The Lord’s Return is a subject which demands your most serious and thoughtful interest, irrespective of who you are or of what your station in life may be, since the eternal destiny of your soul is involved in it. In my last article I wrote about ominous signs of the rapidly approaching end which are to be seen in the social world and in the religious world of to-day. I wish now to add a little more in detail about conditions in the religious world. In Matthew 13. 33 we read:
“Another parable spake He unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened”.
The meal mentioned here is, I have no doubt, the pure doctrine of the gospel. And the fact that there were three measures of it would suggest, I think, teaching concerning God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In this meal a woman’s hand concealed leaven. Now, in the Bible, leaven is never a symbol of what is good, but always of what is evil. Here, then, we have symbolized the introduction of evil, corrupt teaching into the pure doctrine of the gospel. But it was hidden at first, it could not be seen. Eventually, however, the entire three measures of pure meal were corrupted by it. The leaven could not then be hidden. It was there for all to see. Now this illustrates the process of evil doctrine which has been slowly but surely going on all down the ages of the Christian era.
What Peter says, in his second Epistle, chapter 2 and verse 1, about false teaching is consonant with this. He there warns that there will be false teachers who will privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Sovereign Lord that bought them, and will bring upon themselves swift destruction. Paul, too, in his second Epistle to Timothy, chapter 4, verses 3 and 4, tells us that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned unto fables. 1 Timothy 4, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Jude’s Epistle, make it clear that before the end, evil pernicious teaching will become so popular that men, while still professing Christianity, will completely abandon the faith once delivered to the saints. Scripture plainly foretells this great apostasy. It will be a vast worldwide landslide from orthodoxy. In the words of our text in Matthew 13, “the whole of the meal will become leavened”. This is a sure sign of the rapidly approaching end of the age. But mark, it cannot possibly take place while the true Church of Jesus Christ is on earth. For born again souls will never go into apostasy. The true Church, that is, all genuinely saved people, whatever the denominational affiliations may be, must first be raptured. Then the salt being removed, how quickly the whole mass will go into utter doctrinal corruption.
At this point, perhaps, I should say something about the rapture. The word is never used in our English Bible. But a verb which means “to rapture” is found there a limited number of times. It comes from the Latin “raptim”, to seize or carry away. This is the word employed in the Latin Vulgate in 1 Thess. 4. 17 and in our English version is translated “caught up”. When the Lord descends to the air with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, then the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Oh, what a soul-thrilling moment it will be. That, praise God, will be the rapture of the saints.
Now this general apostasy cannot take place until after the rapture, because, as I said, truly saved souls cannot apostatize. Well, do we see signs of the near approach of this great turning away from the Word of God to-day? If we do, then we know that the coming of the Lord is just at the door. That we, most unmistakably do see such signs I now wish to demonstrate. We witness them in the false and evil teachings which abound, and in what is known as modernism.
Of course, there always has been wrong teaching. Right from the days of the apostles the leaven has been working in the meal as we have seen. But to-day it is more blatant, more daring, more pronounced, more wicked than it ever was before. This evil power is no longer in the bud. It is almost, but not yet quite, in full bloom. Indeed, we never thought that in this Church period, this age of divine grace, we would see this fearful and pernicious growth come to such dimensions. There are the heterodox doctrines of the Oxford Group, Theosophy, Christian Science falsely so called, Evolution, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, to name but a few. Then think about how far apostate, papal Rome has gone in her erroneous teachings. Her teachings concerning baptismal regeneration, prayers for the dead, prayers to the saints, purgatory, sacrifice of the mass, the confessional, the worship of Mary, the infallibility of the Pope, and much more that is foreign to the Scriptures and abominable in the sight of a Holy God. Yet this is the system, this system which is guilty of the martyrdom of the thousands of God’s saints, which many so-called Protestants of to-day, are reaching out their arms to embrace. The fact that they are, reveals how great is their departure from the Living God, and from the gospel of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the reformers.
This terrible abandonment of the Bible as a divine revelation, verbally inspired, inerrant, accurate, and absolutely trustworthy, has been a gradual process. It began in Germany in the last century under the name of higher criticism. It paved the way for the conditions which led to the first world war. It spread to England and to America. It permeated one Protestant denomination after another. It was because of its inroads into the Baptist Union in Great Britain that Mr. C. H. Spurgeon, that noted servant of Jesus Christ, that valiant soldier of the Cross, withdrew from that fellowship. It is now called modernism, and Protestantism is honeycombed with it. Indeed many of her theological seminaries are hotbeds of infidelity. Modernism, denies every cardinal doctrine of the Bible.
No wonder, therefore, that the association for the advancement of Atheism a few years ago made this statement: “We must recognize, that in spite of its inconsistencies, modernism is but a stepping stone to Atheism.” Some time ago too, a paper was read before a ministerial association in New York City. The clergymen present were then asked if it correctly represented their view of Christianity and the Bible. They all replied in the affirmative. The reader then informed them to their amazement, that what they had heard was a chapter from the Age of Reason, written by Tom Paine, the notorious atheist.
One other example of the length to which some men, who in the most solemn hour of life vowed before God and their fellows, that they would uphold, preach, and defend, the historic Christian Faith, are prepared to go in their betrayal of that Faith I now wish to give. It appeared quite recently in a religious magazine published in Canada. The writer is chaplain of a well known college out in the west. Extracts of the article have appeared in the public press. To this writer, the Bible is composed, partly of legend and myth and allegory. He accuses Christians of continuing to believe in clay made man, a floating zoo, an amphibious footed Jesus, a son of God, mark you, not the Son, and son is spelled with a small “s”. A son of God who demonstrated His divinity as a home-brew artist by turning water into wine, and topped it with an ascension that looks like a Cape Kennedy blast-off. What do you think of that? This sacred account of man’s creation, of Noah’s ark, of our blessed Lord’s walking upon the Sea of Galilee, of His turning water into wine and of His glorious and triumphant ascension, are held up to public ridicule. Could apostasy go farther? Could wicked blasphemy be more outspoken? And the amazing thing is, that any church magazine or secular newspaper in a so-called Christian land would allow such an open, blatant, and iniquitous attack to be made upon the glorious Person of our adorable Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It is most objectionable and offensive to every born again and believing Christian. We might well wonder that any man would not fear to manifest such a hostile disposition and to express such shameless sentiments, such senseless twaddle and all in such a downright arrant manner. But we need not. Peter tells us that these men are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. “These speak evil,” says the Apostle Jude, “of those things which they know not. Woe unto them for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core”.
Now please do not misunderstand me. I do not for one moment believe in throwing ridicule at other groups of Christians. Our being saved and made ready for heaven does not depend upon our going to any particular denomination. We love all who love our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in sincerity and truth. We thank God for every man who preaches ruin by the Fall, redemption by the precious blood of Jesus, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, irrespective of his denominational affiliation, or the colour of his skin. God has His servants everywhere, and we thank Him for every one of them. What I have said is not, thank God, true of all. There are many fundamental ministers who stand outside this great modernistic union, the world council of churches. Men who witness a good confession in the face of tremendous odds. All such have our warm sympathy and our prayers.
What I have tried to show you is that the apostasy so plainly predicted in Scripture is rapidly approaching. The great climax of what we see to-day, reunion with Rome is just at hand. But one thing must happen first. Our Lord must first come and take home His redeemed people. In view of the great advances of modernistic, blasphemist teaching, surely His coming is just at the door. It must be. It cannot be otherwise. The signs indicating it in the religious world are boldly displayed for us to read. The great apostasy, like a mighty tidal wave, is about to break upon the shores of Christendom. Oh, how near is Christ’s coming again. Hence if you are the Lord’s, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, come out from among them and be ye separate. Watch ye, therefore, lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.
But if you are not the Lord’s, if you lack the knowledge of sins forgiven, lose no time, not even a minute. The door is about to close. Trust the finished work of Christ while you may and be saved from the coming storms of God’s wrath. Do it now, tomorrow may be too late. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. He loves you. He died on Calvary’s Cross in order that your soul might be saved, and that your sins might be forgiven. Oh, if you miss this great salvation, pray what will you do? When God’s great trump shall wake the dead, where will you hide your once fair head? What will you do, where can you go, amid that fearful scene of woe, where none can help and all alone, you stand before that Great White Throne?
THE Meal Offering is expressive of the perfections of the humanity of the Lord Jesus in its progressive development, from His incarnation until the fulness of His moral maturity; seen in a typical way in Lev. 2 and in its personal perfections in the ministry of the Gospellers.
Here it is not His death so much as His obedience unto death, and is expressive of that life lived in absolute dependence on the will of God. “Lo, I come: (in the volume of the book it is written of Me), I delight to do Thy Will, O God”. No wonder the disciples in their day were heard to say, “What manner of man is this,” for, never on this earth’s experience has a man like this been seen before. Heaven itself had been opened before to express the mind of God to man, but now there is a man on earth who in Himself is the complete expression of the mind of Heaven and the heavens are opened to him, to bear Him testimony of Heaven’s delight. God now feasting Himself upon this blessed, dependent Man who is expressing Himself, in spiritual suitability, as in the fulness of moral maturity and devoted dependence, he is here to express the will of God.
Such then is the teaching of the Meal Offering as it is presented to us in Lev. 2 in order that we may affectionately appreciate that which we intelligently apprehend. This is that unique corn of wheat, the only one of its kind; one which could have remained alone had He so willed, but in order that Heaven might be peopled with a kind like Him, He was prepared to die. Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming.
Leviticus 2 readily divides itself into its particular sections.
vv. 1-3 —Prerequisites.
vv. 4-7 —Preparations.
vv. 14-16—Priorities and Pre-eminence.
The Prerequisites then are the materials of which the Meal Offering was composed and are expressive of those blended excellencies, that, in their perfectness were only seen in the Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ: The Fineness of the Flour, The Fragrance of the Frankincense, The Freshness of the Oil and the Flavour of the Salt. Fine flour, inherently fine, no grinding by the mill stones to make it fine, to remove its roughness; there was never any unevenness in Him, His characteristic qualities never varied; He is the same yesterday, to-day and forever. No fineness of the flour was ever the same. He required, no matter in whatsoever circumstances He was found, no sifting to remove the lumps. Peter might and did, and so might you and I, but never He. He was flour, yes, fine flour. This was the intention of God in the feeding of His people. He would have fed them with the finest of the wheat, but because of their corrupt carnality and vitiated taste, He was despised and rejected of men. Taste is something that can be acquired. I wonder if, as His priestly ones, we have acquired a taste for Him and have esteemed Him as our necessary food. Feeding thus upon Him, our souls will be fat for God and our energies unflagging in our service for Him.
The Fine Flour alone would have given Him that outstanding place amongst His fellows, the Chiefest amongst the tens of thousands, the most conspicuous One, unequalled and unexcelled, but there was blended with its fineness, the Fragrance of Frankincense, that aroma which marked Him out, that constantly arose from Him, so that He could not be hid. Men might not be able to appreciate its excellence and worth, for it was that ingredient in His life that was wholly claimed by God and could only be in its fulness appreciated by Him. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus”. “Sweet is the savour of His name”. “Because of the savour of His good ointments, His name is as ointment poured forth”. Blended with the perfectness of His humanity was the fragrance of His name. Trace it through the days of time and into the eternity of God, and revel in the overpowering sweetness of its fragrance; gather it up if you can—every place He touched is redolent with it and it lingers there, and as you gather, saturate yourself with it, that, wheresoever you go, men will take knowledge of you that you have been with Him.
Then there is the Freshness of the Oil, saturated, mingled or anointed according to that phase of His humanity in which it is seen: at His birth, in His life or death, He was ever that Holy thing, the Holy One of God. The oil was ever in evidence as the element in which He moved. At His birth we see the offering mingled with oil, in the hidden years of His life He was saturated, and in His public life He was the Anointed One. He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
The final ingredient of these blended excellencies was the Salt. Salt had, without prescribing how much, never to be absent in the offerings of the Lord. Its Flavour was constantly in evidence in all His dealings with the sons of men. His speech was always with grace savoured with salt. Its pungent character in His ways and words was never absent; He could speak a word in season to the weary ones or the seasoned word of rebuke to those who were wrong. His words were always fitly spoken; the flavour of their incorruptness made men marvel, even the report of those that hated Him was this, “Never man spake like this man”. The fineness of the flour, the freshness of the oil, the fragrance of the frankincense with the flavour of the salt. This was the composition of the Meal Offering, these blended excellencies seen only in their fulness, in the perfection of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ ana seen in Him alone.
These then are the Prerequisites that composed the Meal Offering and could be contemplated with the Prohibitions of verses 11-13. Verses 1-3 give us the positive qualities that were ever, always, seen in Him. Verses 11-13 present the negative qualities, qualities that were always conspicuous by their absence. Leaven always speaks of that which is evil, an ingredient that belongs to fallen nature and is manifested in a variety of ways. Honey is that natural sweetness that stands out in marked contrast to the sweetness of His grace. Leaven made things seem to be presentable by puffing up. Honey made things seem palatable by its apparent sweetness. Both were corruptible in character and prohibited from touching God’s Holy Altar.
Having briefly looked at the Prerequisites of the Meal Offering and having sought to gather up some of the general teaching expressed in the ingredients prescribed, we would turn our attention now to the variety of ways in which it was prepared, as seen in vv. 4-7 and vv. 14-16. This fourfold presentation could be looked at as covering the entire history of the days of His flesh down here, The iirst phase is the meal offering in the oven, and this might be looked at as covering the first thirty years of His earthly experience; those hidden years in the obscurity of Nazareth, until His entrance into public ministry and described in verse 4. The second phase in vv. 5-6, the preparation on the flat plate, where everything is exposed and would fit in with His years of public ministry. The third phase as the preparation in trie cauldron, hidden from most, but open at the top and perhaps would describe those awful hours in Gethsemane’s Garden. The fourth phase, as described in vv. 14-16, would bring us on to the resurrection side of things and is expressive of those forty days of manifestation ere His ascension up into Glory.
In seeking to gather up the teaching of the types, one dare not dogmatise, but merely suggest, and while this is true, we must remember that any suggestions made must have their foundations resting securely upon the facts as seen in the anti-type. We should try now to broaden out these suggestions and seek to develop what in principle is seen in the type with that which would correspond in the anti-type. Firstly, then, the preparation in the oven, those hidden years of maturing and development concerning which God is so strangely silent. We believe, as we have already suggested, that the answer to these typical things is given in the ministry of the Gospellers and particularly in the ministry as given by Luke. Luke is the man who particularises on the human side of things and in connection with the Humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ we are greatly indebted to him, so that in our consideration of the Meal Offering we shall have constant recourse to him for the establishment of our facts.
Luke then presents the Lord Jesus in the absolute perfection of His humanity and gives us those brief glimpses of His progressive development as only he has been permitted so to do. Here then is described for us the meal offering in the oven, those hidden years that only Luke describes; those occasional peeps into the oven to watch its development and progress as only he records. Watch the progressive stages of its development, a day old, eight days old, forty days old, twelve years, then the long subjective years of constant supervision, until finally at His thirtieth year taken out, as completely prepared, and the presentation made.
Our meditation is merely a suggestive one and will not be of an exhaustive character. Our desire at the moment is to give a broad outline and to leave you to fill in the details. The ingredients of the meal offering in the oven are not now qualities only, they are beginning to take shape and are suggesting characteristics as they are developed in Him. The process of baking would suggest that, from being ingredients only, they have now taken shape and in these shapes the characteristic features are being fixed. One of the noticeable features is the entire absence of leaven, unleavened cakes and wafers. His humanity was absolutely perfect, yet absolutely pure.
In Jesus Christ humanity was absolutely sinless and all His faculties followed unhesitatingly the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and existed only to do the Father’s will. He did not sin, because none of His faculties were disordered. There were no loose or ungoverned movements in Him, no movement save under the control of His holy will. He could not sin, because sin being what it is, rebellion against God, and He being what He is, the Father’s Son in holy manhood, His human will which was His instrument of moral action, could not choose to sin. It was impossible that He should will to sin. Ever fine flour, never leaven.
The oblation on the flat plate would now bring us into those years of public service, where all His characteristic qualities could be seen by all. The idea of preparation still maintained in the same positive and negative sense the expression of the oil, in all its variegated character, and the entire absence of leaven. The oblation was to be divided into its pieces, and would be expressive of those differing experiences into which He must be brought. I leave you to gather them up for yourself, to piece them together and to get the gain of them in your soul’s experience. Going about “doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the Devil, for God was with Him.”
Then there is the cauldron experience, short in its duration, but the awfulness of the pressure and the heat intense, in a little while to be abandoned of God. No wonder the lamentable cry was wrung from his lips, “Be not far from Me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.” The awful moment of abandonment about to be experienced, when He should be stricken of God and afflicted, and its contemplation was agony intense. How much more the awfulness of its experience.
Between the cauldron experience and the offering of the firstfruits, Calvary has become an accomplished fact. This, of course, does not come into the meal offering experiences, as it is the life and not the death that is being portrayed. The firstfruits is the example of the harvest, the corn of wheat that has fallen into the ground and died is a presentation of Christ on the resurrection side of things, and for forty days there is a display of that kind of man who has glorified God upon the earth, having finished the work that God had given Him to do. The firstfruits of the coming harvest when all that is ripening for God down here will be finally reaped. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall be manifested we shall be like Him. Even now, children, with all its relative closeness, links formed with Him never to be broken, but then, face to face, every one of us the sons of the King, not only the nearness of relationship but the dignity and glory of position and place. No wonder we sometimes sing—
With such a blessed hope in view,
We would more holy be,
More like our risen, glorious Lord,
Whose face we soon shall see.
Are these mere sentiments, beloved? or has the reality of them such a grip upon us, that the example He has left will be determinedly followed, so that we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror, may be transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Lord the Spirit.
His Person, Power, Purification, Position, Pre-eminence.
Seven quotations from the Old Testament from writings concerning David’s House. Note. These are in couplets, and some are taken from the Septuagint Version, which in these instances emphasise the Deity of Christ, and as is usual the Holy Spirit who is the Author of both Old and New Testaments, takes scripture out of its setting and gives fuller meanings to it in order to apply it to Christ.
Hebrews 1. 2 should read, “in the last of those days”, i.e. the days of the past when He was speaking in various ways through various men, it was as those days drew to a close that He speaks last of all in a Son. Those previous revelations were but partial, temporary and incomplete. He is as in John 1. 1-3 and Colossians 1. 15-17, Deity and Creator. (Two of the most sublime utterances possible to make). He, the Creator, has stepped down into His own creation, in order to fully manifest God and do a work none other could do, i.e. bring about a unique and eternal relationship between God and His lost creatures, the relationship which as far as that is possible He Him self enjoyed—that of sons. And moreover bringing these many sons to glory. God could in no other way be fully manifested. He is the “invisible God”, and apart from revelation the unknowable God, but He has manifested Himself in and through the Person of His Son. Mystery of mysteries, but also joy of joys. “That they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou didst send,” He could say. Man could not arrive at this by reason or discovery, it is revealed by, in, and through Him.
Thus verses 2 and 3 cover the whole mission and message of the Son, from His coming forth to His return to the Father, and it is this relationship which is emphasised, “Father and Son”, not merely “God and Christ”. However great the mystery let no one henceforth question the fact that there is “substance” and “personality” with God. He is not some kind of nebulous wind or spirit, and there is, was, and shall be “relationships” in the Godhead. He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1. 15). “And God (triune) said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness”.
He is therefore greater than Creation for He is The Creator Himself, and apart from Him was not anything made that was made.
The reader is asked to look up and study the thirteen occurrences of the words “Better”, “Perfect” and “Perfection”, also “Promise” (each having 13). These are key words in the Epistle.
There are also even created beings which have “form” and in some way “bodily presence” who are connected with this creation, but man was not made like them but bears the likeness and image of God Himself. How these angels were brought into being (for they are not intrinsically eternal) we are not told, only of their being. They had much to do with the life of the people of God in O.T. times and had a special part in God^s revelations to man, especially with Israel. Twelve times they are referred to in these two chapters (1 and 2), all to emphasise the superiority and supremacy of Christ. Though made a little lower (or for a little time) lower than angels yet He is in all things above them in every way. He is better than the angels, (vv. 3 and 4).
Now to set in order the quotations.
Ps. 2. 7:
Thou art My Son
} Christ in the Past
2 Sam. 8. 14:
I will be to him a Father
Ps. 97. 7:
Let all angels ... worship Him
} Christ in the Present
Ps. 104. 4:
Who maketh His angels spirit
Ps. 95. 6, 7:
Thy throne, O God ... kingdom
} Christ in the Future
Ps. 102. 25-27:
Thou, Lord, in the beginning
Ps. 110. 1:
Sit Thou at My right hand
It will be noted how the Holy Spirit takes up the most unlikely and apparently unrelated and inapplicable scriptures to apply them to Christ, e.g. the quotation in verse 5 applied to Solomon, and goes on to say how he would be disciplined if he forsook the right ways of the Lord; quite inapplicable to Christ, yet this is normally the Spirit’s way with His own word.
Also note how that v. 6 does not apply to the first advent of the Lord Jesus but the second, and should read, “when He bringeth again the first-begotten into the world”. It is then that all angels will be seen to worship Him, though doubtless they do so now. Again in v. 10 the name “Lord” is inserted in the Septuagint and is here used by the Spirit to emphasise the deity of Christ, and these three verses (10-12) again give us a summary taking us from the old creation to the new.
Then there follows in chapter 2. 1-4 the first paranthetic warning as to slipping away (such is the phrase) and thus neglecting “so great salvation”.
These warnings are six in number and are as follows.
The peril of neglect
2. 1- 4.
The peril of unbelief
The peril of disobedience
The peril of stagnation
5. 11—6. 12.
The peril of rejection
The peril of refusal
It is pointed out by Merrill C. Tenney in his book, “New Testament Survey” that each of the warnings indicate that each is a more radical step away from faith than the preceding one. The last two passages both refer to a deliberate and purposeful rejection of Christ, a wilful
abandonment of truth, rather than a sudden lapse of error which the doer himself might lament. Without minimizing the danger of carelessness, he says, one may say that these warnings relate to voluntary apostasy rather than to unconscious decline. Or even, we might add, ordinary sinning which can be forgiven and cleansed. This indicates doctrinal apostasy, as indeed do the warnings in Galatians, and not as many Christians believe, backsliding into sinful ways, for we know that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin”. (See notes on Chapters 6 and 10).
The first warning comes at this juncture and envisages slipping or “dragging the anchor”. “How shall we escape?” is the first question to the “professor”. It is “SO great salvation”.
The first chapter gives us Christ’s unique and solitary supremacy in every sphere. He is here seen alone, none can be associated with Him in the sphere of His Person and Dignity. This is an echo of Matthew 17. Moses and Elijah must not be spoken of in the same breath as He, though be it noted at the end of that chapter He and Peter can be included (“Me and thee”) on the ground of redemption and on that alone. How blessed.
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 a worshipper that he is called 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 which 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 the saints who may all join in this holy ejaculation.
A long experience has, alas! shown that too often elder and experienced leaders and preachers will exhort or expound Scripture 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 of the older of God’s children show, must not be allowed.
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 in the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4. 11). “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 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, where 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. 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 other 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 our hearts went with, would make the meeting more real and living. In this also responsible brethren should not merely exhort but if this offence against their brethren is persisted in, forbid such evil practice.
The Editor will commence a series next month on “The Last Days”.
I sat in a great meeting, and heard a famous preacher speaking on the Healing of Naaman. It was a great subject, homiletically correct. The sermon was faultless; I could not have criticized it, but I had the feeling that it was leaving me cold. What the preacher said was true; my mind was responding to his statements, but my heart was untouched. When he had finished, a young Welsh brother who sat with me leaned over and said, “I wish the poor man would only get another dip in Jordan himself”.
I went out into the night; I do not know where I went. It was raining, but I kept my face to the stars, and I said, “O my God, I am the poor man that needs another dip. I preach too much like that myself”. In other words, I needed Jordan’s sentence of death in myself, that I should not trust in myself, but in God that raiseth the dead.