IN his second Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle speaks of himself and fellow believers under a number of interesting figures. Chapters 1 to 6 contain at least eight of these.
In them we have the figures of:
A man under a death sentence—Chapter 1:9.
A bearer of sweet incense in a triumphal procession— Chapter 2:14-16.
An epistle of Christ—Chapter 3:3.
A person gazing into a mirror—Chapter 3:18.
A vessel enclosing a precious treasure—Chapter 4:7.
An ambassador of Heaven’s Court—Chapter 5:20.
A sanctuary in which the Living God dwells—Chapter 6:16. Also, in order to bring into relief what a sincere servant of Christ is NOT, Paul uses the figure of:
A huckster, making merchandise of people—Chapter 2:17 (R.V.M.).
A careful study of each of these figures will abundantly repay the thoughtful reader, but our present consideration is confined to that of the Christian Ambassador. ‘‘ Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” Let us consider the Ambassador’s:—
In considering our appointment as Ambassadors we must remember that when grace apprehended us we were part and parcel of this doomed world. By His death, however, the Lord Jesus “delivered us from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). This was no afterthought with Him, for in His eternal councils He had “chosen us out of the world” (Jo. 15:19). Moreover, the Father Himself is said to have taken us “out of the world,” to present us as a love gift to His Son (Jo. 17:6). Hence we are “not of the world, even as He is not of the world” (Jo. 17:14). The cross of Christ now stands between the believer and the world, just as the Red Sea rolled between the redeemed hosts of Israel and Egypt, the house of their bondage. This great truth is what is set forth in baptism, and it is most important that it should be apprehended in early Christian experience. Learned then in fellowship with God, it has a powerful influence upon the whole after life, and saves the exercised soul from a thousand temptations and snares.
This, however, is not all. Having, in the Divine reckoning, taken us right out of the world, and having associated us with Himself in “the heavenlies,” as we are taught in Ephesians, our adorable Lord has “sent us into the world” (Jo. 17:18) to represent
His interests in this alien scene. “Our seat of government is in Heaven,” as one translation of Phil. 3:20 reads, but we are here as Heaven’s Ambassadors, “chosen,” “ordained” (Jo. 15:16) and commissioned by Him whom angels worship.
Let us think then of the dignity of our Ambassadorship. Not every citizen in a country would be appointed to this high office. An Ambassador is not a mere Envoy, a messenger of a second order, but a trusted minister of the most elevated rank. Indeed in many cases he is a personal friend and confidant of the sovereign who appoints him. Of course, not all Ambassadors carry the same respect. Their dignity depends, not only upon personal character and attainment, but upon the status of the Court they represent and of the Country to which they are commissioned. Thus the Ambassador of the United States to Britain enjoys a prestige not enjoyed by the Ambassador of some small African or Arabian State.
How high then is the dignity which God has conferred upon us! We represent Heaven’s Court. We are the Ambassadors of Him whom God has “made both Lord and Christ”—Who is “the Prince of the Kings of the earth”—Who is “Heir of all things” and “Head of all things”—Who is exalted “far above all principality and power and might and dominion .... not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”—of Him to whom worldwide dominion and absolute supremacy belong, and upon Whose princely brow there will yet sparkle the royal diadems of universal sovereignty. There is no higher Court by which we could be accredited, no more glorious Potentate whose Person we could represent, and no vaster State than " the world” to which we could be commissioned. What dignity then attaches to the humblest witness of Christ! What honour clothes the poorest saint who speaks on the behalf of Him whom angels worship! And what enhances His grace in choosing us as His Ambassadors is the fact of what we once were—rebels against His throne, haters of God, enemies in our minds by wicked works—for what king would choose a one-time rebel to be his friend and trusted representative! Here surely is grace beyond all thought. Do we, beloved, appreciate it?
“From the glory and the gladness,
From His secret place,
From the rapture of His presence,
From the radiance of His face—
Christ, the Son of God, hath sent me
Through the midnight lands;
Mine the mighty ordination
Of the pierced hands.”
What now should be the ambition of an Ambassador? Certainly he is not to lead an aimless life, nor to seek his own interests. His aim is to please his sovereign. His duty is to promote his interests. It was ever so with Paul, as our chapter shows. “Wherefore also we are ambitious .... to be well-pleasing unto Him” (v. 9, R.V.M.); and again, “They which live, should not.... live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again” (v. 15). Through good report and bad report, this was the all-absorbing purpose of his life. Of others he had regretfully to say, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:21). To how great a measure, alas, the same is true of us who live in this selfish, easygoing materialistic age! O for grace to make “GOD FIRST” our guiding principle in every circumstance of life—to follow Him whose sentiment from life’s early morn found expression in the words, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and Who never paused, looked back, or deviated until in the triumph of His accomplished work, He cried, “It is finished.”
The responsibility of an Ambassador is primarily to represent his distant homeland, He does and says only what he believes his absent sovereign would do and say. Men judge the country from which he comes by his speech, dress, habits, and deportment. It is a solemn thought. How do we speak, dress and deport ourselves? Are we, to quote again from our chapter, “new creatures in Christ Jesus”? (v. 17). Do men see Christ in us? Are His moral excellencies being reproduced in our lives? In Him all that was noble and beautiful in the lives of the saints from the beginning of time was reproduced and exhibited in Divine fulness and perfection. He was the greatest Gentleman that ever stepped across the stage of human history. What nobility and beauty of character do we exhibit? Thank God for the memory of brethren and sisters whose ways were fragrant of the Lord Jesus, and whose faces were radiant with His peace and joy. Can this be said of us? Are we humble, holy, and kindhearted? Are we marked by sympathy and a loving consideration for others? Are we courteous? Are grace and truth seen in equal balance in our lives? Do we abhor evil? Or are we given to some carnal habit such as smoking? Does our baptism witness against our practices? What shall we say of sisters who have their hair cut and ‘ permed,’ their lips painted, who dress as though they were fashion models, or who have the boldness to appear in public in male attire? Was it thus that “the holy women who trusted in God adorned themselves”? We hope, however, that such are rare exceptions, and, we would add, all honour to our many sisters “whose adorning .... is the incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Pet. 3:3, 4). Perhaps we men do not appreciate the difficulty which godly sisters often experience in securing suitable modest clothing. Further, are we ungracious and unyielding in disposition? Do we harbour bitterness? Do we surmise evil of others? Do we disparage those from whom we disagree? Have we the reputation of being talkative and of making caustic remarks about some of God’s dear ones? And have we quite forgotten that gentle word which says, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren”? Let us beware, lest by unsanctified and inconsistent lives we belie our absent Lord, and men be repelled from Him. The Christian, it has been said, is the world’s Bible, but in some cases a ‘ revised version ’ is badly needed. Therefore, let us seriously and assiduously cultivate a holy, godly conformity to our worthy Master, that His moral likeness will be seen in all our ways. Asked if he would teach him his language, a Hindu Pundit replied to Maxwell, the Missionary, “No, Sahib, I will not. You would make me a Christian.” “You misunderstand me, " said Maxwell, “I am simply asking you to teach me your language.” Again, however, the Hindu replied, " No, I will not teach you, for no man can live with you and not become a Christian,” Here surely was an Ambassador true to his sacred trust.
Further, an Ambassador is a man with a message. He is authorised to speak as the mouthpiece of his Country. He negotiates with aliens on behalf of his Government. His speeches, especially in times of international tension and crisis, are invested with solemnity, and are eagerly awaited by all thoughtful citizens. In our passage Paul is burdened with a message. “God,” he says, “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation ... as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” The Apostle was God’s Ambassador to the nations. At his conversion the Lord had said of him, " He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles” (Acts. 9:15). The same thing is true in measure of every believer. What a responsibility then devolves upon us! Think of the world’s great need. Think of the millions that are yet unevangelised, and of the souls around us that are dropping into hell.
“Men die in darkness at thy side,
Without a hope to cheer the tomb.”
Do we believe it, brethren? Redemption is accomplished. Salvation is offered to all. We have been chosen to tell them the Good News. We owe it to them. Are we exercised about paying our debt? " As much as in me is,” said Paul, “I am ready to preach the Gospel.” Are we making known the message “as much as in us is”? Does the “love of Christ,” which “constrained” the apostolic saints (v. 14 of our chap.) constrain us? A picture from heathen mythology familiar to some of us in school days was that of Atlas with the world upon his shoulder. The fitting picture of Christian theology
is that of a crucified Savour with a lost world upon his heart. O may His love, burning in our breasts, compel us to do our utmost that men may hear and live. “Cannot the love of Christ,” cried the intrepid Livingstone, “carry the missionary where the slave-trade carries the trader? I shall open up a path to the Interior, or perish.” God gave us a like passion for souls. “Woe is me,” said Paul, “if I preach not the Gospel.”
It will be appreciated that our passage applies in a special way to all who publicly proclaim God’s Evangel. In this connection, the preacher’s first great responsibility is to see to it that his life is above reproach. It is a man’s character that gives weight to his message, whether it be to saints or sinners. Hence the Apostle’s exercise in the immediate context (ch. 6:3, 4) about “giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” As to the delivering of the message, the preacher who knows his own heart, and who has been in the presence of his God, will speak out of felt weakness and insufficiency, as did the Apostle (see ch. 2:5 with 1 Cor. 2:3). Yet as God’s Ambassador it will be with confidence and calm dignity that he will step unto the Gospel platform. “Conscious of his awful charge,” as Cowper wrote, he will make no apologies for his message, nor will he pander to popular taste. In warning men from God, he will neither fear their frown, nor court their favour. He will be no mere spinner of words. He will not indulge in cant or extravagant speech, nor will he in a sphere so solemn, utter aught that savours of levity or vulgarity. To do so would but bring his message into disrepute. In speaking of the doom of the impenitent, he will not be harsh or pitiless, as though he gloated over his theme, but as representing Him who wept over sinners, he will plead tenderly with men to be reconciled to God. “O when,” prayed McCheyne, “will I plead with my tears and inward yearnings, over sinners! O compassionate Lord, give me to know what manner of spirit I am of.” Preaching born out of such heart exercise will, sooner or later, yield a harvest of souls, and no joy or satisfaction can be compared with that of winning men for Christ. Speaking of careers for Christian young men, Lord Beaverbrook is reported to have said: “If I were in a position to influence the life of a sincere young man to-day, I would say to him to choose to be an Evangelist rather than a Cabinet Minister or millionaire. When I was a young man I pitied my father for being a poor man and a humble Preacher of the Word. Now that I am older I envy him his life and career. This is life’s real satisfaction.”
HOW perfect in all its sympathies was the humanity the Son had assumed! Surely, indeed, it was the common humanity, apart from sin.
“Touched with a sympathy within,
He knows our feeble frame.
But again. There is a temptation in the time of confusion to cast up all as hopeless and gone, and to say, “It is endless and needless to be still distinguishing. All is in disorder and apostasy; why, then, attempt to distinguish?”
But this was not the Lord. He was in the confusion, but not of it, as He was in the world but not of it, as we said before of Him. He met all sorts of people, in all sorts of conditions—, heaps upon heaps, where all should have been compact together; but He held His even, narrow, unsoiled, and undistracted way through it all. The pretensions of the Pharisee, the worldliness of the Herodian, the philosophy of the Sadducee, the fickleness of the multitude, the attempts of adversaries, and the ignorance and infirmities of disciples were moral materials which He had to meet and answer every day.
And then the condition of things, as well as the characters of persons exercised Him; the coin of Caesar circulating in Immanuel’s land; partition-walls all but in ruins; Jew and Gentile, clean and unclean, confounded, save as religious ar-rogancy might still retain them after its own manner. But His one golden rule expressed the perfectness of His passage through all,—“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” The remnant in the day of captivity, a like day of confusion, carried themselves beautifully, distinguishing things that differed, and not hopelessly casting all up. Daniel would advise the king, but not eat his meat: Nehemiah would serve in the palace, but not suffer the Moabite or the Ammonite in the house of the Lord: Mordecai would guard the king’s life, but would not bow to the Amalekite: Ezra and Zerubbabel would accept favours from the Persian, but not Samaritan help, nor Gentile marriages: and the captives would pray for the peace of Babylon, but would not sing Zion’s songs there. All this was beautiful; and the Lord, in His day, was perfect in this remnant-character. And all this has a voice for us; for ours is a day, in its character of confusion, not inferior to those days of the captives, or of Jesus. And we, like them, are not to act on the hopelessness of the scene, but know still how to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.
All His moral beauty becomes a pattern to us. But then we see Him stand in God’s relationship to evil also, and that is a place which, of course, we never could fill. He touched the leper, and He touched the bier, and yet He was undefiled. He had God’s relationship to sin. He knew good and evil, but was in divine supremacy over them; knowing such things as God knows them. Had He been other than He was, these touches of the bier and of the leper would have defiled Him. He must have been put outside the camp, and gone through the cleansing which the law prescribed. But nothing of this kind do we see in Him. He was not an unclean Jew; He was not merely undefiled, He was undefilable; and yet such was the mystery of His Person, such the perfection of the Manhood in company with the Godhead in Him, that the temptation was as real in Him as was the undefilableness.
But we pause. Our place toward much of this needed though mysterious and deeply precious truth is, to receive it and worship, rather than to discuss and analyze it. It is happy, however, to one’s own spirit to mark the yearnings of some simple souls, who give you the impression that it is Himself that is before them. We oftentimes traffic with truths in such wise as in the end leaves with us a rebuking conviction that we did not reach Himself, though so occupied. We find out that we had been loitering in the avenue.
Only true believers, saints, children of God through the new birth, are able to form and become a local assembly, these having been baptised by ONE Spirit into ONE Body. (1 Cor. 1:2; 12:13; 1 Thess. 1:1).
2. The Principle of Authority
The coming together (gathering) of the assembly into one place should be unto the Worthy Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, His presence in the midst of His gathered people being known and His authority respected. (James 2:7; Matt. 18:20; 1 Cor 1:2; 5:4.
3. The Principle of Ordinances
The carrying out by all believers of the two New Testament Ordinances requested by the LORD:
All believers compose a kingdom of priests before God, and all (male and female) have liberty to present to God their prayers and praises. (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:5).
When in public testimony the men pray audibly (1 Tim. 2:8) and the women in silence (1 Cor. 14:34-35).
5. The Principle of Power
The recognition of the Holy Spirit as the only and all-sufficient Power for Testimony and Service to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:12; Jude 20; Eph. 5:18).
6. The Principle of Gifts
The Gifts given by the Exalted Lord and which are distributed by His Spirit should be directed by Him, so that souls might be added to the Assembly and His saints built up and blessed. (1 Cor. 12:4-12; and vs 27-31; Eph. 4:8-12).
7. The Principle of Care
The Lord has appointed that Elders (called also SHEPHERDS, GUIDES, OVERSEERS) be responsible to care for the spiritual life of the Assembly, the Flock. These Shepherds are fitted for the task by the Holy Spirit, and recognised by the saints for the work that they do. (Acts 20-28; Heb. 13:17; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
Also that Deacons be appointed as servants to the Assembly, to look after the material welfare of the saints. (Acts 6:1-3; 1 Tim. 3:8-13; Phil. 1:1).
In a local assembly of saints these seven supports rest upon the rock foundation—the Person and work of Christ, “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11).
“BLESSED are they that dwell in THY HOUSE ... I had rather be a doorkeeper in the HOUSE of MY GOD, than dwell in the tents of lawlessness” (Psalm 84:4,10).
ONE of the chief causes for the lack of reverent submission to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and enabling in our meetings for worship is, I fear, a want of preparation of heart before “coming together to eat the Lord’s supper.” “Let a man examine himself and so let him eat.” Where the conscience is defiled with unconfessed sin to man or God, where instead of preparing his heart in self-judgment before God, a brother has spent the time preparing an address of exhortation to his fellows, there can be little of the holy awe that must master us if we indeed realise the immediate presence of the Lord Himself, as well as the holy and glorious privilege as worshippers that we are there called upon to exercise.
Praise and adoration are precious to God’s heart, but this can only be when it is the overflow of a much moved heart, such as we see in Paul’s doxologies, or David’s Psalms:“My heart is bubbling over with a good matter touching the King.” Did we but remember this first necessity for acceptable worship, we should sometimes be very quiet on Lord’s day mornings. Worship is an outburst, for only love can worship. Is the lack of this the reason that the Scriptural “Amen” (1 Cor. 14) is so seldom awakened in the hearts of our brethren or sisters, for all may join in this holy ejaculation. May we be forgiven if we can sit at our Lord’s Table without our hearts being moved to expression of our love and gratitude.
It is not only the young believers that are more ready to talk to their fellows than to worship the Lord. A long experience has, alas! shown that too often elder and experienced leaders and preachers will exhort or expound Scriptures to us, but will not worship, or should I say cannot worship?
With the young we can bear, when they fail to distinguish between prayer and worship, or in their love and zeal announce a Gospel hymn even of entreaty to the unsaved, instead of thanksgiving and praise; but the intolerance of holy, quiet and adoring love that some older in experience show, must not be allowed. A gifted and popular preacher possessed of this evil spirit, broke in upon a blessed time of praise and worship with, “We have had enough of this, let us sing, ‘ Rescue the perishing.’” We sang it, and returned to our thanksgiving, and did not allow him to interrupt us again. Such, if they will not learn Scriptural ways, must be silenced. Should we not learn to be still before God, and if not at that time, when? It is a discipline we all sorely need and the Scripture teaches us at the table of the Lord “to tarry for one another,” and to allow all to partake in silent adoration and love.
Let me further press the Scripture teaching as to who are to teach and exhort in the churches. “All are not preachers or teachers” (1 Cor. 12:29); for “all have not the same office " (Rom. 12:4). “He gave some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11,12). “Having gifts then differing according to the grace given to us, let us wait on our ministry.” It is as grave an evil to allow all to teach and preach in the church, as to silence all but one man who is to be priest and preacher and pastor in one. All are priests, and some of them are also teachers. It is not only the women who are bidden to be silent in the church, but the men also, on occasion (1 Cor. 14:28-30), for the Lord is the Master of the Assemblies. It is hard to believe that He orders the custom of a hymn and prayer, hymn and prayer, so prevalent in many assemblies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life and does not stereotype the order of worship.
May I not add a word about our meetings for prayer, when there is as much need for reality and submission to the Word as in worship. If I follow Scripture example I shall be brief in my prayers in the presence of my brethren. There is only one long prayer in the Bible and that was not in a meeting for prayer, for Solomon was the only one who took part in that meeting; and it is noticeable that this prayer can be repeated in less than six minutes. What shall I say of brethren who go on and on for ten, fifteen and even twenty minutes, as I have known to my pain and sorrow. If we were each to ask for the thing that was upon our hearts and stop, giving opportunity for all others to follow with their God-given requests, perhaps our prayer meetings would be attended by all in fellowship, who, using the forgotten Scriptural habit of saying aloud “Amen,” to the prayers which touched their hearts, would make the meeting more real and living. In this also responsible brethren should not merely exhort, but if this offence—the making of long prayers— against their brethren is persisted in, they should forbid such evil practice.
THIS word speaks of Divine consummations. It reveals that the present order of things in the world will not last for ever. Radical changes are to take place that will affect Christians, Jews, and Gentiles. To some the word will spell judgment, to others grace and glory. Hope is a necessary encouragement to the people of God—•“where there is no vision the people perish.”
THE “UNTIL” OF CHRIST’S PATIENCE—Psa 110:1
“The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). Just as the Father speaks to the Son in Psalms 2:7 and45:6 so here. What a fulness there is in this much quoted verse. In Hebrews 1 the word is “He sat himself down,” that is, He takes, in His own inalienable right, the highest place as a Man in heaven, and in Hebrews 10:13 we read " from henceforth expecting.” This is “the patience of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5, J.N.D.) into which our hearts have to be directed. Isaac was in the field at eventide and, lifting up his eyes, he saw the camels coming with Rebekah his destined bride (Gen. 24). This typical meeting sets forth the uniting of the Church with the Lord and must precede the judgment on Christ’s enemies. When He comes forth in the day of His power His saints will be the train of His glory. For this glorious manifestation He waits patiently, meanwhile the nations continue to rage against the Lord and against His Anointed. Yet the full apostasy cannot take place, for it awaits:
THE “UNTIL” OF RESTRAINT REMOVED—2 Thess. 2:6,7
The mystery of iniquity doth already work, and there are many anti-Christs (1 John 2:18). Is it not remarkable that history records even in the greatest periods of departure from the truth that there is never complete apostasy? A Wycliffe in dark England; a Luther in Germany; a Wesley; a Moody; a host of spiritual teachers and forthright evangelists to offset Modernism and take us back to apostolic simplicity. Nevertheless, around us is the drift towards the complete falling away. There is a restraint and there is a restrainer, (one is tempted to interpret this by supplying a capital, but we forbear). So then we have liberty, still to proclaim the gospel. The mark of the beast has not and cannot come till given Divine permission.
THE “UNTIL” OF ISRAEL’S BLINDNESS—Rom. 11:25
This verse draws to a conclusion the dispensational parenthesis (chapters 9 to 11) of the Roman Epistle. The Christ “who is over all God blessed for ever” was out of Israel (Rom. 9:5) yea, of the seed of David (Rom. 1:3). Yet Israel was blind and deaf with the vail still on their hearts. Unbelief is an astonishing thing. Unless the heart is yielded, no evidence, no miracles, no powers of the age to come, can turn the stubborn will. The Japhetic nations are dwelling in the tents of Shem (Genesis 9:27). The natural branches of the Olive tree (Israel) have been broken off and the wild olive branches (the Gentiles) grafted in (Romans 11). But the Sovereign Husbandman will again reverse the order, for “All Israel shall be saved.” It awaits the “fulness of the Gentiles” the “gathering out” (Acts 15:14) and the gathering unto Him of the Church (2 Thess. 2:1). It is written, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3). But sad to say, the yielded heart of Israel is to be the product of Divine chastisement. They have yet to be purified by the rod of His anger. Tears and blood, wailing and death, will be their lot until the heart is softened.
THE “UNTIL” OF EARTH’S JUBILEE—Acts 3:21
“Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” When the Lord Jesus returns, God will vindicate His word. The earthly kingdom will be purged of all profession (Matt. 13:41). The world’s capital will not be Moscow or Rome but Jerusalem, (Isaiah 2:1-3). There will be no more armaments, for the rod will be in the hand of the Shepherd King (Psalm 2:9, Is. 2:4). No longer will the wild creatures need to be viewed behind iron bars (Is. 11:7), and there will be no droughts on the barren deserts (Is. 35:1). Peace and prosperity will pervade the earth, for every man will sit under his own fig tree (Mic. 4:4). “The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Is. 11:9). In the midst of the conflict for the truth, the babel of Christendom, the unrest, the appalling indifference to the gospel, one longs to see the groaning creation “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). In the papyri “restitution” means " the restoration of estates to rightful owners, a balancing of accounts” (Vine).
THE “UNTIL” OF THE CHURCH—1 Cor. 11:26
This was a special revelation to Paul (1 Thess. 4:15; 1 Cor. 15:51). “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” The passover supper had a prophetic outlook, the Lord’s supper likewise has. The ready pilgrim partook of the passover with his loins girded—no loose encumbrance to impede. We need to tighten our belts lest loose habits make us like “Lots” instead of like “Abrahams.” Then he had his shoes on. Many have taken them off, and gone to sleep. God has provided gospel shoes for our feet (Eph. 6:15). If we would have beautiful feet (Is. 52:7), then let us testify to the world. That faithful gospeller, Willie Lowis of Brisbane used to say, “preaching the gospel keeps you right,” He always seemed to have his shoes on. The staff of the pilgrim is his defence, his helper to lean on. Our defence and helper is the word of God. It ought to be constantly in our hand. Foes are increasing, “wicked men and seducers wax worse and worse.” The Lord’s supper is a weekly reminder of His coming, every remembrance is a step nearer home.
THE “UNTIL” OF THE SERVANT —Luk 19:13
“Occupy till I come,” (Luke 19:13). First the Lord calls His servants. We are all called to serve, some on special service, some to far off places, some in prominence, some in obscurity. It is not the character, nor the place, not the sphere of service that matters, but obedience. “Wherefore O King Agrippa,” said Paul, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). Secondly, He gives them something to work with. We have been entrusted with the stewardship of the gospel, and one day we shall be called to give an account of our stewardship. Thirdly, He says, “occupy,” which means, “get busy.” It is said that John Wesley was the busiest man in England in his day. Someone once asked him what he would do the next day if he knew the Lord would return at its end. He answered by telling of his early rising, prayer and reading, speaking here, travelling there, calling on one, meeting another, constantly busy, in fact “just the same as I have done today.” Pay-day is coming. The motives of the heart will on that day be manifested. There is a great word of consolation to the worker in Rev. 3:12: “They shall go no more out.” Happy prospect!
See that the depth of your communion with God is equal to your activity in service.
Preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). Preach Christ as did Philip the evangelist (Acts 8:5). Preach the Word as did the persecuted disciples (Acts 8:4).
Do not preach yourself, or your success, or announce results and tabulate in round numbers how many converts you have gained.
Many evangelists are rude in their manners. Be courteous. A servant of Christ should be a living personification of practical Christianity.
Avoid mannerism. As few anecdotes and stories as possible. Preach the Word and not yourself.
On no account look to saints of God for money or hint at temporal needs. Look up and direct to Christ, whose servant you are. Do not court the rich nor despise the poor.
Do not be attracted by a passing popularity (Mark 1:37). Never be disheartened if rejected (Mark 5:17-21), but quietly pass on elsewhere.
Do not be over anxious as to immediate results. Patiently labour, reaping time is coming (2 Tim. 2:6), (1 Cor. 15:58), (Gal. 6:9).
Aim to produce solid results, not startling news. Avoid exaggeration in statement.
Neither adopt the words or sentiment of "singing the Gospel.” There is no such idea in Scripture. You preach, not sing, the Gospel.
We have heard of the effect produced by the touching hymn, sung by a band of minstrels at an exciting address, “Steal away to Jesus” that and all these means as music, melting tales, etc., leave the conscience untouched, and that is what evangelists should aim to reach.
Avoid as far as possible the relation of personal experience. Subjective truth has its place but as a rule that comes within the province of the teacher. Objective truth is more in the line of the preacher and it is that believed which can alone produce true state of soul.
Quote Scripture freely. Do be simple, earnest and clear in your statements of Gospel truth.
Baptize your work in prayer and solemnly remember that the Holy Ghost is your only power in service.
Do not prolong the Meetings. Remember that people have bodies as well as souls and God thinks of both.
Do not hurry souls into a confession that they are saved. Peace with God is not to be gained by hasty confessions wrung from unwilling lips.
Note.—The foregoing “Counsels” (prepared it is believed, by a Brother now with the Lord) are reprinted from the fly-leaf of a Newberry Bible which is to be seen at Netherhall, Largs, Scotland. It is suggested that they are worthy of prayerful consideration on the part of ALL who are seeking to serve the Lord in any capacity.
“Whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."—Col. 3:23.