I have before me a copy of “The Witness” dated October, 1978, and my attention has been drawn to a question and answer on Page 310.
The Question (69) is :
“The claim is made in a recent book that teaching of the secret rapture of the Church is “a myth” invented by J, N. Darby. Would you please comment.”
The answer :
“Whether one calls the idea of a secret rapture a ‘myth’ or not will depend on one’s view of eschatology! However, all the available evidence indicates that the concept did not originate until the early years of the nineteenth century and there is no evidence that it was ever taught before this time. Although it became very much a part of Darby’s teaching, it would appear that the idea of a secret rapture did not originate with him, but rather with Edward Irving, a Church of Scotland minister who was later (rather sadly) excommunicated and founded his own Catholic Apostolic Church. According to contemporaries Darby took up the concept from Irving’s teaching at the Albury prophetic conferences around 1827 or 1828.
“It is important to remember that Darby was still in his twenties, a young man just beginning to formulate his ideas and the concept of a secret rapture accorded well with the “dispensational” form of biblical teaching that he was to develop. The theory of a secret rapture is, indeed, central to dispensational teaching, enabling a distinction to be drawn between the future of the Church and national Israel. It was a form of teaching at one time common in Brethren and other evangelical circles and at times pushed to extremes. I have to admit, however, that I see little support from the New Testament for this view of the return of Christ, nor for the system of teaching it supports.”
The suggestion that “the Secret Rapture of the Church is a myth” has come as a shock to many of the readers of the “Witness.” Of course they are not ignorant that there are those who think and talk that way. But to find such a question in the “Witness” followed by an answer that does not condemn such a suggestion is a surprise!
The founder of the firm of Messrs. Pickering and Inglis Ltd., publishers of the “Witness” Mr. Hy. Pickering, gathered together an immense list of testimonies of outstanding men relative to the “Second coming of the Lord Jesus” and published them both in the magazine and in his books. He was a firm believer in the “Secret Rapture of the Church.” Not only so, but the former editors of the “Witness” have been firm believers in the “Secret Rapture of the Church” as their writings clearly show.
The answer to the question states “It is important to remember that Darby was still in his twenties” when he took up “the concept of a secret rapture.” It is equally important to remember that he held that truth to the very end of his days. Is there anything wrong in having clear convictions as to truth in one’s twenties? That is when most men who minister divine truth to profit begin to minister with conviction and power.
Again the answer says, “I have to admit that I see little support from the New Testament for this view of the return of Christ.” Does this mean that Dr. Howard does not believe in the “Secret Rapture of the Church?” (I hope I have come to the wrong conclusion and if I have I most humbly ask his forgiveness). If so it would appear that he believes that the “Secret Rapture of the Church is a Myth!” If that is the case my dear brother, are you not writing in the wrong magazine? You are contradicting, what the “Witness” for many years, contended for! Or have the publishers of the magazine changed their views on the coming of the Lord Jesus? (I believe they have not). But I find something more alarming in the answer to the question “the concept of the secret rapture accorded well with the dispensational form of Biblical teaching that he was to develop ... dispensational teaching enabling a distinction to be drawn between the future of the church and a national Israel ... I see little support for this view of the return of Christ nor for the system of teaching it supports.” Does this mean that the doctor does not accept “the Dispensational form of Bible Teaching?” Does this mean that he does not see a distinction between the future of the Church and a national Israel?”
Surely that such questions should arise out of an answer to a question in the “Witness” is alarming. It would appear (I hope I am wrong) that our dear brother (1) does not believe in the Secret Rapture of the Church, (2) does not believe in a distinction between Israel and the Church, (3) does not believe in Dispensational Teaching. It may be that he is an A-millennialist, (I trust not). If this is the case surely he should not be answering questions in the “Witness.” The former editors of the magazine believed all these things and the publishers have a large number of books in their past and present lists that teach these things.
May I say also, as I note the words “It was a form of teaching at one time common in Brethren circles.” My dear brother, it still is! The vast majority of saints in assembly fellowship still believe these things. It is a small but loud minority that do not believe them.
And what does the editor of the “Witness” believe? There is a note by the editor at the close of this answer in the “Witness.” One would have expected to read “the views here expressed are not those of the editor and publishers” —but there is no such note. Does the present editor of the “Witness” believe the “Secret Rapture of the Church is a myth?” Does he believe in “a distinction between the future of the Church and a national Israel?” Does he believe “Dispensational Teaching.” I trust that the answer to these questions is a clear YES! If it were otherwise it would be a tragedy.
V. 14 “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” To continue the figure of put-ing on as garments, the graces of w. 12-13, Paul tells them to add as a covering garment, over them all, love. Love is here used with the definite article, ‘the love,’ that is, Christian love, the love that is befitting to Christian testimony the love that is essential to the proper working of these virtues (1Cor. 13).
Paul further describes this love is a bond, something that binds all those other graces together. It makes for perfection, as does an outer coat, holding the inner garments in their places. Or it may be that the apostle is thinking of love as a girdle, which holds the other garments together, and enables the believer to function more perfectly in service for his Lord. The figure of love as a bond of perfection here is akin to the use of the word love in Rom. 13:8-10, where it is seen as fulfilling the Law.
V. 15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts,” The R.V. renders this more correctly, “peace of Christ.” It was the peace that characterised Christ on earth, and which He left as a legacy to His disciples ere He went to Calvary (John 14:27). This peace, Paul teaches, would act as an umpire, to advise where the running is faulty. This is in contrast to the use of the same word as a basis for the compound word ‘beguile’ in 2:18, where the Gnostics were seen as false umpires in the Christian race, and caused the runners to lose their reward. But believers will know that they are running well if the peace of Christ ‘guards their hearts and thoughts’ (Phil. 4:7).
“to the which also ye are called in one body;” In addition to a personal peace in their hearts, this would suggest an appeal to the Colossians to maintain peace amongst themselves, which would make for fellowship. For this purpose they were all united in one body. It was a peace that Christ looked for in them, the members of this body.
“and be ye thankful” Paul had prayed for a spirit of gratitude to God to be found in them (1:12); now he teaches what will bring this spirit of gratitude more than anything else—the peace of Christ in their hearts.
V. 16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” The punctuation of this verse is given here as in the A.V., but it occasions some difficulties. It dissociates the word ‘wisdom’ from ‘teaching and admonishing one another,’ which seems to detract from the sense of the verse. Also ‘singing’ is separated from ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,’ and these three words are joined to ‘teaching and admonishing,’ which upsets the balance of the verse.
The punctuation is much better set out as in the R.R.V.
—‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.’ This associates ‘richly’ with ‘dwell,’ then ‘wisdom’ with ‘teaching and admonishing one another,’ and finally, ‘singing’ with ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.’ Thus the three subjects of the verse are more clearly displayed, and with suitable emphasis.
Paul’s first exhortation is that the word of Christ should dwell richly, abundantly in their hearts. The ‘word of Christ’ is nowhere else used in the New Testament; it was the word He spake to men (John 15:3), not yet written down, for the gospels were not committed to writing till after this epistle. That the word of Christ should dwell in them richly, is an ample statement by itself, for the very riches of His spoken word shall lend insight into the other two exhortations, which are expressed by present participles,
‘teaching and admonishing in all wisdom.’ For this association of wisdom and teaching see 1:28 and 4:5;
‘singing’ psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are the outpouring of your hearts to God (R.V.) with thankfulness. ‘Psalms’ are the psalms of David; ‘hymns’ are addresses of praise to God; ‘spiritual songs’ are the poetical effusions of spiritual men. This lay-out of the three exhortations seems to be more acceptable.
V. 17 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Paul here sums up the first practical part of the epistle (w. 5-17) by showing believers their responsibility to submit in all things to the Lordship of Christ Jesus. This is more fully developed as we see our responsibility towards others set out in the next section. Note there the recurring use of the words, ‘the Lord.’ In all that we do or say on earth we must ever be conscious of the over-ruling authority of the Lord Jesus Christ; in all things we serve the Lord Christ (v. 24). Thus we appreciate the main theme of the epistle—that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence (1:18). He, and not the angelic intercessions suggested by the Gnostics, is our only mediator; in Him are all things held together (1:17).
“giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” The purpose of this submission to the authority of the Lord is an expression of gratitude to God our Father, for all He has planned and done for us. Let us remember that all this has been done for His glory (Eph. 1:5-6, 1Cor. 10:31). The R.V. omits the word ‘and’ after God. All God’s grace, and all our thanksgiving to God are mediated by the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom alone we can approach the Father (John 14:6).
The movement of the camp of Israel through the wilderness presents a remarkable example of the orderly way of God instructing and guiding His people. The signal to go forward was indicated first by the rising of the cloud (the visible symbol of His presence) from off the tabernacle. This was the divine regulator of all Israel’s movements. If the cloud tarried over the tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year the people waited and only went forward at the ‘commandment of the Lord’ (Num. 9:15-23, 10:11-13). Israel would therefore learn lessons of patience, dependance and their pilgrim character as they ordered their lives within the orbit of God’s will. Secondly the camp would hear the sounding of the two silver trumpets by the sons of Aaron (Num. 10:8), which directed and ordered the camp arrangements. As the notes of the silver trumpets echoed through the camp all the people would realise the time had come for them to take the next step in their wilderness journey.
THE COVERING OF THE VESSELS (Num. 4).
Preparations were now put in hand to dismantle the tabernacle. The covering of the sanctuary vessels was the first requirement and Aaron and his sons undertook this sacred duty with due reverence. No other man was permitted to see the holy vessels when they were covered (Num. 4:20).
The vail which separated the holy place from the holiest was taken down by Aaron and his sons and spread over the ark of the testimony, a covering of badger skins would then be put on and a cloth of blue spread over as a final cover.
Each of the remaining vessels were then covered as follows.
The Table of Shewbread with a cloth of blue, a cloth of scarlet and a covering of badger skins.
The Lampstand with a cloth of blue and a covering of badger skins.
The Golden Altar with a cloth of blue and a covering of badger skins.
The Laver and its foot with a purple cloth and a covering of badger skins.
(Note—This is omitted in the A.V. and R.V. but included in the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch and the Septuagent version).
The Brazen Altar, after the removal of the ashes was covered with a purple cloth and covered with badger skins.
THE CARRIAGE OF THE VESSELS
When the covering of the vessels was complete instructions were given regarding the carriage of the Sanctuary. Each of the three families of the Levites (Num. 3:17) were assigned a special task.
The vessels of the sanctuary were to be borne over the shoulders of the Kohathites (Num. 7:9).
The curtains, coverings, hangings of the door and the gate of the court were the charge of the Gershonites. To them were given two wagons and four oxen for transport (Num. 7:7).
The boards of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, and their sockets were the charge of Merari. To them were given four wagons and eight oxen for transport (Num. 7:8). The wagons and oxen were gifted by the princes of Israel on the day of dedication of the tabernacle (Num. 7).
THE ORDER OF THE MARCH (Num. 10).
As Israel marched through the wilderness in their orderly array, bearing the sanctuary of God, they must have presented an impressive sight to the surrounding nations. The Order of the March is set out in Num. 10:14-27 as follows.
STANDARD OF JUDAH
JUDAH - ISSACHAR - ZERULON
2 Wagons and 4 Oxen
4 Wagons and 8 Oxen
STANDARD OF REUBEN
REUBEN - SIMEON - GAD
Bearing of the holy vessels of the sanctuary.
STANDARD OF EPHRAIM
EPHRAIM - MANASSEH - BENJAMIN
STANDARD OF DAN
DAN - ASHER - NAPTHALI
This unique caravan moving along the desert highway was a public acknowledgment of the God Israel worshipped and served. Each vessel, borne high upon the shoulders of the Kohathites, being covered tells that their inner meaning and concealed glory is only known to spiritual vision and anointed eyes (cf. 1Cor. 2:14).
The ark of God with its covering of blue leads the way. This vessel, as we have previously seen symbolises the Throne of God in the midst of Israel. It would suggest to our hearts that as we press through this scene we are to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ in our hearts and lives.
The table of shewbread with its fragrant loaves speaks of the food of the priests and their communion with God. The bread of God now sustains us, as priests of God in a hostile world.
The seven-branched Lampstand illuminated the sanctuary and in that light the priests engaged in their sanctuary activities. The light of God, through His Word presents Christ Who is the source of all spiritual light.
The golden altar with its perpetual fragrance speaks of Israel’s worship which ever delighted the heart of God. We are continually to offer to our God the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15).
The brazen laver, the cleansing vessel for the priests’ hands and feet testifies to the essential purity in all who would engage in God’s service.
Finally the massive brazen altar indicated that sacrifice and blood shedding formed the basis of all approach to a holy and righteous God. Truly Christ crucified is the foundation of our faith.
At the commencement of each journey Moses offered a short prayer ‘Rise up, O Lord and let Thine enemies be scattered.’ At each resting place Moses prayed ‘Return O Lord unto the many thousands of Israel’ (Num. 10:33-36). It was to be a victorious march as Israel moved forward through the wilderness bearing the sanctuary of God.
Forty-two journeys are recorded in Numbers 33. Each one taken at the commandment of the Lord and every step marked out by His unerring wisdom and love. Truly He led them by the right way (Ps. 107:7).
Israel’s God is our God and as we travel with Him upholding the truth of our redemption we shall indeed prove His love and power bringing us safely to our eternal home.
We have three references to Philip in the Acts of the Apostles, in chapters 6:5, 8:5 and 21:8. We see him in the Assembly, in the World, and in the Home, respectively, these are the three spheres into which we find our lives divided. In the Assembly he was marked by Consistency, in the World by Activity, and in the Home by Hospitality.
Partiality has reared its ugly head among the saints at Jerusalem, murmuring follows in its train, there is nothing more calculated to destroy the unity and the fellowship of saints than this evil. How we are constantly warned of this in the New Testament, James 2:1, 1 Tim. 5:21. It is remarkable that the seven brethren chosen to deal with this crisis, were of the same nationality of those who murmured, namely, greek speaking Jews, we would never find this situation prevailing in the world, the men chosen would display honesty and righteousness in their dealings with others, surely this is a fundamental requirement in our dealings with our fellow believers. ‘Seven men,’ there must be unity of purpose among these who serve and lead, whether they be deacons or overseers, no one shone at the expense of the other, responsibility evenly distributed, if this were true of us today the phrase ‘leading brother’ would no longer be a part of our vocabulary. Three qualifying features are mentioned, ‘honest report’ marked by Sincerity of purpose, ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ Spiritual as to their state, and ‘wisdom’ Sensible, the ability to discern, the word is common sense, to know when and how to speak! This wisdom is not worldly, neither is it academic, it is tragic when brethrem with ‘professional’ occupations, are expected to assume responsibility solely on this ground, it is imperative that those who function as leaders among the saints are spiritual, nothing else matters and should never be considered, titles and the like should be left outside and never allowed to create a class system in God’s assembly.
We look now at Philip in the World, please note that Philip was firstly :
Guided in his Movements, 8:26, ‘Arise and go toward the south.’ There had been a great response to the preaching of the Gospel in Samaria, ‘there was great joy in that city’ 8:8. Philip was ready to leave this successful mission to reach a solitary soul in the desert of Gaza! No questioning by the evangelist as to the merits of this new crusade, ‘and he arose and went.’ How we are impressed in the Acts by the definite leading of the Spirit of God. The place of Divine appointment will always be the place of blessing, whether it be Elijah by Cherith’s brook or Philip here in Gaza.
Gracious in his Manner, 8:30. We can almost sense the appeal in the question of Philip, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest.’ What a lesson for us to-day! No tone of dogmatism, but tender persuasion. When we look at the Lord Jesus by Sychar’s well in John ch. 4, we see the Great soul winner at work, with what love and compassion He reveals, first the sin of the woman, and next the provision of the life giving stream. ‘He that winneth souls is wise’ Proverbs ch. 11:30. The Gospel is a winsome message and this must of necessity be a characteristic feature of those who proclaim the evangel, without this virtue all will be in vain.
Grounded in his Message, 8:35, “Philip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus,” the account of the sufferings of Jehovah’s Perfect Servant won the heart of the eunuch. In contrast it was the thought of judgment which moved the Philippian jailor, here the story of the Cross convinces the eunuch that the One portrayed by the prophet, was none other than God’s Blessed Son. The Spirit of God knows exactly the chord to touch in the heart of the sinner! Philip was scriptural in his preaching, there is an ever present danger of ‘another’ gospel, which forms the basis of the message in the pulpits of Christendom, a social gospel, a moral gospel, anything but the Gospel of the Grace of God. Observe, the Word of God was his Authority, the Son of God was his Subject, and the Spirit of God was his Power, what a panoply for the servant of the Lord. Do we require anything more?
“As the eunuch tried to read,
Philip taught him of his need,
And baptised him in the stream,
As the outward seal and sign,
Of the inward work divine,
Which was wrought through that old fountain,
In the Home, 21:8, we see that Philip was marked by hospitality, in the light of the two previous references, could it be otherwise: He was a consistent man, every department of his life was pervaded by the Spirit of God, how often the opposite is the case, and we are in the assembly, what we are not in the World, and in the Home. We must differentiate between the social round, to which we oftimes resort, hospitality is far deeper than this, meeting the need of His servants with no thought of reciprocity. The conversation of Paul and Philip must have had many themes, it’s a grand thing to see how the Grace of God, brings together in happy fellowship those who at one time stood on opposing sides. Is this not the answer to the problems which confront society? The gospel abolishes slavery, emancipates women, destroys religious bigotry, removes national pride, gives a present salvation and a prospect of being like Christ and with Christ in eternity. May it be ours to preach like Philip and see others “go on their way rejoicing.”
The basic, fundamental doctrine unfolded in Holy Scripture, is that associated with the Death of Christ. If the Incarnation divides time, the Death of Christ divides eternity. It stems from it, (1Peter 1:19), and becomes the central theme of praise in ages to come (Rev. 1:5, 6). It is the basis of God’s dealings with man, and the foundation upon which the believer rests for salvation, both present and future. There is the Godward side, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” and the manward side, “Ye have taken, and by wicked hands, have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). In scripture, we find references to the Blood of Christ, the Cross of Christ, and the Death of Christ, and although they indicate different aspects of the subject, together, they contribute to this one grand eternal theme.
Here in all its glory and wonder, is displayed the Divine Purpose and Love of God. For the believer, it’s importance is further confirmed by its association with the two ordinances of baptism and the breaking of bread. The one involving identification with it, and the other providing for its living commemoration and remembrance. Generally, this subject is presented in scripture, in a variety of aspects, and from different points of view, and we will consider each briefly, and in progressive order as it affects the believer.
Here we take, what might be termed, the telescopic view of the Death of the Lord Jesus, and scan the vast, all embracive, and far reaching effects and blessings, resulting from it. Although accomplished independent of faith on man’s part, it at the same instance, becomes the necessary and essential preparation for it. God, through the Death of Christ, could now put right, things wanting in various spheres, secure future blessings on a righteous basis, and make possible salvation for man. The spheres thus affected, in terms of the results, could be described as follows :
(a) Defeat of Satan (Heb. 2:14)
As the promised seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15), the Lord overcame the evil one, annulled his power, and in effect, secured deliverance for the believer. In this unique verse the perfect humanity of Christ is strikingly presented, and at once, He is revealed as our Kinsman, Avenger and Redeemer.
(b) Deliverance From Sin (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 9:26)
Sin, as a root principle in nature, was dealt with on the representative man upon the Cross. As a sacrifice for sin, God in Christ, condemned sin in the flesh and put it away for ever. In a sense, what was introduced through the first Adam (Rom. 5:12) was judged and removed through the ‘Last Adam.’ This is beautifully illustrated in the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness (Num. 21:8). Here the ‘Law of Likeness’ is indicated, (Serpent for Serpent) and man’s basic need being met by the Son of Man being lifted up, is anticipated (Jn. 3:14, 15). If sin in man had to be atoned for, it had to be, by the death of a man, and He the Perfect Son of Man.
(c) Demands of Law (Gal. 3:10-14; 4:4-5)
To those under it, the Law was demanding, and the curse pronounced on disobedience and failure, irrevocable. This curse was associated with hanging on a tree (Deut. 21:23), and the Jew was particularly aware of the shame and reproach it involved. The Apostle Peter refers to the Death of Christ thus, in his preaching (Acts 5:30; 10:39), and the teaching of the Apostle Paul, presents it as the means of redemption from such a curse.
(d) Dominion Upon Earth (Ps. 8:4-6; Heb. 2:5-9)
Creatorially, man’s degree, distinction and dominion, associated with Adam, and affected by ‘The Fall,’ will one day be properly and finally fulfilled in Christ as Son of Man. He has tasted death for every man (or thing) and therefore set the basis for future rule and dominion (Jn. 1:51).
(e) Domain of Heaven (Heb. 9:23)
Here we are introduced to the necessity for even heavenly things to be purified on the basis of the Death of the Lord Jesus. In a past dispensation, the purifying by blood, of things which were but patterns of heavenly things, was a foreshadowing of the divine provision in the Saviour’s Sacrifice, for the cleansing of the heavenly things themselves. The fact that the term ‘better sacrifices’ is used, would indicate, that the full value and efficacy of the Death of Christ, is brought in, as a means of purifying such a sphere.
God in His infinite love and wisdom, has provided a propitiatory sacrifice in the Death of His Son (I Jn. 4: 10), and the Lord Jesus in consequence, becomes the believers’ propitiation (I Jn. 2:2). The righteous demands of God having been met and satisfied, He now can come out to sinful man in mercy and grace (Luke 18:13). The references to propitiation in the N.T., could perhaps, be summarized as follows :
It Dispenses His mercy (Luke 18:13, R.V. margin).
It Declares His righteousness (Rom. 3:25).
It Displays His faithfulness (Heb. 2:17, R.V.).
It Denotes His forgiveness (I Jn. 2:2).
It Demonstrates His love (I Jn. 4:10).
Two further observations must suffice. Firstly, the word used in Rom. 3:25, is the same word as for ‘mercy seat’ in Heb. 9:5, and secondly, we learn from this, the advantage to be gained from a consideration of the O.T. references to the equivalent word.
The Death of the Lord Jesus, is the one final and complete sacrifice, to which those of a past day pointed forward, and to which also, in a coming day, the millenial sacrifices will point back.
Eternally it preceded them (1Peter 1:19).
Dispensationally it replaces them (Heb. 10:8, 9).
Spiritually it fulfils them (Heb. 10:14-18).
Abel’s offering, the patriarchal altars, the passover, the brazen altar, the mercy seat, the Levitical offerings and the day of atonement, amongst others, found their fuller, grander and complete expression at Calvary. The type has been replaced by the anti-type, the shadow by the substance, the picture of the Person and the figure of the fulfilment.
This aspect confronts us with the sufferings of the Saviour on our account, both at the hands of God and men. Here alone, is revealed a love which provides salvation, prompts separation, promotes worship, and produces service.
The sacrifice of Christ produced a sweet savour to God (Eph. 5:2), Put away sin (Heb. 9:26), Purged our sins (Heb. 10:12; 1:3), and Provided spiritual sustenance for us to feed upon (1Cor. 5:7, 8). Such O.T. passages as Psa. 22, Psa. 69 and Isa. 53 reveal, in some measure, the deep experience of Calvary, and unfold the feelings and sensitivities of the Lord Jesus, who for us, became the Spotless Lamb of God.
Being reconciled to God is a position and blessing the believer enjoys, and which brings with it, such peace of mind. Through the Death of Christ, and by reason of His propitiatory sacrifice, sinful man, through a change of mind and attitude, can accept God’s provision, and thereby become reconciled. We must ever remember, that the hostility and enmity was only on man’s part, and he requires reconciliation (Rom. 5:10).
In the Scriptures we find :
The Means of Reconciliation (Rom. 5:10).
The Motive behind it (Col. 1:21, 22).
The Ministry involved (2Cor. 5:18-20).
The Movements entailed in future times (Col. 1:20).
Scripture does not sustain the idea that Christ died in the sinner’s ‘room and stead.’ This only becomes effective through faith in Christ for salvation. It is, however, again, a most precious facet of the Death of Christ for the believer, producing deep devotion, and loyal service. In this connection, the prepositions used must be distinguished, the one is ‘Anti,’ that is “in place of,” and the other ‘Huper’ meaning generally “for the benefit of.” The latter is more common in the N.T. We confine ourselves to one example of each from Scripture.
“The Son of Man is come—to give His life a ransom for (Anti) many” (Mark. 10:45.
“Who gave Himself a ransom for (Huper) all” (1Tim. 2:6).
Note the term 'many’ in the first reference, contrasting with the ‘all in the latter. In brief, Christ died on behalf of all, and in the place of the many who believe.
A measure of appreciation of the Death of the Lord Jesus, will motivate us to reckon properly, with respect to sin (Rom. 6:11), to yield our members in service (Rom. 6:13, 16, 19), and obey, from the heart, “that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered.” (Rom. 6:17, R.V.).
Similarly, there must be preparation of heart for the first day of the week by an inward look of self examination. (1Cor. 11:28). This will result, in enjoying a backward look of anticipation, since it is only “till He come.” (1Cor. 11:26).
This would indeed lead us to consider the associated phrase, the Cross of Christ, which in the N.T. is presented as the basis of our discipleship (Gal. 6:14).
The Holy Scriptures are themselves the permanent and authoritative “form” of God-given revelation. This revelation has been recorded in the original writings by inspiration, both the writers and the writing being inspired, 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:21. Consider these ten reasons for confidence in the Bible, in the form of an acrostic of the word “Scriptures.”
Spoken by Jehovah, 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21. A great proportion of the Scriptures is definitely stated to consist of the very words of God. The first chapter of Genesis repeatedly states “God said,” Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29. Trace the expression “the Lord said” in Genesis and Exodus. “The Lord spake unto Moses” opens almost every chapter in Leviticus. These and similar words, declarations of the utterances of God, stamp the whole book with a divine impress. Dr. W. Evans has stated that in the Pentateuch the list extends to nearly 700. In the historical books their number exceeds 400. “Thus saith the Lord God” and similar phrases occur some 150 times in Isaiah. The “Word of the Lord came unto me saying” and like statements are found almost 350 times in Ezekiel. Such expressions as denoted above occur altogether 3,800 times in the Old Testament so at least three-fifths of the whole of the Old Testament is directly declared to be the Word of God.
Confirmed by the Lord Himself, John 5:46-47; 7:42; Luke 24:25-27. The Lord’s witness to the historicity of the events and persons recorded in the Old Testament is indisputable. In Matthew’s record He refers to Moses, 8:4, David, 12:3-4, Jonah, 12:40-41, Solomon, 6:29, Isaiah, 15:7-9, Daniel, 24:15, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 8:11, the queen of Sheba, 12:42, Noah, 24:37, 38, Abel, 23:35, Sodom and Gomorrah, 10:15. The Lord’s appeal was always to Scripture, “Have ye not read,” 19:4; 22:31. “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” 22:29. Find similar confirmation in Mark, Luke and John. He appealed to the Word of God as the final authority, Matt. 19:4-5; Mark 7:9, 13.
Revealed by the Holy Spirit, Acts 1:16; Heb. 3:7; 2 Pet. 1:21. David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me,” 2 Sam. 23:2. Elsewhere we read, “David himself said by the Holy Ghost,” Mark 12:36; compare Acts 4:25; 28:25.
The Lord ascribed the writing of a Psalm to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Mark 12:36. The prophets were borne along by the Spirit of God, 2 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 10:15-17. Throughout the Pentateuch the Holy Spirit was pointing beyond the shadow to the substance, Heb. 9:8. In the New Testament He continues to speak to the churches, Rev. 3:6.
Information is Accurate. The words of the Lord are pure words, Psa. 12:6; 119:140, and true, Psa. 119:160, and perfect, Psa. 19:7. The Scriptures are an unerring guide, Prov. 6:23; 2 Pet. 1:19. The Lord reminds us of the reality of Lot and his wife, Luke 17:29-32, of the manna, John 6:31, 49, 58, the brazen serpent, John 3:14, of Elijah and Elisha, Luke 4:25-27. This book is living and powerful, and a critic of thought and will, Heb. 4:12. God preserved the writers from error, they made no mistake and set forth nothing which might mislead. “All thy commandments are truth,” Psa. 119:151-152.
Proved by Experience. The Bible is the only living book, Heb. 4:12. It is the instrument used for regenerating, Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23, quickening, Psa. 119:50, 93, converting, Psa. 19:7, making wise, 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:15, producing faith, John 20:31; Rom. 10:17, cleansing the heart and ways, John 15:3; Eph. 5:26; Psa. 119:9. It is sure, Matt. 24:35, strengthening, 1 Pet. 2:2, sanctifying, John 17:17; Eph. 5:26, satisfying, Psa. 119:97, and if obeyed will bring success, Josh. 1:8. It is enduring in substance, 1 Pet. 1:23, emancipating in its ministry, John 8:32, and encouraging in its promise, 1 Kings 8:56.
Teaching is Instructive, Rom. 15:4. The word of God is profitable both for doctrine and practice, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, full and sufficient, Luke 16:29, 31. The true meaning of the Mosiac Law is found in Matthew 5-7 where its moral content is expounded and expanded, and summed up in the golden rule given in 7:12; compare 22:40. It is a storehouse of wisdom and gracious promises, the delight and rejoicing of the heart. Psalm 119 is the classical example of the power and influence of this indispensable book for holy living. Trace the synonyms for the Word of God in it, “statutes” 22 times; “way” 13 times; “testimonies” 23 times; “precepts” 24 times; “commandments” 22 times; “law” 25 times; “judgment” 23 times; “righteousness” and kindred terms, 12 times; “word” with two different meanings, one meaning “to reveal,” “to bring to light,” 19 times, the other meaning “to set in order,” “to arrange,” 23 times.
We are drawing near to the end of another year. Naturally at such a time the mind goes back over the past—and leaps from the reflective to the prospective and asks “What has the future in store for me?” School days, single life, business life as it draws near to the end looks backward and forward. So at the end of the year we look back over 1978 and wonder what 1979 will bring. How quickly the year has passed, especially for those of us who are older!
When we turn to the Scriptures we are reminded of the end, not merely the end of the year, but, as Peter tells us, “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1Peter 4:7). But if we really believed that the end of all things, as we now know them, was at hand, what effect would it have upon us? To some Christians it would bring wonderful encouragement, to some it would be a message of warning and to all it could bring a message of incentive. It would certainly make us regard the things of this present time more lightly, and the things of eternity more earnestly.
How sweeping the words of Peter are: “The end of all things.” What are some of the things that will soon be at at an end? Well, most of us know that the epistle of Peter is the epistle of the wilderness—the epistle of suffering. In every chapter we have references to the sufferings of Christ on behalf of the Christian, and the sufferings of the Christian on behalf of Christ.
Thank God! the first thing that will soon be at an end is the SUFFERINGS of the believer. Whatever form the
suffering may be, it will soon be at an end. Pain, ill-health, poverty are only known to the Christian on earth, in heaven they are unknown. And as we sing :
“O how will recompense His smile,
The sufferings of this little while.”
It will also bring an END to SERVICE. Immediately after conversion we discovered that we were saved to serve. From the very beginning of Israel’s history they had learned the object of their deliverance. “Let my people go that they may serve Me.” The Thessalonians were quick to grasp the purpose God had for them, “They turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” The call to service is for everyone redeemed by blood. Have we heard and obeyed the call? Perhaps we began well, but have grown “weary in well-doing.” The Lord encourage our hearts afresh in view of the fact that we only have a very little while left to serve Him. The time is short. Because we are so near the end of the opportunity of service, is it too late to begin now? Why, you say, we are in the eleventh hour. That is true. “And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others idle, and saith unto them, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” (Matt. 20:6). Truly they had been idle too long , yet in grace the Master gives them an opportunity yet to serve. So dear child of God, it is not too late to get busy in the Master’s service. What a gracious reward their lord in his sovereignty bestowed upon these late-comers!
The end of the time of opportunity is so near, shall we miss what may be the last call to service before the end of the day, and the command goes forth “Call the labourers.”
There will be an END OF SOULWINNING. This may be one of the most laborious forms of service, but it is also one of the most joyful. When the soul is led to Christ, it brings joy to the Sunday School teacher, the tract distributor, the individual worker, the mother in the home, or the preacher on the platform, who has helped to win that soul for Christ. And if there is much joy now, there will be much joy hereafter. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1Thess. 2:19).
The END OF STEWARDSHIP—We have been considering the expression, “The end of all things” in 1Peter 4:7 and then in verse 10 Peter says “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” God has not called us to service into the field of soul-winning without giving us the gift to do the work and His truth that we may know how it should be done. God has given us the full deposit of His truth in the Word of God. From it we have learned the path we should tread and the truth we should maintain. Let us then be faithful and remember the words of the exhortation, “Buy the truth and sell it not.”
The “Preacher” in Eccles. 7:8 tells us, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.” What a very striking contrast there is between the end of a sinner and the end of the righteous, as illustrated by the words of the celebrated poet, Lord Byron, and those of an obscure working man. At the age of thirty, disillusioned with life and all the world had to give, Byron wrote :
“My life is in the yellow leaf, the flowers, the fruits of life are gone,
The worm, the canker and the grief are mine alone.”
How different the words of the unknown Christian :
“My life is like the springing grain, the brightest and the best to come,
The joy to see the Lamb once slain, and be at home.”
I had the great pleasure of visiting our brother David (affectionately known as “Scots Craig”) when he had almost finished the writing of this book. Though terribly weak he was full of the joy of the Lord and revelling in the preciousness of the Lord Jesus as we talked together of the many titles and offices of the Lord Jesus. It was his great desire that he might leave for the saints of God to enjoy, some of his thoughts regarding the Saviour whom he loved and had served so well. Now the book has been published and at this time will make an excellent gift and be treasured as a memoir of a dearly loved servant of God.
Those who knew our brother and listened to his forceful preaching will hear again his voice as they read his book. This is not merely a memoir of a great man, but a great man’s thoughts of his Lord,—edifying, soul lifting, heart warming, instructive. It contains among his various meditations, expositions, outlines, some chapters are in that acrostic form that was a familiar style in his ministry, he also gives advice to preachers (and there are very few present day preachers that can compare with David Craig). Of course the dear unsaved are not forgotten, his preacher’s heart bursts through his meditations to appeal to them and to warn them of their danger. (Why not give a copy to that unsaved friend who knew of David Craig).
The subjects dealt with are “Jesus—Jehovah, Saviour, Anointed Prophet, Priest, King, Lord, Mediator, Shepherd, Lamb, Root and Offspring of David, Bright and Morning Star.”