of God and not in line with Apostolic practice in the Acts nor in accord with the teaching regarding churches in the Epistles.

There is now quite a number of Interdenominational Missions each with its own distinctive name, working on what are known as “Faith Lines”, in which some of the workers consider their position the same as that of those who have gone out from the assemblies, but that is quite a mistake for the position is entirely different. In these Missions there are organisations which guide and direct the workers and through which their support largely comes; whereas those who go out from assemblies do so looking directly to the Lord for guidance and support and supply of all needs, and to Him alone. These organisations have to be maintained at considerable cost, but there is no such expense connected with assemblies, for all help given is voluntary and in an honorary way. All money given by assemblies or by individuals is forwarded to the workers, the only charge being the Bank Charge for remitting. We need to remember that there are over 1,000 men and women at present on the Mission Field who have gone forth from assemblies of God in the Name of the Lord and depending wholly on Him for everything. They have not only gone to the different fields to preach the Gospel but to gather the converts into assemblies so that they may have the spiritual care and help and instruction and fellowship which they could not get otherwise; and these workers are worthy of the fullest fellowship and help we can possibly give them.

Some of our young people go to Missionary Training Homes or Institutions to obtain training to fit them for service at home or abroad—expecting to go forth in assembly fellowship. But these Institutes are on denominational lines and tend to draw away from the assemblies, and the training given does not fully fit workers for the service called for in assembly fellowship. God calls and equips and fits His own servants in His own way and His way is perfect. Young people in assemblies who desire to serve God effectively should concentrate their efforts on work in connection with their assembly, giving time to reading and meditation on the Word of God and to prayer and getting help from older brethren. They should seek to approve themselves to those in the assembly so as to obtain hearty commendation for the work and then they can go forth in full dependence on the Lord as He may guide. God’s order is “Let a man approve himself then let him minister”.

There are very many organisations springing up today such as campaigns, crusades, fellowships, etc., each one having its own distinctive name and all seeking to further the Gospel in some way or do some spiritual work; and they try to enlist the sympathy and help of young people, so that young men and women in assemblies are apt to be drawn away by them and have their service diverted from the work in their assembly. Even older brethren give their help and sponsor some of these movements thinking that, as they are doing good they are worthy of support. But they fail to remember the truth of the old adage— “the good is the enemy of the best”. It is being proved constantly that where souls are won by Gospel effort and are not baptised and brought into an assembly to receive the spiritual care, help and instruction given there, they do not go on as they should. Some go a certain distance and then stop. For God has appointed ‘His’ way for souls to be cared for and nurtured and any disregard of that must mean some measure of failure in Gospel effort and loss of blessing.

Representatives of these Missions come to Assembly Halls seeking the platform, not to help the work of the assembly but to make known their work and advocate the claims of their Mission; but seeing that they are interdenominational in character it would be more really honest for them to seek denominational channels in which to tell of their work and not in assemblies, whose position is quite opposite to that of denominations.

A careful and prayerful reading of the Acts must show any honest believer that God’s great objective on the earth is a Church and churches—that is, local churches. For the word “church” in the Acts is always used in that way and never means all believers in the world or in a country or district. The Word is never used in that way in the New Testament but always of a local company of believers, except in the fourteen references to the Church as the Body of Christ, first of all in Matt. 16.18, then nine times in Ephesians, twice in Colossians and twice in Hebrews. A study of these will show that it is entirely of God, purposed by Him in a past Eternity and destined for glory in Eternity to come. It is a heavenly Body absolutely complete and perfect in God’s sight, in which there can never be any failure whatever. It is heavenly in its origin, in its calling, its position, its privileges, its character and its destiny. It is never looked upon as on the earth, nor is any responsibility whatever put upon it for testimony or service. These are for individual believers and local churches.

In the Acts, when God called Barnabas and Saul to go forth as the first missionaries, He gave no instruction for any committee or Mission to be formed, but He spoke to those in the church at Antioch. The church recognised their call, prayed over them, laid hands on them and sent them away, and when they had finished their missions they returned to the church and reported how God had used them. Wherever they went and preached the Gospel souls were won to Christ; they were baptised by immersion and formed into assemblies as appointed by God. Elders were raised up in these churches to rule and govern and minister.

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Quotes

 

“SHE . . . SPAKE OF HIM’’—(Luke 2: 38)

 
" She spake of Him.” 0 glorious occupation!
Could mortal tongue a worthier theme expound?
She spake to all that waited for redemption,
Of the blest Person she herself had found—
She spake of HIM.
 
YOU spoke of Him, and on my pilgrim pathway
A beam of heavenly radiance shed its light.
You little knew another’s heart was gladdened
Because our converse had a theme so bright—
You spoke of HIM.
 
Then speak of Him, and leave with Him the outcome.
You may not always strike an answering chord,
But oftener than you think will hearts be lightened
Because you talked of Him, our absent Lord.
So—speak of HIM.
 
Miss E. Masters,
 

 

HATE NOT

 
It is not worth while. Your life is not long enough to make it pay to cherish ill-will or hard thoughts toward any one. What if that man has cheated you; or that woman has played you false? What if this friend has forsaken you in your time of need, or that one, having won your utmost confidence, your warmest love, has concluded that he prefers to consider and treat you as a stranger? Let it all pass. What difference will it make to you in a few years, when you go hence to the “undiscovered country?” All who treat you wrongly now, will be more sorry for it then, than you, even in your deepest disappointment and grief, can be.
 
(Sel.)
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