THE PROMISE OF HEAVEN
by J. E. Todd
DANIEL THE PROPHET
by C. J. Atkins
SECRET OF THE CHURCH’S POWER
by Wm. Bunting
by C. S. Jarrett
A NEW REVELATION
by Roy Hill
by George Muller
by H. C. Spence
by Andrew Borland
by J. E. TODD
“SIMON PETER said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him. Whither I go thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” (John 13:36). Where was the Lord Jesus Christ going? His own reply to that question was, “I go unto the Father” (John 14:28). The time was fast approaching for His departure, “Now” (v. 36) is the time, a reference not so much to His death or resurrection but to His ascension into heaven. Peter would not follow now but in the future.
It is significant that when the scriptures refer to the Christian going to heaven, they do not do so in those words. But the scriptures refer to the Christian being with Christ, “That where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3, see also Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:8). The Bible does not speak of this experience in the cold, and perhaps even frightening language of departing to an entirely unknown sphere, but it uses the warm and comforting language of meeting one whom we have known, loved and served.
But, nevertheless, this is the giving of the promise that the believer will go to heaven, “Thou shalt follow me afterwards” Whether this be by death, as in the case of Peter, or by the second coming of our Lord, “I will come again and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3), it makes no difference to the plainness and simplicity of the promise.
But simple things are always questioned by the arrogance of the flesh. “Yes, but what if the one to whom this promise is made should prove to be unworthy of such a blessing as eternity in heaven?” The Lord, who made the promise to Peter, made it in the conscious knowledge that Peter would prove himself unworthy, not once, not twice, but thrice! “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (John 13:38b). The fulfilment of the promise is made possible by the blood of Christ not the behaviour of the Christian.
But not only did the Lord make the promise independent of human frailty, He also hastened to give an assurance. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Failure must never lead to despair. To fail is one thing, to despair is quite another. When we fail we experience conscience and shame, but we must never allow the adversary to tempt our sense of unworthiness to become an attitude of despair with regard to divine blessing. For not only is the promise of eternal life in heaven unaltered, but our gracious Lord will always provide future opportunities when we can behave in a worthy fashion and so restore our spiritual confidence. Did Peter deny the Lord thrice with his lips, then the Lord provided the opportunity for Peter to honour him thrice with his lips. “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” (John 21:15-19).
So the Lord, in all the full knowledge of Peter’s weakness, repeats the promise, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). After passing through the bitter experience of failure (Mark 14:72), Peter at last grasps the certainty of the promise, for he writes, “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
But what authority has this Jesus of Nazareth to make such promises. “How can we know the way?” Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the way to God. In His death He has cancelled out, on the believer’s behalf, the judgment due to God’s holy law. The believer is forgiven all his sins; he is justified before the law; he is reconciled to God; he is regenerated into the divine family. The believer already sits in heavenly places in Christ! (Ephesians 2:6).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the truth about God. In His life He displayed the divine character. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). In Christ we see the divine love, the divine grace, the divine compassion, which are the only but all sufficient grounds for our acceptance into the presence of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the life from God. He said, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). That same divine life, of which He was the expression, communicated to each believer by the Holy Spirit at the new birth is the guarantee that we both can and will share the eternal kingdom in the divine presence. (John 3:3).
The very person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the authority to the Christian of the promise that he will go to heaven. Jesus said, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40).
by the late C. J. ATKINS
Night Visions of World Empires and the Time of the End
The greatest interest, both for Daniel and for God’s redeemed of the present dispensation, centres round the ten horns and the little horn of the fourth terrible beast, and the climax when “thrones were placed, and One that was ancient of days did sit: … and the beast was slain” (v. 9, 11). At no time in the past has the power of Rome been exercised by ten kings, but we as the redeemed people of God, knowing that “the word of the Lord abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:25) and knowing that “the vision is true” (8:26)—we should be watchful, for amidst all the turmoil of this present evil age, at any moment these kingdoms can arise, and from their midst arise one who shall speak words against the “Most High” (7:25). Daniel spoke only for his people Israel; not only was he concerned with their immediate future as he sought by prayer and confession to a covenant keeping God, to intercede for their restoration (ch. 9) but his thoughts troubled him as the awful testing of the nation in the tribulation was revealed to him. As previously stated Daniel knew nothing of the mystery of the church, of the gathering out of a people from Jew and Gentile to form the redeemed company of this dispensation of grace, and therefore his visions could not include the blessed and glorious picture of the rapture of the church, the Lamb’s wife. Today on every hand we see events shaping to the point when the history of Israel as a nation shall be resumed, when the conditions portrayed by the ten horns, or the ten toes of the image, shall be fulfilled. Let us heed the warning then, “We beseech you brethren … that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled … let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Surely we live in days when, as never before, the picture presented for the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is vividly portrayed on every hand worldwide. “Let us not sleep … let us watch and be sober” that we might be sanctified wholly and our “spirit, soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 23).
In order to get a clearer picture of the tumultuous events portrayed by the visions, because of the kaleidoscope of upsurging powers and fierce tyrants it is necessary to read the latter part of ch. 7 with chapter 8 and the latter part of ch. 11, in order to distinguish between the persons symbolised by the various focal points such as the little horn of Daniel 7 and the little horn of Daniel 8 and “the king” of Daniel 11:36. In the two and a half millenia which have passed since Daniel wrote, much has now passed into history, but still, though many “run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” we still await “the time of the end” (ch. 12:4), when the events of ch. 7:19-28. Ch. 8:23-27, 9:27 and 11:36-45 concerning Israel and the Gentile powers shall be completed, and the glory and dominion of an earthly kingdom pass to the Son of Man.
No wonder that Daniel grieved as the vision of the fourth beast troubled him, (ch. 7:15). After the prolonged interval, during which the church is gathered out from amongst the nations, the thread of history is resumed with this portrayal of the fourth beast and the little horn. The vision shows a renewed power like the ancient empire of Rome, with ten kings. In this present century, in the twenties and thirties, the way in which dictators can rise rapidly to supreme power and overrun nations with relentless brutality has been illustrated, and particular malice has been shown toward the Jew. Ten dictators swaying kingdoms will arise in Europe, and from their midst “another shall rise after them” (ch. 7:24). After he has put down three of the kings, with penetrating hypnotic personality he will grasp power and proudly proclaim himself against all law and authority, and will particularly show harshness and speak violently “against the saints of the Most High.” Daniel’s interest is concentrated on the little horn, “the horn which came up, and before which the horns fell: even that horn which had eyes and a mouth that spake great things” (7:20). As previously suggested, these visions should be compared with those given to the aged apostle John as recorded in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. By the time of the exiled seer on the isle of Patmos most of Daniel 7, 8, 11 and also the 69 weeks of chapter 9 had been fulfilled, but John is given further details of the last of the seventy weeks to compare with Daniel’s visions. Verse by verse the little horn of Daniel 7 can be compared with the “beast coming up out of the sea” (Revelation 13:1). Both accounts tell of swelling words and blasphemies against the Most High (Daniel 7:20-25—Revelation 13:5, 6) of wearing out the saints (Daniel 7:25—Revelation 13:7) and of authority given for a prescribed period of years (Daniel 7:25—Revelation 13:5).
The little horn came up after the ten horns. As the vision unfolds into history therefore, the Roman empire which passed out of history in the fifth century, will be revived again and the fourth beast will be manifest once more, to “devour the whole earth” and from the ten kings will arise this Satanically-inspired ruler as supreme hlead of this revived Roman empire. “The dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:2). In the previous chapter the dragon is identified as “the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan” Revelation 12:9. Acting as Satan’s man, he takes control of political affairs, changing times and laws (Daniel 7:25) and also seeking to take control of religious matters, he will “cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease” (Daniel 9:27). In this chapter 9, where he is called “the prince that shall come” (v. 26) it is shown that he will feign friendship with the Jews for a period, but breaking his covenant, he will link with the Antichrist and fiercely persecute the Jews during the “time of Jacob’s trouble” for 3½ years. At the close of the period the power to work evil is summarily cut short. “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end” (ch. 7:26). The stone foretold in chap. 2: will then fall and world empires will pass from Gentile hands “and the kingdom and dominion … shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High: His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Ch. 7:27). The forces of evil thus cast down, the kingdom of righteousness, the Millenial reign of the Lord on earth begins. May we all, as we see the fulfilling of God’s purposes be like Daniel who concludes “I kept the matter in my heart” (ch. 7:28).
by the late Wm. BUNTING
Samson was one of the heroes of faith, and his name is given honourable mention in Hebrews Chapter 11. He was a man of supernatural strength. He was a man that knew the power of God for many years. The story of Samson has a sad end. What was the secret of Samson’s supernatural strength? He was a Nazarite unto God from his mother’s womb. Devoted to God—separated to God. That was the secret of his power, and the symbol of his power was in the seven locks of his hair upon his head.
In the chapter before us, Samson, mighty Samson, a man of God, the man before whom enemies of God trembled, Samson lays his head on the knees of Delilah, and the seven locks are shaven. He told her the secret of his power, and she betrayed him to the Philistines. Samson is one of the most pitiful sights in the word of God. His eyes are taken out. He grinds the mill—does the work of a common slave. What must have been the thoughts of dear Samson when he remembered his earlier power and dignity, when he remembered the place that he once occupied, and when he felt his utter weakness, what must have been his bitter thoughts of remorse?
Let us not have hard thoughts about Samson, when I read about him, I say ‘poor dear Samson.’ The power gone, and the strength gone.
- Revelation Chapter 2 Verse 1-3
- Revelation Chapter 3 Verse 8, 15-17
What have we in these two chapters? It has often been pointed out, that in them we have a picture of the Church.
The letter to the Church of Ephesus, which comes first, takes us back to the planting of the Church. It is interesting in that connection to know it is the only Church of the seven which we know anything about its planting, and that fact is significant.
What was God’s desire for His Church? His desire was that it should be a Nazarite church. He purchases it to be His own peculiar possession. The Church should be a Nazarite Church living only for God’s interest. Here in Revelation 2 we have the Church starting out upon the pilgrimage over the desert sands.
Authorised version—in verses 2 and 3 there are nine items mentioned. Revised version—eight items.
The word that would sum up all these items is power. There was power in the Church.
We come to chapter 3 verse 8 ‘Philadelphia’ it brings us to the latter times of the churches history “thou hast a little strength.” Power reminds us of Acts ‘verse 31—about the church at Jerusalem “that with great power.” Chapter 3 verse 8 “a little strength” all they had was only a little strength.
Laodicea—five words sum up Laodicea “wretched, poor, miserable, blind, naked.” The last judge in the book of Judges was a blind judge. The last church is also blind.
These five words spell utter weakness. It is not a message for our heads, but for out hearts. God is the God of recovery and the God of restoration. I am sure you feel, and I feel, that we have not the power that we ought to have amongst us.
Samson’s hair began to grow, there was a measure of recovery. Let us remember this, if you and I are prepared to pay the price, the power is unchanged and it is there for us.
Acts 4 Verse 31-33—that is what is said of the early church. There you see her in her Christian beauty. There she starts out on her early pilgrimage—like R.ebekah. What was the secret of the churches power. Cannot we recapture that power? I suggest we can if we are prepared to pay the price. We have seven spiritual locks of the churches nazariteship :—
- Church at Jerusalem—Denial of Self Peter and John are willing to go to prison, they are prepared to die for their worthy Master. Self denial and denial of self are two different things. What do we know about the denial of self? Paul said “I die daily.” To say “no” to old self.
- Verses 24-31—There was prayer. There will be no power in the life if prayer is lacking. Little prayer—little power. These men were of prayer. “Being let go, they went to their own company” and there they had a prayer meeting. It was a model prayer meeting. What wonderful prayer meetings we would have if all the saints were present at the prayer meeting. If you were to judge by the prayer meeting, you would say that the spiritual life of the assembly was very low. Their prayer was definite, very simple, and very much to the point.
- Verses 11-25—These dear saints had a knowledge of the word. The word of God was dwelling in them richly. In verse 11 they quote from Psalm 118 and in verse 25 they quote from Psalm 2. Same principal in Acts ‘as Isaiah 61. You will find that they also abruptly stop in the middle of the psalm. They were able to rightly divide the word of truth. If we are going to have a knowledge of the power amongst us we must have a knowledge of the Bible. Mighty men because they loved the Bible. Let us get back again to this grand old book, and read it regularly.
- Verse 8-31—They were Spirit filled. God’s Holy Spirit had been imparted in Acts 2. Pentecost was past, but nine times over in the book of the Acts you read about the filling of the Spirit, and the Lord’s desire is that we should all be filled with the Spirit. If we were Spirit filled Christians what power would be amongst us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is grieved and quenched, and I feel an urge that I ought to do something. ‘I feel an urge to do something, but I don’t do it.’ What have I done? I have grieved the Holy Spirit, and sometimes we grieve the Holy Spirit by our attitude one toward the other. If we are going to be Spirit filled Christians, it will cost us something, and I say again—are we prepared to pay the price?
- Verse 19-20—They were devoted to God. They took sides with God, and in doing so the world was against them. The world’s attitude has never changed. Verse 19 and 20— They were men that were devoted to God and to his cause. Verse 26-27 “Gathered together” and it is there used of the world gathered together against Christ at the cross, and that same word “Gathered together” is used in verse 6, but the same world is gathered together against the infant church.
- Verse 13—Likeness to Jesus. What was the likeness they saw? The likeness was this, that they were ignorant and unlearned men. These men noticed that these disciples were like their Master. That is what ought to be seen in your life and in mine. Every day likeness to our Lord Jesus Christ. God had only one Son, and that Son pleased Him so well, and God wants all His sons to be like Him. It is not great gift that God uses at all, but it is likeness to Jesus.
- There was unity amongst themselves, for we are told that they were of one accord, and there we have the sevenfold secret of the churches power. If I am prepared to pay the price.
by C. S. JARRETT
WE sometimes hear brethren praying for “the Oversight” and often hear believers say of some brother, perhaps a father, husband or one with responsibility in an assembly, that “he is on the Oversight.”
The meaning intended by this expression is that the brother referred to is one of a small but defined group who guide and bear responsibility in an assembly. It is a common but, I submit, an unscriptural expression that ought to be discontinued. It is more than misleading, it is wrong, and we should be more careful for the sake of those who learn and repeat our expressions.
The words “the oversight” appear in 1 Peter 5:2, where one Greek word is represented in the A.V. by the four words “taking the oversight thereof.” J.N.D. and the Englishman’s Greek N.T. both translate “exercising oversight.” The word means “to look upon” and the expression concerns the discharge of the duties of elders. In v. 1. of chapter 5, Peter an elder himself, addresses “the elders which are among you” exhorting them to shepherd the little flock. This involves leading, feeding and caring for the flock and of looking upon them to know their needs, burdens, spiritual progress and exercises.
Tending the flock goes beyond leading and ministering at meetings and because of the demands it makes, Peter says “not by constraint but willingly” and again “of a ready mind.” The flock know quite well, who are true shepherds, regardless of whether or not they are “on the oversight” as it is said, we would be wiser to say of the men, that they are guides or shepherds who exercise or share the oversight of the saints, but they themselves are not “the oversight.” They may meet in connection with their responsibilities but we suggest it would be truer to speak of their gathering, if this is the case, as a meeting of overseeing brethren rather than as “an oversight meeting” for oversight as Peter writes, cannot be accomplished in the limits of a meeting. We should remember too, that those who “look upon” the flock are looked upon by the flock and are therefore to be “examples” to them. Their crown of glory, like the inheritance ready to be revealed to believers is one “that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 1:4; 5:4.
To hold fast the faithful word, to declare the whole counsel of God, to admonish the disorderly (the meaning of which is) “to train by the Word,” to encourage the fainthearted, to support the weak and to be patient toward all, is a work that demands a faithfulness that is not always appreciated by the flock and does not bring to the shepherds any personal reward down here but the crown they will wear up there will be one of perpetual glory.
Such a reward for faithfulness indicates the greatness of the responsibility of elders for they give character to the assemblies, and indeed, each assembly is the product of the example and teaching of its elders.
The next reference to which we would direct you is Hebrews 12:15 where, in the Received Text, the Greek word quoted in 1 Peter 5:2 appears again, translated “looking diligently” in the A.V. The exhortation is not now addressed to elders but to all the saints and seems to suggest an oversight of our own lives because failure on our part mav trouble many.
The first part of Hebrews 12 introduces the subject of the Father’s chastening.
We are not to forget it (v. 5) nor despise it (v. 5) nor faint when being nurtured by it (v. 5).
All receive it (v. 6) it is given in love (v. 6). Chastisement is proof of sonship (v. 7-8).
The Father’s purpose in dealing with His sons is stated at v. 10, “that we might be partakers of His holiness.” To recognise the profit of the Father’s dealings and to be exercised as a result, means that the chastening has yielded peaceable fruit.
Verses 12 and onwards refer to our responses in experiences which are not joyous, but, we are now taught, have real purpose and profit.
V. 12 seems to suggest that we each recover from faintness, and weakness and walk in a plain and consistent way (v. 13) so that others, who follow us, are not stumbled. Verse 13 teaches that the straight or even path will, when followed by the lame, save them from being turned aside and will actually be the means of their restoration.
As believers are to be partakers of His holiness, they are to pursue it in their character and ways (v. 14) in keeping with the grace of God.
Verse 15 quotes the Sept, translation of Deuteronomy which speaks of one who troubles all Israel when he rebels against the warnings of God’s Word, acts deliberately contrary to them, suffers the anger of the Lord and oerhaps involves or leads others with him. The words of Hebrews 12:15; “thereby many be defiled” suggest this.
Joshua 7 records how Achan brought defeat to Israel by his disregard of God’s word in Joshua 6:18 and Joshua said, “why hast thou troubled us?” (7-25).
The lesson then from the words “looking diligently” is that God allows us to experience chastisement that it may produce holiness. Then our response to His dealings either strengthens others who follow our example or troubles others.
There is one other verse to which we draw attention. In 1 Peter ‘: 15; the Apostle, having written of the fiery trial of sufferings for Christ, in which he tells us to rejoice, turns to sufferings which ought not to be experienced by a Christian, namely, as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer or as a busybody in other men’s matters. The word translated “busybody” is not the one referred to in 1 Peter 5:2; and Hebrews 12:15; but it means “a self appointed overseer” and J.N.D. translated it “an overseer” where the A.V. has “busybody.”
The pure motive in exercising oversight among the saints is absent here. This is “meddling” to no good purpose.
Proverbs 20:3; indicates that meddling is the action of fools and while unsaved are to be “won” (1 Peter 3:1) we are not to “meddle” where we have no recognised rights. If we “follow His steps” we will reveal “good manner of life in Christ” 1 Peter 3:16; so that, if we suffer it will be for well doing and not for evil doing, and any accusations will be falsely made, as they were made against the Lord Jesus.
May He, by His Spirit, teach us His mind and strengthen us to express it in life.
by ROY HILL
At the end of Exodus chapter 5 Moses is unhappy and disillusioned. He had been sent to lead the rescue of Israel from Egyptian bondage but the results of his efforts had merely been an increase in the cruelty and burdens the slaves were asked to bear. The Israelites complained bitterly to Moses and Aaron, and understandably, Moses asks God “Why is it Thou hast sent me?” Many who are involved in service for God have to face similar problems—criticism from those they are trying to help, pressure and persecution from “the king of Egypt” and finally an inner and growing feeling of their own inadequecy (“I am not eloquent,” “I am slow”) resulting in the heart-spoken question “Why hast Thou sent me?”.
In times like these a revelation from God is what is needed and in the case of Moses that is exactly what happened! God speaks to Moses and identifies Himself as “I am the Lord.” Verse 3 of chapter 6 explains that God appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty but they did not know Him as Jehovah or “the Lord.” So in the first few verses there is positive encouragement for Moses and for the people a new revelation of God “I am the Lord.”
Verses 6-8 of this chapter are a gem of divine revelation and assurance for God’s people. The verses start and finish with this new revelation “I am the Lord” so that it can be said that all within these two phrases has to do with Jehovah, or by implication the Lordship of Christ. While in days of old God was gradually revealing aspects of His character to His people, today there is no new revelation as such. Nevertheless each of us, particularly in times of stress and difficulty, can enjoy the advantage of a fresh revelation from God which will initially encourage us and subsequently enable us to re-assure others. There is in the verses a list of seven things associated with this new revelation of Lordship and at these we shall now briefly look.
(i) I will bring you out from Egypt.
In this and in the next item we see Jehovah working in salvation. For about 80 years the Israelites had lived in Egypt as slaves in a strange land. There appeared no prospect for release and hardship was increasing daily. No man or men could effect delivery, Pharaoh held sway; but, said Jehovah “I will bring you out.” Herein lies divine power and willingness.
In the days prior to our salvation we too were “in Egypt” and it took the power of God to deliver us. We belonged to the kingdom of darkness, yet, blessed reality, we are now in the kingdom of the Son of His Love. Through the death of Christ our spiritual deliverance was effected. Associated therefore with the name of Jehovah is deliverance from Egypt and the world’s systems.
(ii) I will Deliver you from their Bondage.
We perhaps too easily forget, as did the Israelites, that in Egypt we were in bondage to the demands of the devil and of a depraved nature. They murmured and wanted to return, they lusted after some of the things they had left behind. Nevertheless in more spiritual moments we do remember the afflictions, the trials and the bondage of sin and satan—A bondage from which there was no release and which as the days went by became more and more difficult to endure. In unsaved days we all endured bondage of various kinds and to different degrees but we can now say
- “My chains are snapt, the bonds of sin are broken
- And I am free
- O let the triumphs of His grace be spoken
- Who died for me!”
Associated with Lordship and with the new revelation of Jehovah are salvation from Egypt’s environs and from the bondage of sin. When Christ died on the cross He brought to pass the reality of which Exodus 6 is but a shadow.
(iii) I will redeem you.
Redemption means deliverance from bondage by the payment of a price. In our chapter the Lord is redeeming His people with an outstretched arm which is indicative of strength and power. Their redemption from the bondage of Egypt was fulfilled when they passed through the Red Sea. Peter gives us three aspects of our redemption when he tells us that we are redeemed from corruption, redeemed by blood, and redeemed to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled. In the world we were corrupting along with everybody else but by the precious blood of Christ we have been redeemed, the price has been paid. We are also redeemed “Ye are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are Gods” and “be ye not the servant of men.” May each one of us appreciate the price of the ransom paid and in our daily walk glorify God and bring honour to His name by serving Him rather than men. Jehovah is the Lord of Redemption and Christ is our Redeemer. Well might we sing
- “My Redeemer Oh what beauties
- In that lovely name appear.”
(iv) I will take you to me for a people
Herein we see Lordship and sovereignty exercised. God has chosen Israel from among the nations to be the recipients of divine favour. The initiative was entirely His but what He now plans is the adoption of this people by bringing them into all the privileges and benefits of sonship. It is interesting to note that the book of Exodus commences with a list of sons and sonship is therefore immediately in view. As they come out of Egypt they come out not merely as Israelites but as the people of God. Throughout Exodus are constant references to “the people” the best known of course being the repeated demand to Pharaoh “Let my people go.” The spiritual people of God today are undoubtedly the Christians who have become not only His people but also sons by adoption. The word people suggests fellowship and a part of the new revelation of Jehovah is the fellowship’and oneness of His people. The nation were recognised as being the people of God and we recall the word of Baalam “Behold the people … what hath God wrought!” Those within this privileged fellowship can take ground with the prophet who declared “What people is like unto thy people!” So we in time past were not a people but are now the people of God, indeed a people near to Him and a peculiar people zealous of good works. We should take advantage of being near to Him and show that position to the world by the performance of works of faith.
(v) I will be your God
The reverse side of the coin is that while they are His people He will graciously condescend to be their God. The characteristic of the people was that the Lord their God was with them. Nations around had gods of wood and stone, inanimate and useless but Jehovah, the One who in earlier days had revealed Himself, as God Almighty, was now their God and their Lord. They had a living, genuine and real God to whom they could look throughout the days of their pilgrimage. Our lot today is even better because He is our God. We remember the awe-stricken words of Thomas as he knelt before the Saviour “My Lord and My God.” How delightful to read in Hebrews chapter 11 “Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city.” The relationship that exists between God and His people is inexplicable. It involves divine love, initiative, fellowship, communion and guidance day by day and these better things we enjoy because of His promise “I will be your God.”
(vi) I will bring you into the Land.
An indispensable part of the new revelation is the truth implied in this promise. The land of Caanan to the Jew was in prospect for many years and as they wandered in the wilderness this promise was continually in their thoughts. Eventually faith gave way to sight and the land was entered. God made it clear that entry into the land depended on His power and not upon military might or strategy. Even as they looked for the land of promise so we look for a city whose builder and maker is God. The means used to bring us into the land are remarkable in the extreme—“The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout … then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Joshua had indicated that the entering into the land would be such that “the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty,” and with a mighty arm will our entry into heaven itself be effected. The elation of Israel as they passed clean over Jordan will be nothing to ours when we
- “dwell with Him
- and see His face
- and know more fully all His grace.”
It is interesting to note that involved in the rapture is “the Lord Himself” and in keeping with being an integral part of the new revelation “I am the Lord.”
(vii) I will give it to you
As Joshua took the responsibility of leadership God promised him “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given unto you,” and in due course the land was possessed and shared out. Very soon we shall not only enter the land but shall discover on arrival that many mansions have been prepared for us to possess and enjoy. Also given to the overcomer will be a deeper appreciation of the beauties of that land and of the Son who is the light thereof.
Let us therefore, as the children of God, enjoy these promises which are given to us ever remembering that they come to us through the Lordship of Christ and the goodness of the One who said “I am the Lord.”
by Geo. Muller
“His Name shall be called … counsellor” (Is. 9:6-7). The office which our precious Lord Jesus sustains is “Counsellor.” There are numberless things before us continually in our earthly pilgrimage, regarding which we need counsel, we need advice, and then, under these circumstances, we should go to our Lord Jesus Christ and say to Him, “My Lord, my precious adorable Saviour, I am ignorant, now what am I to do? Thou art my Counsellor, now show me clearly and distinctly how to act under these circumstances.” And what will be the result? We shall be taught.
But our danger is to think ourselves wise, to say, “I have lived many years, and know how to act; I am a man of experience, and do not need to take advice.” This is the very way to make mistakes—to be left to ourselves; but, feeling our ignorance, what we have to do is to own that we are little ignorant children, and to ask the Lord to teach us. When the apostle John was asked a question (Rev. 7:13-14), he said, “Sir, Thou knowest:” in other words, “I do not know,” and as soon as he acknowledged his ignorance he was taught.
And thus it will be with regard to ourselves directly there is found in us a heart of humility, so that we come asking God that He would tell us, we shall find what it is to have a Counsellor in heaven. You need never to take a step in the dark. If you do, you are sure to make a mistake. Wait, wait, wait till you have light. Remind the Lord Jesus that He is
Counsellor to the Church, that He will be in your particular case Counsellor and Guide, and will direct you. And if you patiently wait—believing, expectantly wait—you will find that the waiting is not in vain, and that the Lord will prove Himself a Counsellor.
Here is an aged servant of Christ before you, who in his long life has had to pass through many, many a trial, and many heavy trials. And what has been his experience? That without a single exception, every one, every one, every one of these numberless trials has been a blessing to him, and many of his greatest trials have proved his choicest blessings.
And as it has been with this aged servant, so will it be with you, my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ; be not discouraged with the difficulties, look to the end of the journey; yea, before the journey’s end you may find in numberless instances, how trials and afflictions prove real blessings, as I have found it times without number.
by HENRY C. SPENCE
HOW sweet is the meditation on the word “together” found in the sacred pages of Scripture, and revealed by the Holy Spirit to our hearts.
The apostle Paul reminds us in the Epistle to the Ephesians of this “togetherness.” We are quickened together with Christ (by grace are ye saved). And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ.
Thus we are fitly framed together and groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. “In Whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:5, 6, 21-22).
In addition to being “an holy temple in the Lord” we are also “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together ” (Romans 8:17).
There is a beautiful prophetic promise in Psalm 50:5, “Gather my saints together unto Me, those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” Furthermore, our Lord’s sweet promise that “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name there am I in the midst of them” (Matt.
18:20). Our risen Lord is the object of our worship—the centre of our gathering and the great Master Builder. Through His sacrificial death and resurrection He has gathered together in one the children of God scattered abroad (John 11:52).
So we wait for His glorious appearing and the reunion of loved ones gone before when we shall be “caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:17) (Lph. 1:10).
In the light of these precious promises, what a joy it is to be workers together with the Lord so that 66 He that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”
“Ye also helping together by prayer for us” (2 Cor. 1:11) that “our hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). “Behold! how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
by ANDREW BORLAND
4. God or Mammon
One of the most startling sayings of our Lord was made after He had propounded the parable of The Unjust Steward. He gave His disciples this arresting bit of advice: ‘Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it fails, they will receive (welcome) you into everlasting habitations (Luke 16:9). In that connection the Lord added, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (16:13).
Some simple but salutory lessons may be learnt from the above quotations.
- There is another realm of existence beyond the one with which men are familiar, ‘eternal habitations’—an abode of infinite more importance than the present one.
- The inference is that life here is only temporary. Residence is short lived. The poet, addressing some cut daffodils, says,
- We have short time to stay, as you
- We have as short a Spring ;
- As quick a growth to meet decay
- As you, or anything, we die
- As your hours do, and dry away.
- Like to the Summer’s rain ;
- Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
- Ne’er to be found again.
- There are those on that other side who can welcome us to the eternal habitations. Two interpretations are given to the word ‘they’ One interpretation is that it refers in an indefinite manner to God, as was a custom among Jewish Rabbis. Others think that ‘they’ may refer to those who have been helped by those who have used the mammon of unrighteousness in an unselfish and generous manner to make friends.
- The friends are those who have been helped spiritually, so that they, along with their benefactors, have learnt to serve God—in other terms, as we should now say, to become Christians.
- The mammon of unrighteousness becomes dignified if it is put to such a noble use.
- At death it will fail to have any value; but by its proper use before that event, its owner may be laying up treasure in heaven.
There are difficulties in the interpretation of some of the details in the parable, the scaffolding, if you wish to call it such. However, the main lesson is patent enough. While not condoning the wasteful extravagance of the unjust steward the Lord was holding him up as wise in that he had foresight to provide for the future when he could no longer be steward. By the arrangements which he made he would have friends who would gladly welcome him to their homes because of the kindness he had shown them. The point the Lord made is this: men of the world often show more wisdom than do the children of light, because they make provision to benefit themselves in this life, whereas those children of light fail to use their material resources in such a way as to be for their benefit in the after life in the world to come. This lesson, at least, may be derived from that interpretation of the parable, that selfish ambition ceases to have any attraction for the person whose primary aim in life is set out to utilise the wealth which God has permitted him to have for the good of others less fortunate than himself.
We may not all acquiesce with the advice which John Wesley gave to his followers, perhaps because it touches us to the quick. He said, make as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can. The saying might require a bit of modernization to-day, but, by and large, there is a considerable amount of wisdom in the dictum. A wealthy
Christian business man used to do a lot of travelling abroad, and when he was giving advice about Christian stewardship he would illustrate his message by saying, ‘When I travel abroad I send most of my luggage ahead of me so that I may be able to travel to my destination as light as I may.’ The inference was obvious; ‘Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven’ (Matthew 6:21). How true are the words of the hymn.
- We lose what on ourselves we spend ;
- We have as treasure without end
- Whatever to the Lord we lend,
- Who giveth all!
Notice these features in the parable.
- A steward is one who has been entrusted with the goods of another to use them for the benefit of the owner. He is a dispenser, and if he is true to his calling, an economist, in the original sense of the word.
- The principle upon which a steward should act is propounded by the apostle Paul: ‘It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.’ The verb ‘found’ implies that investigation has been made as to the manner in which he has discharged his stewardship.’
- That fact is emphasised in the question put by the owner to the steward in the parable, ‘How is it I hear this of thee? Give account of thy stewardship!’
- The termination of the period of stewardship is the critical moment when the account must be made. The charge against the unjust steward was that of negligence, irresponsibility, extravagance, waste. He treated his masters’ goods in the same way as the prodigal “wasted his substance.”
The parable has a very pertinent application to Christians of every generation.
- Man generally, but Christians particularly, are stewards in the reckoning of God. That is the solemn message reoeated in the parables of the Talents and of the Pounds. All life is a stewardship. Our life-time here is a period of probation when we are put on trial against the day of assessment.
- Some of the ‘goods ’ entrusted to our care are, time, capabilities, property in its widest sense, money. Like the steward in the parable any one of us may be accused of having wasted our Masters’ ‘goods.’ Instead of using them for the advancement of His cause, we may consume them on selfish ends. Our Lord had as His object in the parable, ‘to call attention to the wise and diplomatic manner in which worldlings generally act towards their fellow men in order to achieve their own selfish ends’ (Norval Gledenhuys).
- At the Judgment Seat of Christ each individual Christian will be faced with the demand. “Give account of thy stewardship,” in other words, we are reminded of our accountability for the manner in which time has been used, talent has been developed, and money has been utilised, either for worldly ambitions or for the glory of God.
- The measure of faithfulness will be assessed by a generous Judge. He will be impartial. ‘Every man’s work shall be made manifest; for the day will declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man’s work of what sort it is’ (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Nowhere does the Bible condemn the possession of riches. It constantly teaches that there are dangers in the acquisition thereof; riches may be “the mammon of unrighteousness.” It castigates those who acquire wealth unjustly, or squander it selfishly and extravagantly. How many Christians may be guilty of one or other of those two attitudes! The divine principle is that there is a contrast between earthly wealth and heavenly riches.
The obvious lesson from the application of the parable is this: If a man has not been faithful in the stewardship of the mammon of unrighteousness, God will not commit to him true spiritual riches, which are “immense, real and eternally secure.” Perhaps there is an intimate connection between the materialistic outlook of many of the rising generation and the poverty of spiritual ability.
Remember, a man cannot serve God and mammon. Give to the Lord according to your income, lest He make your income according to your giving.
- Use your money while you’re living ;
- Do not hoard it to be proud ;
- You can never take it with you,
- There’s no pocket in a shroud.
- Use it, then, some lives to brighten,
- As through life they weary plod;
- Place your bank account in heaven,
- And grow richer toward your God.
He leadeth me …
- He leadeth me.
- In pastures green? No, not always,
- Sometimes He Who knoweth best
- In kindness leadeth me in weary ways
- Where heavy shadows be;
- Out of the sunshine warm and soft and bright,
- Out of the sunshine into darkest night.
- I oft would yield to sorrow and to fright
- Only for this: I know He holds my hand.
- So, whether led in green, or desert land
- I trust, although I cannot understand.
- He leadeth me.
- Beside still waters? No, not always so.
- Oft times the heavy tempests round me blow,
- And o’er my soul the waves and billows go.
- But when the storm beats wildest, and I cry
- Aloud for help, the Master standeth by
- And whispers to my soul: “Lo, it is I”
- Above the tempest wild I hear Him say :
- “Beyond the darkness lies the perfect day ;
- In every path of thine I led the way .”
- So whether on the hilltops, high and fair
- I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
- The shadows lie—what matter? He is there.
- And more than this; where’er the pathway lead
- He gives to me no helpless, broken reed,
- But His Own hand, sufficient for my need,
- So where He leads me I can safely go.
- And in the blest hereafter I shall know
- Why in his wisdom He hath led me so.
- —Author Unknown