STUDIES IN JOHN’S GOSPEL
by Wm. Hoste
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. Hewitt
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE
by John B. D. Page
THE ATONING WORK OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR
by G. Baghramian
THE REALITIES OF THE RESURRECTION
By J. G. Good
A BRIEF MEDITATION FROM THE PROVERBS
by S.R Stokes
THE GREATEST DRAMA OF ALL
by J. Ireland
by Nelson McDonald
TALKS TO YOUNG BELIEVERS
by John Ritchie
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS
by Jack Strahan
STUDIES IN JOHN’S GOSPEL
(Christ, the Interpreter of the Father)
by WM. HOSTE
INTERCEDING FOR THEM (John 17)
Though our Lord was pre-eminent in His prayer-life, as in all else, we could form but a meagre conception of the character of His prayers, had it not pleased God to leave on record this wonderful example of intercession, contained in John 17. It is as though our Lord wished us to know how He prays for us now. This chapter has been called "Our Lord’s Priestly Prayer." If so, it was by anticipation and of a new order, even the heavenly. "For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest," not being of the priestly tribe. Now, in Ascension Glory He is "a priest" for ever, after the order of Melchizedek," and thus He "ever liveth to make intercession for us."
In John, Chapter 13, we have seen the Lord cleansing, as at the Laver, His disciples’ feet, as did the priests of old before entering the Tabernacle (Exod. 30.17). In the chapters that follow, we may see something corresponding to the furniture of the Holy Place, the ministry of Christ illuminating His disciples by His Word, the Candlestick; shewing them Himself as the object of their faith and spiritual sustenance, the table of shewbread; and becoming, in the revelation of His person, like a sweet incense ascending to the Father, the golden altar. Now, He leads them into the Holiest of all in the Heavenly Temple, "the House of God. not made with hands," and so initiates them into the secrets of His communion with the Father. It might be profitably studied in this aspect among others. But it is rather as a declaration of the Father’s Name, that I propose now to consider it.
He is declared here :
1.—As the Great GIVER, not only of "every good and perfect gift to us," but also as the Fountain of the Trinity: that is, the Source and Originator of all Divine counsels and blessings. For, though all the Three Persons are co-equal, co-eternal, and co-substantial, they do not all exercise the same functions in the Godhead. The first gift is "glory." If
the Son is to be glorified, it must be by the Father; "Father glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glory Thee," not with a new glory, but "with the glory that He had with Thee before the world was;" nor must it be apart from the Father; "with Thine own self" (v. 5).
In verse 22, He speaks of this glory as already bestowed, and at His disposition to bestow on His own. Truly, His words ait the grave of Lazarus might be written across this whole prayer, "I know that Thou nearest Me always." In Mark 11.24, the Lord exhorts us to belive "we have received," as soon as we ask, and here does so Himself. In verse 22, the glory seems to be connected with the gift of the Holy Ghost, by whom the unity of the body of Christ is formed and secured, "that they may be one, even as we are one."
The recipients of eternal life are another gift of the Father to Christ, for they are described all through the chapter as "them whom Thou hast given Me." "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me, and they have kept Thy Word" (v. 6), and they are still the Father’s. "All Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them."
The third gift is power (lit. authority) "over all flesh," an authority exercised in the case of His own in giving them eternal life. The original is hard to render, but the R.V. is far nearer it than A.V., "that whatsoever Thou has given Him" (lit. every thing, i.e., the company of the redeemed viewed as a whole), to them He should give eternal life, for they must receive it as individuals.
Then fourthly, the very work He had finished, was a gift of the Father, "I have finished the work Thou hast given me to do." The Lord did not merely "do something for God," but the work the Father gave Him to do, as we too are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath afore prepared, that we should walk in them." Nor did He speak His own words, but the Word of God in the very words of God, "I have given unto them the words that Thou gavest Me" (v. 8). These words then were yet another gift to Christ.
2.—The second character in which the Father is revealed in this prayer, is as the KEEPER of Christ’s people; "Holy Father, keep them in Thy Name, which Thou hast given
Me" (ver. 11, R.V.). The Lord, while with them, had kept them in the Father’s Name, and none of them was lost, but (in contrast with such) the Son of Perdition was lost. Compare for a similar construction, Luke 4.26,27, where the widow of Sarepta and Naaman are clearly not exceptions to, but in contrast with, what has gone before.
Connected with this assurance of being in the hands of the Father, come our Lord’s words, "These things I speak in the world, that ‘they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves." And no wonder, for what better ground of rejoicing can we have than to know for surety, that we are in the hands of an infinitely tender Father, full of solicitude for our highest good, to whom we belong by Election, Creation, Redemption, and Adoption? He it was who gave us ito the Son, who has handed us back to the Father to keep for Him.
As to the manner of this keeping, it is revealed in the next character of the Father, here displayed:—
3.—The SANCTIFIER, and the safeguards are not legal but moral, not of peculiar dress, but inwardly of the heart; not of material walls, but of spiritual principles. Believers are not to be taken out of the world like hermits, but preserved like "pilgrims and strangers" in it; "Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy word is truth." And it was in order that the Word might be able to exercise its separating effect, that Che Lord separated Himself by death and Resurrection, for it was only thus the Spirit could come, and render the Word effective.
And all this He prays, not only for the eleven, but for believers in Him, by their testimony up to the end, that they, too, may form part of the one body. This unity is spiritual and Divine, and will only be openly manifested when the Lord returns for His own, from every clime and nation. Then, I would submit, the world will believe, when they see the vacant places everywhere, but not on Christ as Saviour, but merely in His Divine mission, "that the Father sent Him," which is not necessarily saving faith at all. Later, the world will not only believe, but know this, when Christ returns in glory with all His saints, because the oneness of the body will then be manifested complete and perfect. That Christians ought to keep the unity of the Spirit is true, but have grievously failed is too sadly evident.
But I do not judge that this is what the Lord is asking for here, otherwise, as all His prayers must be answered, the outward unity of believers would have been perfectly preserved down the ages; but rather that their integral unity should be assured to the end, by their baptism in the Spirit, into one body.
We are not exhorted to keep the unity of the body, which is guaranteed, not by the well meant efforts of Christians of different denominations to unite from time to time for prayer and gospel effort—at best an imperfect and partial thing, but by this prayer of Christ; the promise of the Father, and the indwelling of die Holy Spirit. But we are told to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," "with all lowliness and meekness, with all long-suffering, forbearing one another in love," and that on the basis of the sevenfold unity detailed in the following verses (Eph. 4.4-6).
The last Revelation of the Father in this prayer : 4.—Is as the LOVER of His people. The world is to know that the love of the Father to His people is commensurate with His love to Christ, a love which was in exercise before the foundation of the world. Not only does the Lord desire that His people should be with Him, to behold His glory, but that the love wherewith the Father loves Him should be in them and He in them, as a present enjoyed reality, and each be able to say with confidence— The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.
It is with this end in view that our Lord declares the Father’s Name, and this prayer was the culmination, not of His interpretation of the Father, but of it, while in this scene, for it was not complete, for He adds, "and will declare it." The testimony was continued by Him in the Epistles and the Revelation, through the Spirit, and will continue for ever in Heaven.
THE UNCHANGING LOVE.
- He loved me ‘ere Creation dawn
- Had decked the mountain and hill;
- Before the evening and the morn,
- He loved me and He loves me still.
- He loved me ‘ere the stream of years
- Had pierced its source, a tiny rill;
- (How soon to swell a surge of tears!)
- He loved me and He loves me still.
- He loved me when my deadly sin
- Did bitter wrath for Him distil;
- When losing all my soul to win,
- He loved me and He loves me still.
- He loved me when, a captive led,
- My will embraced His sovereign will,
- And kissed the pierced hand that bled;
- He loved me and He loves me still.
- Then when enthralled by grace divine,
- I prayed Him heart and soul to fill,
- That I might for His glory shine,
- He loved me and He loves me still.
- And when with Him beyond the skies,
- Though raptures new my spirit thrill,
- This well-known song shall ever rise—
- He loved me and He loves me still.—W.H.
FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
by J. B. HEWITT, Chesterfield
(45) SIN — THE FALL OF MAN
Sin is "missing the mark," failing to hit the target and deviation from the divine will (Rom. 3.23). Sin is as old as man but it originated in the mind of Satan before the creation of man (Isa. 14.12-14).
It is still vitally important to preach ruin by the Fall, redemption by the blood of Christ and regeneration by the Spirit of God. The fall of man came by the disobedience of Adam (Gen. 3.6,11,12; Rom. 5.12,15,19). lit came through the temptation of Satan (Gen. 3.1-5; 2 Cor. 11.3; 1 Tim. 2.14). "God made man upright" (Ecc. 7.29), and not only innocent, but positively good. As a free moral agent he was tested in a triple form (Gen. 2.16,17) and failed. God permitted Satan to test Adam; he transgressed and disobeyed God (1 Tim. 2.14).
Its Entrance. (Rom. 5.12-14). Sin was brought in by the serpent, by his subtle approach to the woman. His temptation was cowardly—she was alone; it was cunning—he questioned what God had said; and it was cruel—he suggested God was unkind.
CHRIST IN THE APOCALYPSE (18)
by JOHN B. D. PAGE
THE COMING KING (v)
Reading: Revelation 19.16.
Although the consideration of several other kingly titles have meant a digression, they have brought before us an expansive word picture of the Kingship of Christ before looking at the Apocalyptic regal title.
"King of kings"
Probably, with these and other kingly designations in mind, the apostle John sets forth Christ as "Ring of kings" which is seemingly the climax of such royal ascriptions in the scriptures attributed to Him.
Turning again to the Apocalyptic vision of Christ, the seer says, "And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords." Surprisingly, the name is written not on His chest but on His thigh, where a warrior sheathed his sword, implying that it is no longer in use as the battle is now won, and so His reign of righteousness and peace is about to start.
Commenting upon this two-fold title, G. H. Lang says, "In the days of John it was treason and a capital offence to attribute these titles to any other than the Emperor, as the embodiment on earth of deity." Obviously, the inspired writer knew this, and there may be an argument in favour of his contrasting implicitly Christ to the Emperor of Rome. But, knowing how John draws upon the scriptures for most of Messiah’s names and titles besides the imagery and phraseology of the book, there is no apparent reason for a change here.
Hence, for the title, "King of kings," it may be preferable to turn to the scriptures as the inspired writer did. When interpreting Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the image, Daniel said to that great monarch, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings" (Dan. 2.37). Apparently, this is the seer’s source of the title.
According to Deissman, this form of title was not uncommon in Daniel’s day because it was "a decoration of great monarchs, and also a divine title in early Eastern history." However, it is used in the scriptures only of Nebuchadnezzar amongst earthly monarchs of the past and it is ascribed to Christ for His future Kingship on the earth. This is not without significance. Although it is wrong to suggest that a heathen king like Nebuchadnezzar, full of self-aggrandizement, is a type of Christ in His Kingship, several contrasts may be drawn.
With Babylon’s mighty potentate designated "king of kings," it is apparent that a new era had begun, affecting not only Gentile nations but also the Jewish nation. According to Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of an image, the primary feature of this new and long period is Gentile dominion in world affairs during a succession of four great world empires, marked by the subjugation of the Jews and their dispersion to distant countries. With Nebuchadnezzar’s overthrow of their kingdom and their temporary exile in Babylon, the Jews had lost their independence and national sovereignty and they were destined for many centuries of subjection to Gentile nations besides dispersion amongst the Gentiles as from A.D. 70.
According to the scriptures, when Christ brings this era of Gentile dominion, known as "the times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21.24), to a catastrophic end at His coming again to the earth, then a new age will dawn with Christ as "King of kings." In contrast to that terminated so abruptly by Christ, a remnant Jewish nation, which is regenerate spiritually, will be no longer subjugated but "supreme above all nations of the earth" (Deut. 28.1, J.N.D.), and this will mean, as Moses said prophetically to them, "thou shalt reign over many nations" and "the Lord shall make thee the head" over the nations and not "the tail" (Deut. 15.6, and 28.13). With the Gentiles no longer dominating the international stage but in subjection, Israel will be prominent amongst the nations, and Christ, as "the Head of the nations" (Psa. 18.43), will be pre-eminent.
Furthermore, "the times of the Gentiles" and Messiah’s millennial kingdom age may be contrasted governmentally. In his interpretation of the king’s dream, Daniel began by saying to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art the head of gold" (Dan. 2.38) and he continued with the other parts of the image by interpreting them as, three subsequent and successive kingdoms, each inferior to its predecessor. Whilst he spoke impersonally of these later kingdoms, he said that Nebuchadnezzar personally represents the head of gold, signifying that Gentile dominion began not with the ancient kingdom of Babylon (dating back to Genesis 10.10) but with Nebuchadnezzar himself. As a heathen autocrat, Nebuchadnezzar ruled Babylon with fear and none dared to challenge him for about seventy years. But Christ, as a Theocrat will rule righteously His earthly kingdom for one thousand years. Since Nebuchadnezzar’s short-lived autocracy, centuries of change and deterioration of government have featured Gentile dominion. When Christ assumes the reins of government, no change or deterioration will occur in His government and so, in keeping with His character, His theocratic rule will remain constant and without change, hitherto unknown in the world’s history, making His millennial rule matchless.
When designating Nebuchadnezzar "king of kings," Daniel follows immediately with the meaning of the title by telling the mighty monarch "the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory, and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all" (Dan. 2.37f). Commenting upon these verses, Dr. F. A. Tatford says, "The title quite rightly belonged to Nebuchadnezzar since the plenitude of power was committed to him by God. Universal sovereignty was potentially his. Wherever men dwelt, or birds flew, or wild beasts roamed he was given the rule by the Almighty. The kingdom, power, strength and glory had been bestowed upon him by ‘the God of the heavens’."
John, undoubtedly, understood the meaning of this title, as given by Daniel, and so it is not surprising that he ascribes the same title without alteration to Christ, knowing that its significance will be realized fully, which it was not in Nebuchadnezzar, in Christ when He comes again as King.
Whilst Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion included the air where birds flew and the land where men dwelt, the sea was not included, which implies that he had no God-given right for extending his domain across the high seas. With Christ, no bounds "will limit His dominion, embracing the air, land and sea, all of which will be "put . . . under His feet" (Psa. 8.6-8). In an unprecedented manner, universal, dominion will be truly Christ’s.
Although God imposed no territorial restraints upon king-Nebuchadnezzar, the king did not spread his borders to the extreme limits, which meant his vast kingdom was only oriental in extent. The boundaries of Messiah’s kingdom will be far flung even "unto the ends of the earth" (Psa. 72.8), and all lands will be not merely subdued-but possessed by Him as God has already said to Him, "the uttermost parts of the earth are for Thy possession" (Psa. 2.8) Hence, His kingdom will be global in extent, as anticipated by Zechariah (14.9), "The Lord shall be King over all the earth:" Such universal kingship denotes would government which has been the aim of many kings and emperors in times past, all ending in disaster, and it remains the objective of some rulers and dictators at the present time, without the remotest possibility of being realized, because the scriptures declare that it is reserved for only Christ as "King of kings."
Universal sovereignty, which was potentially Nebuchadnezzar’s, will be actually Christ’s, as brought out by John in the Apocalypse (11.15), "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever." Remarkably, the phrase, "the kingdoms of this world," was used by Satan "when he offered world dominion to the Lord Jesus by taking Him up a high mountain during His temptation and showed Him all "the kingdoms of the world." For the word "world,"-Luke (4.5) uses oikoumene, meaning ‘the inhabited world’ and particularly the Roman Empire which was predominant in Bible times.’ Looking beyond the present age of the Church which was then a mystery, Satan’s offer to Christ1 appears to be the Revived Roman Empire in the form of a ten-nation confederacy with its immense power which, says Satan, is "delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it." In Matthew’s. (4.8) account of Satan’s offer, the word kosmos is translated "world," implying the global-influence of this ten-nation confederacy. Interestingly, for the word "world" in the equivalent phrase in the Apocalypse, not oikoumene, which would be limited in meaning, but kosmos is used, signifying that all kingdoms, without exception, throughout the world will become Messiah’s. Christ refused the kingdoms of the world offered by Satan (Luke 4.7f, Matt. 4.9f), and later He retreated from the people attempting to take Him by force to make Him a King (John 6.15), but He will receive the kingdom from His Father for His millennial reign as King (1 Cor. 15.24f).
The word "kingdoms" in this fifteenth verse of Revelation 11, in the Greek text is singular, and so the verse may be rendered thus: "The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ: . . . " Walter Scott says that this "intimates one universal kingdom covering the world; all pants of the earth brought into subjection to the One reigning monarch." Furthermore, with the age long adversary of both God and man banished, it will be then possible for the world-kingdom to be the rightful possession of Christ who will exercise universal rule.
For governing the nations of the world, John says "He shall rule them with a rod of iron." The clue for understanding this matchless Monarch’s style of rule lies in the metal used for His sceptre. Surprisingly, His sceptre will be not of gold which is a malleable metal, and it is impossible for His rule to be changeable when He Himself is unchangeable. His sceptre will be not a reed like that given in mockery to Him by the Roman soldiers after His trial, because a reed is breakable and His rule will be not terminable. But His sceptre will be of iron which cannot be bent, and so this means that His rule will be inflexible besides unchangeable and interminable. Furthermore, says the psalmist, "the sceptre of (His) kingdom is a right sceptre" (Psa. 45.6). As the word "right" means ‘upright’ or ‘straight,’ Messiah’s rule will be impartial and undeviating in justice (cp. Psa. 72.2). No appeal will be permitted or even necessary against His inflexible righteous rule, which He will exercise as the King-Priest from "the throne of His holiness" in the holy of holies of the rebuilt temple (Zech. 6.13, Psa. 47.8, Ezek. 43.7).
The import of the title "King of kings" is the supremacy of the Messiah-King over all other kings, and consequently the important matter of relationship between Christ and these kings arises. With universal reconciliation effected by Christ, attributable to "the blood of His cross" (Col. 1.20), vicious hostility from past potentates such as Herod and Pilate (Acts 4.27) or future diabolical antagonism from "the kings of the earth . . . and the rulers" during the tribulation (Psa. 2.2) will be then unknown, but "all kings shall fall down before Him," says the psalmist (Psa. 72.11). Such worldwide obeisance to Christ signifies both the surrender of their sovereign rights and their subjection to Him, which will be not by coercion but voluntary. For these subordinate kings to express their allegiance, the call will go forth to them, "O ye kings, . . . serve the Lord with fear" (Psa. 2.11); meaning that Jehovah-Messiah, their supreme Sovereign, is worthy of reverential respect. For paying homage to Him, they will "kiss the Son" (Psa. 2.12) Which may denote an oriental embrace but an alternative rendering may be preferable, "with trembling, kiss His feet" (A.R.V.), indicating that these kings will show their loyalty by prostrating themselves at the feet of the universal Sovereign.
The worldwide worship of Christ as the Supreme King should not be overlooked. Not only defeated nations will go up to Jerusalem to "worship the King, the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 14.16), but "all flesh," a phrase embracing all races, will worship Him at regular intervals (Isa. 66.23, cp. Psa. 86.9), and even "all the kings of the earth shall praise Thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of Thy mouth," says David prophetically (Psa. 138.4). What a wonderful era when all men, ranging from kings upon their thrones to the humblest of their subjects, will go and bow reverentially in worship before Christ, the "King of kings!"
"Lord of lords"
In the remainder of this compound title, "Lord of lords," the pre-eminence of Christ is continued. There may be an allusion to Nebuchadnezzar who, in his gratitude to Daniel for interpreting his dream of the image, said that the God of Daniel is "a Lord of kings" (Dan. 2.47). Upon this heathen king’s ascription of Daniel’s God, Dr. F. A. Tatford comments, "Nebuchadnezzar also frankly acknowledged the supremacy of Daniel’s God above all other gods and His suzerainty over all kings. Marduk, the Babylonian deity, was often termed ‘Lord of lords’ and ‘God of gods’ . . ."
Alternatively, the Apocalyptic seer may have in mind a more direct reference to this title in the scriptures and, if so, he may be referring to Moses who told the Israelites before crossing Jordan that the God of Israel is "Lord of lords" (Deut. 10.17). For the setting of this title, we quote the verse in full: "the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, mighty and a terrible …" By using various names of Deity, as Moses did, the verse then reads, ‘Jehovah your Elohim, is Elohei of elohim, and Adonai of adonim, the great El, the mighty, and the terrible (or, revered) (One), …"
Probably having a latent fear that the Israelites would forsake their true God and turn to a false god, when they entered and possessed the promised land, Moses sets forth the superiority of the God of Israel over Baal, the Canaanites’ chief god, by using different names, each having a different shade of meaning. It is the third of these divine names, "Lord of lords," otherwise ‘Adonai of adonim,’ which sets forth the God of Israel as ‘sovereign Lord’ over and above all other claimants to lordship and John, probably having its significance in mind, applies it to Christ. For showing that Adonai is so much better than Baal, Moses says that Adonai is "the great God," "the mighty (One)" and the One to be ‘revered.’ Indisputably, Christ is "Lord of lords," and similarly Christ is "the great God," for none amongst heathen deities is His equal; Christ is "the mighty One," for He is omnipotent; Christ will be ‘revered,’ not only by a regenerate Israel but also subordinate Gentiles.
This Apocalyptic title, "Lord of lords," probably taken from the Pentateuch, has the sense of Christ’s Lordship which is not Self-assumed by Him but God given, even as Peter declares in his Pentecost sermon, ‘God hath made Him — Lord’ (Acts 2.32-36). Therefore, unlike Kingship which is a high office to be filled by Christ during the millennium, Lordship is a divinely conferred honour and exalted position, following His resurrection. Although Christ is Lord in relation to the church throughout this age of grace, His title, "Lord of lords," is millennial in significance and scope.
For understanding this divine title, the meaning and use of the word "lord" (kurios, Gr.) should not be overlooked. A "lord" is ‘one who has and exercises power or authority,’ and the word is used in the New Testament of a king (Acts 25.26), of a master in relation to his slaves (Matt. 6.24, 24.50), and of an owner of property or a business (Luke 19.33, Acts 16.16), and these usages may throw some light upon the millennial inference of this appellation. Apparently, during the millennium, there will be many "lords" who will possess power and exercise authority within defined limits as already illustrated by the biblical use of the word. But there will be one "Lord," even Christ, vested with the plenitude of power and authority, which will extend throughout all spheres and over all beings, so that He will be truly the Supreme "Lord" to whom all other "lords" will be subordinates.
With the same millennial scene in mind, Paul foresees the Lordship of Christ extending far beyond the bounds of this terrestrial globe. In heaven above, on the earth below and even under the earth, all beings, both supra-mundane and mundane, will bow the knee, each in its own way, in submission to Christ whom God has supremely exalted, and they all, without exception, will confess that "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil. 2.10f), and such confession of His Lordship will be "in the supreme and ultimate sense," says Dr. H. C. G. Moule.
On the earth during the millennium, as one writer so rightly says, "Christ will be publicly, officially and intrinsically ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’," and even throughout the celestial, terrestrial and infernal spheres, He will be acknowledged as the supreme Sovereign and Lord.
(To be, continued)
THE ATONING WORK OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR
by G. BAGHRAMIAN
Was Christ punished by God for all the sins of humanity i.e. did Christ our Lord bare the sins of every person from Adam to the last person in this world on His own body on the tree? By the grace of God we are going to refer to the scriptures and by rightly dividing the word of truth we will learn God’s mind on this very fundamental truth.
Sin is the root and sins are the fruit. Sin is the evil principle and sins are its product. John says, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1.29). Christ our Lord took away the sin of the world but he put away the sins of all who believe on Him and receive Him as Saviour.
Now we read in Hebrew 1.3 when He (The Lord Jesus Christ) had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high." Did Christ purge the sins of all Christ rejectors or of the believers? Surely it was the believer’s sins only, otherwise if the Christ rejectors sins were purged they would not go to hell, but every Christ rejector will be in hell. Further we read in 1 Peter 2.24, "Who His own self bore our sins (i.e. believers) in His own body on the tree." If Christ bore the sins of all the human race and was punished for the sins of all the human race, there would be no person in hell. From different scriptures we can see that the Lord Jesus Christ died on behalf of all men, but instead or in place of all who will believe on Him. So in the following scriptures we see that the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ was to all but not upon all (i.e. only those who will believe on Him and receive Him as their Lord and Saviour benefit from His death). God in His grace gave His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ for the whole world and He has made it possible for all men to be saved as we see in 1 Timothy 2.4, "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." Are all men saved? The answer, we learn from Cain and his descendants is "No!" Consider two scriptures.
Matt. 20.28—"And to give His life as ransom for (i.e. instead of) many."
1 Tim. 2.6—"Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," that is on behalf of all and is to be testified in due time, i.e. against those who will not avail for themselves the ransom.
Now in Heb. 2.9 we read that "He by the grace of God should taste death for every man," i.e. on behalf of as in 1 Tim. 2.6. Isa. 53.5-6, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed," i.e. instead of all who receive Him, vs. 6 and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all, i.e. those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isa. 53.11, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied, by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities." "Many" shows "instead of" all those who will believe on Him. In first Peter 3.18 we read "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins (the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." In this scripture we clearly see that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for sins of all the unjust who will believe on Him so He might bring them to God.
In John 9.41 our blessed Lord says to the Pharisees, "but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth," and in John 8.24 our Lord says to the Jews, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." Vs. 21 He says again "and shall die in your sins." Now if the Lord Jesus was going to be punished for the sins of ‘the whole world or bare all the sins of the human race, how would He say, "ye shall die in your sins"?
Consider also 1 Cor. 15.3-4. "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Some say that Paul was saying this to the Corinthians when they were still unconverted, but it is not so, He was speaking to the Corinthians when they were saved but babes in Christ. He has been giving them corrective ministry for their divisions and other problems, but when we come to Chapter 14 he is dealing with the question of resurrection and in vs. 12 we read, "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" So in this verse we clearly see that there were some amon1 the Corinthians that were denying the resurrection of the dead, therefore in vs. 3 and 4 He is bringing before them the fundamental ‘truth "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that He was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." So we see it was for the sins of the believers that Christ died.
Brother Wm. Hoste in the Assembly Testimony of July/ August 1981 in his article of "The Atoning Death, page 113, last paragraph writes, "Christ is the substitute for His people; those who receive Him as Saviour. The question of the bearing of sins is a family secret, made known to God’s children. The apostles never preached to the unsaved, "Your sins have been borne by Christ," but writing to fellow believers Peter could say, "Who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree." In the same way in Isa. 53.6 it is those who confess their personal sins. "All we like sheep have gone astray," etc. who can add in the language of faith, "and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Christ is said to be .the propitiation for the whole world (1 John 2.2RV) but in Heb. 9.28 we read "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." Thus we see bearing of sins or dying for sins or punished for sins is the same. Hence we sing,
- All my sins were laid upon Him
- Jesus bore them on the tree
- God who know them laid them on Him
- And believing I go free.
We trust this will help gospel preachers to use scriptural terms to the unsaved, i.e. Christ died for sinners, Christ died for the ungodly, etc., etc., and not scriptures which belong to God’s children.
THE REALITIES OF THE RESURRECTION
by J. G. GOOD
Luke’s Gospel is the gospel of the Son of Man. How beautifully human issues are emphasised,’ in keeping with the character of the gospel. We have brought before us, affection and the affected, the devout and the devoted. The place given to women in this gospel, manifests the compassion and tenderness, of those whose hearts the Lord had touched! It cannot be otherwise – association with the Lord Jesus should produce this quality, there must be a desire to reciprocate and return the love so freely given!
The word ‘returned’ is mentioned no less than 19 times in this gospel by Luke. Look at this word in the chapter 24:
- Returned from the Tomb, verse 9, Confirmation.
- Returned from Emmaus, verse 33, Consolation.
- Returned to Jerusalem, verse 52, Consummation.
The resurrection is viewed in the Gospels as a FACT. In the Acts of the Apostles the, truth’ of the resurrection is presented as an EXPERIENCE, and when we come to the,
Epistles this truth is set forth as a DOCTRINE. We can learn three lessons from this chapter and the truth so dearly presented. Firstly it is Evidential, a proof of His resurrection. Secondly, Preparatory, for the transition between the days of sight and the new days of faith. Finally, it is Symbolic, He still draws near to His own in times of trial and trouble !
A devotional outline of the chapter is as follows :
The Conquest of His Power. Verses 1-12.
(a) The Truth of the Tomb. Verse 3.
The stone was rolled away not to let the Lord ‘out,’ but to allow the disciples to ‘see’ in! This was to confirm faith, rather than impart faith! Had the latter been the case this would have been a recognition of unbelief. The Word of God demands, and salvation depends, upon a definite heart belef in the literal and physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘out from among the dead,’ (Rom. 10.9).
(b) The Trembling of the True. Verse 4.
‘Much perplexed,’ ‘afraid’ verse 5, this attitude was born of real affection for the Person of Christ. The attachment was not merely one of association but of heart affection. The closing verses of the previous chapter tell us of the growth of this affection, every word ripe with meaning. It is recorded that His followers ‘came,’ ‘followed,’ ‘beheld,’ ‘returned,’ ‘rested,’ and ‘prepared.’
(c) The Testimony of the Two. Verse 5.
This glorious truth had the stamp of Divine approval and on the human side it satisfied the criteria of scripture. ‘The testimony of two men is true’ (John 8.17). ‘In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Cor. 13.1).
- Two men spake of His death (Luke 9.31).
- Two men spake of His resurrection (Luke 24.4).
- Two men spake of His coming again (Acts 1.10).
The Comfort of His Presence. Verses 13-48.
(a) Personal in the Way. Verse 15.
‘Jesus Himself drew near and went with them! Emmaus means, ‘despised people.’ The pathos of the words grip our hearts, in despair bereft of hope. The words are full of
comfort, ‘Jesus Himself—with them’! His intrusion into their lives—He came to them, verses 14-16. His interest in their sorrow—He cared for them, verses 17-18. Touched with a feeling of our infirmities.
(b) Prophetic as to His Work. Verse 26.
He speaks of the prophets proclaiming, verse 25, of Messiah suffering, verse 26, and the Scriptures unfolding Himself, verse 27. True comfort can be derived from the complete fulfilment of prophetic Scriptures in relation to the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ at the place called Calvary.
(c) Prescribed in His Word. Verse 27.
Christ in all the Scriptures, what an exposition by Him, Who Himself is the key to all the Scriptures. Who better to remind us of the authenticity of Holy Scripture, than the Lord Jesus Himself. He alone is the substance of every shadow, and the anti-type of every type. The message of the Psalms, the burden of the Prophets converge on one centre, the Son of God! ‘To Him gave all the prophets witness’ (Acts 10.43).
The Character of His Priesthood. Verses 49-53.
(a) Selective as to its Circle. Verse 50.
‘He led Them’ as the Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 3.3, 6-7). He is only the High Priest of His people, the great representative Man! There is a company dear to the heart of our Lord Jesus, the Church alone has a place on the shoulders and on the heart of our High Priest! ‘To Bethany,’ there is remnant truth here, outside the religious city of Jerusalem. Bethany, ‘the house of dates,’ there is something here to satisfy the heart of the Saviour!
(b) Sympathetic as to its Concern. Verse 51.
‘And He blessed them.’ His priesthood is after the order of Melchisedec (Gen. 14), the priest in benediction to bless and strengthen. Hebrews chapter 4 tells us that this Priest is Accessible, ‘able to be touched,’ and that He is Sympathetic, ‘feels our infirmities.’ It is interesting to note the order here, firstly, ‘He blessed them’ and ‘they worshipped Him"!
(c) Spiritual as to its Content. Verse 52.
‘They returned to Jerusalem with great JOY.’ The blessings of God in this dispensation are spiritual in character (Eph. 1.3). There is joy to be had in the acquiring of material things, in being financially secure, but there is certainly not a vestige of the spiritual in all of these things! ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom. 14.17). It is not something outward, but a real inward experience in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Our Lord Jesus Christ while here on earth, displayed the characteristic features of a priest, and He fulfilled the Aaronic priesthood when he became the Sacrifice and offering Priest. The epistle dealing with the priesthood of our Lord is the epistle to the Hebrews. This section begins at Chap. 4.14 and closes at Chap. 10.22. The old question ‘When did our Lord’s Priesthood begin? Hebrews 7.16 speaks of ‘the power of an endless life,’ ‘indissoluble life’ ‘intransmissible priesthood’—death cannot intervene, It was in resurrection that our Lord Jesus officially and actually entered upon His work as our great high Priest. We see the functions of the Priest of His People in its beginnings in our foregoing meditation!
A BRIEF MEDITATION FROM THE PROVERBS
by S.R. STOKES
Drawing near to the two troubled ones as they journeyed towards Emmaus, and walking with them, the Lord Jesus, raised from amongst the dead, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24.27). A little later, standing in the midst of "the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them", He enlarged on the former exposition by saying, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me" (Luke 24.33,44).
The "law of Moses", the prominent theme in that first section of 17 titles in the Old Testament; the "prophets", whose messages are recorded in the third section of 17 titles; and the "Psalms", being the heading over the central section of 5 titles; in which section the book of PROVERBS is itself central.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God." But division into chapter and verse, in order to facilitate study, was made only some four centuries ago. Thus chapter 16 is now the central chapter in the book of PROVERBS. And in this chapter, so central in the Old Testament, we find six verses describing an unnamed king (verses 10-15). Was Solomon writing of himself, or of some other? For these six verses are the heart of the ‘First collection of proverbs by Solomon’ (i.e. from chapter 10.1 through 22.16). Or was Solomon, by inspiration of God, referring to the same One about whom Philip preached to the Ethiopian (Acts chapter 8)?
We read that Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture as that which so puzzled the Ethiopian, and "he preached unto him Jesus". The "key’ hangs near the door!
Solomon? Alas, he misused the God-given riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings had before him, or would have after him. Nehemiah expressed the record passed down to posterity concerning him, in these words, "there was no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish (foreign) women cause to sin" (Neh. 13.26). And it was left to young Josiah, 400 years later, to demolish the "mount of corruption" attributed to Solomon, whose foreign wives turned away his heart after the gods of the heathen (1 Kings 11.4-8; 2 Kings 23.13).
Clearly then, though Solomon might have wished that this description could be true of himself, it could not be said of Solomon that "his mouth transgresseth not in judgement", or that his throne was "established by righteousness" (Pro. 16.10,12). No! "A greater than Solomon is here"! Even the One of whom alone it may truly be affirmed, "A just weight and balance" are His (vs. 11). Even He who always IS, always WAS, and for ever WILL BE.
"His mouth transgresseth not in judgement". And our minds turn at once to the One who was born king, and who declared so categorically "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin"; and almost in the same breath challenged His hearers with the question, "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8.34,46). His mouth has never transgressed in judgement, and never will.
His wrath? (vs. 14). How graciously He forewarns. "Fear Him", those righteous lips declare, "which after he was killed, has power to cast into hell" (Luke 12.5).
"But a wise man will pacify that wrath". How? we might ask. The answer is given in verse 13; by speaking right. Or, as we have it in Proverbs 28.13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Even "the light of the King’s countenance" which is life (vs.15).
This King (none other than "Jesus our Lord") was "delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, so that we might have "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 4.24,25; 5.1). Crucified, they hung upon Him the ‘accusation’, crudely scrawled, in derision, "THIS IS THE KING" (Luke 23.38).
THE GREATEST DRAMA OF ALL
by J. IRELAND
While many people today are greatly interested in the Dramatic Arts, how comparatively few there are who stop to think how true it is that the greatest drama of all history is that which is being enacted upon the stage of time, and in which we are all involved whether we are conscious of it or not. This has been well called "The Unfolding Drama of Redemption"
The first act in this great drama opened in eternity before this world was created when in the Council Chamber of Heaven the Triune God held consultation, and the Son of God was there foreordained to be the Lamb of God, the Saviour of mankind (1 Peter 1.18-20).
The next great act in this drama took place when the world was created, and man, the crown of God’s creation, was placed in Eden’s fair garden as the Sovereign, set over creation, with only one prohibition given to test his obedience to his Maker’s will. By eating the forbidden fruit Adam revolted against the will of his
Creator, and thus sin entered into this world and brought its dire penalty of death and judgment. This penalty passed through from Adam to his whole posterity because he sinned, not merely as an individual, but as the Federal Head of the human race, therefore we all inherited his fallen nature and its condemnation (Romans 5.12-14).
So the curtain falls on Eden’s garden with Adam and his partner driven out and a flaming sword put at its entrance to keep the way of the tree of life, while God gives a promise of a coming Deliverer who would bruise the head of that Serpent (the Devil) who had tempted our first parents to act in disobedience to God (Genesis 3.14-24).
God permitted approximately four thousand years to elapse before He implemented the promise given in Eden, and during those forty centuries of world history it was fully demonstrated that man is indeed a sinful fallen creature, and that none could by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him (Psalm 49.7-8).
The next great act in this real-life drama took place when one starlit night "Sweet angel strains came floating o’er Judea’s plains," and a heavenly messenger proclaimed to a few shepherds that "Unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord."
Thus God’s promise was fulfilled after long centuries by the incarnation of the Son of God, who had come into the world to bruise the Serpent’s head, and to deliver mankind from the thraldom and doom of sin and Satan.
Our Lord’s boyhood for the most part was lived in the obscurity of Nazareth, but at the age of thirty He emerged for His public ministry, and for over three years he was manifested as the greatest Benefactor this world had ever known, but notwithstanding that, both Jew and Gentile united to put Him to death as an impostor and malefactor; that was the crowning act of man’s rebellion against God; but God made that death of His Beloved One to be the basis for the greatest display of His unmeasured love towards the rebellious world of mankind for God accepted the blood-shedding and death of His Son as the great ransom price in payment of our great sin debt, and as the sole ground upon which we could be brought back into the favour of God, i.e. be made acceptable to Him now in this present time, and also be fitted to dwell forever in His presence when our brief sojourn in this fleeting world reaches its termination.
God fully proved His satisfaction with the death of His Son upon Calvary by raising Him from the dead on the third day, and exalting Him to the highest pinnacle of honour at His own right hand from that high place as the one Mediator between God and men it is His good pleasure to grant repentance and the remission of sins to all who humbly acknowledge their sinnership and accept Him as their own personal Saviour. It is only by doing this that we can escape the righteous judgement of a thrice holy God (John 3.36).
The next scene to take place in this unparalleled drama is the second Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is believed by many Bible students that the return of the Lord from heaven is imminent. At any moment this impending great event could be brought to pass, and this time He is not coming in humiliation to suffer and to die, but He is coming first to the air to call His redeemed and waiting people home, and then at a later stage of this great event He will come to this earth as God’s exalted Sovereign and Judge to usher in the great Theocracy which will be based upon a foundation of perfect righteousness from which shall stem that lasting peace this war-wrecked world so much needs just now.
Above all the turmoil, strife and seeming chaos of this present world scene, God’s great purpose of the ages is slowly but none the less certainly moving to completion. God is at present overturning all the schemes of men for world dominion, and will continue to do so until that time comes when He will send back to this earth His beloved Son, who alone has the right of dominion as the One who not only created the world but also paid the great ransom price by which mankind could be redeemed from the ruin of the fall. He is coming soon to claim His rights, and to fully manifest "Who is the only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lord’s" (1 Timothy 6.15).
- And when He comes in bright array,
- And leads yon conquering line;
- It will be glory then to say
- That He’s a friend of mine.
When the curtain rings up for this next great act of His coming again, will you, be found among the redeemed of the Lord? This can only be so by personally acknowledging your sinnership and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your own Saviour.
by NELSON McDONALD (Scotland)
(12) ALTOGETHER LOVELY (Song of Sol. 5.16)
He is altogether lovely because :
- His Character is never Tarnished. John. 8.46; 2 Cor. 5.21.
- His Goodness is never Dubious. Rom. 2.4; Ps. 34.8; 119.68.
- His Mercy is never Scanty. Ps. 106.7; Ps. 136 (26 times) Micah 7.18.
- His Meekness is never Weak. Matt. 11.29; Luke 22.27; John 13.5; Isa. 53.7.
- His Courage is never False. Luke 13.32; John 2.14-16.
- His Patience is never Wearied. Isa. 40.28; Matt. 8.26; Heb. 12.2.
- His Kindness is never Hurtful. Isa. 42.1-4; John 8.11; 2 Tim. 2.24.
- His Sweetness is never Bitter. Ps. 104.34; Song of Sol. 2.3;
- His Sympathy is never Harsh. Luke 7.13; 19.41; John 11.41.
- His Love is never Selfish. Jer. 31.3; John 3.16; 11.5; 13.1; 17.23.
- His Perfection is never Faded. John 3.31; Heb. 13.8.
- His Glory is never Ending. Ps. 104.31; Heb. 2.14; Rev. 5.9,12.
Talks to Young Believers
by JOHN RITCHIE
HELPERS ONE TO ANOTHER
"Good-bye, Willie, don’t forget eight o’clock on Lord’s-day mornings now !"
"All right, John, I’ll join you then, and I—–and A—– won’t be so far apart, via the mercy-seat, will they?"
The guard blew his whistle, and in a few minutes the two companions were lost to each other’s view. They had both been converted at the same time, and much of their spiritual infancy had been spent in each other’s company. They had met for prayer and reading of the Word of God at eight o’clock on Lord’s-day mornings, and the quiet hour had been much enjoyed by both the boys.
Now one of them was leaving for a situation in the city, and they had agreed to continue the morning hour of prayer, and though sundered afar in person, to meet in spirit at the mercy-seat, and pray for one another. Many a happy hour they had together there, and God blessed the lads and kept them fresh and green in soul.
How good it would be if young believers were thus helpers of one another, praying for, and strengthening each other’s hands in God. How happy and truly blessed are such companionships ! Dear young believer, do you enjoy aught of this ? I mean, do you know the blessedness of having true companions in Christ, with whom you can share your joys and sorrows, and in whose company and fellowship you spend your spare moments ? Or, do you keep company with the unconverted? Are you a helper of your fellow-believers? Or, are you a drag and a hindrance to their growth in grace? Either the one or the other, we all must be, and the first thing is to be in a right state of soul ourselves—to be right with God. Then, like the clouds which, when they are full, empty themselves on the earth, making everything fresh and green, we shall be a blessing to our fellow-believers, and the unconverted around, will take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.
HYMNS AND THEIR WRITERS (40)
by Jack Strahan, Enniskillen
"ART THOU WEARY, ART THOU LANGUID"
STEPHEN THE SABAITE (725-794) JOHN M. NEALE (1818-1866)
- "Art thou weary, art thou languid,
- Art thou sore distress’d?
- "Come to Me," saith One, "and, coming,
- Be at rest!"
- Hath He marks to lead me to Him,
- If He be my guide?
- In His feet and hands are wound prints,
- And His side’
- Hath He diadem as Monarch
- That His brow adorns?
- Yea, a crown in very surety,
- But of thorns!
- If I find Him, if I follow,
- What His guerdon here?
- Many a sorrow, many a labour,
- Many a tear!
- If I still hold closely to Him,
- What hath He at last?
- Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
- Jordan pass’d
- If I ask Him to receive me,
- Will He say me nay?
- Not till earth and not till heaven
- Pass away!
- Finding, following, keeping, struggling
- Is He sure to bless?
- Saints, apostles, prophets martyrs
- Answer ‘Yes’"
The most fine gold is hidden deep in the earth silently awaiting the coming of the workman to bring it to the surface and extract it from the ore So through long centuries some of the most precious treasure in hymnology lay buried deep, awaiting the coming of the translator The Latin and Greek monasteries both held precious store Then in the 19th century, two master workmen in these fields arrived on the scene Edward Caswell extracted much precious treasure of the Bernards from the Latin mines, while John Mason Neale descended the hitherto unexploited Greek mines and retrieved for us some of the finest gold in hymnology
In the early Christian era, the persecution of believers in the Lord Jesus was very real and many laid down their lives in martyrdom As the tide of Mohammedanism swept through the Middle East (Jerusalem fell in 636 A D ) and the then-known world, Christians were driven to take refuge John of Damascus, who had held high office in his native city under a Moslem Caliph abandoned everything and taking with him his ten year old nephew Stephen, went into voluntary exile, secluding himself for the remainder of his life in the very ancient Greek monastery of Mar Saba
Mar Saba lies half a day’s journey from Jerusalem in "one of the most stricken wildernesses of the world", where the Kidron breaks through the "horrible abysses" of the scarred and furrowed Judean hills on its way to the Dead Sea The monastery is best approached today by tracking eastward from Bethlehem over the waste rolling Judean wilderness It is an intriguing but ghostly spot, so lonely and so remote that the heart is appalled at its desolation The monastery itself, founded by St Saba in the 5th century, is perched high on the face of the precipice of the Wady-en-Nar From the tower of the monastery to the bottom of the defile where the Kidron threads its way, is a sheer drop of 1,000 feet Thus, like an eagle’s nest, clinging perilously to the tawny rock, this most ancient religious institution has defied the ravages of time and the wars of men for 1,500 years It is still inhabited today by a few monks of the present Greek orthodox church and housed within its walls are telling evidences of its very remarkable past — its "sepulchre of St Saba" exhibits the mummified body of its founder hero of the 5th century, while its "chamber of the skulls" declares the fidelity to martyrdom of some 14,000 of its monks.
Mar Saba, in her past, has sheltered in times of persecution some of the choicest saints of the early Christian church and out of her have come some of the most beautiful Christian hymns In the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries, when religious strife was loudest in the world without, there arose within these monastic walls, a remarkable group of poetic men Among them the foremost was John of Damascus and his nephew Stephen Stephen lived in the seclusion of Mar Saba for some 60 years until his death in 794 A D and this long association with St Saba’s institution earned for him the title, "Stephen the Sabaite" It is heart-thrillmg to remember that the strains of Stephen’s original Greek hymn were first raised on the ramparts of that ancient monastery It would seem as if the limitations of his earthly horizons brought the heavenly very near.
The hymn, as we know it today had, however, to await the coming of John Mason Neale in the 19th century Neale was a man of literary genius and a poet besides He was born at Conduit Street, London, on January 24th, 1818 After his early studies at Sherborne Grammar School, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1836 His career there was brilliant and he reckoned the finest classical scholar of his penod He mastered some 12 languages and had a good knowledge of eight others.
Following graduation in 1849, Neale’s ill health necessitated his temporary retirement to Madeira for a period of three years and on his return to England, he settled in Sussex as Warden of Sackville College in East Gnnstead Though termed a college, this was nothing other than an alms-house, an institute for the poor, a home for the aged John Mason Neale, with all his outstanding literary capabilities, elected to spend the remaining 20 years of his life in that institution, caring for the underprivileged and all for the meagre monetary reward of £27 00 per annum Neale’s years at Sackville College, however, were not wasted but fully occupied in diligent literary pursuits and proved very fruitful Untiringly, day by day, he was extracting the finest of the gold from Oriental hymnology As a consequence, he published in 1862 his "Hymns of the Eastern Church." His "Collected Hymns" followed later and were published after his death.
John Mason Neale, through his labours, brought much to light from the libraries and monasteries of the Continent and the East and is esteemed as "the most distinguished and successful of all the translators." His literary skill was linked with a deep personal humility and matched by personal courage and dedication. In the face of ill-health and much opposition, he carried on his task, and the finest gold he cast unreservedly into the treasury of his Lord. His translations were with a master hand. Most were faithful to the original Greek but some were free (not so much an accurate translation of the text but rather a para-phrasing or adaptation thereof). Such is his hymn, "Art thou weary, art thou languid?" Though the original of ‘Stephen the Sabaite’ has been greatly modified the truth and spirit of the hymn has been preserved. Indeed, Neale’s modification has added to the beauty and impressiveness of the hymn.
In English, the hymn first appeared in 1862 in Neale’s "Hymns of the Eastern Church" (first ed.) and was entitled "Rest in Jesus." It consists of seven stanzas, each of which is composed of a question and an answer. Each question is pertinent and the answer direct and explicit. The hymn is very personal and intimate; it is the essence of simplicity and beauty. The focus is on the Saviour throughout — His person is unmistakeable; His pathway is undeceiving and His promise is unfailing.
- "If I ask Him to receive me,
- Will He say me nay?
- Not till earth and not till heaven
- Pass away!
Divine Love Answered
- Take my heart, Lord Jesus, wholly,
- Ever, only, to be Thine,
- Take possession fully, Saviour,
- Never again to be mine.
- Purchased by Thy death, Lord Jesus,
- Thine alone, O Lord, to be,
- For Thy pleasure, whilst I’m resting,
- Satisfied, eternally.
- Now the Spirit is rejoicing,
- His own work in me to see,
- All its fruits now for Thy Glory,
- This His service inwardly.
- God, our Father, finds His pleasure,
- His own purposes to see,
- Ripening in us, His children,
- Divine love’s answer to be.
—By Edward Robinson, Exmouth.