WE shall now consider some of the many inroads which Modernism has made among the systems of Protestantism. It will be appreciated that unbelief assumes so many forms and expresses itself in such a variety of ways, that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will fitly apply to all its manifestations. What we call Rationalism is the setting up of reason as the sole arbiter in matters pertaining to faith and doctrine. It denies the miraculous element in Scripture and attributes all phenomena to natural causes. Rationalism has its roots far back in human history. In New Testament times its votaries were the Sadducees, who held that “there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8, with which compare Matt. 22: 23-33). When the Father spoke to the Son in John 12:28 the people who heard the voice and said “that it thundered” were imbued with Rationalism.
In the eighteenth century Rationalism of the rankest kind swept across the greater part of Europe. It permeated the literary societies of England, France and Germany, and in the last named country became popular in the royal court. So great was the spiritual peril that Church authorities became convinced that something must be done to “win back the educated classes to religion.” To this laudable task several leaders set themselves. One of the most outstanding of these was J. G. Eichhorn, a German scholar (1752-1827), who for some years was Professor of Theology in Gottingen University. Eichhorn has been called “the founder of modern Old Testament criticism.” In his desire to commend the Bible to unbelievers he brought it down to the level of a purely human production. He regarded some Old Testament books as spurious, questioned the genuineness of 2nd Peter and Jude, and denied the Pauline authorship of the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. It was he who introduced the “Jehovistic” and “Elohistic” theories into the study of the Pentateuch. Eichhorn was also the inventor of the term "Higher Criticism”, which is so called to distinguish it from "Textual (or "Lower”) Criticism.” Higher Criticism has to do with the origin, authorship, date and history of the books of the Bible. Textual Criticism, as the term suggests, concerns itself with the sacred text: its original form, phraseology, various readings and translations. Between these two forms of study there need be no antagonism. Textual Criticism lays the foundation of the buildings, so to speak, while Higher Criticism erects the superstructure. The work of both is necessary, and praiseworthy, if executed in God’s fear and in loyalty to Holy Scripture. It is well known, however, that Higher Criticism is as a rule utterly subversive of faith in the Bible as a
Divine revelation. However good Eichhom’s motive may have been at the beginning, his teaching was only Christian in name and proved ultimately to be absolutely rationalistic at heart. It was but a new form of unbelief, and we to-day are reaping the vicious fruits of it. Let us remember that between truth and error there can be no compromise, and that the seeds we are sowing may yield a crop of good or ill long after we have left this scene.
The work begun by Eichhorn was continued and extended, with certain changes and modifications, by other German critics in the years which followed. Among these may be named Paulus (1761-1851), DeWette (1780-1849) and Ewald (1803-1875). These men assigned the origin of the Pentateuch to a series of documents which were written hundreds of years, so they claimed, after the death of Moses. According to their theories every Divine element in the Bible—Miracle, Historical Accuracy, Inspiration and Prophecy—was to be abandoned. Their aim clearly was to eliminate God and all that was supernatural from the Scriptures. The study of God’s Word was to them, as Mr. John Urquhart aptly said, like “searching for needles of fact among hay-stacks of fable.” According to DeWette, "the first three Evangelists betray a legendary and even mythical character... The miracle which took place at the baptism of Christ was a pure myth; and the resurrection and reappearance of Christ have their existence more in the mind than in history.” Such is a sample of the shocking blasphemy of the vaunted Higher Criticism, plainly showing that to reach their conclusions the simplest and most elementary principles of study and of honesty were wantonly violated. The critics “began with their assured results,” wrote Sir Robert Anderson, “and all their labours have been directed to the task of finding facts and arguments to justify them.”
(The balance of this article will follow in next issue)
THE visit paid, and the advice given, to Moses by his father-in-law on this occasion throw light upon the vital and practical subject of handling matters arising betimes among the saints of God. To this he refers in Deut. 1 when he reminds Israel of their cumbrance, burden, and strife. How unbecoming it is that such things should be found among the saints, and yet how sadly common they are! Matters both unpleasant and baneful have arisen in the past and such will most likely arise in the future. Matters arose in Israel and matters arose in the church— some of them moral, others doctrinal. Matters affecting individuals, yea, and whole companies, have occurred, and will arise till the end. They will have to be faced and dealt with. Some need to be dealt with by immediate action (Numbers 25:7-18) while other necessitate a sitting down for examination (Ezra 10:16). Whether it is a matter that calls for immediate judgment, or one that may demand time to exercise great care and a thorough enquiry, the end in view is the maintaining of the glory of God and the holiness of His dwelling place.
In our passages in Exodus 18 we have four important items mentioned which should greatly assist God’s people to-day in dealing with matters difficult and disturbing.
1. The Right Guide (v. 20):—The Word of God was to be their guide; their walk and conduct were to be governed by its laws and ordinances. Matters arising among the saints were to be dealt with according to Divine revelation. Where no clear guidance had already been given, they waited prayerfully on the Lord for a revealing of His mind (Lev. 24:12; Numb. 15:34). The matter in Ezra 10 was of a moral character and was dealt with “according to the law” (v. 5). That of Acts 15 was doctrinal in character, and it too was settled because a common judgment was reached as the result of the opening of the Word of God. The decision reached at Jerusalem was based on the silence of Scripture. Some might have asked for a scripture to condemn circumcision and the keeping of the law in the case of Gentile believers. James could not have produced it, but on the silence of the Word of God he based his judgment not to trouble them thereby. Others might have said that James did not know what he was talking about, as Amos refers to a time subsequent to this church period. James does not say that Amos 9 refers to what God is doing now, but he does show from that passage that God would bless Gentiles as Gentiles, without their becoming Jews. Scripture was silent as to any conditions being imposed upon Gentiles before receiving the blessing, and its silence is as powerful as its speech. While the general cry to-day is "there is no scripture against it,” what is more important and more weighty, is, "there is no scripture for it.” A great decision was reached on the silence of Scripture.
Look again at the value of the Word in the days of Nehemiah. In chapters 1-7 we have the value of the Wall. In Chapters 8-15, the value of the Word. The Book of the Law, opened in ch. 8:1 is never said to be closed again. It yields fresh guidance in every crisis, giving fresh light to the individual and the collective company. Let us never set it aside.
2. The Right Men (v. 21)—Jethro tells us to look for three essential features in men who are able to adjudicate in difficult matters, (a) They are such as fear God. That at least means that the fear of God is deeper in them than the craven fear of man. (b) They are men of truth. Thus they will be quick to detect falsehood, and sure to condemn it. (c) They hate covetousness. No one will be able to buy them over. They are prepared to suffer financially rather than give a wrong decision.
It is common to find to-day in the Assemblies that those most ready and eager to handle the affairs of the saints are the least fitted. Others are like the policeman, suddenly becoming active as soon as trouble is present, but showing little interest in the Lord’s work, or in the Lord’s people, in the general life of the Assembly. How great the need is for men of wisdom, discernment and ability! Please note how the passage shows that one man is not sufficient or competent to judge. Moses was well advised to share responsibility.
Absalom took it upon himself to speak of, and deal with, the matters of Judah and Israel, his father’s subjects (2 Sam. 15:3); but he lacked the moral weight and spiritual acumen to deal with them. David’s handsome and charming son, combining courtesy and cunning, stole the hearts of the men of Israel. He belittled those who could indeed handle those affairs satisfactorily, and sought to impress men that he alone was capable of administering justice. Absalom was all out for a place and a position on this earth. God left him without a foot on it: he died hanging from the branches of a tree. The Proverb says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him (Prov. 18:15). Beware of the modern Absaloms who would deal with matters among the people of God in such a way as to gain popularity and favour. In the sad crisis of Peor and of Cozbi (Numbers 25) it was a priestly man who dealt with it, a man who stood before the ark of God (see Psalm 106: 28-31). Phinehas (mouth of brass) was a man of balance, one who could speak and act for God. In Judges 20:28 he is seen handling the Ark—a man of worship. In Numbers 31:6 he handles the trumpet—a man of ministry. In Numbers 25:7 he handles the javelin— a man of discipline. When the matter arose among the returned remnant (Ezra 10), it was Ezra the priest and the chief of the fathers who sat down to consider it—men of maturity and discernment. Again, in the great emergency situation of Acts 15, none less than the apostles themselves and the elder brethren assembled together to consider it (v. 6), for while the whole church was present on that occasion, the responsibility mainly rested on the shoulders of its leaders. Paul asks the Corinthians, “If then ye have to judge things pertaining to this life, do ye set them to judge who are of no account in the church? I say this to move you to shame. Is it so, that there cannot be found among you ONE WISE MAN who shall be ABLE to decide between his brethren”? (1 Cor. 6; 4-5 R.V.). How essential is wisdom, for “great men are not always wise." Solomon said, “He that wisely handleth a matter shall find good” (Prov. 16:20). Knowledge and understanding can be communicated to others through human instrumentality, but not wisdom. God will yet feed His people Israel with knowledge and understanding through their shepherds (Jer. 3:15), but wisdom comes directly from Himself. When difficulty arose in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 6) and men were sought out to deal with it, wisdom was one of the characteristics essential. Of “honest report” took in their past—“full of the Holy Spirit” took in their present—and “wisdom” would be needed for the future. Not only do we need the right guide, but we need the right men.
3. The Right Action (v. 22):—Every matter whether great or small, was to be judged. Sometimes, if left unheeded, small matters may become great matters, and matters affecting individuals may increase until they affect whole companies. Is it not written, "Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 5:5). “At all seasons,"says this verse, for things dealt with in their infancy and nipped in the bud, often preserve from trouble later on. No doubt, what we have in 1 Cor. 5 was a great matter of immorality, yet in the following chapter Paul refers to the “smallest matters” among them, for whether great or small, every matter had to be handled. How great was the matter in Numb. 15:32, when the man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day! How seemingly small was the one mentioned in Numbers 27 when the daughters of Zelophehad enquired for a possession among their fathers’ brethren! Yet the mind of the Lord was sought on both occasions and judgment given accordingly. Some brethren think that matters are not handled aright, unless they themselves do it. Moses was a man who had confidence in his brethren, even during his absence. In Exodus 24 when about to go up into the mount, he said to the elders, “Behold Aaron and Hur are with you; if any man have any matter, let him come before them.”
The painful, yet necessary, action to be taken in the matter of the fornicator of 1 Cor. 5, was to be carried out "in the Name of the Lord Jesus.” The only right course was to put him out of assembly fellowship, and they were assured of this by the apostle. The Name of their Lord in Heaven gave them solid ground. Their decision would be ratified in the courts above.
4. The Right Result (v. 25):—“All this people shall go to their place in peace.” Thus their pilgrimage Canaan-wards would be made both happier and holier. In the divine economy, peace follows righteousness—see Isaiah 32:17; Romans 14:17; Hebrews 7:2. Right action being taken would assuredly lead to peace—the very reverse of the strife which, as we noticed at the beginning of our little article, Moses had to remind Israel of in Deut. 1. In Psalm 122:6 we read, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They shall prosper that love thee.” Peace and prosperity in the Place of the Name— “peace... and prosperity... for my brethren and companions’ sakes.” What a noble desire! yet all this rests on the truth of the previous verse (v. 6), “For there are set thrones of judgment” (R.V. reads “for judgment”). "Of judgment” is their character; “for judgment” is their purpose. This verse is the moral centre of the Psalm, for the unity, testimony, worship, peace and prosperity of the House are maintained by the presence and exercise of the thrones of judgment. It is not peace at any price, nor peace through compromise, but it is right action, taken by the right men, in the light of the right guide, which will lead to right results.
COMING down the ages we find that the feast of remembrance has been robbed of its simplicity and spoilt by the sophistry of men, so that to-day the popular way to celebrate it is by using “cut” bread and “individual” cups of wine, while a “minister” presides. Says a youthful aspirant to clerisy, in referring to a "lay” brother, “Oh! but he is not ordained, so he will not be able to celebrate communion.” Alas! is this what has developed from the simple feast instituted by the Lord for a remembrance of Himself? And whose place does the officiating minister fill as he presides at the Lord’s supper? The very thought of an answer makes us shudder. This hallowed feast was not inaugurated as a perpetuation of some formula of ritual or for the display of a presiding minister, but, “for a remembrance of Me.” Whether it be pope or prelate, archbishop or bishop, or the lower curate or parson, who takes the place as chief in the midst of His gathered people, it is but gross pride and arrogance. The blessed Lord is still present Himself amongst his gathered saints and will be until He returns.
Even among those who are outwardly and correctly gathered to His name there is a tendency to follow hard after the ways of incipient clerisy. Does not the breaking of bread often develop into a remembrance of “me” instead of being a “remembrance of ME”? Ministering saints speak of His blessed worth to meet their needs, of their place and standing before the Father, of the eternal glories that await them. Moreover, it is often remarked that we gather together ro remember His death; well, there should never be a moment when this memory is absent, but when we are gathered (by the Holy Spirit) it is to remember Him. There is a solemn difference between these two things; being gathered together in the power and energy of the Holy Spirit, it is to remember HIM—a Person. We recall Mr. Walter Scott remark one Lord’s Day at the breaking of bread: “Can we not for one brief hour out of the week, forget all about ourselves, our needs, our salvation, our coming delights, in the greater and more profound occupation of remembering Him, our glorious Lord!” What an unspeakable privilege and blessedness is the portion of the Lord’s people when sitting in His presence, to blot out everything else and be wholly occupied with His own majestic Person! To take the handful of precious perfume and putting it upon the fire of the Lord the Spirit, offer it to the Father in all the acceptability and fragrance belonging to it—THIS IS WORSHIP. But to remember Him thus is costly—the alabaster box of spikenard is still “VERY COSTLY.” To abrogate self, to forget all that belongs to us either now or eternally, to be occupied ALONE with His blessed Person, will surely bring the storm clouds upon us— make no mistake about this.
He who said “Follow Me” and “Remember Me” makes yet another request to us—"Love Me.” But, you say, “I do love Him.” I am sure that every true saint says that and says it truthfully, but the Lord has laid down conditions which are to test our love. It may be perfectly true that we love the Lord and yet that love may be low or cold or fickle. The complaint against the Ephesian church (Rev. 2) was that it had left its first—its premier—love, the love that gives the Lord the pre-eminent place. And the blessed Lord must have this premier love, for He can never take a second place in the soul’s affection. He who gave HIMSELF for us must have it all—it must be ‘virgin’s love’ (unattached to any other). Now the Lord’s first test of our love is obedience—“If any man love Me he will keep My word.” Morning by morning we must listen for His voice; we may hear it in our reading of, or in our meditations upon, His Word. Let us listen, and in our hearing may we not be disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Then the Lord says to those who would shepherd the saints, “If ye love Me feed My lambs.” The Great Shepherd has a very tender solicitude for the lambs of the flock; He carries them in His bosom, the place of His unchanging affection. So great is His concern for the lambs that He regards the care of them as a mark of love for Himself. “Do you love Me?—feed My lambs.” This means first of all that suitable food must be found—pastures of tender grass, and not grass which is hard, harsh and rank, as any kind will not do for the lambs. On our part there must of necessity be a diligent searching, a constant meditation on the Scriptures, so that the suited word that will nourish and sustain may be given. “Bright Hours” and light meetings will not promote growth; the divine injunction demands “the sincere milk of the word that they may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). It will also be necessary jealously to guard the lambs lest they become attracted to unsuitable food. What they hear and what they read and what they see is your concern if you love your Lord.
There are also straying sheep that need gently to be brought back to the fold. “Do you love Me?—feed My lambs, shepherd My sheep"; for the sheep need care as well as the lambs. With the sheep it is not so much a matter of feeding, but of keeping them from straying. Some unthoughtful word or some unkind act will oftentimes cause the sheep to go astray; it leaves the flock to go—whither? and becomes spiritually starved and emaciated on the mountains of folly. Who is willing to shepherd this sheep and bring it back? This will mean sacrificing comforts and braving the storm— it will mean privations and loneliness— it will mean going into the night and enduring the obstinacy of the sheep. “Do you love Me?—shepherd My sheep.”
Well now, you have heard the Blessed Lord’s desires— “Follow Me,” “Remember Me” and “Love Me”; we do not say these are the only desires of the Master, but they ARE His desires and He awaits our answer to these expressed wishes. If we are in line with David’s three mighty men, our one reply will be: “If the Lord desires following, remembering, loving, He will have them, cost what it may.” Does your devotion and mine measure up to this? If you are prepared by God’s grace and with purpose of heart to do these things, then be sure that the storm clouds will gather around you very rapidly. Satan no more intends that you should tread this pathway than he intended the little boat getting across Gennesaret to Gadara. You will most certainly have his careful attention and he will seek to hinder your fulfilling the purpose of your heart. His direct attack is a personal one; he may cause you to feel terrific loneliness, the loneliness that drives men insane. By reason of being misunderstood because of your devotion to Christ, Satan will cause you to become downcast and depressed. The disappointments and seeming failures in your service for the Lord may bring sorrow and rivers of tears. Or it may be financial loss or bodily weakness that he will cause to harass you and bow you almost to the grave. Oh yes! the Satanic hurricane will certainly come upon you as a mighty blast. The waves will be lashed furiously into mountains of opposition. The enemy will direct the vehement anger of men against you, in seeking to oppose your fidelity to Christ. Loved ones may become embittered against you and may seek by continual petty annoyances to make life a perpetual misery. Friends may forsake you and with upturned lips cause anguish to enter your soul. Fellow saints may be cold and antagonistic towards you, making you to feel, like Elijah, the unspeakable strain of loneliness. Yes! while you are “toiling in rowing” the storm will gather round your frail barque with all the fury of Satanic energy.
Thus you are no match for Satanic power or for the fury of angry men controlled by the fiends from hell, and doubtless the storm will so develop around and against you that you will feel that you are right at the end of things. Then go to the Master and the cry of your heart will reach His blessed ear: "Master, don’t You care?” Ah! He does care. For His sake you are in the storm, for His sake you are enduring the fury of the oppressor, for His sake you are well nigh submerged by tempestuous onslaughts of ferocious men, but HE IS WITH YOU IN THE BOAT. You took Him in as He was and there He abides. And beloved, even the winds and the sea obey Him. "He holdeth the winds in His fists”—He is the Master of it all and has all completely under His control. Beloved saint, He is with you in the storm and in the boat, and the mighty voice that stilled the hurricane on that Galilean lake will give you holy calm, blessed tranquility, peace, perfect peace. Oh fickle, feeble, faltering, failing faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Look up, look on, already the harbour lights on the other side appear on the horizon; soon we shall be safely in port.
IT IS a cause for thankfulness, though not for complacency, that the assemblies gathered to the Lord’s name have to a great extent been preserved from doctrinal error. Notwithstanding much that is humiliating amongst us, we can, until now, claim that fundamental errorists have not been tolerated in our ranks. While this is so, we need, nevertheless, to be on our guard, lest any of the evil doctrines circulating in the religious world should find their way into assemblies.
One of the most subtle of these evil teachings propagated in certain Christian circles during recent years is that Christ became the Son of God at His birth. This theory is, of course, not new to rationalists, for they have ever sought to rob the Lord of His Glory, but during the last half century it has found a place in an unexpected quarter, namely, amongst so called “Exclusives”. Is it not somewhat surprising to find that the people, who separated from the assemblies under the plea of defending the Person of Christ, are now lined up with modernists and rationalists? Seeing that quite a few in the assemblies read the books of these people, it might be wise to raise a warning signal and point out once more the seriousness of this error.
There is no doubt that such teaching detracts from the glory of Christ, although those who support it would feign believe the contrary. Indeed, strange as it may appear to them, it is tantamount to denying His Deity. Those who heard Christ say that He was “the Son of God,” were convinced that He was claiming to be God, and because of this, His enemies were on several occasions ready to stone Him. To them it was evident that if there was a time when He became the Son of God, then there was also a time when He became God. No doubt, the teachers of this evil doctrine try to tell us that they believe in His eternal Deity. We must understand, however, that their idea of Deity is not that which the Scriptures teach. They believe in a sort of “tritheism,” i.e., three Persons all equally God, but not related to each other, as Father, Son and Spirit.
This error not only strikes a blow at the Deity of Christ, but it also denies the eternal Fatherhood of God. If there is no eternal Son then there is no eternal Father, and it is equally true that if Christ became the Son of God at the moment of His birth, so also at the same moment did the first Person of the Godhead become Father. How wicked it is to suggest that, prior to incarnation, the One given to become our Saviour knew nothing of a Son’s relationship, or enjoyed nothing of a Father’s love! How equally wicked is the idea, that when God gave Christ for a needy world, He parted with One not related to Him as Son!
One of the key-stones in the argument of the teachers of this evil theory is that no text of Scripture speaks of Christ as “eternal Son.” We might reply with equal truth that the words, “Trinity,” “substitution,” and “Christendom,” are not found in the Bible, nevertheless the ideas represented in these terms are none the less present. Is it not wisdom on God’s part to word the passages relative to the Eternal Sonship in such a way that the truth is incontestably implied rather than merely stated? It is a well-known fact, that in the vital matter of the Lord’s Deity, the few texts wherein it is stated have each been twisted by Rationalists and Unitarians to mean something quite different, whereas, the many passages where His Deity is implied leave the critics’ position untenable. Likewise, in the question of the Eternal Sonship, the passages wherein it is implied are as conclusive, if not more so. than if it had been stated in a single text. We shall now look briefly at a few of these passages.
In the Old Testament, the well-known words of Is. 9:6: “For unto us a Child is bom, unto us a Son is given,” would suffice to settle the matter for most Christians, but those who deny the Eternal Sonship try to nullify this plain statement by contending that the Sonship is prophetic, and that the "Child born” afterwards became the “Son given.” Happily, however, there is another Old Testament passage where such reasoning is even more absurd, i.e., Prov. 30:4. Agur, in his oracle, refers to the great Establisher of the ends of the earth and asks, not only His name, but also the name of His Son. He at least believed that God had a Son hundreds of years prior to the incarnation.
Without dwelling on other Old Testament Scriptures that clearly teach the everlasting Sonship of Christ, such as Ps. 2, we shall confine ourselves to a few references in the New Testament, which have, we are thankful to say, been sufficient to satisfy the minds of all evangelical scholars and fundamentalists down through the ages.
One passage which deserves close attention is John 1:1-18. The Evangelist in these verses sets forth Christ in His eternal existence, distinct personality, deity, unchanging relationship with God, creatorial power, condescension and manhood. In v. 18 he tells us “That no one hath seen God at any time” and that "The Son which is in the bosom of the Father hath declared (or interpreted) Him.” The words, “which is” cannot be meant merely to refer to His present position at God’s right hand, for Christ revealed the Father while here below; nor can they be confined to His manhood, for God was seen no doubt in His Son before the incarnation; they must therefore be understood to imply a timeless relationship. Indeed they show us (contrary to what we often sing and hear) that there never was a time when this relationship began, nor was there ever a moment when it ceased to be. Just as Christ could say while speaking to Nicodemus, "even the Son of Man which is in heaven,” implying essential truth without particular regard for time, so also in ch. 1:18, “which is in the bosom of the Father,” denotes His nearness and relationship to the Father, a relationship that is timeless.
A parallel passage to the one we have just considered is Heb. 1:1-5. In these verses very much the same ground is covered, the writer showing us that Christ’s divine nature is essential to His High Priesthood. In v. 2 we read that God has spoken to us in (His) Son. A description of the Son’s glories follows, and then we are told that He is heir of all things and that He has made the worlds. There can be no doubt about the fact that Sonship must precede heirship, (cp. Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7). We might ask, when was Christ appointed heir? Was it at His birth, or was it, as the verses show, before the worlds were made? Those who deny the Eternal Sonship would reverse the order here and claim He was appointed heir before He was Son. Note how the facts concerning Him are set down in proper order: first, His Sonship, secondly, His heirship and thirdly, His creative work. No one has any right to alter or change this order and if this be attempted, error must inevitably be the result.
In this same epistle we are told that Melchisedec was “made like unto the Son of God,” ch. 7:3. This statement is the climax to a number of clauses that could not be applied to Christ in His humanity. For example:—Christ as man had a mother, had a genealogy, had beginning of days, for He was born at Bethlehem, and had an end of life, for He died at Calvary. It is evident, therefore, that Melchisedec was made like the Son of God (as regards the Genesis record) in quite a different sense, namely, that the “Son of God” never had beginning of days, never had a mother because He was Son before He was bom of Mary, nor was His Sonship terminated by His death at Calvary.
Another passage that leads to the same conclusion is Gal. 4:4. Here Paul states three facts about Christ: first, His being sent forth; second, His being born and third, His being made under the law. Note it was the “Son” who was “sent forth,” and this sending forth cannot refer to His birth at Bethlehem, for the same two words, “sent forth,” are used in v. 6 of the sending forth of the Spirit. It is therefore obvious that both the “Son” and the “Spirit” were sent forth from Heaven. These errorists would have us read this verse as if it said, “God’s Son was born of a woman, born under the law,” but the writer makes it clear that there was a sending forth of a Son as well as the birth of a child. Yes, the Father (note the relationship) sanctified and sent Him into the world (cp. John 10:36).
There is one more passage in the New Testament to which we shall call attention. It is Mark 12:1-9. In this instance, the Lord Himself is the speaker, so if we can learn from Him the truth of this matter, it will put an end to all controversy. The subject is the parable of the vineyard and in v. 6 He tells us that the Owner “had yet One, a beloved Son: He sent Him last unto them” (R.V.). Note the three facts: (1) God had “One”; (2) the relationship between God and that One—“A beloved Son”; (3) this beloved Son was sent unto the husbandmen and was expected to receive respect because of His relationship to the Owner. Those who listened to Christ telling this parable had no doubt in their minds that He claimed to be the Son of God in an eternal sense. Indeed, if it be otherwise, the only conclusion we can reach is that the Lord was misleading His audience, and such a thing is unthinkable.
There are minor points of interpretation of Scripture about which we may "agree to differ” with our brethren, but in the vital matter of Christ’s Eternal Sonship, no compromise is possible. Anyone who denies this doctrine should not be allowed to remain in the assemblies of the Lord’s people.
"He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground; He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" — Isaiah 53.2.
ISAIAH 53 is one of the most familiar chapters of the Bible, and what a precious portion of the Word of God it is, so full of the person and work of Christ! It has been very well called the “Pearl of Prophecies,” for here we have that Blessed One brought before us in His life, His sufferings, and also the glories that shall be His as a result of His death of shame upon the cross.
It is a short chapter of only twelve verses, and yet there are in it no less than forty-nine personal pronouns that directly refer to Christ. It is also interesting to note that there are seven full titles given to Him in its brief compass.
Someone has pointed out that Isaiah’s prophecy stands exactly midway between Moses and Paul, Moses the giver of the law, and Paul the expounder of the law. (See dates given at the head of the page in your Bible). If, therefore, Moses and Paul walked toward each other at the same speed, they would meet together in this wonderful Christ-revealing portion.
The verse which appears at the head of this paper is one of those very familiar texts that is frequently quoted and, unfortunately, often misapplied and misunderstood.
Again and again we have heard, with reference to this verse, that in our unconverted days Christ was to us "as a root out of a dry ground, and without form or comeliness,” etc.
Now. a little careful reading of the verse will show that the first half of the verse refers to what Christ was to God His Father when He was here on earth. He shall grow up before “Him” as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground,” that is in a scene where all around was barrenness and death—an arid wilderness with absolutely nothing in it for God—here is One Who, from the moment of His coming into the world, grew up before Him, full of love, faith, purity and unswerving devotion, thus giving infinite joy to His Father’s heart.
The latter half of the verse, “He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him,” refers, of course, to how He appeared to us in our unconverted days, before our eyes were opened to see His loveliness, and we were led to appreciate His sorrows and sufferings on our account,
Let us remember then, when reading or quoting this familiar text, that the first half of it is to be understood in a supremely good sense and should not be connected at all with the latter half, unless by way of contrast. Thereby we will, indeed, be carrying out Paul’s injunction, to "distinguish things that differ.”
I heard recently of a lady in St. Louis, who years ago felt led of the Lord to open a home for old ladies and, later for children who were homeless. A Christian in one of our assemblies was for a long time identified with this home in its early years and tells of some of the truly marvellous answers to the prayers of the godly sister who opened the home and those identified with her, for everything was carried on through faith in God. One day there was no money on hand whatever to supply the milk necessary for the evening meal. The home was situated across the street from the railroad yards and that day, unexpectedly, a stock train was detained in the yards. Towards late afternoon, a man knocked at the door, saying, “Could you use some nice fresh milk? You see, we are detained here tonight and the cows have to be milked and you can have all you want.” Needless to say the few Christians who were so exercised about the needs of the home were delighted with such an answer to their prayers. The table was supplied that night with plenty of good, sweet milk provided by the hand of an ever faithful God. Many were the evidences in these early days of that Home that God was the hearer and answerer of prayer.
What about your private prayer life? What about the assembly prayer meeting and your attendance thereat? What about the prayer meeting before the Gospel meeting at night? Some cannot attend these meetings as they would like but there are many who have strength and time and ability to be there and yet neglect this precious privilege. I trust this will exercise the hearts of each of us.
Many are the results of prayer. We have, in this holy attitude, God’s favour and reward and in our hearts the peace and security promised thereby. May we be able to close our lives somewhat after the fashion of the great apostle to the Gentiles with a spiritual breathing and a true—amen.
A poor woman in the country went to hear a sermon, wherein, among other evil practices, the use of dishonest weights and measures was exposed. With this disclosure, she was much affected. The next day, when the preacher went among his hearers, and called upon the woman, he took occasion to ask her what she recollected of the sermon. She complained much of her bad memory, and said she had forgotten almost all that he had delivered. "But one thing,” she said, "I remembered. I remembered to burn my bushel.” A doer of the Word cannot be a forgetful hearer.
Will-worship is simply worship that is not according to what God hath appointed in His Word. You may say that you had no will in the matter—that you have simply sought to worship God in accordance with what is customary in the religious world. Quite true. But such is none the less will-worship. The religious world has adopted a worship according to its own will— a worship that is opposed to the God-appointed way. And, if you cast in your lot with the world’s order of things, you are virtually endorsing the will-worship of this Christ-rejecting age.