SHOULD WE SPEAK IN TONGUES?
by J. E. Todd
by H. T. Spence
THE LEPER AND HIS CLEANSING
by F. English
CHRIST IN THE HEBREWS
by J. B. Hewitt
THE RECEPTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
by Dr. J. Boyd
ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW
by John Peters
STUDIES IN SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
by J. B. D. Page
THE OLIVE, THE FIG AND VINE
by J. C. R. Tambling
by J. E. TODD
‘Whether there be tongues, they shall cease,’ (1 Corinthians 13:8). All agree that this statement means what it says, but the question is when will tongues cease? The scriptural answer is, ‘When that which is perfect is come’ (v. 10), but there are different opinions as to what the “perfect” is.
We must begin by giving to the word “perfect” its Greek and not its English meaning. Although we read the scriptures in an English translation, we must remember that the New Testament writers thought and wrote in Greek. In everyday English the word perfect carries with it the meaning of superlative quality, quality that is faultless. But the Greek adjective has the meaning of complete. The pen with which I am writing the rough draught of this article is a perfect pen in the Greek sense of the word. It is complete in all its parts, undamaged and fulfils its function. But it is certainly not a perfect pen in the English sense of the word, for it is an old ball point pen which cost only a few pence when new. A perfect pen in the English sense would have (as advertised) a famous name, be of solid gold, studded with diamonds and have a price tag of a thousand guineas!
It is because the English meaning leaps to mind when one reads the words, ‘When that which is perfect is come,’ that people’s thoughts are led off to the second coming of our Lord and the end of the age when divine perfection will be revealed.
But what is it that is to be perfected, in the sense of being made complete? There is no need to guess, we are plainly told in the immediate context. It is knowledge and prophecy, ‘For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ (verses 9-10). Paul is looking forward to the time when the knowledge and prophecy will be complete, which at the time of his writing were still in the process of being revealed. When the revelation would be completed, the gifts which produced it would cease to operate.
There is no place here for speculation. The perfect comes when the knowledge and prophecy are complete. In the context there is no mention of the end of the age. ‘Till He come’ (11:26), can hardly be counted as context!
But what are the gifts of knowledge and prophecy? The Lord promised these two gifts to the apostles, “‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.’” (John 16:12-13). The gift of knowledge is the divinely imparted understanding of spiritual truth, ‘He will guide you into all truth.’ The gift of prophecy is to reveal the future purposes of God, ‘He will shew you things to come.’ These two gifts of the Spirit are the means of inspiration (2 Peter 1:21).
God has given to mankind the final revelation of Himself in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is not sufficient that Jesus should be born, live, work, teach, die and rise again. The significance and relevance of these events must be understood. This was the purpose of the gift of knowledge, to lead the apostles into an understanding of the meaning of the events, that the truth might be imparted to others (1 John 1:1-5). For example it was not enough that our Lord should die, the significance of that event must be revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles, hence Paul could write, ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3). This is the gift of knowledge.
But the consequences of the events of the incarnation are as important as their significance. This is the gift of prophecy. The Holy Spirit revealing to the apostles the consequences of the work of Christ to the end of time and for all eternity. For the second coming of our Lord and all the events associated with it are the direct consequences of His incarnation.
The New Testament is the record of the eyewitnesses of the revelation of God in Christ, recorded either by themselves or those who interviewed them. It is to that generation of eyewitnesses and to them alone that the gifts of knowledge and prophecy must be given to explain the significance and consequences of what they had seen. Succeeding generations saw nothing of the revelation of God in Christ, therefore they saw nothing which could have significance or consequences. It is the succeeding generations who, listening to the voice of scripture, can by that means alone come to understand the revelation.
As Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, the process of the work of the Holy Spirit in imparting knowledge and prophetic insight to reveal the significance and consequences of the incarnation was still proceeding. But the apostle looked forward to the day when that process would be complete. The day of completion arrived when the last eye-witness of Christ, John the apostle, received a revelation on the isle of Patmos, and recorded that revelation as the last book of Holy Scripture.
The perfect has now come. The revelation of God in Christ has not only been given, but the complete significance and consequences of this event have been made known and recorded. The childhood of the Church’s growing understanding has passed into the full understanding of maturity (1 Corinthians 13:11). The full truth of the incarnation is now no longer indistinct but clearly seen (v. 12a). As God has always known the mind of man, so now man can know the mind of God (v. 12b).
The spiritual gifts of knowledge and prophecy having completed their work, now cease to operate. The sign gift of tongues passed away with them, ‘Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.’ (1 Corinthians 13:8). The gift of tongues was the sign to the stubborn Jews that God would speak of his salvation to other nations, ‘For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people (Israel), to whom he said … yet they would not hear.’ (Isaiah 28:11-12). This happened on the day of Pentecost, in the presence of the Jews, when the Gospel was first preached (Acts 2:5-12). It was the sign to the incredulous Jewish Christians that the Gentiles had received the Holy Spirit even as they had done (Acts 10:44-47). Paul reminds the church at Corinth that tongues were a sign to the unbelieving Jews (1 Corinthians 14:20-22), by quoting from the above passage in Isaiah.
But does not the apostle forbid the suppression of the gift of tongues? Indeed he does, ‘Forbid not to speak with tongues.’ (1 Corinthians 14:39). Moses also commanded, ‘In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers.’ (Exodus 12:3). Some commands are for their own dispensation!
But how can one explain all the activity of those who profess to speak in tongues since the apostolic age, if the scriptures disallow it? But surely the explanations are required from those who behave outside the requirements of scripture, not those who adhere to it. Such explanations must include the use of “tongues” outside the Christian sphere. Also the fact that a quarter of American Pentecostals are members of the United Pentecostal Church which denies the doctrine of the Trinity, and embraces the heresy of Sabellianism, (see ‘Bright Wind of the Spirit’ by Steve Dura-soff—Hodder & Stoughton 1973, page 81). Is this the result of being baptised with the Spirit of Truth?
by HENRY T. SPENCE
“The Lord will KEEP the feet of His saints.”—1Sam. 2:9.
KEEP—What a lovely word is recorded for us so many times in the Scriptures and how much it means to the Lord’s people. As we journey along our earthly pilgrimage, the difficulties to be encountered are too great, the burdens too heavy, the snares too powerful, and the evil in this present world of corruption too overwhelming—yet what strong consolation is ours by grace! Our Lord Jesus Christ not only saves, but he KEEPS even the feeblest of His saints.
Let us remind ourselves of the promises concerning the Lord’s KEEPING Power. He guarantees to meet every need, and His presence is our unfailing comfort. How beautiful is the promise in Genesis 28, 15—“Behold I am with thee and will KEEP thee in all places whither thou goest.” The psalmist gives us a blessed prayer, “KEEP me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Psalm 17:8. Again in Psalm 121 R.V. we have assurance that He that KEEPETH thee will not slumber, the Lord is thy KEEPER. He shall KEEP thee from evil, He shall KEEP thy soul. The Lord shall KEEP thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
In Proverbs 6, 22, we read that, “When thou goest it (The Word of God) shall lead thee, and when thou sleepest, it shall KEEP thee, and when thou awakest it shall talk with thee.” Another jewel we find in Isaiah 26, 3: “Thou wilt KEEP him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
At all times and in all circumstances we are KEPT. In our Lord’s great intercessory prayer, we have the promise of a two-fold KEEPING, “I come to Thee, Holy Father, KEEP through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are one.” John 17, 11. Here we have the Father KEEPING us. In verse 12 we have the Lord Jesus KEEPING us, “I KEPT them in Thy Name. These Thou gavest me have I KEPT, and none of them is lost.” Our Lord also prays, “That Thou shouldst not take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst KEEP them from evil.” What a comfort it is to know that our exalted Lord ever-liveth to make intercession for us!
The Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy assured him he hsd made a deposit, and had entrusted his present and eternal interests to the Lord, the KEEPING of his soul for time and eternity. With confidence he writes, “I am persuaded that He is able to KEEP that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” 2 Tim. 1, 12.
We cannot keep ourselves but truly “We are KEPT by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” 1 Peter 1,5. “O Lord KEEP ME pure within.”
The Apostle Jude assures us in that lovely doxology, verse 24: “Now unto Him who is able to KEEP you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Amen.” May we know more of the glorious reality of the saving and KEEPING power of our Lord Jesus Christ moment by moment, till we are safe in the glory with Him.
by F. ENGLISH
We will first look at a few thoughts as to the leper himself and then his cleansing as they are found in Lev. 13 and 14.
We see here how the believer could be defiled and thus unfitted for fellowship in the worship and service of God. To pronounce a man a leper was a very serious thing and so the priest must be very careful, keeping him shut up under observation for seven or fourteen days; but when it was clear that the man was truly a leper the discipline of God was to be carried out to the letter.
There are six forms of the disease of leprosy which we shall notice briefly in Chap. 13.
- In verses 9-11 we have an old leprosy breaking out again. The believer should watch very carefully against sins he used to practise in his unconverted days for those things are always ready to appear again.
- In this case we have a very strange thing; the leprosy covered all his flesh and still he was pronounced clean. It reminds me of a believer whose business took him to the market. One very cold day he fell very ill. Someone advised a bottle of brandy. He brought it home and unfortunately took too much and became drunk, a sin of his old life. He awoke the next morning to realise what he had done and was in great distress. He sent for two of the brethren and confessed his sin. They decided that as he did not cover his sin nor continue in it no act of discipline was necessary.
- If the man had a boil in his flesh and it had healed and leprosy broke out in the same place he was unclean. It speaks of something personal in the life that never has been made right or some strife that affects the fellowship; in either case, small at the beginning, it is allowed to become a leprosy, with what terrible results.
- We now come to the head, verses 29-46. This was very serious and he was pronounced “utterly unclean.” In 1 Cor. 5 we read of the old leaven of malice and wickedness but in 1 Tim. 1 we have the leaven of false doctrine and in both cases the man was delivered unto Satan in the outside place. The leprosy could either be in the bald forehead or hidden in the hair. Evil doctrine which is open can be easily dealt with but when hidden it can be subtle and dangerous.
- In verses 47-59 we have the leprous garment. The disease could either be in the warp or the woof. In the woof, speaks of a man who has a. sudden outburst of temper that he cannot control. In the wkrp, speaks of a person who is always against his brethren a railer. They were to try “washing” it and if that was not successful they were to “rend it out” and if it still persisted they were to “burn it in the fire,” Burning it was the extreme action and might only be resorted to when the others failed.
- In Chap. 14 verses 33-57 it is a plague in the house. First of all, they were to “take away the stones” which were affected. If it still appeared they might “scrape ofl” that which defiled; but if all proved in vain they must “break down” the house completely. When Israel moved into their own houses in Caanan how careful they would be and how much more careful should we be in these “last days” when so many homes are broken up by sin which appeared such a trifle in the beginning.
Further in Chap. 14 we meet with the grace of God in making provision for the leper’s cleansing. The priest, who was responsible for putting the man “outside the camp,’’ where he had to dwell in isolation and cry “unclean, unclean,’’ now goes out to seek him that he might be cleansed. This shows us the responsibility of elders, not to forget but to seek the one who has been put away. He must see that the plague is healed in the leper before he can affect his cleansing. We must have a definite confession of sin, with tears of repentance, “lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow” 2 Cor. 2:5-9.
An offering was to be made, but it was something well within his reach—two sparrows. One was killed in an earthen vessel, over running water, telling us that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” The living bird having been dipped in the blood was let loose into the open field, reminding us that He was raised again. Into the blood were also cast cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop—man at his greatest, man in all his glory and man in his low estate. In 1 Cor. we see that all this has come to an end and Paul has nothing to preach but “Christ and Him crucified,” a stumbling-block and offence to man, but to those who were saved, the power and wisdom of God. May we, like Paul, “Glory in the Cross.” Another thing: before the living bird was let loose, the leper was sprinkled and cleansed: reminding us that we met with Christ at the Cross.
However his cleansing was not complete, for we read in verse 8 “he that is to be cleansed.” Let no one say he is “washed in the blood” if he is still practising known sin. He must wash his clothes with water and also wash himself. The clothes speaking of outward conduct, seen by man; the flesh, of inward evil, seen by God and felt by ourselves. He was also to shave off his hair, which was not unclean in itself but where the leprosy could hide. There are many things today that there is a doubt about and about which people ask—What harm is in them? We ought to give God the benefit of the doubt and “shave off all the hair.”
Even then his cleansing was not complete for in verse 11 we read of his further cleansing. The priest was to offer a lamb for a trespass offering and apply the blood to the leper. It is very remarkable that it was the trespass offering that was used though two other offerings are mentioned. In Chap. 6 of this book we learn that the trespass offering not only made right with God but also with his fellow whom he had wronged. If he lied, stole or acted deceitfully toward his neighbour, he was to restore the principal and add the fifth part thereto. Thus it was very fitting for a person who suffered from such an infectious disease, which would so easily affect others, to be cleansed by the blood of the trespass offering. The priest must first put the blood upon the tip of his right ear; thus what he heard, said and looked upon, was brought under the power of the blood. Then he was to put it on the thumb of his right hand thus securing his actions for God. Lastly, on the great toe of his right foot; his ways are brought under the power of the blood. So we are not only cleansed by the blood from the uncleanness of the past, but we are purchased, in order that we might serve and worship Him who has bought us with His blood.
Then the priest was to take of the log of oil and apply it it to the leper on top of the blood. We know that the oil speaks of the Holy Spirit, by which, “upon believing (Eph. 1 verse 13 R.V.) we are sealed unto the day of redemption.” In Chap. 5 verse 18 we are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit.” Those who are “drunk with wine” are often ready to talk and sing, those filled with the Spirit should speak and sing “making melody in your hearts to the Lord.” Those drunk with wine will submit to no one; the believers under the Spirit will submit to one another; the wife to the husband; the child to the parent and the servant to the master. Then we are told in Chap. 4 verse 30 “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.” He mentions the sins of lying, stealing, corrupt communication, and evil speaking. These are the things whereby we “give place to the devil,” on the one hand and “grieve the Holy Spirit” on the other. In these days of confusion and shallowness may we be marked as those who have a deep experience of the Spirit’s working.
One thing was still to be done: the priest was to anoint the leper’s head with the oil, then he was free to go back within the camp: to his house and into the holy tabernacle of God. And when he sat down to enjoy his first meal he could have sung :
- My table Thou hast furnished
- In presence of my foes ;
- My head Thou dost with oil anoint,
- And my cup overflows.
May we all have a deeper share of this joy of the Lord.
by J. B. HEWITT
“The Interested Kinsman-Redeemer” Chapter Two
Here we see the glories of the Son of Man consequent upon His humiliation on the Cross (v. 9). He is the Revealing Prophet 1-3, the Representative Man 5-10, His Relation to the Saints 11-13, His Redeeming Work 14-16, and the Reliable Priest 17-18.
In chapter one we see the hall-marks of His deity, now some features of His humanity. We trace His moral history as the Redeemer and the Representative Man.
The Communicating Prophet (1-3) bringing to us “so great salvation.” God began it in the sending of Christ, it was declared to us by the Lord, the Spirit bestowed it in manifold gifts, and men beheld it, and bore witness to it. How great? Great originally in the heart of God, great historically in the mission of Christ, and great experimentally in our lives.
Therefore give “closer attention,” we have an obligation to obedience. There is a message to hear and a peril to fear.
The Competent Ruler (5-9). In the coming “kingdom age” angels will not rule, authority will be invested in the Son of Man who will be “King of Kings” Revelation 19:16. God made man to be the crown of creation and to tenant the earth as beneficial owner, having dominion over the works of God’s hands. Psalm 8 describes the high destiny for which man was created. Man is insignificant, and yet God is mindful of him, he is unimportant, yet God cares for him. Man is destined to be crowned with glory and honour v. 8. The period of subjection to the angels is to be superseded by man’s final exaltation over them. The terms of this prediction are such that it could find fulfilment only in “the man Christ Jesus” to whom it is applied v. 9. The certainty of its realization is guaranteed by the present exaltation of our Head.
In becoming man Christ took upon Him a nature that was capable of death. By His vicarious death He has regained man’s lost dominion and one day all things will be subdued unto Him (1:13). He is the key to man’s eventual rule over the earth. The reason for His death is given in verse ten.
The Committed Leader (10-13). The work of Christ on the cross was in harmony with God’s eternal nature as moral Governor of the world. It was in accordance with the perfections of the character of God to bring “sons to glory” v. 10. These “sons” needed a pathfinder, a pioneer, a file leader and Jesus became this pathfinder through the sufferings of the cross. He has the rank of Imperialty, for He is Chief in leadership and the Championship of our cause. He is also the author of our sanctification. Our blessed Lord is both the Leader and the Road. John 14:6.
“Sanctification” in Hebrews is always associated with Christ, never with the Spirit, it refers to position rather than condition. What Christ has done for us, rather than the work of the Spirit in us, (see 9, 12-14; 10,9; 14,29; 13,12). The dual thought of oneness and sanctification is seen in John 17; 20,17. We are consecrated to Christ and to the family. We are made brothers in Him, and He brings us home to glory.
We share a common humanity, “all of one,” for Christ came down to man-hood, the passage brings out the oneness of Christ with His people in their humiliation. A threefold proof of this association is seen in the quotations which follow in verses 12, 13.
Christ is the Head of a new order of humanity (12-13), He is the Risen Priest who sings in triumph after suffering (Psalm 22:22). Isaiah’s own experience as the rejected prophet is applied to Christ (Isaiah 8:17, 18). Isaiah’s ministry resulted in the emergence of an elect remnant (Isaiah 6:13) “the children which God hath given me.” Thus there is a close identification between Christ and all believers.
The Conquering Redeemer (14-15). The three fold purpose of the Incarnation is seen here. There are two elements in our Lord’s manhood—the reality of it and the miracle of it— “He took part of the same.”
His sharing in “flesh and blood” was deliberate, and voluntary. Incarnation was with a view to shedding His blood. He took part of the same—Bethlehem. “That He might disannul”—Calvary. In assuming manhood He did not come to reign in it, but to suffer and die in it v. 14. Note His condescension — “He took part” His cross — “through death” and His conquest—“render powerless the Devil.”
The divine side of His work is seen in v. 10-13, the human side in v. 14-15. Christ must become our Kinsman-Redeemer in order to become our Kinsman-Avenger and crush the
Serpent. The Seed of the Woman has bruised Satan’s head, setting us free from his tyranny. The power of the devil has been effectively broken by our Saviour’s death on Calvary.
The Compassionate High Priest (16-18). The Incarnation of the Lord Jesus made possible His becoming a High Priest. In becoming man Christ did not espouse the cause of angels, but the descendants of Abraham or “a seed of Abraham.” He puts His divine saving hand upon men and women in whose hearts has been envoked a living faith towards Himself. He will bring them to glory and present them before the Father’s face. Thus will be realised God’s prime purpose for man of Lordship and Headship.
The present tense is used here, “He taketh hold” suggesting that the divine hand is still effectively placed upon everyone who is being brought to glory. As He took the hand of Peter in answer to his cry, “Lord save me,” so despite all that is in me of weakness and sinfulness, the strong hand of the Son of God has been placed upon me.
The Aaronic priesthood was lacking in sympathy to men and faithfulness to God. Hosea 4:4-9. Propitiation is by blood and as Priest at Calvary, He offered up Himself and shed His blood on earth. In life He was a teaching Priest, in death a sacrificing Priest, and now in heaven an interceding Priest. He is the propitiation (1 John 2:2; 4:10).
The day of atonement is the type (Leviticus 16) and Christ the perfect fulfilment of the same, v. 17 gives us the collective aspect, v. 18 the individual application, the blessings that accrue to us His divinity secures to us His unfailing presence and His unlimited power. His perfect humanity assures us of His sympathy and compassion. He can keep us in our temptations for He is acquainted with suffering and is able to succour us. These verses emphasise His suitability, sympathy and support. He has the ability and readiness of mind to help us under every trial and bring us through to His praise and glory. The Lord Jesus was tempted from without, but never from within. He could never be tempted to sin by lusts or passions within Himself, for there was no sin in Him and nothing to respond to sin.
Let us come boldly to the throne of grace for therein lies our strength for each day ch. 4, 16. May we avail ourselves of His prevailing ministry before the face of God.
by DR. J. BOYD (continued)
THE EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT
The Greek word translated ‘earnest’ is the transliteration of a Hebrew word ‘arrabon,’ a pledge. It was used by the Phoenician, Greek and Roman traders. It persists to-day in the Scottish word ‘arles.’ It is still used in Palestine of the token payment in the hiring of a car. In modem Greek the word ‘arrabon’ is an engagement ring.
The meaning of the word ‘earnest’ is well illustrated in its first occurrence in Scripture (Gen. 38:17, LXX). Judah had promised Tamar a kid. She had asked him for a pledge until the kid be sent, and received a ring, etc. Thus the ‘earnest’ is a guarantee of the fulfilment of a promise.
‘Earnest’ is found three times in the New Testament:—
- 2 Cor. 1:22. Here it is a pledge that Gods promises will be fulfilled. The Spirit Himself is the earnest. God is faithful (v. 18); He has made us a promise (v. 20); He has given the Holy Spirit as a pledge that He will be faithful to His promise.
- 2 Cor. 5:5. Here it is a pledge of our enjoyment of eternal life. Paul had been writing to the Corinthians of future blessedness, and summed it up in v. 4, ‘that what is mortal may be swallowed up of life.’ God has given us the Holy Spirit now in our mortal bodies as a pledge of the time when He will dwell with us eternally.
- Eph. 1:14. Here it is a pledge of our inheriting future blessings. One of the believer’s blessings in Christ (v.3) is his inheritance. The Holy Spirit now indwells him as a pledge of the fulness of the blessings he will receive when God fully redeems His possessions.
ANOINTING WITH THE SPIRIT
The word ‘anoint’ is used eight times in the New Testament, four times of the Lord, and four times of the believer, in reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Lord Jesus Christ was anointed of God for the work of preaching the gospel (Luke 4:18). This anointing was with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38), He was anointed by God as His holy Servant—to accomplish the will of the Father in the work of man’s redemption (Acts 4:26-28). Anointing is thus the induction into an office.
Similarly, the believer is anointed by God with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21). John, writing of this same anointing (1 John 2:20, RV), tells us that it comes from the Holy One, that is, Christ, who sent the Spirit from the Father (John 15:26). As a consequence even babes in Christ know all things needful to refute the antichrists. Further, 1 John 2:27 assures us that this anointing, the Holy Spirit, abides in us. Thus we are independent of teachers who might lead astray, for He, the Spirit of truth, instructs us concerning all things, guiding into all the truth, and declaring things to come (John 16:13). He teaches what is true, not what is false.
THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT
As we have already seen the Spirit filled men before the Baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost. In the New Testament the expression, ‘being filled, or full, of the Spirit,’ is peculiar to Luke. Paul’s exhortation in Eph. 5:18 seems to be an exception, but it is a different expression, as will be seen later.
It would seem that in the Acts of the Apostles three different things are connoted by the filling of the Spirit. First, it indicates the state of the believer on receiving the Spirit for the first time. In Acts 2:4 all believers were filled. This was at the birth of the Church. Paul also was filled with the Spirit at his conversion (9:17). This would seem to be the pattern for us to-day. When we yield to Christ, the Holy Spirit enters in all His fullness. We yield our all to Him.
Secondly, ‘filling’ describes how the Holy Spirit takes control of believers for specific purposes. Peter was filled to speak the Word with boldness (4:8), as were all the believers after their prayer meeting (4:31). Stephen, in the hour of his martyrdom, was filled with the Spirit, and enabled to magnify God in his death. Paul was again filled when he had the unpleasant task of pronouncing the judgement of God upon Elymas the sorcerer (13:9).
The third way in which being filled is applied denotes the control of the Holy Spirit over a believer’s character. The usual expression is ‘full of the Holy Spirit and …’. The word ‘and’ may here be translated ‘even.’ The additional words indicate how the fullness of the Spirit showed itself in that particular individual. In the case of the deacons in 6:3 it was their wisdom. Two verses lower down Stephen’s faith is thus described. The fullness of the Spirit in Barnabas produced goodness (11:24). Joy characterised the disciples of Antioch when filled with the Spirit (13:52).
How can a believer become filled with the Spirit? Two main schools of thought exist upon this question, according to how Paul’s exhortation in Eph 5 18 is interpreted. Some think that filling is to be striven after. They say it is a command, and is obeyed as the believer gets rid of that in his life which hinders the Spirit. Thus he must crucify the flesh, for it and the Spirit are contrary the one to the other (Gal. 5:17). Satan must be withstood (1 Pet. 5:9), for the devil also seeks to fill the believer, to oppose the Spirit (Acts 5:3). The world must not be courted. It is the enemy of God (Jas. 4:4), and cannot receive the Holy Spirit, nor does it know Him (John 14:17). If the world, the flesh, and the devil are refused, the Spirit is free to fill the believer.
On the other hand, some expositors hold that filling is the sovereign act of the Spirit Himself. These take the words of Eph. 5:18 to mean, ‘Be filled in spirit’ (RVm). The ‘spirit’ is not the Holy Spirit, but the believer’s. The expression here used is different from that employed by Luke in the other passages quoted. The meaning of the exhortation is best understood by looking at the parallel passage in Col. 3:16, where we get, ‘let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.’ Thus, being filled in spirit means having the mind stored with the word of God. The filling of the Spirit, if and when it takes place, is accomplished by the Spirit’s own volition. It does not come as the result of prayer, or the believer’s personal efforts.
These five expressions that emphasise the nature of the reception of the Spirit by the believer give us five different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s relationship with the individual.
- The Indwelling—His presence and power.
- The Sealing—His unfailing safeguard.
- The Earnest—His pledge of future blessing.
- The Unction—His instruction in the truth.
- The Filling—His control of life and service.
May we all learn more and more what the gift of the Spirit means to us as individuals. Let us see ourselves as the instruments He uses to carry out His activities. When fully yielded to Him we are conscious of His mighty power in our lives. Let us rejoice in the astounding fact of His indwelling us, and its implications, even though we cannot understand it. Then truly will The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all’ (2 Cor. 13:14).
by JOHN PETERS
As those who have been ‘brought nigh’ by ‘the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:13) we possess a life in which ‘all things are become new,’ and in this little paper I wish to outline the ‘new things’ we have ‘in Christ’ as set forth in 2 Corinthians 5.
v. 1: A New Confidence. Whilst the tent in which we live is only a temporary dwelling and not a permanent abode, the believer is encouraged by this reminder in the Word of God that Our Lord is preparing for us a habitation which is ‘eternal in the heavens.’
v. 2: A New Life. The Christian life is a ‘life in the Spirit’; we are energised for worship, work, walk and witness by the Holy Spirit Himself. The possession of the Spirit is not only the proof of our relationship to God, but also the pledge and proof (‘the earnest’; cf. Eph. 1:12-14) of our future safety, inheritance and glory.
v. 6: A New Outlook. ‘We walk by faith.’. Compare Habakkuk 2 v. 4; Hebrews 10 v. 37-38.
v. 8: A New Home. Our eternal portion will be to reside ‘with the Lord’:
- He and I in that bright glory
- One deep joy shall share,
- Mine to be forever with Him;
- His that I am there.
vs. 9-10: A New Desire. To please our Lord and to be ‘accepted of Him’ was Paul’s abiding concern and ambition. It ought to be ours.
v. 11: A New Activity. Knowing the terror (the fear) of the Lord we ‘persuade men.’
v. 14: A New Motivation —the love of Christ, v. 19: A New Ministry — that of reconciliation. How dignified yet awesome is our responsibility as preachers to present the claims of the Risen, Glorified Saviour to a lost and perishing world.
v. 20: A New Responsibility — ‘we are ambassadors for Christ.’ Compare Ephesians 6, v. 20.
v. 21: A New Standing — ‘the righteousness of God in Him.’ The hymnist of our being :
- ‘Clothed in His righteousness alone
- Faultless I stand before the throne.’
by JOHN B, D. PAGE
The Two Cherubim:
Passing through the veil and the pair of dividing doors, we enter the Holy of Holies, or, the Oracle, where there were two large Cherubim made of olive wood and overlaid with gold. Each was 10 cubits high, being half the height of the Holy of Holies. Each cherub had two wings, and each wing measured 5 cubits. With both wings stretched out, each cherub had a wing-span of 10 cubits. The two cherubim were placed next to one another, so that the tip of the outermost wing of each cherub touched the flank wall of the Holiest and the tip of the innermost wing of each cherub touched one another, and so the total of both wing-spans was 20 cubits, which was the inside width of the Holiest. As these two cherubim stood on their feet, they faced one another inwards (2Chronicles 3:10-13, 1Kings 6:23-28).
Cherubim, like angels, are supernatural celestial beings and yet apparently they do not belong to the hierarchy of angels. Like all other orders of beings, whether natural or supernatural, they were created and so they are inferior to God their Creator (Ezekiel 28:12-15). Cherubim have two wings but seraphim have six (Isaiah 6:2), and both cherubim and seraphim appear to be associated closely with the throne of God and are ever in His Presence. In a vision, Isaiah (6:2) saw seraphim standing above the throne in heaven, whilst the Psalmist addressed God as “Thou that dwellest between the cherubim” (Psalm 80:1). Such facts of Scripture enable us to consider more closely these Cherubim in the Temple.
Concerning the olive wood overlaid with gold, from which the two temple Cherubim were carved, we may remember that olive wood is a symbol of beauty (Hosea 14:6) and according to Ezekiel 28:12 cherubim are “perfect in beauty.” The cladding of gold, invariably associated with the nature and glory of God, may symbolize the glory of their God-given beauty.
When Adam and Eve were evicted from the garden of Eden, cherubim were sent to guard “the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). The two gold cherubim, one at each end of the Mercy Seat, with their outstretched wings and faces turned inwards gazing upon the Shekinah glory, a symbol of the presence of God, are described as “cherubim of glory” (Hebrews 9:5). These two Scriptures signify that cherubim are guardians of the glory of God.
The Temple is a type of the church, and these two Cherubim may symbolize our responsibility to guard the glory of Christ. Dissension amongst believers, such as there was in the assembly at Corinth, does discredit to the glory of Christ and we should avoid it by living and working together in harmony. Deviation from the path of Scripture either in matters of doctrine or practice means invariably compromise which does not bring glory to Christ. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ and so let us not be responsible for hindering the Spirit of God or guilty of minimising the glory of the Lord Jesus.
The Ark of the Covenant:
The Ark of the Covenant, the only piece of furniture taken from the Tabernacle into the Temple, was placed by the priests in the Holy of Holies and put under the outstretched wings of the two large cherubim which covered it. The priests drew out the staves from the Ark, placing them behind the Ark (2Chronicles 5:7-9, 1Kings 8:6-8).
By bringing the Ark, which was of timber overlaid with “pure gold,” into the Temple, it meant the introduction of “shittim wood,” a wood of the wilderness whilst only wood of the Land had been used in the temple and for its furniture. Unlike the fine grain of cedar and the beautiful grain of olive, that of shittim (or, acacia) wood is coarse and twisted, and remarkably it symbolizes humanity. The shittim wood of the Ark is a type of the Manhood of Christ, and such wood signifies that, for His incarnation, the Son of God “was made in the likeness of men” for He was not a ‘special man’ unlike the rest of mankind, and also He was “in the likeness of sinful flesh” but sin apart (Philippians 2:7, Romans 8:3). Therefore, “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same” (Hebrews 2:14), which means that, as we have in common “flesh and blood,” Christ has shared the same. With the Ark in the temple, the “shittim wood” and the “pure gold,” symbols of His humanity and Deity respectively, are a constant reminder that God in Christ has identified Himself with us by way of incarnation.
There was nothing in the Ark except the two stone tablets inscribed with the ten commandments by the finger of God and put there by Moses at Horeb (1Kings 8:9, 2Chronicles 5:10). The law, which was God-given, demands obedience, of which the Scriptures speak three times concerning Christ. As Man, He was obedient unto righteousness whereby many are made righteous (Romans 5:19). As a Son, He learned obedience in yielding to His Father’s will (Hebrews 5:8). As a Servant, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto the death of the cross (Phillipians 2:8). His path of obedience led ultimately to His exaltation.
Christ is now Lord and our submission to His Lordship requires obedience from us. Initially, it means “obedience to the faith” like that of a great company of priests in the early church (Romans 1:5, Acts 6:7), and subsequently “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2Corintians 10:5). (“The Ark’’ continued next month)
by J. C. R. TAMBLING
Read Judges 9:1-21.
Jotham’s parable of the trees is interesting, whether we look at it practically, typically, or dispensationally. We would learn from it that there are three trees specially singled out in Scripture for our attention, and on the basis that trees, in the Word, seem to set forth men, we would gather that spiritual men should have the features of these particular trees: the olive, with its “fatness”—the product of the oil, the fig with its “sweetness” and the vine, always associated with cheer. Thus in Psa. 104:15 we learn what God provides for frail, weak man (enosh): “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.” Wherever we are in Scripture, we learn the lesson of God for us! Frail man is at the centre of His thoughts. Compare what the beasts have (v. 11) with what He gives man. We would think that v. 15 contains spiritual truth: the conjunction of bread and wine—that which speaks of the ministry of Christ with that which speaks of the Spirit, is not accidental.
These three trees refuse to leave their own sphere to go and be promoted over the others. There is a lesson here. The assemblies of the Lord’s people are to have nothing of the character of “one man ministry.” No, let the prophets speak by two—as in the days of Ezra 5:1; Haggai and Zechariah,—or three, as in the days of David: Samuel, Gad and Nathan. We each of us have a function to fulfil in the assembly: Jotham’s parable reminds us that our ministry— whether the bringing of that which will cause the faces of the saints to shine, or will bring sweetness and cheer to the Lord’s people— and how great the need!—will suffer when we seek a place for ourselves, to “go up and down” (A.V. Margin) in full view of others. What a danger for us all to desire to be something in the presence of others, instead of being content merely to do the work that God has entrusted to us. It is the worthless thorn bush that seeks the pre-eminence. If we are spiritual, like Gideon (cp. 8:22, 23), we shall not desire to lord it over other saints, with respect to our work. That is to say nothing to prejudice the teaching of having elders in each assembly to take care (1Tim. 3:5) and to rule (1Tim. 5:17).
The trees set forth what Israel was to be, and the parable has a reference to the history of God’s earthly people. They were placed in the midst of the nations round about—the other trees—to bear witness to the rule of God; and to spread spiritual blessing, sweetness and joy to others. Thus the Queen of Sheba went away with a sense of the wonder that Solomon was established on, not his, but the Lord’s throne (2 Chron. 9:8). Sadly, we would gather that all the trees asked the thorn to rule over them, v. 14. It seems that unbelieving Israel, having ceased to exercise the ministry given to them, will unite with the nations to own the authority of the Man of Sin, set forth by the thorn: that which represents the curse fitly setting forth Satan’s man. Abimelech typifies him. See his persecution of the godly seed; his vaunting of himself (v. 2, with which verse compare David, himself the type of a greater, and the way he comes to power, 2 Sam. 5:1), and his end.
THE OLIVE TREE
We will take the trees in the order given in Judges 9, and consider first the olive.
“The Lord called thy name, a green olive tree, fair and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult He hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.” Jer. 11:16. That was Israel. The verse before reads, “What hath My beloved to do in Mine house?” The olive seems to be linked with the house, as in Psa. 52:8—“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. 1Kings 6:31-33 reminds us of the use of the olive wood in the temple. The olive tree, then, would seem to give us Israel as spiritually blessed. As planted by the Lord (Jer. 11:17) within the house, the place of favour, Israel was to bring forth a spiritual supply for God.
It is only grace that gives this planting: David was “a green olive tree,” we gather, because he trusted in the mercy of God for ever. The house of God is always associated with abundant supply. “They shall be ABUNDANTLY satisfied with the goodness of Thy house . . .” Psa. 36:8. See also Psa. 92:13,14. All comes from the One Who came to give life MORE ABUNDANTLY, and from the God able to do EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY above all that we ask or think.
Now the olive tree goes right back to Abraham, as Rom. 11:16-32 will tell us. He was the “firstfruits” of that nation, and the root too, (v.16), securing the holiness of the branches. (Compare v.28). The Abrahamic covenant was entirely a matter of promise, Gal. 3:18; Abraham took it up in faith, and the result is a continuing supply of “the fatness of the root” down the years. In v.22, Paul speaks of this supply as “goodness”: everything that originates from God to man is goodness, cp. Rom. 2:4. The man who calls himself a green olive tree has a sense of the enduring quality of divine mercy: Psa. 52 begins by mentioning it, and returns to the theme in the last but one verse, culminating in the thought of the Lord’s Name being GOOD before His saints. But what has happened to Israel, constituted a holy nation, and brought into the land for olive tree exercises? Romans 9-11 is the sad commentary; they have been a disobedient and gainsaying people and Jeremiah’s word—the branches of it—the olive tree—are broken. They would not have that abundant supply from God, of which the Gospel speaks, but are in unbelief, v.20. So the Gentiles, the “wild olive tree” have been grafted in, v. 17. Inability to see that Israel has a future will lead to disaster in the interpretation of Romans 9-11. There is nothing taught here which could suggest that the believer could lose salvation, as some would have it, rather, the passage brings before us Israel’s failure, as the olive tree to keep themselves in the enjoyment of divine privilege, made available through the promises secured to Abraham; and the consequent bringing in of Gentiles, to whom no promise was made, who had no title to the things of God. The destiny of individuals is quite irrelevant to this passage. Paul says in v. 13, “I speak unto you Gentiles,” and the point of vvs. 20-22 is to show that the Gentiles, too, will fail—indeed have failed already—to enjoy that provision that God would give. The “high-minded” attitude of to-day will, no more than the Israel of Matt. 21:33 — 22:13, give to God, or receive from Him. The Scriptures, present in nearly every household, are virtually ignored. Where is there a ready ear for the Gospel today? Yet in Paul’s day, it was different, the Jews would not hear, while the Gentiles would—see, e.g. Acts 13:42-52.
There is, then, a future for “the natural branches,” v. 24: after the Gentiles have been taken out of the place of privilege. When the Church has been taken out of the world for glory, it will be the Jewish remnant, who with a sense of the divine mercy they repose in, will minister a spiritual supply to the nations round about, for God. Thus, in Rev. 11:4, the two witnesses of the Tribulation day are called “the two olive trees.” As such, they have a spiritual supply: Z:ch. 4:12 says, “they empty the golden oil out of them selves.” Note that word “golden”—that spiritual supply is glorious! Then, the witnesses are declared to be “the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of all the earth.” Two speaks of an adequate testimony: this supply of the Spirit from the two witnesses will go to testify to the One Who as Priest and King—the two offices in view in Zech. 4—is the Lord (R.V.) of all the earth. From this Jewish testimony, blessing will spread: renewed Israel’s beauty will be as the olive tree, Hosea 14:6.
In Nehemiah 8:15, a chapter prophetic of Israel’s regathering, the people keep the Feast of Tabernacles. The word goes out, “Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees.” So Gentiles will be joined with Israel in the Millenial day. Jew and Gentile will provide a spiritual force then. Israel in her lowliness—the myrtle—and her majesty—the palm, will be dominant, and indeed, as in Nehemiah’s day, there will be “very great gladness.”
May we be in enjoyment of divine provision, that thus we may be able to minister of spiritual things to others!
(To be continued)
I could not do without Thee
- I could not do without Thee,
- O Saviour of the lost,
- Whose precious blood redeemed me
- At such tremendous cost.
- Thy righteousness, Thy pardon,
- Thy sacrifice, must be
- My Only Hope and comfort,
- My glory and my plea.
- I could not do without Thee,
- For years are fleeting fast,
- And soon, in solemn silence,
- The river must be passed;
- But Thou wilt never leave me,
- And though the waves run high,
- I know Thou wilt be near me,
- And whisper, “It is I.”
- —F. R. H.