by John Heading
CHRIST IN THE HEBREWS
by J. B. Hewitt
NOT MINE, BUT THINE
by Edward Jaminson
STUDIES IN SOLOMON S TEMPLE
by John B. D. Page
by John Cowan
by R. Woodhouse Beales
MAN AND UTTER RUIN
by Walter Scott
THE DESIRES OF THE HEART
by Henry C. Spence
by J. HEADING
THE CHURCH AND ITS STRUCTURE Acts 5,12-6; 11,19-30
Church topics occupy a prominent part of the New Testament, but balance is necessary since there are so many other topics. Some believers have no concern regarding church matters, holding strange ideas about others who believe in and act on church truth, perhaps to soften their own conscience. But we must be faithful to the Word of God.
What is the most complicated structure in God’s creation? Not the stars, or the structure of the earth, but the human body, Psa. 139:14. The most powerful microscope (optical) will not reveal the ultimate details of His handiwork, nor the electron microscope magnifying 100,000 times. “Let us make man,” Gen. 1:26, shows He had a plan beforehand, and all prior acts of creation in Gen. 1 were designed so that the Masterpiece should fit in. Where there is life, the purpose, power and keeping ability of God are seen to the uttermost.
The same in the spiritual realm. The blind materialist thinks all the creatorial complication is entirely automatic, in origin, continuance, with no ultimate object. But the Christian knows the mind of God controls all things, and that there is also a spiritual realm. God has a new creation with purpose and spiritual structure. Men see the church as an architectural building, or as a denomination, but believers see it as a spiritual body. We can appreciate this truth only when we have God’s point of view.
The “church universal” embraces all believers—it is not localized. It has a heavenly origin, chosen before the foundation of the world, Eph. 1:4. It was hidden during Old Testament times even from the prophets, Eph. 3:1-8. It has a heavenly destiny, to be presented unto Himself a glorious church, Eph. 5:27. To believe that we are included would ween us from worldliness, flesh, in daily life and local church activity.
For God gathers His people into localized groups—the churches—to serve Him, and to display the Christ-like character of the whole. These pages will deal with the latter, the local church. The former is for the heart, the latter for the hands. The former for hope and affections, the latter for service. The former is for eternity, the latter for time. The former is for display to the heavenly hosts, the latter for display amongst men. The design of the universal church and the local churches had been known to God before he made the worlds. No wonder His creation reflected features of the church! Hence the human body reflects life, variety of members, control. The tabernacle and house reflect foundations, dwelling and service.
Let us find a local church, and examine its structure. The natural religious mind would say right from the start: Something is missing. They would look for a pope, an archbishop, a bishop, a vicar, etc., in charge of a state church or denomination. They would look for a cathedral or parish church, rather than a hall void of religious relics, altars, vestments, etc. Rather, they would find a meeting under divine control, with no one man in authority, else they would be denying the Headship of Christ and the authority of the Holy Spirit. Generally, men love one man to be in control, elected in a democracy and self-appointed in a dictatorial regime. But the church, on spiritual ground, has its spiritual unseen Head—He is “head over all things to the church, which is his body,” Eph. 1:22, a position given Him as exalted by God. See Col. 1:18. Hence believers are members of His body, subject to His authority through His Word and Spirit. Similarly, 1 Cor. 12 shows divine control over the local members, “dividing to every man severally as he will.”
From the point of view of a building, “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Cor. 3:11. Similarly in 1 Pet. 2:6 (quoted from Isa. 28:14), a chief comer stone is laid in Zion, showing an exactly laid foundation to bear the weight of the building. Also in 1 Pet. 2:7 (quoted from Psa. 118:22) the Lord is seen as a Headstone—the complement, the top stone or coping stone to complete the building. Here is a miracle, the top and bottom are finished in the resurrection of Christ before the rest of the building in between! Not: In Eph. 2: 20, the church is built “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” namely founded on their doctrine and practice, as Matt. 7:24, where building on a rock is equivalent to hearing and keeping the Lord’s words. These concepts are very practical, for if we believe this and act upon it, a company will be so different from those with earthly organizations and heads and hierarchies.
The members and stones. All we see visibly are men and women distinct from the world, with a faith owning a Living Controlling Head. They own Christ Lord of their lives, Head of the church, but not King (He is King to Israel, and to the millennial world). Each member of a local church is purchased with blood, Acts 20:28,—“ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price,” 1 Cor. 6:19. God adds believers (but never unbelievers) to the church, Acts 2:47, as the Lord said, “I will build my church,” Matt. 16:18. Others dare not add themselves to the local church in Jerusalem, Acts 5:13. Each has signs of life, as members of the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12:27; hence they are productive and can produce fruit. The church can multiply (in numbers) and be edified (in character), Acts 5:31. Each is built on the proper divine foundation; they are “living stones,” “a spiritual house,” 1 Pet. 2:5, suitable for the dwelling place of God and for service. Each member has a name quite distinct from the world’s names. Thus they are “called saints,” 1 Cor. 1:2, namely separated for and to Him, unlike the purely religious use made of the word in the world. Many times they are called “brethren”—the Lord calls them “my brethren,” John 20:17; (perhaps they are “brethren” when we speak to them, “saints” when we speak about them). We must not be ashamed of scriptural names just because the world may think of them as old-fashioned— though they are old-fashioned if they go back to New Testament times. Nor must we be confused by the world’s notion of “saints.” Additionally, all members are called “priests”, 1 Pet. 2:5, unlike the world’s concept of a priest which is largely taken from the Old Testament Levitical priesthood and the heathen priesthood of old.
Such members are not united by club rules or laws; rather, as one body we are members of “THE Christ,” 1 Cor. 12. 12. the definite article often being used to denote the Head plus His members. Again, we have all been baptized by one Spirit into one body, v. 13, and it is the unity of the Spirit. Eph. 4. 3, that keeps members in holy harmony. In fact, the truth of the one body should keep us from disuniting influences, the Lord and His Word keeping us united thereby.
Variety of Structure. The millions of living cells of a living body biologically are “differentiated,” namely with different size, shape, chemical composition, function, although all started off as one cell. Exactly how cells change form, composition and function remains a great mystery. Similarly in the structure of the church—all members are able to do different things, and are doing different things in harmony, although all have a common second birth in Christ.
Some few of the men folk are singled out as elders or bishops (from which word come the great ecclesiastical perversions). These are men who are pastors in the flock with special ability to guide, lead, feed, admonish, comfort, defend. They are not joint heads, and do not usurp the position of Christ who is the “great shepherd,” Heb. 13.20. Such men are chosen by the Holy Spirit and not by the flock, Acts 20. 28. They are not necessarily an instantaneous appointment as soon as a local church is established. The list of their qualifications (not novices, given to hospitality, apt to teach, etc., 1 Tim. 3. 1-7; Tit. 1. 7-9) enable the local church “to know them who are over you in the Lord,” l Thess. 5. 12, and enable the men concerned to desire such a good work (their own exercise in the matter), 1 Tim. 3. 1.
Every member seems to be serving in some capacity, unlike many religious congregations, where all sit and listen and do nothing. In fact, all are called “deacons,” the common word for servant or “minister.” The only ones who do not serve in maturity are (i) those young in the faith who are learning, developing, (ii) those too old who served faithfully in the past, (iii) those who through weakness have lost the spiritual qualifications necessary, 1 Tim. 3. 8-13. Yet everything looks remarkable! Here is there a mutual harmonious outworking of so many different types of service. The ignorant unable-looking man proves to be an able teacher of the Word! This is because the three Persons of the Trinity are engaged in calling and equipping, for such varied work as evangelists, pastors, teachers, Sunday-School teachers, with the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge. In Rom. 12. 3, God has dealt to every man the measure of faith, having gifts differing according to the grace given. In Eph. 4. 7, it is Christ who gives—to everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. In 1 Cor. 12. 11, it is the Spirit who divides to every man as He will. All this is the result of the Lord having ascended so that the local churches can live and work.
Sisters in Christ likewise take the place in service allotted them by the Spirit, but not by the customs of the present day. Thus Phoebe was a “servant of the church,” namely a “deaconess,” Rom. 16. 1-2, not engaging in public teaching in the church, 1 Cor. 14. 34. 1 Tim. 2. 12, though teaching at home, Tit. 2.4; Acts 18.26. Their work is hospitality, Luke 10. 38-42, and ministering to the saints, without which the work of the Lord could not go forward.
More mundane matters are included in the structure. Is finance dealt with by someone who works in a bank, but not doing anything else? Rather, the more menial jobs are done by men who are “full of faith, power, doing great wonders, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,” Acts 6. 3,8. Such men are chosen by the local church for mundane matters, BECAUSE of spirituality and gift. They will be experts in their own spiritual gift, and in smaller local churches perhaps elders as well.
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
“Christ the Select Forerunner” Chapter 6 v. 12-20
In this chapter we have EXHORTATION v. 1-3 “Let us go on.” The Christian life is never meant to come to a standstill. EXPOSURE v. 4-8 “going back,” a warning about apostasy. ENCOURAGEMENT v. 9-20 “going through,” the evidences of new life v. 9, 10; the expectation of the fulfilment of the promises of God v. 11, 12; the example of the man of faith v. 13-16; the established Anchor and the entrance of our Forerunner v. 17-20.
Trace the seven references to “salvation” and the “Let Us” in this book.
A Shining Example v. 13-15. Abraham’s example as the inheritor of the promises is held up before us for inspiration. He was tested by God in many ways and came through triumphant, because he was patient. He learned to obey and trust God, he refused to be rewarded by worldly power, and readily offered up his best to God. Gen. 22
We are encouraged to go forward by the promise to faith v. 12, and the oath of confirmation on v. 12, and “thus inherit the promises” of a God who cannot lie v. 12, 18.
A Secured Hope v. 16-18. Abraham had a sure promise of double binding. It was God’s Word, and that made it sure, and it was confirmed by an oath. God became His own witness and guarantor and that made it doubly sure. The promised blessing was realised in Christ.
In a sense we are like refugees v. 18, but the refuge has been reached in Christ, and the believer is eternally sure. The illustration is the “cities of refuge” in Num. 35. 9-15. There is no other hope of rescue from judgement than “Christ Jesus our Hope” 1 Tim. 1.1. Our Lord has opened a way to the Presence of God for every saint in every moment of need. The Anchor within the veil holds us safely who are yet outside, afflicted and tossed with tempests. “The present life is the sea; the soul a ship; the hidden bottom of the sea, the hidden reality of the heavenly word. The soul of the believer, as a tempest-tossed ship, is held by the anchor within the veil, fastened by faith to the blessed reality within the veil” K. S. Wuest.
A believer has to learn that there is a hope which identifies him with heaven, and his present blessing is the appropriation of Christ. The words “sure” and “steadfast” are not qualities of the Anchor, but refer directly to our hope within the veil. This hope of entrance is the anchorage in heaven where Jesus is for us. He is the pledge that one day we will enter forever within the veil and rejoice when we see His glory. John 14.3; 17.24.
The Successful Forerunner v. 19,20. The Forerunner is already in heaven for us. Our hope rests on the fulfilment of the promise guaranteed by the oath and the presence of our High Priest within the veil. The risen Lord is enthroned in the glory as the “firstfruits” of His redeemed people, there He performs His priestly ministry. Psa. 110. 4. Forerunner means a “pioneer” suggesting others will follow. The Levit-ical high priest did not enter the sanctuary as a forerunner, but only as the people’s representative. The people could enter the court but never the sanctuary. Our Forerunner goes nowhere that His people cannot follow Him. He has entered on our account, for our advantage, as our representative. With our High Priest there, it is safe for us to follow, so “Let us draw near” and enjoy His help. Note the order “after Melchisedec.” He is an eternal High Priest and carries upon the shoulders of His omnipotence, and upon the heart of His infinite love, those who place their faith in Him, into the presence of God.
Christ is our Refuge—flee to Him with your troubles. He is our Anchor—faith links us with Him. He is our Forerunner—follow Him in all things. He is our Priest to fully meet all our need.
by EDWARD JAMINSON
“Saul is dead;” the jubilant cry of David’s men upon receiving news of the fall of the King of Israel. For them it meant an end of wandering, the closing of a period of historical unrest and insecurity, the dawning of a new day that would ultimately usher in an era of kingly rule and righteous government.
No place on earth had been so attractive to this loyal band as the inner cave at Adullam with the presence of David so real and his assurances so rewarding. The promise that one day the throne of Israel would be occupied by Jesse’s worthy son, the man of God’s appointing.
Having been privately anointed by Samuel (16:13) and now learning of Saul’s death, David could well have said “now is my opportunity to take control of the situation.” Truly everything seemed in his favour; Saul out of the way, a faithful company of followers, God’s promise of success. Now all that remained was to take the reins in his hands and rule the nation. Does not the Scripture instruct us that favourable circumstances are not always an indication of Divine guidance.
While the natural man looks for place and longs for authority the man of God gladly says “Thy will be done.” What a high spiritual tone would characterize the companies of God’s people today if all were willing to wait God’s time and appointment. In the context of the local church there exists the danger of leadership being weakened by those who are ready to take advantage of a situation rather than wait God’s time and pleasure.
Consequently, David chooses to wait upon God in total dependence instead of making the most of an opportunity; truly leaving upon the page of Scripture a pattern to be observed by all true followers of the Lord.
Obviously David never reckoned Saul a hindrance between himself and the kingdom, otherwise he would have taken the throne at the time of Saul’s death. It was sufficient for David to place his confidence in the Almighty being assured that one day he would reign over Israel. With pleasure he could have prided himself in the fact that opportunity was knocking, convincing himself that now was the time to win Saul’s friends, vanquish the gloating Philistines and enthrone himself over the nation. Such may be the attitude of the carnal man but surely not the exercise of the spiritual.
“David enquired of the Lord” (2:1). What depth of sincerity do these words convey to the reader. An enquiry made by means of the Urim and Thummin on the breastplate of the high priest. The means by which God’s will would be manifested to Abiathar in relation to David’s desire to know God’s purpose for him. David knew the Lord and feared walking independent of Him which would result in the Divine plan being interrupted.
Let it be remembered that this business of seeking God’s will is not restricted to those who by nature of their calling have greater time to devote to quiet meditation or to those who find themselves actively engaged in public witness. We are happy to say that the discerning of the Divine will is the privilege and responsibility of all His children regardless of calling in life. It is in fact the daily exercise and joy of thousands of hard working Christians and is beyond the reach of none.
As David learned the great lesson of enquiring after God’s will, so may we be enabled to wait patiently upon the Lord rather than take advantage of a situation which may ultimately result in carnal means being used to achieve an apparent spiritual end. The problem today, is not that of God refusing to make His will known to us but rather of God’s people choosing to ignore His holy purposes. Divine guidance is not a question of the believer pleading with God to guide, but of God pleading with the believer to let Him guide.
Let us then put away the evil scheming of the flesh and enquire from the Lord what His plan and purpose would be for our lives. This may not of necessity be a smooth course but we are assured it will work out to His glory.
The horizon was clear, circumstances were in his favour; the support of the people was evident. Nevertheless, the lonely fugitive who has proved God through deep and trying circumstances longs to move only in accordance with His will. Is this not the experience of many a Christian? The trials of life only cause us to look with greater dependence to the Lord for guidance in the future.
“Go to Hebron”—How concise an instruction, and yet how precious to the seeker. No multiplicity of words, no persuasive language, a simple and plain answer to a heart that longs only to hear the voice of Divine Approval.
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE SHEKINAH GLORY
Having put the Ark into position, the priests came out from the Holiest, and then the Cloud of the Glory of the Lord filled the Temple, but it was not until “all the work that Solomon made for the House of the Lord was finished” that “the Glory of the Lord filled the House” (2Chronicles 5:1, 7-9, 13f). The work had first to be finished, because an unfinished Temple could not be filled with the Glory of the Lord. Of the tabernacle, centuries earlier, the Scriptures state, “when Moses finished the work, then the cloud covered the tent ... and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:33f).
A finished work followed by the glory is a principle found in the Scriptures, not only in connection with the tabernacle and the temple but also Christ and the Church. Having resolved to finish His Father’s work, to which He gave expression once to His disciples and then to the Jews (John 4:34, 5:36), our Lord prayed later, “I have finished the work ... , and now, O Father, glorify Thou Me . . .” (John 17:4f). From the cross, in the hour of apparent defeat, Christ cried triumphantly, “It is finished!” God then “raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory” (I Pe. 1:21) first by giving Him “a body of glory” (Phil 3:21) and forty days later He was “received up into glory” and was “crowned with glory and honour” (1Tim. 3:15, Heb. 2:9). Having finished His work on earth, He was glorified.
During the course of constructing the Temple, the Glory of the Lord was a prospect and likewise with the spiritual temple, which the Lord is now building, the glory is yet to come, even as Paul says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Whilst Christ now indwells His Church, the glory is a hope to be realised at the Lord’s return, and the work of building this “holy temple” will have been finished when each of us will be “a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” (I Pe. 5:1). We now “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2), but, when the last living stone” will have been put into place, the work will be finished and then this “spiritual house” will be glorified, “having the glory of God” (cp. Rev. 21:11). Our prospect now will then become our possession! Until the dawning of that day, our present privilege is to “glorify God in our body” (1Cor. 6,20) by living lives that will bring glory to Christ.
The circumstances of the momentous occasion of the finished Temple being filled with the Glory of God should not be overlooked. When the priests were come out of the Holiest after placing the Ark, Levites, arrayed in white linen, having cymbals, psalteries and harps, stood with one hundred and twenty priests at the east side of the Golden Altar in the Holy Place, sounding trumpets. With one voice and trumpet accompaniment, a song of praise and thanksgiving ascended to God, and the House was filled with the Cloud of the Glory of the Lord (2Chron. 5:11-14).
The filling of the Temple with the glory of the Lord was apparently in two distinct phases, as described in 2Chronicles ch. 5 and 7, separated by Solomon’s dedicatory prayer in ch. 6. It is interesting to note that when the Temple was filled with the Glory inside, priests and Levites were present, but the Glory upon the Temple outside was seen by “all Israel.” Surely, this is suggestive of the Lord’s coming again to the air and then to the earth.
Concerning this wonderful occasion, we should note the parties who witnessed the scene and their location. First, the “priests” saw the glory in the House of the Lord, and we. as believer-priests, will be in a coming day ‘where He is,’ so that we may ‘behold His glory’ (John 17:24). Next, from a distance outside, “all Israel” saw the glory upon the House, and in the age to come a regenerate Israel, from a distant relationship as subjects to their King, will see Him in His glory and beauty (Isaiah 32:17).
Such a scene of priests blowing trumpets and Levites singing a psalm of praise when the Glory of the Lord filled the temple reminds us of the fast approaching day when “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout ... and with the trump of God” and, in response to the trumpet call, we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air (1Thess. 4:16f). Then the “spiritual temple, which the Lord is now building, will be glorified, for we all as “living stones” will be changed into His likeness by putting on bodies of glory. As it was an occasion of praise when the earthly Temple was filled with the Glory, so in that coming day “when His glory shall be revealed, we shall be glad with exceeding joy” (1Peter 4:13).
Our attention has been focussed upon the coming of the Glory inside the Temple, but what happened outside?
In the midst of the Court and before the Brazen Altar, Solomon stood upon a brass platform, made purposely for the occasion and, from it, he delivered a short address to a vast crowd of people assembled for the consecration of the Temple (2Chron. 6:1-11). Then kneeling down before this great assembly and with outstretched hands towards heaven, he offered a long prayer of thanksgiving to God (2Chron. 6:12-42). At the end of his prayer, fire from heaven consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices upon the Brazen Altar and the Glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s House. “When all ... Israel saw how the fire came down and the glory of the Lord upon the House, they bowed ... and worshipped . . (2Chronicles 7:1-3).
This scene of sacrifice accepted by fire from heaven and the visible manifestation of the Shekinah Glory directs our thoughts to the sacrificial sufferings of Christ and His coming in regal glory. As “all Israel” saw the fire consume the sacrifice and beheld the glory upon the Lord’s House, so in a future day all the tribes of the Land of Israel shall look upon Him, Whom their forefathers pierced, when they shall see the Son of Man coming with power and glory. “They shall mourn for Him,” that is, they will not be sorrowful for His Coming but at His coming, and a godly sorrow will pervade the hearts and minds of a remnant who, as a regenerate people, will enter the millenial kingdom. See Zech. 12:10, Matt. 24:30.
The sacrificial ritualism for consecrating the Temple lasted seven days during the seventh month, and it was followed immediately by the seven day Feast of Tabernacles (2Chron. 7:4-10). This Feast, the last and the climax of the annual Feasts of the Lord, was an occasion for rejoicing before the Lord (Lev. 23:40, cp. Neh. 8:17), and it anticipates dispensationally Messiah’s millennial reign of righteousness and peace when a regenerate Israel will say, “. . . this is the Lord, ... we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isa. 25:9).
by the late JOHN COWAN
In the first month, in the second year, in the first day of the month, the Tabernacle was reared up, so, Moses finished the work: then the cloud covered the Tent of meeting, and the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. A Finished Task, a Filled Tabernacle, but a Further Teaching yet to be given, before it will be able to function in the manner of the Divine requirement.
Not only does God desire to dwell amongst His People, but it is also His desire that His people should be able to approach Him, and thus, a basis for this communion must be laid. So, God again called unto Moses, this time, not out of the Bush Ex. 3, nor out of the mountain Ex. 19, nor yet out of the cloud Ex. 24, but now out from the Tabernacle. In Ex. 3 it is a Messenger on a Mission of Deliverance, in Ex. 19 it is a Mediator with a Mandate of Demand, in Ex. 24 it is a Master workman with a Model of a Dwelling, but now in Lev. 1 it is a Minister with a Ministry of Direction. Exodus gives us the material of which the Tabernacle consists, Leviticus the Ministry it contains; thus in the good of this Ministry, the basis of approach is laid. A Burnt Offering and a Meal Offering for Acceptance, then a Peace Offering, in order that the enjoyment of their acceptance may be experienced and enjoyed.
Although now a redeemed people amongst whom the Lord is pleased to dwell, yet, such is the fallibility of his people, that inadvertently communion may be disturbed, and in order that it may be restored and enjoyed a sin and a trespass offering have also been given. It is our intention now to take a look at the completed structure, every whit of it expressing the Glory of God, the Glory of Holiness, the Beauty of Divine order, everything established according to the pattern given—God in the midst of His Redeemed People, to journey with them, His Presence protecting, His Power providing. Happy art thou O Israel, who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord. God has come out in order that His people may go in, so as we seek to consider the approach provided, it is not our desire to isolate principles and attempt to apply them in this isolated way, but to take the whole in its integrated sense and interpret the New Testament Doctrine in the Draperies of the old. We realize that, to do so, our intelligence must be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and our imagination restrained; to be spiritual without losing our touch with earth, and to be practical without losing our touch with heaven.
Starting out from the Camp, the Court would first be approached. Although God is in the midst of His people, and all inside the Camp enjoy this nearness of His Presence, yet there are nearer nearnesses that can only be enjoyed as we exercise ourselves to progress along the pathway that His Grace provides. This exercise of His people would begin in the Camp and would bring them to the Court, where they may experience and enjoy, in this nearer sense, a fellowship and communion with their God.
If we were allowed to walk round about the Court, the unbroken continuity of the fine twined linen in all its spotless purity would cause us to think of the Holy character of God, how that holiness becometh his house for ever, and how that he must be had in reverence by all those that are about Him. No one could be allowed to approach, unless the requirement of His Holy character had been fully met; this then would suggest the necessity of the Gate, the only means of access into His Presence to obtain this nearer view. The Gate completed the enclosure and, while composed also of fine twined linen, was richly ornamented with the needlework of colours, the Blue, the Purple, and the Scarlet.
Twenty cubits was its length and the height five cubits answerable to the hanging of the Court.
If the fine twined linen of the Court proclaimed the Holiness of God and the requirement of His Holy character, here is a means of access answerable to His claims. There are three avenues of access into the presence of God with their differing degrees of nearness, namely the Gate, the Door, and the Vail, giving unfoldings of the Glory of Christ, which as apprehended and appropriated by us, will enable us to gather up in an appreciative way these unfoldings of God as Christ has told him out. The Gate then gives access into the Court, and is expressive of those excellencies of Christ, meeting all the claims of Divine Righteousness and imparting them by imputation to us who believe and thus allowing us as justified ones to enter the sphere where justified joy is experienced and enjoyed.
These avenues of access as described by God the Spirit are very fitting indeed and are always descriptive of the particular sphere of nearness into which we desire to come. The Gate is always the Gate of the Court; the Door, the Door of the Tabernacle; whilst the Vail is always the Vail of the covering, i.e. the Covering for the Ark. The Gate then is the fitting expression of our access into the Court. Amongst the many functions enacted at the Gate, judicial claims, i.e. clearance from guilt seems to have been the most important, Justification being a judicial term, and as all judicial claims have been met by Him, access through Him has been made available for us. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by Faith into this Grace wherein we stand” Rom. 5:1.
by R. WOODHOUSE BEALES
It is not our purpose to expound this whole Epistle, only to emphasise certain matters and give a resume for the reader’s consideration of that which is mostly misinterpreted, and to emphasise the main issues. Firstly we should consider the importance of the city lying as it did midway between the two capitals, Jerusalem, the religious centre and Rome, the military centre. Moreover it was the world port of commerce to which men of all nations would come for trade. It is therefore the only epistle which deals with the matter of various tongues. Men of all nations would come there and many would doubtless enquire why these folk met together on the day after the sabbath (the Jews’ holy day) and what was their purpose. May we dare to suggest that many of these men would be met at the quayside by women of loose morals (which gives point to the chapter on this matter) and would wonder what this new doctrine and practice was.
Now apart from the opening of the epistle and salutations and the end chapter we want to emphasise that it is ALL corrective, for practices and conditions were tolerated there which were almost unmentionable. When for instance we want to read about the Lord’s supper we do not normally read the opening verses 1Cor. 11:17-22, nor the concluding ones (vv 28-34) (Why is this?) Nor when we want to read about the resurrection of the body in chap. 15 do we usually point out that they were denying this truth (vv 12-19) nor do we point out the words of the apostle in vv 35, 36.
Now these Corinthians had written to Paul raising other questions as to virgins and the eating of certain meats. However, those of the house of Chloe, the bearer of their letter to Paul, had told him of other things which were being taught and practised there. Some of these sinning Christians were being removed by death because of their sinfulness and many were weak and sickly because God was dealing with them in discipline, but Paul does not commence his tirade against them over these important matters. He commences with things which to this day are actually gloried in—Sectarianism which was being practised and which would ultimately divide the church, it is seen all around us today and alas, is gloried in. Names, parties and factions have so multiplied that today they are practically uncountable. (The late Mr. Wm. Hoste used to say “the tribes of Christendom, would that there were only twelve!”). There was not a church anywhere which was in such a parlous state and which had within it the seeds which have now produced a veritable forest.
Now these things are not mere unessentials, but lie at the very foundation of Christianity, and there appears to be no remedy whatever.
The great chapter on Love (13) is in between the two chapters which deal with the working of the spiritual body of the church i.e. it is the oil between the chapter which describes the machinery of the church, and its actual working. Even the Lord’s supper had deteriorated (even if it had ever commenced well) into a drunken orgy.
They were a temple of God, but were defiling it, and were puffed up (a word occurring four times) and he was afraid he would have to come to them, not in love but with a rod (ch. 4). If he came to them it might be to deliver the sinning one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh (5:5). They were also going to law with one another thus exposing themselves and their sinfulness to the world. But there was a race to be run and a prize to be won, if only they would abide by the rules. Israel in the wilderness were an example to them regarding the way God would treat with them and reward them that obey Him. (10:1-15). And all this in view of the great Hope of the Coming again of the Lord (15:51-58). The great chapter on resurrection we cannot here stay to expound, but note it is a classic and indeed all these faults of the carnal Corinthians, only serve to bring out the great truths in which we now rejoice.
May we say here that both in this epistle to Corinthians and in Ephesians the Church is likened to a Temple and also a Body. We believe that Ephesians has the whole “universal” Church in view, but here, though the wording is similar, we believe it is the local church in view. The same characteristics would surely, or should be similar if God is to be glorified and His purpose attained. May reader and writer alike put His glory first in both spheres and avoid sectarianism like the plague that it is.
There are Christians today who, because they cannot agree with one another break away and form what they call “another assembly” but this is just the very thing that this epistle warns against, nay, forbids!
Is it possible that there might be a measure of recovery before the Lord comes? Who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and make manifest the counsels of the hearts, THEN we may indeed have praise from Him. Otherwise how can we look forward to seeing Him, knowing that we shall have to give an account?
We must point out one or two matters with which we have not dealt and they are as follows:—Just as Tongues have ceased, so have prophesies (see Revelation ch. 22, last few verses), so that they who say they can speak in Tongues should also be able to add to the prophecies in the Word, but this is strictly forbidden under the most dire warnings of eternal penalty. Nothing can be added to the divine revelation and indeed we would ask any who claim special gifts along these lines to tell us plainly, WHAT has been revealed of divine truth since the scriptures were completed. We invite a clear and plain answer to this most important question. History has been unfolding itself for nineteen centuries since the scriptures were written, so we invite a plain answer to our question.
Sects and parties have been formed innumerable which is strictly forbidden and yet what do we hear of this? Nothing. When we meet Paul (as we hope some day to do) what shall we answer him when he asks us (as well he might) “What sect or party did you ally yourself to when on earth, what name did you take) and if we dare to answer him truthfully, he may well ask us. Did we not read the epistle to the Corinthians and if so why did we not obey it? What answer shall we give?
And what about the place and function of the woman in the assembly? Did they take a prominent part and did they speak publicly to a mixed audience? If so why did they thus disobey the injunctions. The word speak in this connection is the usual one and it does NOT mean, as some have said “chatter.” In the temple of old and the Tabernacle, as well as among the apostles, while women have their place, there were none such in these companies. Why not, we may well ask? The head of the woman is the man, for Adam was first formed, then Eve; and it was not Adam who brought sin into the world by listening to the voice of the enemy, but woman and while women have their place in the assembly (and a most important one it is) to lead or to speak publicly are not included in these, and just as the head of the woman is the man, so the head of the man is Christ, so saith the scripture. No, there were no women giving their name to any of the tribes of Israel and none called to be apostles.
So in Corinth there was much confusion and much sin tolerated and indulged in and even, dare we say boasted in, and Paul earnestly called upon them to repent, lest their “lampstand” be removed as was the case in question in the two chapters devoted to the assemblies in Revelation, where each assembly is looked upon as an individual lampstand, and not simply a branch of a main lampstand. Note how those assemblies are called upon to repent, almost every one of them.
Now did all this exhortation, all this blame have any effect upon the Corinthians? Yes indeed it did and we are thankful to have a second epistle to them from Paul indicating their exercise, their sorrow and he writes again to comfort and sustain them (see 2Cor. 7:5-16 shewing the effect of Paul’s letter when Titus brought to Paul news of the way in which they had responded and the comfort they had now given him through their repentance).
In conclusion may we note the last words of the two Testaments. In Malachi 3:6, the words are “lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” but the last words of the New Testament are just the reverse and there is a threefold Blessing, Rev. 22:7,12, and 20, relying upon hearing and keeping and doing the commandments of the Lord. It is not so much a reward we seek after but only His commendation, in that day. May writer and reader alike aspire to that great consummation of all our hopes.
Nor have we pointed out the fact that while the Lord’s supper is referred to in detail in 1Cor. 11, Paul has said something quite different in Ch. 10 v. 17 he says “WE being many are one bread ... for we are all partakers of that one bread or loaf” and there of course it is unbroken, nor does he there apply any such meaning to the cup or wine. Also in Ch. 12 vv 12-28 he emphasises how that oneness in the LOCAL church should function, wherein we see that EVERY member is equally important and necessary to each other, as in our own literal bodies. We cannot imagine one part of our physical body wilfully injuring another part! This, once acknowledged and applied should lead to true fellowship and would preclude any “divisions” such as were ruining the church at Corinth.
Note attributed to John Wycliffe:—“It will greatly help thee to understand scripture if thou mark:—not only what is spoken or written, But of whom, And to whom, With what words, At what time, Where, To what intent, In what circumstances, considering what goeth before, and what followed! after,”
Also we might add that a text without its context is a pretext.
by Walter Scott (1)
MAN AND UTTER RUIN
Man is a complete moral wreck. “Thou turnest man (the race) to destruction, and sayest, return, ye children of men (individuals)” (Psalm 90:3). From Adam to Moses abundant evidence is forthcoming that man was a sinner. From Moses to Christ, or during the age of law he was shown to be a transgressor. From Christ crucified to the judgment of the great white throne his history is one of determined enmity of God (Romans 5:12-20; Rev. 20:11-15). Two great landmarks in human history are the flood and the cross. Before the flood every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). After the flood it is declared that the imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21). Before the cross the Lord declared that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, etc., (Matt. 15:19). After the cross the testimony of the Holy Spirit is equally full and explicit (Rom. 5:6-10).
Nothing can change the flesh, which is in every human creature; it is irremediably bad. The presence of Christ in grace drew out the depths of human hatred (Matt. 27:22). The presence of Christ in glory will only intensify the horrible nature of man’s undying enmity to God (Rev. 20:8, 9).
It is an absolute impossibility for man in the flesh, i.e., viewed morally, to please God, or to subject his carnal mind to the authority of God (Romans 8:7,8). Probably the most awful description of man’s state is detailed in Ephesians 2: “Dead in trespasses and sins” (verse 1), as also the willing slave of satan (verse 2), thus revealing a condition out of which there is no escape unless God works in sovereign grace. In Romans it is a man’s guilt that is in question, hence God justifies; in Ephesians it is a moral scene of death out of which God quickens. Man is also born in sin (Psalm 51. 5); but not born a slave to sin, this latter he becomes, by voluntarily yielding himself to it. (Rom. 6.16). You are not responsible for being born in sin, but you are responsible not to become a slave to it. Man in root, fruit and branch is incurably bad, hence the necessity of the new birth so imperatively insisted upon by the Lord for any who would enter into, or even see, the Kingdom of God. (John 3. 1-8).
The whole tree is bad, from the root to the topmost bough, and outward to every branch. You may as well look for a rose on a thorn bush, or a lily on a thistle, as expect the fruit of holiness from the corrupt nature of man. A fallen creature can no more change his nature, or live in consonance with a life which he does not possess, than can an Ethiopian change his skin, or a leopard his spots.
by HENRY C. SPENCE
“One thing have I desired of the Lord that will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4).
This aspiration of the Psalmist is lovely to consider and in Psalm 63:2 David further expresses his spiritual longing “to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.”
May the desire of our hearts be to know His presence and by faith to behold more of the beauty of the Lord in the sanctuary. To contemplate the beauty of His walk, to behold the beauty of His love and to meditate on the beauty of His words.
There was a time when we “saw no beauty in Him that we should desire Him” but the Holy Spirit has revealed Him to our souls as “the altogether lovely One” (Song of Songs, chapter 5:16).
Thus we may sing with the hymn writer:—
- “One thing my Father, only one,
- My heart’s desire of Thee,
- To know Thy well-Beloved Son,
- And all His beauty see.”
Again in Psalm 73 verse 25 the Psalmist declares “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that / desire beside Thee?”
And yet again in Psalm 37 verse 4 the lovely promise “Delight thyself also in the Lord and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” As we delight ourselves in the Lord we shall be granted spiritual desires. And with the bride in the Song of Solomon chapter 2 say “I sat down under His shadow with great delight and His fruit was sweet to my taste” (verse 3 last clause).
With the prophet Isaiah we shall express adoringly “The desire of our soul is to Thy Name, and to the remembrance of Thee” (Isaiah 26:8).
This would lead us to the consideration of the heart’s desires expressed by our Lord Jesus Himself. Firstly in Luke chapter 22 we are reminded “And when the hour was come He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him and He said unto them “With desire I have desired to eat this Pass-over with you before I suffer” (verses 14-15).
How wonderful is the Lord’s holy affection when He had in mind the Lord’s Supper. What an appeal to our hearts! “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
In the Gospel of John chapter 17 verse 24 at this juncture of the Lord’s High Priestly prayer Our Lord Jesus expressed the desire of His heart which will be granted by the Father when His bride is complete: “Father I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me be with Me, where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me, for Thou lovest Me before the foundation of the world.”
The heart’s desire of the Son to the Father is that His redeemed people might be with Him where He is. What unfoldings are revealed to us by the Lord of Glory concerning the consummation of our salvation when His heart’s desire shall be fulfilled “Thou hast given Him His heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of His lips” (Psalm 21:2).
We are reminded that in that day “The Desire of all nations shall come” (Haggai chapter 2 verse 7). May the Lord kindle our desires towards Him in these closing days of time, till we see His face.
THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER
- Thirty pieces of silver
- For the Lord of Life they gave;
- Thirty pieces of silver—
- Only the price of a slave!
- But this was the priestly value
- Of the Holy One of God;
- And they weighed it out in the temple,
- The price of the Saviour’s blood.
- Thirty pieces of silver Laid in Iscariot’s hand;
- Thirty pieces of silver
- And the aid of an armed band,
- Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
- Brought the humbled Son of God
- At midnight, from the garden
- Where His sweat had been like blood.
- “Thirty pieces of silver”
- Burns on the traitor’s brain;
- “Thirty pieces of silver!”
- Oh! it is hellish gain!
- “I have sinned and betrayed the guiltless!”
- He cried with a fevered breath,
- As he threw them down in the temple,
- And rushed to a madman’s death.
- Thirty pieces of silver
- Lay in the House of God;
- Thirty pieces of silver,
- But oh, ‘twas the price of blood!
- And so for a place to bury
- The strangers in, they gave
- The price of their own Messiah,
- Who lay in a borrowed grave
- —WM. BLANE (Lays of Life and Hope)
- Things written aforetime were written for our learning :
- ROMANS...........For our EDUCATION
- 1 CORINTHIANS 10......For our WARNING
- TIMOTHY...........For our EQUIPMENT
- HEBREWS.......For our ENCOURAGEMENT
- The Life of DAVID in 6 points and 2 threes:
- The Valley of Elah — Victory Gained
- The Cave of Adullam — Reproach Endured
- The Throne of Israel — Glory Enjoyed
- Joseph, David and Daniel did their greatest deeds for God while they were in their ’teens:
- JOSEPH conquered Egypt’s Morals
- DAVID conquered Gath’s Goliath
- DANIEL conquered Babylon’s Music