The Presence of God
By Wm. Bunting
THE year 1859, remembered as the year of the great spiritual Revival, is also remembered as that in which Charles Darwin, the British naturalist, published his “Origin of Species,” in which for the first time was given a full exposition of the theory of Evolution. This publication suited the taste of the period, and though Darwin explained that his theory was but an “unproven hypothesis,” it was hailed as established fact in the great Universities. It thus gave new impetus to unbelief. If man has evolved during interminable ages, passing through stages of protoplasm, tadpole, fishes, and monkeys, there is no room for a Creator, the story of the Fall is a myth, and Redemption by the blood of Christ is a mistake. Julius Wellhausen, another German critic, bom in 1844, applied the evolutionary hypothesis to the Scriptures, which resulted in the further dethronement of their Divine authority. According to him Jehovah was originally regarded as the local God of Israel, and not as the God of the universe. “It was only after a long process that He came to be thought of as the highest, and at last as the only, power in heaven and earth.” Wellhausen denied the Divine unity of the Pentateuch, taught that it was a late work by one Ezra, a Babylonian scribe, and that its history was an invention and contained traditions and legendary fables. The fact that our Lord again and again quoted Moses as the writer of the first five Books of the Bible, and placed the seal of His authority upon their Divine origin, their historicity and inerrancy, meant nothing at all to Wellhausen.
How matters stand to-day
Having traced some of the beginnings of modern destructive criticism, we shall now consider how matters stand to-day. The theories of German Rationalism have been popularised throughout Christendom by Dean Farrar, Prof. Driver, Canon Cheyne, Dr. David Smith and others who have passed away. These have been succeeded by a generation of theologians who have with unabated zeal continued their diabolical crusade against God’s Holy Word. Their teaching now for a long number of years has been known as “Modernism.” Modernism, Higher Criticism, and Rationalism, however, are but slightly different forms of Infidelity. All the principal Protestant denominations are honeycombed with it, the menace never being so great as at present. There is space here to give only a few examples of how far these “blind leaders of the blind” have departed from the faith.
The first example is that of the Bible Commentary edited by the late Prof. A. S. Peake, who was a Methodist. The Commentary contains criticisms by sixty one men of scholarship, most of them teachers in Theological Colleges. Thousands of copies of it are in daily use by preachers and Sunday School teachers all over the world. This work declares “that much of Genesis 1-2 is of mythical origin,” that the story of Jonah is “purely imaginative,” that “no Psalms are certainly or even probably Davidic,” that the Old Testament “knew nothing of a suffering Messiah,” and that Paul’s teaching concerning a future resurrection is but “daring speculation.” The Commentary has been described as being “sodden with infidelity.” Yet Prof. Peake was Principal of a Methodist Theological College, and a few years ago the “Methodist Recorder,” the official organ of the Methodist body, heaped honour upon him as being one “whose Biblical learning was only equalled by his humble evangelical piety.”
Our next example is a quotation from Dr. Donald Soper, m.a., who was President of the Methodist Conference in England in 1954. His reply to a question about a statement he had made, appeared in “The Christian”, and was as follows: “I said I did not believe in the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, and I was in good company, for Mark and Paul did not believe it either. I further went on to say that had Jesus believed it, He would have said so; but in fact He gave no evidence of it whatsoever.” Another example is a work, “His Life and Ours,” by Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, President of the Methodist Conference in 1955, who for many years has been minister in the City Temple Congregational Church. Dr. Weatherhead says: “Personally if I were asked if I believed in the Trinity I would rather keep silent…. Some have asked the question, ‘If God fully dwelt in Jesus, was the universe running without God during Christ’s earthly life, or did Christ control the planets from His cradle at Bethlehem? ’ Of course the answer is ‘Neither.’ The latter suggestion is monstrous.” Yet another example is the heterodoxy of Prof. J. E. Davey, of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. In 1927 charges of heresy were brought against him. These were based upon his published writings and upon notes of his lectures in the Assembly’s College. He was charged with denying: (1) The Doctrine of Imputation; (2) The Moral Finality of our Lord’s Character; (3) The Infallibility of the Scriptures; (4) The Doctrine of the Trinity; and (5) With giving Pantheistic teaching about God’s responsibility for sin. During the trial the charges against Prof. Davey were proved up to the hilt. Yet the Presbytery approved of his teaching, and the General Assembly followed suit by a vote of 707 to 82 (see “Irish Evangelical Church—Why?”).
We give one more example of Modernism. It concerns The Baptist Union, and the quotation is from an article by that stalwart, Mr. E. J. Poole-Connor, in the “Bible League Quarterly,” April-June, 1952. The writer says: “The leaders of the Baptist body have issued a text book on the Old Testament, for the use of those desiring to enter the Baptist ministry, which is of the most extreme Modernistic type. With no beating about the bush, it declares that the first eleven chapters of Genesis are pure myth… that the history of the Patriarchs is largely, if not wholly, legendary, that the story of Jacob wrestling with the Angel is probably based upon some tale of a jealous river-god… that the Book of Esther …. would be better outside the covers of the Bible.” Mr. Poole-Connor concludes by saying: “In this case again, the ancient church-doctrine concerning the Bible (for which the older Baptists so strenuously contended) is flatly and openly denied.”
To give further examples of the dreadful inroads of Modernism is unnecessary. A large section of the clergy of the Church of England, the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Methodist systems, practically the entire Society of Friends, and many of the pastors of the Baptist Union, are wholly or in part teachers of Modernism; and Modernism, let it be remembered, is veiled Infidelity. It rejects the Doctrines of: The Fall, the Divinity of Christ, His Virgin Birth, His Atonement, His Bodily Resurrection, His Second Advent, the Eternal Punishment of the wicked, and the Inspiration and Accuracy of Holy Scripture. Indeed, a few years ago the following appeared in the Annual Report of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism: “Much as we dislike Modernism because of its illogical compromising, we must recognise that for many years it is but a step over in the road to Atheism Yet this is what is being preached from the pulpits of Christendom to-day. As of old, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jer. 5:30, 31).
The final confederacy
We have thought it good thus roughly to trace the development and spread of Romanism and Modernism, in order to bring home to all our hearts the alarming defection of the Protestant denominations from the historic Christian faith. We may well pause and enquire what the end of this dreadful trend will be. Our sincere conviction is that the enemy is now patiently sapping the foundations of faith in the living God as a preparation for the great satanic amalgamation of the last days. The foretold Apostasy of 2 Thess. 2:3 is ripening fast. The leaven of evil teaching which the woman of our Lord’s parable (Matt. 13:33) hid in three measures of meal—which we suggest, symbolise the truth concerning the three Persons of the Blessed Godhead—will shortly have the whole leavened. The talk about the reunion of Christendom is no idle dream. When it takes place, as certainly it will, its final form of apostasy will be that pictured in Revelation 17 as ” a woman, seated upon a scarlet coloured beast,” upon whose forehead will be written, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Rome will be the mother; the renegade systems of a corrupt Protestantism and possibly certain vile Eastern Cults, will be the daughters. Great will be the guilt of this godless organisation, “for in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth” (Rev. 18:24), and dire and awful will be its doom.
- “Rome shall perish, write that word
- In the blood that she has spilt—
- Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
- Deep in ruin and in guilt.”
Perhaps this predicted confederacy is nearer than many of us imagine. Only a few days ago the Archbishop of Canterbury was reported to have said that “he would like to see the Church of England, Church of Scotland, the Churches of the United States, and any other which cared to join, banded together in one body. If the Pope would like to come in as Chairman of a General Council of Churches, we should welcome him.” The time was when such an overture would not have been dreamed of, but the Roman Catholic system, with all its unspeakable abominations, is now acknowledged as a “Christian Church”, and its priests as “brethren.” Not so many years ago, a cablegram was sent to the Pope, congratulating him upon his accession to the Papal throne, and signed: “From the sister churches of Scotland.”
Now, can anyone who reads God’s Word intelligently and with a Spirit-taught mind have any doubt as to what out attitude towards these systems ought to be? The coming reunion of Christendom will be Satan’s great counterfeit unity. Only by standing in complete separation from it can true, scriptural unity be manifested. “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come forth, my people, out of her, that ye have no fellowship with her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18: 4, R.V.). This will be the last clarion call to the saints to separate from that organisation which will be the full bloom development of a united and apostate Christendom. There can be no compromise with spiritual Babylon. That would be a flat denial of the Divine principles of unity already considered in these papers. The command, clear, loud, and authorative is, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17). It is exactly 70 years since Mr. C. H. Spurgeon, that great servant of Jesus Christ, severed his connections with the Baptist Union because of its doctrinal error. Concerning that step he later wrote, “As soon as I saw, or thought
I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate, but quitted the body at once. Since then my counsel has been ‘Come out from among them.’ I have felt that no protest could he equal to that of a distinct separation (our italics). Was Mr. Spurgeon wrong? The verdict of Scripture and of history is that he was right. Since his day many individual Christians and groups of Christians, have, out of loyalty to the truth and for conscience sake, withdrawn from the various denominations. Some have had to pay a high price for their fidelity to the truth. Mr. Spurgeon, for example, became ” a stranger amongst his own people,” as he himself said, and many believed that the conflict which followed his secession helped to shorten his life. Yet let no one who suffers for the truth be discouraged—‘ The crowning day is coming by-and-by.’ It is to be regretted, however, that some who have separated from evil have but left one system to form, or link up with, another. This can only lead to disappointment sooner or later. The separation which Scripture enjoins is from all organised systems, to gather in simplicity unto the Person of Christ, without the camp (Heb. 13:13).
The trend to-day
Though the dangers of associating with the systems should be apparent to brethren responsible for the guidance of assemblies, the popular trend to-day, as has already been pointed out in these papers, is towards closer fellowship with denominationalism. This is especially true in parts of England and Scotland. We thank God that in Northern Ireland the assemblies, generally speaking, are still content with the old paths of separation unto a rejected Christ. Long may it be so. Nowhere known to us is there a keener Gospel spirit, or a more virile assembly testimony. Clearly separation from evil and spiritual power are bound together. It is with the gravest misgivings and concern, however, that we view the change that has come over so many meetings in Great Britain. Under the plea of promoting unity, affiliations have been formed which are a complete denial of scriptural unity.
If it is proper to affiliate with Nonconformist bodies because there are true Christians in them, as some argue, then the logical thing to do would be to go right back to Rome, since those bodies seceded from the Anglican communion and it at an earlier date broke away from Catholicism, and some of God’s children are found even there. Yet how unthinkable that would be! It is also argued that there are individual congregations which have saved pastors and in which the pure gospel is preached. May we not unite with them in service? There is a measure of truth in this undoubtedly; but let it be remembered that each such congregation is an integral part of its denominational organisation, that it subscribes to its tenets, and that it contributes financially to its central funds. Thus to be linked with the one is to be linked with the other. There is moreover another aspect of the subject which must not be overlooked. So much intermingling between evangelicals and modernists exists today, that it would be almost impossible to minister even in a limited measure in sectarian circles without experiencing the embarrassment of finding oneself on the platform with one or more of the latter. “Modernists,” says G. T. Manley, M.A., “exist in all the larger denominations, and Evangelicals mix with them in worship and conference,” The time was when all such fraternising was condemned. Writing in “The Witness,” its Editor, the late Mr. Henry Pickering, who in his day was not regarded as being ultra-strict, after referring to ministers who believed in Baptismal Regeneration, asked, “Are they not guilty who appear on the same platform with those who hold such heresies?” The attitude of some present-day leaders contrasts strangely with that of Mr. Pickering. The report of one large recent Evangelistic Campaign was to the effect that “Presbyterians have worked happily with Baptists, and Anglicans with Brethren. People holding different views on the precise way in which the Bible is God’s inspired Book have worked together, too.” This co-operation was hailed as a splendid example of Christian unity. As a matter of fact, it fumed with guilty compromise. At the final meeting of this great Crusade the Archbishop of Canterbury was prominent amongst the platform party, was photographed with the Evangelist, and pronounced the benediction. Now the Archbishop is notoriously pro-Roman in outlook, as we have seen. We read some time ago of his going to MASS, mitred and robed, with a foreign Prelate. In addition, according to a paper “Christian or Freemason,” which appeared in the January, 1954, issue of the Parish Magazine of St. Mary Magdalene, Paddington, the Archbishop is a Freemason, being Past Grand Chaplain of the Craft. We know that Freemasonary is anti-Christian. Its Ritual is blasphemous; its Services, idolatrous; and its Oaths, godless and blood-curdling. Yet this was the man with whom many who profess to know the truth were openly identified. How did a holy God view such fellowship? Several clergymen who edit Fundamentalist magazines expressed profound regret and disappointment that the Evangelist was prepared to work in conjunction with Modernists, and that the general set-up of the mission was so glaringly inconsistent with the plainest statements of Scripture. Nevertheless many assemblies (and this is what grieves one so deeply) under the plea of promoting unity, were publicly associated with the movement, and the few meetings which stood aloof from it were held up to shame by a well-known assembly teacher. One wonders how Mr. Pickering would express himself about such an unholy affiliation were he still Editor of “The Witness”; but above all, how does God, who is jealous for His Truth, view it?
The following comments about another United Mission taken from “The Revivalist” for July, 1955, bear upon the same point: “We were surprised” says the writer, “to see such professed evangelicals as Rev. E. T. Gurr, Great Victoria Street Baptist; Mr. F. O. Gardner, the lay pastor of Rugby Avenue Congregational Church; and at least one member of the Plymouth Brethren (our italics) sitting in Christian fellowship with those who have publicly repudiated the precious Blood. My Bible says, ‘What fellowship has light with darkness?’” From the foregoing it should be clear that however good my motive may be, the moment I depart from the simple path of separation, I put myself in a position in which I shall probably experience the embarrassment of being publicly identified with men who have discarded the doctrine of Christ. Such identification is a shameful betrayal of our sacred trust, and an open dishonour to the worthy Name which assemblies profess to own as their gathering centre. “Be astonished, O ye Heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord, For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:12, 13). Far from promoting unity, unholy alliances can only lead to confusion and disintegration of testimony.
A final warning
In view of the unholy unions being formed, we need not wonder that many of God’s saints, dismayed and discouraged, are asking where the present drift from Divine principles will end. We therefore raise a warning voice. We blow a trumpet in Zion, we sound an alarm in His holy mountain. “Lord, arouse Thy watchmen, and bid them arouse all Thy saints, for the times are full of danger.” Our only safety lies in humbly cleaving to God for grace that will preserve us from deviating a hair’s breadth from the path of Scripture. Let us beware of the craze for popularity and of the sentimental cant, ‘ Love, Love.’ True love “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Walk carefully, Christian, lest Satan beguile you into his counterfeit unity. “God’s unity,” said Mr. J. R. Caldwell (like Mr. Pickering, a former Editor of “The Witness”), is where God’s mind is the mind of each one, and where God’s Word is the word of each one, and nothing less than this is Divine.”
(Next issue, D.V., Variety and Unity)
LORD rock us in Thy Cradle,” So spoke a little child, the leader in prayer of a group of little ones who were overheard praying. It is a beautiful thought; and may the desire which it childishly expresses be the continual desire of every heart. Yes, God has a Cradle for His wearied children, and they are happiest who know best by experience the perfect peace of those who in it sleep the soft sleep of faith which He giveth His beloved. “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety”. (Ps. 4:8).
But every cradle is not God’s Cradle; neither is every sleep the sleep which God sendeth. Satan too has his cradle, in which with cruel craft he lulls to sleep the ruined victims of his wiles. Alas, for the myriads that are sound asleep in the Devil’s Cradle. “The whole world lieth in the wicked one,” (1 John 5:6), and lieth sound asleep, (1 Thess. 5:6). Despite of all appearances to the contrary, despite of steam and telegraph, of feverish change and restless bustle, man everywhere is locked in deepest slumbers, and all these seeming activities are only the idle night dreams with which he is diverted during his brief hour of guilty sloth. The wily destroyer spares no pains to keep the sleep unbroken, that thus his goods may be in peace. (Luke 11:21).
Christian brethren, let us not sleep as do others round about us, but let us watch and be sober. If we be kept awake it is neither for want of a sluggard’s couch beside us nor a cunning temper coaxing us to try its softness. He spreads his downiest pillows for believers, and smiles his sweetest smile as he persuades us to rest a little from our watching and our toil. Full well he knows that no earthly weapon serves his frightful purpose half so effectively as does a sleeping saint, and therefore no stone is left unturned to get us in his cradle fast asleep. Alas for those who listen to his sugared lies! He soon makes mournful work of them, and many have found it far harder to get out of his cradle when once they were in it, than they found it to escape from his prison house at the first.
And no past experience of the need and the blessedness of watching will preserve us. Look at Noah, trained by bitter discipline through centuries to watch, yet tempted at last into the Devil’s Cradle; and he, who while awake, had stood unseduced by the world’s crime, is seen, after a little rocking, a spectacle of shame within his tent. Look, too, at Lot. In filthy Sodom his righteous soul was daily vexed, but a little while of the Devil’s Cradle brought that righteous soul to rival the atrocities he had once bewailed. And no urgency of danger will keep us awake. When once Jonah lay down in the Devil’s Cradle, the tempest that could startle even heathen sailors, could not disturb his callous slumbers. Neither will any measure of past fellowship with God preserve us now. Look at David—the man according to God’s own heart. Alas even he was seduced into the Cradle, and looking half asleep over its edge he saw what drew him on to awful crimes, and might have drawn him any length, had not God in mercy sent his prophet to awaken the demented sleeper. And no degree of natural wisdom will suffice to keep us. Solomon was the wisest of mere man, yet Solomon was tempted to lay down his head on Satan’s pillow; and the wisest of men has left us the lesson of his last years as a beacon to all ages for stupendous folly. Ah, who amongst us has strength to stand, when these men of might have been so shamefully befooled? What will not Satan attempt? So daring is he, that he tried to get even Jehovah’s Servant, the Lord Himself, to lie down for a little in his Cradle. Aye, and to tempt Him to it, he succeeded in getting the use of an apostle’s tongue—Then Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, Pity thyself, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee” (Matt. 16:23, margin). The snare, of course, was in a moment detected, and He who alone could say, “The prince of this world hath nothing in Me,” cast aside the lure—“Get thee behind me, Satan. ” Who of us, then, can hope to escape his assaults; or who of us, if he assail us, can, in our own strength, hope to stand? No one of us can imagine how eagerly Satan’s efforts are expanded in trying to quench our poor little spark of light which we have from God; and which, feeble as it may be, is yet his constant torment.
(To be continued)
By Jas. McCullough
HE brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock.” Psalm 40:2.
Most of us as Christians have enjoyed the opening verses of the 40th Psalm as being a description of what the Lord has done for US, in bringing US up out of the horrible pit of sin where we were by nature and practice, and setting OUR feet upon the rock, establishing OUR goings (i.e., starting us on the road to heaven), and putting a new song, the song of redemption, in OUR mouth, etc. Now all this is perfectly true and real. “The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad,” We should never forget what we were, and where we were, when God met us in grace and saved us, but in our humble opinion this in only an application of these verses, and as we have emphasized before, “application” is one thing while “interpretation” is quite another.
A careful reading of the whole Psalm makes it abundantly clear that the speaker in the Psalm is our Lord Jesus Himself. See especially verses 6 to 8. The Holy Spirit informs us in Hebrews 10:5-9, that this very portion of Scripture was His first utterance as He came into the world. See also verses 9 to 12 of our Psalm, where His life and public ministry are referred to, while v. 12 seems to take us on to the cross where innumerable evils compassed Him about, and where He became our Surety and Sin-bearer. Therefore what is referred to in the opening verses of this familiar Psalm is the joy of Christ in resurrection.
Our Lord lay in the dust of death, the horrible pit, for three days and three nights, waiting patiently on the divinely appointed moment when God would bring Him up from the dead, setting His feet on a rock, never to lie in the dust of death again, putting a new song, the song of resurrection, in His mouth, with the blessed result described in v. 3, “many shall see it and fear and shall trust in the Lord.”
It is interesting to notice where certain Psalms that refer to our Lord in His birth, life, death, resurrection, and coming glory, begin. Psalm 16 opens with the prayer, “Preserve me, 0 God, for in thee do I put my trust.” Here we have Bethlehem and the Stable, yet in spite of the privations, He can say, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant place.” v. 6.
Psalm 102 begins with “A prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed and poureth out his complaint before the Lord,” a reference to His agony and blood-like sweat in dark Gethsemane.
Psalm 69 commences with the cry, ” Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul.” This reveals His sufferings on the cross as the tresspass offering, see v. 4.
Psalm 22 begins with what has been called ‘ Emmanuel’s orphan cry,’ “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Here the Lord is seen as the sin offering.
Psalm 40, as we have seen opens: “I waited patiently, — He brought me up out of an horrible pit” — His resurrection from the dead.
Psalm 72 commences with the prayer, “Give the King thy judgments.” In this Psalm Christ is seen on the throne as God’s anointed King, when He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
It will not affect our enjoyment of the opening verses of Psalm 40 if we look at them as first applying to our Lord Jesus Himself, and then to our own deliverance, remembering that if He had not stooped in grace to where we were, He never could have raised us up to where He Himself is. It is very important to see Christ in all the Scriptures.
(This series will, D.V. be continued)
By Harold Paisley
THE words of our Lord Jesus Christ, ” I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” are precious and cheering. His presence is promised to His people throughout all their earthly journey, but to enjoy it and have it evidenced with us in our service, should be a matter of exercise on our part. In the following Scriptures we have the presence of God seen in a variety of ways, all worthy of our attention:
- Acts 10:38; In Our Lord’s earthly Ministry.
- Gen. 39:2; 1 Sam. 3:19; 2 Tim. 4:17; With certain men.
- Mark 16:20; In the preaching of the Gospel.
- 1 Cor. 14:25; In the assembly of God.
- Psalm 23:4; In the sorrows of life.
- Psalm 16:11; In the future glory.
Let us now consider these passages.
“For God was with Him”— (Acts 10:38)
Here we have five words spoken by Peter, which cover the life and ministry of our Glorious Lord, in His pathway from the manger to the tree. Every day, in every scene, alone and in public, God was with Him. His enemies acknowledged ” no man can do these miracles except God be with him.” God found perfect delight in His Beloved Son as He moved here amidst unfaithfulness and sin. He did always those things which pleased the Father and God was with Him. How wondrous then to contemplate the awful moment when from the soul of this perfect One came that cry of untold meaning: “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani”! He was forsaken on account of Sin not His own, that we might have his presence forever. Those who fail to obey the good news, however, will in a future day be ” punished with everlasting destruction from The presence of The Lord” (2 Thess. 1:9). What a fearful thing it will be to be banished eternally from His face!
“We saw certainly that the Lord was with Thee”— (Gen. 26:28)
Such was the striking witness borne of Isaac by Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phichol (Gen. 26:28). The same too was the testimony borne to Abraham when Abimelech and Phichol said unto him, years earlier, “God is with thee in all that thou doest” (Gen.21:22). It is refreshing to read the same thing of Joseph in Gen. 39. He was sold as a slave, and was far from home, yet ” The Lord was with Joseph” (v. 2) and his master” saw that the Lord was with him” (v. 3). Other eyes also saw this fruitfulness. Although tempted and misrepresented from day to day, he came out of the trial an overcomer, proving that ” The Lord was with Him” (v. 23).
Surely solemn and needful lessons are before us here. How many have fallen in the hour of temptation! When we consider Samson, for instance, of whom it is recorded that, “he wist not that the Lord was departed from him,” how we should eschew evil and cleave to God for grace. In this connection, the words of Azariah to Asa call for our earnest consideration, “The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him, and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).
Joshua’s fame was noised abroad, because “The Lord was with him” (Jos. 6:27). Concerning Samuel also we read, ” The Lord was with him” (1 Sam. 3:19), the result being that his words were weighty. David is said to have been “prudent in matters, a comely person, and The Lord was with him” (1 Sam. 16:18). When ah others had forsaken the faithful and beloved Paul, what joy it must have been to him to know that “The Lord was with him” (2 Tim. 4:17).
“The Lord working with them”— (Mark 16:20)
The present days are marked by gross indifference to eternal realities and only preaching in the Spirit’s power can arouse the sinner’s conscience. This necessitates the presence of God. Where it is noised that He is “in the house” sinners will be drawn to hear the truth. ” The hand of the Lord with them” at Antioch caused a great number to repent and believe the Gospel. (Acts 11: 21). God has wrought wonders among the Gentiles of other days by men who gave Him and His Word their proper place in then-labours. These men were guided and supported by God. They preached The Word without ornamentation of any kind, and the whole commission of Matt. 28:19, 20 being proclaimed and practised, the Lord was with them. It cannot be otherwise in this day. The promise to those who carry out the divine pattern in its entirity, i.e., “make desciples, baptising them in The Name of The Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them (those saved and scripturally immersed) to observe all Things whatsoever I have commanded you”, is, “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
“God is in you of a truth”— (1 Cor. 14:25)
This is the testimony borne to an assembly gathered in the Name of the Lord by those witnessing its order and ministry. God’s assembly is not a secret society. Everything practised in it can be reviewed and examined by those without. The whole church is gathered together in one place (v. 23) and now two other classes have come in and are present, i.e., the unlearned (one newly saved and seeking light) and the unbeliever. From this we may learn that there is a within and a without to the local assembly. The “back seat” is no formal tradition. In those early assemblies there was such a place, from which spectators of the gathering could observe and learn Divine order. The character of the meeting should always lead those without to say, “God is in you of a truth.” The Lord Jesus is always “in the midst” of such a gathering, but often His presence is not realised fully because His Lordship is not owned and consequently the Spirit’s guidance is hindered.
“Thou art with me”— (Psalm 23:4)
This ‘ Pearl of Psalms,’ as it has been called, is precious to all the people of God. Three thousand years have passed since David first sang this song of the Shepherd care and presence of God, yet it has outlived the Sword of Goliath and the harp on which it first was played. David possibly composed it when musing over the victory of Elah. When looked at in this historical setting, the source of the stripling’s courage and faith in God are seen. “The valley of the death shade” seems to be an allusion to the Valley of Elah, in which connection the clause, “Thou art with me”, reminds us of David’s words, “I am come in the Name of the Lord of hosts.” God was with David in the day of Israel’s sorrow and perplexity. The saints of God pass home by a path of sorrow, but the Lord is with us every step of the journey. The shades may hide Him from our apprehension at times but neither death nor life can sever our souls from the unchanging place we have in His affections. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” He cannot break His word, He cannot forget His own.
“In Thy presence is fullness of joy” — (Ps. 16:11)
In Heaven, of which we know but little, the presence of our Saviour will fill our spirits with infinite delight. The cup of joy will overflow. Sin and sorrow, pain and parting will be over. The Lamb will be seen in all His beauty and glory. Such will be our happy, eternal portion.
- “The light hath there no evening;
- The health hath there no sore;
- The life hath there no ending;
- It lasteth evermore.
- The Cross is all Thy splendour,
- The Crucified Thy praise;
- His laud and benediction
- Thy ransomed peoples raise.’’
Well might we even now rejoice with joy unspeakable, for soon we shall be “forever with the Lord.” The pilgrimage could end for the Redeemed at any moment. In the twinkling of an eye we could be caught up to meet our glorious Lord. May we live in the constant expectation of that blissful event when we shall rise to be in His own immediate presence to drink of the fullness of joy for all Eternity.
- Psalm 45, 9
- Child of the Eternal Father,
- Bride of the Eternal Son,
- Dwelling-place of God the Spirit,
- Thus with Christ made ever one;
- Dowered with joy beyond the Angels
- Nearest to His throne,
- They, the ministers attending
- His beloved one:
- Granted all my heart’s desire,
- All things made my own;
- Feared by all the powers of Evil,
- Fearing God alone;
- Walking with the Lord in glory
- Through the courts divine,
- Queen within the royal palace,
- Christ for ever mine;
- Say, poor worldling, can it be,
- That my heart should envy thee?
- (Gerhardt Ter Steegen)
Your own soul is your first and greatest care. You know a sound body alone can work with power; much more a healthy soul. Keep a clear conscience through the Blood of the Lamb. Keep up close communion with God. Study likeness to Him in all things. Read the Bible for your own growth first, then for your people. Expound much; it is through the truth that souls are to be sanctified, not through essays upon the truth. Be easy of access, apt to teach, and the Lord teach you and bless you in all you do and say. You will not find many companions. Be the more with God.
Robert Murray McCheyne.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Some Christians endeavour to exhibit the godliness without the contentment. It is little wonder if the wordling doubts their having found great gain.
“Be content with such things as ye have” (Heb. 13:5) is one of the most difficult injunctions in Scripture to carry out. The story is told that Lord Congleton, of saintly memory, coming downstairs one morning, in passing the kitchen heard the cook exclaim, “Oh, if I had only five pounds, wouldn’t I be content!” Thinking the matter over, and anxious to see one woman at least “satisfied,” he shortly after handed her a £5 note. Thanking him profusely, he paused outside the door to hear if she would express her satisfaction and thank God.
As soon as his shadow was invisible, she cried out, “Why didn’t I say ten?” The heart is like the horse-leech, it ever cries, ” More! More!”
Oh, to heed Paul’s injunction, “Having food and raiment (the necessities of life), let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8); and to learn Paul’s lesson, when he said, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11), for it is still true “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6.
The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt, till they are too strong to be broken.
- Have you ever heard, of Gossip Town
- On the shore of Falsehood Bay;
- Where old Dame Rumour with rustling gown
- Is going the livelong day?
- It isn’t far to Gossip Town
- For people who want to go:
- The Idleness Train will take you down
- In just an hour or so.
- The Thoughtless Road is another route,
- And most folks start that way;
- But its steep down-grade—if you don’t look out—
- Will land you in Falsehood Bay.
- But it isn’t healthy at Gossip Town,
- And I will not follow you there;
- I would rather live at Thanksgiving Street,
- In the house that is called All-Prayer.
- For here I learn my Father’s will,
- And the Sun is warm and bright;
- And whatever the Master bids me do,
- I do it with all my might.
THERE was once a Quaker whose cows got into his neighbour’s corn, and the neighbour drove them off to the pound. The Quaker found them there after a great deal of trouble, but he did not say anything about it. The next week, however, his neighbour’s cows got into his corn. He quietly drove them out and home, and said to their owner: “Thy cows got into my corn and I have brought them home; and I give thee fair warning that, if it ever happens again, I will do just the same.” The neighbour went to a Quaker meeting after that to see what it was that had such an effect upon his neighbour, and it resulted in bringing him also to the Lord. True consecration will always have its effect.
A. B. Simpson