“Where is the Guest Chamber?”
the late W. J. McClure
Outlining the Book of Revelation
By Wm. Bunting (Continued)
WITH reference to the introduction of these things in assemblies in the U.S.A., one has recently written: “Tremendous strides have been made towards organization. This has resulted in a craze for new buildings. One could not find fault with an assembly having a dignified hall to meet in, but many companies of the Lord’s people have been encouraged to assume debts that their children’s children will be paying for, should our Lord tarry . . . There is also a trend towards centralization: a centralization of funds; a centralization of teaching, which is a step towards the return of the theological seminary; and a centralization of power. It was this very same evil that brought such harm and disaster to the testimony of assemblies in days past … A subtle form of clerisy has arisen in our midst. Some, graduating from a Bible School, assume a kind of pastorate in certain places, and become evangelist, pastor and teacher and all. They have never served an apprenticeship in pioneer work, and they lack both knowledge and experience to build according to God’s pattern . . . Another existing danger relative to the support of the Lord’s work, is the increasing tendency to copy the methods of the religious world, in a continuous begging for money. Thus the path of faith to be trodden by the servant is destroyed … it is an insult to that simplicity in Christ to copy the religious world in this, and destructive of our confidence in God . . . There is a growing tendency to ‘speciality features’. Youth work is placed into the hands of young, inexperienced men who resort to all types of innovations. Such movements thrive in a light atmosphere and produce many man-made converts, ultimately breaking the hearts of both parents and elder brethren”.1
- 1From “Is there not a Cause?” Obtainable from [Outdated address but left for historical interest] Words of Faith, Grand Rapids, Mich., U.S.A. Price 15c. per copy …
In connection with this last named matter, it is of interest to know that a new Youth movement is at present getting under way in the British Isles. It is the “Every Boy’s Rally”, commonly known as “E.B.R.”, an import from New Zealand assemblies. The organization provides each boy member with uniform and badges. “Meetings . . . take the form of opening parade, inspection, drill, and team games with a devotional talk”. A course in practical ‘Scoutmanship’ is provided at the local ‘Scouters’ Training Centre. According to the Press, “the body is confined to the Plymouth Brethren”, but it is added that “the organisation is, as the name indicates, inter-denominational’’.
Upon reading this recently, one wondered for a moment were one’s eyes functioning correctly. But there could be no mistake about it. There it was in black and white. Talk of new methods and pleasing novelties to cater for the tastes of modem youth! Here they are with a vengeance. What more would a boy want?—uniform, badges, parades, inspections, drill, team games, contact with the Scout organisation, and of course, “a devotional talk” tacked on—and all calculated to bring assemblies into line with the poor religious world, and to shun the offence of the cross. What, pray, may we expect next? Again we ask, must we have recourse to such methods in order to whip up interest in God’s things? What is more, should innovations which appeal only to the natural man be given any countenance in a company which professes to be “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15)? When men brought mundane things into God’s material House, did not our Lord drive them out and say, “Take these things hence” (Jo. 2:16)? and did not Nehemiah in an earlier day evince the same zeal for the honour of God’s House, when he “cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber . . . and cleansed the chambers, and brought again the vessels of the House of God” (Neh. 13:8, 9)? Moreover, have we not come to a pitiable pass, brethren, when amongst us there are found men who will un-blushingly presume to foist such pretensions upon God’s people?
We do not at all suggest, however, that a thing is wrong just because it is new. One could give examples of strange and novel doings which unmistakably bore the stamp of divine approval. A certain clergyman who had a true love for souls, found in his parish many men of the poorer class, who for a collar never wore anything but a handkerchief or large neckcloth. It was difficult to induce such to mix with a respectably dressed congregation; and so to win them, the preacher doffed his clerical collar and appeared in the pulpit wearing a “choker”. That was an innovation, but who will say that it was wrong? Let us hope indeed that the good man never again appeared in his Romish garb. No, we do not condemn a thing just because it is new. What we do condemn are worldly methods and fleshly attractions which violate Divine principles, and are more in harmony with the spirit of the age than with God’s holy will as revealed in His Word. How reprehensible these things would be to the men of God who planted assemblies, were thay here to see them! They certainly were not needed in that mighty work of grace which we have been considering. “When”, however, wrote the late Mr. J. B. Watson, “a church has professedly taken the line of acknowledgement of Christ’s Lordship, has no ministry save such as He has raised up, no leaders other than the shepherds He has given, no order of service but that which comes of His leading—and when from these spiritual power has departed through want of reality, traditionalism, internal strife or unjudged sin, then there is NOTHING to cloak the stark fact of barrenness. It is the mark of His displeasure. Things become desperate. He intends they should, so that the church may be driven back to Him in confession and repentance. The temptation at such times is to prescribe some palliative, to devise a new method rather than turn to Him for succour, to introduce some novelty of organisation rather than confess and repent. But to leave the real for the seeming, the best for the next-best, the Lord’s way for man’s substitute, is to build with mud and wattle”. Alas, that there are so many “mud and wattle” builders to-day.
Mr. Spurgeon’s Testimony
The great soul winners of the past, however, did not so build. Listen to the testimony of Mr. Spurgeon, who, let it be remembered, was not in assemblies at all. “Are you afraid” he wrote, “that the preaching of the Gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? Is that why you must have music, and architecture, and flowers, and millinery? … I have for long worked out the experiment of the unaided attractiveness of the Gospel of Jesus. Our service is severely plain. No man ever comes here to gratify his eye with art, or his ear with music”. Whether or not results justified Mr. Spurgeon’s “experiment”, readers can judge for themselves. Certainly his judgment coincided with that of Paul, the greatest soul winner, who purposely refrained from using “persuasive words of wisdom”, at Corinth, so that his converts’ “faith would not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4, 5, R.V.). Ought not we therefore to eschew every questionable thing for the same reason? We err, beloved brethren, if we fail to recognise that modern trappings and trimmings only detract from “the glory of the Gospel”. Let us beware then lest by some beggarly whim or fancy of ours “the cross of Christ should be made of none effect”.
Not only so, but if we are at liberty to imitate the religious world in its entertainment programme, just where are we to draw the line? We read of one congregation which offered dancing lessons as an attractive draw to the public. Another ran a smoking concert; and yet another advertised the showing of a gangster film. Surely our brethren would shudder to think of associating with such innovations. Let it be remembered, however, that in all probability the congregations concerned would at one time have done so, too; but Satan worked in the thin edge of his wedge, and in time succeeded to drive in the whole wedge. Are we quite sure he may not succeed again, if we fail to resist him?
Lessons from Scripture
Concerning this, as all other matters, have we not solemn lessons in Scripture? In the early chapters of 1 Samuel, for example, failure and defeat were painfully in evidence amongst
God’s people. “I-chabod” (the glory is departed) was written across their futile efforts to break the power of the foe. How then were the fortunes of Israel to be retrieved? How was deliverance to be effected? “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5), demanded the men of Israel. Samuel remonstrated with them, but in vain. They must have something new, something for the eye to feast upon, something to minister to the vanity of their hearts, and something after a worldly pattern— “a king like all the nations”. Samuel had made his sons to be judges, though they were quite unfit for that office. Now the popular demand is for a king, illustrating what we have already pointed out about the thin edge of Satan’s wedge. What was it, however, that Israel did really need? It was a return of the Divine Presence, of which the sacred Ark, now away from its true centre, was the visible symbol; and let there be no mistake about it, the clamant need of our day is an increased measure of the presence of God. There can be no substitute for this. When it was “noised that He (our blessed Lord) was in the house”, the disciples did not require any innovations to attract the crowds; and it is just the same in this twentieth century. Let the old-time message of a crucified and risen Saviour be proclaimed in the old-time power of the ungrieved Holy Spirit, and it will woo and win souls as it ever did. Times have changed, it is true, but God’s principles and power remain unchanged. The introduction of worldly innovations, however, is a virtual denial of our absolute dependence upon that power, and is opposed by the whole tenor of Scripture. David’s “new cart” for bringing up the Ark, which no doubt appeared to him an innocent change for the better (see 1 Chron. 13:7; 15:12-15); Ahaz’s new altar, which because of its “fashion” and stately size (called “the great altar”), pleased even Urijah the priest and friend of Isaiah (2 Kings 16:10-16), and displaced the now antiquated brazen altar; Saul, the young man of fine physique and “goodly” appearance, the peoples’ choice for kingship (see 1 Sam. 9:1; 12:13), given by God “in His anger and taken away in His wrath” (Hos. 13:11), are all illustrations of this.
Brethren, we are living in an hour of world crisis. The sins of the nations, as the sins of Sodom, cry to high heaven for vengeance. The world rushes to its fearful and eternal doom. The future is ominous of the wrath of the Lamb. The lurid shadows of the Great Tribulation fall athwart our path. Conditions ripen fast for the emergence of Antichrist, the lawless one. The return of our beloved Lord for His own, which we believe must take place first, is imminent. The need of the hour is that we should repent of our world-bordering, our lukewarmness and apathy, our lack of love and consideration for the consciences of our brethren, our jealousy and selfishness, our carnal striving for position, our party bickerings, our petty, peevish and irresponsible judging of others, and our unscriptural divisions. The need of the hour is that wrongs amongst Christians should be adjusted, that we should live holy lives which will be a testimony to the unsaved and that we should pray, – instantly and earnestly, both individually and collectively, that our God may look upon us in His great mercy, and once more visit us in grace and power, that through our instrumentality many may be saved ere it is forever too late. Come, beloved, come; “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord” (Lam. 3:40). His challenge to our hearts is, “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:10).
- “There shall be showers of blessing,
- Oh, that to-day they might fall,
- Now as to God we’re confessing,
- Now as on Jesus we call”.
By the late W. J. McClure
“The Master saith unto thee, where is the guest chamber?” Luke 22:11
THESE words were addressed to the person in whose home the Lord and His disciples kept the last Passover, ere He went to the cross. We desire to use them in a more general way, to stir up the Lord’s dear people to the exercise of a grace which seems in many places to be dying out, and in most places is not cultivated as it ought to be—the grace of hospitality.
We have in 2 Kings 4 the account of the woman of Shunem, whom God has called “great”. Many women have lived since her day, whom the world calls great. Florence Nightingale, Frances Willard, Queen Victoria, and many others too numerous to mention, have claims to greatness, but none of them has been so distinguished as the woman of Shunem. Her act is recorded in the imperishable Word of God, and wherever it is read, she is known and her deed spoken of.
What did she do? Well, there was nothing spectacular about it—nothing like what some of the heroines we have read about did; Grace Darling, risking her life to save a crew of ship-wrecked sailors; or Florence Nightingale, enduring the rigors of a Russian winter, to minister to wounded soldiers in the Crimean War, etc. No, this dear woman only suggested to her husband that he prepare a “little chamber”, that a prophet of God might have a place to stay, when in those parts. Doubtless the act, always acceptable to God, was much more so then, when so few in Israel had any heart for Him; and well did He reward her then, but she has also to meet it in a coming day.
“Where is the Guestchamber?” In Rom. 12 we have a number of practical things enjoined upon the Lord’s people, and among them we find this—”Given to hospitality” (v. 13). The word rendered “given” in this verse, is rendered “persecuted” in Acts 26:11, “follow after” in Phil. 3:12, and “press towards” in Phil. 3:14. When Paul was persecuting the church, there was nothing half hearted about it. “Being exceedingly mad against them”, he said, “I persecuted them even unto strange cities” (Acts 26:11). And when seeking to lay hold of that for which Christ had laid hold of him, he did not act as if it were a matter of little consequence. It is in this whole-hearted way that hospitality should be exercised. Often an invitation is given in such a way as almost says, ‘I hope you will not accept it.’ That was not how the disciples invited the Lord in Luke 24 : 29, though they did not know that it was the Lord. We read that “He made as though He would have gone further”. He tested them, and then we see how hearty their invitation was, for “they constrained Him, saying, abide with us”. Oh what they would have lost, had they invited Him in the same way as many do now.
“Where is the Guestchamber?” How many of the Lord’s people on taking up housekeeping at first, never seem to have the thought cross their mind that such a place should be part of the Christian home. Thus some go on through life without apparently ever learning it, and as a result, in some fairly large assemblies it is difficult to find a place even for one wholly engaged in the work of the Lord to stay, much less for hospitality to saints generally. Many a believer is in for a painful surprise at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when they see what they have missed. On the other hand, there will be some glad surprises—some will learn that they entertained the Lord, and they did not know it (see Matt. 25:40). Most of the excuses put forward for not exercising hospitality will not look very good at the Judgment Seat, and indeed they do not look good now. A spiritually minded believer can see that the real cause for not doing it is, not a small house, but a small heart.
“Where is the Guestchamber?” Poverty among the saints has never been a bar to the cultivation of the graces of the new life. The widow of Zarephath was not debarred from the honour of exercising hospitality by her poverty, and it was very great, for she had come to the last handful of meal and the last little drop of oil, when God sent Elijah to board with her. But no one in the land of Israel ever entertained such a paying guest as he. Her food troubles were over, the day he crossed her threshold. Read, Kings 17:10-16. The real servant of Christ will never be a burden on anyone.
“Where is the Guestchamber?” “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Heb. 13:2). Like the Master, these angels had come in such a way that they were not entertained because of their exalted rank. What was done for them was done because grace was operating in the hearts of those that did it. Then when they had departed there came the pleasant surprise that an angel had been under their roof. How the memories of such a visit would linger, and it would be remarked that there was something about the one who had been there that was so different from others, and a subtle influence which they had felt but could not explain was now no more a secret—they had entertained an angel.
We fear, however, that there is a measure of excuse sometimes for the unwillingness of believers to exercise hospitality, because of the lack of consideration shown by some who have abused it. How much can be done to keep the housewife from feeling an extra strain, where already there is enough. Little services can be done for oneself that are too often permitted to be done by the one who entertains, and in a busy home everything counts. And that the housewife is willing to do it, does not, in the vast majority of cases, prevent that person feeling thankful that she is given time to devote to other things. Then there is the f matter of being on time for the meals. How often the thoughtlessness of the person entertained has added a great deal to the work of one who has already enough to occupy her time fully. Instead of being able to clear away the breakfast things and get at other work, it is often a matter of waiting the coming of the guest— keeping food warm or cooking a new meal. In a rare case it may please the housewife better to get the family served ere the guest comes to the morning meal. But where one may wish it, we have found ten who appreciate the consideration of the guest in making himself one of the family and expecting no better attention. It ought to be the case of all who serve the Lord to cultivate the grace of hospitality in believers, and the very best way is to be grateful for it and not to take too much advantage of proffered service, however hearty the person may be who would render it.
Were this attended to, return visits would be more eagerly looked forward to, and the grace of hospitality cultivated instead of being hindered, as it sometimes is.
“Where is the Guestchamber?” “The Master saith unto thee, where is the guestchamber?” The answer might in some cases be, ‘I never had any’. Others might say, ‘I had one, but I thought I would rent it; as rooms are fetching such a rent now, I thought I might as well make something out of it’. This in some cases is done where no need exists, and only to accumulate money. So when the Master comes and asks, “Where is the guestchamber?” He will have to be told that it is rented to make something out of it, which implies that He is not a paying guest. Then again, others may say, whether it be the case of a servant of Christ coming to minister the Word, or of receiving believers into the home at a time of Conference meetings, “The brethren who care for the assembly will see that places are gotten’.
“The Master saith unto thee, where is the guestchamber?” This is a grace to be cultivated by all who have a home. And if you have not such a place in your home, dear believer, you should seek to have one. If the Lord never sends the guest you will not thereby lose your reward. By and by He will say to you, “Thou didst well in that it was in thine heart” (2 Chron. 6:8). “For God will make manifest the counsels of the heart, and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor. 4:5).
By Samuel Jardine, Belfast
“The Things That Are”, Chaps. 2 and 3
THE second part of the book of Revelation preserves its own distinctive features and yet borrows a great deal from the first. The traits and titles of the Son of Man, as given in Chap. 1, are reproduced almost in full in these two chapters, so that while each of the seven churches has its own peculiar need, something is seen in the Lord Jesus Christ to meet that need. Similarly it can be seen that the second section introduces ideas which have fuller development in the third. For example with ch. 2:7, “The tree of life”, see ch. 22:1; with ch. 2:11, “The second death”, see ch. 20:14; 21:8; with ch. 3:5, “White garments”, see ch. 7:9; 19:8. Compare also ch. 3:10 with ch. 7:14; ch. 3:12 with ch. 21:22; ch. 3:12 with ch. 21:2; ch. 3:21 with ch. 22:1-3. The unity of the book is thus demonstrated in a fascinating way. The matter of the second section is finally complemented by citations from the Old Testament, including references to “The Paradise of God”, “Balaam”, “Jezebel”, and “The Key of David”.
A Local and Immediate Value
These seven letters possessed a local and immediate value, corrective or consoling to the churches addressed. But since they are the Lord’s elaboration of the mystery of ch. 1:20 we must find a further meaning and value in them. This is no doubt the larger view which embraces the conditions of the Church on earth during seven successive stages of its time-history—a remarkable foreview of her chequered experiences right until her removal from this scene. To this we hope to turn later, but for the present let us consider a further value of these seven letters, that which may be derived by any Assembly of saints at any period of the Lord’s absence in Heaven.
The letters in general are framed in the same form so that we get in each:—
- 1st: An attitude of Christ that would meet the local need. 2nd: An appreciation that would gain their hearts and attention.
- 3rd: An application to adjust the wrong or encourage the right.
- 4th: An appeal to the individual to give audience to the Spirit of God.
- 5th: An assurance to those who overcome the prevailing difficulties of their time.
For our present purpose we shall confine ourselves to the first of these, we trust with profit to both our personal and Assembly life.
I. Ephesus is declared to be a fallen church, ch. 2:5: “Remember from whence thou art fallen”. The defection of this assembly must have come gradually and unconsciously. There were present some very laudable things: works, toil, patience, intolerance of evil men, the discovery of those posing as Apostles, as well as perseverance in the service of the Lord. These could pass for the tokens of a spiritual company, yet the Lord declares them “fallen”. The vital factor was missing. There is no substitute for true love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and since nothing less satisfies His heart nothing else should satisfy ours. Ephesus’ failure is the more reprehensible since she had special instructions as to “love” in the Epistle sent her by the Apostle Paul. He exhorted them to be “rooted and grounded in love”, ch. 3:17; “to forbear one another in love”, ch. 4:2; “to speak the truth in love”, ch. 4:15; and “to walk in love”, ch. 5:1. The heavenly Bridegroom wants our hearts before our heads or hands. Does He seek in vain for the love of our espousals? Jer. 2:2. Christ presents Himself to Ephesus as the ready remedy for their backsliding, oh. 2:1. Christ controlled ministry (“He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand”), and His personal presence pervading the Lampstands realized by His own would draw out affection and bring about the needful restoration. A well-ordered meeting is not necessarily a wellpleasing meeting to the Lover of our souls.
II. Smyrna is the suffering church. There were both internal poverty (V. 9) and external opposition to cope with at Smyrna (V. 5, 9, 10). Christ perceives their true riches and assures of immunity from the second death. The tender touches of the Son of man can only have a brief allusion. He brings them the comfort of His eternal character: “The first and the last”; the comfort of His conquest, “which became dead and am alive”; the comfort of His sympathetic knowledge and wisdom and of ultimate compensation, “the crown of eternal life”, when all sufferings and poverty are forever past.
III. Pergamos is the compromising church. There is a charge laid against this company of having given permission to the advocates of two evil teachings to disseminate their errors. In the first she imbibed the worldly spirit, in the second, clerical principles. The first, “the doctrine of Balaam”, recalls Israel in fellowship with idols and in unclean association with a heathen nation. James 4:4 is a searching commentary on the sin here condemned: “Ye adulterers and adultresses know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity against God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself (R.V.) an enemy of God”. This world is never a friend of Christ, of the believer, nor of the Assembly. Its fashions, maxims and proposals are a constant menace to the local church and wherever entertained are disastrous to its usefulness.
Nicolaitanism, the other evil teaching in Pergamos, is by its derivation seen to be “the conquering of the people”; the introduction in credal form of what was found in action in Ephesus (cf. ch. 2:6 with ch. 3:15). All who divide the church into clergy and laity support this doctrine. The assumption of exclusive rights of administration in the church which precludes the operation of God-given “Gifts” to the church is detested by its Lord and Head, Rev. 2:6.
Christ presents Himself to Pergamos as having “the sword with two edges”. There can be no compromise with compromisers. The powerful, piercing, penetrating Word of God is the only cure. “Come out of her my people”! Rev. 18:4; “Touch not the unclean thing”! 2 Cor. 6:17; “Repent or else … I will fight against thee with the sword of my mouth”!
(To be continued)
By John Glenville
Precious in His Deity
THE Glory of His Majesty is declared by the heavens, the glory which He has set above the heavens, graphically portrayed in Psalms 8 and 19 …
In company with David, beloved reader, let us contemplate that bejewelled canopy, that bedecked velvet pall vaulting the heavens, and muse again on the words of Gen. 1:16, “the stars also”. “Also” as if forsooth they were but an insignificant addendum! Now, in Holy Writ the stars are linked with the sand (Gen. 22:17), for numerical strength, and it is an indisputable astronomical fact that there are more heavenly bodies than there are grains of sand on all the shores fringing the oceans of the world. The nearest star to the earth is Alpha Centauri … When we consider that this star is twenty billions of miles away: that a rocket travelling at one thousand four hundred miles per hour would take a million and a half years to reach it: then what about those stars at ten thousand million light years’ distance as compared with the mere four light years of Alpha Centauri? Indeed, the very term ‘light years’ (calculated at the rate of one hundred and eighty-six thousand miles per second) is now obsolete. Thus the finite mind staggers bemused and bewildered, but the spiritual man bows in lowly, adoring worship and simply believes in the One who holds the numberless stars in their places. Ah! the blessed abandonment of a divinely given faith which can un-constrainedly utter: “Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief”!
Precious in His Humanity
- Verily God, yet become truly human,
- Lower than angels to die in our stead.
What true delight fills the breast as one’s gaze is directed to the unsullied pathway of the Man, God’s Man, the Man of His own choice, the Man of His own provision. “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me”. (Heb. 10:5). This blessed body, fashioned by the hand of the Father was invested by the Lord Jesus Christ. “That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God”, said the angel Gabriel to Mary. (Luke 1:35).
We marvel as we trace that stoop in utmost grace, from the highest pinnacle of eternal bliss and glory down to a world marred and sodden by sin. Laying aside, so to speak, His garments, He descends to an undone world. “Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me), to do Thy will, O God”. (Heb. 10:7).
What an infinitude of grace was this, what wisdom all divine! God manifest in flesh, an enigma for enquiring angels’ minds, the focal point of heaven’s—aye, and hell’s — breathless gaze. Enshrined in yon cattle manger, behold, the immaculate, the impeccable, the incomparable Christ of God!
Precious in His Crosswork
- Oh! wondrous Cross, oh! precious blood,
- Oh! death by which we live.
Standing at the very fulcrum of time and of eternity, is the Cross. Wondrous Cross, truly …
We bow humbly, we adore silently. Oh! glorious mystery, Sacrifice of Calvary. Again we pause, pondering that sight. Over His head was “His accusation written” in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, as each of the narrators record (Matt. 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38; John 19:20). What message has this for our ears in this latter part of the twentieth century, a time so strongly marked by the elimination of what might be termed ‘class distinction’?
The world does not want God’s Man; the cry of the world is ever the same, “We will not have this (man) to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Satan’s man, however, the Anti-christ, they will acclaim, and that right royally. Studying the inscription on the Cross, we discover the first arrangement is in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, according to John’s account. Hebrew: the language of the only divinely ordained religion that the world has ever known. The estimate of the Son of God by the leaders of that religion was Crucify! Crucify! Greek was the language of commerce, and Latin of the political power of the day. All were united in their hatred of the Christ of God. It is avowedly so to-day. The tendencies are very strongly indicative that the ground is being prepared for the revelation of the Man of Sin. Coalescence and amalgamation, association and combine accurately describe every strata of society at this present juncture. In the sphere of religion there is the (strange, contradictory terms) World Council of Churches. The realm of commerce is the realm of cartels, monopolies, unions and federations: (note the terminology of Isaiah 8:9-12, associate, counsel, confederacy). Again, in the field of power politics there are blocs and organisations. How the words of the Psalmist ring loudly out in this scene as the stage is set: “The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us”. (Psalm 2:2, 3).
With reference to the politics of this world, why, the pathway for the believer is as lucid and transparently simple as can be. Whilst we are bidden to pray for ‘kings, and for all that are in authority’, (1 Tim. 2:1, 2), albeit our “conversation (citizenship) is in heaven”. (Phil. 3:20). As “strangers and pilgrims” (Heb. 11:13) we do not cast votes, we simply walk ‘without the camp’ (Heb. 13:13), taking no part whatsoever in the political schemes of men.
One would reiterate that the Cross strips me of everything that I have, my possessions, my qualifications, my pride, my prestige, my standing, my rights, my reputation (He made Himself of no reputation, Phil. 2:7), my talents, my ability. Everything that delights me here below, whether pleasures or business, stripped, thoroughly stripped, by the Cross. Truly, all exercised saints long to fully echo and re-echo the cry of the apostle Paul, ‘But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world’ (Gal. 6:14).
Precious in His Ascension and Exaltation
‘Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam’ (Judges 5:12). Now Barak was of the line of Naphtali, with a name meaning ‘lightning’. Abinoam means ‘father of pleasantness’. Our true Naphtali, having given goodly or pleasant words, rises up, and is set far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph. 1:21).
The whole hierarchy of heaven was in breathless expectation. The Conqueror slain had arisen!
- Death, He by dying, slew;
- In hell, He hell o’erthrew.
Shouts of jubilation rend the heavens! Pulsating in vibrant tones, the language of the twenty-fourth Psalm witnesses the unfolding of its own prophetic visions! “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah. (vv. 7-10).
The One whom men derided and scorned, despised and rejected, is the Man whom heaven has acclaimed and lauded.
Precious in His Return
‘I will come again’ (John 14:3). Down through the centuries this clarion call has winged its way. The passage of the years has in no wise abated its force, the flight of time has never lessened its potency. In these last days these pregnant words take on an even added urgency. Above the noise of battles, over the blasts of nuclear explosions, comes this blessed, blissful harbinger of His imminent return, rising to a matchless crescendo! I will come again! Oh! glorious certainty! Oh! priceless hope!
What words of balm these are to those who mourn the loss of loved ones. Some, mayhap, miss the childish prattle of lisping infant tongues; others peradventure the sage counsel of the hoary head: some the intimate words of a devoted husband, a cherished wife. “I will come again”! Hallelujah! “The dead in Christ shall rise first …” (1 Thes. 4:16).
To those laid aside on beds of crippling suffering and malignant disease what words of sublime comfort are these! Beloved saint, laid aside in the inscrutable wisdom of our all wise and loving God and Father, how precious, how infinitely precious is the nearness of His return—no more sickness, no more pain, no more cruel, racking agonies of the worn-out frame, for we shall see Him, “whom having not seen, we love; in whom, though now we see Him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). These bodies will be changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. (See Phil. 3:21).
Encouraging words, too, to those engaged in ‘preaching the Word’, as Paul exhorted Timothy in his second letter, chapter 4:2. Preach on, preach on, evangelists, His return is near! This is not the time for worldly entertainments and dubious fleshly methods in your Gospel preaching. Preach the Word! This is not the time for questionable programmes slavishly copied from a godless world. Preach the Word!
And a word of warning too, to the teacher, who is bidden, “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). In the light of His return, recall to mind that the fundamental duty of a steward is that a man is required to be found faithful (see 1 Cor. 4:2)—not popularity, not back-scratching, not handling out bouquets from the platform, bouquets which make the spiritual mind squirm. Make sure that the little flock is told to diligently read the Word, to count the Word “better than thousands of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72). Teach them to know the treasures of the Word, and not radio and television regalements which belong to “man’s day” (1 Cor. 4:3, Gk.); to love the Word of Truth, and not to meticulously follow every inch of the daily newspaper. Exhort them to pray and not to gossip; to be found on their knees one for another and not biting and devouring one another. In the soon-dawning
brilliance of His coming, in the light of it, tell them to maintain the principles of gathering as laid down in the New Testament Scriptures, principles which God has never cancelled. Away with all petty, denominational demarcations which are not delineated in the Word of God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them”, are the words of Isaiah (8:20), trenchant words needing re-emphasis to-day. “I will come again”. “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”.
THE INCOMPARABLE CHRIST
- Lord Jesus Christ in Thee
- Beauties transcendent shine,
- To Whom belongeth Majesty
- and Righteousness Divine—
- Of all Creation, Sovereign Lord,
- Only begotten Son of God.
- Within this scene of shame,
- It was Thy constant joy,
- To glorify Thy Father’s name,
- His will was Thine employ—
- Expression of the Infinite
- In Whom He daily found delight.
- Accursed upon the tree,
- Forsaken of Thy God,
- Since all our sins were borne by Thee,
- The Ransom price was blood,
- The claims of God’s Eternal Throne
- Were met at Calvary alone.
- Highly exalted now,
- Excellent is Thy name,
- Glory and honour crown
- Thy brow, Thine is the victor’s fame—
- Triumphant over every foe,
- Worthy art Thou for evermore.
- J. M. JONES