TO Alford’s weighty testimony may be added that of W. E. 1 Blackstone. He very ably exposes the fallacy of our opponents’ view when he says : “They labour assiduously to disprove the literalism of the first resurrection, described in vv. 4-6, where “zao”—to live, and “anastasis”—resurrection, are each twice used; while they hold that verses 12 and 13 do describe a literal resurrection, though neither “zao” nor “anastasis” is used therein. Consistency requires that, if either is spiritual, it should be the latter. How much better to accept both as literal.” Blackstone speaks of this as being one of Post-Millennialists’ “most remarkable inconsistencies” (“Jesus is Coming”, p. 51).
It is conceded, of course, that chapter 20, like many other chapters in Revelation, is highly symbolic. Nevertheless those who deny that the thousand years period is literal must yet admit that Heaven, the Bottomless Pit, Satan, the Earth, the Nations, the Resurrection of verses 12 and 13, the Great White Throne and the Lake of Fire, are all literal. Anyhow, what force is there in their argument based upon the symbolic character of these visions? The symbols are not meaningless, are they? Surely they are intended to convey to us literal truths. If we are given visions in our chapter, there is appended an explanation of those visions, which is couched in plain, literal language; and it is in this explanation, not in the actual visions, that the prophetic meaning is conveyed to us. A-Millennialists by their perverted interpretations have turned realities into symbols, have reduced the book of “Revelation” to a book of “Mystification”, and have made it, as the late Wm. Hoste once said, “a bag of wild guesses and fanciful interpretations, leading nowhere”.
Arguments against a literal resurrection in Rev. 20. 4 are weak and groundless. For example, where we read of some that “they lived and reigned with Christ”, one view spiritualises the clause by making it refer to “departed saints now living and reigning with Christ” (T. H. Salmon in “Why I Left The Futurist School, ch. 10). Another view is that the reference is to believers in this day of salvation, who not merely possess “resurrection life”, but who are “living out that life triumphantly in victory” (A. Hughes in “A New Heaven And A New Earth”, p.58). Which of these conflicting views are we to accept? Besides, what proof is there that either is right? There is none at all—not even a shred. How easy it is to make confident assertions without offering a scintilla of evidence in their support! Norman C. Deck, B.D.S., however, has dealt satisfactorily with this point in “The Case For Futurism”, p. 70. He has shown that the verb, “lived”, is aorist, which can be rendered, “came to life”, and he mentions no fewer than nine English translations which give this sense to the verb. To these one could add other translations. Mr. Deck then says : “This rendering, ‘came to life,’ is confirmed in the very next statement, ‘but the rest of the dead lived not (Gr. ouk ezesan) until the thousand years should be finished’, i.e. they ‘did not come to life until the thousand years should be finished’. A-Millennialists admit that this last ‘coming to life’ will be a bodily resurrection, then why not the former ‘coming to life’ where the same verb is used? It is a highly artificial and arbitrary interpretation which gives to the same verb, ‘ezesan’, two totally different meanings in a closely connected statement like this, taking the first use of the verb to speak of a spiritual ‘resurrection’, the new birth, and the second a bodily resurrection, as A-Millennialists do.” The same word is used of Christ rising from the dead, or returning to bodily life, in chapter 1. 18; 2. 8; also of the Beast in chapter 13. 14. Any other meaning here would therefore seem highly incongruous. Moreover, that this is what is meant is confirmed by the explanatory sentence which follows in verse 5—“This is the first resurrection.”
As might be expected, those opposed to a literal first resurrection, have not failed to bring under fire Alford’s forthright statement, quoted earlier in these pages. The most noteworthy attack perhaps has been by Archdeacon Lee. Anyone interested can read his criticism in “The Speaker’s Commentary”, vol. 4 of the New Testament, pages 805-814. Lee quotes and refers to dozens of writers, ancient and modern, whose views are frequently in violent conflict, and makes a long and laboured attempt to disprove Alford’s argument. It will be found, however, that in the essential points of his interpretation, Alford’s stately argument is irrefutable and stands, now at the end of 100 years, like an immovable rock in the midst of a storm-swept sea of controversy.
NOT THE NEW BIRTH
It is hoped that this chapter will make two things perfectly clear. One is that the first resurrection is not the new birth. The word “resurrection” (Gr. anastasis) which occurs some 40 or 42 times in the New Testament is never used in this sense. It is employed consistently and exclusively of the raising to life of a person or persons that had been dead, Luke 2. 34 being a possible exception. What is more, our Lord in John 5. 25-29 sharply distinguishes, not only between the imparting of spiritual life to dead souls and of physical life to dead bodies, but also between the time period when each impartation would be made. Speaking of the former, He says, “The hour is coming, and NOW IS when the dead shall hear . . . and . . . shall live”. Speaking of the latter, He says merely, “The hour is coming” (v 28), because that hour in which “all that are in the graves shall hear His voice” was, and indeed is, still future.
There are three remarkable chapters to which the student of Scripture instinctively turns when seeking for typical teaching in the truths of salvation. I refer to the 22nd of Genesis, the 12th of Exodus and the 16th chapter of Leviticus. We are now to consider the last of these, in conjunction with a few verses in the 23rd chapter of this same book (vv 26-32).
In each of the passages mentioned, the need for sacrifice is emphasised, while differing aspects of the work of Christ are presented in detail. The Day of Atonement reveals the God-ward and manward requirements equally met in the wondrous work of the cross. For the accomplishment of all that was necessary on this important Day, two goats were selected. Subsequent dealings with them typified the work of Christ, as that which entirely satisfies the throne of God, vindicating both His nature and character, yet at the same time fully meeting the sinner’s need.
The goat for the sin offering was first taken; the demands of righteousness must of necessity be met before sin could be effectually removed. The Holiness of God remains untarnished, while in mercy He exercises His grand prerogative, pardoning and receiving repentant ones who believe in His Son.
The precious blood makes this possible, for our God is just and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus (Rom. 3. 26). The body of the victim was consumed in the fire without the camp, but the blood was carried into the Holiest, there to be sprinkled upon, and before, the Mercy Seat. It witnessed there to the righteousness of God in His judgment of sin and in His reception of all for whom atonement had been made. The hands of the high priest were laid upon the head of the live goat while he confessed, “All the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins”.
By imputation the second goat became sin bearer, and by him sins were borne away into a land not inhabited (See Lev. 16. 21). This goat, known as the scapegoat, is not a type of Satan, as Seventh Day Adventism falsely supposes, but is rather a picture of Him to whom John the Baptist directed, when on the banks of Jordan he cried—“Behold the Lamb of God which taketh (or beareth) away the sin of the world” (John 1. 29).
Atonement, in the Old Testament, has the thought of “Covering”. This is suggested to us in a twofold way on the Day that the high priest entered the Holiest with the blood, for he also carried with him the censer filled with live coals and the incense beaten small. Sin is covered by the blood, while the one who would draw near must himself be covered by the cloud of incense. The Psalmist speaks of sins covered in the 32nd Psalm—“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The New Testament word, “Reconciliation”, though akin to that of “Atonement”, would appear to be an advance upon it and present that which is absolute and complete. The reason is probably found in the wording of Hebrews 10. 4 : “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins”. In those sacrifices there was a remembrance again made of sins every year. We discern there the insufficiency of the sacrifice and the incompetency of the high priest. In contrast to all this, we have presented to us the One who is for us an High Priest forever in all the excellency and perfection of His person. Furthermore, we have His all-sufficient sacrifice and the efficacy of His precious blood wherewith He hath made purification for sins once and for all. Our sins are not, for the time being, passed over; they have been effectually dealt with and forever removed. It is in this sense that “We have received the atonement” (or reconciliation, as in the margin of Rom. 5. 11). As fitting comment upon all this, I would refer you to the beautiful lines penned by the late Isaac Watts, undoubtedly a meditation upon the Day of Atonement and upon the 10th Chapter of the Hebrew Epistle.
Not all the blood of beasts,
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away one stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Took all our sins away,—
A Sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
By faith we lay our hand
On that dear head of Thine;
With broken contrite hearts we stand,
And there confess our sin.
We now look back to see
The burden Thou didst bear,
When hanging on th’ accursed tree,
And know our guilt was there.
Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice
And sing His bleeding love.
While the believer is in the enjoyment of this to-day, it will be better understood and appreciated in the Day of Christ, when standing before Him in all the perfection His work has provided.
There is also a prophetic aspect to the truth here, that will be recognized and experienced by the remnant of Israel in the day of our Lord’s manifestation as the Son of Man.
“His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives”. The two things featuring the Day of Atonement will be known on that occasion, for there will be affliction with bitterness of spirit, and true repentance. Every household shall weep apart, for “they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced”.
Then will the remnant exclaim, as we have so often done, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows : yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities”.
Turning to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. They will then behold Him, the One in whom has been fulfilled completely the typical teaching of the Day of Atonement, and who for them endured the fire of Divine wrath and bore away their sins. Then will they say with understanding, “Jehovah hath made to meet upon Him the iniquities of us all”. Rest will be their portion even as peace is ours now.
Let us now come to a very important subject, dealt with by the Apostle in chapter 11. It is the relationship of male and female in the fellowship, and the vital importance of divinely established order in the assembly of God. It is obvious there was disorder in this matter at Corinth, and it was manifested in two ways. First, the women were taking part in the meetings of the assembly, in the presence of men, in praying and prophesying, and were thus acting disorderly. Secondly, this disorder on the part of the women was aggravated by the fact that they were doing it with their heads uncovered. The first disorder was aggravated by the second. Now, the question of whether women can or cannot speak in the assembly is not the subject of chapter 11. He deals with that in chapter 14. The subject under discussion in chapter 11 is Headship. You will notice there are four persons mentioned here: God, Christ, Man and Woman. We read that "the head of Christ is God, the head of man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man”. The Lord Jesus is seen to operate in two spheres, in subjection to God and in Headship to man. Man also is seen to operate in two spheres— subjection to Christ, and Headship to the woman. God is seen to operate in only one—Headship. The woman also is seen to operate in one only—subjection.
Let us think first of the expression, “the Head of Christ is God.” There is no suggestion here of inferiority to God. Christ is God’s equal, God’s Fellow. The thought is that of subjection—voluntary subjection. Such was the position He took as Man. But now notice the next expression—“the head of every man is Christ.” Christ became man, and this brought Him into the sphere of voluntary subjection to God. It also at the same time brought Him into the sphere of Headship over the man. For whatever sphere He, Christ, enters, He must have pre-eminence. He must have priority, and priority involves headship; and so in the human sphere He must be, and is, the Head of every man, and is gladly acknowledged as such in the assembly. Then we read, "the head of the woman is the man.” We have seen that man in the human sphere is in subjection first to Christ, but now let us think of him in headship over the woman. The apostle gives two reasons for this here—first, that the man is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man. Therefore, the one who is the image and glory of God in the assembly must essentially be greater (not superior) than the one who is the glory of the man. His second reason is given in verses 8 and 9. For says he, “the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man, neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man.” So in the beginning Adam was first created, then Eve. Priority was given to Adam in the beginning and, therefore, Headship was entrusted to him, for we have already seen that priority involves Headship. Now, you will notice that there is a parallel between the relationship of the man and the woman, and the relationship of God and Christ. Therefore, no inferiority is implied, the woman is not inferior to the man, but in the divine economy, God has placed the man as the head of the woman, and the woman is seen in Scripture in subjection to the man.
Then look with me at these precise relationships—Christ in subjection to God, man in subjection to Christ, the woman in subjection to the man. Now can you imagine for one moment, Christ as man stepping out of that sphere of divine appointment, that sphere of voluntary subjection to God, and so bringing dishonour to God? No, a thousand times, No. He was ever the obedient Son, and let me say with all the authority of Scripture behind me, that God expects the same obedience from man in his relationship to Christ, and from the woman in her relationship to the man. He looks for glad voluntary subjection,, each in his and her respective divinely appointed sphere.
In verse 4 the Apostle tells us that any man praying or prophesying in the assembly, with a covering on his head, dishonours Christ his Head. Verse 7 tells us why. Man is the image and glory of God. In other words, he is Christ’s representative in the assembly, and by wearing a covering he is obscuring Christ in the assembly, and setting at nought the divine relationship appointed by God; and says the Apostle, this is a dishonour. But now in verse 5 the Apostle tells us that for a woman to pray or prophesy, with her head uncovered, dishonours her head, that is the man. Verse 7 explains why—“For the woman is the glory of the man”. Thus to have her head uncovered is to display the glory of the man, and the assembly is not the place for the display of the man’s glory, but for the display of the glory of Christ. So by covering her head, she acknowledges her subjection to the man. Finally verse 10 says, “For this cause ought the woman to have authority on her head, because of the angels”. The covering is the symbol that she is under authority, and recognises that authority, because of the angels. What have angels to do with it? The Church is the present day lesson book for the angels. The Church is a source of never-ending wonder to them. Peter tells us that angels greatly desire to look into these things. Paul tells us that “Now through the Church, God is manifesting His wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenlies.” These angels who dwell in the presence of God, each functioning in his divinely appointed sphere of authority and subjection, and who offer instant obedience to God, expect to see in the assembly the same measure of obedience in the particular sphere in which God has placed us. It matters not about the dictates of fashion, nor of modern society’s views of the equality of sexes. Neither fashion nor the changing pattern of life can alter what is written. Remember, God is not the author of confusion. He is a God of order. What a joy then it must be to His heart to see godly women gladly, willingly accepting their place of divine appointment, and functioning in that place to the glory of God and the blessing of the saints!
This word may be viewed in two ways : First, as to our lives on earth, which are short indeed. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4. 14). Job in his affliction thought on these things and spoke of his days as the weaver’s shuttle. How quickly it passes from one side of the loom to the other: and in a short time the web is woven. How like our lives this is: each day, each joy, each sorrow, each prosperity, each adversity, passing from one side to the other as the weaver’s shuttle. And thus God’s design is being worked out and soon the web will be woven, the life lived out, or may be cut short, to be opened for inspection at the judgment seat of Christ, and in view of this there is no time for trifling: no time to be unduly occupied, the “things which are seen are temporal”, for to be so, will mean flaws in the web, and so loss at the judgment seat of Christ.
Secondly, this word, “the time is short,” may be looked at in relation to the coming of the Lord. “For yet a little while— how little a while—and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10. 37). Again, “The night is far spent, and the day is at hand”. And again the apostle John tells us, “it is the last time,” or “the last hour” (Newberry), as if we had already arrived at the midnight hour just before the Morning Star appears. How short then the time is! Do we realize that this may be the last year?Yea, possibly the last day, or even the last hour? Surely, if we did, our lives would be different in many ways. Instead of the worldliness, the carnality and selfishness which is so apparent among us, we would be known as “spiritual”, as “strangers and pilgrims”, as “living not unto ourselves, but unto Him who died for us and rose again.” “It remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none : and they that weep as though they weep not: and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not.” Does this mean that we are to be stoics, unmoved and without feeling in the various circumstances of life? Does it mean that we are to be slothful and negligent in business? Surely not. For has not God already answered these questions? He has told us that we are to love our wives even a's Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5. 25), and as fellow members of the body of Christ we are told to “weep with them that weep,” and to “rejoice with them that rejoice.” Then as to business, “not slothful in business” (Rom. 12. 11). Much is said in the book of Proverbs commending the diligent, and condemning the slothful.
While we are in these bodies, linked up in earth’s relationships, subject to the joys and sorrows, the losses and gains of life, God does not mean us to be unfaithful or negligent. What then is the meaning of this exhortation in view of the shortness of time? It is that the Lord should have the first place in our lives, and all else a secondary place. Everything of earth; its relationships, its business, its pleasures, its possessions, all are but for a moment. These relationships shall soon be broken : the fashion of this world passeth away : “change and decay in all around I see.”
Why then allow these temporal things to have the chief place in our hearts, and thus influence our lives, causing us to bear such an inconsistent character as is expressed in such words as worldly, carnal, selfish? God’s purpose is that we should be the very opposite of these; and it is only as we remember daily that “the time is short,” and see the true character of earthly things, that we shall look upon and set a proper value upon the things which are unseen and eternal. Seeking God’s glory first: seeking those things which are above, as those who are risen with Christ. So shall we be “after Christ,” and he according to the will and purpose of God.
Whichever view we take of the fact that “the time is short,” surely the exhortation is seasonable. May the Lord so speak through His Word to our hearts, that we may hear and give heed. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep : for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” This word, and the other Scriptures, seem to indicate that a spirit of slumber will set in among the people of God prior to the day dawn. The wise, as well as the foolish virgins “slumbered and slept.” We are exhorted by the Lord Jesus to watchfulness, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping.
We are face to face with the fact that the end of all things is at hand. Democracy and lawlessness are on the increase. Apparently the only one who can lay his hand on capital and labour and unite both is the Antichrist, that man of sin. And are not the conditions out of which he is to arise with us? I conclude with this word again, “The time is short.” “The things which are unseen are eternal.” “The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” “Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus.”
Many saints in Northern Ireland and in other parts of the world, were much saddened by the passing- Home of four well known, beloved, and highly esteemed servants of Christ during the past twelve months. Our brethren Alexander Cooke, Hawthorne Bailie, Thomas Campbell, all of Belfast, and Robert McCrory, Bangor, went to be with Christ during 1964.
Of these, Mr. McCrory had the longest full-time service, and therefore I shall speak of him first. He was bom again in his native town, Lurgan, Co. Armagh, at the age of 12 years. When 24, he was commended to the work of the Lord by the Roman Road Assembly, Motherwell. From then until his Homecall, he preached Christ and ministered the Word with much power and blessing in the British Isles, Spain, Canada, and the U.S.A. For many years his home was in Hamilton, Ontario. Over the years he wrote numerous valuable magazine articles, all of an expository nature. After the death of his beloved wife, he came to reside with his niece, Mrs. Campbell, in Bangor, Co. Down, where he spent his last three years. He fell asleep after a short illness on October 6 in his 88th year.
It must have been only a year or two after the going forth of Mr. McCrory, that Mr. Campbell resigned from the old R.I.C. police force, and at the call of God devoted his whole time to the work of the Gospel. He had been saved in his Barrack in Co. Donegal in 1899, and from the first had manifested an intense desire to win the lost. His life was spent in his native Ulster, where he saw hundreds of souls saved and a number of godly assemblies formed. His preaching, whether to saints or sinners, was always clear, thoughtful, logical, simple and with spiritual force. He was spared until his 92nd year, and to the end his spiritual vigour remained undiminished. The Lord called him Home on June 5, some weeks after he had undergone surgery in a Belfast hospital.
Mr. Bailie was convicted of sin through the singing of the hymn, “The sweet by and by”, by one of his beloved sisters, a short time before she died. Having promised to meet her in Heaven, he never rested until he had found Christ. After his conversion, he turned his back upon the world of sport, in which he could have made a name for himself, and laid his all upon the altar for God. He went into full-time service for Christ in fellowship with Mourne Street Assembly (now Albert Bridge Rd.), Belfast, in 1913. He was a man of deep piety and a fine student of the Word. His preaching was with spiritual fervour, and he was well known as a Conference speaker in different parts of the British Isles. For several years he and Mr. Campbell answered questions in the Question column of “The Believer’s Magazine”. He entered rest upon May 12, after several months of bodily weakness.
As in the case of Mr. Bailie, it was through the singing of a hymn that Mr. Cooke was convicted of sin. The hymn, “Will the circle be unbroken?” was sung at an open-air meeting. The anxiety it produced deepened, until his brother showed to him the finished work of Christ, and he found peace through believing. Almost from the first he felt called to public service for Christ. Following two years of study, he assumed the pastorate of a Baptist Church. In 1940, however, after deep exercise of heart, he severed all denominational connections, and was received into fellowship in Ballyhackamore Assembly, Belfast. He was an earnest, sober preacher, and though his course was shorter than any of the other three, he saw many souls saved in different parts of the country. He passed away after an attack of thrombosis on February 10.
It is a great joy to remember that each of these beloved and honoured servants of Christ ended with an untarnished testimony. They were known to be men of deep conviction and high principle, who had learned the truth in communion with God, and consequently they made a lasting impression upon all who came into contact with them. We certainly shall not forget them nor their labours. Assemblies owe much to them, for they were all true ‘assembly men’. The memory of their gracious godly ways is revered in many hearts. May we emulate their faith. We only say, ‘Good night, beloved, we shall meet you in the morning’. McCheyne once remarked .to his friend Bonar that he had been praying that he might live so as to be missed. Certainly these brethren are missed. We all feel the poorer of their passing. But “God buries His workmen and carries on His work”. Their Home-going has been a voice to us. Where are the young men to-day, who, as the ranks of God’s worthies are being depleted, will say, “Lord, here am I, send me?” What a challenge! Young men, which world are you living for?
We hope, God willing, to publish some of the writings of these beloved servants of God, and in the present issue will be found a paper by Mr. McCrory.
We have also been requested to mention the passing of our brother, Mr. James Boyd, of Glengormley Assembly, Belfast, which took place suddenly upon April 13, 1964. He was born in 1899 and born again in 1912. For some years he was in fellowship in Ebenezer Assembly, Belfast, but was in Glengormley Meeting since its formation in 1938. Our brother bore a consistent testimony, and always had a deep interest in the work of the Lord. His beloved wife, Jean, joined him in spirit three weeks after his passing. We regret that this notice was not received in time for an earlier issue.
To all the relatives of these dear departed saints we tender our warm and most sincere Christian sympathy.
“Great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3. 23). The prophet had been severely tried in ways, and to a degree, that we know nothing of experimentally; but the trial resulted in his using these impressive words. They could only be ascribed to One Person—his Lord. This is our Lord and our God. Weak as is our faith; great is His faithfulness. The past year has given us added proof of these words. For this we humbly thank our faithful God. The year 1964 has seen a large number of those friends, who showed a deep practical interest in the magazine from its inception, pass home to be with the Lord. Their homegoing has given us much sorrow, and the experience teaches us increasingly our complete dependence upon the Lord. He ever proves Himself worthy of our trust, and through His kindness, we feel it is His will that we should continue the issue of “Assembly Testimony”. One great encouragement we experienced during the past year was the number of new enquirers for our little magazine. For this we thank our gracious Lord. It means our mailing list and circulation have increased both in Britain and Overseas. To those who have helped us in the work of distribution we express our heartfelt thanks. We would also thank all those dear saints, as well as the many assemblies of the Lord’s people, by whose liberality and practical fellowship the issue of the magazine has continued. For this grace, so bountifully manifested by so many, we praise our God.
We trust the Lord will be pleased graciously to bless future issues of “Assembly Testimony” to His dear saints in many lands, and to the preservation and upbuilding of the assemblies of His saints, which are so dear to His heart, and ours. To this end we earnestly solicit the prayers of God’s people for the guidance and help of the Lord, which we so much need.
A New Year has dawned, and with its dawning we find ourselves almost halfway through the seventh decade of this ‘tumultuous and convulsive’ twentieth century. Whatever our personal experiences may have been during 1964, we thank God for continued preservation from global warfare. It is an uneasy peace, however. The world is full of distrust, discord, and discontent. What riots, bestiality, torture, and bloodshed have been witnessed in the Congo, Cyprus, Vietnam, the Yemen, Borneo and other lands! The explosion of China’s first nuclear device hailed as the most stupendous international event of the year, was no good omen. “At one blast it changed the strategic pattern of the world.” In different parts of the earth new nations are springing to life. The great Powers to the south of the Continent continue, for economic and military purposes, to strengthen their union. “A new Europe is taking shape,” which is profoundly significant, in the light of Daniel 2.
In social circles, Health and Welfare Committees are shocked by the appalling increase of the most horrible forms of immorality and crime. The Divorce Courts are crowded. The desecration of the Lord’s Day is given public countenance. Juvenile delinquency has become a major problem. Gang warfare fills the streets of some of the larger cities. The authorities are deeply disturbed by the soaring figures of outrage, assault, cruelty, house-breaking, and theft. Social and moral workers confess their disappointing powerlessness. Still more disappointing are the base and almost pagan moral standards of many of the spiritual leaders. All this is a sad reflection of the age in which we live. Surely ‘the grievous times’ foretold in 2 Timothy 3 are upon us. Yet it is in this grave hour of moral bankruptcy, when more than ever the sanctions of the Divine Law require to be enforced, that strong moves are being made in Britain to abolish the death penalty. Need we wonder that violence and crime flourish? The pity is that so many, even moral and religious guides, ignore the solemn biblical teaching, which history has so often confirmed, that is is “because of these things that the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5. 6).
Much of the present trouble can be attributed to the pernicious literature which floods the country, and also, as is well known, to the demoralising influence of television. This influence, says Dr. Oswald J. Smith, of Toronto, “has been responsible for the teenage gangs of to-day . . . . It will completely wreck the rising generation, and before long it will turn the United States and Canada into a Sodom and Gomorrah, infinitely worse than the Sodom and Gomorrah of Bible times.” Dr. Smith further says—and let the words be weighed by Christian parents— “I do not think television can be controlled. If it is in the home it will be used. I have never had a set in my home, and if my children were still with me, I would never dream of having one”.
Now, it is in this vile scene that we are called to witness for God. How circumspectly therefore we should walk, for
“The world hath many a wonder,
And many a witching snare.”
Our only safety lies in constant communion with God, humble, devoted and unhesitating obedience to His Word, and the glad, hourly expectation of our Lord’s speedy return. If content with such a path—and who that has tasted of its holy joys would not be?—we shall not provoke God by trying how near to temptation’s perilous precipice we may venture, but shall shun every appearance of evil as one would a plague.
Once more we wish to state that we do not believe that the scriptural, assembly path, in this day of weakness and failure, is to be found in uniting with systems, many of which are permeated with the leaven of modernistic teaching and are heading straight for reunion with the Papacy. Neither, however, is God’s path to be found by dividing into splinter groups, a practice which can have very serious repercussions in other assemblies, and can raise the most embarrassing situations for servants of the Lord. We have no leanings towards, nor sympathy with, any form of ‘departure’ or ‘apostasy’, as was so unjustly insinuated by an American magazine some time ago. Scripture teaches separation, but not isolation; and “God and the Word of His grace” are still our sure recourse in an evil day.
THE MAGAZINE WORK
In view of what our esteemed Treasurer has stated regarding the forwarding of orders, etc., it seems unnecessary for me to say anything further along that line. Readers who preserve their copies will be glad to know that we have decided to indicate again the months upon each issue, which we ceased to do two years ago. It has been suggested too that we should publish another series of conversion stories, as we did some time ago. It will be appreciated therefore if Christians, whose experience in seeking salvation may be helpful to others, will kindly submit their written testimonies for this purpose.
We have now entered our fourteenth year of publication. The work has not been all sunshine, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Though production costs and mailing rates have continued to increase, this has but afforded us opportunity of proving the unchanging faithfulness of Him Who is our “EL SHADDAI”. When the work began it was urged by some that, to obtain reading material at other people’s expense, folks would take advantage of the fact that the magazine was free. Experience has shown us, however, that, far from this being the case, the great preponderance of our readers have been most considerate and conscientious in regard to this matter. We are happy to acknowledge that it is so, and take the opportunity of thanking all who, over the years, have so loyally helped us financially. Beloved in Christ, your kind and generous fellowship is warmly appreciated, and has caused us again and again to render thanks to our most gracious God. One dear brother wrote, cancelling the magazine, because the saints in his assembly could not afford to subscribe for it. Needless to say, his name was not erased from our mailing list. We also thank our ministering brethren who contribute papers for our pages, the many who act as distributing agents, and above all, every one who prays for us. I personally owe much to our beloved fellow-workers, brethren Glenville and Hogg, and to our Publishers, for their willing and unselfish co-operation in this magazine service.
Finally, may all of us “walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1. 10). Thus we shall “not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2. 28), which rapidly approaches. Those responsible for sending forth the magazine wish every reader
“New mercies, new blessings, new light on your way;
New courage, new hope, and new strength for each day.”