The Christian Ambassador
the late Handley Bird
The Young Christian and the Gospel
Elijah and the Secret of his Strength
By Wm. Bunting
IT is well known that during his term of office an Ambassador cannot become a citizen of the country to which he is accredited. Be that term ever so protracted, and be his relations with those to whom he is sent ever so amicable, he remains a stranger in that land. He has no voice in its government, He must not interfere in its politics. He has no vote in the electing of new members to its legislature; nor may he even influence a citizen as to how he should cast his vote. Never for a moment must he regard himself otherwise than as a stranger in the country of his ambassadorship. All his political interests are in his homeland. Thus it should be with the Christian. Our Lord said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (Jo. 18:36). He declined to act as an arbitrator in the affairs of men (Lu. 12:13). In allegiance to Him, Paul declared, “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20, R.V.). It follows that the governing of the world should be left to those who are of the world. It is true that as God’s people we are to recognise that “the powers that be are ordained of God.” We are therefore to “be subject” to them (Rom. 13:1), though with the proviso, that should there arise any question of divided loyalties, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29, R.V.). We are also to “Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour:to whom honour” (Rom. 13:7). Moreover, we are enjoined that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). There is no warrant in the New Testament, however, for our engaging in worldly politics. If in civil government the “potsherds of the earth” strive amongst themselves for place, it is not for us to support one or other contending party. We wield a more potent influence for our fellows’ well-being in the closet with God upon Election Day than we could in the local polling-booth. Further, it is not, we believe, in keeping with our heavenly calling that a brother should sit as a Magistrate or as a Member of Parliament. The New Testament certainly does not contemplate such a thing. It affords full guidance as to how parents, children, masters, servants, and subjects should act, but it is surely significant that it offers no direction or advice to Christians who would exercise the public responsibilities which devolve upon judges and rulers.
The Corinthian saints to whom this Epistle was addressed were evidently forgetful of their strangership here below, hence the strong appeal for separation which we find in the next chapter. In
this appeal there are five great questions, and it is of interest in our present study to note that while the first of these suggests the business yoke (” What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”); the third, the social yoke (“What concord hath Christ with Belial?”); the fourth, the marriage yoke (“What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”); the fifth, the religious yoke (” What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?”); the second question—” What communion hath light with darkness?”—suggests to us the political yoke. “What communion hath light with darkness?” Of course, there can be none. Therefore the clarion call of v. 17 follows: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
We ourselves cannot too often be remined of this great truth. With many there is the tendency to forget our heavenly citizenship and to become entangled with unequal yokes of a social and political nature; but we are not here, beloved, to join with Christ rejectors in their schemes for world betterment. We are here to testify to men that the present world order will end in dire and awful judgment, and to call upon them to repent and be reconciled to God.
- “I am a stranger here within a foreign land.
- My home is far away upon a golden strand;
- Ambassador to be of realms beyond the sea,
- I’m here on business for my King.
- My home is brighter far than Sharon’s rosy plain.
- Eternal life and joy throughout its vast domain:
- My Sovereign bids me tell how mortals there may dwell,
- And that’s my business for my King.”
The Ambassador’s peril is that should he speak or act wrongly he may be recalled and even disgraced by his sovereign. Personal misconduct, an untactful public utterance, especially at a time of international tension, or unfaithfulness in guarding the interests of his fatherland may quickly eventuate in this. Indeed the Country to which he has been commissioned may request his sovereign to replace him, should he be accused of contempt, or of plotting against its internal or external security. History affords many examples of ambassadors being removed from office. An American who had formerly been a British subject, once wrote to the British ambassador in that land, asking how he should vote. The latter replied, giving advice and instructions. The whole matter, however, leaked out, and the diplomat was summoned to London for having interfered in American politics. On another occasion, the United States ambassador in England in a public speech made disparaging
remarks about the Moral Decalogue. The result was that he had to relinquish his post and return to Washington in dishonour, for having misrepresented his Country. Some readers, too, may remember that after the outbreak of the first World War, Von Papen, the Military Attache to the German Embassy in the United States, was recalled at the instance of the latter Government. All of this also has a solemn and salutary lesson for us. The Apostle himself feared least there should be a breakdown in his testimony and his service be disapproved of God (1 Cor. 9:27). His supreme desire was that he might be enabled to complete his life’s work. Listen to his noble language: “But I hold not my life of any account, as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24, R.V.). It will be noticed that the R.V. text omits the words, “with joy,” found in the A.V. What concerned Paul was not the frame of mind, whether happy or unhappy, in which he would finish his course, but whether he would finish it at all. That he did finish it, and finish it in triumph, we know from 2nd Tim. 4. Many like Saul who was “removed” (Acts 13:22), however, like the Israelites whose corpses were strewn across the desert sands (1 Cor. 10:5), and like some of the sinning Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:30), have been taken away before their time. It is a solemn and sobering thought, An Ambassador of Christ may, under Divine discipline, fill a premature grave, because of sin in the life, or of unfaithfulness in service. In the case of one being taken Home, of course, it is not for us to pass judgment. Rather is it our responsibility to judge our own consciences in the presence of an all-seeing, holy, and sin hating God.
(To be continued)
By the late Handley Bird, India
THERE are seven successive steps found in this great object lesson, as follows—First, the Gate, a revelation of and entrance into, an understanding of the Spiritual; second, the brazen “Altar”—devotion to God and consequent holiness of life; third, “the Laver”—the renewing by the Holy Ghost, of the mind and inner disposition; fourth, “the Table”—Christ sanctified as Lord in the heart; fifth, “the Lamp”—the Holy Ghost illuminating and guiding; sixth, “the Golden Altar”—the resurrection privilege of intercession; and seventh, “the Holiest” —rest and worship—liberty from “sense” and the seen! These are God’s mile-stones which will show us where we are in our pilgrimage.
Nebuchadnezzar’s image of earthly glory and power, began with gold and ended in mud! but this perfect picture of Divine glory begins with “brass” and ends in gold—leading us from glory to glory as the Lord the Spirit reveals more and more of Christ. Let us note this progression—In the Court, the foundation of the pillars is of “brass” with chapiters and fillets of silver, while in the Holy Place the foundations were of silver and the superstructure of gold.
In the Court the linen was pure white with colour on the gate only; in the Holy Place the linen was all coloured—while overhead, cherubim were wrought into it; in the Holiest all around and above, the drapery was glorious with cherubim and colour.
In the Court the holy vessels were of wood and brass; in the Holy Place of wood and gold.
In the Court the foundations were all brass; in the Holy Place brass and silver; in the Holiest of silver only.
In the Court was the light of the sun; in the Holy Place that of the golden Lamp; but in the Holy of Holies, the Shekinah glory alone.
The Court was a double square open to the sky; the Holy Place was a double square but roofed; while the Holiest of all was foursquare, a perfect cube.
In the Court were offered sacrifices of slain animals; in the Holy Place those of bread and incense; but in the Holiest a spiritual worship unaided by ceremony or symbol.
In the Court the Cherubim were seen in bronze only; in the Holy Place they are in linen, while in the Holiest they are of gold.
In the Court the Levites serve; in the Holy Place the priests; and in the Holiest none save the High Priest.
Thus plainly written is the necessity for God’s people to “go on to perfection.” To stand still is to retrograde, to lose ground, until we “need one to teach us again” the earliest lessons learned in the school of grace. It is to “become” spiritual dwarfs who will hinder the whole church and rob her of blessing she would otherwise receive. Therefore it is that we must “press on”; for too oft to “drink in blessing from God” and yet not to grow and increase, is to be” nigh unto a curse!” The cry of the Holy Ghost in every renewed heart which He indwells, is “let us come boldly,” “let us labour to enter,” “let us draw near,” “let us go on,” “let us go forth,” “let us run,” etc. Twelve times is this word reiterated in the Epistle to the Hebrews. To refuse to go forward is to apostatize. There is no room for self-congratulation, no time to ungird. It is growth or death.
A withering curse upon much evangelical Christianity, is the spirit of complacent satisfaction with its attainment, experience and apprehension of truth, a self-congratulation which considers any advance in holiness of life or further revelation of truth to be “dangerous” and heretical.
By all the unveiled glory of Jesus’ perfections, by the Holy Spirit’s marvellous unfolding of Scripture, by the unpossessed promises so immense and mighty to the obedient heart, by the impulses, longings and ambitions of the Divine life implanted, and by the very wonder of the awful price paid and the sufferings endured “to bring us to God,” are we beckoned and urged on and up, nearer and ever nearer to God.
It may be that the Court with its outward manifestations of Divine power—as typified in the bronze—its bloody sacrifices and its varied ordinances, portrayed the Jewish dispensation; the Holy Place, the Christian dispensation, the day of the Church wherein is no visible cloud, nor any manifest Shekinah, but an apparently absent Lord and a silent God, the Holy Ghost quietly working in and through the believer; and the Holiest, the glory that shall be, within the veil where God is all in all.
Be it so, then how many a ” Jew” is there yet in the church of God! Christians who have never learned their priestly privilege, content with pardon for the past and oft repeated forgiveness for oft repeated sins by oft repeated applications of the blood, which was what every pious Jew enjoyed. Inside the Gate, in the place of acceptance and blessing, but caring, oh so little! whether God gets His portion in them or no.
Every believer is a priest by birthright, as every Israelite, in the purpose of God was designed to be, a purpose yet to have its glorious fulfilment; as one day every saint will measure up to God’s will for him and minister as His priestly one; alas that they do not enter into the joy and privilege now!
Because of Israel’s unfitness for the office, Levi is chosen in their stead, and after their failure Aaron and his sons are appointed to Levi’s forfeited privilege, and thus still further narrow is the circle of those who will give the Lord what He seeks for.
We see clearly marked in this story of the soul’s progression, certain transition stages, On the Door, the entrance into the priest’s sphere of office, were lingering traces of the lesser glory without. That is, its sockets were of brass and there were no Cherubim on its linen. Again on the Veil, we find the sockets of silver where all else is golden, and Cherubim in linen as in the Holy Place. Yet it was but a step from one to the other. David belonged to the Court and had right to its blessings alone, but his faith and love linger ardently for the priest’s privilege. We hear him saying, “one thing have I desired and will seek, that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah to behold the delights of the Lord and to consider the Tabernacle.” We find him clad in ephod and robe, and offering his sacrifice of praise as a priest, and at least on one occasion the energy of his faith outstripped his dispensation and he entered into the House of God and did eat the shewbread, for which he is commended by his Lord.
Happy the souls who have thus learned to anticipate a glory “which shall be revealed”; to whom God’s promises are not all in the far future, but are richly enjoyed now through faith which obeys the Holy Ghost and enters in with true heart and full assurance. Such know already days of heaven upon earth, they live as ” seeing the King in His beauty in the land of very far distances,” while they have the glad assurance that when He comes in His glory they shall share it with Him.
For his spiritual children in Corinth, the Apostle Paul’s great desire was that they might be “confirmed unto the end, blameless in the day of Jesus Christ.” Very solemn are the warnings his letter contains lest any should fail of the enabling grace of God and miss the joy that remains for the people of God. Listen to His words—” Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” “If any man’s work abide he shall receive a reward, his payment.” “When the Lord comes He will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” ” Know ye not that we shall judge angels”… but that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom.” “All run the race but one receiveth the prize, so run that ye may obtain.” ” All our fathers passed through the sea . . . but some were overthrown in the wilderness and could not enter in because of unbelief.” “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed . . . thanks be to God which giveth us the victory.” “Therefore be ye steadfast, unmoveable.” And lastly, then “face to face.” This was the goal “our beloved brother Paul” had ever before him and of which he writes, “as my beloved sons I warn you,” lest you miss it.
It is evident that the reward may be forfeited even though the soul is saved; and that the future hope may be marred, of those who build unworthy lives though upon a true faith in Jesus. Again, the Judge will reveal the dark and evil counsels of the heart, hidden under the fair profession of those who were “wise, strong and honourable, puffed up,” with position and reputation, in a world that treated the Apostle as “the filth and offscouring of all things.”
“The wicked man” among the Christians is delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus; with an awful prospect of deprivation in that blessed day, that almost swallowed up and guilty one in overmuch sorrow! His spirit saved, but cut off from the enjoyment which belongs to those who by grace are preserved spirit, soul, and body, blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as that part of the Lamb of the peace-offering, which the offerer had not appetite for, could not be eaten on “the third day,” but was “burned,” so, alas, that which the believer does not now enjoy of the power and grace of the Lord will be an eternal loss, once that resurrection day dawns.
Then, again, we read that the “unrighteous” that would defraud his brother should “not inherit the kingdom of God”; while to add to the solemnity of these repeated warnings the Apostle tells us that he will run and fight, will beat his body black and blue in the hardships of ceaseless service for God and souls, lest after all his sacrifice and work he should be a castaway—or “lose his life,” as it is rendered in Mark—and be “disapproved” at the coming of the Lord.
From “Where His Honour Dwells.”
By D. O. Murray, Australia
THE moment forgiveness of sins is received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Christian is eternally and absolutely secure, just as secure and safe as the Lord Jesus Himself. He and the Father have pledged themselves to hold and to keep all that are His (John 10:28-29). Every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of God, by whom he is sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14, Eph. 4:30).
The gospel is the Gospel of God (Rom. 1:1). It is worthy of Him. He is its Author. We have salvation from Him perfect and complete the moment we receive it. Because it is already perfect, nothing can be added to it, nothing can be taken from it. Every trespass was forgiven the moment we were quickened (Col. 2:13). As soon as forgiveness of sins is known, the Spirit of God immediately indwells every Christian (Acts. 10:43, 44). The Spirit of God abides, and will abide, with us for ever, throughout all eternity (John 14:16). Before the Lord Jesus had taken His place at the right hand of God, the Spirit of God had been dwelling with the children of God. After the Lord Jesus was glorified, the Spirit was given (John 7:39, John 14:17). He now dwells in every Christian. Every Christian’s body is the temple of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:19). Every Christian is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). All this had become true of him the moment he received forgiveness of sins through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The first man to receive the Spirit of God was our Lord Jesus. The Father had sealed Him (John 6:27). After the course of thousands of years since Adam, at last there was a perfect man on earth. The Spirit abode on Him and was not given by measure (John 1:32, John 3:34).
There are four principles involved in the Gospel: forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, and redemption. Each is the work of Christ, each is perfect and complete, each is received direct from Him. Forgiveness is through the blood of Christ (Matt. 26 : 28, Rom. 3:25). The Lord Jesus has the power to forgive sins on earth. There is no other place where forgiveness can be obtained (Luke 5:24). We are justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9). Reconciliation is by the blood of His cross (Col. 1:20). Redemption is by His blood (1 Pet. 1:18). God places His own valuation on the blood of Christ. In Egypt, where He saw the blood of the Passover, He passed over that place. It had His personal protection (Ex. 12:13).
The fact of forgiveness does not permit any judgment. Even a child knows that if he is forgiven, then he cannot be punished. Forgiveness discharges the debt (Luke 7:42). Where there is forgiveness of sins, God will remember their sins and their iniquities no more (Heb. 8:12). He will never again bring them to His mind. Judgment for the Christian is not possible (John 5:24) . He already has everlasting life, and is passed from death to life.
Justification brings peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Righteousness is imputed to us without any works by us (Rom. 4:6). Through the blood of Christ we are declared righteous. It is God who justifies (Rom. 8:33). All who believe are justified from all things (Acts 13:38-39). It is not that we have attained a status in righteousness, it is that righteousness is imputed to us. It is a gift, not an attainment (Rom. 5:17). God sees us righteous through the blood of Christ.
To reconcile is to bring into agreement. We were alienated and enemies to God in our minds by wicked works. Now we are reconciled (Col. 1:21). God has done it (2 Cor. 5:19). We are sometimes told that, because we teach that as soon as a man believes in the Lord Jesus, he is eternally secure from judgment, that a man can do as he pleases, and still be secure. This is true. For a Christian to act in such a manner shows poor appreciation of the fact of having been reconciled to God. Reconciliation changes enmity to devotion. A Christian should not continue in sin. He is dead to sin. His baptism should have force in his life. It should separate him from his former manner of life. He should yield himself to God as one alive from the dead (Rom. 6:13). The scriptural pattern is that every Christian should be baptised.
Redemption means the taking of delivery of the thing redeemed. God has claimed us for Himself. We already have redemption through the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, with a view to our being gathered together in one to Himself (Eph. 1:7-12). We await the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). This will be the First Resurrection (Rev. 20:6). Every Christian will have part in that First Resurrection. Because of this, it is proof that no Christian will come into judgment. The second resurrection will follow more than a thousand years later (Rev. 20:5).
The notion of a general resurrection is false. It is a relic of mediaeval ignorance. Scripture speaks clearly of two resurrections. The First Resurrection is the resurrection of life. The Second Resurrection will be the resurrection of judgment (John 5:29). Resurrection of the dead is sure, one of the just and one of the unjust (Acts. 24:15), one to life and one to judgment. Every man’s destiny will be fixed according to which resurrection. For the Christian, it will be to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Unto them who look for Him He will appear for their salvation (Heb. 9:28). The first time He came to put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself. When He appears the second time, it will be for salvation, for the redemption of the purchased possession (Eph. 1:14). The course of events will then soon be in progress, leading to the establishment in power and glory of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ over this Earth. Every saint of God will be raised before that glorious reign begins, from righteous Abel until the end. No one will be missed. They will live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4). God will rejoice over Israel to do them good. He will assuredly plant them in their own land (Jer. 32:41, Zech. 14:9). Before that reign begins, He will swallow up death in victory (Isaiah 25:8). And it shall be said in that day, “Lo, this is our God” (v. 9). The King, our Lord Jesus Christ, will be seen in all His beauty. Israel will see the land promised to them to its most distant borders (Isaiah 33:17). To contend for a general resurrection is untenable.
What says the Scripture concerning the Christian and the Day of Judgment? ‘Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world’ (1 John4:17). Now, in this world, we are as free as the Lord Jesus from coming into judgment. With every sin forgiven by Him, we can stand with boldness. He who washed us from our sins in His own blood will be the Judge in that day.
Every Christian should learn and understand that Christianity deals with facts. It is not merely a system of ethics nor merely a moral code. The Son of God has come. He has died, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. God has raised Him from among the dead. He has passed through the heavens to the right hand of God, where He has set Himself down in perpetuity. From that supreme place, He has sent the Spirit of God to indwell all who believe in Him, that is, in all whose sins are forgiven.
When we received Christ, we entered into a new relationship with God. We became children of God, having been born again, born of the Spirit (John 1:12-13). This second birth is as real as when we were bom of our parents into this world. Until we received Christ, we had to deal with God as a righteous Judge. We were already condemned (John 3:18) and with our mouths stopped, guilty before God (Rom. 3:19). We admitted this when we came to Christ for salvation. It was our need which brought us to Christ. Having come to Him, we received a full and free salvation. He had finished the work, by virtue of which we can stand before God holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable, in His sight (Col. 1:22). Having received Christ, we are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). By redemption we are sons of God (Gal. 4:5-6). and because we are sons, the Spirit of God is sent into our hearts. He teaches us to know God as Father.
Although we have entered into this new relationship, we still commit sins. Sins are no longer charged against us, for it is written: “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). Instead of receiving the sentence of a Judge, we receive chastisement from God our Father (Heb. 12:6-13). Any judgment
which a Christian can receive is only in this world. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:31-32). This discipline is from God. He does the chastening. It is for our profit that we might be partakers of His holiness. He earnestly desires our fellowship. He loves us. He is holy and righteous. Our God is bringing many sons unto glory (Heb. 2:10). The Scripture speaks of our “old man” (Eph. 4:22). It is the summation of what thoughts and desires directed us before faith came. The “new man” is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). As individual believers we are to “put on the new man.” Of saved Jews and Gentiles “one new man” is also said to be made (Eph. 2:15). This is the corporate view, and it is quite distinct from what is mentioned in ch. 4:24. As such we belong to the household of God (Eph. 2:19), and are builded together for “a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). We, as such, constitute the Church, the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:32). These are facts— the truth of God. We should submit to Him, to be followers of Him as His beloved children (Eph. 5:1).
Our Lord Jesus now intercedes for us. It is not to secure our acceptance, but because we have been already accepted. God has shown us great favour in Christ (Eph. 1:6). He intercedes for us according to His priesthood, which is after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:25). He now acts after the pattern of Aaron, whose activities were in the desert, on the way to receiving the promises. Our Lord Jesus is able to save to the uttermost, right to the very end, all who come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them. Priesthood deals with association between men and God. Not only does our Lord Jesus intercede for us at the right hand of God (Rom. 8:34), He maintains for us the things associated with the Father. If we sin, He is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. His intercession for us is as a Priest with God, and as Advocate for us with the Father. As a priest, He maintains us to the end of our journey here, as a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, having made reconciliation—propitiation—for our sins (Heb. 2:17). As Advocate, He is concerned with our fellowship with the Father.
God made Himself known to Abraham as God Almighty, to Moses as Jehovah, to Christians as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1). God has His purposes and the power to carry them out. As the Father, He is concerned with His sons. The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). His God is our God. His Father is our Father. These are the relationships into which He has brought us and He continues to maintain us in these relationships. The end of the journey is as sure for us as His path was for Him. His first message to His disciples was that His God and Father is our God and Father (John 20:17). His path of life was through death and resurrection to the right hand of God (Psalm 16). Our path might be through death and resurrection. It might be to be alive at His coming, (1 Thess. 4:17), but either way, the end is sure, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
1 Kings 17:1 By J. A. Roach, Brisbane
WHAT a dark background with its increasing evils! From Jeroboam turning the ten tribes away from Jerusalem and its worship, to the calves and self-styled priests, onward to the reign of Ahab, in whose day the city of Jericho (with its heavy curse) was rebuilt, we have a sad picture of what looks like hopeless ruin. Well might any honest onlooker say so, judging from appearance. Ahab ruled by a wicked Jezebel, the prophets of the Lord were persecuted unto death, and Baal worship abounded. Surely Jezebel would think Israel’s God was forever gone, and as surely Baal’s priests would think so, but thank God for the opening of chapter 17, where we have:
As with heaven’s BUT’S, so with its AND’S, a happy change is before us, and a new character appears with little light on his past. He is Elijah, the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead. Gilead seems to have been of little importance, and much less its inhabitants, yet from this wild country God has raised up His man with the message of the day. And has He not often since done so, and can He not still do so? Then let us take courage, He still looks for His Elijahs and will fit and use them for His own work.
From whence did His message come? There is no word of his being sent, it is true, but we do learn from James 5:17 that he was a praying man. Do we go too far in saying he was one who mourned over Israel’s condition as well as prayed? Or he may have learned from Deut. 11:17 the secret of what Jehovah had said He would do when Israel sinned. Thus he could rightly reason, “If God has spoken, will He not do it?” If only those who know nearness, know distance, then truly only those who know His presence can know His mind. O for more of this! To many today this message would seem very much out of place, as sorrow and suffering were sure to follow, but after all what is physical suffering to spiritual drought? What, no dew of heaven, no showers of refreshment flowing over our souls, what a calamity! So with perfect confidence Elijah could acquaint Ahab about the approaching judgment, with all the holy boldness of heaven on his side.
It was three-fold. First, we hear Him say, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth,” and what a joy to the child of faith to know and live in the light of this! But alas, I fear the most of us have lost this knowledge. We live and act as if no living God was on our
side at all, as if He were forever dead—dead to our ways, our needs, our cry. BUT HE LIVES. Elijah knew this even if all others forgot it, and as with Enoch’s creed of Heb. 11:6, “There is a God, and it pays to serve Him,” so Elijah could fearlessly speak. Second, “Before whom I stand.” Ahab might say, “But you stand before me.” Elijah’s words, however, were plain: “The God of Israel.” True, he stood before an earthly monarch, but that without fear, too, because before the heavenly he was found. And it is not in the past but in the present tense. O to know more of this today among the people of God! The secret of our lack of power can only be traced to our lack of being before Him. Abraham learned of Sodom’s doom in this way. Daniel also had revealed to him his people’s future, as weh as Mary her Lord’s burial, and many others could be named with their happy experiences—ah as the result of being alone with Him. Third, we have the name of this man of God—“Elijah,” or “Jehovah is strength.” Thank God, there is strength for our weak efforts today, but it is only found in Elijah’s God. Just as Joseph’s bow could not have done what it did without the arms being made strong by the mighty God of Jacob (Gen. 49:24), so with Elijah, and so with the child of faith today. Nothing will keep our souls in tune, nothing will give us wisdom to walk in truth, nothing will supply us with strength for service, but this continual standing before Him Who lives, and in Whom our strength is found.
WE warmly greet all our readers and wish them God’s choicest blessings during the year we have entered. It is the centenary of the great Revival, which began not so many miles from where these lines are being written, which spread to so many lands, and the spiritual effects of which are still with us. May 1959 also be a year of rich ingathering of precious souls. The world’s need never was so great as to-day. It is claimed that there are more people in Europe who have never heard the simple Gospel than the combined populations of Africa, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. How great then is the need of the entire world! The thought of it is staggering, especially when we remember that this may be the last year of an age that has already grown old, and that internationally the future outlook of the earth fills the devout soul with horror and dismay. May we, beloved, awake to the fact that this may be our last year of service here and may we strive for souls while yet we may.
- “Another year of service,
- Of witness for Thy love;
- Another year of training
- For holier work above.
- “Another year is dawning!
- Our Master, let it be,
- On earth or else in heaven,
- Another year for Thee.”
It is but fitting that we should express sincere gratitude to our God for His continued help, and ask the prayers of readers for a further measure of Divine grace and wisdom in the publishing of this magazine.
THE FUTURE OF “ASSEMBLY TESTIMONY”
Our magazine work has prospered far beyond anything that we anticipated when it began seven years ago. As circulation and correspondence grow, however, office work increases proportionately. For quite a time now, this has given deep exercise of heart to the writer. Years ago when in South Africa in the Lord’s work, we opened a book room to supply Christians with sound Gospel tracts and assembly literature. This service had the marked blessing of God upon it, but in the course of time it encroached so much upon our more spiritual work that it had to be given up. We feel much the same with regard to the publishing of “Assembly Testimony.” Its printed page has been made a blessing to saints in many lands, and for this reason we are reluctant to terminate its ministry. On the other hand, the business of publishing it, dealing with correspondence, etc., is very exacting, and increasingly impinges upon time which we feel should be devoted to the ministry of the Word and prayer. We therefore ask the prayers of readers that we may have definite guidance regarding the future of “Assembly Testimony.”
AND IS IT SO?
- And is it so, we shall be like Thy Son?
- Is this the grace which He for us has won?
- Father of glory, thought beyond all thought,
- In glory to His own blessed image brought!
- O Jesus, Lord, who loved us like to Thee?
- Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
- Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
- Thy saints the prize and travail of Thy soul.
- Yet it must be, Thy love had not its rest,
- Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest;
- That love that gives not as the world, but shares
- All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.
- Nor me alone, Thy loved ones all, complete,
- In glory round Thee there with joy shall meet;
- All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
- Object supreme of all. by all adored.
- It is easy to assent to the truth that our “old man was crucified with Christ” (Rom. 6:6), and yet go on pampering his cravings and live under his power. It is easy to accept the idea that God, on His side, sees the believer situated in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph. 2), and yet continue earth-bound and worldly-minded, forfeiting the joy and peace of our heavenly position. It is simple to sing, “There, there on eagle wings we soar,” and yet crawl on the earth like a worm. Such merely notional Christian life is not Christian, but is empty, disappointing, and a reproach to the gospel and our testimony. It is for us, by practical service, “to lay hold on the life eternal the life which is life indeed.” (1st Tim. 6:12, 19).