THE BOOK OF JUDGES
by Wm. Bunting
OUTLINING THE BOOK OF REVELATION
By Samuel Jardine
THE SEVEN PRINCIPAL NAMES OF GOD
By A.E. Trigg
THE STORY OF MY CONVERSION
By D.L. Craig
THE INTER-VARSITY FELLOWSHIP
by J.K. Duff
A DELIGHT TO GOD
by William Shaw
THE BOOK OF JUDGES
By Wm. Bunting.
THE CIVIL WAR
Lastly, in chapters 20 and 21 Israel is divided and in the throes of civil war, whereas in chapter 1 the tribes stood together in unbroken national unity. There the prayer had been, “Who shall go up for us first against the Canaanites?” (1:1), here alas it was, “Which of us shall go up first … against the children of Benjamin?” (20:18). There they had put their enemies to “the edge of the sword” (1:8, 25), here they put their own brethren to “the edge of the sword” (20:37, 48:21. 10). There they had “cut off” the thumbs and great toes of Adoni-Besek (1:5), here a “tribe was cut off from Israel” (20:2, 6).
That a tribe should be “cut off from Israel” certainly never had Divine sanction. It is hot possible in our limited space, however, to deal fully either with the causes or results of the distressing state of affairs described in these two chapters. The Levite’s horrible act by which a local wrong became a national issue was very grievous (19:29, 30). Troubles should be confined to as narrow limits as possible. Benjamin’s failure to deliver up the guilty men of Gibeah for judgment (20:13), was a great error. Evil must ever be judged in God’s assembly. Her hasty action in then taking up arms against those interested in maintaining law and morality (20:14) was altogether inexcusable. God will not be where sin is knowingly covered. On the other hand, the spirit in which the tribes made their demand (20:12) seems harsh and exasperating. Instead of asking, “What wickedness is this that is done among you?” would it not have been more true to fact, and have helped to soften feelings, if they had said, “that is done among us?” for, after all the nation was one. It was Israel that had sinned, and not just Benjamin. Further, they surely were at fault in deciding to take action against Benjamin without ever inquiring of the Lord (v. 18) ; and when they did inquire, we suggest that instead of asking, “Which of us shall go up first?” they should have prayed, “Shall we go up at all?” but quite obviously they were determined to go. It is still more to be regretted that on neither side was there any mourning before God about the sin, no self-judgment, and no coming together in confession of the moral corruption which was now in the very warp and woof of their national life, of which the fearful deed of Gibeah was but a small exposure.
At this point we must notice another contrast with chapter 1. There the answer to Israel’s inquiry had been, “Judah, shall go up,” and had been followed by the promise, “I have delivered the land into his hand.” Here the same answer was given, but no such promise was appended. This was most significant. Had the people been at all spiritually sensitive they surely would have hesitated to take any action in view of the Divine omission. Instead of that, however, they rushed recklessly to the field with drawn swords against their brethren, and God had to teach them a costly lesson—a lesson which could now be learned only by blood and tears.
At the end of the first day Israel had lost 22,000 men. This dreadful toll had a sobering effect, for now the people “wept before the Lord” (v. 23). They had not wept before. Then when again seeking Divine counsel, they asked, “Shall I go up … against Benjamin?” which marked progress upon the question they had asked in verse 18. Moreover, in speaking of Benjamin they now added, “my brother”—“Shall I go up … against … Benjamin my brother?” This betokened a change of heart, a welcome softening of feelings. Benjamin was their own “brother.” The people were beginning to learn their lesson.
Yet we notice that before asking counsel here Israel had already “set the battle in array” (v. 22), and that, as on the former day, they waited not upon God for an assurance of His help. The sequel was that on the second day they lost another 18,000 men. Again therefore they repaired to the house of God. This time they not only wept, but sat before the Lord, fasted until even, and offered sacrifices (though, be it observed, no sin offering is mentioned) before the Lord (v. 26). At last God’s people, smarting under His judging hand, and broken in spirit, were learning to wait upon Him. But how slow they had been to humble their proud hearts! What chastening strokes were necessary to subdue their wills and soften their feeling.
Upon inquiry, the Divine promise was now vouchsafed: “Go up; for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand” (v. 28). Israel would be as a rod in the hand of the Lord to correct and humble Benjamin. So great was the slaughter which ensued that only 600 men of that tribe escaped. Then when all was over, the people came once more to the house of God (21:2), as they had done three times in chapter 20. Heart-broken, they “lifted up their voices and wept sore.” Well might they “weep sore,” for in all, 65,000 of the valiant men of the nation had fallen needlessly in battle. Now that the impetuosity of battle was subsided and passions subdued, they viewed things more sanely and “repented” of the fearful slaughter. “A tribe cut off from Israel!” O the tragedy of it! They had bitten and devoured one another, until they were consumed one of another (Gal. 5:15). But, alas, no sad regrets could heal the nation’s bleeding wound. What a pity it was that they did not wait quietly upon God, and see matters from His viewpoint, when time was on their side! If only the opponents had humbled themselves at the beginning, if only both sides had confessed their faults one to the other, if only the nation had wept over its sins and departure from God, it would have been spared the shame of open division, the horrors of such carnage, and the bitter regrets of a belated repentance.
May we not fail, beloved, to lay to heart these solemn lessons, for history has often repeated itself. As many are aware, the first division of so-called Brethren in England took place at the end of 1845, when Mr. J. N. Darby divided the assembly at Plymouth and formed another meeting. Mr. R. C. Chapman afterwards remarked to Mr. Darby, “You should have waited before acting as you did.” Seeking to justify himself the latter replied, “I waited six months,” to which his friend retorted that he would have waited six years ere taking such a serious step. Eight years after the unhappy split (in 1853), Mr. Darby confessed that he “had left (the old meeting) without having the Lord’s mind.” It was an honest and humble acknowledgment by a great man, but it did not heal the breach, and only God knows the sorrow and shame which have since flowed from that division, for it set a precedent. If only dear Mr. Darby had waited!
Such then are some (by no means all) of the details of Israel’s retrogression which these closing chapters reveal. If in the opening verses of the book she could be compared to a garden—fenced, fragrant, and fair to look upon—she is here more like a wilderness where evil beasts prowl and prey upon each other. What a voice this should be to us to-day! Both in private life and corporate testimony the insidious peril of deterioration is never absent. We must ever be upon our guard, for once our spiritual senses become dulled it leads imperceptibly to fearful ends.
In view of all that we have considered, therefore, let us in God’s fear ask ourselves: Am I doing the work the Lord has assigned me? Am I in heart a Caleb or a Samson? What place has prayer in my life? Have I the deep consciousness of God’s presence in my soul? Or am I characterised by self-pleasing? What is my testimony in my own home? and amongst my neighbours? Do I lend my support to modern ecclesiastical pretension, which is but an imitation of Micah’s hireling, man-made priesthood? Have I at heart the unity of the saints, or do my immoderate views and unwise actions foment strife amongst those that should be marked by brotherly affection? Do I endeavour to confine assembly trouble in as limited a circle as possible? Do I recognise in tins day of low morals that God’s standard of clean, holy living remains unchanged? Do I acquiesce in godly discipline such as the sanctity of His house demands? Do I wait upon God or run impatiently before Him? And do I mourn over the sins of the saints (1 Cor. 5. 2), feeling how Christ is dishonoured in His members?
What, beloved brethren, about these weighty matters? Are we going to seek grace to face up to them in God’s fear, or shall we shrug our shoulders and do “every man what is right in his own eyes?” O let us not tolerate anything, however slight, that may cause us to be “ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2. 28). See to it, my brother, that you meet your Lord with joy. Bear please with truths being pressed thus closely. The writer, while painfully conscious of much failure, was not brought up at the feet of men who taught him to “spin with a loose band,” as the old Irish folks used to say.
Outlining the Book of Revelation
By Samuel Jardine, Belfast.
Chapter 6—“THE BEGINNING OF SORROWS.”
It is clear that upon the removal of the Church, by the coming of our Lord to the air, there will be happenings of a completely revolutionary nature in the earth, and these come before us as we consider the opening of the seals by the Lion-Lamb. The events forecast by their unloosing have had some historical foregleams but no definite or final fulfilment as yet. They coincide exactly with the prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 24:1-8, in which He outlines “the beginning of sorrows,” making these to precede “the Great Tribulation” (v. 21), which as a time of trouble He declared has neither precedent nor successor. That this tragic picture of future world conditions, described in chapters 6-19 of Revelation, can rapidly become a reality no observant person will deny. Tremendous upheavals in international affairs during our own life-time have changed the whole political scene and imposed new boundary lines, especially in Europe, which not the shrewdest mind could have predicted. The upsurge of certain elements in our changing society has given an impetus to this that ought to be borne in mind, as they are the dynamic forces which will dominate the nations when the Church is gone. Review them again, beloved Christian friend, and praise God that His grace has made you a stranger here: Gross materialism, impatient nationalism, aggressive communism and Romanizing ritualism. These by their very nature intensify man’s bitter hostility to his fellow and provide the tracks along which Satan intends to expedite his evil designs.
The opening of the first seal is accompanied by a command uttered by one of the Throne-agents, “Come” (1:1, R.V.). In response to this there issues forth a mighty personality, moving forward in bloodless conquest, conquering and to conquer. The need for a master-mind, a world leader of outstanding qualities, capable of dealing with a confused and complicated state of affairs will be apparent to all the nations, when the Bride has answered the rallying shout of the Bridegroom and is absent from this scene. The disruption caused by the missing multitudes of believers will no doubt make the debut of the first horse rider of the Revelation not only easy but welcome.
No careful student of prophecy will confuse the whitehorse rider of chapter 6:2 with the glorious King of chapter 19:11. He is differently equipped, a bow and not a sword is in his hand. He is differently crowned, a crown and not a “diadem” rests upon his head. This is not the return of the true King, but the emergence of the much looked for Superman, who will dominate the political scene until the whole Roman Empire is under his sway. Compare chapter 13:1-8, where “his power, his seat and his great authority” are given in greater detail.
At the opening of seal number two, another horse-rider is called forth bearing the unmistakable stamp of war. The horse is red in colour, the rider bears a great sword, and peace is taken from the earth. The insanity and futility of warfare will have a further awful demonstration.
In the issue of the third seal-opening the inevitable outcome of war, famine, will be displayed. The steed of the third rider is black and his equipment a pair of balances. A voice utters warnings of the famine prices of life’s very necessities, while the luxuries of life are to be protected, presumably for the use of the well-to-do who to some extent escape the aftermath of war.
The grim spectacle of Death and its stirrup-rider, Hades, is introduced by the fourth seal. The pale-horse rider and his companion engage in a death-dealing campaign of wide dimensions, the area of solemn visitation being one fourth of the earth’s surface. The awful truth that death and Hell are inseparable for unregenerate men is graphically illustrated, the former being the gateway to the latter.
With the opening of the fifth seal evidence of another kind is supplied of the virulence of Satan’s campaign—souls who had forfeited their lives in loyalty to God’s Word and in witnessing for His Son (see 12:11, 17). There is no period of earth’s history where these two things do not co-exist; faith in the God of redemption and the murderous enmity of unbelief. The hatred of Christ and His people never alters except in degree (Gen. 3:15; 1 John 3:12; John 15:20, 21). This group is brought before us as fully conscious though disembodied. They are sheltered by redemption, symbolised in the covering of the altar, and are found praying in harmony with God’s dealings with the people of that time, that is “the day of vengeance of our God.” Comfort is ministered to these martyred Christians, in white robes being supplied and rest and re-assurance being given, that the period of suffering for their fellow-believers was but a short one. Everything points to their having a place in the plan of God distinct from the Church.
horse rider of chapter 6. 2 with the glorious King of chapter 19. 11. He is differently equipped, a bow and not a sword is in his hand. He is differently crowned, a crown’ and not a “diadem” rests upon his head. This is not the return of the true King, but the emergence of the much looked for Super- man, who will dominate the political scene until the whole Roman Empire is under his sway. Compare chapter 13. 1-8, where “his power, his seat and his great authority” are given in greater detail.
At the opening of seal number two, another horse-rider is called forth bearing the unmistakeable stamp of war. The horse is red in colour, the rider bears a great sword, and peace is taken from the earth. The insanity and futility of war- fare will have a further awful demonstration. In the issue of the third seal-opening the inevitable outcome of war, famine, will be displayed. The steed of the third rider is black and his equipment a pair of balances. A voice utters warnings of the famine prices of life’s very necessities, while the luxuries of life are to be protected, presumably for the use of the well-to-do who to some extent escape the aftermath of war.
The grim spectacle of Death and its stirrup-rider, Hades, is introduced by the fourth seal. The pale-liorse rider and his companion engage in a death-dealing campaign of wide dim- ensions, the area of solemn visitation being one fourth of the earth’s surface. The awful truth that death and Hell are inseparable for unregenerate men is graphically illustrated, the former being the gateway to the latter.
With the opening of the fifth seal evidence of another kind is supplied of the virulence of Satan’s campaign-—souls who had forfeited their lives in loyalty to God’s Word and in witnessing for His Son (see 12. 11, 17). There no period of earth’s history where these two things do not co-exist; faith in the God of redemption and the murderous enmity of unbelief. The hatred of Christ and His people never alters except in degree (Gen. 3. 15; 1 John 3. 12; John IS. 20, 21). This group is brought before us as fully conscious though disembodied. They are sheltered by redemption, symbolised in the covering of the altar, and are found praying in harmony with God’s dealings with the people of that time, that is “the day of vengeance of our God.” Comfort is ministered to these martyred Christians, in white robes being supplied and rest and re-assurance being given, that the period of suf- fering for their fellow-believers was but a short one. Every- thing points to their having a place in the plan of God distinct from the Church.
When the Lamb has opened the sixth seal there is ‘’a great earthquake,” attended by circumstances which indicate a dis-ruption of such gigantic proportions, that the whole texture of society and government will be torn asunder. Great poten¬tates and rulers will be displaced (v. 13) and men of every strata of life will become aware of “the wrath of the Lamb.” Their fears and prayers betray no true penitence: only the frustration of enmity and rebellion.
Did the reality and magnitude of these events grip our souls, what manner of persons would we be? Did we see the day approaching how it would dissipate our lethargy and inspire us to pray and labour for those, our families, friends and fellows, who if still unsaved will taste the terrors of these judgments and the greater that are to follow.
THE SEVEN PRINCIPAL NAMES OF GOD (OLD TESTAMENT)
By A.E. TRIGG
(Gen. 1. 1, 26)
|EL—”THE MIGHTY ONE.”
ALLAH—”TO PLEDGE ON OATH.”
|Thus—HE IS A MIGHTY and
A FAITHFUL CREATOR
|Translated: “GOD” (A.V.)
A UNI-PLURAL NOUN;
CONTAINS THE 3 PERSONS OF GODHEAD
(Gen. 2.4; 4.1)
|GOD’S PERSONAL NAME
(Exodus 6.3; Isaiah 42.8).
“I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3.4).
|“THE ETERNAL and
|Translated: “LORD” (Capitals)
HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, THEIR SAVIOUR (Isaiah 43.3).
|Translated: “THE MOST HIGH GOD, POSSESSOR OF HEAVEN and EARTH.”||SUPREME RULER IN
THE HEAVENS and
over THE EARTH
Dan. 4.34-35; 32.8.
|GOD of GENTILES ALSO|
|OF HIS SERVANTS LORD and MASTER||A PLURAL WORD GIVING LORDSHIP
TO FATHER, SON and SPIRIT
|Translated: “LORD” (Especially the SON)||MOSES’ LORD—Exodus 4.10. DAVID’S LORD—Psalm 110.1. ISAIAH’S LORD—Isaiah 6.1.|
|THE GOD OF ALL-SUFFICIENCY||Translated: “THE ALMIGHTY GOD.”||ALL-SUFFICIENT
IN OUR WEAKNESS AND EXTREMITY
|SHADDAI—“NOURISHING” GIVING FRUITFULNESS (See Gen. 35.11, also Job).|
|GOD OF THE UNREVEALED TIMELESS ETERNITY||Translated: “EVERLASTING GOD.”||OLAM—“SECRET THINGS” (e.g. Gen. 1.2).
THE AGES and PURPOSES OF GOD HID in HIMSELF (Eph. 3.5-11).
|Translated: “GOD OF GODS.||SUPERLATIVE— “GREATEST.”
|INCOMPREHENSIBLE (Rom. 11.33).
INCOMPARABLE (Exodus 15. 11).
INFINITE GOD (Psalm 147.4-5).
The Fullness of the Supreme, Eternal God revealed in the above Names is brought down to us in the PERSON of JESUS, the Eternal SON of GOD,—“ IMMANUEL—God with us”. (ISA. 7.14; COL. 1.19; 2.9).
THE STORY OF MY CONVERSION
By D. L. CRAIG, Belfast.
It was in November, 1910 that I was brought to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my own personal Saviour. I was born in Belfast and my parents were saved, so I knew from my earliest days that I needed salvation to fit me for Heaven. I was taught to go to church and Sunday School, but just did this more as a duty, and it didn’t give me much concern. Like most other young men I tried to find joy and satisfaction in the world and its pleasures but found they were just empty bubbles that would not last. Now I can say after over fifty years experience of the joys that Christ gives that—
- “None but Christ can satisfy,
- No other name for me;
- There’s love and life and lasting joy,
- Lord Jesus, found in Thee!”
It was in the winter of 1910 that Mr. John Madill had Gospel meetings in a house on the Shore Road, Belfast. Friends of ours who had just come to live beside us in that part of the city, a Mr. and Mrs. Currie, very warm-hearted Christians, took a special interest in me. Mrs. Currie made it her earnest prayer that I might attend these meetings. At first I made excuses but finally went on her account, and the first night I was greatly impressed by the preacher’s earnest¬ness. I went again the next night and continued to attend, and in a short time became really concerned about my soul and where I would be in Eternity. At the end of three weeks I was very anxious to be saved and could scarcely sleep at night thinking about this all-important matter.
It was on a Saturday night about the middle of November that I got tire matter settled. Mr. Madill came to our house that night to see me, and he talked with me and read several portions of Scripture to me, explaining God’s Way of sal-vation, but it all seemed dark to me. However, after he left I was reading over some Scriptures he had brought to my notice, and the one that helped me most to see and know God’s way of salvation was John 3. 16: “For God so loved tire world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I had always believed God loved the world, but that night 1 took in the blessed truth that God loved me, and gave His only begotten Son that if I would believe in Him I would not perish but have everlasting life. I thank God for enabling me in simple faith to take Him at His word.
- “I seek no other argument,
- I want no other plea.
- It is enough that Jesus died,
- And rose again for me.”
Now after over fifty years of trusting Him I can testify that He is as good as His Word. “He faileth not,”
- “To God be the glory great things He hath done,
- So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
- Who yielded His life an atonement for sin;
- And opened the life-gate that all may go in.”
A few months after I was saved I was baptised and received into the assembly at Adam Street Hall, Belfast, and was there for over thirty years. When fifteen years in the assembly I was exercised about giving all my time to the Lord’s Work, and mentioned this to the brethren who gave me their hearty co-operation and fellowship. So it was from there I was commended to the Lord’s work thirty-five years ago, and I feel I owe a great deal to the saints meeting in the Lord’s Name in that assembly.
May the Lord bless this simple testimony to all who read it, and I earnestly pray that it will be used of God to cause those who are still unsaved to give heed to this all-important matter, for time is short and Eternity near. It is well to be ready. There is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. The only way to be prepared is to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour. “He is willing and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.” His own words are: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), and “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
- “Come sinner come, Salvation’s free for all,
- It may be the last time you’ll ever hear the call.”
THE INTER-VARSITY FELLOWSHIP
A critical examination of its teachings and practices in the light of Scripture.
By Keith R. Jenkins, Cardiff.
My reason for writing this paper is not to seek to decry the I.V.F., neither is it an attempt to persuade any one that the members of I.V.F. are not zealous or sincere Christians. In fact they are, generally speaking, both; although much of their zeal is, alas, not “according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). This paper is, however, intended to help younger Christians in fellowship in local assemblies to take a stand in these matters in accordance with God’s Word. It is especially addressed to those who may one day be entering a University or Teacher’s training college; although I believe that much of it will apply to others who may be faced with kindred problems in other walks of life. Although as its title implies, this paper will entail a certain amount of criticism of the I.V.F., I hope and pray that it will be constructive, rather than destructive in nature, as far as its readers are concerned.
Just a word about my qualifications to write such a paper. At present I am a final year student of University College, Cardiff. During my very first term, I was misguided enough to join the I.V.F. However, I was led to see the error of such a course by the faithful testimony of two dear young brethren, and by their faithful adherence to the Word of God. It is now my desire to help others who may find themselves in a similar position to mine due to a lack of positive teaching. I hope this paper will lead those to whom it is addressed to “prove all things, hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
II. THE I.V.F.
(1) Its Work and Witness.
The letters “I.V.F.” stand for Inter-Varsity Fellowship and while the word “fellowship” is somewhat of a misnomer, as we shall see later, this title explains its functions quite well. The I.V.F. is a body to which evangelical Christian Unions in British Universities and Training Colleges are affiliated. All office holders in these unions have to subscribe to I.V.F.’s “constitution”—which we remark, in passing, is a man-made Creed although largely based on Scripture.
The aims of the I.V.F. as expressed by its Cardiff branch are three in number:—
- To bring students to a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ.
- To unite all Christians, and through prayer and Bible study seek to deepen their spiritual lives.
- To seek to stimulate an active interest in evangelistic work.
It would be as well to point out here that the second aim is incapable of being fulfilled; for only in fellowship in a local assembly in accordance with the Scripture is true unity to be found.
(2) Its Constitution.
As mentioned before, the I.V.F. is based on a man-made constitution. After “election”, a “committee-member” signs this “constitution.” The three terms in inverted commas give one a fair idea of the error of the democratic way in which I.V.F.’s administration is carried out; for none of these is a Scriptural term. The assembly, as we read in the New Testament, is led and guided by those among the elder brethren, whom the Holy Spirit has gifted to undertake the task, and divinely appointed (Acts 20:28), and we hear not a word of “elections.” In the I.V.F., those holding authority are elected to, not led into, their position of overseership. Also, since the I.V.F/s members are mainly in the 18 to 22 age group, its leaders both local and national, in general do not conform to the principle, “not a novice” (1 Timothy 3:6).
The only corporate body existing with Scriptural authority is the Church: the “one body” (Romans 12:4, 5). Regarding that body, we note that we have NEITHER NEED NOR AUTHORITY TO JOIN ANYTHING ELSE, for no other body is authorised by Divine revelation in the Scripture. I have heard it said that William Lincoln put this rather neatly: “He who is joined to Christ need join nothing else.”
Again, of the church (or assembly, as J.N.D. translates it) we are told “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). Truth regarding this Church in its local expression is either “despised and rejected,” or conveniently laid aside by, the various branches of the I.V.F. So do we do well if we join ourselves to such a body, and thereby sanction its attitude? I feel, most strongly, that we become just a hindrance to those to whom we should testify as to the precious truth of this teaching.
(3) Its Weaknesses and Failings.
It will suffice for my purpose if I deal with just three of the more obvious ones here.
The first is the toleration (and sometimes propagation) by the I.V.F. of error of various kinds; and, too, its failure to proclaim certain truths. As an example of the first, we may take its “emancipation” of the sisters in direct contradiction of the command in 1 Timothy 2:12: “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in subjection.” (Also see 1 Cor. 11:3). Again, in verse 8 of 1 Timothy 2 we have: “I will … that MEN pray everywhere” ; the word used for men here in the Greek is that for males (oner), not that for mankind. Examples of the other is its failure to teach Acts 2:42 and Matthew 28:19.
The second failure that I should like to draw attention to I have already pointed out. It is the fact that young believers hold the positions of authority. For this reason also I would point out that young believers would be very unlikely to receive sound help and guidance in spiritual matters from that source.
The third drawback that I would point out is that the so-called “fellowship” is at best an uneasy confederation. Scripturally the term “fellowship” implies a full sharing of ALL things at the deepest level. We read in 1 John 1:5-7, that God Himself is light; and hence if we say that we have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in darkness then we lie. Sometimes we are told that the one true basis for fellowship is love: but the quoted passage implies that light, too, is necessary as a basis. “If we walk in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (v. 7). As a result of Heaven-sent illumination flooding our lives, we do, of course, exhibit love one to another. Nevertheless, we have Scripture’s authority for demanding both LIGHT AND LOVE as twin bases for fellowship; for “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light (1 John 2:10). This being so, how can we have “fellowship” with I.V.F., for much of its teaching is certainly not illuminated by God’s light?
(To be continued)
A DELIGHT TO GOD
By William Shaw, Maybole.
In all ages God’s delight has been to have a separated people to Himself, above all people that are upon the earth. When ancient Israel were groaning under Egyptian bondage God heard their cry, and brought His people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. “Let My people go, that they may serve Me,” He said. His people must be separated from Egypt before they can serve Him. We do not read of any sacrifices being offered in Egypt. His people, redeemed by blood, must be taken out of the “house of bondage,” and when the waters of the Red Sea had closed over their enemies, then, but not till then, they could sing redemption’s song. Then, but not till then, could they sacrifice to the Lord their God.
And such is true of His Heaven-born people in these days. Beloved fellow-pilgrim, redeemed by blood, God would have you out of Egypt if you are to worship Him—if you are to serve Him. He has called you to be separated to Himself and therefore separated from the world. “They are not of the world,” says Christ, “even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). God’s ancient people refused to sing- the Lord’s song in a strange land (Psalm 137). How, then, can we join with the dead in praising Him? Alas, that so many of His people should be content to sacrifice to the Lord in company with the Egyptians. Ponder it well.
A SAD CONDITION
Is the cry for separation not needed? When we behold the members of Christ sitting down to feast with the rejecters of the Son of God, and joining with them in the act of solemn worship, little wonder we long for the voice to be heard that makes His people hear. Then you find professing children of God at the world’s entertainments; paying the world to amuse them and kill time.
Little wonder an aged brother asked a fashionable Christian if the Holy Ghost led him into such places. The claims of the rejected Christ are rudely set aside, and you see His professed followers rushing eagerly into the world’s popular strife and clamour. Yet you fail to arouse the faintest enthusiasm in the things of God. You point in vain to the danger of a slumbering world and the glories of a coming Christ. Yea, their eye flashes at the prospect of some evening’s entertainment. Give them some congenial company, some kindred topic, and you soon find there is energy there; but it does not spend itself in the path of separation unto God! Sad spectacle! And yet we are told not to mention “Be ye separate!”
But we must mention it. We dare not conceal the plainest teachings of God’s Word. He has said, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from among the dead” (Eph. 5:14). Let it be sounded from shore to shore, wherever a saint of God is found. “The time is short” (1 Cor. 7:29).
A CLAMANT NEED
It is not a learned, or a gifted, or an influential people which God has said He must have for an evil day. It is a separated people. And when God gets a separated people He gets a people whose “all is on the altar.” “The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself.”
Ezekiel was told to go through the midst of Jerusalem, and to put a mark on those who sighed and cried for all the abominations that were done in the midst thereof (Ezek. 9:4). How few there are who sigh and cry for the desolation of His people! But the Lord set His mark on these mourners; and blessed are they, for they shall be comforted.
A SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY
“Wherefore, be ye separate, saith the Lord.” Alas, that such a word should be needed. But if it be needed, suffer the word. Seek not to evade it, or to explain it away. Whatsoever the God of Heaven hath commanded, let it be diligently done. Each one who reads these lines is, in a certain sense, living for eternity. Your life is leaving an impress on all around, and that impress is eternal. You cannot pass your existence as a mere cipher. For eternal loss or eternal gain your web of time you are weaving. Solemn consideration! Wherefore the urgent call for separation unto God. The Judgment Seat is nearing. The Judge is at the door. “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). “Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
The above call to a clean-cut separation from the world was written in c.1880s. If needed then, when the Spirit of God was moving mightily in these Islands, how much more is it needed in this day of world-bordering and easy-going Christianity?
My Rest is in Heaven
- My rest is in Heaven, my rest is not here,
- Then why should I murmur when trials, are near?
- Be hushed, my sad spirit, the worst that can come
- But shortens the journey and hastens me home.
- It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,
- And building my hopes in a region like this;
- I look for a city which hands have not piled;
- I pant for a country by sin undefiled.
- Let trial and danger my progress oppose,
- They only make Heaven more sweet at the close;
- Come joy or come sorrow, whatever may befall,
- A home with my God will make up for it all.
- With Christ in my heart, and His Word in my hand,
- I travel in haste through an enemy’s land;
- The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
- So I journey on singing the conqueror’s song.
- Tune: “He is abundantly able to save.”
- Believer’s Hymn Book, No. 160.