THE BLESSED HOPE
by D. M. Martin
by E. W. Rogers
by E. R Bower
THE MINISTRY OF THE RISEN LORD
by J. B. Hewitt
SIGNS OF THE END
by W. J. M'Clure
THE JOY OF THE LORD
by William Hoste
GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM
by D. Ward
MY CONVERSION AND CALL
by T. McNeill
by D. M. MARTIN, Dorset
Part X—The Appearing of Christ
A major difference between the Lord's coming and His appearing is, that in the former case He comes FOR His saints and in the latter WITH his saints. The kingdom therefore is always connected with His appearing as it is then that He will assume His power, and 'have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth! (Psa. 72. 8).
This event will be somewhat unexpected. Buried in profound slumber, and deaf to all warning, the world under strong delusion which has been sent upon it, will have believed the lie, Satan's falsehood, and trusted his masterpiece, the antichrist. Men will have found their happiness in forgetting God; and will be "as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be! (Matt. 24. 38, 39) So sudden will it be, bursting upon an astonished and careless world that "as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in His day" (Luke 17.24)
We need a more intelligent idea of this great and wonderful event. Towards the close of the tribulation described in the last article, there will be a coalition of hostile powers against the Jews, spoken of in Psalm 83.3,4. The chief actors in this confederacy would seem to be the Assyrian, so often spoken of by Isaiah. (See Isa. 10. 24-27 & 14. 25, etc.,) otherwise the king of the north, or the little horn of Daniel. 8v9: the first "beast" i.e. the head of the revived Roman empire, and the false prophet — the antichrist (Rev. 13 &19). Zechariah refers to this when he cries in the name of the Lord (Zech. 12. 2, 3) It is Satan, as ever, who inspires the minds of the enemies of Israel, but the Lord uses them to chastise the apostate nation, and as a result Zechariah also says, "Behold the day of the Lord cometh and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle. (14. 1, 2) In Revelation we find other actors in the scene, though their hostility is described as against the Lamb and against His saints, and we have there a later development of their schemes, occasioned by the appearing of Christ (Rev. 19vl9). In Zechariah, the order of events may be indicated. All nations are gathered to battle against Jerusalem, and, the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zech. 14. 2). It is at this point, when they are wreaking their vengence upon these unhappy people, when the malignant purposes of Satan are near their completion, "then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle." (Zech. 14. 3).
However, Satan's allies arc not to be robbed of their prey, and goaded on to the crowning act of their impious course, led by the 'beast' and the false prophet, (who have been seeking to wipe out the name of God and His Christ from the earth, and to erase their memory from the hearts of men) they dare now to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army! They rush to their doom (See Rev. 19. 19-21). Isaiah speaks of this when he says "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked (One)" (Isa. 11. 4): Paul adds, "And then shall that wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thess. 2. 8). God arises, and His enemies are scattered. Other details are described by the Lord. (See Matt. 24. 29, 30 also Joel. 2.30,31).
There will be signs above and below to herald the appearing of Christ, when He comes with ten thousand of His saints, when every eye shall see Him, and they (also) which pierced Him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him (Rev. 1. 7). It will be a scene of awful and impressive grandeur; for it will be the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus. 2. 13).
Having touched upon the fact and manner of His appearing, we may indicate some of its accompanying events. One of these has already been noted — the destruction of His foes. Then follows the conversion of Israel (See Zech. 12. 9-14 & 13. 1).
After the church has been removed, God will begin to act by His Spirit in the hearts of His ancient people — the remnant so constantly mentioned in the Psalms and prophets; and these, as may be gathered from the Psalms and portions of Isaiah, will be bowed to the dust, under the sense of God's holy indignation against His people Israel on account of their apostasy; and it is this feeling, combined with their fearful trouble, that gives character to their cries as there recorded. At this moment, when the furnace of affliction into which they have been cast burns most fiercely, that the Lord appears for them, and they recognize and look upon Him whom they have pierced. The true Joseph reveals Himself to His brethren, they are plunged into bitter sorrow and humiliation on account of their, and their nation's sin. But provision is made for this also in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, and their cry is "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation". It is not only the remnant in Jerusalem that will be affected; for we find in connection with His appearing "He shall send his angels with a great sound of trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Wherever they are found not one will escape the notice of His eye, but all will be brought to share in the blessings of the kingdom which He comes to establish. As we read in Isa. 11,12. It is probable that it will not be completely established until after the commencement of His reign; for after the display of His power and glory, after the Lord has come 'with fire and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire! some of the saved are sent forth to declare His glory among the Gentiles; and it is said that they (the Gentiles) "shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord." There is another event of importance to be noted in connection with and preparatory to, the establishment of the kingdom. That is the destruction of the 'beast' and the 'false prophet', and the slaughter of their followers, (Read Rev. 20. 1-3). Thus the Lord asserts His power in judgement upon the trinity of evil — Satan, the 'beast' and the false prophet — which had risen up against Him, and blasphemously unsurped His authority. At this time He delivers His people — the elect of Israel — clearing the way and laying the foundation of His millennial reign. Leaving the consideration of the kingdom itself to the next article, we ask the readers' attention to those with whom Christ will associate Himself in His reign. There are several distinct classes that will have this honour. Everyone understands that believers of this dispensation of grace will reign with Christ. This is too plainly asserted to leave a single doubt, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him". (2. Tim. 2. 12) But it is not so generally apprehended that there are others to be singled out for this special exaltation; yet this is distinctly stated in the Scriptures. (Read Rev. 20. 4-6). The group sitting on thrones to whom judgement is given is composed of the armies that followed Christ out of heaven (Rev. 19. 14), i.e. the saints who had been caught up previously to meet the Lord in the air, in a word the church and perhaps the saints of previous dispensations. But there are two other classes; first, those who were martyred during the power of antichrist — those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God; and secondly, those who stood aloof from his seductions, and, unmoved by his threats, refused to receive his distinguishing sign. As a special mark of the Lord's approbation, and in recompense for their loyalty amid the general unfaithfulness they are made partakers of the first resurrection, and consequently of association with Christ in His kingdom. They share both the priestly and kingly dignity, the honour they inherit through the grace of Him who saw their sufferings, and rejoiced in their constancy and testimony to His name. This passage has sometimes been explained away by the contention that the resurrection here spoken of is figurative. If so, the resurrection and judgement described in the latter part of the chapter will also be figurative, and therefore the whole truth of a final judgement will be frittered away. NO: words so plain cannot be robbed of their significance, to say nothing of their perfect agreement with other portions of God's word. Blessed prospect for the saints of God! And how they will rejoice, in their association with Christ in the splendour of His kingdom, unspeakable as will be the honour, but in the fact of His receiving the place belonging to Him both by title and purchase! There are even greater voices in heaven to celebrate the event. (Read Rev. 11. 15-17) With what terror will this poor world be filled, when they behold the One whom they refused and rejected coming in great power and glory, to judge everything now according to the standard of His immutable righteousness! And He will come as a thief in the night unexpected and finding many unprepared. When the world feels secure in its peace proposals and agreements. On Friday, 30th October 1987, President Regan commenting on the forth-coming agreement on the reduction of intermediate nuclear missiles said "This agreement would be the commencement of Peace and Safety in the world."
by E. W. ROGERS
The Resurrection of Christ
Christ is alive! This is not only the basic item of the Christian faith; it is the essential factor to proper Christian living.
As a tenet it is well known and acknowledged: as a vital force, has it full sway with us?
Christ is alive! The Holy Spirit's presence on earth attests His presence in heaven. The grave supply is empty. Hades no longer holds Him. The Spirit of Christ indwells every believer linking each effectually by a living bond, even while on earth, to the Risen Head in heaven. His risen life is imparted to all who believe. Because He lives, we also live also. He is much more than Hero and Exemplar. He is Head.
Christ is alive! Therefore His interest in us did not cease when He died: it is continued now: it is operative although in another sphere.
His resurrection opened up the way for the full accomplishment of all the foreshadowings of God concerning His Son. His promises too which seemed doomed to failure by His death, are now assured. His resurrection proved once and for all that the bonds of death which appeared to be unbreakable could be torn away. It furnishes comfort to the bereaved, and hope to the dying saint. It promises peace and blessing to the war-stricken earth. All nations are to benefit under the righteous rule of the Risen King. Creation itself will be delivered from its bondage of corruption. The ruin of the fall is undone by the resurrection-triumph of the Cross. The removal of sin and the complete justification of the believing sinner are guaranteed by it. It affects everything.
It is incontrovertibly true. Christ IS risen! His Apostles saw Him. His voice was heard. His scars were seen. At morning, noon and night He appeared to His own, either singly or in small companies, or to a throng of some hundreds. Tangible, visible, audible. The same as He was hitherto known, yet manifesting Himself in ways not to hitherto employed. It is surpassing strange that any should doubt. Yet in Paul's day there were such. For which cause he devotes a long chapter to discussing the general topic of resurrection. The resurrection of Christ out from the dead is his evidence: its evidences, its implications, and its glorious final result (1 Cor. 15). Scientists may read that chapter and find food for thought: doubters may read it and find a basis for their faith. The bereaved may read it and find balm for their wounds. All may read it and find hope despite the hopelessness of all else. The manifestation of this Risen Man converted Paul. His appearances emboldened the erstwhile timid Peter. It made the fearful band of eleven men a mighty host for God.
The fear of His possible resurrection disturbed the religious leaders of His day. Vainly, however, did they employ the means proposed to keep Him in the grave. Seal the tomb they may: His resurrection ensures that He will later seal the Devil himself under eternal doom. His resurrection turned the tables. It was God's reversal of man's decision. It was God's approval of Him Whom men "disapproved" and "rejection."
The rulers may try to spread a false explanation of the unusual phenomenon, but their credulity must have been immense. Did they really suppose they would get away with that incriminating statement? If the disciples actually stole the body they were indeed extraordinary men. Some strange emboldenment must have come over them who, a very little time before, were fleeing for fear. Why not have the matter settled once and for all if their theory were true? Make them produce the body if they had stolen it. The authorities alleged they knew who were the thieves. Then make them forfeit the body. Why did they not insist on their so doing, unless it be they knew the falsity of their "explanation." Yet to this day men do not believe that Christ is alive! Some still believe the false report. How easy it is to foist a lie on a gullible and unbelieving public!
Over five hundred saw Him on earth after He was raised: three men, Stephen, Paul and John saw Him in heavenly glory, and left on record in inspired writ what they saw. Could evidence be stronger? He Who wrought physical miracles when here below, is the same Who after His death, from above, wrought similar miracles on earth through His Apostles. Christ is alive!
The evangelists all record it: the early preachers without exception preached it: the inspired Apostles erect their doctrinal structures upon it: the Seer in his Unveiling begins with it (Rev. 1.5-7). It is central: basic: essential.
The resurrection of Christ made a new book of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. It reconciled otherwise irreconcilable passages. It bridged gaps which seemed to be unbridgeable. It explained statements which manifestly were not true of the actual speaker, but were true of Him that was to come (e.g. Psa. 16). It shed its light on the meaning of ancient Jewish history. Such events as the sparing of Abraham's son (Gen. 22) receive new significance. The strains of the prophets, which misled interpreters to postulate two Messiahs, by the resurrection are all seen to refer One.
By His resurrection the darkness of the night had passed: the dawn of a new era synchronised with the dawn of a new day. Old Covenant things had passed away. An era of New Covenant blessings commenced with the commencement of the new week. Many a solitary soul like Mary have, since her, heard His voice calling them by name. Many gathered companies of the saints, besides the first band of fearful disciples, have realised His presence in the midst. To Israel will yet be given the manifestation of
His wounds, calling from them as from Thomas of Old, the exclamation of reverent worship.
He still feeds His people with sweet and nourishing dainties (John 21). He still entrusts to His special friends the care of His sheep. He still walks with His own. He opens the Scriptures even now, and He warms the believing heart of the traveller on life's chilly road. All His bygone activities on earth He continues now from heaven.
The promise of salvation is contingent on belief of the fact that Christ is risen! God hath raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10. 9). Unbelief is the despairing admission of the eternal triumph of sin and death. By His resurrection His claim to deity was justified. By it He was inaugurated into the office of High Priest on behalf of His people. By it He was made Head over all things on behalf of the Church.
Christ is risen! This was one of a series of necessities. He must die: He did. He must be raised: He was. The heavens must receive Him: they have. He must reign: without doubt He will. Heaven would be empty and earth would be hopeless had He not been raised. Death would have triumphed. His prophetic claim would have been falsified. His promises would have been void. In a word, all would have failed had Death conquered Him. But this Good Shepherd of the Sheep, Who laid down His life in their interests, took it again. For that He had His Father's authority. His Father, Whom He had pleased (never more than in early life and death) signified His pleasure by raising Him from dead.
And what shall I more say? Space forbids a more elaborate statement. Human thought cannot fully apprehend all the bearings of this wondrous event. Not until we are in the presence of the Risen Lord shall we be able fully to apprehend the heights and depths, the breadth and length of the wrought-out scheme which seemed to be thwarted by His death, but was given an irresistible impetus by His resurrection.
Opposers may argue, dispute and deny. The evidence of history and Scripture may be rejected, but personal experience is undeniable. Millions there are who have such an experience: their lives manifest it.
"You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart."
by E. R. BOWER
"THE BURDEN BEARER"
Even a cursory reading of this Psalm will show that it is a processional Psalm; a song that celebrates, not one single victory, but the victories of the past, of the present and of the future. Most of the commentators agree that it was probably composed upon the occasion of the ascent of the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-Edom to the house of David in Zion. (2 Sam. 6; 1 Chron. 15;). It will be remembered that during the wilderness journey of Israel, they did not go forward until the pillar of cloud and of fire moved, and the Ark of the Lord set forward with this prayer, "Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered: and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee." (Numb. 10.33-36;). This Psalm begins, "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered." and it recalls the outgoings of God on behalf of His people. It is a Psalm of the "Then"; the "Now" and the "will be'. It has been described by various writers as "a masterpiece among the world's lyrics"; as the "Marching song of the Mighty Monarch"; as "a record of the goings of God." The writer of these notes sees it as the victory of the Burden Bearer. Learned theologians have described it as the "cross of the critics" and the "reproach of interpreters", but it would seem that they miss the spiritual in their search for the historical. They treat as 'man-breathed that which is 'God-breathed'; overlooking, that just as Abraham "looked for a city whose Builder and Maker is God" (Heb. 11,10;) and as Moses erected a Tabernacle that was patterned after things in the heavens, so David also prepared for a Temple, the plans of which had been given him by the Spirit of God. (Ex. 25.39; 26.30; 27.8; 1 Chron. 28.19;). Notice that the chronicler describes it as given "in writing, by His hand upon me". If the hand of God was upon David to describe the Temple before it was built, then why not accept that his Psalms were also by the hand of God?
We have said that this Psalm is 'processional', but David sees more that just a procession up to the Temple. He sees, as it were, the procession of the centuries, the leading of God from the Exodus to the Kingdom. The Psalm commences with the thought of the pillar of cloud and of the Ark of the Covenant, not unlike 1 Cor. 10. 1-4. Did David, in his musings in the Law and as he saw the goings forth of God in redemption, some of which were not so far removed from his own time, ponder upon that mysterious Angel in the cloud? The Angel of the Lord, the Angel of the Covenant, the Angel of the Presence who is believed to be none other than the second Person of the Trinity, or Triunity, of God, the Word of, and the Son of God, our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Ex. 14. 19-25; 23.20-25;) "My Name" said God, "is in Him", that is, the Angel. See, too, Ex. 32.31—33.17;). This is the Person Whom David saw by faith. The fulfilment of a great promise — see 2 Sam. 7.16; Ps. 132.8-11; note ref. to Num. 10.35, and to "the Anointed"—the Messiah, or Christ; Ps. 84.9; Luke 1.32; Rom. 1.3; etc.
The tenor of the Psalm is set for us in the introductory verses, 1-6 especially in the clause (v.6), "He bringeth out those which are bound with chains". (Is. 42.1-7; Luke 4.17-21).
David now draws upon three songs—two from the Law; one from the history of the Judges of Israel—for his own song of victory. The first song was the Song of Redemption sang by Moses and the children of Israel as they saw their oppressors in Egypt dead upon the sea shore. (Ex. 15.1-21;). The second was the Song of Witness (Deut. 31.28—32.44;), and the third song, The Song of the Willing Offerings (Jud. 5.1-35;). These songs are songs of redemption, of blessing, of the inheritance, and of the future glory for Israel and the nations. It will be noticed that a phrase in the song of Deborah: "Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive" is taken up by David. For David, Barak's victory over Sisera and his nine hundred chariots of iron was a picture of the "many thousand" of chariots that were in the service of his God in leading captivity captive (v.18). Did these thoughts of past battles bring to David's mind the Redeeming Angel that led Jacob in the way that he should go (Gen. 28. 10-22; 48.16;); or the Captain of the Lord's host standing before Jericho (Josh. 5.13-15;); or the Angel in the cloud, and those other theophanic appearances of the Son of God? If so, then here is the answer to the "Thou" of v.18 of Psalm 68. "Thou hast led captivity captive. "David had received a promise from God that "of the fruit of his lions, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne" (see Acts 2. 22-36;) and to him had been revealed something of the Sufferings of Christ and of His resurrection. See also Acts 13. 26-41;.
Thus we come to what may be termed the key text of the Psalm, "Thou has ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captives thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them."
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus quotes this verse 18 of the Psalm, saying (4. 8-10), "wherefore He saith, 'When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men'. Now this, He ascended, what is it but that He also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things." Various translations show the word 'captivity as 'a body of captives' or similar, but the A.V. 'captivity 'means (according to an old dictionary), "bondage, slavery, wholly at the power of another". Not only a setting free of prisoners, but a breaking of the power that held, or holds, them. "He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free." By the Apostle's adaptation of the Psalm we notice that not only are gifts received, but they are passed on or given. The Apostle Peter preaching his wonderful Pentecostal sermon said, (Acts 2. 24;) "Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." The house of the strong man (Matt 12. 29) had been entered and the strong man overcome. This is the Gospel message, "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (1 Cor. 15. 3-4;) and 'we see Jesus, Who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour, that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2. 9). Ascending on high, our Lord, "being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear." (Acts 2. 33;). The Holy Spirit had come, and His gifts were now passed on to the sons of men.
We must pass on to that which heads these notes — the Burden Bearer.
Verses 19 and 20 have been translated in various ways, and the Grail version is rather appropriate — "May the Lord be blessed day after day. He bears our burdens, God our Saviour. This God of ours is a God who saves. The Lord our God holds the keys of death and God will smite the head of his foes, the crown of those who persist in their sins". Four things stand out in these verses — It is God who bear our burdens; He is a Saviour; He holds the keys of death; He is the Righteous Judge; and these four points bridge the history of Israel. How often did Israel forget (how often do we?) the promises of God? About to enter the land Israel heard these words, "When thou art in tribulation, and all these are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient to His voice; (for the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He sware unto them." (Deut 4. 30-31;). The sins and the sorrows of Israel, His people, "He made them His very Own" — "Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob ... which are borne by Me from the belly, which are carried from the womb ... I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you." (Is. 46. 3-4;)
Deliverance was not come to, however, from victories gained by a mighty conqueror over the enemies of earth, but by the defeat of the spiritual enemies of Israel. There had to be "one offering for sin for ever", and hence the promise of the coming of the Servant of Jehovah, the Sin Bearer.
Isaiah chap. 53, is a well known and well-beloved Scripture; it tells of the Suffering Servant of God — a despised and rejected Man of sorrows; "Surely," writes the prophet, "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. 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."
- "Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
- Jesus is very near"
Our blessed Lord who, because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 15. 50;) "took part of the same, that through death He might destroy Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." (Heb. 2. 14;); "He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15. 26;) The burden has been lifted, the victory won. And our Lord says of Himself (Rev. 1. 18;) "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15. 55-57;)
The great triumphal procession that David saw for Israel is just a picture for the Christian today. We, too, shall take part in a victory over sin and death and hell — not from anything that we have done or can do, but by virtue of that "Surely" of Isaiah 53, and we think of another "Surely" — Psalm 23 — "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." And this links up with Psalm 84.11, "No good thing will He with hold from them that walk uprightly."
In the Psalm of the unfaithful friend (Ps. 44) David was full of complaints; everything was, or seemed to be, against him; even his "best friend" had betrayed; his spiritual life was being shaken to its core. Then there comes a message (v.22) "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." Someone has paraphrased this verse thus, "Roll what has been given thee upon the Lord for He shall hold thee up. He can bear thee and thy burden. He will not allow the righteous one to be moved."
Says Peter, "Christ also suffered for us ... Who His Own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes we are healed." (1 Pet. 2. 15-24;). Thank God for every believer who has taken the burden of their sin to Calvary and left it there, but like David, the believer has to meet daily difficulties — burdens which he can cast upon the Lord, but as has been said, if we regard our burdens as His, then the burden becomes a blessing. He Who permits the load is able to sustain us.
by The Late J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
3 — THE REVELATION TO DELIBERATE THOUGHT
Luke 24.13-35; Mark 16.12f.
The message of the Easter morning — HE LIVES; of the Easter afternoon — HE LOVES; HE LISTENS, HE LEADS! George Elliot calls the Emmaus walk, "The loveliest story in the world". It certainly is homely, thrilling and romantic and that makes it beautiful. The Resurrection Gospel is incontestable because of the amazing transformation of the disciples themselves. The complete change in these men from absolute despair and futility to absolute radiance and mastery of life, the only explanation credible — Christ was risen indeed.
The value of the story is (1) Evidential — a proof of Christ's Resurrection by the fellowship enjoyed by these two disciples; (2) Preparatory — such an experience to prepare them for His bodily absence and their future life of faith (2 Cor. 5. 7, 16); (3) Symbolic — for when to walk together and talk of Christ He draws near to cheer the heart (Mal. 3.16).
This is the road of glad surprise. In their depression Christ appeared (v. 13-16); in their discussion — Christ assured (v. 17-27); and in their dwelling — Christ abode (v. 28-32).
One of them was Cleopas, if the same person as mentioned in John 19. 25, then Mary his wife would be his companion? Most scholars are not agreed in this matter.
The first appearance was to a loving woman, the elevation of personal devotion, to Peter the restored saint, the satisfaction of personal forgiveness, the third appearance to reasoning men, was the confirmation of social hope. They cover a large part of the experience of Christians.
They were bound together (v.13a).
They shared a common loss and were drawn together by their love for the Saviour (Amos 3.3; Mal. 3.16). They travelled on an important day — His Resurrection. Important to Christ it vindicated, His character (Acts 2. 26, 27); His claims (John 2. 19; 10. 17,18); and His crosswork (Rom. 4.25), an important day for the Church, through this it was founded, furnished and fitted for universal propogation of the Gospel. For the Christian, our past is eliminated (Acts 3.19); our purity assured (John 13.10; 1 Cor. 6. 11) and our power guaranteed (Matt. 28.18).
Their Beautiful Topic (v. 14a) "the things which happened".
What eventful tragic days they had been. They discussed their difficulties and talked together of those awful happenings in our life, your home, your church, that are worthy of discussion. They were helped that day by the Priestly Care and Companionship of their Lord.
Their Blessed Companion (v. 15)
"Jesus Himself, Their conversation and investigation was all about HIM. The Stranger who joined them none other than Subject of their talk. Literally it was while they communed and while they were reasoning, that Jesus drew near and went with them. He was interested in them and this intrusion into their lives proved most beneficial. Remember that when things are going wrong and you are bewildered, when tragedy strikes for which there seems to be no explanation (v. 14-21).
Their Blinded Eyes (v. 16)
They failed to observe that there was Someone walking by their side. He was there and He was going with them before they knew that anybody had joined them. The mystery of God's ways, some-things are hidden from us (Psa. 103. 7). The mercy of God's dealings; Christ is often nearest when men think Him gone for ever, and He knows just how much we can take. (1 cor. 10. 12). He chose to remain unrecognized.
Their Burdened Faces (v. 17)
"and they stood still, looking sad" RV. The look of despair, "sad" means "dreary". It is the downcast look of settled grief, suggesting — I'll never smile again". This word only occurs twice in the N. T., here and in Matt. 6. 16. How often have you felt like two disillusioned and desolate saints? The Lord showed interest, sympathy, love, when they needed it most. Shattered their world might be, but somewhere at the heart of it there was still this Jesus; He was and is quite unforgettable. He came that He might be known; yet He could only be known by the faith which He purposed to quicken.
They were arrested by His questions and He drew out of their hearts their burden of sorrow. There is astonishment yet no resentment; "Art thou only a Stranger" "hast not known". The sorrowful think their cloud enwraps everyone, anything else impossible.
Their Bright Testimony (v. 19b-20)
They gave a noble description of a Man accursed because He has hung on a tree.
It reveals what the disciples thought of Jesus at that time.
His Testimony. A Prophet with character and ability, "mighty in deed", and approved by God and the people. His Treatment They had a clear picture of His arrest, condemnation and agony on the tree, this was the end of all their hopes. They hoped that He might have turned out to be the Messiah, but He was just a Prophet.
Their Blasted Hopes (v. 21 -23)
They were not ashamed to reckon themselves still followers of the Crucified. They are disappointed — "this is the third day", and their doubts are increased. The latest report brought another difficulty, the absence of the body, and the vision of angels who said "He was alive", rather than "risen". Their hopes are shattered, "Him they saw not". The Lord patiently listened to their explanation of the events and knew the condition of their hearts. They were unashamed in their affection for their Saviour and told Him all that was in their heart (1 Kings 10. 2).
Their Blundering Minds (24-27).
The Lord chides them, they were "slow at the uptake", or without perception. They had read their Bibles without understanding. They had failed to believe the prophets from lack of intelligence and from lack of sympathy. He is gently rebuking them, "you ought not to have been astonished and so dismayed after all that the prophets have spoken". If they had believed them, they would have expected His resurrection, and accepted the witness.
The Lord led them to a fuller view of God's ways, and make clear that the Crucifixion was an essential part of the counsel of God (v. 26). The Lord was not only interested in them but interpreted the scriptures to them. What a revelation they had of the meaning and message of scripture, "Himself, associated with their pilgrimage (v. 15), as announced by the prophets (v. 27), the abiding attraction of His saints (v. 36).
Their Beckoning Voices (v. 28-31)
They have reached home, "He made as though He would have gone further". They invited Him in and Jesus accepted, for He loves to be invited (10.38; 19.6). Dr. Maclaren says, "The Christ who is asked to come in order to receive, abides in order to bestow". As they sat at meat, the greatest wonder of all happened — they discovered Who He was; their Saviour. That changed defeat into victory.
Their Burning Hearts (v. 32-35).
Their burdened hearts (v. 13-17) are now burning hearts (v.25-32 and as they rose, returned and rehearsed they had buoyant hearts (v. 33-35). This was a day of good tidings and they went to tell the good tidings (2 Kings 7. 9). Their enjoyment was shared with other saints who were talking about the wonderful experience Peter had had that day with his Lord. He is still journeying with us, sympathizing with us, ever willing to expound the Scriptures to us and reveal Himself causing us to rejoice in His love and grace and enable us to witness for Him.
Saints still travel the Emmaus road to learn more about Himself:—
- E — Engulfed with grief v. 17.
- M — Missed their Lord v. 18.
- M — Mentioned His Fame v. 19.
- A — Aware of His Presence v. 31.
- U — Unfolding of the Scriptures v. 27.
- S — Satisfied Always with the Lord v. 32,33.
By The late W. J. M'Clure.
(These articles appeared in 1918 in the Believers' Magazine. How much more relevant now!)
Another distinctive mark of the time of the end is given in 1 Tim. 4.1, "Now the Spirit Speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." This, we believe, does not so much take account of the rise of the many anti-scriptural and soul-destroying systems, as it does of the departure from the truth of those who once held it. This is clearly seen in some of the Scottish Churches. Take, for example, that church, once so sound on the great fundamentals of Christianity, the Church of M'Cheyne, of Burns, and of the Bonars. Who could have conceived forty years ago, that men would be tolerated in the pulpits of that Church to-day, and elected to sit in the chairs of its Professors who have given up all that is vital to Christianity, denying the doctrines they vowed at their ordination to uphold and preach.
In the Spring of the present year (1918), we read in a New Orleans daily paper, a letter from the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church, in which they gave their reasons why they did not see their way to unite organically with the Northern Presbyterian Church. Among the reasons given was, that one of the Synods under the jurisdiction of the Northern General Assembly — the Synod of New York — was in the habit or ordaining men to the ministry who denied the Virgin Birth of Christ, disbelieved His miracles, rejected the inspiration of the Bible, and denied eternal punishment. And the same is true in many such churches. A few days after this appeared, we were present at a conference meeting in Chicago, and mentioned this incident. At the close, a minister of that very church, who was present, told us he was one of a committee who had to examine a recent candidate for the ministry. In course of his examination, this prospective preacher and teacher flatly denied the Lord's Virgin Birth, and yet, in spite of the protest of this aged minister, that young man was ordained. This is an illustration of what I Tim. 4.1 predicts as one of the signs of the end. Toleration of almost anything except God's truth, mark the times in which we live.
SPIRITISM —This ominous sign has developed of recent years in such a way that it is difficult to see how any can fail to be deeply impressed by it. At the first advent of our Lord, there was great activity amongst demons, as any one reading the New Testament may gather. With the going forth of the Gospel demonism received a great check, and in the mercy of God, in spite of all the failure of the Church, it is only lately, at least in so-called Christian lands, that it is coming to the front again. It would seem that Satan knows his rule over the world will soon be challenged, and he is seeking through demons, to maintain that rule over men by deception and mis-representation. It is not so long since this revival began, but what strides it has made! What a change from the rude spirit-rapping, in the home of the Fox sisters, in the State of New York, to the elaborate display now seen all over the land! Beautiful temples, built by so-called Christian Scientists, Spiritual Churches, great offices in first class streets, where clairvoyants, thought-readers, palmists, etc., exercise their devilish arts and become rich on money of the men and women who consult them, without fear of prosecution by the state. This mighty increase from that small beginning, speaks in unmistakeable language that the time of the end is surely with us.
THE TEN KINGDOMS —Those who have learned some little of the events of prophecy know, that the Roman Empire is to be resuscitated, as a confederacy of ten kingdoms under one head. This blasphemous personality cannot be revealed until true Church is caughtaway to heaven, but the empire itself may come into existence before its head is revealed, and most likely will be an accomplished fact, before the Lord comes to take His own from the scene.
At this moment, the greater part of that empire is already brought together in the nations which we speak of as "The Allies." And out of this terrible war, we may see the work of resuscitation completed. To many, the thought that ten nations, among which will be Britain, France, and Italy, could so far rise above their mutual pride and jealousy, as to vest supreme power in the hands of a representative of any one of them, seems impossible. But we only need to remember that God has said it, and what He has spoken shall and must come to pass, however unlikely, or how contrary to the reasonings of man.
by The Late William Hoste
The Joy of the Lord is His people's strength. Thus it will be in the last days of Israel's chequered history. Restored once more to their land and to their God, they will hear His tender assurance, "Fear thou not: let not thy hands be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zeph. 3. 16, 17). "Everlasting joy" will dawn on their heads, when they find themselves the subjects of Jehovah's care and rejoicing. If the question be asked; Why should Jehovah rejoice on the occasion referred to in Nehemiah 7? The answer may be found in the day of gathering, the manner of the gathering, and the people gathered. The day was the first day of the seventh month, one of the three great annual feasts of Jehovah, that of trumpets or of the ingathering. It was " a holy convocation unto the Lord," a harvest home, and naturally a day of gladness. When Jehovah appoints a feast, He will not make it a fast for our unbelief. Therefore "let us keep the feast," for it is a feast for and with Him. The trumpets were sounded to call attention to the special sacrifices of the day; the nine burnt offerings, with their appropriate meal offerings and their sin offerings, that they should be "a memorial before Jehovah" (Num. 10. 10). These sacrifices were so many joys to the heart of God, as with divine prescience He translated them into terms of Calvary. The Son was daily His delight in a past eternity (Prov. 8. 30). During His earthly ministry He was "Jehovah's elect, in whom His souls delighted," and that delight can only be the greater now, since His "obedience unto death, even the death of the cross." Then again, the people who gathered round His Word that day, were His redeemed people in whom He took pleasure—loved for the Father's sake, and called out of the nations to be His "peculiar treasure." They represented, moreover, the faithful remnant who had left the comfortable surroundings and worldly advantages of Babylon, to return to what commonsense would have judged a ruined and hopeless cause. They had set up the altar of Jehovah, rebuilt the temple on a modest scale, re-established the feasts according to the law of Moses, and rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem—at best only an amateur patchwork affair, for priests, merchants, goldsmiths, and women are not usually expert masons (see Neh. 3). But their work had a special interest and was a joy to Jehovah. They had a little strength, they had kept His word, and had not denied His name (Rev. 3. 8). The joy of Paul over Philemon's love to the saints and that of John when he wrote—"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth," were only echoes of the Spirit's joy in them. Small wonder then that we read later of this same remnant. "They rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy," for obedience always brings joy to the obeyed and also to the obedient. May it be ours to prove it happy daily experience, that "the joy of the Lord is our Strength."—(reprinted from Believers' Magazine).
by D. WARD (Birmingham)
In a remarkable verse in 2 Thess 2. 1 the apostle writes, "Now we beseech you, brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him". What a momentous event it will be when the Lord Jesus comes in fulfilment of His promise in John 14. 3 . "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also," All believers will then be gathered together unto Him. "The dead in Christ shall rise first then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4.16—17).
Let us now consider the significance of the expression "our gathering together unto Him". The Greek word "epi-sun-agoge" means "a gathering together unto", not merely "a gathering together". The word "Synagogue" is derived from the same Greek word and denotes a gathering together or an assembly but the word in 2 Thess. 2. 1 implies a gathering together unto a person and that Person is our Lord Jesus Christ. Though it occurs several times as a verb in the N. T. this word is found only twice as a noun the other occurrence being Heb. 10. 25: where saints are exhorted not to forsake the assembling (or the gathering together unto Him) of themselves, as the manner is with some. This scripture is a solemn warning not to neglect the precious opportunity of gathering ourselves together unto our Lord Jesus Christ in this present day.
No true believer will miss the gathering together in the air. At His coming not one saint will be left behind—all will be gathered unto their Lord. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout: the rallying call for all the redeemed. The trump of God will sound, and the voice of the archangel will be heard thus assuring adequate heavenly protection for the redeemed host as they pass triumphantly through the domain of the "prince of the power of the air". Thus will the glorified Redeemer gather His aim unto Himself, and they shall be forever with the Lord.
Let us challenge our hearts, who would wish to miss that great assemblage in the heavens, supposing it were possible to do so? Who would wish to be absent from the gathering together unto the One who loves us and has given Himself for us?
Surely our hearts recoil from such a thought! How then can we think lightly of the inestimable privileges of being gathered unto Him in this present day of His rejection? How can we forsake the assembling of ourselves together unto Him when He is so worthy? How can we absent ourselves without legitimate cause, from the feast of remembrance which He Himself instituted when here on earth, and which means so much to Him now as He sees His own responding in answering affection to His loving request made on the night of His betrayal?
I would emphasize that it is not a gathering together to a creed, or even to a doctrine such as baptism, neither is it gathering to a great Christian Leader such as Wesley or Luther, nor do we gather as a national church, let us remember that we are gathered unto a Person, and that Person is our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting to notice the first mention of the Greek word "epi-sun-agoge" as a verb. This is in Matt 23. 37: "O Jerusalem Jerusalem .... how often would I have gathered thy children together unto (myself) even as a hen gathers together her chickens unto (herself) under her wings, and ye would not."
This scripture illustrates the beauty and significance of the word we are considering.
Let us ask ourselves, do we value as we should the immense privilege of being together unto our Lord Jesus Christ? What a precious truth is enshrined in our Lord's own words in Matthew 18-20. "For where two or three are gathered together unto My name there am I in the midst of them". As it is His pleasure to take His place in the midst of His own, so should it be ours to be found where He is, gathered unto the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no obligation put upon us to be there, no commandment that we must obey, no compulsion save the compulsion of answering affection to His own immeasurable love in laying down His life for us. It was otherwise with the children of Israel, for under the law it was strictly laid down. "But unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there even unto His habitation shall ye seek and thither shalt thou come" (Deuteronomy 12. 5:) Thus we see that the people were not to choose for themselves, the Lord would choose for them and they were to obey. If the place of His choice was to be His habitation, His dwelling place, it indicated that it was His desire to be found in the midst of His people, so now our Lord and Saviour loves to gather us around Himself and to engage our hearts with His precious love. Should we not value such a privilege for it is when gathered together unto Himself that we most appreciate the glory and beauty of His person and the perfect efficiency of His atoning work?
It is a striking fact that the Holy Spirit chooses exactly the same word both for the gathering together unto Him in the air at His coming and for the gathering together unto His Name in the present day. Just as truly as the glorified Lord will be the centre of the raptured assembly, the Church caught up to be with Himself for ever, so is He today the centre of the two or three gathered to His Name for He pledges His word, there am I in the
midst of them. It will be seen from the context that this verse Matt 18. 20: refers primarily to assembly prayer for the Lord is saying "if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask it shall be done for them of My Father who is in heaven for where two or three are gathered together unto My Name, there am I in the midst of them". How important therefore, is the assembly prayer meeting, when we are gathered together unto the Lord's Name to beseech His power and His grace. As one has said "God honours the Name of His Son and sends down His omnipotent power to united prayer." Let us see to it then that we do not neglect the opportunity the prayer meeting affords to receive power from on high to sustain us in our pilgrimage here.
May we appreciate more and more the privilege of gathering ourselves together unto our risen and glorified Lord for prayer and worship, and above all for the remembrance of Himself in His suffering and death. Let us be characterized by the diligence and perseverances of the early believers who continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2. 42).
by T. McNeill (Ballymena)
As I begin to write this story I would like to assure all who read that I have no great, thrilling, exciting story of conversion but just a simple story of how a young boy of thirteen years old was brought to Christ and saved for eternity.
I was the eldest of a family of four and our parents were in fellowship in the small assembly at Ballyvaddy (twelve miles east from Ballymena, Co Antrim). The holy Scriptures were read daily in the home and the family was prayed for that in early life they would be saved. I was sent to Sunday School from an early age and was taken along to all the gospel meetings held in and around the area. I can truly say like Timothy that in my childhood days I was taught the holy Scriptures and no other doctrine, for which I am most thankful.
I was continually reminded about the soul and its value, sin and the seriousness of it, the shortness of time, the return of the Lord, heaven for all who were saved and hell for all who died without salvation. All of this made such lasting impressions on my young mind that I cannot really look back to a time when I did not want to be saved.
My first thoughts about eternal matters were as a boy of seven years and from that early age there was nothing else I really wanted but to be saved and be sure of a place in heaven. God spoke to me on many occasions through the deaths of both old and young. I also feared the Lord's return and I knew only too well that my sins were bringing me down to hell. While I thank God I was never in the world in any way, I knew that I was a guilty sinner before God.
In the year of 1947 Mr. D L Craig came to Buckna Gospel Hall for gospel meetings. I was sent along again to hear the same story of salvation and I got into deep concern about my soul, particularly when I learned of others getting saved. On a Friday night 12th December the preacher announced his closing week of meetings and stated his disappointment that some, for whom he had high hopes, had not been saved. As I sat on the seat this spoke very loudly to me. This was possibly my last opportunity to be saved and there that night I made up my mind that I was going to get salvation — it is now or never! Deeply burdened about my sin and my soul I left the meeting and went home, greatly concerned about how I could be saved. All day Saturday I longed and prayed for salvation but the more concerned I got, the darker things seemed to be.
I returned to the gospel meeting on the Lord's day evening and the hall was well filled with people but there was no preacher to be seen — what could have happened? To my surprise two of the local brethren went up to the front of the hall. Our late brother Mr J T Logan and Mr James Moore (who is a member of the committee of this magazine). Brother Moore spoke first and told how he was saved. He told us that through the words of Isaiah 53. 5 he found the Saviour and that everyone else interested in salvation could do the same. While it was most interesting to listen to his story and it all appeared so simple, I was still a sinner in my sins on the road to hell and dark despair. I made my way home as quickly as possible, up into my own bedroom and got down by the bedside and cried to God to save me. I read and pondered all the well known verses of Scripture, read tracts and even the hymn book, tried to feel saved, but was still in my sins. Around midnight, about to give up the whole matter of seeking for salvation, I lifted my Bible and it fell open at John 3: - verses 35 and 36 were underlined with red ink and I read there, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him". I believed every word I read, but I was not saved. Then I started to think of what I was reading and got occupied with the Son and what He had done. What I heard earlier in the evening came again to my mind, "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", Isaiah 53. 5. There and then the truth dawned upon me — I do believe on the Son — He took my place — He died for me, and God says "hath everlasting life". My burden was gone, and from a very simple heart I bowed before God, and thanked Him that His Son died for me and I never would be lost in hell. I could have sung,
- "Wounded for me, wounded for me,
- There on the cross He was wounded for me,
- Gone my transgressions, now I am free,
- All because Jesus was wounded for me".
I fully intended not to tell anyone I had got saved since 1 wanted to make absolutely sure about it, but the next day I had it told. Soon the brethren at Buckna heard and they waited for me the next night to learn how I got saved. In a very few words I told them and they looked as though they were rejoicing in what they heard.
I now began to read the Bible, attend all the assembly meetings, and loved to be in the company of the Christians. Two and one half years later I was baptised and received into the fellowship of the assembly at Ballyvaddy. Mr David Craig who baptised me spoke words of encouragement to me and exhorted me to live and please God.
Later the family left Ballyvaddy, moved to the Ballymena district and we were commended to the newly formed assembly at Harryville. I was greatly concerned as to what I should do for the Lord. In my spare time, in the company of other young brethren, we would give out gospel tracts and preach in the open air. By the age of eighteen I was often accompanying older brethren on Lord's day evenings helping them in gospel meetings in different parts of Co Antrim and Co Londonderry. At twenty one years I had my first series of gospel meetings and on occasions was asked to help with a series of meetings, mostly in company with Mr J Martin (evangelist).
Often the brethren encouraged me to go into full time service. Hearing this was one thing but hearing the call of God was quite another. Many anxious years were spent lest we should make a wrong move or go to the wrong place. Many times I prayed as did Paul, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?"
God blessed me in my secular employment and in 1967 I was faced with a very solemn choice. My employers were not pleased because I was spending so much of my time preaching the gospel and on a few occasions spoke to me about it. The fact that my sales figures were very good likely spared me from dismissal.
However in April, following a sales conference, I was told that I had to stop preaching. My immediate reply was, "if it is a matter of choice, the choice is already made, it will be the gospel first". Immediately I was put on three months notice and I accepted this very agreeably from them. This led me to think possibly the time had come to part with secular employment I prayed much about it, and God heard and answered those prayers in a way I had never thought possible. Without going into detail, I was offered, without making application, a really good position with better salary and conditions, with a much larger firm. For the next six and one half years I learned and proved God in a way I had never known Him before, and today would be very much the poorer without those years of experience. I did not lose one days pay in all this transaction and at the same time was preaching the gospel every night while working my notice to quit.
Although I was sent by new employer to work in Armagh, particularly in the southern part of the County, I still had concern about the gospel. I well remember my first visits to Newtownhamilton, Crossmaglen and other border areas. I remember standing in Crossmaglen, praying and telling God if this is where I am to work and make a living, He alone would have to help. It is with joy I record that God did, and I spent three very happy years in that area and made many friends. Three years later I was promoted and sent back to Co Antrim to be based in the Lame area. The story here would be long, but again God was good to me, in spite of some very serious difficulties within the Company. In 1973, September, I was again offered promotion and if I accepted this as from January 1974, I would have a substantial increase in salary, more responsibility, but would have no time for the gospel. This gave me much concern, and shortly after this Mr J Martin asked me to help in a series of meetings at Drumnahare, Banbridge. After prayer and waiting upon the Lord I agreed and then discovered that Drumnahare was some fifty miles from where I lived! Still uncertain, concerning full time service I concluded that a number of things would have to happen and God would have to open up the way. The meetings began on Lord's day 14th October, and it was evident right from the opening night that God was in the meetings, and soon some of the things I had prayed for began to happen. This gave greater concern than ever, with result I could neither eat nor sleep. A few souls were getting saved, the meetings were increasing in number nightly, and soon we had to move into a larger hall. By this time, things were opening up in a way that I could never have predicted. My brethren at Craigyhill had spoken to me, relative to my exercise, and they were quite happy to commend me to the grace of God. I insisted that since most of my life had been spent in the assembly at Harryville, they should contact them, and if they were agreeable, I would be willing to go to the work, but if not I would accept that as guidance not to go. This they did, and in a short time had a reply from the Harryville assembly, to say they were very pleased, and that I would have their fellowship.
Still I wanted to be convinced that the Lord was really calling me all I wanted was assurance from the Lord. This caused me great concern: how will I really know and be sure? While continuing with the meetings in Drumnahare, where quite a number professed salvation, I was invited for tea to a home of a dear sister in the Lord, in company with Mr J Martin. Realising, that the following morning, I had to meet with my boss regarding the promotion, I was sitting in that home greatly burdened. I lifted my eyes and looked on a text I had not noticed before. The words were: "Thou shalt not be forgotten of me", Isaiah 44 v 21, and "Beware lest thou forget the Lord". Deut. 6 v 12 . As I read these words it was as if a voice distinctly spoke to me and I bowed my head and said, "Lord, that will do. On the strength of those words I will go".
I met with my boss the following morning, and told him of my intentions. It was with great reluctance that my employers would accept my notice terminating employment with them, pointing out they had a letter in the post for me, with a substantial increase in salary, and that I was being very foolish. They give me another month to think this matter over, and if I should change my mind, to come back to them. The following day I met with the brethren again, and they were quite happy to let me go, if that was my mind. On returning home the letter from my employer had arrived. I read it, pondered it, and the thought came, "you have now made a fool of yourself, but the Scripture came back, "Thou shalt not be forgotten of me". On the last Friday of February 1974, I left my employment, returned their car and other items belonging to them, shook hands with them and came home on the train. This was done tremblingly, and not without a few tears, as my bosses and other members of staff, men who were not saved had respect for me, and were very kind to me.
As the years have passed and we look back over them we say with the Psalmist, "Truly God is good", Psalm 73 v 1. It has not always been easy, problems can arise one would never expect, but we have a good God, and in Him we trust Some thought I should have gone to a foreign land, but my exercise was, for my homeland. It has been my privilege to preach the gospel in a number of the areas where I worked in secular employment and it has been a great joy to have some of the more influential fanners of the agricultural industry under the sound of the gospel. The need in Ulster is tremendous in these last and closing days, and we greatly value the prayers of the Lord's people, for our labours. We close with the words of the Lord Jesus, "The harvest is the end of the age". Matthew 13 v 39.
- Where the saints in glory thronging.
- Where they feed on life's blest tree-
- There is stilled each earnest longing
- Satisfied our souls shall be.
- Safety— where no foe approaches;
- Rest— where toil shall be no more;
- Joy— whereon no grief encroaches;
- Peace— where strife shall all be o'er:
- Where deceiver ne'er can enter,
- Sin-soiled feet have never trod;
- Free, our peaceful feet may venture
- In the paradise of God.
- Drink of life's perennial river,
- Feed on life's perennial food,
- Christ, the Fruit of Life, and Giver-
- Safe through His redeeming blood.
- Object of eternal pleasure,
- Perfect in Thy work divine!
- Lord of glory! without measure
- Worship, joy and praise are Thine.