The Set Feasts of Jehovah
The Local Assembly
“By Him” – “Of Him”
Alan S. Barker
How I was led … to the work of the Lord
Alan S. Barker
By W. Bunting.
In reviewing the foregoing remarks, the following facts should be carefully observed :
- There is nothing at all to suggest that these Gentile world monarchies are to improve morally, to manifest any internal change for the better, or gradually to develop into the Kingdom of God. Their whole trend is one of moral deterioration, which is in keeping with Paul’s statement, that “evil men . . . shall wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3. 13).
- There can be no reign of peace till Christ returns. The golden era cannot be introduced by human instrumentality— by social reform, secular education, peace treaties, or even Gospel preaching, but only by the Divine intervention of “the Stone cut out without hands”. This exposes the utter fallacy of Post-millennial teaching.
- This intervention will be sudden, swift, universal, and in devastating judgment. Christ will descend and with a masterstroke of unparalleled severity will break to shivers the combined strength of His enemies, and Gentile supremacy will for ever be ended. See such passages as Num. 24. 17-24; Ps. 2. 7-9; Is. 63. 1-6; Joel 3. 13-16; Zeph. 3. 8; Haggai 2. 22; Zech. 12. 1-9; 14. 3; Matthew 24. 30; Rev. 1. 7; 11. 15; 19. 11-21.
- This stroke will fall “in the days of those kings” who are represented by the toes of the Image (Dan. 2. 41-44), and by the horns of the fourth Beast (7. 24-27). These kings are to reign contemporaneously, and are to federate to form a mighty empire, which will have a powerful overlord—the “little horn” of chapter 7. 8, 20-24. It is therefore quite absurd to say, as have some A-Millennialists, that this prophecy was fulfilled at the first Advent, or, as others have taught, during subsequent European history. The first Advent took place in the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3. 1), not “in the days of those kings”, which time is yet future. Moreover, “there is nothing in the past history of the kingdoms of Europe that answers to this. They were generally warring enemies, each seeking the destruction of others. We reject utterly this interpretation of the ten toes” (H.A. Ironside in “`Lectures on Daniel’’, p. 37).
- The fifth kingdom then, which will he the Messianic, will he here on earth, just as were the four former ones. It will he “under the whole heaven” (7. 27), and “tilling the whole earth” (2. 35). To establish it Christ will return bodily to earth (Acts 1. 10, 11). He will descend to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14. 4). Then upon His smiting His enemies, “the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11. 15). “He shall be king-over all the earth” (Zech. 14. 9). Numerous other passages describe or allude to His earthly reign. See, for example, Psalm 22. 27-29; 72. 1-20; Isaiah 11.9; Jer. 3.17; 23. 5; Zech. 14.16,17; Matthew 5.5; 6.10; Rev. 5.10. Each one of the so-called Minor Prophets “directly or by type speaks of it, or of His visible coming to establish it” (see “Premillennialism or Amillennialism”, p. 52, by C. L. Feinberg, Th.D., Ph.D.). Indeed Oswald J Smith, Litt.D., has compiled a list of sixty four passages of Scripture, all of which deal with “The Kingdom of God on Earth” (see “Prophecy—What Lies Ahead?” p. 37). How these passages, in many of which earthly relationships, earthly conditions, earthly prosperity, and national and geographical proper names are mentioned, can be applied to Heaven or to the Eternal State, as A-Millennialists imply, baffles one’s comprehension. Moreover, that the Church, whose calling, character and destiny are heavenly, could fill the role of the Kingdom of Daniel chapters 2 and 7, is altogether inadmissible, to say the least.
- The Kingdom of our Lord on earth will be literal and visible. The former kingdoms in Daniel 2 and 7 were literal and visible, therefore as a matter of consistency we must understand the one which will supercede them in a similar manner. There is nothing in the context to indicate a change from the normal mode of literal interpretation, which has preceded, nor is there anything incompatible with this either here or in any of the other numerous passages to which we have referred. Indeed, the combined testimony of Scripture demands such an interpretation. Though literal and visible, however, the future Kingdom will also be spiritual, for the Spirit of God will then be “poured out upon all flesh” (Joel 2. 28). The Kingdom to-day is spiritual, inward, and invisible. In that day it will be spiritual, but in public manifestation. “An entire spiritual kingdom”, however, “without the sanctified union of the material or natural, is utterly opposed to the Word of God” (G. N. H. Peters, quoted in “Things To Come”, p. 482).
In this connection, it cannot be too strongly stressed that the prophetic Scriptures are not to be interpreted to mean anything but what their plain, obvious sense indicates, as has already been pointed out in these chapters. When we are told, for example, that our Lord will in a future day stand upon “the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east” (Zech. 14. 4), what could be plainer than the literalness of the statement? When we read of men cultivating their fields, planting vineyards, and drinking wine, in the days of Israel’s restoration to her own land (Amos 9. 11-15), the reference surely cannot be to people who have put on immortality and are dwelling in heaven. Let us not be so foolish, therefore, as to “lapse into the blind absurdity of expecting the fulfilment of theories based on what men conjecture the prophets ought to have foretold” (Sir Robert Anderson in “The Coming Prince”, p. 35). Even a cursory reading of Daniel 2 and 7 will make it clear that in many respects the fifth world kingdom will be entirely different from the four which precede it. They are symbolised by metals, it by a “stone cut out without hands”; they are marked by increasing deterioration of quality, it by increasing strength, influence, and glory; they endure each but a limited time, it “shall stand forever”. Nevertheless like them it will be a literal, material kingdom—a kingdom in public manifestation, which will “break in pieces and consume all these (other) kingdoms”. There is no scriptural warrant for believing otherwise.
- Finally, “the kingdom . . . shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High” (7. 27). Who will these “people” be? We believe they will be the same people as are described as Daniel’s “people” in chapter 12. 1. In other words, they are the people of Israel. Israel has been set aside, as we have seen, but only, mark only, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21. 24), only “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11. 25). Then “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11. 26), and saved Israel will once more become the head of the nations.
The Set Feasts of Jehovah
By Fred Whitmore, Lancashire, England.
From the notes of addresses given in the Ebenezer Hall, Woodbraok, Port of Spain,
— the 5th to the 8th of June 1960.
Reprinted from The Caribbean Courier by permission.
Inseparably linked with the Feast of the Passover, is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days was its duration, and it is typical of the practical holiness required by God, and apparent in the life of the believer who apprehends the truth. The words of 1 Cor. 5. 7, 8 provide the commentary of the Holy Spirit upon the subject:—“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let us keep the feast (or ‘Holy-day’, as in the A.V. margin) not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness : but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
A new beginning implies the impartation of new life, contrasted with, and entirely dissociated from the old. This life has new characteristics—“Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature (or a new creation), old things are passed away : behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5. 17).
Leaven is not emblematic of good, but rather symbolic of evil and of that which, working secretly and silently, would corrupt the whole. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” and therefore needs to be purged out. Thus we see it in the parable of Matt. 13. 33. Hidden secretly, working silently, it permeated the whole.
Either the leaven must be put away or the Israelite must himself be cut off from the congregation (Ex. 12. 15). Evil doctrines and corrupt practices must have no place in the congregation of the redeemed. It is impossible to continue in sin and to enjoy the fellowship of saints.
The responsibility in this matter rests upon the individual. Things we cannot do, God graciously does for us, but when He commands He requires the obedience of faith. “Ye shall put away leaven out of your houses,” was the word to Israel: “Purge out therefore the old leaven”, is the word for us today.
The apostle Peter, in writing to those who have personal knowledge of redemption by blood, and have consequently
purified their souls by obedience to the truth, exhorts still further to practical holiness of life. In this epistle, he associates the typical teaching of the Passover with that of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Peter 1. 18 to 2. 3).
By means of the new birth we have entered the family of God. Having been redeemed, a new beginning has been established. We cannot live as once we did, for we have been born again and purchased for God, therefore he writes, “as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts (or desires) in your ignorance : but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” In order to attain to this, it is essential that we lay aside “all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings.”
This requires constant diligence, lest the leaven once purged from the life be again permitted a place, depriving the soul of fellowship with God and His people.
An important factor in the typical teaching is that of the duration of the Feast. “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses” (Ex. 12. 19).
The entire life of the believer is herein comprehended and every relationship of life embraced. These relationships are before us in the First Epistle of Peter; they are as follows and can be easily discerned.
- Relationship to God consequent upon redemption and the new birth (1. 18-23).
- That of our relationship to fellow believers (1. 22).
- The believer’s relationship to the spiritual House (2. 5).
- Our relationship to the world (2. 11, 12).
- The Christian in his relationship to the State (2. 13-15).
- The relationship of the child of God to his earthly master (2. 18; compare Eph. 6. 5-9).
- The relationship of husband and wife (3. 1-7; Compare again Eph. 5. 22 to 6. 4).
We are to conduct ourselves in each as those who “avoid evil and do good” (1 Peter 3. 11, N.T.), having sanctified Christ as Ford in the heart.
God’s standard is perfection; to this we cannot attain in the flesh, but the ideal is before us. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect,” is the language of the apostle Paul. Yet he mentions in this connection three things to encourage us in faith’s endeavour:
“Following after; reaching forth; pressing toward the mark” (Phil. 3. 12-14).
In a later consideration, we shall learn that the power for living a life well pleasing to God, is in the risen One at God’s right hand, and in the Holy Spirit now indwelling us.
By F. E. Stallan, Glasgow.
There is always a danger in speaking of personal experiences and attainments. Paul knew that danger well when he penned the words to the Corinthians in his second Epistle, “Yet of myself I will not glory,” and again, “I am become a fool in glorying, ye have compelled me.” A first glance at Joshua 14 would seem to suggest that Caleb was boasting when he said to Joshua, “I wholly followed the Lord my God,” hut a second look should dismiss the thought on two main counts. Firstly, the man to whom Caleb spoke knew it to be true for he was his partner in the search. Secondly, the ground on which Caleb stood was Gilgal and according to Joshua 5 Gilgal was the place where the flesh was judged mercilessly and the reproach of it was rolled away. How could anyone boast at Gilgal? No! Honour where honour is due! Not in the energy of the flesh did Caleb make his claim, but in the good of a ministry enjoyed in the soul for 45 years. How refreshing it is to be in the company of a saint who has maintained a personal enjoyment of spiritual things all through life! Caleb was a person like that; a source of encouragement to all around him, and that too in each succeeding time of crisis.
Advancing years are often pleaded as an excuse for early retirement from the Lord’s service. This was not so, however, with Caleb. In the good of energies which the Lord had preserved he stated, “I am 85 years old and as strong this day as the day Moses sent me,” and with these words he reached forward for his portion in the land of promise. Strange it is, too, he laid claims to the hardest part to conquer, the mountains wherein dwelt the Anakims, the giants who caused the
hearts of the people to quake in the days of the rebellion in Numbers. Yes, indeed, there is no substitute for experience and no strength like that which God supplies to meet a time of emergency. How thankful we are for the many who turn their backs on legitimate retirement and continue to bear the burdens of the testimony. This is not, of course, an encouragement to those who hold on when there is an obvious and better equipped successor ready to take over. To know the will of God is the great point in this matter. Labouring on steadfastly like Elijah until the successor Elisha is brought forward by God is surely the classic pattern for all times.
Recounting then the details of a memorable day in the past when he returned from the search, Caleb said plainly to Joshua, “The word was in mine heart.” Happy day it is when the Word rules the heart and moves the feet of the people of God. Ezra the scribe “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements.” A beautiful private exercise; a prepared heart for the law of the Lord and a heartfelt desire to make its details known to the people. Such was Ezra and such, too, was Caleb, for in his exercise it was the word of the report, or glad tidings, he brought back; a gospel of the type of land on before in the good provision of God. Here, too, this good man thought of his family. What he claimed was not merely the promise of Moses for himself but for his children also and that for ever, because he had wholly followed the Lord his God.
The blessing of Joshua follows, and with the blessing he gave to Caleb Hebron for an inheritance. Now Hebron was a place sacred to the memory of a Hebrew, being associated in such a marked way with Abraham, the father of the race, and many others after him. Strange, too, how the record in Joshua 14 links Hebron with the man after whom the place was named, Kirjath-Arba, where Abraham purchased his piece of ground in Machpelah in Hebron. This place also was beside Mamre where Abraham had his altar and where he entertained the heavenly strangers in his tent.
If names mean anything then the portion given to Caleb by Joshua certainly suggests much to the enquiring mind. Kirjath-arba, city foursquare to the idolatrous people who dwelt there was a pathetic comfort when nothing in this scene is permanent. What a testimony, however, must it have been to them when Abraham purchased his lot in Machpelah, the place of the two doors. Here was the proper attitude to permanence in this world. Here, too, the proper outlook in the face of death. Surely resurrection was before Abraham in a purchased spot, one door in at death and one out again at the resurrection day of Old Testament saints. Such then was Caleb’s portion, a worthy reward to the man who stood firmly for God when the whole nation rebelled. Of a high standard, too, will be the reward in a future day for those who will turn their backs now on worldy pursuits and strike out on the path of faith to wholly follow the Lord their God.
THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY
Notes of an address
by Wm, Gibson, Stockton-on-Tees.
We are going to consider together the subject of fellowship in God’s Assembly. But the first essential thing is to understand what we mean by “God’s Assembly.” So I want you first of all to see the distinction between the Church which is His Body, composed of every believer from the day of Pentecost until the Lord comes again, irrespective of age, sex, or the particular body of people with whom he or she may meet, and the local church composed of a convenient number of believers meeting together in a particular place.
Now I know that to some the distinction between the two might be classed as elementary truth, so I hope you will bear with me a few minutes, because I want all to understand the distinction between the two, for unless we do, much of what I have to say later will lose point and will not be appreciated in its context.
The Church had its beginning on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given from Heaven. The Apostle tells us in 1 Cor. 12. 13 : “For in one Spirit were we all baptised into one body.” Notice carefully the expression of the Revised Version : “In one Spirit were we all,” etc. There is no such thing in Scripture as the baptism by the Spirit or the baptism of the Spirit. Remember the words of John the Baptist, “I indeed baptise you,” etc. The Lord Jesus is the Bap-tiser and the Spirit is the element in which we are baptised, and so all being baptised in the same Spirit become one body. Now look at Ephesians 2. 14: “For He is our peace,” etc. Here from the two great divisions of the human race, Jew and Gentile, God has formed a “new man” (v. 15). Every believer is in the Body; every believer is in the New Man. Now look at Galatians 3. 28, where we learn that in this Body, in the New Man, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, male or female, bond or free, but we are “all one in Christ Jesus.” This is a God-ordained, God-appointed unity.
Now, in the early days of the Church Paul the apostle was called out by the Spirit to go preaching and teaching the Gospel, and we have on record in the Acts his three missionary journeys. In the various towns and cities he visited souls were saved and began meeting together, and these companies of believers meeting in these various places were called “Churches” (note the plural). We read of “the Churches of Asia,” of “the Churches of Galatia.” So now let us consider some of the distinctions between the churches, those local companies, and the Church which is composed of all the saints.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy the apostle is dealing with matters connected with the local company of believers who met together at Ephesus, and he refers to the responsibility of elders, of men other than elders, of women, of widows, of fathers, and children. So in the local company of believers the men, the women, the fathers and children, are recognised as such and have their corresponding responsibilities. Here then is the first distinction. In the Church which is His Body, which is composed of all believers, there are no distinctions between male and female, bond or free, but in the local church these distinctions are clearly seen and the relative responsibilities observed.
Again, with regard to reception, when a person is saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he or she at once becomes a member of the Church which is His Body by the sovereign act of God and the baptism in the Spirit. But this is not the case with regard to membership of a local church. Believers are received into a local church by the church. Paul in writing to the church at Colosse, said concerning John Mark, “If he come unto you receive him.” Again, writing to the church at Rome he said, “I commend unto you Phebe . . . receive her,” etc. So reception into the Church which is His Body is by a sovereign act of God, but reception into the local church is the responsibility of the local church.
Again, once a person is received by God and baptised in the Spirit into the Body, this is a once for all act. He or she can never be divorced from God or from the Church. Think of such scriptures as : “I give unto My sheep eternal life ; “I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him”; or again, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life shall separate me from the love of God.” Now this is not the case with regard to the local church, for under certain circumstances, believers can be put away from it The Apostle in 1 Cor. 5 speaks concerning a certain person : “Put away from among you that wicked person.” So reception into the Church which is His Body is permanent and abiding, but reception into a local church is not so, for under certain circumstances a person can be put away from it.
Now, I could give you further examples, but I think I have said sufficient to indicate to you that there is a difference between the Church which is His Body composed of all believers and a local company meeting together in a certain place.
Now let us consider the question of what we mean by a local church. The expression “local church” does not occur in Scripture, but we do read the expression, “church of God.” Now whenever we read the expression, “church of God” it refers to a local company. That is, a company of believers who meet in a certain place. Let me quote 1 Cor. 1 : “To the church of God at Corinth”; again, 1 Cor. 11 : “Despise ye the church of God?”; again, 2 Cor. 1 : “To the church of God at Corinth” ; again, 1 Thess. 2. 14: “Became followers of the churches of God.” In 1 Timothy 3, the Apostle speaks of the church of God, that is the local company in which there are elders. We read of “the church of the Thessalonians.” We read of “the church which is in thy house.” We read of “the churches of Asia,” of “the churches of Galatia.” Many other scriptures could be quoted, all referring to local companies of believers, each meeting together in a certain place. So there is abundant evidence in Scripture as to a local church.
Now many people in the assemblies to-day are of the opinion that the local church is composed of every believer meeting in a certain locality, and would say that all believers in a town, no matter with whom they meet, form the local church. This is held very widely in assemblies to-day, and it is on this basis that we are urged to have closer fellowship with the various denominations, and not to do so means that one is dubbed “narrow” and “sectarian.” Now let us consider this in the light of Scripture. We shall consider it from two points only, as other differences will come up later.
You have a local company of believers here, you meet together in this hall, and there are elders who move amongst you. Now, we see from Paul’s letter to Timothy that the elders are exhorted to feed the flock over whom the Spirit hath made them overseers, and this is what your elders seek to do. But how can one of your elders here take care of and feed believers say at St. Barnabas Church, or, say Park Avenue Methodist Chapel? First of all, he does not know them, so how then can he take care of them? Or again, can you imagine a minister of One of these churches allowing one of your elders to exercise rule and discipline in his church? On the other side, the believers are exhorted to know them that have the rule over them. Do you think that all the believers in this town could know and acknowledge one of your elders as such? Do you?
Again, we have already seen from Scripture that in connection with certain sins, believers can be disciplined and excommunicated from the local company. Discipline when necessary must be exercised in the local church. Now suppose a believer, a member of the Church of England, say at St. Barnabas Church, is guilty of one of these sins, do you read him out of your fellowship here? The possibility is you would never know anything at all about it. But if you did, what discipline can you exercise over a brother in one of these places? None! Therefore, if the church of God, or the local church, whichever you have a mind to call it, is to function according to Scripture, if the elders are to care for and feed the flock, and the sheep are to know and acknowledge them, and if discipline is to be exercised and maintained amongst them, these things can only be done if the company is meeting together in one place. So the Scriptures we have considered can only refer to, and can only be fulfilled in, a local company meeting together in one place.
(To be continued).
“BY HIM”-“OF HIM”
By Alan S. Barker, Colchester.
1 Corinthians 1.
One of the things which impresses us when reading through the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, is the repeated reminder of the fact that “All things are of God.” Chapter 2 verse 12 speaks of the “things which are freely given to us of God.” In verse 5 of chapter 3 the apostle reminds us that “the Lord gave to every man”. There is a striking verse in chapter 4 which includes . . . “and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” (v. 7). The last two verses of chapter 6 are in the same strain—all is God’s, and therefore I must be careful to glorify Him in all that He has entrusted to me. All this should make us truly humble, and faithful in the discharge of the stewardship with which we have been entrusted of God.
But there is more in it than this, and if we look at chapter 1, from which our title is culled, we shall see that along with the positive side of the truth, there is also the negative side. This company of believers who had divided themselves into parties called after men, were reminded in verses 5 and 30 that their enrichment, utterance, and knowledge were “by Him”, and that wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption are “of Him”. This is the positive side of the truth—ALL IS OF GOD, and well we must remember it.
Now because all is of God, there is no room for the flesh at all. It is by deliberate choice and appointment that God has chosen things which, to the flesh, are foolish, weak, base, despised, and even non-existent, to achieve His present purposes of grace in the world and in the saints.
The religious systems of men deny all this. They pay lip-service to an all-sufficient God, but in their works they deny Him. They set out to be wise, mighty, exalted, popular, and known, in order to further their ends.
The true servant of God will not be moved by these motives. He will be content to be thought foolish because his wisdom comes not from the seminary but from the sanctuary. He will be content to be regarded as weak, knowing that as such he is the fitted vessel for the outflow of the power of God. That men call him base or low-born will not move him, for he has been called with an high calling. To be despised will bring him pleasure, for was not his Master “despised and rejected of men”?, yet as a “root out of a dry ground”, He was so delightful to the Father. When men ‘write him off’ as a nonentity he cares not, for he knows that by being all these things God will through him achieve His own purposes of blessing to men.
Brethren, we shall never further the work of God by adopting the things which He has deliberately avoided. The ‘Bible College’ cannot minister that enrichment of soul which comes only BY HIM; it cannot give the utterance that HE gives, be it ever so orderly and polished; it cannot impart knowledge like HIM; for HE teaches us day by day throughout our life-time, and truth thus learned touches the heart, and not only informs the mind.
Little wonder that the Apostle concludes the chapter in which there is no room for the flesh by saying, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” May we, too, be content to be nothing in the eyes of men, and to glory only in Him by Whom and of Whom are all things.
How I was led to devote all my time to the work of the Lord
By Henry Fletcher, Toronto.
God saved me in His matchless grace, January, 9, 1908, alone in my bedroom, in Hamilton, Canada, the city of my birth. That night a mother’s prayers for her boy were answered; those of others, too, who were interested in my soul’s salvation, including a faithful Sunday School teacher. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” The newborn soul can enter into the words of the poet, Wm. Cowper:
- “Heaven above is softer blue, Earth beneath is deeper green;
- Something dwells in every hue Christless eyes have never seen.”
Now that I was saved the cry of my heart was, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9. 6). I noticed in reading my Bible that, “They that gladly received His word were baptized . . . and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” The more I read the Word of God, the more I wanted to be an obedient believer. The thought of the Lord Jesus going all the way to Calvary for me, made it easy to go into the waters of baptism for Him. (John 14. 21).
- “Thorns crowned His blessed head,
- Blood stained His every tread,
- On to the cross He sped,
- For me, for me!”
I was received into the fellowship of the McNab Street assembly (Matt. 18. 20), and eight happy years soon passed by with the saints there. A Sunday School class, distribution of tracts in the surrounding towns and villages in the summer, and in the city in the winter, besides the open air meetings, Bible readings, and other assembly meetings and activities, kept me occupied and provided a good grounding and training in the things of God.
Ever since conversion through reading the missionary hooks and magazines, and hearing visiting missionaries give accounts of the Lord’s work in the regions beyond, it deepened interest and exercised me greatly in regard to making known the Gospel. Another most important thing was the practice, soon after conversion, of the blessed truth of systematic giving to the Lord. On receiving my wages, it was a happy privilege to lay aside a definite percentage as the Lord’s portion (1 Cor. 16. 2; 2 Cor. 9. 7, etc.). This entailed exercise as to what to do with it. After giving to the Lord in the assembly offerings, money seemed to accumulate in His portion, and so different servants of the Lord at home and abroad were communicated with by letter, and personal fellowship gifts. This direct contact deepened exercise as to the world-field (Matt. 13. 38), and the appalling need of the Gospel, especially those countries where Romish darkness reigned. Soon a point was reached in my life when before the Lord in my bedroom in secret prayer, a definite surrender was made, poor, weak and worthless though I felt myself to be, for service as He should make clear. It was a definite act of yielding, and in measure, it has been a continual one day by day (Rom. 12. 1).
The elder brethren to whom I communicated my thoughts, were most sympathetic, and in due time I appeared before all the overseeing brethren of the assembly to tell of my exercise and of the Lord’s leading. Their unanimous decision was that if I felt the Lord was so calling me to leave the material “nets” (Luke 5. 10, 11), and go forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing of the Gentiles (unsaved) (3 John 7), they would not discourage me. So I ventured forth in simple faith in the year 1916 with the hearty commendation of the assembly. God had been whispering into my heart (Ps. 73. 25, 26), “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” I worked at my daily occupation until the end of the month, and was on my way to Venezuela by the 15th of the next, accompanying Mr. and Mrs. W. Williams on their return to that land where for five years they had served the Lord. I had been interested and exercised about Venezuela, knowing of the labours there for many years of brethren Mitchell, Crane, Brown, Adams, Johnston, and others, some of whom, in those very early days, laid down their lives there in the bloom of their youth that the Gospel might enter that land. No doubt the world would have said, like Judas of old, “Why this waste?” (Mark 14. 4), but He for Whose sake they poured out the treasures of their health, wealth, and life itself (Phil. 2. 17), will know how to appraise all done because the love of Christ constrained them. In that day He will say, “She hath done what she could. He hath done what he could.”
- “O how will recompense His smile,
- The sufferings of this little while.”
Twenty-five years were spent in pioneer labours in Venezuela and Puerto Rico, with the exception of three furloughs during that time. My dear wife faithfully shared “the downs and ups” (Ps. 139. 2), the journeyings, the native houses and conditions, the isolation, the stones and insults, the fevers and hurricanes, and the joy of souls now and then won for Christ, and assemblies planted. An older brother once prayed for two young men going forth with the Gospel, “Lord, fill them with Thy Holy Spirit! Lord, thrill them by seeing souls awakened and saved! Lord, spill them for thee!” (2 Cor. 12. 15).
- “I shall not mind of whatever I gave,
- Labour or money, one heathen to save.
- I shall not mind that the way was rough,
- That Thy dear feet led the way was enough!
- When I am dying how glad I shall be,
- That the lamp of my life has been burned out for thee!”
(From “Truth and Tidings”).
- Himself the Seed, the Root, the Branch, the Tree—
- It was a Tree God chose—
- Grim sign of loss,
- Rough-fashioned as a Cross—
- To Shudder ’neath the throes
- Of its Creator, feel the warm, red flood
- Of His atoning blood.
- And hold in death the deathless One,
- God’s only Son.
- O tree of death, stark, awful tree,
- Thy roots stretch back into eternity.
- Yet He in triumph rose!
- Through loss and pain Behold eternal gain!
- It was a Tree God chose—
- Himself the Seed, the Root, the Branch, the Tree—
- To bring forth wondrously
- Heaven’s fruit in earth as man believes,
- And healing leaves.
- O Tree of Life, O Glorious Tree,
- Thy branches reach through all eternity.
- VIOLET ELEANOR WOOD,
- Pontypridd, Glam.