Notes of an Address
The Two Sauls
the late Wm. Rodgers
Three Great Sights
By Harry Bell, Jarrow (Continued)
7. THE ENLARGEMENT OF THESE SEVEN THINGS
(1) The Church is a divine Society or Organism which has its SOURCE in “God.” It is of divine origin. Compare Prov. 30:27. “The locusts have no king, yet they go forth all of them by bands”. So it is with the local Assemblies of the Saints.
In Ephesians the Church is viewed as a Building (Ch. 2:21-22), as a Body (Ch. 4:16), and as a Bride (Ch. 5:25-33). To this we have a parallel in 1st and 2nd Corinthians. Thus:
1 Cor. Ch. 3:9
|…… a Building||Visible expression of God’s Glory|
1 Cor. Ch. 12
|…… a Body|
2 Cor. Ch. 11:2
|…… a Bride|
One day the Universe will see God’s glory in the Church. It cannot be seen fully now, but men can see a replica of it in the local Church—a visible model or pattern of the great heavenly Church.
(Illustration: A photograph is a replica of something which is greater and tangible.)
(2) The SPHERE of the Church—” which is at Corinth”—Corinth with all its lust, immorality, learning, commercialism and wealth.
So we, who form the Churches of God, are set in the midst of evil, as luminaries to shine forth with the Word of God. The local Assembly is the only company with divine sanction to witness for God.
(3) The SANCTIFICATION—“Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Sanctification means to be delivered from earthly defilement or filth. By it I am brought into the Church.
- We have Sanctification by the Spirit. It is Preparatory—1 Pet. 1:2.
- We have Sanctification by the Blood. It is Permanent—-Heb. 13:12.
- And we have Sanctification by the Word. It is Progressive—John 17:17.
In Acts. 9:26 Paul “assayed to join himself” to the Church. By the grace of God, and through sanctification, we are permitted to be in the Church.
(4) The SAINTS constitute the Church. Before being saved they gloried in iniquity; but God called them—cleansed them from filth and made them Saints. The Old Testament word means Gracious Ones. The New Testament word means Sanctified Ones.
We are called into Saintship by God.
(5) The SOCIETY into which they were brought—“with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
There are many companies of Saints gathered together in this manner, See 1 Cor. 11:16. These were not independent units, but were in happy fellowship one with the other. There was an inter-relation of Assemblies one with another, but not a district Oversight. That is not of God.
Let me give you an illustration: Here, let us suppose, is a brother in the Church at Heirapolis. He becomes dissatisfied with the things going on in his Assembly and looks around to see what is the state in other Assemblies, with the view of joining one of them. In each of them, however, he finds certain faults.
- At Ephesus …… They have left their first love.
- At Colosse …… They are worshipping Angels.
- At Corinth …… They are drunken at the Lord’s Supper.
- At Galatia …… They are mixing law with grace.
- At Thessalonica … They have wrong views about the Lord’s return, etc.
- At Philippi …… Two sisters are quarrelling with each other.
He wisely decides therefore to remain where he is.
“Calling upon the name of the Lord” suggests two things:
- 1. Dependence upon the Lord—Trust for salvation and all present needs.
- 2. Devotion to the Lord—Holiness and sobriety of life are the marks of it.
(6) The SUBMISSION —” Our Lord and theirs.”
The Lordship of Christ should be acknowledged in every Assembly of Saints. Now, in the New Testament certain titles of our Lord characterize certain Books. Thus:
- In Ephesians it is …… “Christ.”
- In Romans it is …… “Lord Jesus Christ.”
- In Hebrews it is …… “Jesus.”
- In 1 John it is …… “Son of God.”
- In Corinthians it is …. … “Lord.” For the troubles at Corinth were caused by His Lordship being set aside and ignored.
“Lord” implies ownership. Christ is Owner of the Assembly. It has been bought by Him to do what HE pleases with it. ALL should be done to His glory.
(7) The SUPPLY from God for the Church—“ Grace be unto you and peace.”
- Grace—A DIVINE ATTRIBUTE—It comes down from Heaven—Brought by the Lord.
- Peace—THE DIVINE ATMOSPHERE—It springs up in the Heart— left by the Lord.
Again, Grace is entirely of God. Peace is what God and I enjoy together.
|The Easterner spoke much about Peace||We have both in the Lord.|
|The Westerner spoke much about Grace|
“Grace be unto you”—That Divine abundance which is available for them.
Now, Grace is spoken of in a threefold way:
- V. 3: “Grace be unto you”—That which can be theirs.
- V. 4: “Grace . . . which is given you”—That which is theirs.
- V. 7: “Come behind in no grace (gift)”—That which is visibly manifest to them by their gifts.
By the late Wm. Rodgers
Read: 1 Sam. 8:11-17; 10:23; 15:19,23; 18:9; 19:1; 26:21; 28:16; 31:4; Acts. 13:22; 26:19; 1 Cor. 4:10; 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:2; 12:15; Gal. 1:13; 2 Tim. 4:6, 7, 17.
THESE Scriptures throw into sharp contrast in many respects two well known Bible characters, one in the Old Testament, the other in the New Testament. Both of these men bore the same name, “Saul,” both were Israelites, and both belonged to the same tribe, namely, Benjamin. The contrast is seen all through their records, but most of all it is seen in their respective ends. The one died a suicide, the other a martyr. Or, the difference may be expressed in another way; for of the O.T. Saul we read in Acts. 13 that God “removed him,” while his namesake in the N.T. was able to say at his end, “I have finished the course.”
Still more impressive perhaps are the statements made as to God’s relationship with each man at the close of his career. King Saul’s confession in 1 Sam. 28:15 “God is departed from me and answereth me no more,” while the Apostle in 2 Tim. 4:17 was able to assert, “The Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” Both their histories are set in the Word of God for our learning, the one by way of warning, the other by way of example. That of King Saul has at times been made a bone of contention as to whether he was what we speak of as a “saved” man or not; but which ever view one takes, the warning for us remains. Personally, I feel that certain of the statements made of him are such as would not be true of any saved person, not even of a backslider. Of such a one it might become true that the Lord would see fit to “remove” him, as He removed certain members of the Corinthian Church. But could it be said that the Lord had “departed” from him and “had become his enemy”? Or could it be said of any saved person, “Because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord. He hath also rejected thee”? (1 Sam. 15:23).
However this may be, we have in the O.T. Saul a man who seemed to make a good start, and yet who ended very badly, and of this he is not the only example in the Bible. There are others, alas, from King Solomon on the one hand, to Judas Iscariot, on the other, whose records bring to mind the proverb quoted by King Ahab, “Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off” (1 Ki. 20:11). How often in our own experience we have been woefully disappointed in some, of whom at their beginning we had high hopes, but who later turned aside from the path entirely. As the route of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan was marked by a line of the graves of those who were overthrown in the wilderness, so our own wilderness journeying has also been marked. Some, like Solomon, have backsliden from what they once were, and some, like Judas, have proved that they never had real life at all. What a contrast to these, however, is the course of Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul! His was a course of steadfastness and progress. He had a good beginning, a good middle, and a good finish. He could ever say, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark”; and as we have already seen, he could at last say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course.” He could at all times say,” Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
But a good end is ever the product of the other two—the good beginning and the good middle, and the contrast in these two Sauls was manifest a long time before we come to their deaths. Even before the O.T. Saul is introduced by name, the prophet Samuel placed before the people the character their desired king would have. In 1 Sam. 8 the expression, “HE WILL TAKE,” is used of him no less than six times. He was to be a selfish man, one who would take all and give nothing. In this he has many successors. Paul had on one occasion to say, “All seek their own.” But when we look at the Apostle himself what a difference we find! He could assert, as in 2 Cor. 12, “I will gladly spend and he spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” Yea, he could wish himself “accursed from Christ,” if by that means his brethren of Israel could be brought into blessing.
When we come to the actual story of Saul’s life in 1 Sam. 15 we find him deliberately disobeying the command of God concerning Amalek—keeping back the best of the spoil and sparing the leader. On the other hand, Paul could claim that in every part of his course, as well as at its beginning, he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Yet again, Saul in 1 Sam. 18:9, and onward, was consumed with personal jealously of David, but though Paul was jealous over his converts, it was not with personal jealousy, but with godly jealousy, or jealousy for God’s glory. Even when men of a different stamp were preaching Christ “of envy and strife,” supposing that they were adding affliction to his bonds, instead of being jealous, he could say, “Nevertheless Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice and will rejoice.” As a result of Saul’s jealousy, he became a persecutor; but all the persecution done by Paul was in his unconverted days, and was due, not at all to personal jealousy, but to a mistaken zeal for God.
Even in personal appearance, the two men seem contrasted. Saul of the O.T. is introduced to us as “a choice young man and goodly”, who was taller by more than a head than any of the people; while of the Apostle they “His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
Incidentally, it may be noted that another and more immediate contrast with King Saul, lies in the character of David, the king who succeeded him, and of whom God in Acts. 13:22, after speaking of Saul’s removal said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” Thus the disobedient king gave place to the obedient one; the selfish king who would “take” all, to one who “perceived that the Lord had established him king… for His people Israel’s sake” (2 Sam. 5:12); and who in the unselfishness of his heart, would say in the hour of plague and danger, “These sheep, what have they done? Let Thy hand be against me” (2 Sam. 24:17).
The outstanding contrast, however, between Saul and David lies in their attitude to inquiring of the Lord. Almost a dozen times in David’s history we read of him doing this, and any mistakes he made were made at times when he failed to do so. The first of these was at the bringing up of the Ark, concerning which he is said to have consulted with his chief captains, but not with the Lord. Later, there came a period of which it is said, that “The counsel of Ahithophel . . . was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God . . . both with David and with Absalom,” and this ended in the Absalom rebellion. Finally, we have the numbering of the people concerning which, not only did David not inquire of God, but persisted even in face of the opposition of Joab and other captains.
But Saul all through his course made little of such inquiry. In the very first story we have of him, when his servants suggested an inquiry through Samuel about the lost asses, he considered a quarter shekel (about 6d.) ample payment for such. Later, in his impatience he sought to inquire irregularly, and later still broke off an inquiry unfinished when the Philistines were drawing near. Then by slaying the priests he cut himself off from that means of inquiring (the Urim), and at the end he turned to the witch of Endor. “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the Word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; AND ENQUIRED NOT OF THE LORD: therefore He slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse” (1 Chron. 10:13, 14). Thus to the very end the Holy Spirit Himself preserves the contract between these two kings.
In all that we have considered what lessons there are for us to-day! Let us see to it that we profit by them.
By George Hart, Warrington
LIKE ourselves, the children of Israel were redeemed with a view to being established in the Promised Land. Nevertheless they had to pass through the wilderness before they reached it, and their redemption was a real thing to them even in the wilderness. So with us, our redemption is a very real thing now, and in the light of this, we must review it from the third aspect:—
Redemption in Practice
It is good to know that we are redeemed, and to know the value of our redemption, but it is good also to live in the joy of our redemption. Israel did not simply sit back in Egypt and rejoice that they had been saved from destruction by the sprinkled blood; they got up out of Egypt to follow wherever the Lord would lead them. We too enter into the practical blessings of our redemption in the measure in which we are prepared to follow the Lord. How often we remain in bondage to things from which we can be delivered if only we will arise and follow the pillar-cloud! It is not that we remain in bondage by reason of our own weakness, for freedom is ours in spite of our weakness. “Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place” (Exodus 13:3). We are saved by the power of God, yet how we limit that power in our personal experience.
Redemption did not merely bring Israel into a new condition, it gave them a new status. God’s strength had given them freedom, but it also gave them dignity. ” Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13). Those who were in servitude in Egypt were now brought into God’s dwelling. The fact that God dwelt in their midst lent dignity to their wilderness walk. If we would but remember that we are “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22), with what dignity would we conduct our lives!
The wilderness brought numerous changes into Israel’s life, changes which should find their counterpart in our life, and we shall conclude our study by observing some of them.
Firstly, Israel changed their environment. Instead of living in Egypt, mixing with the Egyptians, being occupied with the things of Egypt, they now lived a separated life in the desert. They lived in the company of the redeemed, nor were they to form associations outside that company: their lives were to be lived to God. Peter reminds the exiled Jews that they were redeemed from their vain manner of life received by tradition from the fathers,
and assumes that they have left that life behind. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, also expects that they will have left their spiritual Egypt behind for a better environment: “Among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh …” Ours is a new life in a new company, for “how can two walk together except they be agreed?”
Israel changed their food. No longer did they sit by the fleshpots of Egypt, feeding on leeks, garlics and onions—things which blunt the sense of taste. They now had manna—heavenly food, typical of Christ. How sad it is to read that betimes they lusted after Egypt’s food and said: “Our soul loatheth this light bread.” They did all “eat the same spiritual meat: and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor.10:3-4). Yet with some the Lord was displeased because of their lusting after Egypt. Let us see to it that we do not incur His displeasure, but let us remember His promise: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
Israel changed their aims. Instead of building Pithom and Raamses, treasure cities for Pharaoh, they pressed on towards the land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey. Our aims, too, have changed, for “our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour.” “Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Finally, Israel changed their government. In Egypt, they were in harsh bondage to Pharaoh, who used them for what he could get out of them. In the desert they came under the government of a loving God, who ruled them for what He could bring them into. The more they acknowledged the rule of the Lord, the greater the blessings they enjoyed.
Our government, too, has changed, and we wish to draw your attention to a very beautiful picture of this. Matthew quotes the prophet Zechariah concerning Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on his way to the Cross: “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5). The King, riding upon the ass, and on His way to accomplish His work of redemption! What a beautiful picture is presented here. . Is not this God’s purpose for His redeemed people? The Redeemer-King riding upon the ass—the redeemed creature! May we, as we meditate upon this wonderful redemption into which we have been brought, be able to say truly:
- “King of my life I crown thee now,
- Thine shall the glory he …”
- January 15th—Been resting quietly for a week. The first few nights after the 1st of this year, my owner read me regularly, but I think he has forgotten me.
- February 2nd—Clean up. I was dusted with other things and put back in my place.
- February 8th—Owner used me for a short time after dinner, looking up a few references. Went to Sunday School.
- March 7th—Clean up. Dusted and in my place again. Have been down on the hall table since my trip to Sunday School.
- April 2nd—Busy day. Owner led the Young People’s Meeting and had to look up references. He had a trying time finding one, though it was right there in its place all the time.
- May 5th—In Grandma’s lap all afternoon. She is here on a visit; she let a tear-drop fall on 1 Cor. 2:9, 10.
- May 6th—In Grandma’s lap again this afternoon. She spent most of her time on 1 Cor. 13, and the last four verses of 1 Cor. 15.
- May 7th, 8th and 9th—In Grandma’s lap every afternoon now. It is a comfortable spot. Sometimes she reads me and sometimes she talks to me.
- May 10th—Grandma gone. Back in the old place. She kissed me Good-bye.
- June 3rd—Had a couple of four-leaf clovers stuck in me to-day.
- July 1st—Packed in a trunk with clothes and other things. Off for a holiday.
- July 7th—Still in the trunk.
- July 10th—Still in the trunk, though nearly everything else has been taken out.
- July 15th—Home again and in my old place. Quite a journey; though I do not see why I went.
- August 1st—Rather stuffy and hot. Have two newspapers and a storybook on top of me. Wish they would take them off.
Reader, is thine a neglected Bible? Has the newspaper, the novel, the Radio, or the T.V. displaced it in thine affections? Think, O think, beloved, of what a priceless treasure thou hast in this sacred volume. It is a mine of wealth, an ocean of delight, a very paradise of glory. Would’st thou sit down like Mary at the Master’s feet, or lean like John upon His bosom? “The word is nigh thee.” “Here,” as another has said, “is the door. Here is the Presence Chamber. It is in thine open Bible.” Then neglect not this Holy Book. To do so is the highest folly. It is to impoverish thy soul and to bring about thine own irreparable loss in time and eternity.
- “Dust on the Bible, and drought in the heart;
- These two God hath married and no man can part.”
By Wm. Williams, Venezuela
“AND Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned” (Ex. 3:3). This is the first great sight we wish to speak of. The incident has given rise to various interpretations. The National Church of Scotland has as its emblem a burning bush over the motto (in Latin), “and was not consumed.” It takes this as a sign of its indestructibility. But we are afraid that if the fiery warrior, John Knox, saw his Kirk today, he would admit that what the fire could not destroy, the wood-louse of modernism, ritual and worldliness has done. Where are the Bonars, the McCheynes and the men who stood for a divinely inspired Bible? Their bush has gone up in smoke and only a heap of ashes remains with a cross planted in the centre!
Practically, the bush was the means the Lord used to draw Moses aside, as He wished to speak to him. God would have us unshod and apart from the busy life before He speaks to us.
But prophetically, the burning bush speaks of the Nation Moses was going to deliver from Egypt. That Nation has been through the fiercest fires of persecution and hatred, exceeded by no other nation. In our own day, the tyrant Hitler destroyed six million Jews and hoped to see the bush extinguished. But Hitler has gone and his name and memory are an execration. The little bush still burns. It is not consumed and never will be until Shiloh comes and heads the glorious line of God’s earthly people—the Jews. Nasser says that there will be no peace in Asia until they are exterminated and he has set himself the task to do this. But his days are numbered and he will sink into ignominy and shame as have done others who have threatened the Chosen People. They are far from God and still full of unbelief, it is true, but there are signs that the fig tree is putting forth her leaves, for the Jews have passed from being a despised minority to a proud Republic, which has captivated the admiration of the civilized world. God has His eye on the burning bush and He is waiting the glad day when He will send the Deliverer.
“And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts and returned” (Luke 23:48). This poor world through its long chequered course has beheld some indescribable sights of man’s inhumanity to man. But never was such a sight gazed upon by cruel, carnal, curious man as the sight of Calvary. The blood-thirsty mob had seen man crucify his Creator. The sinless Son of God was made sin that they
might be saved. That unique sight, never seen before, never to be seen again, never to be repeated, had produced various reactions. “The rulers derided Him”. “The soldiers mocked Him”. The people stood beholding Him with amazing indifference. The soldiers cast the die for the seamless robe in gross irreverence. But one voice rang out amidst the din: “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into thy kingdom.” He was born a King. He entered Jerusalem as a King. They were crucifying Him as a King; but the dying thief was the first to believe it and profit by it. “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”, came the King’s reply.
But the deed was done. The spectacle was over. The people began to go home from that sight, smiting their breasts.
The third great sight we find in Rev. 1:7 “Behold He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.” Now here is a sight from which there is no turning away. Millions of His creatures have derided Him, blasphemed His name, refused to look upon Him in grace. Now the scene has changed and “every eye shall see him.” The brow that once with thorns was bound is crowned with glory now. The day of revelation and reckoning has come. A fearful wailing is heard as the impenitent wretches awake to the fact that they have pierced their very Creator.
Of this sight we can say little. It is beyond our ken and capacity to explain that which requires believing rather than explaining. But this phrase we would retain with awe and reverence: “Every eye shall see Him.” Reader how will it be with you at that day?
’TWAS I THAT DID IT”
- I see the crowd in Pilate’s hall,
- I mark their wrathful mien:
- Their shouts of” Crucify” appal.
- With blasphemy between.
- And of that shouting multitude
- I feel that I am one;
- And in that din of voices rude
- I recognise my own.
- I see the scourges tear His back,
- I see the piercing crown,
- And of that crowd who smite and mock,
- I feel that I am one.
- Around yon cross, the throng I see,
- Mocking the Sufferer’s groan;
- Yet still my voice it seems to be,
- As if I mocked alone.
- ’Twas I that shed the sacred blood ,
- I nailed Him to the tree,
- I crucified the Christ of God,
- I joined the mockery.
- Yet not the less that blood avails.
- To cleanse away my sin.
- And not the less that cross prevails
- To give me peace within.
- Horatious Bonar
- Brother, is your soul discouraged?
- Does your way seem rough and bare?
- Just remember Christ is leading:
- Watching with a shepherd’s care.
- He from death to life has brought us,
- From the paths of sin and shame,
- Shed His blood to seal our pardon.
- Hallelujah! Praise His name!
- Sister, does your load seem heavy?
- Shadows hang around your head?
- Jesus lives—and that to bless you,
- Christ is risen from the dead!
- Where-so’ere the Lord may lead you
- Love divine will be the same:
- Jesus lives—the Great Forever!
- Hallelujah! Praise His name!
- Christians, let us work together,
- Looking unto Christ the Son.
- Trouble “stains” will fade completely
- When the Christians work as one.
- Christ the head, and we the members:
- Sinners washed from every stain!
- Let us honour our Redeemer:
- Hallelujah! Praise His name!
- John Beattie, Omagh.