We have now completed our brief meditations on the sweet savour offerings, affectionately appreciating what we have intelligently apprehended of His Worth and Work and, in accordance to our measure, entering into that which has provided the eternal joy of heaven, looking forward with eager expectancy to the glorious moment when
“Joyful now the new creation
Rests in undisturbed repose;
Blest in Jesus’ full salvation,
Sorrow now, nor thraldom knows.”
We appreciate that it is possible to have “Days of Heaven upon earth”, and that the Salvation which is now ours is Eternal as far as the penal consequences of our sin are concerned: Sin’s penalty is gone and gone for ever. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus”; the end of the journey can be looked forward to, with every degree of eagerness and joy, but Sin’s Power and Sin’s Presence are still with us. There is an evil principle still within and, to our intense sorrow, we often discover that the joy of our salvation has been interrupted and our communion links with heaven broken. Thank God this is not a final state, for, because of the eternal efficacy of the Blood of Christ, God can, for Christ’s sake, forgive us our sins and can cleanse us from every kind of uncleanness. Not that we should continue to sin in order that God’s forgiving grace should abound, but that in the consciousness that Sin’s Dominion has been broken, we should be yielding ourselves unto God and that, because of what the Psalmist has said, “There is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared”.
There is a distinct difference between Redemption and Forgiveness. Redemption is a once for all experience and could be related to that happy moment when, out of the deep consciousness of our need and a consciousness of a provision made, we accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, this seen in a typical way in Egypt’s Paschal Lamb and in its fulness in “the Precious Blood of Christ”. Having complied with the Divine requirement, we have been eternally sheltered from the awfulness of Divine wrath and have become now, in a collective way, associated with that glo»-ious company designated now as the Redeemed of the Lord, destined to eternal blessedness, and journeying onward to its consummated fulness, “The place of which the Lord said, I will give it you” (Num. 10:29), where
“He and I, in that bright glory
One deep joy shall share;
Mine to be for ever with Him;
His, that I am there.”
Our salvation in a very elementary way can be looked at in a threefold fashion, as Sin’s Penalty, Sin’s Power and Sin’s Presence. Firstly, we are saved, having accepted Christ as Saviour, the penal consequences of our sin are gone for ever. Secondly, we are being saved, i.e. in relation to Sin’s Power. Thirdly, we are going to be saved. This is associated with Sin’s Presence and will have been fully consummated “when we reach our peaceful dwelling on the strong eternal hills”. The first is Past, the second is Present, and the third is Future.
The Sin Offering, as we are about to consider it, is associated with the Present and is connected, not with the sins of our Sinnership, but with the sins of our Saintship, and has to do with the maintenance of our communion with God as we journey heavenward and homeward.
The Tabernacle, the Priesthood, and the Offerings were all connected to the People of God in a past day and, in accordance with their application, as given in the New Testament, belong to the People of God in the present. This is a firm conviction which many years of contemplation of these typical things has never shaken, but has rather deepened to what one feels is the only reasonable way in which they can be regarded. The Epistle to the Hebrews is the inspired commentary in relation to these typical things and supports very clearly what has been suggested in connection with our understanding and application of them in the day in which our lot is cast.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is not dealing with the approach of sinners to a Righteous God, but rather with the approach of Saints to a Holy God. This approach was only possible through a mediator, and that mediator had to be a consecrated priest, Divinely ordained. In the typical, the priest was “a man taken from among men, and appointed for men, in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them who are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity, and by reason thereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as Aaron” (Hebrews 5:1-4).
The typical and the true, then, present both parallels and contrasts and, in our consideration of them, these things will require to be carefully pondered. The offerings of a past day give us the manner of approach for God’s redeemed people as they sought to worship Him: how this communion was obtained, maintained and, if broken, restored again. These things in their unbroken character have already been briefly considered and now we shall try to gather up what will be implied for us and what will be expected by God from us when this communion shall be disturbed or broken. Instruction relative to this is most minutely given in the Sin Offering, as described in Leviticus 4:1—5:13. This section commences with the words, “And the Lord spake unto Moses saying. Speak unto the Sons of Israel saying, If a soul sin through ignorance against any or all of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any one of them ... then let him bring”.
Here, for the first time, we are introduced to the awful fact that, although we have been redeemed by God from the terrible bondage and misery of Egypt and, in the power and efficacy of blood shed and applied, have become the people of God, yet we are still travelling through an enemy’s land and are still exposed to his onslaughts and enticements and, worse than that still, there is within us an evil heart which is prone to sin. There is no altitude to which we may arise, nor is there any position of dignity to which we may aspire, which would exempt us from the possibility of committing sin either Ignorantly, Inadvertently or by Intention. Such being the fact, we marvel at the wondrous Grace of God, the unsearchable riches and the unfathomable wealth of preciousness in the Blood of Christ. How this humbles us in the presence of God and creates those passionate yearnings for the happy moment when “we shall be passed the borders” (Num. 21:22), and be saved to sin no more.
However, such is the universality of sin that there is none excluded, even the Priest which is anointed, the Prince that is over the people and the people in their congregational character, or in their individual way, all are included and are without excuse; yet, whilst this is true, thank God we are not without resource. In the course of our unsaved days, many of us rolled sin under our tongues as a sweet morsel. Is there still a possibility that the exceeding sinfulness of sin has not been fully recognised, its awful bitterness and its heinousness in the sight of God not fully known? Let us remember what was said to Israel in a past day: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sin has caused Him to hide His
face from you” (Isa. 59:2). Sin is subtil. Sin can be apparently sweet, but let us not be deceived, it was sin that put the Lord Jesus on the cross, which caused Him to undergo all its agonies and shame, its loneliness and darkness, “when it was exacted from Him and He became answer-able, stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted; but He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:4-5).
As in the book of the Revelation He is the “Throne sit-ter” but it is now the Father’s throne, until He takes His own, the throne of David and rules and reigns universally. Nor need we think of the “right hand” as being literal but rather metaphorical, “the man of my right hand”, the doer of all that is done. The references in this Epistle are 1.3,13:8.1:10.12:12.2. These variants should be read and pondered.
These Hebrews had lost their earthly sanctuary which could be but temporal and was soon to be destroyed. How grateful their hearts must be to be reminded of a heavenly, permanent one “pitched” by the Lord Himself. So the Sanctuary and its services are introduced along with the Covenant, which is another thing these believers may have been reproached for having lost. Up to now we have seen that all they once enjoyed of an earthly inheritance had been superseded by that which is heavenly, spiritual and eternal; the law, the priesthood, the inheritance have all been demonstrated to have been superseded with that which is eternal and spiritual.
We must recapitulate. The Law of Moses which was a parenthesis and an interval in the ways of God (“the law came in beside”, Gal. 3:19) was not known by Abraham to whom the promises were made, which covenant 430 years before the law could not be annulled thereby. (Gal. 3:15-17).
The sacrifices also came with the law. There were sacrifices before on Abram’s altars, etc., but these were all gift offerings or burnt offerings; no sin offering is mentioned until after the law was imposed, indeed the very word in Hebrew for ‘sin’ and ‘sin offering’ is the same, so that every time the law was broken and sin committed there was a suitable sin offering available (with certain exceptions); the words were the same, the malady and remedy in one breath!
The Levitical priesthood was also a temporary measure, again unknown to Abram, the father of the nation. The only priest he had to do with was Melchizedec the king-priest. Likewise the covenant he knew was certainly not the Mosaic covenant (see Gen. 15:9-21). Here there is no mention of any action or mode of living for Abram to keep, no mediator, no promise except on God’s side. It was a covenant of pure grace and gift.
But, it might be argued, the Mosaic covenant, although having been broken by Israel, was to be made anew and such a promise Israel had been given. The next passage therefore deals with this in a section stretching from 8:6 to 10:18, showing that these believers had in no sense lost but immeasureably gained by turning from the temporal to the spiritual and eternal.
The kingly covenant with David was likewise secure and tied up with the reign of Christ, David’s son. The reader is referred to 2 Sam. 7:12-16:23:5; Psa. 89:3-4:19-37. Interrupted, yes, but never failing (see Isa. 55:3) and all relying upon the living, risen, and coming Christ.
This covenant with Israel is developed in the subsection 8:16-23, in which as yet no mention is made of the “blood of the covenant”.
In chapter 9 we have a further truth concerning the Sanctuary and Christ’s present ministry which had been introduced in 8:1-5 developed.
In Exodus we have the progression. God’s covenant of the Law, then the Tabernacle, then the Priesthood, all intimately related to each other. The Mosaic covenant was associated thus with the Tabernacle, Sacrifices, and Priesthood (to offer them). Only through these could Israel avoid condign judgment for the sins committed, nationally and individually, under it.
The Tabernacle in the wilderness is therefore described showing its typical character and that it was for our learning and application. Opponents of typical teaching should ponder these sections and realise that the spiritual meaning was not known by the actors therein, they were “for us”. The sacrifices here alluded to were those of the yearly great Day of Atonement, a most solemn day in Israel’s history. (Read Lev. 16). Not one of those sacrifices nor any other could “take away sins”, they were only “covered” which is the meaning of the word “atonement”, until the time when they should be fully accounted for and paid for and put away for ever, which, of course, depended upon the once for all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, so that apart from faith in His sacrifice there was absolutely no hope for any Israelite, and also to keep on with those animal sacrifices was a denial that sins had been put away.
The valuable notes on the Day of Atonement made by H. W. Soltau should here be read, showing as they do the superior nature of Christ’s sacrifice and its effects over and above anything in those offered on the Day of Atonement, the former dealing not only with our “sins” but the whole root principle and nature of sin in the flesh, not only what we have done but also what we are by nature, of which there is no full type in the O.T.
Verse 7 has already been referred to in 7:27. This was a “worldly sanctuary” (v. 1), these were “carnal ordinances” (v. 10). They were but “figures” (v. 9) pointing on to the time of “setting things right” (v. 10), i.e. the coming of the One who should accomplish a perfect, spiritual, eternal work, Christ Himself and His once-for-all sacrifice, acceptable to God and available for men. See the words, “parable”, “patterns”, “figures”, “shadows”.
THE WORK OF CHRIST HE HAS ENTERED THE HOLIEST
We now therefore leave the first part of the Epistle which has described for us minutely and in detail the superiority of the PERSON of Christ, and we come to this important part concerning his WORK of Redemption and the manner of His entrance into the presence of God, and the ground of that entrance, the BLOOD. No more important statement could be conceived on this great subject than that contained in 9:12. The “greater and more perfect tabernacle” is not, it seems, a reference to His body in which God tabernacled among men but rather that which is referred to in v. 24, “heaven itself”, a place “not of this creation”. All God’s ways in the past and the future hung upon this one great sacrifice which was carried right into the presence of God. As the high priest went right into the holiest of all with the blood of the sacrifice, which was there accepted for himself and the nation, so Christ entered into the very presence of God by, or in the value and virtue of, His own sacrificial blood.
This does not, of course, mean that He actually took His blood there (for that stained the ground of Calvary) but that that was the sole sufficient ground of His victorious entry back into heaven as a Man and as a Sacrifice, as One risen. He did not go there as of right because of Who He was, that would not have helped us one whit, hut in the value of His sacrifice, “the Lamb slain”. Those previous sacrifices were to do with “the flesh” and could not avail the conscience, as sin and sins had not been finally dealt with, but the blood of Christ and its acceptance in heaven avails to give us a purged conscience. The previous actions were but “dead works” especially now that the full sacrifice had been offered, not wicked works, but “dead”.
This great offering of Christ was by “the eternal Spirit”, the reason for which the Spirit came upon Him when He entered upon His great life work. It is essential that we do not stay in the Gospels and think only of His unique life, His teachings, His miracles, these were but introductory to His death and blood-shedding; the types in the O.T. are to do with the latter and very few concerning the former, if any.
This then is the “so great salvation” of this epistle, the “eternal redemption” spoken of, securing the “eternal inheritance”. The word “service” envisages “worship”, the same word as in 10:2. That this sacrifice was awaited by those going before and in previous ages, is clearly stated in v. 15 (see Rom. 3:24), the “carried forward” account was now settled once for all. The sacrifice of Christ has a forward and a backward look, all the ages hinge upon it. It is the pivotal point of all God’s purposes of grace and salvation.
What is meant by the term? And: To what will it lead?
by HAROLD P. THORP
People may well ask: “What is all this talk and literature about the ‘Ecumenical’ movement?” For some scarcely know the origin or meaning of the word, let alone its implications. It, of course, simply means “universal” or “general”, and until very recently was used almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic church in reference to its ecumenical councils, etc. How many people, however, realise that this so-called “Ecumenical” movement is in reality playing into the hands of the Roman Catholic church, and leads direct to Rome and her supreme control? In their quite culpable ignorance, and whilst almost completely ignoring the facts of history, they foolishly think and say: “Well, is it not high time we all came together, dropped our differences, and were ‘one church’, one family, as it were?” They either do not know, choose to forget, or ignore altogether that the church of Rome never changes, and secretly (formerly openly) boasts of the fact. She “trims her sails”, however, to the prevailing winds of sentiment or sentimentality, according to the spirit of the times, and indeed of the country or countries she is wooing. In which connection it would be as well to reflect that scarcely more than ten years ago all who were not members of the R.C. church were called “heretics”— with no chance of salvation! Think of holding and promulgating such monstrous rubbish, when they know, or should know, that present and eternal salvation lies not in any ‘church’ on earth, let alone this apostate church, but in and through CHRIST—and in CHRIST alone! But NOW, in order to achieve their specious aims, these same people (“heretics”) are termed “separated brethren”—forsooth! It could be said to be “Jesuitical” in its casuistry, duplicity and hypocrisy! It is no wonder that a leading Roman Catholic theologian and instructor of the priests, having an international reputation, recently left that church because, as we understand he himself put it: “I could not have found Christ, nor could I lead others to Him, had I remained a Roman Catholic”. We will devoutly hope he has “found” Him now, or rather has been found by Him! Is the Reformation meaningless to this ignorant and willingly deceived generation? Thousands and tens of thousands died (were slain) for the Truth as it is in Christ, in those days. Now their successors (in point of time) are in grave danger of throwing away all or nearly all of which those faithful souls gained! A friend of the writer, who lives in Italy, speaks the language fluently, and knows the country well, responding to a question relative to Rome’s apparent benevolence, and a certain changed attitude to those who formerly were regarded by her as “heretics”, remarks: “Rome has changed her strategy, but not her heart”. And his witness is true! Her basic doctrines, replete with superstition, idolatry, and indeed blasphemy, remain the same in all ages, and are the product of men’s minds, an inheritance from sheer paganism, and are sponsored and promoted by the great enemy of God and His creatures—by the Devil himself. This is strong language, but is literally true. This, of course, does not mean that there are no true Christians in that “church”. Thank God, there are, both amongst the people and the priests, but this is due to God’s sovereign mercy and to that alone, which can and does operate in spite of all the subversive and terrible superstition and idolatry of the Roman church and her associates.
The Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Head of the true Church, gives the command in Revelation 18:4: “Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins”. The whole chapter should be read and carefully considered, for we are living in very serious times. When we refer to the true Church, we mean, of course, the Church of the living God, which is composed of all Christians who have a saving faith in Christ and in His redemption. His “once for all” sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, never to be repeated in any form, thus “giving the lie” to the celebration of the iniquitous “Mass”, which is a mock sacrifice or offering and therefore constitutes the most terrible insult and affront to Almighty God! As we have said, we are living in very serious times, prior to the great apostasy of “Christendom”—and the coming of Christ for His true Church. All signs point to this being imminent, although no one, of course, can say when it will take place. But we are bidden by Christ to be ready and watching! “Christendom” must not for one moment be confused with Christianity, but, on the contrary, is the dead body of profession, without the life and power of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Ramsey, of Canterbury, on his return from Rome and his interview with the Pope, said: “One church is the aim”. It is a delusion, and yet in some measure may come true, engineered, as it would be, by that arch-enemy of God, and of supernatural subtlety, Satan, and it will terminate in the apostasy of Christendom, headed by that truly awful being of Anti-Christ, who will yet command the admiration of unbelieving men. Christ’s own words on this subject are, “ ... another will come in his own name, and him you will receive”. See John’s Gospel ch. 5. v. 43. See also 2 Thessalonians, ch. 2, the first 12 verses, which are vitally important, as also is 2 Timothy, ch. 3, the whole chapter, for we are indeed in the “last days”, when there is the “falling away” apparent on all sides!
The issues are eternal and must be faced! Linked in a subtle way with all this false profession—or so-called “religion”—is what is termed the “South Bank theology”, represented and sponsored by Dr. Stockwood of Southwark, Dr. Robinson of Woolwich, and to some extent by Donald Soper and very many more, with whom it might be said Dr. Ramsey of Canterbury is in some sympathy. Think of this man actually commending the so-called “Beatles”—of all people—for being mixed up with Eastern mysticism! Think of him, too, committing himself to the statement, if correctly reported, and this has never been publicly questioned, that he thinks “there will be atheists in heaven”! What does it matter what he thinks? But it matters eternally what GOD thinks and says, whilst it would almost appear that this man is already on the road to apostasy. (See Hebrews 10:26-31). More recently this same man, holding a prominent position in the Church of England, speaks of uniting all the “churches” of “Christendom” under one head—the Pope forsooth! As he puts it: “. . . . the Pope as presiding amongst the bishops of this World”. Note carefully—“this World”—which is ripe for the judgment of Almighty God for the murder of His Son! The Holy Scriptures say: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15); and again: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father (God) is not in him”. Whilst in the Epistle of James, ch. 4, v. 4, we are told: “. . . . whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”. A most solemn statement! See also John’s Gospel, ch. 15, vv. 18 and 19, where it is stated that the world hates Christ! It is true that these “religionists” pay lip-service to Him, but their hearts are far from Him. (See Matthew 15:8-9). We have said “this man” advisedly, for there are no “archbishops” in Scripture, nor indeed any “bishops”, for the correct rendering or translation of this word is “pastors”—“caretakers” or shepherds of God’s flock, whilst we know there are many clerics and others who are “wolves”, which scatter the sheep, who will receive the terrible judgment of God. Let us ever remember that “Satan’s ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Even Christians can be deceived! It has been said that “extremes beget extremes”—proof of which can be seen in idolatrous “religion” being linked with sheer unbelief, paganism and denial of most, if not indeed all, of the vital truths of Christianity.
What a prospect for a world fast hastening on to the condign Judgment of Almighty GOD!
We should, however, prefer to end on a note of encouragement, at any rate for the Christian, and for those who may yet be the subjects of the mercy and grace of our God. The “religious” movements in and of this world will assuredly disappoint. They will fade away like a mirage, or end, as we have said, in Divine judgment. Christians instead of being too much occupied with such movements, should well remember the lovely exhortation in Titus 2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (or ‘the appearing of the glory’) of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity”. What a prospect—soon to be realised!
is called the dispensation of grace in contradistinction to the last which was the dispensation of law. It is also called the dispensation of the Holy Spirit because He is here in the Church (on earth) throughout its entire course, and He is the Person in the Trinity that is prominently working during that course.
It is called the Church dispensation because God the Father by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of His grace is gathering out the Church from amongst the nations to be the future spiritual Bride of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. When did this Dispensation begin?
When Pentecost was fully come (Acts 2.1). This was the seventh Sunday after our Lord’s resurrection, at 9 a.m. (Acts 2:15). The glorified Christ then sent down the Promise of the Father upon them (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), i.e., the Holy Spirit.
There were many believers in Christ in Jerusalem before Pentecost, but they had no corporate relationship, they did not form a spiritual organism, they were separate units simply. They were born anew from above (John 3:3), consequently God’s children and possessors of eternal life, sins forgiven (Ps. 32:1:2), truly saved.
3. What Happened at Pentecost?
1. By comparing Acts 1:4-8:2:1-6:11:15:16:1 Cor. 12:12:13, we learn that those believers were baptised then in the Holy Spirit by the Lord Jesus into His mystical Body, the Church, and had for the first time consequently a corporate relationship, being members one of another. (Romans 12:5), fellow-members of the same Body. (Eph. 3:6). What sympathy, love and care Christians should have for one another!
The members of the human body share in the life of its head, so in Christ’s Body each member shares the life of the risen Head—the resurrection, heavenly, endless life of the Heavenly Man.
The Head’s Divine nature has been imparted to each member (2 Peter 1:4)—a righteous sin-hating nature. (Justification always synchronises with regeneration).
The head directs the body, legislates for it, so Christ through His Word directs the believer with regard to his various duties and responsibilities.
9 a.m. This was the time of the morning sacrifice. It was the memorial of the evening sacrifice. There would have been none if there had not been the evening sacrifice. So there would have been no Church if there had been no sacrifice at Calvary. The Church is a standing memorial to Calvary.
There is no second baptism of the Spirit any more that there is a second Christian water baptism (Eph. 4:5), i.e., the immersion of believers, who alone are rightly called Christians. The filling of the Spirit is an entirely different thing. The baptism in the Spirit places believers in Christ’s Body for ever. Therefore a second is unnecessary. Eternal security.
2. The Holy Spirit took up His abode in them (Acts 2:4) in fulfilment of John 14:17, not merely with them but in them. A sanctifying fact.
3. They were clothed with power from on high in fulfilment of Luke 24:49, as was manifested on that and subsequent days. They were thus qualified for worship, service, testimony, prayer and the understanding of the Word. This explains our Lord’s statement, “It is expedient for you that I go”, etc. (John 16:7).
These three things are true of each and every believer on believing.
“And how long is it since you were saved?” I asked a young person who came alongside of me one night.
“It’s two years, sir; but for a good while I doubted.”
“Indeed; did you doubt God, or was His Word not as true then as it is now.”
“Oh yes, sir, I did not exactly doubt His Word, but it was myself that wasn’t right. There was such a struggle went on within me, that sometimes I almost thought there were two of us in the one person. When I wanted to think about Jesus, and the things of God, there was something inside that pulled the other way, and even when I was reading or praying, all the evil thoughts and wicked desires would come into my mind, that used to be there when I was unconverted; aye, and sometimes even worse; and I thought surely I’m not converted at all, or I wouldn’t be like this.”
“And how did you get rid of them, tell me?”
“Oh well, I haven’t exactly got rid of them yet; but it’s not so bad as it used to be anyway, and I think that by degrees I’ll manage to drive them all away soon.”
“But I fear you’re mistaken in that, my dear friend; or at anyrate, I’m sure of this, the root that they come from is there still, and will be as long as you’re here below. You know God’s Word tells us of something that every believer has within him called ‘the flesh’; or ‘sin that dwelleth in us’ (Romans 7:17). It was bom into the world with us (John 3:6); it is so very ‘corrupt’ and bad that God says it is ‘condemned’ (Rom. 8:3), and will never be made any better—in fact it cannot be (Rom. 8:7). When you were ‘born again’ it wasn’t taken away—it wasn’t cured; but you received a new nature, with new desires. This ‘new man’, as it’s called (Col. 3:10), is ‘God’s workmanship’ (Eph. 2:10); it ‘doth not commit sin’, it ‘cannot sin’ because it is from God (1 John 3:9). The two remain distinct, and will be for ever; for you know it is written, ‘That which is bom of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3.6).
“And that’s the way there’s been a struggle, is it?’
“Exactly; for God says, ‘The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other’ (Gal. 5:17). If the fight is not so hot at times you must not think it’s because the foe is gone; you know the volcano is often quietest before an eruption —but quiet or not, have ‘no confidence in the flesh’ (Phil. 3:3), for it is bad, root and branch, and ever will be. The way of victory is, ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh’ (Gal. 5:16). Feed the new life on Christ, and grieve not the Holy Spirit who is its strength. ‘Make no provision for the flesh’ (Rom. 13:14). Starve it. Look up—God is for you. Good night.”
We now move into a wider sphere and notice the features that would be evident in COMMUNAL LIFE, in relations between men and men in these last days.
Trucebreakers—Implacable. The word used here indicates not merely the breaking of agreements freely negotiated, or even the breaking of agreements made under duress, but rather a complete unwillingness to agree at all. How evident this is amongst men internationally and nationally. How evident this spirit is on both sides of industry. God, as the great moral Governor of the Universe expects nations to observe their agreements and visits judgment upon those who tear them up as “a scrap of paper”. An important illustration of this is found in the threatened judgment of Tyre in Amos. “Tyrus remembered not the brotherly covenant .... I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus that shall devour the palaces thereof” (Amos 1:9-10). Many years before Amos wrote, Hiram and Solomon had entered into a brotherly covenant, freely negotiated. “There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and they two made a league together” (1 Kings 5:12). It is quite within the realm of possibility that Solomon did not requite Hiram as he should have done and yet as far as God was concerned this did not invalidate the agreement. “Hiram, the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar trees and fir trees and with gold according to all his desire .... King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee .... and they pleased him not” (1 Kings 9:11:12). An agreement made by Solomon with Hiram in the days of his glory was still binding upon the people of Tyre even though years had passed, circumstances had changed and Israel had departed from God. God still expects men to honour agreements and to be willing to work together but instead there is an absolute disregard for agreements freely negotiated coupled with an unwillingness to work together.
Do we not as the saints of God need to be watchful lest the spirit of the last days grip our souls? The words of the Lord Jesus are applicable to-day: “Let your communication be ‘Yea, yea; Nay, nay’.” (Matt. 5:37, see also 2 Cor. 1:17-19). How often in gatherings of the Lord’s people are difficulties caused by individuals failing to honour their word, and on the other hand by an unwillingness to work together, an unwillingness to agree, an unwillingness to “strive together for the faith of the Gospel,” which is really an exhibition of carnal awkwardness.
False Accusers. Again the international situation is eloquent testimony to the presence in the last days of this evil. But let us remember that this evil is wide-spread amongst the whole of mankind. Men, who like Cain, are of that wicked one manifest the character of their father, who is the “Accuser of the Brethren” .... “a liar and the father of it” (Rev. 12:10; John 8:44). There is encouragement however in the words of the Saviour in the “Sermon on the Mount” already referred to above. (It would be a profitable exercise for the reader to compare the virtues that are commended in the sermon—the principles of the Kingdom of Christ—with the list of vices with which we are dealing, which are the features of the Kingdom of Darkness). “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for My name’s sake” (Matt. 5:11). That false accusations are not unknown in the holy atmosphere of the assembly is proven by the necessity of the admonition in 1 Tim. 5:19: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses”. Let us therefore pray:
“Set a watch, Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Incontinent—Without Self-Control. How very accurate are the statements of the Word of God. No longer do men and women practise self control, they must have unstinted gratification of all their desires. Adolescents are encouraged to self expression, which covers a multitude of sins. “Self-Expression” is the direct opposite of “self-control”! If man were basically good, self expression would exhibit virtuous features, but man is bad, incurably bad, and when the inward, polluted principle of flesh manifests itself nothing but evil can be revealed. To-day, so-called civilized lands have rapidly returned to paganism. Pagan Art—unsightly daubs of paint that express nothing except the tangled mind of the supposed artist. Pagan Music— from the noble works of the great musicians the masses have turned to unmusical drivel of long-haired guitarists. Dancing, of course, has no place amongst the people of God, but the modern dances of the world are but a repetition of the practices that belong to the jungle. Pagan Dress— how rare to-day to see a face that radiates the beauty that God gave to it. Modern young women look ghastly, ugly and often Satanic, and in their lack of dress there is a return to the unashamed nakedness of primitive uncivilised peoples.
How the saints of God need to heed the word: “Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge self control; and to self control patience; and to patience Godliness; and to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
It is deeply important for the young believer that he learn to live alone with God. The fellowship of saints is a holy privilege, but if God should call His child to witness for Him in some lonely and desolate comer, where he would be deprived of this, he ought to be able to do without it, and go on with God. A saint who walks with God will never feel alone, and he who draws direct from God’s resources will never run short of supplies. His leaf will ever be green, and he will bear his fruit in its season. This is the kind of Christian that stands the tear and wear of life, and retains the dew of his youth. He seems to get on, no matter where he is, or what his surroundings. If there be barrenness and drought all around, he is fresh and fruitful. If persecution and scorn surround his steps, his bow abides in strength all the same. The secret is, he lives with God. Second causes do not occupy him; he goes direct to God for everything. Surroundings do not affect him, he walks beneath God’s eye, looking up. He is not depending on passing showers, his roots are struck deep down into the river (Jer. 17:8). He is nourished from a hidden source by God Himself, and let men do what they will, he endures seeing Him who is invisible. But is all this real, or is it only a theory, and a bit of sentiment? Yes, it is real, very real. The men have been here themselves, living in the world and amid the scenes in which we mingle, who experienced and proved this walk with God as a blessed reality. Men of like passions with ourselves, very ordinary men, fighting with the same foes, and subject to the same weaknesses as ourselves. Yet they stood firm for God amid the hottest fire and the most powerful seductions; and, so far as human aid or friendship are concerned, they stood alone; yet not alone, for God was with them. Just look at that royal youth in the palace of Babylon’s king. He is far away from the land and city of his fathers, and the temple of his God. A tempting offer is put before him, but it is coupled with a command to eat and drink forbidden things. Does he yield? Nay, verily, he stands firm and calm before the temptation with purposed heart, a heart true to God. But Daniel had been in the school of God ere this. This was evidence of a God known well enough to be trusted. He had been living with God in the quiet of his early days at Jerusalem, and now, alone in the world’s headquarters, he stands the test. His three companions walk into the raging flame of the seven-times-heated furnace, rather than disobey their God, in bowing to an idol. But they must have known Him well ere they could have so confidently spoken of “our God whom we serve”. And the time would fail to speak of a lonely Joseph in Egypt, an Elias on Carmel, and a Mordecai in Shushan, who stood firm and true to God, His truth and His testimony, amid thousands of faltering ones, and in spite of threatened death by open foes, and deceitful enemies in disguise. They stood alone with God, and for Him in life’s darkest hours. And is there no need for such Christians now? Yea, verily, more than ever are they needed, although few there are to be found. Young men and women are needed as witnesses for Christ in lonely places, to stand and witness for Him in the midst of scorn alone. But how many utterly break down whenever they leave the parental roof. They had not learned to live with God, and when the trial came, they failed. They seemed bold enough so long as they were surrounded by a wall of fellow-believers, and propped up and looked after by godly parents; but, immediately the prop was removed, and their surroundings changed, they got swamped in the world. They had no real acquaintance with the living God. They had been leaning on man, and not on God, and so they failed to trust in the hour of need. Dear young believer, learn to live with God, and to walk with Him. Then no matter where you are, you will not lose your company. The young believer who makes it his habit to walk with God will never be badly off for a companion, and he who makes it his business to stand as a witness for God, and to live for Him, will never be out of employment.
REMARKS BY COMMITTEE
How good to muse, in happy sweet reflection,
O'er all the way by which His hand hath led!
How strengthening and rich the recollection
Of all His goodness in the years now fled.
J. Danson Smith.
It is with much joy in our hearts that we use the words of the prophet, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us” (1 Sam. 7:12). Throughout the past year we have been greatly cheered by the help and guidance of the Lord in connection with “Assembly Testimony”, and to learn from many lands that He has been pleased to bless its issue during another year. We are most grateful for His faithfulness in providing a variety of ministry that has been for the profit of His dear people, and for the “handfuls of purpose” given so graciously for the edifying of His saints, mostly found in the assemblies and gathered to the precious Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so dear to His heart.
Love for God’s people, and for these assemblies, pressed our dear brother Bunting to commence this magazine in 1952. His enthusiasm in connection with it was unabated until his home-call in 1966. We believe it filled a need, and we praise our faithful God for making it possible for the little paper to continue and to increase in circulation until now. In His mercy, the Lord has made it clear to us to arrange for its continuance for another year, in His will.
We desire to express our sincere appreciation to all who have endeavoured to help in the circulation of the magazine. To our contributors we offer our hearty thanks; their papers have indicated many hours spent in writing, and many years of experience in the school of God, so that from their pens the Lord might edify His people.
To those individuals, and assemblies of saints, who favoured us with their bountiful gifts, we express our heartfelt gratitude. Without such practical fellowship we could not now continue the issue of the paper.
Our thanks are also due to those who have assisted in the work of distribution. Their ready help with bulk parcels has contributed much to reducing office work and costs of mailing.
Since the magazine Is supported by the freewill offerings of the Lord’s people, it is incumbent upon us to endeavour to prevent waste in any form. Please Inform Mr. Hogg promptly of new addresses and changes in quantities, and thus help us to avoid waste. (We are liable for postage on undelivered mail, upon its return to us). Quantities can be amended at any time. The magazine shall be sent to anyone, post free, upon request, but try, if possible, to obtain supplies from assembly parcel. To minimise mistakes in plates, please submit NAMES AND ADDRESSES ALWAYS IN BLOCK LETTERS, WHEN ORDERING.
Funds are held in our joint names, and our accounts are independently audited. They can be produced to responsible brethren if required. Funds are expended on publishing and mailing expenses. Contributors of papers receive no monetary consideration. We are also greatly indebted to our Editor for giving his services and discharging his heavy responsibility gratuitously, and our thanks are likewise due to Mr. Glenville for his services so cheerfully given.
We ask the favour of the prayers of all our readers. We need your prayers. We desire that the Lord shall be pleased to richly bless “Assembly Testimony” to His dear saints in many lands, and may “the recollection of all His goodness in the years now fled” be an incentive to all of us “to trust Him for all that’s to come”.
Warm love in Christ to all our readers.
Thomas Beggs, James Mayhew, James Moore, John Hogg.